Today’s lesson is about God, Jesus, us, and plain old everyday water. The prophet Isaiah reminds us that our Creator, God, wants us. In fact he wants us so much that he’s willing to take us just as we are, wherever we are, in whatever situation we’ve gotten ourselves into. He just wants us and he’s ready to redeem us. He wants us even if we’ve got ourselves between a rock and a hard place. He wants us even if we’re drowning and in trouble way over our heads. He’s still calling our name. He wants you and me. I don’t know about you but I think it’s pretty amazing that he wants me.
You know what though; God began calling us a long, long time ago. When we came to be baptized God laid his claim on us. It was at the fount, or the tub, or the river, or the lake that we were cleansed spiritually of all our sins through the shed blood of God’s Son, Jesus. God wanted us to be his children even before we were born. He knew he wanted us before we knew we wanted Him. Isn’t that an amazing thing?
When did you realize that God wanted you? Have you always known he wanted you or did it just come to you one day in a flash that God wanted you? How do any of us know that God wants us?
If someone were to ask you how you know that God loves you and wants you as his child how would you answer? How is it that any of us knows for certain that our God wants us? I’m not asking these questions to put any kind of fear in your hearts but to get us thinking and reflecting on God and his call to us to come home.
Today we find Jesus at the Jordan River standing in line with all the others to be baptized. John was preaching about the need for the people to repent, to change their ways. He was exhorting them to change and to be baptized, to be forgiven of their sins. And then Jesus shows up, the One who was without sin came to the river to be baptized. Not to repent of sins but to receive validation from God his Father for the ministry he had prepared him for. God wanted him. He wanted him to show the people that there was another way to live. He wanted people to know that he hadn’t written them off, even though they had strayed far away from him. He wanted them to know that he truly wanted them.
God wants us too. He wants us to know that he wants us. He wants us to know he hasn’t written us off either. God wants us!
God wants us and whether we realize it or not he has been involved in our lives from day one. When we were baptized we were enrolled, entered, and received into the covenant and family, and so into the inheritance of the sons of God… to be cleansed also from the filthiness of sins, and to be granted the manifold grace of God, in order to lead a new and innocent life. (The Second Helvetic Confession) The whole process started there. Oh, I believe it started way before that but it was at our baptism that we received the sign and seal of the covenant of grace. We were grafted into Christ and somehow God regenerated and took away our sins so that we could walk into a newness of life. (The Westminster Confession in my words) God really wants us when he goes to all this trouble to be sure that we are clean!
Baptism is just the beginning of our call from God to be his children. And then the real work begins for us. If we were baptized as babies many folks assumed the responsibility for our nurture and guidance. Those of us who were older when we were baptized, more than likely, made a conscious decision to commit our lives to God and that commitment was sealed with our baptism. Whenever we received this Sacrament it was after that we realized that we are in a continual battle with temptation and sin. We falter and stumble many times but it is through this Sacrament that we are assured that we have been pardoned. We draw strength from Jesus’ death and resurrection the One who was the first baptized from death into life eternal.
God did all this for us because he wants us! Isn’t that an amazing thing? I know. He created us so why wouldn’t he want us? But we fail so miserably and we’re so weak I wonder why he doesn’t just start all over. But thankfully God is gracious and he doesn’t do that. He wants us.
Friends, don’t get me wrong. This is not an easy task God has given us, to be his children. I believe that we need to go to him every day, pray for his forgiveness and mercy, and pray that he will strengthen our faith through his grace. Every day when we come to him in prayer we ask for the strength to die again to sin and to live for his righteousness. As Paul said we are justified by grace through faith. It’s through our baptism that we are set free to accept ourselves and to love God and our neighbor.
My friends, God wants us. As The Brief Statement of Faith says, “The same Spirit who inspired the prophets and apostles rules our faith and life in Christ through Scripture, engages us through the Word proclaimed, claims us in the waters of baptism, feeds us with the bread of life and the cup of salvation, and calls women and men to all ministries of the Church.”
God wants us. He is calling us to ministry. He is calling us home. Have you answered the call?
Friends, God loves you and wants you to come to him today. Thanks be to God. Amen.