Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Bethany Bullet - January 21, 2014

Almost a century ago a new subculture sprang to life in the United States.  For the first time in the modern era, youth culture took to the forefront of society. The years of the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression had a major impact on society and left a mark on spoken vocabulary particularly slang in America.  Many great phrases sprang out of what is sometime termed The Jazz Age.  I’m sure you have heard phrases like “the bee’s knees” or “the cat’s meow.”  These phrases along with many others moved from the realm of slang to idioms with more common use and understanding among the majority in culture. 

Two phrases from this time have some relevance for us this morning in worship. First, the phrase “That doesn’t hold water.” And second, “You’re all wet!”   

Now both of these phrases have roots in life, not just slang from the 1920s.  Many years ago, when containers for liquid were all hand made the most basic test of reliability was to fill it with water, put the lid on and see if there were leaks.  Just looking at a dry container would not be sufficient proof for being airtight and small holes and imperfections might escape detection with a simple visual inspection.

If a container could pass the test it could then be used to transport more valuable liquids such as olive oil.  So a good container could “hold water” and the tester would not become “all wet.”

To say that someone is “all wet” is derogatory, meaning that they are incorrect, or have a faulty notion about something.  If someone’s argument “does not hold water”, it is faulty or not worth much. 

Later in worship we will remember our baptism as we pass through the waters as a reminder of our own baptism as we come to the table for communion.  The water is here, it is wet, and this container definitely “hold’s water.”  But today we will also remember the baptism of Jesus. 

Matthew records the baptism of Jesus by John and in so doing begins the public ministry of Jesus.  John writes,

 13 Then Jesus appeared. He came from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to stop him and said, “I need to be baptized by you. Why are you coming to me?”
15 Jesus answered him, “This is the way it has to be now. This is the proper way to do everything that God requires of us.”

Then John gave in to him. 16 After Jesus was baptized, he immediately came up from the water. Suddenly, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God coming down as a dove to him. 17 Then a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love—my Son with whom I am pleased.” (Matthew 3:13-17)

First of all, before we move on we need to understand that Jesus did not need to be baptized by John.  We also need to understand that John’s baptism was different than the baptisms we do today.

You see, Jesus did not fit the requirements of baptism.  He is the sinless, holy, Son of God, perfect from before creation.  His words could “hold water” although many thought him to be “all wet” as he dined with sinners and tax collectors, as he protected those caught in adultery, as he healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, healed limbs, and raised the dead. 

In reality we are the ones who are “all wet” when it comes to our actions and our words do not “hold water.”

As you look at your life, as you take time for introspection and self examination, you can’t help but come to the conclusion that we are filled with imperfections and holes in our character and you could say that we are “all wet.”

We fail time and time again.  We give in to temptations, we judge our neighbors, we forget our responsibilities, and discharge our duties for our own sake, never looking out for others.

If you are like me, I know there are times you have tried to justify your own actions, tried to convince yourself that you are, for the most part, a good person.  You are certainly not like all those other hooligans and miscreants.  But in the light of Christ, your words “don’t hold water.”

Don’t believe me, look to the words of the Psalmist from Psalm 14:

Godless fools say in their hearts,
    “There is no God.”
    They are corrupt.
    They do disgusting things.
    There is no one who does good things.
The Lord looks down from heaven on Adam’s descendants
    to see if there is anyone who acts wisely,
        if there is anyone who seeks help from God.
Everyone has turned away.
    Together they have become rotten to the core.
        No one, not even one person, does good things.
(Psalm 14:1-3)

We are “all wet” and our words do not “hold water.”

So, the question remains, why was the sinless Son of God baptized?
I think our text alludes to three things:
1.       Proclamation - This is the official introduction of Jesus to the people of Israel.  John the Baptist was sent to prepare the way and fulfill the Scriptures.  A bit earlier in Matthew John says, “I baptize you with water for repentance.  But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry.” (Matthew 3:11)  In the waters of the Jordan a proclamation is given that the Messiah has come.

2.       Identification - As Jesus is baptized he identifies himself with sinful humanity. The sinless one does not separate himself from sinners but becomes one with humanity in his baptism.  Our New Testament Lesson reminds us of our identification with Jesus and unity with him as Paul writes in Romans 6, Don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? When we were baptized into his death, we were placed into the tomb with him. As Christ was brought back from death to life by the glorious power of the Father, so we, too, should live a new kind of life. If we’ve become united with him in a death like his, certainly we will also be united with him when we come back to life as he did.” (Romans 6:3-5)

3.       Anticipation - This water baptism of Jesus looked forward to his baptism of suffering that he would endure on the cross in our place.  Luke records these words of Jesus, “I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished.”  (Luke 12:50) As Jesus came out of the water of the Jordan, he knew that the cross lie ahead of him.  The sins of the world would be place upon his shoulders and like the scapegoat of Old Testament time, he would be abandoned to the wilderness, literally as Matthew records immediately after his baptism to be tempted, and later he would be abandoned by his disciples and eventually his Heavenly Father as he dies on the cross. 

Our baptism does the same things. 
1.       In the water and by the word God gives you a proclamation that you are His, He claims you as His child, He adopts you into the family and makes you an heir.

2.       Your identification as a child of God unifies you with Jesus and our sin’s die with Christ and we are raised to new life.

3.       We live with great anticipation for what God has provided for us, an eternal place in heaven, in His presence.

Last week if you heard Dr. Lamb preach you heard him say that baptism is like the water of the womb that protects us, but let me take it a step further; Baptism makes you “all wet” all the time and that is a good thing.  Your imperfections and holes in your character or in your life are opportunities to get others wet.  As much as you want to “hold water” those who are in Christ spill that water of life to others in spite of our imperfections and flaws.

Baptism fundamentally changes us, in impacts how we view life, it affects our relationships with one another and in empowers us to be “all wet.”

The world is thirsty for answers and you have been given what is needed, a life that is “all wet,” a message that quenches the spiritual thirst, the good news of Jesus Christ, that is “The Bee’s Knees” and “The Cat’s Meow” for in Christ we have the best news ever!

If you have not been baptized, or have children in your family who have not been brought to the waters and you want to some more information there is a QR code in the bulletin that you can scan with your smart phone to connect you to a short video about Baptism.  The video link is below; I will also post the video on our Facebook page and we will Tweet it out as well.   Feel free to share it with your friends or family and if you would like to schedule a baptism, do not hesitate to contact us.

Please click HERE to watch a video we have put together about Baptism.  
*If you are unable to open the link, please copy/paste this into your browser to watch: http://vimeo.com/58503129.

-Pastor Seth Moorman


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