Thursday, January 17, 2008

Heard the Voice Lately? Matthew 13:17

S-1023 1/13/08 Baptism of Jesus 3/A. Hymns: (O)#5; (S)#600 LSB; L.S. #301; 298; #302; (C) #47
Texts: Isaiah 42:1-9; Romans 6:1-11; Matthew 3:13-17
Theme: “Heard the Voice Lately?” (Mt. 13:17).

Faithful followers of the Savior, ‘Christ is Risen!’ “He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia!” The text for this Baptismal day of Jesus, is from the Gospel lesson, “and behold, a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased’” (Mt. 3:17).


Saints in Christ, how many different voices do we hear in the course of the day? We hear the alarm clock waking us up. The voice of the coffee maker brewing sounds heavenly in our ears. The voice of water running over our sleepy bodies, the heater kicking in; and the voice of the cereal box being opened; the cell phone turned on and the TV announcer blaring. We hear children driving to school. There are many voices.

This is the way our world is today. There are so many voices out there. There are the voices of the candidates on the campaign trail that shout their message. The voices of fear-mongers who scream about terrorism, nuclear destruction, pandemics of disease, financial doom and global warming and any of a thousand more. There are voices of the preachers who preach a message of impending doom if Israel is not defended. The voice of some churches that chant you can have your best life—have it all, grab it all, do it all, and ignore it all. Then we have the voice of the world that screams borrow, spend, desire, covet and never be content. It almost seems impossible to distinguish any of the voices, let alone listen to just one.

But today, I ask you to clean-up your ears, get the wax out of them, and pay attention—careful attention as we turn our eyes from the glories of Christmas and Epiphany to the coming glories called Lent and Easter, we make the turn at the sound of A VOICE. This voice is not muddled, muddied or muffled. But a sound as clear and commanding as a Church bell on a calm quiet Sunday morning. The voice we hear that turns us from Epiphany toward Easter is no other voice than the voice of the Heavenly Father Himself. ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased’”

As this voice burst from the clouds, ears were opened, eyes looked up and hearts were moved at the sound. The voice from heaven struck a cord with those listening at the edge of the Jordan. And if we were privileged to be standing at the bank of the Jordan, we would do the same—look up and wonder what voice is this. Our eyes would be turned to the man standing in the muddied water. We would see more than a human, but the holy Son of God, with whom the Father’s joy is bubbling to the point of speaking the words of the Text. ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased’” In this action of a Son seeking to fulfill all righteousness, we see the Father rejoicing at His Son’s activities. Jesus is the One who will do everything needful to please His Father and save sinners.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could hear a voice like that this morning? What a wonderful place our world would be if God’s voice were as clear today as it was there in Jesus’ day. If only all those other voices that would seek to pull us away from our well-pleased Father could be so easily drowned out! I just wonder how our existence would be different.

Well, we do still hear the voice today. You heard that voice in this service where the Lord speaks in His word. The Eternal Father still speaks to us in the Words of Holy Scripture. It is in these words that we are reminded again just how crucial this baptism of Jesus is. Jesus’ baptism wasn’t necessary. But He did it to take our mud, our filth and our guilt upon Himself. Our baptism was for the forgiveness of our sins; but Jesus was baptized to wash us away from all filth. We heard about this back in Advent. John preached in the wilderness. His preaching was not like the prosperity driven preaching of Joel Osteen that never speaks about sin, or Pat Robertson who claims to hear God telling him things. No, John pointed the people to their sin. By submitting to baptism, they were confessing that they were in need of a savior, the very savior who is greater than John and promised from of old.

Unlike Jesus’ baptism ours was necessary so that we might receive the righteousness of God. Behold in Jesus the work of cleansing us and making us His dearly beloved. This Jesus here now presents Himself to John for the very same baptism that those awful Jewish sinners were coming out for. Why? Jesus’ own voice confirms the reason. “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Jesus doesn’t need this baptism. We do. However, in order to be under the Law, just like us, He willingly undergoes a process that He doesn’t need. This baptism isn’t for Jesus, it is for you! He comes to walk in our place, to wear our sin, to bear our guilt, die our death and live our life. Why? To fulfill all righteousness!

The fact that Jesus is at the Jordan at all is a clear sign of God’s goodness and grace. He is there to begin the process that brings our heavenly Father the greatest joy. We are told in the Bible that God does not desire the death of sinners. We are told that He wants nothing else than all men to come to the knowledge of the truth and be saved. The one thing that Jesus comes to do to please His Father is to offer Himself in our place! This Jesus has come for you! The voice confirms it. As we follow this Jesus from the Jordan to the wilderness, from the wilderness to Galilee, from Galilee to Jerusalem and from Jerusalem to Calvary and the cross, we see what pleases the Father. This entire journey will lead to the Father, from the cross to the tomb, and from the tomb to the ascension we see God being pleased in our salvation!

We hear this voice in the Scriptures. But there are so many along the way that refused to listen. Pharaoh would not listen to the voice of the Lord through Moses, and it cost him his army and kingdom. Abihu and Nadab didn’t listen to the command of God and they got smoked (Lev. 10). Herod would not listen and he died a miserable death. Judas’ wouldn’t listen to the Savior’s bidding, and he betrayed Him. And there are millions through history and even now that will not listen to the voice of the Lord. The Lord’s voice calls us today to listen to the Son and repent of our sins. But do we? Do we listen to the Son, or do we listen to the world? Do we listen to the Son or do we listen to satan and his schemes that would lead us not to please God but to please ourselves. Do we listen to the Son or do we listen to our own sinful desires that are still reaching for that forbidden fruit of being the god of our own life? The truth is, every time we sin we are not listening. We are plugging our ears and doing what pleases us, and God is displeased in the process. When we do, we are choosing to join our names with the likes of Pharaoh, Abihu, Nadab, Herod and Judas.

It is not that we don’t hear God. We do hear Him. It is just that we selective hearing. We love to hear that the Lord forgives us, and loves us and wants to care for us; but we hate to hear that we are sinners who need to turn away from sin. We love to hear that the Lord has prepared a place in eternity for us, but we hate to hear that it means to live a life of obedience and of service to Him. We love to hear that which makes us sound good, look good and feel good. Anything else, we select not to hear. THIS IS BLATENT SINNING AGAINST GOD AND HIS WORD.

And what does the Father do? He sends Jesus. It is for that purpose that Jesus is at the Jordan in our text. Remember, He is there to fulfill all righteousness. That was not to make Himself look good or to receive forgiveness. No, He is there to fulfill a righteousness that we could never fulfill on our own. Jesus takes our place at the Jordan so that we can take His place with the Father. Jesus takes our place at Calvary so that we can take His place in eternity. Any righteousness that we have comes from Christ. We are not good enough. We never have been and never will be. This is the very reason why Jesus does what He does FOR YOU.

That same voice is speaking to you today. The very same voice that commended Jesus for His work to fulfill all righteousness speaks to you. For we have been baptized, not in the Jordan, but in the life giving flood of Holy Baptism. In the waters that washed over us we are given righteousness as a gift. That gift is the gift of a voice, the voice of the Father who says to you what He says to Jesus. You are my son/daughter with you I am well pleased. You didn’t fulfill all righteousness, Jesus did. But you get all the credit.

Have you heard this voice lately? Yes you have! You heard it when the Absolution was pronounced over you. You heard it as the Scriptures were read. You will hear it again as you receive the invitation to come to the Table and receive the Father-pleasing Son’s body and blood for the forgiveness of sin. This voice is clear. It can’t be drowned out. It can only be ignored. But by the grace of God we hear. We hear and believe. Have you heard the voice lately? In the name of Christ you have! Then place your name in front of this sentence and say it out loud “Nabil, you are my beloved son, with you I am well pleased. AMEN

Now the peace of God….

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