In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Moses was chosen by God to set His people free from slavery in Egypt. A slavery to foreign gods, to unknown, wicked powers. And God used him to give His Law to His people, in order to set them apart, to call them apart from the nations of earth so that they should be a holy nation amongst the people’s of the earth. But under Moses the people wandered and languished in the desert. It was Joshua—the first bearer of the name of our saviour, Jesus—who brought them into the Promised Land. And just as He crossed the River Jordan to bring them in so must our saviour cross the Jordan, to lead us through it. So that on one side we are aimless wanderers with no home, no land to call our own. On the other side of the Jordan we are home. We are in a land that takes care of us, a resplendent Garden of Eden which flows with milk and honey.
For you do not and have not chosen God. He chose you. He set you apart. Though you make choices everyday to live in your Baptism or not to, to live as a Christian ought, or not to, you have not chosen Him. Instead, He gave you this new identity, this new home, His good pleasure.
He is the one who you out of slavery with His law, turning you away from your worship of foreign gods: the gods of self, of family, of wealth and success, of pleasure or whatever things you look to, fear, love or trust in more than the one true God. He turns you away from yourself, toward Himself, and leads you into His promised paradise through His Son, the second Joshua.
Our Lord did not need this Baptism. John the Baptizer was not going to allow it. It was only Our Lord’s command to let this pass for now, let this thing happen at this moment, that stilled John’s protests. Our Lord commanded John so that together these two chosen ones of the Lord, this 2nd Moses and 2nd Joshua, should lead God’s people out into the wilderness of repentance and through the waters of the Jordan by which God prepares for Himself a people righteous, holy, consecrated, and set apart for His purposes. Our Lord undergoes baptism by John not because He needed to repent of any sin, but rather so that together they might make baptism the portal to God’s declaration of you that you are His Son, the beloved, the one He takes pleasure in and chooses.
This is the purpose of the Baptism of Our Lord. That you and I should receive this calling. God’s choosing of you, His election of you as His child. His beloved. His heir of all His grace.
But consider that calling. It is God’s from beginning to end. He is the one who calls. He is the one who gives His gifts. He does not call you because you are wise, or smart, a philosopher, or have it all figured out; nor because you are morally superior, are strong of character, or body, or will, or are you able to help yourself in any meaningful spiritual way; nor has He chosen you because of any rank, or importance in you due to birth or the family you are born into. For this is the God who created all things out of nothing. He does not chose that which is something. It pleases Him to take that which is nothing. To take sinners, who are cut off from God, for He does not think of you the way our world does. He does not look at you and say the things we say: What a good neighbour. What a great guy. What a man’s man. What a kind person. What a good citizen. What a successful bloke. What a beautiful woman. Though those things might be true of you on this side of heaven, He cares nothing for them, they are merely an overflowing of His grace toward you, for even these things are gifts from His hand.
He cares, instead, that you are broken by sin, cut off from Him, utterly helpless to save yourself. He cares for you in that state. He calls you by Holy Baptism to be in Christ your Lord. And washed with water and His Word you are in Christ who is His wisdom, His plan of salvation, His declared holy one, beloved by Him, set apart and chosen by Him to accomplish the righteousness of all mankind.
Through Him, in Him, you are also chosen, consecrated, set apart to be His holy people. Redeemed. This means that everything which is true of Our Lord is true of you. Not because it is found in you, but because it is given to you.
For have you ever lamented that you did not have the right words to say to stop up the mouth of that one who was tearing down all you believe in? Or have you lacked the right words at the right time to give voice to the faith that resides in you? Well, good news. He has chosen even you. Though you are foolish, unwise, unskilled of speech He shall use you to shame the wise, the strong, the important of this world. If not in this life, then ultimately on the Last Day. For whatever faltering words and actions may escape from you He uses you choosing you to shame those who trust in themselves. You do not see it now. We may only see these things in the light of eternity. But be sure He is using you. This is one of His purposes in calling you.
So do not boast in whatever good god-given gifts, abilities, blessings you have. For no man can boast in the face of God. Instead boast in your Lord who was baptized for you so that His righteousness, His consecrated holiness, His redemptive life-force would be yours. For in your Baptism He connects you to Himself. He takes on your sin, foolishness, weakness, moral imperfection, and unimportance and gives you His status with His Father, His moral perfection, His strength, His wisdom so that in Him you and I are the righteousness of God, we are the wisdom of God, we are the chosen of God, the work of His hands, the apple of His eye, and the delight of His heart.
In +Jesus’ name, Amen.
—Pastor David Haberstock