Sermon Recording for 3rd Advent Midweek – December. 16, 2020
+ 3rd Advent Midweek – December 16, 2020 +
Matthew 3:13-17; Romans 6:1-11
Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church
“Jesus, the Life of Jesse’s Tree”
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
We began Advent in Genesis with God’s promise that one day the Seed of the woman would be born, a child to destroy the serpent. Last week we heard how God preserved His Seed through the life of Isaac, the promised son of Abraham and the bearer of the promise of the Seed of the woman.
As the story God’s promise continued on through the centuries, God continued to protect and rescue His erring and sinful chosen line. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and eventually Jesse. From Jesse to David, God kept his promise of the Seed generation after generation
And just when the promises of God appeared to be only a distant sound echoing to deaf ears, a daughter of Adam, of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jesse, and of David brought forth a Son. This Son grew to be a man and lived among His creation. Not as a mighty king like David. Not in the palaces of the powerful. But one whose life was like his birth, humble, lowly, and often hidden.
In our stained glass windows above, we see the image of a scallop shell, an ancient symbol of Holy Baptism. It reminds us not only of our Baptism but also of the One whose Baptism sanctifies our own.
John was the final prophet who proclaimed the rule and reign of God, which was coming into the world. Jesus appeared at the Jordan River to be baptized by John. As Jesus was baptized, the Spirit descended as a dove upon Him and a voice proclaimed Him to be both Mary’s Son and Son of God. Here at last was the true Seed promised from the beginning. Here was Jesus, the Life of Jesse’s Tree.
Though He came among his people, the world could not see who Jesus really was. For Israel, their present circumstance was a daily grim reminder of a much more glorious past. They remembered the days of David and Solomon when they were a mighty nation, united and powerful. But that was then. Now they were under the thumb of yet another foreign empire, Rome.
What they did not see or expect was who this man really was as He came to the Jordan to be baptized. He was just another man by all outward appearances. In fact, He was less esteemed than most simply because He was from the little village of Nazareth. When Jesus called Philip to follow Him and Philip went to tell Nathanael about Jesus, Nathanael’s response sums up the social standing of Jesus of Nazareth: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46). Yet here He was—the Seed and Root and Life of Jesse’s tree.
The Lord had raised up a prophet named John to prepare the way of the Christ through preaching and Baptism. Through Palestine ran the Jordan River, a life-giving source, as its waters irrigated land and quenched the thirst of all. At this river, John stood and preached repentance and baptized all who came.
At the Jordan River, the truth of who Jesus was would be revealed, no matter what the human eye saw in this Nazarene. St. Matthew tells us, “And when Jesus was baptized, immediately He went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on Him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, ‘This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased’”(Matthew 3:16–17).
Our life can often seem like living in a wilderness, an arid and barren world. We dream of a better days from the past. But in truth, in many ways, the golden eras of the past were not as golden as we might imagine. People then, as now, struggled for meaning and hope. Society wrestled with morality and oppression. The Church struggled to find her voice and identity in an unbelieving world.
But life arises wherever there’s water. And just as Palestine had the Jordan River, so the Church has her source of life-giving water. Always present, even in her darkest days of past, present, and future, is the font of water with the Word. As the Church prays in the Rite of Holy Baptism, “Through the Baptism in the Jordan of Your beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, You sanctified and instituted all waters to be a blessed flood and a lavish washing away of sin” (LSB, p. 269).
Humble water is applied through the all-too-human hands of a called and ordained servant of the Word at the command of the One baptized in the Jordan. And just as the glory of Jesus was cloaked in human flesh, so the glory of Baptism is cloaked in water. Here is the unseen but eternal truth of your Baptism expressed in the words of St. Paul: “We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). Here is life—true life—arising from water sanctified by the life of Jesse’s tree, the life of the world!
The world had long awaited redemption. As the horror and darkness of human sin descended at the fall, a promise was made by God—a promise of redemption and life in the midst of death. As Abraham prepared to offer up his son of promise to the Lord, God Himself prepared a substitute. As generations passed, God’s promise of redemption was never rescinded. God’s promised Seed was carried by the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob through Jesse and David to Mary, their descendant. And in Jesus, Son of Mary and Son of God, the Redeemer came to His broken world. In the midst of death, He came as the true life. For you.
It is Jesus’ life lived and laid down for you that defines our lives, even in a world full of death and sin. It is Jesus’ life that nourishes you dear children of God as His Word is proclaimed. It is Jesus’ life that comes to every altar in every place as the Church gathers to celebrate the Eucharistic feast with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven.
As Jesus is baptized in the Jordan, our own Baptism is made a sure and certain union with Christ in His death and resurrection. “For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His” (Romans 6:5).
From Jesse’s tree came the life of the world, and now in Jesus, through the tree of His cross, His life comes to you!
In the Name of + Jesus. Amen.
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.