Advent Devotion for January 3
In lighting the candle, the candle lighter says: “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.”
SCRIPTURE: Psalm 2:7
The king proclaims the Lord’s decree:
“The Lord said to me, ‘You are my son,
Today I have become your Father.
SCRIPTURE: Matthew 3:13-17
13 Then Jesus went from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to talk him out of it. “I am the one who needs to be baptized by you,” he said, “so why are you coming to me?”
15 But Jesus said, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.” So John agreed to baptize him.
16 After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.”
SCRIPTURE: Romans 1:1-6
1 This letter is from Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, chosen by God to be an apostle and sent out to preach his Good News. 2 God promised this Good News long ago through his prophets in the holy Scriptures. 3 The Good News is about his Son. In his earthly life he was born into King David’s family line, 4 and he was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is Jesus Christ our Lord. 5 Through Christ, God has given us the privilege and authority as apostles to tell Gentiles everywhere what God has done for them, so that they will believe and obey him, bringing glory to his name.
6 And you are included among those Gentiles who have been called to belong to Jesus Christ.
SOME THOUGHTS: As we approach Epiphany on January 6, we are mindful that one of the primary themes is that of Jesus’ baptism. Here again is a strong connection with the Messiah being in the lineage of King David. That was so important for the Jews to grasp this fulfillment of prophecy. You can see why John tried to talk Jesus out of being baptized. John was baptizing people for the repentance of their sins. John Piper points out other reasons as well. John’s baptism was establishing a group of people who identified with repentance rather than with their Jewish heritage. Some of the Pharisees were clinging to their Jewish heritage in attempting to make themselves acceptable to God. John’s baptism said you are acceptable to God only by admitting you are a sinner, repenting and being baptized as you prepare for the coming Messiah. Since Jesus was sinless and had nothing of which to repent, you can see why John tried to talk Jesus out of being baptized. So why did Jesus submit to having John baptize him? In another translation Jesus’ words are these: “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Jesus was fulfilling righteousness for you and me since he had no sin and we had to be made righteous before the Father. His righteousness is imputed to us. Here is another absolute proof of the humanity of Jesus and of the necessity of God the Son taking on human flesh. The response from his father in heaven is a clear affirmation of what had taken place. “This is my dearly beloved Son, who brings me great joy.”
MUSIC: "Agnus Dei" by Samuel Barber
Choir of New College, Oxford, England (YouTube)
(Text: “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”)
PRAYER: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. How grateful we are for the baptism of your perfect Son whose righteousness before you is imputed to us sinners. As fallen people, we cannot truly comprehend the significance and glory of what our Savior has done. Lord Jesus, we don’t have a language that we can borrow to thank you dearest friend for your great mission to save this world and all that is in it. Holy Spirit, we praise you for the power and life you bring to us as we clumsily offer our words of gratitude and praise. We gladly kneel before you Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen. — Dan Sharp