Live in Your Baptism

Fourth Sunday of Easter


April 22, 2018

John 16:16–22

If you spend a good amount of time in the Gospel according to John you begin to see that there is water everywhere. Jesus has come to bring about life and bring it about abundantly. The way John expresses it is through water. How Jesus does this in your life is in Baptism. Of course, the most explicit place this is shown is in John 3 where Jesus says that unless you are born of water and the Spirit you cannot enter the Kingdom of God. 

When you are born from above in this way, in the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, you have new and eternal life. In much of what we see in John’s Gospel account Jesus is showing us how to live in Baptism. The Gospel reading today is part of Jesus’ preparing His disciples for when He will no longer be with them. He spoke these words to them the night before He suffered and died on the cross. He said that in a little while they would no longer see Him and then in a little while they would see Him. He was speaking of His death and then His resurrection. But since He also spoke of His going to the Father He was preparing them for when He would ascend to heaven.

What He said to them, then, is for you and me as well. Jesus is speaking of what it means to live in your Baptism. What Christian does not relate with these words of their Lord? You will have sorrow. You will weep and lament but the world will rejoice. What Christian has not grieved at the unjust actions of people while Jesus seems to be absent? What Christian has not despaired at wickedness triumphing and the world rejoicing in it while Christians are despised?

Jesus was exactly right. When He died the next day His disciples despaired. He was gone. They wouldn’t see Him again. But what had He told them? A little while and you will not see Me. But again a little while and you will see Me. They didn’t believe. They despaired. But three days later He rose. They saw Him again just as He had told them. And they rejoiced just as He had told them. 

But that wasn’t the sum and substance of His preparing them. He rose. And they were happy. But then what? That’s what Jesus is really getting at. And it’s what you and I need to take heed to. You are Baptized. You have new and eternal life. What do you do as you wait in the little while since Jesus ascended into heaven and is awaiting His return on the Last Day? That’s the thing for you to take to heart each day. Live in your Baptism.

First, don’t discount the sorrow of the life you have in Baptism. When you were Baptized you weren’t magically transported to Fantasyland where you live in bliss, free from sin and sorrow. It’s quite the opposite. When you were Baptized you weren’t taken anywhere. You were brought back home and cared for by your parents. They continued to bring you here to the House of God. Why was that? Though you were given new and eternal life your Lord did not bring you directly to heaven. He placed you here in this life where you grew up and carried out the call of your Lord to live in your Baptism.

As you have often experienced, living in your Baptism has seen you through sin, temptation, adversity, and sorrow. Your life in Christ has at times been anything but joyful. You are in the little while Jesus was talking about. And it seems anything but a little while, doesn’t it? 

We rejoice today for Natalie. She has been given new and eternal life! But it’s sobering to think about what is ahead of her. Trials and tribulations are headed her way. Satan will not relent in attacking her. 

But what is Jesus telling us in the Gospel reading? Your sorrow will turn to joy. Is this only when you and Natalie and I will be called from this life and enter the joy of heaven? In Baptism He has given you everything—forgiveness, life, and salvation. He then sustains you in these gifts. Though you can’t see Him He comes to you directly, actually into your very body, and it is right here in this place. When in bread and wine He invites you to eat and drink it is to invite you to eat and drink His body and blood. 

He knows what is ahead for you. He knows the trial and sorrow you will face. You are Baptized but you are weak. He knows this. He prepares you, He sustains you. He gives you Himself for your strength. You live in your Baptism because He is in you, His body and blood given you in your mouth to eat and to drink.

Living in your Baptism is living in these eternal blessings of your Lord. But it is not having your head in the clouds. It is very down to earth. Which is why He uses things such as water in Baptism and bread and wine in His Holy Meal. And He calls you to live in the day-in day-out vocations of your life. Peter expresses this in the Epistle reading: “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.”

You know that because you are Baptized that you will be in heaven forever. Before He calls you home He calls you to live in your Baptism. In heaven you will bask in the glory of God and see in their fullness all the blessings He gives you. Here you give to others as you have been given, living out your Baptism. Peter says in the Epistle, “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.” Living in your Baptism is hard because it means that you are not living to yourself but to Christ. He humbled Himself by being subservient to those in authority over Him. Even more, He humbled Himself by being a servant to all, dying on the cross for the sin of the world. Because He lived in this way and died for you to give you eternal life, He gives you strength to live in servanthood to others.

Because this is hard and because your sinful nature often gets the better of you Peter exhorts you to live in the freedom Christ has given you: “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.” You are free from the condemnation rightly due you for your sins. You are free. You are Baptized. You have new and eternal life. Live in that freedom. Don’t use it as a cover-up for evil. Repent of your sin and live in joyful obedience to your Lord. As Peter goes on to say, “Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.”

Live in your Baptism. Honor those in authority over you, love and serve everyone. Carry out the callings, the vocations, God has placed you in. Love and serve your spouse. Put their needs before your own. Raise your children in the Word of God. Respect your employer and be a selfless co-worker. You are Baptized. The devil will not relent in tempting you to serve yourself. The world rejoices in evil. Jesus, though, has the last word, your sorrow will turn to joy. Amen.