Baptism of Jesus

14 Jan Baptism of Jesus

Last Sunday I preached on the baptism of Jesus. For churches that observe the liturgical year, it was “Baptism of the Lord” Sunday which means that I was only one of thousands of pastors across the country and around the world who were preaching on this event in the life of Jesus. That’s a lot of ink spilled and words spoken about something that makes absolutely no sense outside the church and sometimes, not even a whole lot of sense inside the church. What is baptism, really? What is the point of sprinkling some water on a baby’s forehead or fully submerging an adult in baptismal waters? It’s just water, right? Why bother?

Country musician Trace Atkins wrote and recorded a song entitled “Muddy Water.” The opening lyrics go like this:

Eighteen-wheeler dropped me off at that city limits sign

Sunday morning sunlight hurt my eyes

It’s a long way from where I been back to my hometown

But there’s a man in me I need to drown


Baptize me in that muddy water

Wash me clean in amazing grace

I ain’t been living like I oughta

Baptize me in that muddy water


I think Trace Atkins was on to something. He recognizes that we all get lost from time to time.

We stray from the path we set out on. We mess up, blow it, end up far from home. Perhaps we did or said something we regret. Perhaps we missed an opportunity to do or say something that would have been helpful or kind or loving. Maybe, like a pebble in our shoe, we just have a nagging sense that all the worry, anxiety and fear we live with isn’t what we’re made for. We feel bad about these things, but even worse, we can’t seem to find a different way to live, a different way to be. We need a way to be released and to get back on the right path.

The waters of baptism offer us the cleansing and fresh start we need.

 Baptism is one of two Sacraments in the Christian Protestant tradition. (The other is the Lord’s Supper, also called communion or the Eucharist.) A Sacrament is an outward sign that conveys an inward or spiritual grace. In the case of baptism, water is the outward sign that signifies the grace of God’s presence and forgiveness at work in our lives. It identifies us as part of God’s family, and it reminds us of our vocation as Christ’s followers. While we are only baptized once, we reaffirm the meaning of our baptism over and over again. We all end up on the wrong path from time to time. We wonder how on Earth we got so off course. Baptism reminds us that God’s grace is always at work in our lives. We belong to God, and nothing will change that.

Yours for the Kingdom,


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