03 January 2015

Baptized for Life Instead of Death

Jesus has come in the flesh, and He comes to you now in the same flesh and blood that He received from St. Mary and sacrificed upon the Cross, in order to give you His Life in place of your death.

He comes and He accomplishes this great Salvation, for you and for the many, by the waters of Holy Baptism: By His Baptism for you in the Jordan River, and by your Baptism into Him.

It is in Holy Baptism that He is manifested to His Church; that He first reveals Himself to and gives Himself for His people as the Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

And it is by your Holy Baptism, according to His Word and promise, that you also belong to His people, His Israel, His Church; that you recognize and receive Him as your own Savior.

If you have forgotten or neglected your Baptism, therefore, Repent!  Remember and return to it, and so return to Him by faith.  For you are not able to recognize or know the Lord Jesus Christ apart from that washing of the water with His Word and Holy Spirit.

It is by Holy Baptism that He has taken your sins, and the sins of the whole world, upon Himself, in order to bear them in His Body to the Cross.  So it is that He has put them to death in His own flesh and atoned for them by the shedding of His holy and precious blood.  Indeed, His Baptism and His Cross are inseparably united.  Together they are one Baptism which He undergoes for you.

It is thus by your Holy Baptism into Him that He has cleansed you and forgiven you all your sins, and that He has poured out His Holy Spirit upon you, and sanctified you by that same Spirit.

The surety of the Holy Spirit in Holy Baptism is the fact that Christ Jesus has received the Spirit from His God and Father in His Baptism.  He has done so for your benefit, for your salvation, so that, by your Baptism into Him, the Lord’s Anointed, the Spirit now rests and remains upon you.

And it is by and with His Spirit that God breathes Himself into you and gives you His own Life.

That which you are apart from the Holy Spirit is perishable mortal flesh, dust and dirt, subject to death and decay.  But as you receive the Spirit of God — with the waters and the Word of Holy Baptism, and in the ongoing significance of your Baptism through repentance and forgiveness — you are recreated as a living being in the Image and Likeness of God.  You are raised from the dust of the earth with Christ Jesus, and your mortal flesh and blood are renewed for immortality in Him.

You are able to receive this Holy Spirit, and to receive the Life everlasting in both body and soul, because Christ, who has taken His place with you and all sinners in the waters of Holy Baptism, has removed all your sins from you, along with the curse of sin and the sting of death, by His sacrificial death upon the Cross in your stead.  Remember that His Cross and Passion are the fulfillment of His own Baptism, and they are the heart and substance of your Baptism into Him.

As He has bound Himself to you in body and soul — and has bound you to Him in your Baptism — you share His death to sin, and you share also in His Resurrection unto Life.  In the crucified and risen Body of Christ Jesus, you are reconciled and restored to God the Father in heaven.

That gift of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, in whose Name you are baptized, that is your Life and your Salvation, both now and forever.  Not simply a means to an end, but your very Life.

Believe and trust that your dear Lord Jesus Christ, the beloved and well-pleasing Son of God, has truly revealed and given Himself to you in Holy Baptism: to which you are daily returned, and in which you remain, by His preaching of the Holy Gospel, by His Word of Holy Absolution.  Don’t look for Him or try to find Him anywhere else, but know and rejoice that He is in your Baptism, because the Father has put Him there, and put the Spirit upon Him there, for your eternal benefit.

Resting in that Word and Spirit of God, know that your Life is here for you in Christ Jesus, in this place where His “one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins” is preached and administered in His Name and stead.  Your Life is here, because the Lord Jesus Christ is here, the Lamb of God who was crucified for you.  He is here to bring you through the waters, out of the desert into Paradise, and to feed you with His own flesh and blood, both here and now and hereafter for eternity.  For He has borne your sins away forever, and in His Resurrection He gives you Life in place of death.

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

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