Saturday, January 16, 2010

Sunday, January 10, 2010 Baptism of Our Lord

And Joshua arose in the morning, and he set out from Shittim, and came upon the Jordan, and the sons of Israel, and they lodged there before they went over. And it was from the end of three days, and the record-keepers went over into the interior of the camp. And they ordered the people, saying, "As you see the Ark of the Covenant of Yahweh your God and the priests of Levi lifting it up, and you, yourselves set forth from your place and you walk after it...And Yahweh spoke to Joshua, "This day I begin to make you great in the eyes of all Israel, which they may know, for as which I have been with Moses, I will be with you. And you yourself will order the priests who are lifting up the ark of the covenant, saying, "As you come upon the edge of the waters of the Jordan, in the Jordan you will stand."...And it will be as they rest, as the soles of the feet of the priests who lift up the ark of Yahweh, the Lord of all the earth will be in the waters of the Jordan; the waters of the Jordan will be cut off--the waters going from above; and they will stand in one dam. And it was in the people setting out from their tents to go over the Jordan, and the priests lifted up the ark of the covenant before the people; and as they came, those lifting up the ark upon the Jordan and the feet of the priests lifting up the ark were dipped in the edge of the water (and the Jordan overflows all of its banks all the days of harvest), And the waters going from above arose in one dam, much distance away, in Adam, the city which is alongside Zarethan, and those going to the sea of Arabah, the sea of salt, completely were cut off. And the people went over opposite Jericho. And the priests who lifted up the ark of the covenant of Yahweh stood on dryness in the middle of the Jordan, and all Israel went over on dryness until which all the nation finished going over the Jordan.

A popular scam-artist named John Edward is often seen on TV promoting his so-called ability to *cross-over* from here to contact those in the afterlife. He calls his program, "Crossing over" duping many into believing that you can communicate with loved ones in the great beyond. But we know that such *crossing over* is not possible. Even if it were, it would not be helpful as Jesus reminds us in the story of the rich man and Lazarus. For the crossing-over into the promised land is a one way trip, from which no one would ever want to even consider going back again.

Moses led the Israelites to the brink of the promised land, only to be forbidden from taking them across because of his sins. Instead, God chose Joshua to lead them in their crossing over the Jordan. But of course, it really wasn't Moses, Joshua, or any man leading the Sons of Israel into the promised land, any more than a charlatan can claim the ability to cross over into the afterlife. Only God can accomplish this miraculous crossing-over. He does it by being, Himself, in the middle of it all.

That's why Jesus, as God, repeats history here, placing Himself smack-dab into the middle of the river, just as He had done before in the ark of the covenant held by the priests. Jesus went into the Jordan this time to be baptized there, but don't be fooled. Jesus did this for the same reason Joshua commanded the ark of God's presence to go down into the middle of the Jordan–for an important crossing over. Back then it was the promised land of Israel, now the promised land of heaven.

You see, if the ark where God Himself dwelt didn't go into the Jordan first, no Israelite would have ever made it to the promised land. Likewise, if Jesus hadn't gone into the Jordan first, no believer would have ever made it to heaven! So important was this event, that the Father spoke from heaven, and the Holy Ghost made a rare appearance. God was pleased with what His beloved Son was doing there in the Jordan, for Jesus was allowing for sinful men to cross over into heaven by God's grace.

How? By Jesus' willingness to get down in the muck and mire of sin, washed into the murky waters of the Jordan. Jesus, Who knew no sin of His Own, was willing to be immersed into the sin of people. Jesus, the holy One of God, embraced that sin to fulfill all righteousness the day of His Baptism. For His ministry was one in which He actually sought to become sins, yours and mine, and to pay the price for our sin, the wages of which is death, at the cross of Calvary. His body given and His blood shed for you.

And that's what makes your own baptism effective. Your sin is washed clean from you there, and the font's filthy flood-water is poured out in full onto Jesus as He drinks that cup of God's wrath against sin at the cross. As Jesus becomes your sin, He gives up His Own holy righteousness at the cross and gives it to you in your baptism. By His death on Calvary, you have now crossed-over to the promised land! In God's forgiveness, rescue and salvation in baptism, you have crossed-over to life eternal in heaven.


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