The Baptism of Our Lord

Jesus is Our Unlikely, Yet Perfect Savior

These are the readings for the Baptism of Our Lord Sunday.

God’s Word for This Week

“Why did Jesus need to be baptized? I thought baptism was for sinners.” That’s a common question. It does not make sense that our sinless Savior would need to be baptized. Why was he? Because a) the Father wanted him to, and b) Jesus came to be our perfect substitute. His baptism shows him to be just that. Even from birth he endured the effects of our sin. Jesus did no wrong, but he carried our sickness and pain (Isaiah 53:4). He needed the assurance of God’s love, just as if he were a sinner himself. He needed strength. Jesus received such gifts in baptism, like we do.

First Lesson – 1 Samuel 16:1-13

Whom had God rejected as the King of Israel?

God had rejected Saul.

When Samuel went to anoint a new king, did he and the Lord agree on who would be the “perfect” king?

They did not agree. Samuel was impressed with the oldest sons of Jesse because they were big and handsome. But the Lord had different ideas, as he explained: “The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

Whom did the Lord finally choose as Israel’s new king?

God chose the youngest son of Jesse—David—the forefather of our perfect Savior, Jesus. Jesus, too, would seem like an unlikely choice to be our perfect Savior (cf. Isaiah 53:2-3).

Second Lesson – Titus 3:4-7

According to St. Paul, why did God save us?

Paul plainly states that God did not save us because of righteous things we had done (our good works) but because of his mercy. In other words, our salvation depends entirely upon God’s love for us and not our love for him, a concept that seems unlikely to human reason.

According to St. Paul, how did God save us?

Paul explains that God saved us “through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.” The Christian church has always understood this to be a reference to Holy Baptism, where God washes away our sin through this water connected to his Word of promise.

Gospel – Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

What was the purpose of the baptism given by John?

The purpose was the same as the baptism we have today: it was “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mark 1:4).

If Jesus was sinless, why was he baptized?

In Jesus’ baptism God commissioned him to “go public” and save us, and the Father anointed him with the Holy Spirit and power (Acts 10:38). Also, though Jesus did not have any personal sin, Jesus was not aloof. In his role as Savior he carried the world’s guilt. He had come to be our perfect substitute and to identify with every sinner.

Which three special persons were present at the baptism of Jesus?

The Father spoke from above and sent the Spirit to the Son. Likewise, we were baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). We are all sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:26).

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