January 7, 2018 – The Baptism of our Lord Text: Mark 1:4-11
Dear Friends in Christ,
Most of us are not crazy about the realities of life, but our society does have a fascination with reality TV. Survivor, The Amazing Race, and America’s Got Talent fills the airwaves throughout the week.
One of the more popular programs is called The Voice. I am no connoisseur of this type of program but the lady I sleep next to at night is, so I know a little about the show. The Voice is looking for the next big singing star. The unique thing about this show is that when the singer auditions for the first time, the judge cannot see them. They have their back to the performer. They may not like the look, the clothes or their movements, but if they like The Voice, they turn around and say, “I want you!” Then that judge becomes their coach. It’s all about the voice.
Our reality this morning is that we are filthy rags of sin and we need forgiveness for our misdeeds. We may not always want to hear that, but we can’t ignore the voice that tells us. Even if we don’t like this reality in ourselves, we should not dislike hearing the voice. Quite the contrary, rejoice in
There is a voice in the wilderness that is preparing us for the Mighty One. This voice has no previous fanfare or an agent trying to promote him – John the Baptist appears in the wilderness. Could this possibly be the next great voice? Is he in line to be a star preacher? From the look of things let’s not crown his head quite yet. Look at him – rough leather, camel’s hair (didn’t that go out in the stone age), locusts, wild honey. But has he ever got a voice.
He uses that voice to pass on a painful reality to the crowds, you are all sinners. You besmirch your neighbor with your talk. You kill with words just for the sport of it. You take things that do not belong to you. Repentance is needed. Without it you are all going to perish.
But this was no voice of despair. John was preparing the way of the Lord’s forgiveness. Crowds did hear the voice. They came out to John and did repent. They were baptized and in that baptism they were forgiven. Most importantly, they heard the voice that the One who would secure this forgiveness was coming.
The voice from heaven announces to us the beloved Son. Now appears another one who appears on the scene that we would not recognize as a star. Jesus is just another guy in the crowd. From the podunk town of Nazareth in backward Galilee. In fact, He comes to be baptized, like all those sinners.
But you can’t ignore this voice, The Voice: God the Father in heaven. Jesus may not look like much. The Holy Spirit isn’t there to put on a show; He comes simply as a dove. But the voice has power. This voice needs no coaching.
This is no audition. It is not a contest. This voice has the final Word: “My beloved Son is the final Word.” God the Father is well pleased that Jesus will now begin the task of saving all his children lost in the wilderness. The Father is pleased that His Son is heading off to the wilderness to defeat temptation for all who have given into it. The Father is well pleased that His beloved Son will go to the cross to take the punishment for all our sinful failures.
The voice declares these same wonderful things to us today. In His Baptism, He put himself in our place. He came to John to be baptized so that he would be the sinner in our stead. That is, Jesus’ Baptism sent him to the cross for our sins.
That means the opposite is also true; we who are baptized are now in Jesus’ place. Jesus’ Baptism sanctified all water to be powerful when the voice of the Pastor speaks God’s Word. In Baptism, we receive the holiness of Jesus’ life, the forgiveness of his death. Our loose talk and sticky fingers and hurtful words are washed clean from our body and soul.
Therefore, the Voice of God the Father can be heard in the Pastor’s voice. “You – fill in your name – are my beloved son, beloved daughter. With you I am well pleased.” “You are my holy one, my child to live with me forever.”
Unlike The Voice with their blind auditions and backs turned on the performers. God sees us for who we are, but he does not turn his back on us. We are chosen by Him, not because of what we look like or even how we sound, but because we are connected to him through Christ’s Baptism. We hear the voice of God calling us to repentance, and we follow him in faith. Now, then, with great joy, we rejoice to hear THE Voice.