Based on Luke 3:15-22
It was a few short weeks ago when we observed the festival of the Baptism of our Lord. It is always a temptation to want to focus on and bring to mind our own Baptisms — and even better if there is a Baptism in our congregation that day. But preachers will do well to point out that it is the festival of the Baptism of our Lord! We hear about the Baptism of Jesus in the midst of the season of Epiphany, which means “manifestation.” Each Sunday during this season manifests, reveals something to us about who this Jesus is who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire. And what is revealed in the passage above in Luke’s Gospel?
First, it is revealed that while John was a great prophet, he was simply the forerunner. As people were wondering whether John might be the Christ, the baptizer made it clear that Jesus would come with mighty power, bringing the Spirit and fire.
Second, this passage announces that while Jesus would come to purify and cleanse the corrupted people of Israel, this would indeed be “good news.” Luke tells us, “with many other exhortations (John) preached good news to the people.” It may not sound like good news, but the coming of the Messiah, the Christ was truly good news for the people and for the nation. Crowds came to John because they saw the need for repentance and renewal in their land — beginning with their own lives, as they entered the water to be baptized by John. And then…
Third, in this passage, it is revealed that Jesus, the one who was without sin, took our sin upon Himself, submitting to baptism to “fulfill all righteousness” as it says elsewhere. Our Lord led the way for us to follow, as He was washed in the waters of baptism, declared the only Son of the Father, with whom the Father God was well-pleased. Now, we are reminded that as Jesus was baptized, we too, are to be baptized. It isn’t optional. We are baptized into Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, to draw strength and comfort, when our sins or conscience oppress us, as Luther says in the Large Catechism.
Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, because I have been baptized as you were baptized, help me to draw strength and comfort when my sins and conscience oppress me. Amen.
Lenten response: Light a candle today in remembrance of Jesus’ and your Baptism!
This year’s devotional was prepared by the Rev. Dr. David Wendel, NALC assistant to the bishop for ministry and ecumenism. To learn more about A Lenten Walk Through the Word, visit thenalc.org/lent.
Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
5:7 Those survivors from Jacob will live
in the midst of many nations.
They will be like the dew the Lord sends,
like the rain on the grass,
that does not hope for men to come
or wait around for humans to arrive.
8Those survivors from Jacob will live among the nations,
in the midst of many peoples.
They will be like a lion among the animals of the forest,
like a young lion among the flocks of sheep,
which attacks when it passes through.
It rips its prey and there is no one to stop it.
9Lift your hand triumphantly against your adversaries;
may all your enemies be destroyed!
10“In that day,” says the Lord,
“I will destroy your horses from your midst
and smash your chariots.
11I will destroy the cities of your land
and tear down all your fortresses.
12I will remove the sorcery that you practice,
and you will no longer have omen readers living among you.
13I will remove your idols and sacred pillars from your midst;
you will no longer worship what your own hands made.
14I will uproot your images of Asherah from your midst
and destroy your idols.
15With furious anger I will carry out vengeance
on the nations that do not obey me.”
6:1 Listen to what the Lord says:
“Get up! Defend yourself before the mountains.
Present your case before the hills.”
2Hear the Lord’s accusation, you mountains,
you enduring foundations of the earth.
For the Lord has a case against his people;
he has a dispute with Israel!
3“My people, how have I wronged you?
How have I wearied you? Answer me!
4In fact, I brought you up from the land of Egypt;
I delivered you from that place of slavery.
I sent Moses, Aaron, and Miriam to lead you.
5My people, recall how King Balak of Moab planned to harm you,
how Balaam son of Beor responded to him.
Recall how you journeyed from Shittim to Gilgal,
so you might acknowledge that the Lord has treated you fairly.”
6With what should I enter the Lord’s presence?
With what should I bow before the sovereign God?
Should I enter his presence with burnt offerings,
with year-old calves?
7Will the Lord accept a thousand rams
or ten thousand streams of olive oil?
Should I give him my firstborn child as payment for my rebellion,
my offspring—my own flesh and blood—for my sin?
8He has told you, O man, what is good,
and what the Lord really wants from you:
He wants you to carry out justice, to love faithfulness,
and to live obediently before your God.(NET Bible)
66:1 For the music director, a song, a psalm.
Shout out praise to God, all the earth!
2Sing praises about the majesty of his reputation.
Give him the honor he deserves!
3Say to God:
“How awesome are your deeds!
Because of your great power your enemies cower in fear before you.
4All the earth worships you
and sings praises to you.
They sing praises to your name.” (Selah)
5Come and witness God’s exploits!
His acts on behalf of people are awesome.
6He turned the sea into dry land;
they passed through the river on foot.
Let us rejoice in him there.
7He rules by his power forever;
he watches the nations.
Stubborn rebels should not exalt themselves. (Selah)
8Praise our God, you nations.
Loudly proclaim his praise.
9He preserves our lives
and does not allow our feet to slip.
10For you, O God, tested us;
you purified us like refined silver.
11You led us into a trap;
you caused us to suffer.
12You allowed men to ride over our heads;
we passed through fire and water,
but you brought us out into a wide open place.
13I will enter your temple with burnt sacrifices;
I will fulfill the vows I made to you,
14which my lips uttered
and my mouth spoke when I was in trouble.
15I will offer up to you fattened animals as burnt sacrifices,
along with the smell of sacrificial rams.
I will offer cattle and goats. (Selah)
16Come! Listen, all you who are loyal to God.
I will declare what he has done for me.
17I cried out to him for help
and praised him with my tongue.
18If I had harbored sin in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened.
19However, God heard;
he listened to my prayer.
20God deserves praise,
for he did not reject my prayer
or abandon his love for me.(NET Bible)
3:15 While the people were filled with anticipation and they all wondered whether perhaps John could be the Christ, 16John answered them all, “I baptize you with water, but one more powerful than I am is coming—I am not worthy to untie the strap of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17His winnowing fork is in his hand to clean out his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his storehouse, but the chaff he will burn up with inextinguishable fire.”
18And in this way, with many other exhortations, John proclaimed good news to the people. 19But when John rebuked Herod the tetrarch because of Herodias, his brother’s wife, and because of all the evil deeds that he had done, 20Herod added this to them all: He locked up John in prison.
21Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus also was baptized. And while he was praying, the heavens opened, 22and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my one dear Son; in you I take great delight.”(NET Bible)
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016.
Let me mention at least a few testimonies from the year 1520. In June, Luther wrote to the same Dungersheim, “We wish to be judged by Scripture; you wish to judge it … If the Fathers are to be read without selection and judgment, the Scripture is taken away.” (17–18)
–Johann Michael Reu, Luther on the Scriptures
This daily Bible reading guide, Reading the Word of God, was conceived and prepared as a result of the ongoing discussions between representatives of three church bodies: Lutheran Church—Canada (LCC), The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). The following individuals have represented their church bodies and approved this introduction and the reading guide: LCC: President Robert Bugbee; NALC: Bishop John Bradosky, Revs. Mark Chavez, James Nestingen, and David Wendel; LCMS: Revs. Albert Collver, Joel Lehenbauer, John Pless, and Larry Vogel.