Posted on Mon, Jan 14, 2013
Luke 3:15–17, 21‒22
January 13, 2013
Baptism of Christ Sunday
Luke 3: 15–17, 21‒22 – “New Name”
15 As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah,* 16 John answered all of them by saying, ‘I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with* the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing-fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing-floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.’ 21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved;* with you I am well pleased.’*
What does your name mean? Did your parents have anything in mind when they named you? Were you named after some great person? Is your name from the Bible, or some other great text? My name is a Greek name, “Timothy” is a compound word of “Timos” and “Theos;” I think the meaning of “Timos” is “honesty, sincerity, to be honest or to be sincere.” So, it might mean something like, “Honesty of God.” … Just a guess. My sons have two first names, one is in English and one is in Japanese. Andrew is named after a famous missionary still alive in Japan named, “Andy Ellis.” He lives and works in Kumamoto, Japan. His Japanese name is “Seiya/誠也.It means, “I am sincere,” or “I am honest.” … Loose translations. Kai’s English name has a short story, first I just really liked the name Kai, and before I came to Hawaii, it thought is was a relatively rare name. Only by coincidence “Kai” means ocean in both Japanese and in Hawaiian. I have a passion for the ocean, and I only learned about its Japanese and Hawaiian meaning only after we named him. His Japanese name, which we rarely use is: けいご／恵五. Meaning, “I am becoming grace.”
I have had the opportunity to name some children when we lived in Japan. One of my parishioners, a rather energetic and faithful man, I named, “Elijah.” A beautiful Japanese/Korean little girl I named, “Nozomi,” which means, “Hope.”
Try and learn about the origins of your name, it may be rather revealing….
God gave Jesus, his name. Or, maybe it was the angel Gabriel when he spoke to Mary and Joseph.
21She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’
31And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.
“Jesus” means, “Saves,” or “Salvation” or “One who can (is able) to save His/Ones Own people.
But this is a name Mary and Joseph were instructed by God to name the baby. The reason for his name, wasn't quite clear at the time of his naming, or even his baptism, but was perfectly clear after he had fulfilled his mission in giving this life for the fulfillment of our forgiveness and SALVATION!
When we think about our own baptism, we receive a new name. AFTER our baptism, we add the ‘title’ “Child of God” to our name; and this TITLE cannot be taken away from you no matter what happens in your life! If you make good decisions, or bad decisions; if life is easy, or if it is difficult. Our kids will always be our kids, no matter what happens… that FACT, or that TITLE cannot be taken away from them no matter what.
There are only two sacraments in the Lutheran Church. Communion and Baptism. They are sacraments because they are two forms of human being are given the rite to bestow the Grace of God, through physical means (bread, wine, juice, water) and the Promise of the Gospel = Word.
We only have two sacraments because there are only two Commandments by Jesus to do these great things. Baptism: “Go our and baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” Communion: “Do this in remembrance of me.”
In baptism, the physical element is water, and the symbolism of being “washed clean from our sins” is easy to see and understand the relationship to “spiritual cleansing.” The actually meaning of the word “Baptism,” or “baptizo” in Greek is simply, “To dip.” Not really too theological. But there more to the meaning that just this relationship to the Jewish ceremony of cleansing oneself in a Miqvah, a ceremonial pool or bath, before entering a holy place, or when it is necessary to be spiritually cleansed. We receive a new name.
Question, when a prophet in the Old Testament was going to demonstrate to the people, whom God had chosen, what did the prophet do? … He poured oil over the “chosen ones” head. To pour oil on the person was to indicate who was chosen; by simply anointing the person in public, the people could then see who was chosen by God…
Therefore, in Baptism, not only is the meaning of cleansing us from sins demonstrated, but we have shown the world that by the grace of God and the movement of the Holy Spirit, the person was CHOSEN and is ‘annointed’ to be a Child of God’s from now to eternity. It has nothing to do with the one baptizing; it is all done by God.
Question: Why was it necessary for Jesus to be baptized? Because he sinned? No, it was an event planned by God so that the people standing around Jesus, could hear directly from God, Jesus’ real identity.
21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved;* with you I am well pleased.’*
Just by His name, we know that Jesus was sent to save.
One night, probably the Saturday night before Easter in 2002, I received a late night phone call from an English speaking man late at night. We were in Nagoya, but he was calling from a payphone in the city of Kamata in Tokyo. He told me that he received my business card from another guy at a bar in Kamata. I did my internship in Kamata in 1989 – 90, but I had not been there since. I had no idea who he was or why someone in Kamata would give him my card. But he was very troubled, and lonely. He went on and on about how his job was meaningless, he was far from home, and he didn’t even know why he should keep on living. We spoke for a long time until I asked him, “Have you been baptized?” He said, “Yes of course, when I was a baby.” I asked him, “Do you know what it means to be baptized?” He said he wasn’t sure, so we talked about how it was the day God chose him to be God’s Child from that moment forevermore.
Suddenly he began to understand his identity is not related to his circumstances but according to what God has done through his Baptism and the death and resurrection of Jesus. It was very late at night, he had nowhere to sleep but under the train bridge. I told him that there was a Lutheran Church just a few blocks where he was and after he woke up, he was to go to that church first thing in the morning for Easter worship. He seemed to be much better, and he promised me he would go. I hung up and tried to sleep a few hours before Sunrise Worship.
A few days later the pastor of Kamata Lutheran called me and asked me if I had sent a foreigner to his church on Easter. I told him I did, and then he proceeded to fill me in on the long story about the man. The man, I never learned his name, had an amazing experience that Easter morning, and by hearing what God had done through the Cross of Jesus he somehow seemed ‘healed.’ The pastor was really excited about what he had seen in the man on that Easter morning.
What is in a name? Jesus’ name means ‘to save’ or ‘salvation’ or more thoroughly “One who can save Ones own people.” It is a powerful name, because it was given to our savior so that we could know who it was who died for our salvation, for our new life, for our healing, for our new identity as Children of God.
We often take the gift of baptism for granted, until the day all of our life dreams, possessions, and days seem to come to an end. The day we all are reduced to being like a child with no power to take care of ourselves, and the only thing we have to hold onto is the Gospel and the name God has given to us through he gift of baptism; we are Children of God, now and forever. Amen.
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