Friday after the Second Sunday after Christmas
Scripture: St. Luke 3:21-22 (NKJV)
21 When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened. 22 And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.”
“Jesus was also baptized; and while He prayed, heaven was opened.” Since the fall into sin, Heaven has remained shut tight against sinners. When Adam and Eve were evicted from Eden, the Lord “placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life” (Gen. 3:24). Heaven has no vacancy for any of the descendants of Adam since “all mankind fell in Adam’s fall and one common sin infects us all” (TLH 369). Humanity cannot pry the door of Heaven open with moral strivings, good works, or the best intentions. The way is shut to sinners.
But now Heaven is opened for Jesus at His baptism. He is the only man Who does not need baptism since He is the sinless son of God, even God Himself. Yet Jesus stands in the place of sinners. He stands in the place where sinners have been confessing their sins. He is waist deep in the Jordan as our substitute and representative before God the Father. He takes upon Himself all the sins shed there in the Jordan so that He might die with them on Calvary’s cross, atoning for them. He takes upon Himself all our sins, and the sins of the whole world, so that all who believe and are baptized in the Name of the Triune God might stand there with Jesus as Heaven is opened to sinners now absolved by God. By ourselves, the way is shut. But Baptism connects us to Christ and clothes us with Him, so that, wearing Christ by faith, Heaven opens for us as well.