“BAPTISM AND THE KEYS WHICH CONTINUALLY APPLY IT”
Saint Matthew 28. 16-20
SIX CHIEF PARTS SERMON SERIES
Lententide Midweek Vespers: Four & Five
14 March Anno Domini 2013
Father Jay Watson SSP
In The Name of The Father and of The + Son and of The Holy Ghost
There was a great sinner. You know him well. Some of you like him and some of you think he’s a bit much to take; that he thinks too highly of himself from time to time. The man has been baptized. The man believes in Jesus—believes that Jesus is The Messiah! The man continues to sin all the time. You know this man. You can see his face every time you look into a mirror or every time you look at a statue or painting of Simon Peter, Galilean fisherman. Peter is you, you are Peter.
The dogmatic and systematic topic of Holy Baptism is so large and profound that it could fill its own series of six homilies, as it has already filled hundreds of theological treatises.
Baptism means washing with water. In this sense you baptize yourself daily when you wash your hands before meals, when you shower, when you clean off a plate under the faucet. But Holy Baptism is where God washes you without your assistance or cooperation. Holy Baptism is the application of water for cleansing BUT adds the ingredient of God’s Holy Word. God’s Holy Word is Jesus—the Word made flesh. When you were baptized you were washed with, in, by, through, of, Jesus Himself. You were not baptized by Pastor Watson, Pastor Schmidt, St. Paul, St. Peter, Apollos or Titus…but by Christ Jesus.
You know your Luther commentary on the Sacrament—you had to memorize it as a youth. Holy Baptism is no mere ritual or symbolic event. Holy Baptism “works forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare.” [SC Pt. 4]
Dr. Luther, just like our dear friend the Rev’d Kirk McQuillan (who lost his parish in this “synod” because he taught like Luther) taught as he did because he had been informed and enlightened by the Holy Ghost Himself. The Spirit Who had the Apostle write St. Titus: “…He saved us by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” Again the Spirit had Peter testify in his 1st Epistle: “…baptism doth also now save us.”
You know this; but so did St. Peter and yet he continued to sin every day with his tongue, hands, and brain. I submit that you do likewise. I submit that you don’t even think much about your Holy Washing and rebirth. Why not? Do you not understand its power, glory, comfort, and daily pulsating transformative reality? Are you that much of a hard-hearted sinner? Well, yes, yes Peter is, yes you are, yes we all are.
So hear again the Word, Jesus, as the Holy Ghost again has the Apostle share: “…we are buried with Christ by Baptism into death, that, like as He was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
Did Jesus rise on the Third Day? Yes, the Lord Resurrected and you believe it. Is it only a past event that doesn’t intrude into your onerous and burdensome life? Well of course not; you celebrate Easter every Sunday, indeed every day. So too your Baptism allows, permits, constrains you to celebrate it’s durative and active presence every day as well. How so? By part V of the Catechism. Luther immediately takes you from the Sacrament of + Washing to the Sacrament of Penitence: “The Office of the Keys and Confession.”
I mean, as the “head” of your household you did teach this to your spouse and children…right?
Or did you miss what Dr. Luther said in Baptism: “[Baptism] signifies that the Old Adam in us should, by daily contrition and repentance, be drowned and die with all sins and evil lusts…” So it’s expected that you confess your sins, daily, is optimum, but weekly Confession & Absolution is also salutary.
You confess in the Creed that you believe in “ONE” baptism for the remission of sins, so the Sacrament is not repeated, but you confess also the power of the Keys when you believe the Holy Scriptures. Jesus entrusted the Keys of binding and loosing to Saint Peter and then to the rest of the Apostles on Easter Eve: “…whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted,” and again Luther “I believe that, when the called ministers of Christ deal with us by His divine command…when they absolve those who repent of their sins and are willing to amend, this is as valid and certain, in heaven also, as if Christ, our dear Lord, dealt with us Himself.”
This is what Jesus essentially said and did for Peter on Maundy Thursday when He stooped over, unclothed from His robe, and washed Peters stinking feet. Peter had had his head already washed, He had been baptized and belonged to Christ, was already a little lamb. But Peter’s daily trespasses were washed off of him by Jesus’ precious hands, with Water and Word. There is nowhere in the Church this happens more directly and according to Jesus’ will than in individual Confession and Absolution. The Sacrament of Repentance was referenced specifically in the Synod’s very first constitution, was practiced by Dr. Walther, and was esteemed as pure Gospel by Luther himself.
Jesus paid for your sins, and washed them away with His sacred Blood gushing from His sacred Body on Calvary. He’s not at Calvary any more. You are not able to stand at His feet with the Virgin and the Apostle. He painted your door frame and lintel red with His remission at the + Font, and He desires to do it regularly at the hand of His under shepherds—who also trace that Holy Sign of Forgiving Blood upon your foreheads.
Come to Calvary’s Holy Mountain at Augsburg for Holy Absolution…for it’s not that you “were” baptized, but that you “ARE” baptized.
In The Name of The Father and of + The Son and of The Holy Ghost