Epiphany 1
The Baptism of our Lord
January 7, 2001
Luke 3:15-17, 21-22
"What Really Happened At Jesus' Baptism?"

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Introduction: Today is the first Sunday in the season of Epiphany. In churches all over the world people will begin the year of our Lord 2001 celebrating the baptism of our Lord which is the emphasis for this day. On this day we remember the baptism of Jesus in the river Jordan by John the Baptist.  The question for you and me to ponder is this: What really happened at Jesus' Baptism? Let's see what the evangelist Luke would tell us.

1.  At His Baptism Jesus received the Holy Spirit. When Jesus was baptized we are told that the heavens were opened and the Holy Spirit came down and lighted upon Jesus. The Scriptures tell us that the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus in a mighty way.  Why is it so important for us to know that the Spirit fell upon Jesus on that day?

It is important for us to know this for when the Spirit fell upon Jesus this was the signal that Jesus was to begin His work in bringing about the salvation of the world.  Jesus will do no work until it is time.  When the Spirit fell upon Jesus, the time for Him to begin had come. The baptism of Jesus is simply this, the starting of Jesus earthly ministry to bring about your salvation.

Up to the time that Jesus began His ministry, He lived for thirty years in quiet seclusion. No one had heard of Him. He lived in a tiny town of Nazareth, working in the carpenter's shop of Joseph, His earthly Father.  But once He was baptized, His real work began.

When Jesus began His earthly ministry there was an important work that needed to be completed. The salvation of the entire planet held in the balance. How would that be accomplished?  It was accomplished in two ways.  Conceived by the Holy Spirit Jesus is true God.  As God, Jesus came into this world to defeat the devil, sin, and death for only God could defeat these three. On the day that Jesus was baptized He got started in doing this important work.

But Jesus is also true man. As a man, He had to live a perfect life. He had to endure the temptations that you and I go through. He had to suffer and die for the entire human race has been condemned to die because of sin.  As a human and as God Jesus began this important work to bring about the world's salvation, in short, to bring about your salvation.  The baptism of Jesus simply says that Jesus was willing and able to start this important work.

But Jesus will never do His work without prior approval. He can only do what the Father has commanded Him. On the day of His baptism Jesus also received the commission of the Father to begin His most important work. 

2.   At His Baptism Jesus heard the Father declare that He was God's Son.  We all need approval.  It comes from the student who approaches the teacher and asks, "am I doing this assignment correctly?"  It comes from the worker who asks the boss, "is this the way that you want me to perform this task" It comes from the manager who contacts the corporate office asking for approval to begin a new program.

When Jesus was baptize the Father placed His mark upon His Son and said you are doing My work and doing it correctly. As Jesus is baptized the voice of the Father can be heard.  The Father speaks, "this is My Son, in whom I am well pleased, listen to Him" 

This voice is for Jesus.  It is also for you.  The voice is for Jesus. As the Father speaks, He knows that He is doing the Father's will. His plan will be worked to completion.  His plan will be worked to perfection.

But this voice is also for you.  We can know that there is salvation today because the Father has said that Jesus will do all things well. This is the Father's Son and the Father is well pleased in all that He does.  This is the Father's Son, and He can only do what the Father has commanded Him to do.

Conclusion:  Jesus has done all things well. He listened to the voice of His Father and did everything that He was told to do.  He worked the Father's plan, He took our nature, and He took our sin and went to the cross to suffer and die for you and for me.  Anointed with the Spirit at His baptism, Jesus went forth on that day proclaiming salvation and life to all who would hear His voice and believe in Him.

The mission continues. Jesus has been commissioned to speak to folk today concerning salvation and life. He still does the will of the Father; He still draws all men unto Himself.  As His baptism Jesus received His commission, and began His work of redemption.  That is what happened at Jesus' baptism.  Thanks be to God that Jesus' fulfilled His mission and has granted to us salvation and life.

+ Soli Deo Gloria+