04 January 2016

The Baptism of the Lamb of God

The One who is first has made Himself last.  The One who is the greatest has made Himself the least.  He has come down from heaven to you.  He has entered the wilderness alongside of you.  He has taken your sin upon Himself and passed through the waters of death into life with God.

He is the Holy One of Israel, but for your sake, by His grace, He bears this contradiction in Himself: He bears your sins in His own body, and as the Lamb of God He is sacrificed for your redemption.  But in His flesh and blood like yours — from His Baptism and in His Resurrection — He also receives and bears the Holy Spirit, the Author and Giver of Life, for your salvation.

Thus, although you are sinful and unclean, subject to death and damnation, you are cleansed and forgiven in the waters of your Baptism.  And there, as a member of the Body of Christ, you also receive the Holy Spirit for life and salvation with God in both body and soul, now and forever.

The Baptism of the Lord Jesus by St. John the Baptist in the Jordan River, and your Holy Baptism in the Name of Christ Jesus, have brought about a great exchange.  That is, He has taken your sin and death upon Himself, and has dealt with them decisively, once and for all, by His death on the Cross.  And He has given you, instead, His Spirit and His Life, His holiness and divine sonship.

By your Baptism you have been crucified with Him and died with Him.  But so also are you raised with Him to newness of life.  In fact, everything of His is now yours, by His grace, forevermore.

Your own mortal life in your sinful flesh is inconsistent, uncertain, up and down, and often going from bad to worse.  But now the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, has received the Holy Spirit into His Body of flesh and blood on your behalf.  And the Spirit remains with Him, residing in the same body that has borne your sins and carried all your sorrows to death and the grave.

By His steadfast faith and faithfulness, by His holiness and righteousness and humble obedience, even under the weight of the world’s sin, and under the heavy burden of the Cross, divine life is established, solid, steady, and secure in the Flesh of the Word.  Which is not an incidental fact or a matter of abstract trivia, but of utmost importance for you, for your present and your future.

The forgiveness, life, and salvation of God are steadfast, sure, and certain in Christ Jesus.  This fact does not waver, nor does it falter.  It shall not fail, nor shall it ever be pulled out from under you.

Though you are wobbly and impotent, utterly unable to save yourself, blind to the truth of God, and dead in your trespasses and sin, the Lord Jesus Christ is not that way.  He is steady and stable, constant in faith, hope, and love, and more solid than a rock.  He shall not be moved, and neither shall you be moved while you live and abide in Him; for you are baptized into Him for eternal life.

His Spirit rests and remains upon you, upon your body and soul.  He sanctifies and keeps you in the one true faith by the Word of the Gospel and by the Body and Blood of the Lamb.  He cleanses your conscience and daily renews your spirit with the forgiveness of your sins.  He gives you the true divine Life for which you have been created, by uniting you with Christ in His Resurrection from the dead and bringing you to the Father in Him.  Thus are you a son of God in Christ Jesus.

It is therefore by your Baptism that the one true God, the Holy One of Israel, is manifested to you as your Savior and your Lord.  And so also, by your Holy Baptism into Christ, you are seated at the Table of your Father — here on earth as it is in heaven — to eat and drink the Passover Lamb of God who has been crucified for your transgressions and raised again for your justification.

As surely as He has taken away your sins and the sins of the whole world, so surely does He take you to Himself and bear you in His Body from this world to the next.  For as He has come down from the Father in heaven, and the Spirit has descended upon you in Him, so are you raised up from death to life and seated with Him at the right hand of the Father, where your life is hidden with Christ in God.  This is most certainly true, even now, and so shall it be forevermore.

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

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