He Gives Himself
Tuesday After the Epiphany of our Lord
8 January 2019
I have a Baptist pastor friend, who baptized his own children at a younger and younger age. The first child he baptized at 13, the second at 7, the third at 4. Noting that he kept baptizing his children progressively younger, I quipped that all he needed was one more child and he would have become a Lutheran! My Baptist friend laughed at that.
Luther believed that baptism was a divine act that gave the very faith it solicited, even from infants. His basis for this belief was texts of Scripture, not opinion, feeling, experience or any other uncertain source of faith. We cannot know what is in anyone's heart, neither an adult nor an infant, but we can know what God says about inviting little children (Mk 10:13-16) and the faith of the "little ones" (Mt 18:6). No texts can be found that forbid baptism to infants. Rather the Bible compares all faith to infant faith; faith is always child-like and therefore a child's faith in the case of infants. How powerful these simple words of God are! Christ Himself undergoes baptism, which gives us a glimpse as to its importance to us. What he permits to be done to Him, indeed demands to be done to Him, we should extol and look forward to giving to our children and using ourselves in the daily life of repentance and contrition.
Christ's baptism fills our baptism with its worth. The apostolic promise is that there is but "one baptism" (Eph 4:5). And if that is so, then we share with Christ in His baptism. Christ's baptism becomes our baptism into Christ. John the Baptist testified of him who receive this baptism: "Then John gave this testimony: 'I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, "The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit." I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.'" (Jn 1:32-34).
As we hover over the font of life watching our infant being baptized, we see nothing but the water connected with God's Word. But Christ is in it through that Word. He promises. He stakes His triune and His reputation as a saving God name on it. What would cause Him to go back on such a well-sealed promise? How could He abandon those whom He has adopted and given such an exalted name? He cannot deny Himself; which is what He gives us in baptism.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Martin Luther
"Since Baptism is a divine act in which God Himself participates and since it is attended by the three exalted Persons of the Godhead, it must be prized and honored. One must agree that Baptism was not invented by any man but was instituted by God. It is not plain water but has God's Word in it and with it; and this transforms such water into a soul bath and into a bath of rejuvenation. Furthermore, we must maintain that a baptism is a proper and valid baptism even if the person baptized is unbelieving and ungodly. For is it conceivable that God would be faithless because of my faithlessness? (Rm 3:3). Those impious knaves surely don't know themselves whether the people whom they re-baptize really believe. We do know that our little children believe; for regarding them we have a trustworthy declaration of Christ: 'Let the children come to Me, do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God' (Mk 10:14). They cannot adduce such a statement for those whom they re-baptize. 

Furthermore, they have no more inside information than we have about the heart; they cannot peer into anyone's heart either."

 Martin Luther, 
Sermons on the Gospel According to St. John, 1.34

Mark 10:13-16

And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, "Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it." And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them. (ESV)
O Christ, You know Your own because only You know what is in the human heart. Grant me confidence in the Name You gave me at my baptism into You. Amen.
For all Christians in China that they might be kept safe in God's keeping during persecution
For the people of God, that they would give generously to the needs of the church
For the ill and hospitalized, that God our Lord would be with them and grant them healing
Art: COSTA, Lorenzo Adoration of the Magi  (1499)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2019
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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