The Baptism of Our Lord – Romans 6:1-11
Nothing is ever simple.
Just ask a news organization trying to take a poll showing where people stand on a particular issue.
In a much simpler world, they would just call so many people and ask them what their opinion is on a topic, and that would be the poll; results to follow at 10.
But it is not that simple; because not only is there the first number telling you how many people favor and how many oppose the issue, there is also the second number, and often a fifth or sixth number.
For it is not just a random survey of people, the survey is then broken down into what men think about the issue, and how women think about the issue. Then the poll is broken down into political parties; then it is broken down by ethnicity; then it is broken down by age; then it is broken down by income.
And pretty soon, a simple poll designed to tell you how people feel about an issue, is not so simple at all.
But then again, the same questions come up on the customer survey when you buy a product; the same questions come up when you fill out a census form; the same questions come up in one way or another every single day.
And pretty soon, we begin to actually take these distinctions seriously.
A college looks at the number of men and women on campus, and determines it needs more of the other. A business looks at the ethnicity of its clients, and determines that it needs to broaden its appeal. A church looks at the ages of its membership, and decides that it needs to change its mission focus.
Hard to argue with these things sometimes, it is after all to the benefit of others. People benefit when ministries are geared toward them; people prosper when businesses broaden their markets; students excel when there is a proper ratio in place.
But pretty soon, this is the only way things are viewed. Satan distorts our eyes so that all you see around you are ratios and statistics; and soon value is placed entirely on one’s gender, or age, or ethnicity. For you no longer see names and faces, you see numbers and data, and what benefit or risk a person might pose, based on that data.
For Satan, the goal is that you would get so caught up in the numbers, and that you would forget about the Gospel.
For what do you see when someone walks through the door? Do you see someone based on their income or their gender? Do you see someone based on their age, or even on their family? What piece of data ultimately tells you if this is someone who needs to hear the Gospel or not?
For that is how the world looks at you. You are nothing more than a statistic, a ratio, a demographic that is to be dissected and analyzed and scrutinized; with no amount spared in the hopes that you can be deciphered.
And what does Satan do with you after all this scrutiny? What does the world do with all the data that it collects and studies about you and what you like and what you don’t like?
It throws it away.
Yes in that massive pile of numbers, there are just numbers. When it comes down to it all, Satan would have you believe that you are nothing more than an unnoticed blip on the radar, that is no different from all the other blips on the graph. There is no value, no desire, no need for you; for there are a thousand more like you.
Satan would have you believe that God views you in very much the same way; but is that true?
Not at all.
When God looks at you, sitting in the pews today, or when you are out and about during the course of the week; He does not see you in terms of numbers and graphs and statistics; in fact, God does not even see you for what benefit or hindrance you might be to the Church either; instead He sees you much differently, radically different in fact, in a way that few others even think of when they see you.
The first thing and the only thing that God sees when He looks at you is that you are baptized. That is how believers are classified: as baptized; regardless of age or income or gender or standing; God looks at you as baptized.
And that classification, as baptized, carries with it a very important distinction that matters most to God.
You are one for whom Christ died for. You are one for whom Christ Jesus left the right hand of the throne of God and came into the world to suffer and die and rise for.
Think about that for a minute: when you look in the mirror, you do not see the reflection of one who is old or young; working or retired; you instead see the reflection of one who is baptized.
The same when you see neighbors and friends and strangers; you do not see them for what they do in their daily vocation; nor do you see them for what benefit they might be in the future; instead you see them as baptized children of God; people for whom Christ Jesus came into the world to suffer and die for.
For that is what it is to be baptized.
You are one for whom Christ Jesus came into the world in the Bethlehem manger for; you are one for whom Christ walked the roads of this world for; you are one for whom Jesus allowed Himself to be betrayed into the hands of sinful men for.
You are one for whom Christ Jesus hung upon the cross of Calvary for, so that your sin of dividing up everyone into different categories and classes and groups would be forgiven. Your sin of only seeing people in terms of their pre-determined groupings has been forgiven by Christ’s holy and precious blood and His innocent suffering and death.
When God sees you, He does not see the stain of your sins, for they have been washed away by the blood of Jesus. He does not see your age or gender or social class or any of those other distinctions that the world relies so heavily upon, for in Christ there are no such distinctions, for in Christ, all are made one.
God only sees you as baptized. Baptized in the name of Jesus. Baptized into the death and resurrection of Christ. Baptized and claimed by God as His holy and precious child.
Those other distinctions do not matter to God; all that matters is that He has claimed you as His own, so that you might live and reign with Him in His kingdom for eternity.
How God views you really is that simple.