Look No Further Than Baptism

Text: Colossians 2:9-15
In the name of Jesus.  Amen. 
Our God is alive; He is not dead.  He is active, not lazy, and certainly not passive.  He does the picking.  He does the choosing.  God pursues sinners.  He is the one that comes to us. 
This, my friends, is precisely the focus and theme of the Season of Advent, for the word Advent means, “To come.” 
Now, we know that Jesus came to us some 2,000 years ago, as He was born into the flesh and laid in a manger in Bethlehem.  We also believe, teach, and confess that Jesus will come back for us again at some future point in time.  But perhaps what we may overlook or take for granted is that Jesus continually comes to us as Christians in the here and now. 
What this means is that contrary to what many well-meaning Christians believe, we do not pursue Jesus in this Christian faith.  We are not like a puppy dog chasing after our owner.  That is to say; our squeaky clean, good works do not elevate us higher to heaven.  Our spiritual meditations do not wiggle us closer to the heart of God.  And our analytical thinking does not allow us to wrap our minds around the Lord.  We, humans, are sinners, and as sinners we do not ‘come’ to the Lord. We can’t!  We are not good enough, spiritual enough, or smart enough.
So if we cannot come to the Lord, how does He come to us? 
Well, contrary to what many in the church believe these days, Jesus does not come to us in a still small voice.  He does not come to us through impressions, visions, thoughts, and emotions.
So, how does the Lord come to us then? 
This Advent Season, we are going to be briefly examining three ways in which the Lord comes to us in the here and now.  That is to say; we understand that Jesus came to us in Bethlehem and that He will come again someday in glory; however, for our Midweek Advent Services we are going to consider how He comes to us ‘now’ through three very real, tangible, and definable things  - the Sacraments of Baptism, Absolution, and Communion.       
Dear friends, as we know, Jesus was born so that He might die on the cross and rise from the grave for our salvation.  And so, what happened 2,000 years ago, starting in Bethlehem’s manger and finishing at Jerusalem’s cross, was the victory of Jesus over sin, death, and the devil.  Jesus accomplished salvation, once and for all, at the cross and empty tomb.  But here is the catch that we must understand.  If you run back to the cross, you will not find forgiveness given and distributed at the cross.  That is to say, the cross is where everything was ‘accomplished’ for you but not where it is distributed to you.  The Lord does not expect you to build a time machine to go back to the cross of Mt. Calvary.  Instead, the Lord has chosen to come to you and distribute the benefits of the cross through His Word and Sacraments.[1]
And so, dear friends, it is quite simple.  You do not travel back in time to Mt. Calvary through time machines, or through your remembrance, or through your imaginations.  But the Lord comes to you in the present tense to offer, give, and bestow up you that very forgiveness He won on the cross.  And He does this through Baptism, Absolution, and Communion.[2] 
What this means is that if you want the benefits of what Jesus accomplished for you at Mt. Calvary, look no further than your Baptisms.  Salvation has been placed right on top of your head with the water and the Word!  Your Baptism is where the Lord comes to you and connects you to the accomplished victory of the cross and empty tomb. 
Think of it this way, when you were baptized it was not just a mere splash of water to satisfy an old irrelevant religious rite.  Baptism is not something we do to satisfy the piety of old grandmothers.  And it is not an act of our obedience towards God, as so many foolishly believe.  Baptism is not our pursuit of Jesus.  Instead, when you were baptized, the Holy Spirit came to you to create faith in you, while killing you by Christ’s cross, burying you in Christ’s tomb, and raising you in Christ’s resurrection to new life.     
What this means is that Baptism is an Advent gift – it is the Lord coming to you to give you salvation.  It is the Lord coming to you – in the present – to kill, bury, and raise you according to the victory won at Mt. Calvary.  Baptism is where you are given the Holy Spirit.
And so, your Baptism is not a mere event recorded in a scrapbook.  It is not an old fashioned rite listed in a dusty church record book, but it is a present ongoing reality of the Lord’s possession of you as His own child.  It is your daily identity.  Baptism embraces your entire life. 
So, when sin, death, and the devil come to threaten you and instill fear, you shall remember that the Lord came to you in Baptism to snatch you from the devil, mark you with His name, and give you the benefits of Mt. Calvary.  In fact, amid the continual attacks of sin, the devil, and death you can say,
“Sin disturb my soul no longer!  Satan hear this proclamation!  Death, you cannot end my gladness!  I am baptized into Christ!” 
Dear Baptized Saints, the coming of Christ and the Spirit in your Baptisms, is greater than whatever sin, death, and the devil can come at you with. 
The world comes to you with mirages and lies.  Your baptism comes to you in reality and truth. 
The devil comes to you with ugly accusations.  Your baptism comes to you with sweet assurance. 
Death comes to you with a cold grave.  Your baptism comes to you with eternal life.
Advent – it is all about the Lord who came to you long ago and will come for you again someday.  And it is also about the Lord who comes to you continually in Baptism, Absolution, and Communion.  The Lord comes because He is alive and active.  He is the one who pursues so that you may be His own. 
In the name of Jesus.  Amen.

[1] Martin Luther, Against the Heavenly Prophets (LW: Volume 40),  213-214.

[2] Ibid.

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