The Sunday after the Epiphany for us is always the Baptism of the Lord. And it is an incredibly rich text. Off the top of my head I can think of five “topics” that are justifiable to preach on from it. Looking at the sermon file I had done most of them over the past 11 years. The one that might be the most apparent, but is actually tougher is Jesus’ Baptism connected to our Baptism. Now you can just say Baptism and elide the difference, but if you do that you miss what this theophany in the Jordan tells us about God. Because Jesus baptism is not like ours. As Luther says in his Baptismal Liturgy prayer, it is by His baptism that all waters have become a blessed flood. We get Jesus’ baptism, because God stood with us and took ours. We get brought through the chaos to life, because he defeated death.
In Last week’s message we pondered What is an Epiphany answering that a Biblical Epiphany was seeing God. Following the Star is not just about a mental change or even a change of habit, but it is about meeting God. The question then becomes how does this happen? The texts of the season answer that for us. This message ponder’s Luke’s unique portrayal of the baptism of Jesus which is one that cares little about the actual baptism but instead pairs it down to the simplest presentation- The Word of the Father and the Presence of the Spirit. How do we see God? In the Inspired Word.
The text and the church occasion is the baptism of Jesus. This sermon uses as a theme what Mark says happened at the beginning and at the end of his gospel – Heaven Torn Open. First at the baptism when Jesus becomes willingly the new Adam, taking our baptism. Then at the cross, when the veil to the holy place is torn open. Jesus counts himself with us sinners, so that we might be counted in the holy place. He doesn’t abandon or crush his creation, he redeems it.
I wish I had caught a good recording of the hymn post the sermon. It is LSB 404 – Jesus Once with Sinners Numbered. It is a great hymn and spot on. Here is a link to someone with a great voice singing it.