The Baptism of Our Lord (1/10/2021)

Genesis 1:1-5; Ps. 29; Rom. 6:1-11; Mk. 1:4-11

Beginning, In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth (v. 1).

Scripture opens speaking of God as Creator. We tend to think of Adam and the woman as God’s first pairing; but man’s union reflects other other couplings (Eph. 5:29-32), not least “the heavens and the earth”.

“[T]he heavens” are the physical and angelic cosmos beyond “the earth”. Heaven proper, as opposed to “the [created] heavens”, is the eternal location of the uncreate Trinity; the heart, will, and activity source of God. St. John calls this place “the Beginning” (Jn. 1:1).

In time, the Spirit hovering over the formless deep, the Speech of God ordained, “Let there be Light” (Gen. 1:2, 3) expressing his unbound love for the creation coming into being; his delight and intention for union.

From eternity it has been God’s pleasure for union through the man and woman, made in his “image and likeness”, a “fit help mate” in the creation.

Now, Satan is a created being, an angelic “power”, “authority”, “dominion” and “ruler” of the cosmic “heavens”. Of Satan and cohorts, we ask, “whence sin arose; how is it the creature rebels against his Creator?” It is a mystery, other than to observe that abuse of free will by creatures resulted in the loss.

Satan employed a false word for man to ingest, resulting in earth’s corruption and man’s dysfunctional dominion in it. By sin the cosmic heavens, the earth, and man were condemned to death and destruction.

There could be only one salvation from this devilry; a new Creation out of the heart, will, and action of God by Spirit and a new Man faithful to God’s word.

It is one thing that God unwind the physical heavens and earth for a new one; however, it is quite another that God act contrary to his own ethical character (Ex. 20:13, 14; 32:9-14, 30-33; Deut. 5:17, 18; 9:13-14) destroying man made in his image and likeness.

Like Judas, who turned from apostleship “to a place of his own” (Acts 1:25), Satan and angelic accomplices are consigned to a dark, formless, and void place; a chaotic watery place absent God’s ordering Light (Mt. 25:41, 2 Peter 2:4, Jude 6).

What Satan meant for evil, God employed that many in the new creation be kept alive (Gen. 50:20). On account of sin man was cast from the Garden. The HS departed his habitation with man until the advent of the new creation. With the HS’s descent out of Heaven as dove resting on Jesus, the new creation was earnestly coming into being.

John baptized in water, prophetically preparatory for Jesus, incarnate Voice of God (Ps. 29) delivery of God’s Spirit. As at the first creation, the sin-laden Jordan waters were “formless and void” over which the Spirit hovered, awaiting Jesus’ entry to sanctify the water for revealing God’s word and light in Holy Baptism.

Baptism into Jesus’ death and resurrection is the church’s new Exodus and her new Washing in the Spirit (cf. Ex. 19:7-11, 17) making us fit for God’s new Man with his new Church. In the Jordan Jesus was immersed into the bride’s sin and death (Rom. 6:23) for conclusion with abandon by God and destruction on the cross (Ps. 22:1).

As the Spirit descended from Heaven, Jesus breached the water, sundering the divide between Heaven and earth. The Spirit rested on Jesus standing over cleansing waters for God’s purifying fire on the cross, “The voice of the LORD is over the waters … The voice of the LORD flashes forth flames of fire” (Ps. 29:3a, 7).

Jesus, the powerful voice of God by the Spirit (v. 4a) was baptized ordering Heaven’s light for the heavens and the earth, of whom God says, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you” (Ps. 2:7) fulfilled in the Resurrection (Acts 13:33).

At Jesus’ Baptism God registered his pleasure toward men who are joined with his Speech. From Isaiah, “Behold my Servant, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him…” (Isa. 42:1; Mk. 1:11).

At Jesus’ death, the old temple veil that separated men from God’s presence, was torn. Man’s security now no longer consists in distance from God’s holiness; rather peace and comfort are obtained through joining the torn flesh of Jesus, God’s new Temple.

From the Jordan, Jesus journeyed the Way of the cross; there his Baptism would be fulfilled, handing-over the Spirit for life through the NT church in the new Creation. Heaven is opened by Jesus’ baptism and resurrection in which we have peace and access to God, newly minted sons and daughters.

Finally, the Father from Heaven declared Jesus his, “Beloved Son” (Mk. 1:11) as Isaac was Abraham’s “beloved”; both consenting to their own sacrificial binding (Gen. 22:2ff.). “[In this manner] God loved the world that he gave his only Son” (Jn. 3:16a).

The church is baptized into a death Satan intended evil; but in Christ we are united in a death like his, so even now, participate in a resurrection like his (Rom. 6:5). Our eucharistic Life in the Spirit is our surety of God’s delight, that we by faith, are forgiven sons and daughters for the new creation fully revealed on the Last Day.

It is the Father’s delight to give his “Beloved Son” a spotless bride united in his purifying shed blood. By word and sacrament, we are bound to God in image and likeness of Christ for the coming of his new heavens and … new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13). The Father speaks his final word, “Behold, I make all things new!” (Rev. 21:5). Amen.