This is what such baptizing with water indicates, what it means, and what it does for you. It bears the Glory of God and bestows it upon you in the Body of Christ Jesus. It opens heaven to you and brings you into the presence of the Holy Trinity. It makes of you a beloved child of God.
All of this is yours by your Baptism into Christ. And it is all by the way of His Cross. It is through suffering and death that you enter into His Glory. And to that end, your Baptism has set you on a journey, on a pilgrimage through the wilderness into the Paradise which the Lord has sworn by His own Name to give you. It is a pilgrimage of repentance, a journey through death into life.
As you make your way on this trek between the Red Sea and the Jordan River, bearing the Cross upon your forehead and your heart, upon your body and your soul, hold fast the hope that is set before you in the Body of Christ Jesus, and do not lose heart.
Consider this Lord Jesus, who has called you by Name to be His own, to bear the Cross and follow Him both up and down the Mountain. He is the Christ, as St. Peter has so recently confessed by the revelation of the Father and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. But what does this mean?
He is anointed by the Father with the Spirit for the Cross. For it is necessary that the Christ should suffer all these things and thereby enter into His Glory as the Savior and Redeemer of Israel and as the Light of the Revelation of the Glory of God to all the nations. It is by His Cross and Passion that He will accomplish and fulfill His Exodus in Jerusalem and liberate all of the people of God.
Make no mistake about it, He is greater even than Moses and Elijah and all of the Prophets, for He is the One of whom they preached, to whom they pointed. He is the One who fulfills their words.
Moses performed great signs and mighty wonders against Pharaoh and in the presence of Israel, all in the Name of the Lord. So do the Holy Scriptures testify. He led the people out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, across the desert, unto the Mountain of God. And he was the minister of the Lord’s Covenant with Israel. That is no small thing. Indeed, he alone in days of old spoke with the Lord face to face and taught the people the Word that he heard from the very mouth of God. By his hand, God gave to the people His holy Ten Commands. And of supreme significance, it was Moses who constructed the Tabernacle in the wilderness according to the pattern revealed to him on Mt. Sinai, by which the Gospel and Glory of the Lord dwelt in the midst of His people.
Yes, Moses was faithful in all God’s House as a servant, and he served that way for many, many years. But in his frailty and weakness, and by the judgment of the Law that he himself taught, he was not permitted to enter the Land that God had promised, nor would he lead the people into it.
It is Jesus, the new and greater Joshua, who brings the people out of the wilderness through the Jordan River into the Promised Land. No other creature in heaven or on earth could do this thing, no other prophet, priest, or king, but the Lord Jesus Christ and He alone has done so.
By His Baptism He brings you and all His people out of slavery into freedom, through death and the grave into the Resurrection and the life everlasting. For He is the true Passover Lamb, who not only takes upon Himself and takes away the sins of the world but also feeds you with His own flesh and pours out His Blood for you as the New Testament.
By His Cross and in His Resurrection, His Body has become the true and permanent Temple of God, the Tabernacle of God among men. He bears the Name of God in His own flesh and blood; the Holy Spirit rests and remains upon His Body; and the Glory of God abides forever in and with Him, that is, the divine Glory that you receive and share with Him in His crucified and risen Body.
The Lord Jesus has accomplished this great Exodus, for you and for the many, by bearing all your sins, your death and damnation in His own Body to the Cross — in order to atone for your sins, to release you from death and the grave, and to bring you in and with Himself, in His Resurrection and Ascension, up the Mountain to His God and Father in heaven.
In this He is greater and more glorious than Elijah, also, who precedes Him and points to Him but is not able to achieve or accomplish what only Christ, the Son of God, could ever do. For that holy Prophet did not pass through death into the life everlasting, but in the righteousness of faith he was taken instead by a whirlwind into the presence of God. But the Lord Jesus, by His Sacrifice for you upon the Cross, entered into that darkness of death in order to bring you out, to save you by His grace alone. This, indeed, is the great Glory of God, that He lays down His life in love for you.
He is the Apostle and High Priest of the faith. He is the One who goes before and follows after, your Pillar of Cloud by day and your Pillar of Fire by night. He is the One who does it all. He is your hope and your salvation, your strength and your song, upon whom the Father has set His seal.
He is sent by the Father to preach to and from the Cross, to and from the Resurrection. He is sent by the Father to be baptized; to be tempted in every way that you are tempted, save only without sin; to live by faith as the true Man; to fast and pray in the Spirit, in the confidence of the Father’s pledge and promise; to suffer, die, and rise again for your forgiveness and justification. So has He done. And so does He ever live to intercede for you before the throne of His Father in heaven.
By His Sacrifice of Atonement, and by His prayer and intercession as your merciful and great High Priest in all things pertaining to God, you also pray and come to His God and Father through Him — by virtue of your Baptism into Him, and as a disciple who follows after Christ in holy faith.
Beloved of the Lord, listen to Him. Trust His Word, and live according to it — in faith and love.
Take up the Cross that you have received in Baptism, and follow Christ Jesus through suffering and death, through the wilderness, into the Glory of His Resurrection and His Righteousness.
Do not be overcome by the weariness of the journey you are set upon, though it is long and hard and you are tempted to give up. Wake up from your sleepiness. Watch and wait upon the Lord.
Do not speak in your own ignorance and confusion, for your reason is fallen, your senses are befuddled, and your opinions are not the will or wisdom of God. Rather, hear and heed the Word of Christ, the Son of God. For by His Word alone are you given the mind and Spirit of the Lord. And then speak the Truth of God by speaking as you are spoken to. That is to say, confess and pray the Word that God the Father speaks to you by His Son, by the preaching of His Gospel.
Find your house and home and family in Him, in His Body, and hold fast the confidence of your hope in Him. That Hope shall not disappoint you, and you shall not be put to shame in Him.
Christ Himself is your Tabernacle in the wilderness, and His Body, the Church, is your place of Peace and Rest, in anticipation of the Paradise He has prepared for you in the Resurrection of all flesh. For He has come down from heaven, and He has come down from the Mountain, in order to be and abide with you here, that you should thus abide with God the Father in Christ the Son.
He has become like you, and He has borne your sin and death in His own human flesh and blood, that you should become like Him; that you should bear His Cross and so also share His Glory. As He was transfigured by His Cross and Passion into the Glory of His Resurrection and Ascension, so are you also conformed to His Image by your Baptism into Him. And as you are a member of the Body of Christ, a son or daughter of His Father, so do you also partake of His Holy Spirit and share in the fellowship of His Holy Altar, in which you are given a foretaste of the Feast to come.
Listen to Him, and hold fast the confidence of your sure and certain hope in the Ministry of His Holy Gospel. It is sure and certain, because He has fulfilled His Exodus for you in Jerusalem.
Behold the Glory of His Kingdom by faith in His Word, in the Fruits of His Cross, in the pledge and promise of His Resurrection from the dead. Hear and receive the Glory of His Kingdom in His preaching of forgiveness, in the waters of your Holy Baptism, and in His Body and His Blood, which are given and poured out for you to eat and to drink with thanksgiving.
Bear His Cross in peace and joy, knowing that you enter into His Glory through suffering; you pass through the long, hard wilderness into Canaan. For heaven has been opened to you in Christ Jesus by His Baptism, even unto death, and by your Baptism into His Cross and Resurrection. It has been opened to you in Him, and as surely as He is risen from the dead and lives and reigns to all eternity, so shall it never be closed again. You cannot see it from here, but you enter it by faith.
It is the Word of God, in and with the water, which does these things. And that Word remains.
Even now, within His Church on earth, the Father speaks to you and pours out His Spirit upon you in the Body of Christ Jesus, the beloved Son. And here by His Gospel He clothes you — neither in fig leaves nor with animal skins, but with the Glory of the holiness and righteousness of Christ. For He has chosen you in Him, and He loves you in Him with an everlasting Love that never dies.
For now, it is not yet visible to your eyes. Indeed, it is hidden under the trial and tribulation of the Cross, and all that you can see in this valley of sorrow is the shadow of death. But the salvation that Christ has accomplished is already yours, and it is ready to be revealed at the proper time.
In that Day which has no end — in that eternal Eighth Day of the Resurrection — in the dwelling place of Yahweh Sabaoth, in the Holy of Holies made without hands, eternal in the heavens — there shall you see the Lord who loves you face to face, and you shall know Him as you are known, and you shall be glorious with His own Glory in both your body and your soul, forever and ever.
In the Name + of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.