"Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented Him saying, 'I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?"'
Your life is a filthy mess. Well, it doesn't always look that way does it? This morning, you are all looking pretty clean and spiffy. I'm sure most here have bathed and cleaned up prior to coming to God's house. If you were out in your barn this morning, henhouse or around livestock, you certainly didn't wear those boots here this morning and you certainly also washed your hands before you made your way here. A few of you had to change diapers already this morning. You made sure though that the kids were cleaned up before they left the house and you came prepared to clean them up again here should problems arise. You wives also gave your husbands the once over to make sure they wouldn't embarrass you this morning, and ladies probably the last thing you did before you got out of the car was to take one last look in the mirror to make sure everything was clean and straight. And still, despite all that, your life is still a filthy mess. No scrubbing, washing, fixing, combing out or makeup can change that one bit. Because the filth is not the dirt of the body, but rather a filthy conscience, a mind soiled with sin, a dirty heart, an unclean life before God.
So we will pray in the Church's way in a few moments for our Lord and God to do something about that again. "Create in me a clean heart, O God." The Church teaches her children through the songs they sing how to think of themselves and how to ask the gracious and true God for what is needed. And what you need is to be cleansed, not the removal of the filth and dirt of the body, but a cleansing of the heart, a cleansing of the mind. To be washed and cleansed in Christ's way. That is Holy Baptism.
The Jordan isn't all that great to look at. Remember how Naaman didn't want to jump in there after Elisha the prophet told him that water was the answer to his leprosy? Naaman said that they had plenty better rivers where he was from. But he was told to listen to the prophet and there believe the Word. The Jordan in the day of Jesus was no different. It wasn't crystal clear pure water coming down and the man standing in the river was a man who had come to call sinners to repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins. There is nothing clean about sins. John wan't clean himself, but he had been given work to do. To call sinners together around the preaching of repentance and the water of baptism. But there was nothing great to be seen by it. Repentance and cleansing of conscience is very often a quiet work, often unseen because sinners do not want the filth of their hearts to be known by anyone, especially not the preacher, especially not God. But while you can keep the filth of your heart away from your preacher, or your spouse or your friends that you always want to impress by them knowing how Christian you are, you can't hide a thing from God. He knows your rotten heart. And that is why Jesus gets in the water at the Jordan. With no sins to confess, but to fulfill all righteousness He desires to get dirty for you.
And that is why He is baptized, and that is why His Father calls out from heaven, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased." Why is the Father pleased? Because Jesus is willing to get dirty by being baptized into you. Baptism into this world with its filthy sins. The Spirit descends on this Man Jesus, the Christ to point to everyone to you today that this Man Jesus has come to do the dirty work, to take every filthy thought, to take your very unclean heart to this cross. There. There. Jesus clean heart is pierced in his death and blood and water flow out, poured out on the filthy ground, to make clean you, you who should return to the dust from whence you came. Jesus cleanses the world by his death. And that cleansing is given in your baptism which didn't look like much, but gives the whole world and more.
That font isn't all that fancy, the water that is put in the basin, isn't all that great to look at. Still, Jesus instituted the Word of His grace, that just as Father Son and Holy Spirit were present in the water at the Jordan, Father Son and Holy Spirit were present on the day of your baptism, for a rich and full washing away of your sins. A washing that unseen to the mortal eye, gives the fountain that flowed from the side of Jesus on the cross. At the font you received the blood of Jesus cleansing you of all sin. All the filth and dirt of your whole life, Christ dealt with at His cross as he carried it in his own body. You were buried with him in his burial. In that tomb your sins remain. And with Christ, with Christ you have been raised to newness of life. Each day begins with the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. When you make the sign of the cross you make yourself remember that Jesus has died and been risen, that you are cleansed, really, that any filth you have is taken away by the name of God. With a repentant and joy-filled clean heart you receive the good promises of God - You are baptized. You are a beloved of the Father - God's own Child. You are clean. And when you think of the filth of your sin and consider the mess you've made of things - consider the Blood of Jesus that cleanses you heart and Body. Consider that you have been baptized and since you are you are saved. You have a clean conscience by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. When it seems to you that God could not be for you or with you. Consider that Jesus gave the promise that in your baptism He is with you always. Always cleansing his people by his blood. And so in Him, God the Father is pleased with you. Isn't that good news? God the father is pleased with you always for Jesus sake. Now let's pray for that clean heart. Knowing that it is already given. And he'll give it again, every time. Always.