January 9, 2022
Luke 3:15-17, 21-22
Prayer…. O, Lord our God, may the words of my mouth and the mediation of our hearts be acceptable to you, O Lord, our strength and redeemer. Amen.
Welcome to Baptism of the Lord Sunday. Baptism is a very significant sacrament in the Christian faith. What two sacraments do we recognize in the reformed church? In baptism we die to sin forever and are joined by the Holy Spirit which enters our body. Just a short word here, baptism does not save us. In baptism we are reborn, we become a new creature – one who seeks to please our Heavenly Father. So why would Jesus need to be baptized? Jesus came to earth to join the human race, to be one of us, our brother when we receive the Holy Spirit. When Jesus became human, he subjected himself to the same human conditions we are subject to. We are subject to committing sin, Jesus even though sinless took on our sins and paid the price for our sins….which is death. Christ died for our sins, but he also being God resurrected himself after three days. All four gospels record the Holy Spirit looking like a dove and descending on Jesus. Matthew, Mark, and Luke are the only gospels that actually go into Jesus’ baptism. Our gospel reading today tells of John addressing the crowds question whether he is the Messiah. John denies being the Messiah, but points to Jesus as the Messiah. John is witness to the Heavenly dove descending on Jesus.
So, what can we glean from our Gospel reading today? John talks of the Messiah coming and will separate the wheat from the chaff, and it will be burnt with unquenchable fire. So, what is this chaff that will be burnt and the wheat being gathered in the granary? Chaff is a coating over the wheat protecting it. It is completely worthless. Our bodies can’t digest it. I have a friend who makes bread on the weekends, and I get a loaf each week from him. In eating the wheat bread every now and then I get a crunch sound while eating the bread. This is the chaff, of no use to our bodies. If you eat oatmeal it also has chaff in it. We don’t remove the chaff because it tastes bad—many people find beets to taste bad, but they’re packed with nutrients. We remove chaff because it is worthless; it takes up valuable space needed by those whom Jesus will summon to follow him into the fires of baptism. Can you think of something that might be in our hearts like chaff that take up precious space, where we could have more room for the love of God that we could share with the world? We need more room for the love of Christ and the ability to withstand the temptation to put self ahead of neighbor, profit ahead of justice, or fear before faith. The wheat that Jesus was/is made of puts others first, it is an agape type love. Jesus is as we know the bread of life, who takes away the sins of the world. He has no chaff in his heart or ministry. His heart is full of love from God the Father, and love for humankind willing to die so we may live. So, I encourage you to look at Jesus’ life and strive each day to reflect this love Jesus had for the world. This week as we go around our community when folks see us will they see Jesus? If not, maybe we should get rid of the chaff in our hearts.