Keyword Search

  • Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company
    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

Baptism Of The Lord, Cycle C (2016)

The Holy Spirit and your Baptism won’t let you go! In addition to these doctrines, this is also a Sunday for affirming Justification by Grace and Sanctification.

Psalm 29
This is a hymn attributed to David, though it is unlikely that he wrote it. The text sings of God’s control of all nature (vv. 3, 5-6, 8-10), even of storms, and yet we are assured that Yahweh blesses us with peace in the midst of storms (v. 11). We have noted that some scholars conclude that references to David in the Psalms may be a way of using him to represent the inner life of all his subjects, and so of all the faithful (Brevard Childs, Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture, p. 512). In that sense the aim of the Psalm seems to be to highlight that all of us are to appreciate God’s control of nature.

The Psalm begins with a call to worship, where there is a reference to “heavenly beings,” which is a bad translation for what should be rendered in English “sons of mighty ones.” This insight suggests that in the temple era and perhaps in earlier periods Hebrews believed that there was a heavenly court of lower gods or semi-divine beings who acknowledged Yahweh as supreme ruler (Psalm 82:1,6; Exodus 15:11; Deuteronomy 32:8).

The Lord seems to rule earth and waters with his word. The reference to “mighty waters” could be the Mediterranean Ocean or to the primordial waters Yahweh vanquished in creating, according to Genesis 1:6-10.

Of course the reference to the Lord’s voice [gol] (vv. 2-5, 7) could refer to his manifestation through thunder in thunderstorms (v. 7). The cedars of Lebanon noted in verse 5 refer to the principal mountains in Syria. Sirion noted in verse 6 is the Phoenicain name for Mount Hermon on the eastern border of Israel, and the wilderness of Kadesh in verse 8 is a reference to a desert in Syria. The Lord’s voice in this storm is not just powerful, but hadar in Hebrew (majestic, even beautiful) (v. 4). God’s rule over nature and over waters could be indebted to Canaanite mythology’s affirmation that Baal was enthroned over the conquered flood. Christians might interpret this reference as a prophetic reminder of his use of water in Baptism to proclaim his Word and will. The Psalm concludes with petitions that the Lord may give strength to and bless his people (v. 11).

Application: Sermons on this Psalm can focus on God’s providential rule overcoming chaos in the depths of life, how he even uses water in creation (Evolutionists note that life first developed in water) and in Baptism to strengthen and bless his people. Creation and Baptism are doctrines that are emphasized. More in line with the Theme of the Day would be to focus on how God’s Providential rule (and so Baptism) never lets people go.

Isaiah 43:1-7
It is well known that this book is actually the product of two or three distinct literary traditions. The first 39 chapters are the work of the historical prophet who proclaimed a message to Jerusalem and the Southern Kingdom of Judah from 742 BC to 701 BC, a period during which the Northern Kingdom of Israel had been annexed by the Assyrian empire. Chapters 40-66 emerged in the later period immediately before the fall of Babylon (in 539 BC). This prophecy of redemption and restoration is a product of this second strand.

The lesson begins with an affirmation of Yahweh as the creator of Israel. He is reported also to have redeemed/freed [gaal] them, calling them by name [shem] (having intimate knowledge of them) (v. 1). He promises to protect them as they walk through water and flames (v. 2). Identifying himself as Yahweh Elohim, God declares himself the Savior [yasha] of the people. He claims to have given Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sheba as a ransom [copher, covering] for Israel, for she is a nation precious in his sight (vv. 3-4). Cyrus the Persian emperor was expected to be able to conquer these African nations as part of the emergence of an empire that would eventually conquer Babylon and set the Hebrews free. Yahweh calls on the people not to fear, promising to liberate the people of Israel, whom he has created for all the regions (v. 6) and called by his name [shem] as he made them for his glory [kabod, weight or heaviness] (v. 7).

Application: This lesson encourages opportunity to proclaim God’s freeing love for his people, his sense that they are precious to him (Justification by Grace and Social Ethics). References to God protecting his people through water and flames could be read prophetically as referring to the role Baptism and the Holy Spirit (who manifests himself in fire in the New Testament [Acts 2:3; Luke 3:16; Matthew 3:11]) play in God providing such love and freedom.

Acts 8:14-17
We are again reminded that this book is the second installment of a two-part history of the church traditionally attributed to Luke, a physician and Gentile associate of Paul (Colossians 4:14; 2 Timothy 4:11; Philemon 24). Along with Luke, the author’s intention was to stress the universal mission of the Church (Acts 1:8), which entails special attention to and appreciation of the ministry of Saint Paul.

This lesson reports on the apostles’ ministry in Samaria. After describing the spread of the gospel in Samaria, it is noted that the apostles in Jerusalem heard of the news and sent Peter and John (v. 14). On arriving they pray that the Samaritan faithful might receive the Holy Spirit [pneuma hagion] who had not yet come upon them as they had only been baptized in Jesus’ name [onoma] (vv. 15-16). It was not common in the biblical era to baptize in the name of the Triune God (Acts 2:38; 10:48; 19:5). Peter and John lay hands on them, and the new Samaritan Christians reportedly received the Holy Spirit (v. 17).

Application: Sermons on this lesson can help others gain an appreciation of the fact that in their Baptisms they have become Spirit-filled Christians, linked to the whole Body of Christ (Baptism, Holy Spirit, Sanctification, Church, Social Ethics).

Luke 3:15-17, 21-22
We return again to the first installment of a two-part history of the church traditionally attributed to Luke, a physician and Gentile associate of Paul (Colossians 4:14; 2 Timothy 4:11; Philemon 24). Along with Acts, the author’s intention was to stress the universal mission of the Church (Acts 1:8). Addressed to Theophilus (1:1), it is not clear if this means that the work was written for a recent convert or for a Roman official from whom the Church sought tolerance. But since Theophilus means “lover of God” it is possible that the author addressed all the faithful.

This lesson is an account of Jesus’ Baptism, beginning first with a description of the ministry of John the Baptist. All the gospels tell these stories. We are first told that many wondered if John might be the Messiah [Christos] (v. 15). He responds in the negative, but less directly than in John’s version (1:20). Much like the other Synoptic Gospel accounts, in this text John is reported to have contended that he baptizes with water, but that the one who is coming is stronger/more powerful [ischuroteros] than John is, and John subordinates himself to the one who is to come. The one coming, it is said, will baptize with the Holy Spirit [pnuema hagion] and fire [pur] (v. 16). The one to come is said to be one who will clear the threshing floor, gather the wheat, and burn the chaff (v. 17). These were images that Jews used to convey a sense of judgment (Isaiah 11:15-16; Jeremiah 15:7).

Unlike the parallel accounts (Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; John 1:29-34), Jesus is reported to be baptized in the context of other baptisms by John (v. 21). This suggests that Luke envisions a closer relationship between John’s baptism and the baptism instituted by Jesus than the other gospel writers. Thus there is nothing in Luke like Mathew 28:19 where a command is given to baptize like this was something new. The Holy Spirit is said to descend on Jesus in the form of a dove. A voice from heaven proclaiming Jesus as God‘s Son [huios], one in whom the Lord was well pleased is reported (v. 22).

Application: In this lesson preachers are afforded opportunity to proclaim how Baptism changes the lives of recipients (Sanctification and Realized Eschatology [stressing how Baptism makes us new]), along with highlighting the role of the Holy Spirit.

Leave a Reply

  • Get Your FREE 30-day Trial Subscription to SermonSuite NOW!
    Chris Keating
    The Double-Dog Dare Days of August
    August’s lazy, hazy dog days quickly became a deadly double-dog dare contest between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un, the supreme leader of North Korea. Both nations have been at odds with each other for nearly 70 years. During his working golf vacation in New Jersey last week, President Trump responded to North Korea’s rhetorical sword-rattling by launching a verbal preemptive strike of his own.
         Call it the Bedminster bombast, or the putt that rocked Pyongyang. But the duel between the two countries is more than fodder for late-night comedians. It’s a deadly standoff with history-changing repercussions.
         There is no vacation from matters of national security, or the orations of war. Indeed, much of the war of words between Washington and North Korea seems to confirm Jesus’ counsel in Matthew: “It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.” The contrasts between these barbed exchanges and the biblical understanding of peacemaking offers an intriguing opportunity to hear Jesus’ words in a world filled with double-dog (and even triple-dog) dares....more
    Feeding The 5,000
    The assigned Gospel text for this week skips over a couple of sections in Matthew's story. Matthew 14:34-36 cites Jesus' journey to Gennesaret. The crowds of people recognized him immediately and all of the sick came to him for healing. Just a touch of Jesus' garment brought healing to many. The crowd in Gennesaret recognized Jesus. They came to him in their need....more
    Wayne Brouwer
    Religious balkanization
    One dimension of religious life we have in common across faith traditions and denominational lines is the incessant divisiveness that split our seemingly monolithic communities into dozens of similar yet tenaciously varied subgroups. A Jewish professor of psychology said of his tradition, "If there are ten Jewish males in a city we create a synagogue. If there are eleven Jewish males we start thinking about creating a competing synagogue."...more
    C. David McKirachan
    Jesus Is Coming, Look Busy
    Isaiah 56:1, 6-8
    I had a parishioner who would walk out of the sanctuary if he saw a djembe (African drum) out in front to be used in worship.  I asked him about it, in a wonderfully pastoral manner, and he told me that things like that didn’t belong in worship.  I said that it was in the bible to praise God with pipes and drums (I think it is).  He told me he didn’t care what the Bible said, he knew where that thing came from and he wouldn’t have it.  I asked him why things from Africa would bother him.  He told me that he knew I was liberal but that didn’t mean he had to be.  I agreed with him but cautioned him that racism was probably one of the worst examples of evil in our world and I thought he should consider what Christ would think of that.  He asked me who paid my salary, Christ or good Americans....more
    Janice Scott
    No Strings Attached
    In today's gospel reading, Jesus seemed reluctant to heal the Canaanite woman's daughter. He told her that he wasn't sent to help foreigners, but only his own people, the Chosen Race. The words sound unnecessarily harsh, but perhaps this is an interpretation unique to Matthew, for this story only appears in Matthew's gospel, which was written for Jews....more
    Arley K. Fadness
    Great Faith
    Object: Hula Hoop or circle made out of ribbon, twine or rope
    What an amazing morning to come to church today. I am so glad to see you and talk to you about a wonderful story from the bible. Let me begin by showing you this circle. Now let's get into this circle. (Physically, all move into the circle) It's fun for us all to be together in this circle. We don't want anyone to be left out. To be left out is to be sad. To be kept out is even more sad and painful....more

Authors of
Lectionary Scripture Notes
Norman A. Beck is the Poehlmann Professor of Theology and Classical Languages and the Chairman of the Department of Theology, Philosophy, and Classical Languages at Texas Lutheran University
Dr. Norman A. Beck
Mark Ellingsen is professor at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Georgia
Dr. Mark Ellingsen