Good Morning! Welcome to this morning's CTS service.
Worship today is led by Tony Richmond.
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Thank you to all those who have been part of putting together this weeks service.
Message - Tony Richmond
John the Baptist must have been an imposing figure and his message that people needed to repent clearly caught something in the mood of the people of his day. They came “Confessing their sins, they were baptised by him in the River Jordan”.
People wondered just who he was and some wondered if he was the promised Messiah. But John clearly knew his place and part of his message was “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I baptise you with water, but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit”
John and Jesus would have known each other to some degree and would surely have known the extraordinary circumstances of their births. I sometimes wonder what went through their minds as they grew from childhood to adults. I am sure they were aware that they had a purpose to their lives and maybe grew impatient to see those purposes revealed.
Then John came with his message of repentance and a call to be baptised. Now John was not the first to offer baptism although its history is far from clear it was something associated with being cleansed in a way that was more than just washing the body. The story of the cleansing of Naaman which you will find in 2 Kings Chapter 5 maybe has a connection to Baptism.
But John came preaching a need for repentance, offering baptism and proclaiming the one who was to follow.
Then along comes Jesus. John recognises something of who Jesus is and possibly reluctantly baptises Jesus and we read “Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased”.
Why was Jesus Baptised? If my understanding of Him is right that he was without sin “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” 2 Corinthians 5:21 then he did not need to be baptised as a sign of repentance.
So why was He baptised. I see a few things from the Baptism of Jesus
It confirmed he father’s purpose for Him as The Spirit descended on Him and the voice of the Father declared Jesus to be God’s son. This gave to Jesus the confirmation of His relationship with God and prompted the start of his active ministry. It spoke to John a confirmation of his ministry, that the one who was to come had arrived and in a sense the work of John was endorsed.
The Spirit descended on Him. The whole question of the oneness of God becomes even more difficult to understand in this but it was confirmation that God’s Spirit was on Jesus.
But what does it have to say to us today? Like many, I do not recall my baptism as a child. I remember without too much clarity being received as a Junior Member of the Methodist Church which was, I think, akin to being ‘confirmed’.
Although encouraged many times to be baptised as an adult I have maintained the Methodist tradition that baptism is a one-off event in our lives.
But there are other times when we can look for the affirmation of God’s presence in our lives and His purpose for us. The Covenant Service is one, Holy Communion is another and many of us long for an opportunity to share together in this. God constantly want to affirm his presence with us and encourage us on the ministry he has for each of us.
As we receive the affirmation from God we should recognise that this is for others as well as ourselves and we should be willing for others to see God’s presence with us.
The Spirit descended on Jesus. Views on the way The Holy Spirit comes to people has been the cause of many divisions within the Church as some want to be proscriptive about how it happens. Some look to the Day of Pentecost and believe a similar experience is the only way. But The Sprit was present in the world long before that as we read many times in the Old Testament and clearly the Spirit came on Jesus at his baptism.
We need the presence of God’s Spirit within our lives. When I was young we sang a chorus “in to my heart, into my heart, come in to my heart Lord Jesus”. We still pray that but we do not expect the physical presence of Jesus inside us; we do expect and experience the reality of His presence with us. Whenever we need to be reminded of God’s presence with us he will come to us in the way that we need at that time. He will come to us confirming again that we are His children and challenging us again with the ministry that He calls us to.
The baptism of Jesus was a unique event as Jesus was unique, For most of us our baptism is an event in the past but the willingness of God to come to us and fill us with His Spirit, to come to us and affirm His purpose for us is a constant now and will remain so for the whole of our lives. All we have to do is to come to Him and ask. Amen