Monday after the First Sunday after Epiphany
Scripture: St. John 1:29-34 (NKJV)
29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is He of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ 31 I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water.” 32 And John bore witness, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. 33 I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.”
Almost immediately after the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ we are transported forward to the holy Cross and our Lord’s death. We have just witnessed the arrival and worship of the magi, and seen the wisdom of our young Savior before the teachers of Israel. Now we are taken to the beginning of our Lord’s ministry where St. John the Baptist calls Him the sacrificial Lamb Who takes away sin, and the Holy Ghost descends upon Him.
The image of the Holy Ghost resting on our Lord Jesus is an image of our Lord’s Body, that is, His holy Church. All those who have been baptized have the Holy Ghost descending and remaining on them on account of their faith in Christ Jesus. And this faith is begun and nurtured by the Holy Ghost through the means of grace; indeed through Holy Baptism, but also the Lord’s Supper and Absolution, and the preaching of the Gospel.
Our Lord baptizes all believers in Christ with the Holy Ghost. They are now pure and holy, just as He is pure and holy. They are cleansed of their sins, for He clothes them with His righteousness and He credits them with His works—His perfect obedience to the Law and His punishment on our behalf. All those who are baptized and cling to their Holy Baptism in faith are now judged by God according to what our Lord has done. In the Lord God’s eyes we have fulfilled the Law perfectly, and we have suffered the punishment for our sins, because our Lord Jesus has done this for us and given us the benefits of His work. It is for this reason that the Evangelist transports us quickly to the place of our redemption.