Subject: Redeemer Downtown: First Sunday after the Epiphany - January 8, 2012

 First Sunday after the Epiphany - January 8, 20121

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”

                                                                                                          John 1:29-34 (ESV)

The baptism of Jesus represents more than an event in the life of Christ. It is a model for our own lives in the world.

One of the most astonishing episodes in the life of Israel was its emergence from the Red Sea during the Exodus. It was through the Exodus that Israel moved from relative obscurity as a marginalized people in Egypt to being a people with a new identity and place in God’s world. Years later, Hosea recounts God’s words about Israel’s new identity saying, “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son” (Hosea 11:1). In other words, it was because of their passage through the Sea that Israel’s standing as God’s child was made known to the world.

It’s no wonder that analogies have been drawn between the Exodus and the baptism of Jesus Christ, where Jesus also emerges from the waters and is publicly confirmed to be the Son of God. In fact, that’s precisely what John the Baptist means when he states, “I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.” Jesus’ baptism is the definitive statement that He is God’s beloved Son. What’s remarkable, however, is that the revealed glory of Jesus is not merely His exalted status (“the Son of God”) but also His humble mission (“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”). Jesus Christ is glorious both in His privileged standing and life of service that would one day lead Him to the cross.

In many respects, this defines the role of the Church in the world. We have both a unique standing (children of God) and a specific calling (service to the world). Like the Israelites who were brought out of Egypt to be a light to all the world, testifying to God’s work, the Church is to be a light to the world just as our Savior is. The glory of Jesus Christ is manifest in the fact that His standing did not make Him complacent nor did His calling make Him servile, but rather the remarkable combination made Him courageous and humble, bold and self-sacrificing. As the Church, our confidence is that we are children of God and our calling that we are servants of His world, and through this, the glory of Jesus Christ continues to be revealed to the world.

Father in heaven, who at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan proclaimed him your beloved Son and anointed him with the Holy Spirit: Grant that all who are baptized into his Name may keep the covenant they have made, and boldly confess him as Lord and Savior; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

                                                                          Collect2 from The Book of Common Prayer

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