Baptism of Our Lord – Sunday, January 13, 2019

January 14, 2019  

Luke   3:15-17, 21-22

Have you ever wondered how much God loved Jesus?
As I thought about it I thought about conversations I’ve had with young children in my family. I ask “How much do I love you?” And then I answer my own question: “I love you TTHHIISSS much.” [Extending arms wide]

How much did or does God love Jesus?
Ballpark estimate: TTTHHHIIISSS much.

We can only estimate, because we cannot quantify God’s love. We cannot put God’s love in a box or in a measuring bowl or lay a ruler alongside of it and say: Yep. There’s this much love.
God’s love is infinite. God’s love is way beyond measure.

And yet the story of the Baptism of Jesus gives us a clue. Here, in this story, God speaks to Jesus. Here, in this story, God identifies Jesus as God’s Son.

Throughout scripture Jesus identified God as his “Father.”
There are other words for God in scripture: Yahweh, El Shaddai, El Elyon, El Olam, El Bethel, El Roi, El Berith, El Elohe-Israel, Elohim, Eloah, Adon, King, Judge, Shepherd, the Living God, The First and the Last, The Ancient of Days (“God, names of” The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, volume 2, p. 408).

In contrast, Jesus kept it pretty simply. Jesus knew God as his Father. Jesus knew God as Abba, which means Daddy. Remember? We heard the story of his knowledge of God two weeks ago, when we heard the story of him as a twelve year old in the temple in Jerusalem. When Jesus asked his mother “Did you not know I would be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49) Jesus was telling Mary he knew who God was, and who he was to God.

This week, we hear God describe God’s relationship with Jesus.
You are my Son, the Beloved…” (Luke 3:22).
Keep in mind, the way this story is written, we cannot know if anyone other than Jesus heard God speak those words. Perhaps no one did. Clearly God addressed Jesus “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” But, if only Jesus heard those words spoken by God, he told somebody about the experience. Because we now have those words recorded by Luke. God told Jesus: “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

Many of you were here last Sunday. You know most of my family was here in worship, including my parents. Later on in the afternoon, after my parents had arrived back home, I talked to them on the phone. My father told me how much he enjoyed worshipping with us. And he talked to me about my sermon. He said “I wish more of us thought the way you think.” Reading between the lines, he was saying: with you I am well pleased (or at least with my thoughts, in that moment, last Sunday…)
Who doesn’t need to hear words like that spoken, especially by a parental-figure; by someone who takes ownership of us; by someone who says “You are mine.” “I wish more of us thought the way you think.” “With you I am well pleased.”

What makes the meaning of this story so accessible to us is the fact that, like Jesus, we have been baptized. Like Jesus, when we were baptized God spoke to us.
God told us “You are mine” as water washed over us; God told us “You are mine” as we were marked with the cross of Christ forever.
No matter who we have been, no matter who we are, no matter who we will be—we are always God’s beloved children.
No matter what we have done, no matter what we do, no matter what we will be doing—we are always God’s beloved children.
Always and forever.
Nobody can ever take this away from us. We are God’s beloved children.

“When Martin Luther felt discouraged or afraid, he’d often splash water on himself and declare, “But I am baptized!”” (“Remembering Baptism—Living Wet” by Joan Huyser-Honig found at https://worship.calvin.edu/resources/resource-library/remembering-baptism-living-wet/).

But I am baptized!
Say that with me: “But I am Baptized!”
If you aren’t, talk to me. God wants to make you God’s own.

So—how much did God love Jesus?
TTTHHHIIISSS much!
How much does God love you?
TTTHHHIIISSS much!

Always and forever.
You are beloved.
Amen.