04 January 2012

The Eleventh Day of Christmas, A.D. 2012

The floods have lifted up their voice; the waters of Holy Baptism have testified:

Jesus, the Son of Mary, is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. He is the One who is greater than John, who existed before him, but who now comes after him, in order to save the world.

Even John does not know this Lord Jesus rightly, except by the water, Word and Spirit of Baptism. For it is by John’s baptizing in water that Jesus is manifested to Israel as the Lamb of God.

He is both humbled and exalted by His Baptism, because He there receives two things: the sins of the world, and the Spirit of His Father from heaven. Both of these He receives in His own Body of flesh and blood, so that He might be your Savior, and the Savior of all people.

Receiving your sins is the guarantee that He will die your death.

Receiving the Spirit is the promise of His Father that He will be raised for your justification.

Though Jesus is of higher rank than John — because He is Himself the Son of God by nature, from eternity — He submits Himself to John the Baptist, to his preaching and his baptism, in order to become the Lamb of God, who is given by the Father for the sins of the world.

Thus, He takes those sins upon Himself in the waters of His Baptism, in order to bear away the sins of all the baptized — to cleanse the people and set them free from the bondage of sin and death.

But the same Lord Jesus, the Lamb of God, who bears your sins and the sins of the world in His Body, also receives the Holy Spirit in His flesh, as He comes up out of the waters of His Baptism.

And the Spirit remains on Him.

For He is indeed the Christ, the Lord’s Anointed, and He bears the Spirit in His Body as the One who bestows the same Spirit upon you — as the One who baptizes you with the Holy Spirit.

To begin with, He fills the waters of your Baptism with the Holy Spirit, so that by that washing of water with His Word, the unclean spirit must depart and make way for the Holy Spirit, who enters in.

So also does Christ Jesus bestow the Spirit by the way and means of His Body and Blood in the Holy Communion.

This also belongs to His office and vocation as the Lamb of God: On the one hand, He bears your sins in Himself, in His own Body, so that, by His sacrifice, your sins are removed and atoned for. He is the Passover Lamb who is given in your place, so that He dies instead of you. His Blood is poured out as the propitiation for your sins, and it now covers you completely.

But the same Lamb of God is also given to you as spiritual Food for you to eat, and His Blood is poured out for you, as your spiritual Drink. And this Meat and Drink of Christ Jesus, the Lamb, cleanses you, both inside and out; it fills you, in body and soul, with His life-giving Spirit.

This is what it means for Him to be the Lamb of God, who takes away all of your sins; who takes away the sins of the whole world.

In His Baptism, He has taken all those sins upon Himself, but so has He also received the Spirit on your behalf. So that, by your Baptism, and by your eating and drinking of His Supper, you are forgiven, and you are anointed by the Spirit of Christ — and His Spirit remains on you for life.

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

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