Baptismal Sermon: Mark 16:16
Trinity 12Mark 16:16 Baptism of Jake Duben
August 26th, 2007 Faith Ev. Lutheran Church Waterloo, IA
Water is just about the most important thing in our lives. Each of us was formed in the water of our mother’s womb, and from the day we left that place of sanctity, we have needed water every day to sustain us. Most of our earth is covered by water. Our very bodies are made up mostly of water. The food we eat, the clothes we wear, indeed the very air we breathe all depend on proper amounts of water. Water is absolutely necessary to sustain life. Where there is no water, there can be no human life.
Water is just about the most important thing in our lives. But it is not THE most important thing. That distinction goes to the Word of God. The Word of God is the most important thing in our lives. Remember that it is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” So it is apparent that water and God’s Word are the two most important things in our lives.
What does God’s Word have to say about water? Plenty! The Bible mentions water more than 400 times, and all of these verses talk about the two things that water does: sustain life, and wash away filth. As we Christians seek to grow in wisdom, we must learn to see these functions of water, sustaining life and cleansing filth, not as mediocrities, but as acts of God almighty. For in Holy Scripture, as in our daily lives, where there is water, there are the miracles of God.
Think of the Bible stories you know. Think all the way back to the start. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the water.” And to that dark water God then added His Word, “Let there be…” and the world and everything in it was created. Remember the story of faithful Noah and the Ark? God performed a miracle with water by means of a flood the likes of which the world has never seen before or since. We see that these miracle waters separated those that lived from those that died. Remember the story of Moses and God’s people? Facing their certain death at the hands of their enemies, God separates the Red Sea. God then leads His people through these miracle waters, out of slavery, and into a new life on the other side, while the pagan Egyptians were washed away. Likewise, in the book of Joshua, the Jordan River was raging and at full flood stage. God parted the water again, and led His people this time through the miracle waters of the Jordan River on dry ground, and into the Promised Land. These historical events are but a sampling, a “hitting of the highlights” of all the times we see how God uses water to sustain life, and cleanse what was unclean.
And then came the New Testament, and Jesus Christ Himself. The Word of God made flesh combines Himself with water. Jesus submits Himself to be baptized. And when Jesus is baptized, The Holy Spirit descends to Him in the form of a dove, and The Heavenly Father informs all mankind, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” From this we learn a very important fact: all three persons of the Holy Trinity, God Himself is present at Holy Baptism. And thus we see that Baptism is no trivial matter.
And this brings us to what we have witnessed here today, Jake’s Baptism. Hear the Word of your Lord as recorded in the Holy Gospels. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” This is what Christ Jesus said before His physical body left the earth. These words are a commandment and an institution from Almighty God Himself, spoken to us so that no one can doubt that baptism comes from God, and is not something manmade. Jesus also binds this command to a promise that is meant to bring joy, comfort and peace to the hearts of men, “He who believes and is Baptized will be saved.”
Today God has done it again. He has joined water together with His Word, and done something miraculous. He has washed and renewed the soul of His new servant Jake. The water in the baptismal font is by itself nothing special. It came from the kitchen sink. But combined with the Word of God, it is liquid salvation. The Book of Titus tells us, “He saved us through the washing of rebirth, and the renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying.” Here is what all that means. Jesus Christ won salvation for us at the cross, and He gives salvation to us in Holy Baptism. To our naked eye, it appears that Jake merely got his hair wet. But what God says is that He Himself recreated Jake today. God created Jake in the waters of his mother’s womb, and has today recreated him in the waters of Holy Baptism. He once was creature of wrath; today and from this day forward, he is a Child of Light. His broken soul has now been washed and renewed. The Holy Spirit has descended to this place, and has generously applied Himself to Jake’s heart and soul. Jake, today God has called you to this place, and made you His own.
Long ago, jealous Cain killed his own brother. Although he was to suffer great punishment, when he asked God for mercy, the Lord put a mark on him that forbid anyone to kill him. Likewise, God told the Israelites to paint the blood of a blameless male lamb over the doorpost, so that when the Angel of Death came He would pass over the house of those that lived under the mark. So it is this day with all who believe and are baptized. At our baptism you were given a mark that designates you as God’s own. You have been marked, and given citizenship in heaven by the joining of water and Word. You are marked, and thus hell has lost its claim on your soul. You are marked, and thus eternal death will Passover you. This is God’s will. We who believe and are baptized are like the dirty prodigal son. We have come to the Father dirty and broken, but we have been wrapped in the garments of the king. At your baptism, the Bible tells us that you were wrapped in the clothing of Christ’s righteousness. This means that although we are undeserving to be called God’s children because of our sin, He has made heirs to the Kingdom of Heaven, heirs to our Father’s home.
Baptism DOES NOT mean that you will be perfect from this point forward. You will not be. It DOES NOT mean that you will be sinless. You won’t be. It DOES NOT mean that you will now have all the answers. You won’t. It DOES NOT mean that everything is going to be great from now on. It won’t be. In fact, we are told that as children of God, we should not be surprised by the fiery trials that come upon us. The world hated Jesus for all that He was. Seeing as you are now connected to Him, it is going to hate you too.
What baptism DOES mean is that you are now a Christian. What it DOES mean is that when you sin, and daily you will, you can remember God’s promise to forgive you, and stay with you, and keep you. What it DOES mean is that you have been made a citizen of Heaven, and nothing in hell or on earth can take that away from you. What baptism DOES mean is that Jesus is yours, and you are His. You have become connected to Jesus forever. It DOES mean that eternal life is yours. He who believes and is baptized will be saved. Cling to this promise daily. Hold Jesus to His Word. He wants you to. That is why He said it.
Jake, today God has called you to faith. He has washed your soul, and made you His own. He has made you part of the family, and is preparing your place in heaven even as we speak. Come to this place and hear His teaching. Come to this place to repent, and to hear that you are forgiven. Come to this place, and know that you are among your brothers and sisters in Christ. Above all things, remember that you are baptized, and there isn’t anything that can undo what God just did. On behalf of Christian believers all over the world, the congregation here at Faith Lutheran Church, the angels, the archangels and all the company of heaven, we bid you one simple thought: welcome home. Amen.