The moment Jesus came up out of the baptismal waters, the skies opened up and he saw God's Spirit—it looked like a dove—descending and landing on him. And along with the Spirit, a voice: "This is my Son, chosen and marked by my love, delight of my life."“This is my son, chosen and marked by my love, delight of my life.” Wow. What powerful words God speaks here. The account of Jesus' baptism is a passage you hear a lot, sometimes so much, that after a while, it loses some if its punch. That’s why I used a version above that’s a little bit different—to hear these words through new ears. In the Lutheran church, when we baptize someone, the pastor says “Child of God, you have been sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever.” What we’re doing in our baptism service is paraphrasing what God is saying about his own son, Jesus.
--Matthew 3:16-17 (The Message)
Friday will be four years since Kiddo was baptized, and as that anniversary comes, I've been doing a lot of thinking about baptism. It occurred to me that God's statement about Jesus in Matthew is what God is calling us to remember about our own baptism. You are chosen. You are marked by God’s love, and you are the delight of God’s life. You are loved. You were created by God, and God loves you, through no doing of your own. That’s what baptism is all about! God has chosen you! So often, we think or we hear of being a Christian as us choosing God. We choose to believe, we choose to live a “good life,” it’s all up to us. It’s a very common perception in today’s world—you hear people speak of when they chose to become a Christian, or when they chose to follow Christ, or when they chose to accept Jesus as their Lord and savior.
That’s the perception, but this is the reality—it’s not up to us to choose. And thank goodness for that! I make choices every day—and just as often as not, I choose wrong. I choose to sin, I choose to let people down, I choose to put other things before God. Left on my own, to my own devices, to make my own choices, I’m lost. But listen to the good news—God has chosen you! God has chosen to love you, even before you wanted to be loved. God has redeemed you through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, even before you realized you needed forgiveness. And God is active and with you today through the Holy Spirit, even if you think you’re on your own, and even if you just want to be left alone!!!
So then, what’s the point? What’s living a Christian life all about? It’s not about pleasing God—it’s about a response to the grace that God has already shown you! My friends, may you remember that. God came to us, and because he made the first move, we are free—free to live in the grace that he has shown us. He has forgiven us, and so we are free—free to show that same forgiveness to others. He loves us, and so we are free—free to live in joy and wonder, free to be amazed at the almighty, all powerful God who cares about you. He cares about you so much that he came to us first, because he knew that we wouldn’t have the power to come to him on our own. Go then, live in that freedom, live in that love, live in that forgiveness, live in the life that God has given you.
You are chosen!
You are marked by God’s love!
You are the delight of God’s life!