Sermon — Pastor Tony Sikora — The Baptism of Our Lord

St. Mark gets us right to Jesus in the Water. The sermon below proclaims Him in the Water.

Pr. Sikora


Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. AMEN!

Our text for this morning’ s sermon is taken from St. Mark’s gospel account the first chapter.

Beloved in the Lord,

Jesus in the Water

St. Mark gets right to the point. The Point of all of this is Jesus. Therefore, Mark gets us to Jesus. Getting us to Jesus St. Mark gets us to the gospel. For Jesus is the gospel of God made flesh, the good news of salvation walking about the landscape, stretching out His arm to touch and to cleanse, to heal and to forgive.

And where do we first find Jesus? Jesus is in the water. Why the water? Because that’s where Jesus finds sinners. Sinners are in the water because John called them to repentance by preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And so, heeding the Word of God’s prophet, “all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.”

They came to leave their sins in the water. Thus into the Jordan they went, soiled with adultery, fornication, unbelief, idolatry, theft, malice, covetousness, hatred, violence, anger, lust, wicked intentions and evil eyes. Every sin imaginable went into that water and sullied the water as each of them came out forgiven and clean. Yes, beloved, John’s baptism gave the forgiveness of sins. Not only do we have God’s Word of this, but why else would anyone go into the water? Why walk all that way, confess the worst of your heart, and be baptized if none of its real, if baptism is just a symbol of what might be? Symbols do not give certainty. Symbols don’t give anything. Symbols aren’t real.

God’s Word is real. God’s Word gives certainty. God’s Word gives Jesus. And where do we find Jesus? He’s in the water with sinners.

Getting past Jesus

St. Marks is all about getting us to Jesus because . . . well . . . by nature we’re not really about getting us to Jesus. We’re actually more about getting ourselves past Jesus. Our sinful nature sees Jesus as an obstacle rather than an advocate. You see, Jesus gets in the way of our spirituality. His Word cramps our style. His teaching is a real buzz kill. That’s why so many Christians these days clamor for “deeds not “creeds,” piety instead of doctrine, devotion rather than dogma. They would rather be doing something, feeling something, adding something to their salvation. And confessing their sins has no part in any of that.

Trying to get past Jesus is really nothing other than avoiding confession and clinging to our own works. It’s an attempt to live our lives in self-denial. “No, I’m not that bad. I don’t need Jesus to go to heaven. I don’t need Jesus to have a good marriage. I don’t need Jesus to tell me how to behave. I don’t need Jesus to teach me how to love. I’m just fine the way I am. Can’t God accept me just the way that I am . . . you know . . . the way I was born?”

Oh, how we want to get past Jesus and get right to God on our own, immediately, without means, as we see fit. To go to God without Jesus, avoiding Jesus, on our own as we see fit, is to go to God in our sin. You can’t do that and live, not forever, not in heaven. You can’t get to God, heaven, or paradise, without Jesus. The heart may wish to knock, knock, knock on heaven’s door, but Heaven’s door is closed to sinners. Without Jesus you’re still in your sins. Without Jesus you’re still messed up, dirty, soiled, sullied, hurting, broken, blind, dead, and an enemy of God. Without Jesus you’re still an adulterer, a murderer, a lying and covetous thief. Without Jesus you are lost . . . and you are damned!

I know, these are strong words, but we’re talking about eternity here. We’re talking about some serious consequences to your existential experiments. Repent!

Mark Gets us to Jesus with us and for us.

This is why St. Mark gets us to Jesus right away. This is why we find Jesus in the water with sinners. He’s not there as a fellow sinner. He’s without sin. He’s not there to add to the dirty water his own filth. He has none. He’s there take it unto Himself, make it His own, and bear the burden into death. All that soils and sullies humanity is in the water, all your sin, all your idolatry, adultery, lust, hatred, violence etc. It’s all in there. And it’s all over Jesus, which is why He’s in there.

Jesus is in the water not only to be with you, but most importantly to be for you. You may try to avoid Him, but His heart compels Him onward toward you and for you. To move toward you God became Man and was given the Name Jesus. He was born of the virgin, worshipped by shepherds and adored by magi. To move for you, this Jesus was baptized. He was in the water with sinners to take away their sin. In that water Jesus takes the filth of men’s hearts, old ladies’ hearts, infant hearts, and youthful hearts. He takes the best intentions which pave the road to hell and He follows that road to the very end.

Bearing the sins of the world, bathed in the sins of the world, Jesus follows hell’s road to Calvary. He carries the cross and humanity’s condemnation is hung on Him. He is crucified. He is dead. He is buried and the third day He is raised from the dead.

Thus by His baptism, this morning, Jesus exchanges all that is good for all that is bad. He takes the sins of the world and He gives the righteousness that endures unto eternal life. All Jerusalem and Judea come to the water and fill it with sin and death. Jesus comes to the water and fills it with His righteousness, purity, love, and life.

Jesus gets to us

This, beloved, is why heaven’s gate is opened. This is why the Spirit descends as a dove. This is why the Father’s voice beams from eternity, “This is my Beloved Son, with You I am well pleased.” Because of Jesus God is no longer at enmity with us. The door is no longer shut. It’s not that all of a sudden God changed His mind and decided to let sinners into heaven. NO! The baptism of Jesus changes everything for everyone who is baptized into Jesus. Jesus changes everyone who believes in Him.

Thus, it isn’t so much us getting to Jesus as it is Jesus getting to us. Our attempts, no matter how pious and spiritual they may seem, are almost always aimed at getting around Jesus, without Jesus, or avoiding Jesus. And this why the Lord would have us confess our sins. Confession surrenders our own righteousness and allows God’s Word to be true. Confession gives up where we are wont to fight. Confession gives over what we long to keep hidden away. Confession says back to God what He has already said of us in His Law.
But true and godly confession has two parts. The first may be to confess our sins, but the second calls for faith. The second is to believe the absolution. Jesus is all about absolution, forgiveness, mercy. Faith believes the Word of forgiveness spoken to the sinner. Faith hears, “I forgive you” from the pastor as though Jesus, Himself were speaking it. For in truth, according to Jesus’ own words, “whoever hears you hears me” Jesus is speaking it Himself. Thus the call to repent, is also a call to repent and believe the gospel, to believe Jesus.

Jesus in the Water

Beloved in the Lord, St. Mark gets us to Jesus because wherever Jesus is He is there for our good, to forgive sins and strengthen faith. This morning Jesus is in the water, being baptized with John, joining Himself to sinners like you and me. His baptism makes all baptism good, right, and salutary. With Jesus in the water with me, my sins are washed away from me and placed on him. With Jesus in the water with me, I am crucified with Him. And if I am crucified with Him I will certainly be raised with Him. For He has taken away my sins in my baptism. Taking away my sins in my baptism He has taken away my death. With no sin, nor any death, I am invited to paradise by Jesus and through Jesus. There is no other way, there is no other savior.

Beloved, leave your sins in the water. Remember your baptism. Look past yourself and cling to Jesus in the water and the Word. Repent and believe the gospel. He is for you.

In the Name of the Father and of the X Son and of the Holy Spirit. AMEN!

The peace of God which surpasses all human understanding keep your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus. AMEN!

Pastor Tony Sikora
Hope Lutheran Church
DeWitt, MI

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