The Voice of the LORD Speaks Power and Peace

January 09, 2022; Rev. Kurt A. Lantz
2021. baptism.jpg

The Voice of the LORD Speaks Love and Peace

 

Rev. Kurt Lantz Baptism of Our Lord Psalm 29

Rev. Kurt Lantz Resurrection Lutheran Church St. Catharines, ON

 

 

Dear people in the temple of the LORD,

 

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

 

On the first Sunday after the Epiphany we celebrate the Baptism of Our Lord; that special Epiphany when Jesus was baptized, the heavens were opened, the Holy Spirit descended upon Him as a dove, and a voice came from heaven saying, “You are My beloved Son; with You I am well pleased” (Luke 4:21-22).

 

A child tossing and whimpering in the middle of the night is often calmed by the voice of mom or dad. Whether the child fully awakens to hear it or not, the sound of that voice from a trusted and loving parent is enough to bring peace and stillness. But that voice needs to be recognized both as a source of power, able to dispel whatever evil the sleeping child might perceive, and also a source of love, which the child knows as coming from one who cares and protects and embraces them in their times of distress.

 

The voice of God the Father sounded forth at Jesus’ baptism. What distresses did our Saviour have to face that the voice of His heavenly Father should speak such a calming word of peace and love: “You are My beloved Son; with You I am well pleased”?

 

It is not that Jesus’ life had been without threat and peril before this. On Thursday night in our celebration of Epiphany we remembered the magi who came to seek the one born King of the Jews (Matthew 2:1-12), and Herod’s sly reception of them in order that he might murder the Child Jesus. Mary and Joseph then lived with their Son as refugees in Egypt until the murderous Herod was dead (2:13-23). Then at the tender age of Twelve Jesus was three days in the capital city of Jerusalem without guardian (Luke 2:41-46). Who among us would say there is no risk to a child of that age alone in a big city?

 

But it was after Jesus’ baptism that He began to formally and publicly engage in becoming our Saviour and Redeemer. He was no longer the one being protected, but the one who was going out to rescue us, to confront our enemies, to put Himself in danger for us. After His baptism He had a personal encounter with Satan who tempted Him for forty days in the wilderness (Luke 4:1-13). After His baptism He began to publicly teach and do wondrous signs (4:14) that stirred up the ire and wrath of the religious establishment which decided that He had to be put to death. There were attempts to stone Him and to throw Him off of a cliff (4:29-30), and of course, His eventual arrest, torture, and crucifixion that did indeed take His life (Luke 22-23).

 

It would not be a complete picture to see these things only from the angle of Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan as God the Father sending Him out to be our Saviour and Redeemer. Rather, to get a more complete picture we have to rotate the 360 degree panoramic shot to see from Jesus’ angle as He looked back from His life of distresses and perils, that He was baptized also to hear the heavenly Father speak to Him words of love and peace for the very distresses that His baptism would bring upon Him. The view is not only from the words of the Father forward, but also from Jesus’ times of peril and distress hearkening back to the words of the Father spoken at the baptism.

 

This was not the only time that the voice of the LORD sounded forth audibly from heaven. Today’s Psalm (29) prods us to think of the LORD speaking over the turbulent waters of creation to bring order out of chaos, to separate the waters and to set limits for the sea (Genesis 1). We are primed to think of the LORD speaking His promises to Noah and his family from His place enthroned over the flood (Genesis 9). We think of the LORD speaking from Mount Sinai with the sound of thunder and flashes of fire (Exodus 19-20).

 

It is not unusual for the LORD to speak and to speak with power. This is the voice that spoke to bring the Saviour to birth from the womb of Mary (Luke 1:30-31). This is the voice also that Jesus used to calm the storms on the sea and to tell the lame to walk and to forgive sins with power (Luke 8:24). This is the voice that sounded forth from heaven to glorify Jesus as He was about to head to the cross (John 12:28-29), a voice that sounded as thunder. This is the voice Jesus used to curse the fig tree that did not produce its fruit (Matthew 21:19), and the voice that cried out from the cross, “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:34), and “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit” (23:46).

 

The voice of Jesus which came forth with words of power and words of love, reverberated the voice of the Father who spoke to Him at His baptism, “You are My beloved Son, with You I am well pleased.” So, when the voice of the heavenly Father was restrained and holding back, as His beloved Son gave up His Spirit while darkness covered the land, and the earth quaked, Jesus could hearken back to His baptism and remember the everlasting words of power and love spoken to Him there.

 

It is a voice of peace and love, founded on the almighty power of the Creator of heaven and earth, and full of His love through which “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). The angels cried “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased” (Luke 2:14). This is the voice that sounds forth in the Church when His Word is read and all “in His temple cry, ‘Glory!’” (Psalm 29:9), the people in the church along with the angels and archangels and all the company of heaven. This is the voice that sounds forth as He lifts up His countenance upon those gathered here and gives them peace (Numbers 6:22-24). We sing “Glory” and the LORD blesses His people with peace (Psalm 29:11).

 

This voice spoke at Jesus’ baptism as He took our place through the water to face sin, devil, and death. This voice speaks to you through your baptism. It is the same powerful and comforting voice speaking peace and love to you. He speaks and declares you His beloved child. He speaks to forgive your all of your sins and to find you well pleasing under the cover of Christ’s righteousness. He speaks to let you know that He is there when the distresses of this life, the very real ones as well as those you only dream about, have you frightened in fitful sleep.

 

He looked forward from your baptism and saw all of the distresses and perils that you would face throughout your entire life, and He spoke His word of power and love to you. You can look back whenever you are suffering the distresses and perils of this life and remember the words that He spoke to you. Even if it seems He silent during those times, His voice which proclaimed you to be His own at your baptism is still the voice of almighty power and everlasting love.

 

This is the voice of your heavenly Father speaking to you in Christ Jesus your Saviour. This is the voice of the LORD that thunders over the waters of baptism. This is the voice of the LORD full of power and majesty. This is the voice of the LORD that splits the cedars and makes mountains skip with joy. This is the voice of the LORD that flashes forth flames of fire as on the Day of Pentecost, that shakes the wilderness in the preaching of John the Baptist, that makes the deer give birth and strips the forests bare. This is the voice for which all in heaven and earth, gathered around the altar, cry, ‘Glory!’ (Psalm 29).

 

The LORD sits enthroned as king forever and He comes to speak to you in your distress, to bring order to the chaos of your life, to calm your fears, to give you rest. The voice of the LORD speaks to reveal to you that Jesus of Nazareth is His beloved Son; that He was baptized in the Jordan River to become your Champion and your Saviour. The voice of LORD speaks to reveal to you that Jesus has defeated the devil who torments you so. He has paid in full for all of your sins through His death for you. He has defeated death completely by His resurrection and you have everlasting life in Him.

 

This is what the voice of the LORD speaks in this place. It thunders away sin, death, and the devil, and it blesses His people with peace. Recognizing the voice of the LORD in this place, we see Christmas continue indefinitely as the angels’ song is enacted again and again and again. All in His temple cry, “Glory” to God in the highest, and the LORD who sits as king forever lifts up His countenance upon you and gives you peace.

 

 

The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.