Thursday, January 22, 2015

“Getting into the Fray” (Mark 1:9-11)

S-1471 BOC/3B 1/11/2015 Hymns: (O) #302; (S) #272; LS. #300; #304 (C) #39

Texts: Genesis 1:1-5; Romans 6:1-11; Mark 1:4-11

Theme: “Getting into the Fray” (Mark 1:9-11)

Question: “Have you ever fought?”

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia. The text is from the Gospel lesson: “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’ (Mark 1:9-11)

Precious children of the heavenly Father, have you ever heard the expression “Getting into the fray? Getting into the fray can mean entering a battle zone or a severe fight or becoming enmeshed or entangled in some counterproductive ways. There are many examples of “getting into the fray.” We saw it on Friday as the drama unfolded on our TV screens. In the Paris province after 7 hours of siege, French security forces got into the fray simultaneously at a printing factory and a kosher supermarket and killed 3 terrorists who committed atrocities against innocent civilians. The law enforcement officers got into the fray, not by choice but by the call of their office. They are pledged to defend and protect. When these evil doers acted, it was necessary for them to get into the fray to save lives!

It is sad to see these senseless acts of violence being carried out by devil worshipers who think they are cleansing the worlds of infidels. This violence in the name of that false and evil thing we call Islam is carried all over the world. Even around our state we read the papers and we see the carnage, bloodbath and slaughter of innocent human beings. And we ask why? Whatever name we dress it with, it comes down to one thing—SIN. Since sin has entered the world, death and destruction, chaos and confusion, pain and punishment has been part of our daily lives.

None of us are immune from experiencing the carnage and pain of living in this broken and sinful world. But thanks be to God that where sin abounds, grace abounds even more!

The Baptism of our Lord which we observe today marks Jesus’ entry into the fray. He gets into the fray to save us. He gets into the fray to redeem us from the powers to be—sin, death and the devil Jesus.

As we read these short and to the point words of Jesus’ baptism, we really don’t hear the language of conflict that you would associate with “getting into the fray.” But it is clear that these words that we read are about Jesus getting into the fray. This is one of the events that all three of the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) describe and so was obviously an event that the Early Church saw as of great importance. John the Baptizer had been in the wilderness calling people everywhere to repent and Jesus, amongst others, responds by being baptized.
But have you ever wondered why did Jesus need to be baptized?” Does Jesus, the Incarnate Son of God need to repent? Why did He stand in the muddy Jordan water to be baptized? St. Matthew in his telling of the same story helps us a little more.

In that account we read that John the Baptizer didn’t want to baptize His cousin Jesus. However Jesus said: “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Mt. 3:15). To fulfill all righteousness means getting into the fray by being baptized and submitting to live under the requirement of the Law as all other human beings live. Unlike the French police officers, Jesus “got into the fray” because He chose to. This was the mission the Father sent Him on for the sake of others! This baptism in the muddy Jordan marked Him as the Man on a mission of delivering us. Jesus entered the Jordan to clean sinful hearts. This is the beginning of His ministry to save mankind from the destructive power of hell and God’s wrath. PAUSE.

Children of the heavenly Father, in the fifth Century AD, a story is told of a baptismal event that occurred when St. Patrick baptized King Aengus (ing ess). During the baptismal ceremony, St. Patrick leaned on his sharp-pointed staff and accidently stabbed the king’s foot. After the baptism was over, St. Patrick looked down at all the blood, realized what he had done, and begged the king’s forgiveness. Why did you suffer this pain in silence St Patrick asked. The king replied, I thought it was part of the ritual!”

In the king’s mind, he thought it was a ritual. But the King of kings and Lord of lords entered our world as a baby for a specific reason, to be the world’s Savior. In being baptized by the baptizer, He identified Himself with us in every way, taking our world unto Himself. He got into the fray to win our battle against the enemy the devil and free us from the bondage that shackles us.

Beloved in Christ, let be known that Jesus didn’t need to be baptized. He chose through baptism to put Himself under the requirement of the Law. Getting into the fray is for us…SINNERS. Jesus was not a sinner nor did He ever commit any sin, but…by being baptized He identified Himself as one with us to make us one with Him.

Pastor Paul, captured this thought when he wrote: “For our sake He [God] made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” ( 2 Corinthians 5:21). There in the waters of the Jordan at the hand of John, Jesus does the unthinkable and we see to what point Jesus enters this filthy and muddy water. He is baptized to put ON our sin. This is the beginning of what Luther would call the Great Exchange. Jesus becomes sin for us so that we might receive His righteousness and eternal life. Jesus takes our filth, so that we take His holiness.

How that exchange will happen plays out right there at the Jordan. Jesus is present. With the Spirit’s anointing and the Father’s blessing, we see the heavens rent asunder. Like the Temple Curtain is torn as Jesus dies and God’s people get a glimpse of God’s Mercy Seat, so here at the Jordan the people get a glimpse of God’s mercy: Jesus! PAUSE.

Beloved people of God, through this unorthodox prophet in the wilderness, John revealed (Epiphany) Jesus to the world. All eyes are opened, and begin to see the coming of salvation, Jesus Christ the Lord. As the Wise Men visited the Holy Child; Jesus, now visits all, bringing the greatest gift of all, Baptism for the forgiveness of sins. This precious gift to us sinners is far more costly than gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

In the waters of baptism, we are connected to the One who connected Himself to us in His baptism. In baptism we die and rise to a new life with Him as the Epistle lesson reminds. By His grace we rise to live pure and holy life which He earned for us as He entered the fray and fought the battle in our place.

Today, thank God that He sent His only Son, Jesus to enter our world, enter the Jordan, and get into the fray. He did this to free us from the bondage of sin and death and grant us life and salvation. He did this out of pure mercy and grace and that is why the Father is pleased with Him as we heard the voice from heaven: You are My beloved Son; with You I Am well pleased’

Holy followers of Jesus, just like king Aengus endured suffering at the spear of St. Patrick, Jesus endured more…for you. He got into the fray and at the hands of the Jewish leaders and Roman soldiers endured, humiliation, beating, spitting, and piercing with nails, crown of thorns and spear and ultimately death on a cross for you. He got into the fray so that you may escape the fires of hell and the punishment that we deserve. He did it all for you, so that you may be His forever and ever. Thanks be to God that Jesus got into the fray for us. Amen.

Now the peace…


No comments: