Luke 3:21-38 “As Was Thought”
Last week Jesus was 12 years old as he was seated in the synagogue telling the rabbis all the secrets of the sacred texts. This week Jesus is now thirty years old. For eighteen years we have no record at all of what Jesus was doing. Really, for a majority of his life on earth we have no idea what he was doing. We could just make up his life, as many have done. We can say that he was married and had 2.3 children. He got himself a nice little house to retire in. He had 3.1 donkeys in his garage. I don’t know. That is the point. I do not know. If anybody ever tells you that they know, they do not. WE can all add that to our list of things we will ask Jesus about one day.
Let us set up the scene, as they say, of Jesus coming to the Jordan River in order to be baptized by His cousin John. Our bibles tell us that everyone else who was there had already been baptized. They had traveled a long way by foot or animal to be there. They were not just coming and going. They were hanging around the encampment. So, it is important for us to realize that many people were there when Jesus finally comes most likely near the end of the day.
Jesus approaches John. He gets down in the water and is held under by John. Blessings are spoken. Jesus pops back up. Then what happens? Before the heavens open up and the dove comes down? A lot of folks might just gloss over the fact that after Jesus is baptized, he goes into a time of prayer! We all know that we pray before baptism our prayers of repentance before God, but Jesus is modeling for us that we should be praying afterwards too. Why? Obviously, this is the prayer of thanksgiving for the grace that comes through baptism. When our sins are forgiven, should not our response be one of “Thank you, God!”
It was in that moment of reaching up to God in thanksgiving that the heavens are then opened with the Holy Spirit coming down and that voice being heard by everyone there—“this is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” So, pray prayers of thanksgiving to hear God’s voice coming down in your life!
I wish I had been there! I wish I could have heard that kind of an affirmation from God over my life, too. Cannot you just hear God saying up in heaven, “I love you. I am pleased with you.” That is something we need to hear! That is one of the reasons Jesus left His church on earth so that we could make sure the rest of the world hears still that voice that says from heaven “You are loved. I am pleased with your life.” If you hear nothing else from this sermon this morning, I want you to hear this very message.
The next line tells us that Jesus “began his work.” Some people may have in their bibles the word “ministry” or “teaching” rather than “work.” If you are in the original King James’ translation, then that very word is dropped out. That is simply because it is not in the original Greek text. Modern editors have put the word “work” in to describe what it was that Jesus began. Yet, the bible here as Luke wrote it really only says “Jesus began.” And, that raises the whole question of what it is that Jesus began right after being baptized.
I think Jesus began eternal life. He was baptized, and although you could argue that his eternal life was apparent at the time of the Resurrection, I think it really did start in the moment when he bowed before God in the sacrament of baptism, repented before God (that simply means turned back to God), the whole course of his life here on earth and in heaven was set.
When we are baptized, we should not just think of baptism as simply a cleansing, as was the thought in the Temple of the Jews at the time. No, a whole new life is begun in that moment. No, it is not just more work for us, it is a whole new beginning of everything and who we are. It is the beginning of the life eternal in accepting that the Holy Spirit is now in charge of everything we do.
“That is great, pastor, but I was baptized as a child and have no recollection or understanding therefore of that moment when the Spirit touched me in baptism.” I have been called too many times to our local hospital here (KVMH) to baptize children that have been stillborn. I think it is very important for us to recognize that every creation of life is a spiritual blessing. WE baptize in this case because we know that even if that child has not lived an earthly life, the eternal life of that soul still continues with God. That soul will become an angel in heaven. That angel may one day come down to earth to help us, or we may one day in heaven meet that angel before God’s throne.
If we have been baptized as an adult, that is called “believer’s baptism,” and we have made a conscious decision to openly acknowledge and accept that our souls are eternal and that God has graced us with time on this planet to do God’s work. We are ready and we begin to minister to others. We accept that new life with the Holy Spirit at the helm.
As an aside, I actually like the idea that the editor of our pew bibles put the notion of work into this text. “Jesus begins his work.” What Jesus did for the next three years with the healing and teaching, making miracles, that was WORK. He put effort into it. Even prayer is work! Do you recall the scene in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus is praying with his disciples? Luke 22:44 “As he was praying his sweat fell to the ground like drops of blood.”
Some people have said that in regards to ministry Jesus makes it look too easy. That is not the Jesus I see in the Bible. His ministry was really extremely difficult. The path of being a Christian is not an easy one. Keeping faith in Christ is the hardest thing you may have to do in your life. It is work.
Honestly, some people do make being a Christian look easy. Well, shame on them! For the rest of us it is real hard work!
At this moment in history we are experiencing what some are calling “The Great Resignation.” People are retiring or quitting their jobs in record numbers. Let us never be resigned as Christians. That work never ends until we find our rest in eternity with God. We are always building in faith!
As we continue to read in our text we see the line “Jesus, son of Joseph, (as was thought. . . .” That is right. Jesus is just now starting his ministry, so people still looked at him as if he were the boy of the carpenter from Nazareth. Then we see this list of names that go all the way back to Adam in the Garden of Eden—no, actually all the way back to God at the time of creation. This is really interesting because when we read this, even if we do not accept Jesus as the Son of God, we have to accept him as the Son of God! Even if he is the Son of Joseph, he is also the Son of God. He may be fully human but he is also fully divine.
In Bible Study on Tuesday we looked at the “Begats” in the Gospel of Matthew and realized that they did not match that which we have in Luke. Matthew’s Gospel, if you want to turn to Matthew 1, has the genealogy on Jesus only going back so far as Abraham in the Bible. We see that Matthew was trying bring out the fact that Jesus was in the line of Abraham and David—which was important to the Jews that Matthew was writing to. Luke’s audience is the entire population of the planet really. Therefore, the genealogy has to include all people and not stop until going back to God’s creation itself. In this was, we see that Jesus is indeed the Son of God, but also we are all children of the Almighty.
As was thought, I am the son of Walter and Carolyn Hoeckmann, but looking at this passage from Luke I see that in fact I am a child of the Almighty Creator of the universe. That is also the line of a song that we love to sing in Bible Club at the schools: “I’m a child of God--Yes, I am!” Another line from that worship song says, “I am who You say I am!” We try to make sure all the children understand that they are the children of God.
Every time any one of us says “I am,” well that is Your Father in Heaven’s name. God is Great “I am” as it says in the Bible when Moses asks God what to be called. Exodus 3:14 “I AM has sent you. . . .” Every time we say “I am” we realize that we are the little “I am’s” coming from the Great I AM in heaven.
Hear God’s voice addressing His children this day: “You are loved, and with you I am well pleased.”