Isaiah 42:1-7 

Psalm 45:7-9 

Acts 10:34-38 

Mark 1:4-11 

“Baptismal Epiphany” 

Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen. 

Today marks the first Sunday of a season that is curiously  named, Epiphany. Now why is this season we now celebrate, which follows the season of the Lord’s coming, called Epiphany of  all things? Well what does Epiphany mean? I would describe an  epiphany as an Aha moment or a moment of realization when the  fullness of all that has or will happen has hit home. An example  would be say during pregnancy. You and your spouse are about  to be parents and you are prepping for the coming child. You  know that you will be a parent, and you are mentally preparing  yourself, but as soon as you hold your first child in your arms it is  like everything changes. A fullness in this realization hits you like  a wrecking ball; you are a Father; you are a Mother. Many of  fathers have broken down in tears upon finally laying eyes on  their first child, and the emotions that you vaguely knew were  inside wells up and gushes out. You just had an epiphany. 

The season of Epiphany is all about people, touched by the  Holy Spirit, coming to realize that God did come down to Earth in  the form of a virgin born baby, who grew up like all humans, died  on the cross, went to Hell on our behalf, and then rose from the  

grave sitting at the Father’s right hand side, sanctifying all who  believe in Him. The season of Epiphany is all about celebrating 

how the light of the world has opened our eyes to the Truth, how  the Word has opened our ears to all that God has done for us,  and how the Holy Spirit has opened our hearts towards the  acceptance of Christ in our lives. This is what Epiphany is all  about. 

I am reminded of Peter’s epiphany, Matthew 16, after Jesus  asked His disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” What did Peter  say? “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus’  response was, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and  blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in  heaven.” What happened to Peter was a miracle, for there is  absolutely no way Peter could have had this epiphany and truly  recognize Jesus as Christ had not the Father revealed this to him.  The Miracle of Peter’s epiphany, was not of flesh, but because of  the Holy Spirit, send by the Father, opened his eyes and ears and  heart to the Truth. 

I am also reminded of the Wise Men of whom this season  also recognizes. We know not how they came to the realization,  but somehow they realized that the King of the Jews was to be  born, so they journeyed so that they may lay eyes upon this Christ  Child. They had an epiphany, and I know with sheer certainty that  this epiphany came from the Holy Spirit, for without the Holy Spirit  there is no fathomable way that anyone, let alone these Wise  Men, could have come to the realization about Christ. They had  an epiphany and journeyed to see this Christ child and that is why  we celebrate Epiphany after Christmas.

And here in today’s Gospel a baptismal epiphany of sorts is  happening. For it says, “And when Jesus came up out of the  water, immediately He saw the Heavens being torn open and the  Spirit descending on Him like a dove. And a voice came from  heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.’” 

John was the voice in the wilderness, preparing the way for  the coming King, preaching to all as he baptized many, cleansing  them of their sins, that whereas his baptism is just of mere water,  the Baptism from our Lord is more than water but also of the Holy  Spirit. He was preaching this and telling all that compared to this  coming King, he, John, is a nobody. Some may have heard, some  may have vaguely understood, but without the Holy Spirit, no one  could have fully grasped the depth of John’s words. He was  talking about Christ! 

And know Christ comes and is baptized, and upon being  baptized a fantastic event for all to see unfolds. The heavens  opens up, the Spirit descends not as a dove, but like a dove, and  a mighty voice booms out of heaven, “You are my beloved Son.”  To those listening, to those who witnessed this event, God is  practically telling them, “Listen, this is my Son.” 

I sure hope that upon that day many present had an Aha  moment. God is literally telling all present that this Jesus person is  His son. 

Here is the thing about our Epiphanies. Because we are all  fallen human beings it is impossible for us to know and love and  have faith in God. We are all born with Original Sin, with Original 

Guilt, that is we are all born lacking the ability to know and love  and fear God, therefore we are all born doomed to Hell. On top of  that, this sin acts as a veil that covers our eyes and prevents us  from seeing the Truth; from seeing and acknowledging that Jesus  is the Son of God. 

Luther writes in the Small Catechism, “I believe that I cannot  by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or  come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel,  enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true  faith.” 

Because we are sinners, it is impossible for us to believe in  Christ, but through the Miracle of God’s intercession we receive  through the Holy Spirit the means of faith which compels us to  have an epiphany. Peter’s epiphany was because the Father  revealed to him that Jesus was Christ. The Wise Men received  epiphanies through Scripture and dreams, which could have  come only from God itself. And here in Scripture God the Father  professes for all to hear that Jesus is His Son. Whether or not it is  God the Father or God the Holy Spirit, God is pointing us towards  God the Son and is providing for us our own epiphanies, for God  knows we cannot do it ourselves. 

Now do you remember last week’s sermon? I focused so  much, throughout the service on “Mountain Proclamations”,  ending Christmas with a bang, proclaiming that Christ is born and  that we should face the world and as the song encourages, “Go  Tell it on the Mountain, that Jesus Christ is Born.” As Christians,  Jesus gave us one final command, to spread the good news, then 

baptize, then teach. What naturally follows if we obey Christ’s  commandment, proclaiming the Good News? People receive the  Holy Spirit and through the Holy Spirit may come to have faith in  God, people may have epiphanies. For Paul said in Romans 10,  “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed?  And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never  heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” 

The Season of Epiphany is a season of Aha Moments, when  others finally see Christ and confess Him as their Savior, just like  how we who were once lost received the Word and through the  Word an Epiphany, confessing that Christ has indeed saved us.  Yet how can others have epiphanies if they do not receive the  Word? And how could they receive the Word if we do not preach  and baptize? Therefore Epiphany is not only a season of Aha  moments, but also a season of preaching and baptizing so that  others may have these Epiphanies. 

You receive the Holy Spirit when you hear the Word, but you  also receive the Holy Spirit when you are Baptized, for baptism is  not an act of Man, but an act of God when He places His seal  upon you, gives you faith, and adopts you as heirs to the  Kingdom. We don’t baptize because you have faith; that is called  Confirmation. We baptize so that you may have faith. Therefore, I  ask as we walk together in the light of God, thanking Him for  providing us the Spirit which opened our eyes and receiving the  Epiphany that Christ died so that we may be saved and He is  Alive so that we may all be in union with, in, and under Him - I ask  that we profess our faith to others, spread the Good News,  encourage Baptisms, not waiting for someone to believe but to be 

baptized so that they may believe, and to encourage the baptizing  of infants, all for the sake that they too may receive an Epiphany  through God and be saved through faith. 

Let us pray, 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, you are the light of the World who  shines in the darkness and reveals to us the Truth of the world,  for without your revelations we who are sinners would be lost in  the darkness. We thank you for being that light which not only  came into the world to die for our sins but also for unveiling our  eyes so that we may truly see our Savior and Lord. We ask that  you help guide us as we go out to confess your salvation so that  others may receive your Spirit and so too receive an epiphany. In  your name we pray, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

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