Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Psalm 27:14
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Baptism of Jesus 1/13/2012
Sermon: January 13, 2013

Front Cover: ESV Matthew 3:15 But Jesus answered him, "Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he consented.

Call to Worship: Dear Father, we thank and praise you for sending your Son to be baptized unto fallen humanity so that we might live again.


Opening Hymn: How Majestic is Your Name.
Praise Song: He is Exalted
Reading: Psalm 29
Praise Song: Thou Art Worthy
Scripture Reading/Prayer/Lord's Prayer/Offertory Prayer: John 1:29-34: Doug Saukkola
Offertory Hymn: #248 Come, Thou Almighty King
Sermon Text: Matthew 3:13-17
Sermon Title: Baptism of Jesus
Closing Hymn: #507 I've Found a Friend

Dear congregation

The angel and the angelic choir have gone back to heaven, the shepherds have come to the stable and have returned to their flocks. As we proceed into the New Year we recount the appearing of Jesus in the early years of His life in this season of Epiphany (appearing), and in so doing, we continue today by considering the baptism of Jesus. What? Jesus was baptized? Why did He need to be baptized? Was He not sinless? What is baptism? How does the baptism of Jesus have meaning for us? The answers to those questions will be explored today as we receive the Word of the Lord.

Last Sunday we heard of those who traveled a long distance to worship the King of the Jews, Jesus the Christ. We also heard of the later testimony of Apostle Paul,speaking through the Holy Spirit, who preached to the Ephesians that Jesus had come for all people and that there was no longer any division between Jew and Gentile. As we consider the meaning of Jesus' baptism, here are two important verses that will be included in this sermon:

KJV 2 Corinthians 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

KJV Hebrews 2:14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;

May the Holy Spirit enlighten our minds and hearts today so that we will grasp the significance of the baptism of Jesus into and for us.

Our text today is found in the Gospel of Matthew, 3;13-17: The Baptism of our Lord.

Matthew 3:13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him.
14 John would have prevented him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?"
15 But Jesus answered him, "Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he consented.
16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him,1 and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him;
17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, "This is my beloved Son,1 with whom I am well pleased."

We will ask three questions of the text today.

What does the word baptism mean?
Why did Jesus need to be baptized if He was sinless?
How does the baptism of Jesus have meaning for us?

1. What does the word baptism mean?

Baptism: to dip, to immerse, to wash, to cleanse, to dye as with a color, to be joined together, to be united

Words change in meaning over the years and it is not always easy to have the proper knowledge of what a word originally meant in its usage when the Bible was written and how the word is understood today. For certain, the word baptism brings up images of a person being in water or having water poured over them as the Word of God is applied with the water in Holy Baptism. Another matter we need to deal with is that our understanding of baptism largely depends upon the the teachings that we have grown up under and how we have grown in our knowledge of the doctrine of Christ. It is important to realize that truth and to attempt to look at the Scriptures in an objective manner. (What do they say independent of our preconceived ideas)

The following text in which the word baptism is used gives the sense of a union or a joining.

Mark 10:35 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, "Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you."
36 And he said to them, "What do you want me to do for you?"
37 And they said to him, "Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory."
38 Jesus said to them, "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?"
39 And they said to him, "We are able." And Jesus said to them, "The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized,
40 but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared."

2. Why did Jesus need to be baptized if He was sinless?

In His humanity, He became a substitute for all humanity, "tasting death for all."

Hebrews 2: 9 But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
10 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.
11 For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one origin. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers,1
12 saying, "I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise."
13 And again, "I will put my trust in him." And again, "Behold, I and the children God has given me."
14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,
15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.
16 For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham.
17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

He became sin for all humanity so that through His sacrifice, we are reconciled to God.

2 Corinthians 5:18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. {committed...: Gr. put in us}
20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.
21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

How does the baptism of Jesus have meaning for us?

Matthew 3:13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him.
14 John would have prevented him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?"
15 But Jesus answered him, "Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he consented.
16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him,1 and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him;
17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, "This is my beloved Son,1 with whom I am well pleased."

It is fulfilment of prophecy. Isaiah 42:1-8
It points to the beginning of Jesus' ministry (30 years old)
It reveals the Sonship/Servanthood of Jesus Christ
It displays the pleasure of God in His Son
The Trinity is openly displayed.
It is God's action from heaven downward. Christ receives the baptism of John as from heaven.

What does all this mean for me today? Summarizing briefly, it seems that the main point of the baptism of Jesus is that through it He was united unto the fallen human race so that He would as the Sin Bearer of the world take away our sin through the cross and resurrection.
I have grown up in the Apostolic Lutheran Church, have been baptized as an infant, but like many have struggled over the years in my understandings of what my Holy Baptism meant or means. Having said that, I to this day see overwhelming evidence for infant baptism, and this is mainly due to the reality that all baptisms are inititated and conducted from God to man. Another way to say it is that in baptism we are united with God through Jesus Christ. Baptism is God's act toward us and not our act towards Him. All baptisms flow out of God's favor towards us in that He sent Christ to us so that we might live eternally. But we struggle...

A dear friend who passed away a year ago would often tell me of his understanding of baptism by saying that when we are baptized as infants it is like we are brought into engagement with Christ through the water and the Word. He went onto say that as we grow in stature physcially and spiritually there comes a day when we are married to Christ at that time when our faith begins to mature.

Martin Luther, when he tempted by the devil into unbelief and despair would shout out: "I am baptized." As young people, let us not forget that we are baptized into/unto Christ and we belong to Him. He continually pours gifts and blessing into our lives, so wanting our relationship to grow, to blossom, to be fruitful, to be joyful and so forth.

Our closing Hymn today tells of how Christ came for us, how He wants for us to grow closer together, that He has all the counsel and direction we need for our lives and then in the end of the hymn He tells us that His love is the type that will never leave us. He will never drop us like others friends have or can.....The hymn is entitled, "I've found a Friend, O such a Friend!'

Before we sing that let us unite our hearts in a closing prayer, and following the benediction, we will sing together about the Friend we have found.......

I've found a Friend, O such a Friend!
He loved me ere I knew Him;
He drew me with the cords of love,
And thus He bound me to Him.
And round my heart still closely twine
Those ties which nought can sever;
For I am His and He is mine
For ever and for ever.

I've found a Friend, O such a Friend!
He shed His blood to save me;
And not alone the gift of life,
But His own self He gave me.
Nought that I have mine own I call,
I hold it for the Giver;
My heart, my strength, my life, my all
Are His, and His for ever.

I've found a Friend, O such a Friend,
So kind, and true, and tender!
So wise a Counsellor and Guide,
So mighty a Defender!
From Him who loves me now so well.
What power my soul shall sever?
Shall life or death, shall earth or hell?
No! I am His for ever.

Yes, He is the best Friend of sinners....may we remember that as we leave our fellowship today and return to share this knowledge with those who yet walk in darkness.

Grace and peace to you today and always.
Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 13 Jan 2013 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Epiphany 2013 1/06/2012
Dear friends,

May the grace, peace and mercy of God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.

Today is Epiphany, a very special celebration in many Christian churches around the world. The word "Epiphany" means "appearing." It marks the historical occasion of the "Wisemen" coming from the East (Matthew 2:1-2) to worship Jesus, bringing with them gold, frankincense and myrrh: Gold for God the King, frankincense for the God the Son, and myrrh for God the Savior. It marks the coming of the Messiah to the Gentiles, which was a broadening of the revelation of the Messiah now to be inclusive of all people, even as the angel had announced to the shepherds on the hillside of Bethlehem on that night: KJV Luke 2:10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.i
To this time in history, salvation had been primarily of the Jews, but now it was to include both the Jew and the Gentile.

The hymn written by John Henry Hopkins, Jr., was instrumental in organizing an elaborate holiday pageant for the students of the General Theological Seminary in New York City in 1857. Hopkins, the seminary's music director, wrote and staged the pageant, which included his upbeat composition "We Three Kings of Orient Are." Let us together sing these words in our hearts and with our lips, thinking and meditating upon the message of the prophecy, birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ......

1. We three Kings of Orient are

Bearing gifts we traverse afar.

Field and fountain, moor and mountain,

Following yonder star.

O, Star of wonder star of night,

Star with royal beauty bright

Westward leading, still proceeding

Guide us to thy perfect light.

2. Born a King on Bethlehem's plain,

Gold I bring to crown Him again,

King forever, ceasing never,

Over us all to reign.

O, Star ...

3. Frankincense to offer have I;

Incense owns a deity nigh.

Prayer and praising, all men raising,

Worship Him, God most high.

O, Star ...

4. Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume

Breathes a life of gathering gloom,

Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,

Sealed in the stone cold tomb.

O, Star ...

5. Glorious now behold Him arise,

King and God and sacrifice,

Alleluia, Alleluia;

Earth to the heav'ns replies.

O, Star ...

The last verse, with its words which point to the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, are powerful in meaning. For is it not true, that as we walk in the power, i.e. the assurance, the joy, the hope and the expectation of His second return, do we not sing Alleluia, Alleluia from earth to heaven? Yes, we do, for we cannot stifle that which has been born in us through the love of God in Christ Jesus!!!!! For we walk by faith, and not by sight. And that means that we trust in that which God has said and not in that which we see before us or feel within ourselves. We know that heaven is our home, and not this vanishing earth.....

King Solomon wrote these words of assurance, of hope and of expectation many years ago:

KJV Proverbs 4:18 But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.

And in the New Testament, Saint Paul wrote a letter to the Ephesian congregation, which primarily addresses the coming together of both Jew and Gentile into a new man, Jesus Christ...

Ephesians 2:12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility
15 by abolishing the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace,
16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.
17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.
18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.
19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens,1 but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,
20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,
21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.
22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by1 the Spirit.

The Apostle Paul goes on to share his testimony with his beloved people, revealing to them how God had revealed the mystery of what salvation truly is to him through revelation. He did not receive it from any man, he was not taught it, (Galations 1:12) but it was revealed to him through Jesus Christ. Paul was no lazy student of the Bible, as he had studied under the greater Jewish teacher, Gamaliel (Acts 5:34-39) but until he had an encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, (Acts 9), he was yet blind to the reality that he was outside of the salvation of God which is in Christ Jesus. Paul, on the way to deliver more Christians to the prison, having his "work for the Lord" was interrupted by a light brighter than the noon day sun. (KJV Acts 26:13 At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me).

Upon experiencing this, Paul asked "the question:" "Who are you, Lord?" To which Jesus replied, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting."....................There would be much more to accurately relate in the conversion of Paul by taking the original account as well as when he gave his testimony to others, but for brevity's sake we will simply make the observation that Paul's meeting with the Savior changed his life completely. For after the answer of Jesus, the Bible records that Paul trembled and was astonished, and he asked a second question: "What will you have me to do, Lord?" From there Jesus directed him into the city to where he would be ministered to by Ananias on behalf of the Lord. As Paul got us, he was not able to see and therefore had to be led into the city by the hands of those who were with him........

As Paul writes to the Christians at Ephesus, he makes several transitions in his letter. For he speaks personally until verse 12, upon which draws his readers/hearers into Christ by using the plural, saying that into this marvelous salvation "we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him. (of Christ). He then reverts back to himself, for he was in prison at the time he was writing. He did not want them to look away from that which Christ had done for them by looking at his state of imprisonment. Paul had began this 3rd chapter by telling them that he was a prisoner of Jesus Christ and now he tells them that his physical imprisonment was working for their benefit, their glory. How so? Let us think a little on think on this a bit, for this is an important place of transition in this letter that he wrote to them/to us.

A few days ago I received the latest copy of the Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) monthly magazine. The VOM organization was started in 1967 by Richard Wurmbrand who was held prisoner in communist prisons for 14 years and who has written several books, the most well known being "Tortured for Christ." The emphasis of this latest magazine is on the importance of giving encouragement to prisoners who are being held captive for preaching the gospel of Christ in foreign countries. Various testimonies are given by prisoners, who are now free, who received letters while in prison from VOM supporters. They all spoke of the great benefit that they received from the outside world, and of how through the letters they were reminded that they were not alone.

The life of Paul the prisoner is reviewed in one article, and is taken from his writing to Timothy,which is considered to be the last letter that Paul, wrote. In this Paul remembers the blessing that a man name Onesiphorus (bringing profit).Here is the reference.

2 Timothy 1:15 This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes.
16 The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain:
17 But, when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and found me.
18 The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day: and in how many things he ministered unto me at Ephesus, thou knowest very well.

Historical records about prisons reveal to us that the prison cells of that time had no windows, for they were underground in dungeons. Furthermore, there were no entry ways into the prison, making it necessary to be dropped down through a narrow hole in the ceiling in order to visit a prisoner. Their feet were shackled and attached to the wall. There was no chance of escape.... One can only imagine the conditions that were in those cells and in which someone like Apostle Paul would be living in. But that did not dissuade Onesiphorous into visiting with his beloved brother in Christ, Saint and Apostle Paul. (v 17)........................

13 Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.

From other testimonies of Paul in his other letters, we can be sure that he is saying: "Get your eyes off of me and keep them on Christ!!" Oh to be sure, those who had come to the knowledge of the forgiveness of their sins through Christ Jesus dearly loved the Apostle like a brother. We see this in the book of Acts..But he did not want their attention to be diverted from Christ by their emotional attachment to him and for his earthly welfare. Paul knew that his release from the earthly prison would be his heavenly freedom and eternal joy, even as Dietrich Bonhoffer understood, for he said when he was led to be hung at the end of WW2. "For me this is the beginning."

Let us read through Paul's meeting with the elders at Ephesus, noting how he did not consider his life important, but the lives of others. Galatians 2: 20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. Can we not hear the passion of Paul and the love of his fellow travelers?.

Acts 20:17 And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church.
18 And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons,
19 Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews:
20 And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house,
21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
22 And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there:
23 Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. {abide me: or, wait for me}
24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.
25 And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more.
26 Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men.
27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.
28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.
30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.
31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.
32 And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.
33 I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel.
34 Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.
35 I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.
36 And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all.
37 And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul's neck, and kissed him,
38 Sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more. And they accompanied him unto the ship.

What a parting.......but there will be a reunion one day, and from the reunion there will be no parting ever again.

Please not how Pau, after opening up his heart with his beloved in Christ, kneeled down and prayed with them all....They prayed together.....Wow.......He likewise prays for the Ephesians in the last part of the 3rd chapter.

14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;
17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

Lord, as we think on that which you have accomplished through Christ our Saviour, we ask that you grant unto us, according to the riches of your glory, to be strengthened with might by your Spirit inner being, so that Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith. We pray, Lord, that we will be rooted like a tree and have a foundation that is built upon the Rock, Jesus the Christ. Lord, through this, we ask that you would continue to reveal your boundless love to us, so that we will know your love for us as sinners. For while we were yet sinning, you gave yourself for us, while we yet sin you continue to love us.....Lord, help us to see ourselves as you see us, for according to your own testimony, you do not remember our sins and iniquities anymore. You have laid them on your Son. Lord, help us to understand what it means to live in the fulness of this love, which is to live in your fulness! We know that there is no lack of your capacity to do this, for your supply is far greater than our comprehension of your love, but nevertheless, Lord, increase our faith, increase our knowledge of your love for us.........We like Paul, Lord, break out in praise of you today, for you are the One who has loved us and washed us from our sins. Yes, Lord, we praise you today and sing our song of joy as we close our time with you...
Let us allow the rich meaning of these words sink deeply into our minds and hearts today so that out of our soul will rise "Alleluia, Alleluia, from earth to heaven, now and forevermore.......For we have been created in Christ Jesus to praise Him both now, ....and forevermore..........

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee, God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee, opening to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness; drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day!

All Thy works with joy surround Thee, earth and heaven reflect Thy rays,
Stars and angels sing around Thee, center of unbroken praise.
Field and forest, vale and mountain, flowery meadow, flashing sea,
Singing bird and flowing fountain call us to rejoice in Thee.

Thou art giving and forgiving, ever blessing, ever blessed,
Wellspring of the joy of living, ocean depth of happy rest!
Thou our Father, Christ our Brother, all who live in love are Thine;
Teach us how to love each other, lift us to the joy divine.

Mortals, join the happy chorus, which the morning stars began;
Father love is reigning o’er us, brother love binds man to man.
Ever singing, march we onward, victors in the midst of strife,
Joyful music leads us Sunward in the triumph song of life.

May the exceeding abundant grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all now and forevermore, Amen.

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 06 Jan 2013 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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Baptism of Jesus 1/13/2012
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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Carol Fischer and her family as they grieve the loss of Bob