I. Died and rose in Baptism with Christ
STOP THAT!! Quit it! Don’t do that anymore!! You know better than that! That’s not the way you were raised. That’s not the CCV’s telling you to be quiet before worship. That’s not Pastor Borghardt scolding you, and telling you to love your neighbor. It’s not a note here from your pastors or parents or congregations to keep you in line. This is a wonderful message of encouragement from St. Paul. We have the great privilege to be baptized into Christ Jesus. Drawn into the Kingdom of God by His grace and mercy, we are made new. But in order to be made new, the old… the old Adam… the old Eve… the old sinful nature had to die. We have been Baptized into Jesus’ death. In your Baptism, when water and God’s Word were washed over you, you died. The old sinful Adam or Eve died in the water. You might even say you were Crucified in your Baptism. Your sin, original and actual, was Crucified in your Baptism. Your death that waits open-eyed to pronounce sentence on you for your sin was Crucified and died in your Baptism. In your Baptism Christ’s death became your death. St. Paul reminds us, “We were buried with Christ by Baptism into death.” And in that death you were freed.
Sin’s curse and stain is ended in death. The contract is complete. The payment met. Sin brings death, and at death, sin is done with you. It has used you up and thrown your lifeless body into the ground to be buried. In your Baptism, you died and were buried with Christ. Jesus’ lifeless body, pierced and bloodied, was taken down from the cross and laid in the grave. Sin had done its worst, not Jesus’ sin; He was the sinless Son of God. Jesus was the lamb that was lead to slaughter as a sacrifice, a payment, a propitiation for us and all our sin. The death Jesus died was your death, for your sin. He did it willingly, lovingly, so you would never know damnation. So you would never be separated from the love of God your Father and all of His holy gifts.
And in your Baptism, just as certainly as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, you were raised to life. Your life is no longer controlled by sin and death. You were given a new nature and a new hope. Jesus, the Crucified one, did not stay in the grave. Death could not hold Him. On the third day, just as He said, He burst from the tomb. Sin, death and hell were left behind, eternally Crucified and dead.
In your Baptism you were connected to Jesus’ death. Your old Adam and Eve and sinful nature died. And as surely as Jesus rose, so you came out of the water of Baptism a new person. Satan can no longer condemn you, because your sins, all of them, have been paid for by Jesus’ death. You were given a new nature and a new name. You are a Holy, Justified, forgiven, child of God.
II. The old nature still is tempted and needs to be put to death.
But the temptations, the struggles with sin are still there. Even though the evil one can’t condemn you now that you are wearing the white robes of Christ’s righteousness, he still wants to and tries to drag you into the mud and stain your righteousness.
Temptations abound in your life for the evil one to try and pull you from Christ and make you a slave again to sin. It doesn’t matter what stage of life you are in. In our confirmation, we confessed we will hear the Word of God and receive the Lord’s Supper faithfully. But the temptation is there to think we can survive without the good and gracious gifts God gives to us. Your job, your friends, your free time…Satan continues to tempt you to think is all more important than God’s good and gracious gifts. He tempts you to think you can survive without them.
You will be tempted. You can bet on that. Some battles with Satan you will win by the power of The Holy spirit. Some battles will be long and you will fight and fight again. Some battles with sin and temptation you will lose. You will give in. Your old sinful nature will win. You will struggle with sin. You may even think that somehow God’s promises aren’t for you because you keep struggling.
STOP THAT! Quit it… Don’t do that anymore… You know better than that. That’s not how you were raised.
III. Forgiveness in confession and Absolution and God’s gifts.
You were raised with Christ in your Baptism. You were raised with Christ and He has justified you and declared you holy and forgiven. You were raised with Christ and were given faith to believe and hold firmly His promises for you. You were raised with Christ. His death became your death. His Victory and resurrection became your Victory and resurrection, and eternal hope.
A few years ago friends of ours adopted a baby girl. On the next Sunday after the adoption was complete they were gathered in front of the Baptismal font. The pastor was holding Ruth over the water and in the name of the +Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit+ Ruth was connected to Jesus death and resurrection. Right after she was baptized, while the pastor was still holding her over the life-giving water she reached up and grabbed the cross that hung down from the pastor’s neck.
We are raised with Christ in Baptism and like Ruth we cling to the cross through faith. When you find yourself struggling with sin and temptation make the sign of the cross placed upon you in your Baptism and call upon Jesus, the One who has beaten death and given that victory to you. When you are weary and broken by your failure to keep the Law, repent and live in the forgiveness Christ won for you on the cross. When you are standing at the grave of one you love, or facing your own death, remember that death could not hold Jesus. “Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death has no dominion over Him”. And because you were baptized in Christ, death has no dominion over you either. Jesus rose from the dead. He has conquered your enemies and He has given His victory to you in your Baptism. Christ was crucified and in His death you died. Christ is risen! (He has risen indeed Alleluia!) And in His resurrection from the dead you have been raised to new and eternal life with Him. Amen.
In the name of the Father and of the +Son+ and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
by Rev. Randy Sturzenbecher