Jesus, the Son of God
Second is a series, “Who Is Jesus?”
Matthew 3:13–17 // Isaiah 42:1–9 // Romans 6:1–11
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Our sermon text is Matthew’s account of the baptism of Jesus, especially when Jesus speaks to John, “Let it now be so, to fulfill all righteousness,” and as God the Father speaks to everybody, “This is my beloved Son, in him I am well-pleased.” Our text thus far.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Today we continue with the second sermon in a series Who Is Jesus? During the season of Epiphany. The season of Epiphany is a season of light, a season where Christ reveals who he is not only to the Jews, but as we saw last week, to the Gentiles as well.
Last week, we saw the Magi come to worship Jesus, and we asked the question, Who is Jesus? Their gifts answered the question for them: Jesus is King, that’s the gold. Jesus is Priest, that’s the frankincense. Jesus is the sacrifice, that’s the myrrh. Today, we ask the same question again, Who is Jesus? But we ask it at a different time, of different people. Today, we see the identity of Jesus revealed first in Jesus’s own words with John and then by the voice of the Father. We see Jesus as the Son of God who fulfills all righteousness.
Two parts for our sermon: first Jesus is revealed from the bottom up. Second, Jesus is revealed from the top down.
First, from the bottom up. Out of the four Gospels, Matthew is the only one that notes John tries to prevent Jesus from getting baptized, and do you notice why? It’s because John believes who Jesus is. John says, I know who you are, and I need to be baptized by you, Jesus. I am not worthy of you, Jesus. I am a forerunner of you, Jesus.
And, what’s more, he’s right in every respect. Jesus did not need to repent of his own sin, because he had no sin. Jesus is the Son of God from eternity; he doesn’t need God the Father to part the clouds and remind him of it. Jesus was born the Messiah, the anointed one.
And yet, listen to Jesus’s response. Did you think about it when we read it in the lessons? “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to” do what? “to fulfill all righteousness.” What does that mean, that Jesus is being baptized to fulfill all righteousness?
It means that Jesus is baptized from the bottom up. Now, I can imagine you thinking, when you’re getting baptized in a river there’s no other way besides from the bottom up, and you’re not entirely wrong. But here let’s dig a little deeper.
Jesus is baptized from the bottom up. He is baptized in order to fulfill all righteousness, for you and for me. Let’s break that down into two parts.
First, righteousness. Jesus does everything that the law requires, and more than that. Jesus is in right relationship with his Father in heaven. Second, he is righteous for you and me. What does that mean? It means that he gathers up the whole of humanity into himself. The righteousness that he fulfills, he gives to you and to me. That’s the point of the Gospels. All of his righteousness is a righteousness for all who believe and are baptized into his name. That’s what it means, from the bottom up. He is baptized for you and for me, so that he can share all the righteousness that he has fulfilled with us.
This is what Paul means in Romans chapter five when he says right at the end, right before our reading for today. By Adam’s disobedience many were made sinners, but by Christ’s obedience, many will be made righteous. All of humanity is gathered up into Christ.
That’s why he can say what he says in Romans 6 that you are baptized into Christ’s death, because Jesus dies your death for you. He fulfills your righteousness for you. He is raised to life for you. Jesus is righteous from the bottom up.
First, we saw Jesus revealed from the bottom up. Second, From the top down. We get this literally when he steps out of the water and from the top down, God the Father opens up heaven to say, “This is my beloved son. In him I am well-pleased.”
Let’s revisit a statement I made earlier. Jesus does everything that the law requires because he is in right relationship with the Father. He’s in right relationship with the Father.
That’s a step beyond simply doing the law. Not only has he done everything that the law requires; to him fulfilling all righteousness—doing what the law requires—is merely a by-product of being a beloved son of his father in heaven.
What an impossibly high standard that is! It’s hard enough to do all the right things at the right times, but this is a step beyond it. Jesus is in right relationship with his Father. He knows his Father and his Father knows him. He loves his father and his father loves him. He does all that his Father loves, and in him his father is well-pleased.
If this is the standard for salvation (and it is), then only Jesus can fulfill it. It isn’t a matter of trying harder or doing better; salvation is a matter on an entirely different level: salvation is about being, being right with God and so being right with all of creation and so being able to act in the way that all other need you to be.
So, knowing that, how great of a wonder is it that Paul writes in Romans 6, You are united with Christ. You are united into his death thus avoiding eternal death. You are united with Christ in his life, gaining eternal life.
What you and I could not do on our own has been a free gift of God, because every time you pray to God, he hears the prayers of his Son Jesus Christ. Every time you look to God, he sees the face of his son Jesus Christ. Every time you repent to God, he sees the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Jesus reconciles you to God.
Who is Jesus? Jesus fulfills all righteousness from the bottom up, for you and for me. Jesus is the Son of God from the top down, a Son of his Heavenly Father. In the end, the answer is one and the same: Jesus is the Son of God who fulfills all righteousness.
Amen and Amen.
Worship Sermons & Letters
Pastor Paul Muther