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Archives - January 2018

A Demon's Voiceover

January 28, 2018
By Pastor Peter Heckert

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A Demon's Voiceover
Mark 1:21-28

+ Grace to you, and peace, from God our heavenly Father, and from our Lord and our Savior, Jesus Christ. + Amen.

The text for our meditation is from our Gospel lesson, specifically where Mark records, the interaction between Jesus and the demon-possessed man, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. Here ends our text; dear Christian friends…

If you’re familiar with the works of C. S. Lewis, you’ve probably heard of The Screwtape Letters. It is a collection of letters which Lewis declares, in his fiction-written-as-fact sort of way, to have come into his possession in a mysterious, unknown way. He says this for, you see, the letters are between an older, semi-retired and apparently successful … demon, named Screwtape, and he is writing to his young nephew Wormwood who is just beginning his career as a tempter, trying to lure away the souls of men to their “Father Below.” It's a fascinating read written in quite the unique format, and as a theoretical window into the operations of demons, it also says something significant about human nature, and how easily we are duped into temptation and sin. It says something about who, from humanity’s perspective, seems to be pulling the strings in our world. It says something about all fallen creatures, and who they think is really in control.

In a similar way to how Lewis acquired these letters, I seem to have come across a diary or journal entry from the very demon we heard about in our Gospel lesson today. It’s uncanny how similar the two writings are, and it certainly makes you think! Now, he doesn’t mention his own name, but suffice it to say, after what happened with Jesus in the synagogue, he was less than pleased…

*              *              *

How dare He! How DARE He do this before the appointed time! I know Who He is, but who does He think He is!? To break protocol! It is insufferable! Intolerable! How DARE He!

It wasn’t always like this. Why, I remember when it all started, when our father below got the ball rolling with that STUPID man and woman! How easily he beguiled them, with promises of becoming like the enemy, knowing both good and evil – all they needed to do was transgress the singular law the enemy had established! The cacophony and cataclysm that followed when they assented can only be described as glorious! Those “pinnacles of creation,” those made in the enemy’s image and likeness, His pets, were now fallen, and oh, how far they had fallen! How He could claim to … ahem, “love” them, even after they broke His precious creation is nothing short of fantastical and folly.

The years and centuries after that marvelous fall of man from perfection was marked with highs and lows – I particularly enjoyed my time amongst the human vermin before the enemy seemingly gave up on His pets and drowned them all – well, except for eight of them. No matter; the influx of misery and pain from those damned souls who perished in the deluge was as a finely aged wine. Oh my, yes, those were the days … Even though the enemy’s pets still lived and were, on the whole, faithful to His whims, we were still sustained through that time of drought because, after all, sin is something that the fallen human vermin crave, and we only too eagerly would indulge them.

Even when the enemy chose His supposed elect people, it didn’t take much prompting to get those … Israelites, I think they called themselves – to forget the ridiculous promises the enemy had given them. I don’t quite recall what they all were – had something to do with “having offspring as numerous as the stars” and “being a blessing to all nations” (the very thought is nauseating and repugnant!) – but I do recall one particular promise given over the centuries which always sent a shiver of horror and revulsion through my essence: the promise of one the enemy called the “Messiah.” Be that as it may, we tempters still plugged away at our trade, drawing Men away from the supposed hope that could be had in the enemy’s employ. For a select few of us, we were given the task of drawing those “Israelites” to worship in the way we established, diving headlong into their decadence, forsaking a covenant made with the enemy for the beautiful death found in our camp! Their misery was certainly of a special vintage – to pry away so many of the enemy’s little pets made for an especially delectable and palatable sustenance!

After the enemy sent them to their punishment in Babylon, however, we had to change tactics. We had to maintain our control and authority, and their newfound piety and blatant refusal to follow our kind was an absolute affront! To say the least, I was incensed for so long before we realized we could actually use their piety against them. They would become so wrapped up in their little rules, trying to protect themselves from breaking the enemy’s laws that they would completely forgo the very thing that their God demanded: fidelity … trust … love…. The irony of it all was so delicious as to make even the most cynical of tempters regale in their foolishness, arrogance, and pride. They thought they had it all figured out. They thought they were in complete control. Oh, the delightful conceit, especially when we tempters know who’s REALLY in control: us!

But that MAN…. Oh, the RAGE!  We had heard reports that He had manifested here in Judea some time ago – that scrumptious fool Herod first caught wind of it through those “wise” vermin from the east, but I had not known that He would have grown up so … strongly, so wisely. I knew our banquet could not last forever, but I did not expect to see that “Messiah” in my career as a tempter, and yet here He was, in Capernaum! I had been inhabiting this scrumptiously miserable man when I saw from afar, that “Jesus” go into the synagogue. Putting aside my indignation at His invasion of my stomping grounds, I knew instantly something wasn’t right. My suspicious were confirmed as I drew near the gathering place and heard Him speaking – only, He wasn’t talking like one of the fools who thought they had it all figured out, those who would trust in their works to “save” them. No, no, no – this Man … was teaching with AUTHORITY! The sheer absurdity! The incredulous nonsense of it all! Didn’t He know that we are the ones with authority here!? Again, how DARE He!

I could only put up with this Usurper’s vile truth for so long before I had to say something! I burst into their synagogue and called Him out! “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” If He was going to try and exhibit His authority here, then all those in earshot should hear exactly who He is, and Who He is is only too clear: the … ugh, Holy One of God! Perhaps if they knew this, then they would not kill Him in the end and the enemy’s plan would all be brought to naught! Nevetheless, this young upstart, holy or no, was not supposed to be here yet! The world had not yet ended; our time on the chopping block had not yet arrived! He had NO RIGHT to be here, teaching as if He had authority! The impertinence, the audacity!

I wish I could say that He shut right up, then and there, but alas, I was … erm, “evicted.” Much to my horror and chagrin, try as I might, I could not resist His command, “Be silent and come out of him!” I fought, to be sure, sending that tantalizing Capernaumite into convulstions, but in the end, to my shame, I could not resist. I had heard of other accounts such as this, where my brethren of our father below were sent screaming into the void at this Jesus’ command, but that knowledge did little to console me as I was ripped from my host and sent back here, to report my grievous news and failure. This is, surely, the beginning of the end. I shudder to think of what awaits us. We will fight, but in my despair, I fear that all is lost…

NO! We mustn’t give in! Our reality is real! There are still men to be coerced, to be drawn away and tempted! I hear of fabulous new technologies which will make our job infinitely easier in the future! The authority is ours … OURS!! No matter what the enemy may say or do, if we lose our residence in one, we will move to another! We are in control, and no commands of the enemy will dislodge us!

Long live the underlord!

*              *              *

What this demon fails to realize is that the authority, the control was never theirs in the first place. What they don’t know or understand is that Jesus is there to take back His own people, and nothing is going to stop Him. He is there to bind the strong man and plunder his house, stealing away the souls the tempters undoubtedly thought were secure in their grasp. Jesus muzzling of this rancorous unclean spirit brandishes His absolute control and authority. That is why the demon leaves the man from Capernaum, and that’s why all those present in that synagogue looked on in amazement and perturbation.  They say, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” Why? Because in a rare word of truth from the demoniac, Jesus is the “Holy One of God.” Jesus Himself declares at the end of Matthew’s Gospel account, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. We needn’t fear the plots and schemes of the actual enemy, Satan, because our God has declared us to be His children. He says it, and because the authority is His, because it does not lie with us or anything else in all creation, it is true, and we can rest in that revelation.

+ In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. + Amen.

The Time Is Fulfilled

January 21, 2018
By Pastor David French

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The Time Is Fulfilled
Mark 1:14-20

Again today we have two accounts of God calling men into the Holy Ministry.  The Old Testament reading is about God calling Jonah to serve the people of Nineveh.  In the Gospel Jesus calls four of His disciples to become fishers of men.

In our reading from Jonah, we find God working with a very reluctant prophet.  Remember, when God originally called Jonah to go to Nineveh, he ran away.  You see, Israel and Assyria were bitter enemies, and Nineveh was the capital of Assyria.  Jonah hated the Assyrians and if the Holy Spirit worked faith in them, then God would forgive them.  That was the last thing Jonah wanted because he hated the Assyrians. 

So Jonah gets on a ship that would take him as far from Nineveh as was possible in the world that he knew.  He literally tried to do the exact opposite of what God called him to do so that the people of Nineveh would die in their sins.  My friends, Jonah really hated the Assyrians.

God of course intervened.  He allowed a storm to threaten the safety of the ship.  Jonah was so intent on avoiding the people of Nineveh that he convinced the sailors to throw him into the sea.  He knew God was angry with him and he thought that if he drowned in the sea, God would not punish the ship. 

Sure enough, when the sailors threw Jonah into the sea, the storm calmed and the sailors continued their journey. But, instead of drowning, God sent a great fish to carry Jonah back to the eastern shores of the Mediterranean, and there vomited Jonah onto the shore.

So what’s an angry prophet supposed to do?  As we heard this morning, Jonah went to Nineveh and preached God’s judgment on them.  And the Holy Spirit worked through the message that God gave to Jonah, and the people in Nineveh repented, and just as Jonah feared, God forgave them.

Now we can learn several things from Jonah.  First of all, God’s called prophets, apostles, pastors, and teachers are sinners just like everyone else.  Second, the most hateful thing a servant of God can do is keep God’s Word to himself.  Jonah hated the Assyrians and so he determined not to share God’s message with them.  Finally, we learn that God’s message is a blessing to us even if the messenger is not.  The message of God brought the blessing of forgiveness even from the hateful mouth of Jonah.

As Jesus preached, He also called disciples to follow him. As we read [Mark 1:16–20] Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.

These four men and the others that Jesus chose were not full of hatred like Jonah, but they did all have their weaknesses.  As we follow Jesus in His ministry, we see these men fail again and again.  Jesus will teach, and they will often fail to understand. While Jesus is proclaiming the kingdom of God, they are arguing amongst themselves about which of them is the greatest.  They will walk, talk, and eat with Jesus for years, but they will focus on their own concerns. And yet they the ones God chose to proclaim God’s kingdom after Jesus ascended back to the Father.

Again, God calls men to serve in His kingdom who are born of sin just like everyone else.  In fact, it sometimes seems as though God goes out of His way to choose the most unlikely candidates to proclaim His message.  As the Lord said to Paul, [2 Corinthians 12:9] My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. That is: it’s the message that’s important, not the messenger.

And nothing has changed.  God still seems to call the most unlikely men to proclaim His kingdom.  We are weak and frail with enormous faults as Pastor Harrison said when he learned that he was about to become the president of the LC-MS, “You have kept your perfect record of electing sinners as president of the Missouri Synod.”

But how can God take sinful, weak men and make them the bearers of eternal life?  Well, if He created a unique “better than you” kind of person to be His under-shepherds, do you think you’d be able to relate to your pastor or he to you?  You see, we share a life of ups and downs, of questions, of doubts, of fears – in truth, a life of sin.  But we also share something greater than sin for we share the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Remember what Jesus said?  The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel. The fulfillment of all things was and is found in the man, Jesus. The kingdom of God, is not distant but comes to us in Christ who bore all human suffering.

Have you been crushed by the weight of guilt, or pain, or sorrow?  Look to Jesus – He knows you and will gladly carry it for you, if you let Him.  That’s why God gives His people pastors.  When God seems distant, here is a man who shares your humanity and speaks for the One who has redeemed you.  He stands in the place of Christ, bringing the ear of Christ in confession and the heart of Christ in absolution.

Do you fear death?  Look to Jesus – He’s already been there and has some great news for you!   He has taken all the punishment earned by sin for you and every other sinner, shedding His holy and innocent Blood to pay what you could not pay.  And the good news is death could not hold Him.  On Easter morning with His resurrection He destroyed the power of sin, death and the devil.  And this He proclaims to you when a pastor, poured water upon your head in His Name and you became one with your savior Jesus in both His death and His Resurrection.

Are you weak? Come to Christ’s altar where a pastor places into your hand … the very body and blood of Jesus given and shed for you.  Here you receive in with and under the bread and wine of His supper forgiveness for your sins and strength for your faith.  This is as we sing a foretaste of the feast to come.  Here, for you, is the Kingdom of God, it’s not distant, but comes to you this very moment. 

God called Jonah to minister to a congregation that Jonah hated.  In spite of the hatred, God worked repentance in their hearts and they received forgiveness for their sins.  In spite of the failures of the apostles, Christ still sent them to proclaim repentance and the forgiveness of sins in His name and the Word of the Lord grew. 

God still calls sinful men into the ministry.  And in spite of all our shortcomings, when we are faithful to His word, the Christ we proclaim still forgives your sins and offers you eternal life. My friends, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.

In His Name, Amen

Come and See

January 14, 2018
By Pastor David French

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Come and See
John 1:43-51

Today is one of those Sundays when the - how the Old Testament lesson fits with the Gospel lesson is really obvious since both deal with God’s calling men to serve within His Kingdom.

The reading from 1st Samuel tells us that the Lord came and stood, calling Samuel. That is the Son of God appeared to Samuel centuries before He took on flesh and blood. We often refer to such a visit as an epiphany of the pre-incarnate Christ. So, while He exists from eternity as spirit, the Second person of the Trinity did on occasion, reveal Himself to different people. Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, and Moses would be a few examples of those who saw the Christ before He was born of Mary.

In todays reading we heard that Jesus found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” This of course would be the incarnate God calling Philip that is the second person of the Trinity after He was born of Mary.

In either case it’s God who comes and calls. Samuel didn’t suddenly decide to be a prophet, nor did Philip just decide to become an apostle. It is God who called them. God worked through Samuel to call Eli and his sons back to Himself, and He worked through Philip to call Nathaniel. So whether God calls directly, as with Samuel and Philip, or indirectly as with Eli and Nathaniel, it is God who calls them to Himself, just as it is God who called you.

The message that God gave to Samuel it turns out was one about the death and destruction of Eli and his family. The problem was that Eli’s sons, who were priests at the tabernacle, were corrupt. The Scriptures describe Eli’s sons as worthless (or wicked) men. They were adulterers and they used the office of priest for their own gain and pleasure. How hard it must have been for Samuel to speak this message to the man who was his mentor … a man he loved and respected. But even after hearing the message Eli did not repent, nor did he discipline his sons.

Eli and his sons all worked in the tabernacle. They had access to the writings of Moses. They participated in the sacrificial system. They had every reason to fear God’s wrath and trust His promises. Yet they ignored both His written word and His word spoken by the mouth of Samuel. You see God wanted to show them mercy but they chose death instead.

One lesson we learn from the call of Samuel is that God calls men into the ministry to first proclaim a message of judgment, and that because it simply does no good to learn that Jesus forgives sin if you think you don’t have any. Jesus says the same thing when He says [Mark 2:17] It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners. You see those who declare themselves to be righteous may not realize it, but by doing so, they by that act, are also saying they don’t need Jesus.

That’s why it really is important for you to actually think about your confession of sins as we begin each Divine Service. If you just go through the motions and don’t really mean or even think about what you’re saying, you are in effect saying to Jesus: I don’t really need You.

Samuel was afraid to share his vision to Eli … afraid really of hurting Eli. I don’t know about other pastors, but it gives me no joy to have to point out your sin. And ashamedly I have over the years failed to point it out to some as directly as I should have because I was afraid of hurting feelings. Forgive me my weakness and I am working on it because I have come learn that calling sin, sin is, in reality, an act of love, it’s just that sometimes loves does indeed hurt.

It’s along the line of just as there’s no joy for a doctor in telling someone about their cancer, there’s no joy for a pastor in telling God’s children about their sin. In the same way that the doctor informs you of your disease not to hurt you but so that you will understand your need for treatment, a pastor informs you of your sin not to hurt you but so that you will understand your need for the only treatment for sin that exist that is the blood of Jesus Christ.

Now unlike Samuel’s message of doom, Jesus gave Philip a message of joy to proclaim. Philip found Nathanael and said to him: We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. Both Philip and Nathaniel were ready for Jesus. Notice how Philip and Nathaniel knew about Moses and the prophets. That means they knew about their sins and about God’s promise to send a savior to free them from those sins. All Philip had to do was tell Nathaniel that Jesus of Nazareth was the promised Savior.

But Nathaniel did have one problem … his preconceived notions about the Christ. Can anything good come out of Nazareth? When Nathaniel asked that question, he was saying that he wasn’t convinced. And yet, Jesus is God in the flesh, born of a virgin and laid in a manger. After living a couple years in Egypt His parents brought Him to Nazareth where he grew in wisdom and stature. Philip’s response was simple. Come and see.

Coming from Nazareth isn’t the strangest thing that Nathaniel will learn about Jesus. He will learn that this man about whom Isaiah said: he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him is the Son of God. He will be a witness to Jesus living under and keeping the law perfectly. He would see himself run away in terror with the others when the soldiers arrested Jesus. He would hide in fear as Jesus hung on the cross. He would stare in wonder as Jesus invited him to reach out and touch the wounds in His hands, feet, and side.

The truth is Jesus is the means or the way that God dwells with man in peace. As Jesus taught Nathaniel, portraying Himself in verse 51 as the fulfillment of Jacob’s vision of heaven with the ladder extending down from heaven with angels ascending and descending on it and God promising, in Genesis (28:15) Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.

And in our reading Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” That’s the message of Jacob’s vision … Jesus is the ladder that allows God to come and live with man in peace. That is if God were to come to man apart from Christ there would be only judgment and punishment, but in Christ there is mercy, forgiveness, joy and peace.

You see God calls men from every nation to proclaim His message of repentance and the forgiveness of sins found in His Son Jesus. The message of repentance, like the message God gave to Samuel, is a word that terrifies because we know our sin. And the message of forgiveness like the message God gave to Philip is a word that points us to God’s Son and our savior … Jesus of Nazareth … of the cross … of the empty tomb. Jesus, who comes to you again today through His Word and Sacrament. Come and see Jesus, your Lord and savior who still comes to set you free.

In His Name, Amen.

Can You Hear Me Now?

January 07, 2018
By Pastor Peter Heckert

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Can You Hear Me Now?
Mark 1:4-11

+ Grace to you, and peace, from God our heavenly Father, and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. + Amen.

The text for our meditation this day is from our Gospel lesson, specifically where Mark records, In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when He came up out of the water, immediately He saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on Him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are My beloved Son; with You I am well pleased.” Here ends our text; dear Christian friends.

“Can you hear me now? … Good!” You probably remember those Verizon Wireless commercials from the 2000s, with the “Test Man” wandering around on his cell phone, asking if the person on the other end of the line could hear him. Personally, I found those commercials a bit annoying - and Paul Marcarelli, the actor portraying the Verizon Guy, would seem to agree; when his contract with Verizon ended in 2011, he was reportedly relieved to be moving on. However, at the time, the message of those commercials was exceedingly clear: if you want crystal-clear communication, to hear the person on the other end and have them hear you, regardless of where you are, use our services.

At the risk of sounding reductionistic or silly, I’d like to propose that we can hear some echoes of the Verizon Guy’s tagline in today’s readings, especially our Gospel text. So far this Church year, we’ve been hearing quite a bit about John the Baptist and the role that he played in Jesus’ life and earthly ministry. Here, we see the first instance, according to Mark’s Gospel account, of interaction between these two. Now, Mark’s Gospel is noticeably shorter than the others; the way in which it was written begs that it be read as more of a drama, almost like a play. Mark has a message, and he wants to get it out, clear and quick, to those who are reading and listening. That’s why you see words like immediately scattered throughout his gospel account - he is keeping the action and narrative going.

This explains why this first interaction between Jesus and John the Baptist is so brief, even a bit terse. We get our introduction to who John was, what his purpose was, and what may have almost been a catchphrase for the camelhair-clad prophet: After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit. Immediately following this introduction, we have Jesus coming to John to be baptized. Mark records no interaction between the prophet and the God he was proclaiming. Here in Mark, we see no apprehension of the Baptist, saying that he should be baptized by Jesus rather than the other way around. Instead, Mark cuts to the chase: [W]hen He came up out of the water, immediately He saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on Him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are My beloved Son; with You I am well pleased.”

Mark is practically screaming to his readers what seems obvious to us now: this Jesus, the One from Nazareth of Galilee? He’s GOD’S SON. In spite of what the Pharisees and Sadducees would undoubtedly be screaming to the contrary, in spite of the oblivious nature of the disciples at the time, God is spelling it out so clearly to us. He is declaring to His people, THIS is the One Whom you all have been waiting for; can you hear Me now?

Of course, if this is the case, that has some pretty incredible consequences for all of those who come after. If this Jesus is God’s Son - rather, since this Jesus is God’s Son, what does that say about all the things that He did and said among us, His people? You know, the Sermon on the Mount, and all that language of, But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother … everyone [who lusts] … everyone who divorces? All that language of If your eye causes you to sin, tear it out? When He says, For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person. If all these words of Jesus are true - sorry, again, since they are true, coming from the mouth of the Son of God, what hope do any of us have in any of our own works, so thoroughly and completely tainted by sin as they are? Can you hear Me now??

What about when Jesus says, I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me? What about, when speaking of His own body, Jesus said, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up? For that matter, what about when He said, Take, eat; this is my body … and, Drink of [this cup], all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. How about Jesus’ words, Son, your sins are forgiven? We trust these words are true, in spite of our absolute wretchedness, because they are coming from the lips of Jesus, the One Whom the Father proclaimed to be His Son. Can you hear Me now??

Since Jesus is the Son of God, it’s an understatement to say that this lends much more weight to all that He said and did. His Word actually means something. His Baptism means something, especially for those of us who have been baptized into His Name. We have inherited that baptism - it’s not just a washing away of dirt and grime, but it is the holistic cleansing of your very person - body and soul. In our epistle lesson, Paul wrote to the Romans, Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. Part of the reason Jesus was baptized by John was to, as our own baptismal liturgy declares, sanctify and bless “all waters to be a blessed flood and a lavish washing away of sin.” When God’s Word is combined with water - regardless of the source or quantity, what you see is God making a claim on one of His creatures. It is YHWH Himself cleansing you from all sin, wiping away the filth and the muck that proceeds out of our vile human hearts and declaring, “This one? This one is MINE, and NO ONE is going to snatch this one out of My hands!” Can you hear me now?

When Jesus was baptized in the Jordan by John, He didn’t do so because He needed the lavish washing away of sin like we do. No, there’s a reason why we celebrate this day right after the official start of the season of Epiphany, when we celebrate Jesus being revealed to the nations. His baptism was an official act of revealing Jesus for Who He really is to all those present. God the Father was declaring that this One standing before them was His Son. For that matter, He says the same thing about you and me by virtue of our own baptisms. You needn’t fear, wondering whose you are. The Holy Spirit decided that for you in that blessed and holy flood. Baptized into Jesus’s death and resurrection, we now belong to the Father; we are His. Can you hear me now? … Very good!

+ In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. + Amen.

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