First Lesson: Isaiah 43: 1-7
Responsive Reading: Psalm 29
Second Lesson: Acts 8: 14-17
Gospel Lesson: Luke 3: 15-17, 21-22
Grace and Peace from Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Picture a Sunday morning at a church such as this one. A gentleman shows up late to the service. The gentleman was unkempt, he looked like he could barely afford two matching shoes, the guy mumbled in his greetings and the gentleman smelled of cologne not that appealing but way too strong. The ushers seat this gentleman in the back of the church, and when the service ended the other congregants tended to downplay the man’s presence. He would never revisit the church!
That same Sunday, a different first-time visitor showed up. This gentleman’s grooming was immaculate; he wore a fancy dark suit, he beamed a mega-watt smile and was instantly charming to everyone who made his acquaintance. His presence was the talk of the congregation: who was that man a doctor, a lawyer, a bank president?
Immediately after the service, the congregation president began visiting with the man. He invited him to Sunday dinner at his house. He had been the most exciting visitor to come to Saint Martin’s Lutheran Church in years. The man, his family, and the visitor gather around the table. The food begins to be passed around. The first thing handed to the visitor was the potatoes; he opens up his coat and starts loading mashed potatoes into his suit pocket. The family is dumbfounded that such a well-dressed, a well-spoken individual could have such goofy manners. They then watched as he stuffed carrots and finally the meat inside his coat while his plate remained empty. Finally, the congregation president spoke up: “What exactly are you doing?” The visitor remained well-spoken as he declared: “Judging from how you treated the other visitor this morning, I see you invited my fancy suit to lunch, so I’m going to feed it, instead”
Keep this story in mind and let me tell you about an event within Jesus’ ministry. Today’s Gospel lesson tells the tale of John the Baptist baptizing Jesus to begin his earthly ministry.
Now Jesus baptism is one of the more commonly misunderstood events within the scriptures.
Why was Jesus baptized? Now John the Baptist was even confused why Jesus gets baptized. Jesus answers this question: “It is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.”
So what exactly does this mean? Here’s an important thing about Jesus baptism, he got baptized at the age of 30. Now many churches claim that we shouldn’t baptize babies, because Jesus wasn’t baptized as a baby.
Now the one story that we have from Jesus’ childhood takes place at the age of twelve when Jesus visits the Jerusalem Temple and proceeds to amaze the greatest religious scholars of his day with his knowledge of the depths and the ways of God. Luke’s Gospel which tells both stories tells us nothing about Jesus’ life from this day until his Baptism by John the Baptist eighteen years later. So it seems unlikely that Jesus being baptized was merely meant to be a public confession of his faith, when he had already amazed the greatest religious scholars of his day years before being baptized with both his faith and knowledge.
So Jesus gets baptized at thirty for a different reason? The Book of Numbers has God instructing Moses and Aaron to take a census of all the Priests of the land. What were the qualities to be a Priest? Numbers 4:3 “Be between thirty and fifty years old when you begin your work (ministry) in the Tent of the Meeting,” hence why Luke’s Gospel is so specific- Luke 3:23: Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry.
So why was Jesus baptized? The ritual ceremony to be ordained as a priest in multiple places (Exodus 29 and Leviticus 8) describes washing with water and anointing with oil as a symbol of the Holy Spirit’s blessing. So this background begins to explain why Jesus was baptized “to fulfill all righteousness” at thirty years of age to serve as a formal entrance to the priesthood so that he may begin his earthly ministry.
So why was this so important that Jesus becomes a properly, licensed priest this is where Jesus baptism begins to connect with our own.
Consider the role of the Priest within the Old Testament. The Priest’s job was to make a sacrifice on account of an individual’s sins on their behalf.
The Book of Hebrews declares: “For this reason, he had to be made like them,[a] fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.”
What does this all mean, let me tell you a story. Earlier this summer, I was coaching Basketball down in Superior. We were playing Northwestern High School from over in Maple, WI. One of the rules of the UW- Superior Summer League is each school needed to provide someone to keep a score book.
We had no fans at their game, so I was going to have to ask one of the players to do it, which I didn’t want to do because that meant he couldn’t play in the game. Even if I didn’t need a kid to play, I didn’t want to give a Silver Bay player a permanent seat on the bench when he invested the time to come down to Superior.
Finally, a solution emerges, a couple of kids from Northwestern offer to keep the book in our place. I enthusiastically agree with this solution. These kids were fourteen/fifteen years old. Like a lot of fourteen/fifteen-year-olds, they tried to see how much “cussing” they could do while keeping score as a way to try to look and sound cool. Like a lot of fourteen/fifteen-year-old boys, their attention span would come and go throughout the game. I would need to correct Silver Bay’s score on more than one occasion.
Fifty seconds were left in the game; the score was wrong once again. We were down like five points, pretty good considering we were playing a much bigger school. Finally one of the officials had it! He comes over starts yelling at the Northwestern bookkeepers and myself for allowing it. Like a lot of kids, the young men who had been cussing up a storm the whole game turned “quiet” when confronted by an angry adult. I knew that I had to stand up for these foul-mouthed young men against the quick-tempered referee. My greatest claim to fame as a Basketball coaches will forever be my only argument ever with a referee involving standing up for kids for the other team! The scorekeeper’s jaws were dropped as they witnessed this! I told the referee to blame me not these kids for any problems he had with the score book. Get mad at me instead! I was thanked by every member of the other team as soon the game concluded.
So why was Jesus baptized? Baptism in John the Baptist’s day was to admit wrong for any sin in one’s life. Jesus lived a life without sin. Jesus was baptized to claim our trouble as his own. He was baptized for every foul-mouthed young man, and every poorly kempt gentleman smelling of obnoxious cologne. Christ’s Baptism points out the words that would be spoken by the Apostle Paul a generation later: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. “ Christ makes us a part of his church through his baptism. Christ’s baptism shows us that the Grace of God ultimately shall know no limits as Christ became the High Priest to assume the sin of the world unto the Cross.
What did Christ do for you at his Baptism? Let me close with one final story. The date was June 5, 1944. General Dwight David Eisenhower was about to make the call to land on the beaches of Normandy with over one million troops to try to crush Hitler’s power over Europe.
The night before the attack, Eisenhower spent with the men of the “Screaming Eagles” of the 101st Airborne. Eisenhower walked around from soldier to soldier speaking words of hope as tears streamed down his face knowing what the next day would bring. Eisenhower eventually leaves the soldiers to pen a letter to President Roosevelt in the case of a defeat. His letter read as follows:
“Our landings...have failed...the troops, the Air, and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches itself to the attempt, it was mine alone!”
Christ made a similar vow undergoing his Baptism to begin his earthly ministry. Eisenhower was about to confront Hitler. Jesus was about to confront sin, death, and the power of the Devil. Jesus claimed responsibility for our folly and failure as his own. Christ was setting the stage for his eventual triumph over all the evil forces threatening to devour the world forever, reminding us that Jesus sees us as much more than a fancy suit. Remember all this the next time you “Pass the Potatoes.” Amen
 Based on Tim Zingale’s sermon “God Alive And Well.” Sermon Central. 2.Jan. 2007. Web. Jan.4.2019.
 Zingale, Tim. “God Alive And Well.” Sermon Central.
 Zinglale, Tim. “God Alive And Well.” Sermon Central.
 Zinglale, Tim. “God Alive And Well.” Sermon Central.
 Luke 3:15-17,21-22.
 Matthew 3:15.
 Luke 2:41-52.
 Slick, Matthew. “Why was Jesus baptized?” CARM Ministries (Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry). 6. Mar.2012. Web. Jan.4.2019.
 Exodus 29:1,4,7. Leviticus 8:6.12.
 Hebrews 2:17.
 Galatians 3:28.
 Seitz, Gregory Rev. Dr.. “"Jesus' Baptism: Solidarity with Sinners to Save Them!". Lutheran Hour. 8.Jan.2012. Web. Jan.4.2019.
 “Normandy landings.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 30.Dec.2018. Web. Jan.4.2019.
 Seitz, Gregory Rev. Dr.. “"Jesus' Baptism: Solidarity with Sinners to Save Them!". Lutheran Hour.
 Seitz, Gregory Rev. Dr.. “"Jesus' Baptism: Solidarity with Sinners to Save Them!" Lutheran Hour.