January 7, 2024

Several years ago Rev. Greg Selz from the Lutheran Hour told the account of a wedding party in Australia, was unexpectedly called into action right after the wedding ceremony. While they were posing for pictures on a scenic ledge, a woman unrelated to the wedding fell into the water and started to drown. Dressed in his tuxedo, the best man jumped in and brought the woman back to shore.

Then the bride, a trained nurse, waded into the water and started administering CPR. By the time the life saving volunteers had arrived, the woman had regained consciousness. The victim was lucky that the bridal party was there and acted quickly. After the daring rescue operation, the drenched but heroic best man and bride happily rejoined the wedding reception.

An interesting but important rescue. Jesus did the same for us. He jumped into the waters of sinful humanity to bring us back to life. How did it happen? God sent a man named John. The cousin of Jesus was quite the sight to behold.

One commentator stated “It would be an understatement to say John the Baptizer swam upstream.” He broke with all religious traditions…He was baptizing Jews. That was not normal practice for Jewish people. In John’s day baptism was for Gentiles who wanted to become Jews…. He was calling people to repent and change their behavior, asking them to be baptized. No wonder the Pharisees questioned his action.

John’s parents whom we studied during advent, Zechariah and Elizabeth, both elderly people whom God graciously surprised with a baby. Luke tells us that, from John’s boyhood until the day of his public ministry, John lived in the desert (1:80). During that time, he was clothed in camel’s hair, wore a leather belt, and ate a steady diet of locusts and wild honey (Mark 1:6). He offered a fire-and-brimstone call to repentance, challenging people to change their behavior, to prepare the way for Messiah.

Mark tells us that Jesus traveled from Nazareth to the Jordan River. Once there, Jesus steps into the water, for a baptism He didn’t need. The scene was dramatic. Large crowds. John preaching. People confessing their sins and being baptized. Then Jesus steps into the water. With water dripping from his hands, John proclaimed: “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”

I John 4:10 “This is love; not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” It is a true love story that stops the fear of death and offers hope for people who have lost friendship with their Creator. It began in heaven. It would find completion on earth at the cross of Jesus.

The beginning of our restoration to friendship with our God, becomes visible in the waters of the Jordan where we hear the voice from heaven. “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am pleased to dwell.” (Col. 1:19) The God of creation, embodied in Jesus Christ, is empowered by the Holy Spirit to begin the final attack in the cosmic battle against Satan.

By His baptism He enters the waters of our sinful lives, so that by His sinless life, His sacrificial death, and His miraculous resurrection we might be restored to friendship with our Creator.

The Bible is clear, people who have broken God’s commandments, need our lost and broken intimacy and peace with our God, restored. The wages of sin is death. Humanity’s rebellion against God is the root cause of all that is evil in the world. From God’s point of view there is no one righteous, not one. In this cosmic battle Satan constantly tempts every human being to replace God with personal selfishness.

John was calling people to repent. Jesus, himself began His ministry with the words: “Repent the kingdom of heaven has come.” Jesus is calling us to stand in front of the mirror and be honest. In Jesus we see how beautiful God made you and me and that life is better if we follow Him. A theology of change is at the heart of Christianity.

The Greek word is “metanoia” (metanoyh) This is the message of John the Baptist. The word carries a deeper meaning than “turn around”…. In Aramaic “metanoia” really means “returning home.” It is Jesus who restores the original image of God in us in our baptism. In baptism we are “returning home”. Thus the Apostle Paul can write “To be “in Christ” is to do life in a new, selfless style of living.

Baptism brings us into a new relationship with God… for just as the Holy Spirit was on Jesus in His baptism, so we too have been gifted with the same Holy Spirit. It almost sounds heretical…that we would have the same Holy Spirit dwell within our hearts… but it is true.

1st You could not believe that Jesus is your Savior if the Holy Spirit had not touched your heart and mind with the Gospel. The Apostle Paul wrote: “No one can say “Jesus is Lord”, except by the Holy Spirit.

The good news of the gospel is that you can do nothing to make yourself more acceptable to God over and above what Jesus has already done at Calvary. We dare not ask the same question that the young lawyer asked Jesus. “What must I do to earn eternal life.” (Luke 10:25) We can not add to what Jesus has done, we can not take away from it. By trusting in the blood of Jesus shed on the cross, the sense of unworthiness, the sense of guilt and the condemnation are removed.

The work of Jesus is final and finished. It was enough to satisfy the holy demands of a just God. The same voice of the Holy Spirit that spoke to Jesus on the day of His baptism is the same Holy Spirit that enables us to “hear the voice of Jesus.

So how does this work you might ask. “Imagine a tea bag being placed into hot water. Slowly, the tea begins to mix with the water, making the tea and the water one”. same thing happens when the Spirit of Jesus enters your inner being. He joins Himself to our inner spirit, our mind, will and emotions.

Consequently, when Jesus speaks to you and me today He does so through the words of the scriptures… that is why our goal here at Redeemer is to read more in God’s word each year than the year before… This is one way you will hear the voice of God in your life.

But the Bible does not replace the Lord’s personal audible voice to us. For instance, the Spirit of Jesus told Philip to walk beside a chariot leaving Jerusalem. (Acts 8:29) Hearing the Voice of Jesus Today

1. It is the Holy Spirit’s responsibility to reveal God’s message to our hearts as we read the scriptures.

2. The Spirit of Jesus is to show us how to apply the words of Jesus to our daily lives.

3. The primary job of the Holy Spirit is to glorify Christ through us to benefit others.

4. When the Spirit of Jesus speaks, it may be through the still small voice of our thoughts, emotions, what He says will have the “ring of truth”….in other words the Voice of Jesus will never ask us to do anything that does not agree with the word of God.

5. The trick is to discern when your thoughts, your feelings, and your will are reflecting the Lord’s mind, feelings, and will rather than your own.

“The voice of the Lord is like a voice, but it’s not really a voice.” It is the still small voice of our thoughts, emotions as we “keep in step with God’s Spirit.” Remember each Christian has the Holy Spirit inside them. Because you are a Christian , you already possess an inner compass pointing to the Lord’s will. It is a voice of wisdom.