January 6, 2012

Saturday after Epiphany

Lectionary

Morning – Ps. 85, Is. 42:1-9, Mt. 3:13
Evening – Ps. 97& 99, Is 43:1-12, Acts 11:1-18


Commentary, Matthew 3:13-17
Today's commentary comes from the pen of one of God's most able pastors and Bible teachers, Bishop John Charles Ryle, first Bishop of Liverpool, England. Bishop Ryle's comments are taken from his commentary on the Gospels first published in England in 1854, and still in print today.
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"You have here the account of our Lord Jesus Christ's baptism. This was His first step, when He entered on His ministry. When Jewish priests took up their office at the age of 30, they were washed with water. When our great High Priest begins the great work he came into the world to accomplish, he is publicly baptized. Let us learn from these verses to regard the sacrament of baptism with reverence. An ordinance of which the Lord himself partook, is not to be lightly esteemed. An ordinance which the great Head of the Church submitted, ought to be ever honorable in the eyes of professing Christians.

There are few subjects in religion on which greater mistakes have arisen than baptism. There are few which require so much fencing and guarding. Let us arm our minds with two general cautions.

Let us beware on the one hand, that we do not attach a superstitious importance to the water of baptism. We must not expect that water to act as a charm. We must not suppose that all baptized persons as a matter of course receive the grace of God, in the moment that they are baptized. To say that all who come to baptism obtain like an equal benefit, - and that it matters not a jot whether they come with faith and prayer, or in utter carelessness, - to say such things appears to contradict the plainest lessons of scripture.

Let us beware on the other hand, that we do not dishonor the sacrament of baptism. It is dishonored when it is thrust out of sight and never publicly noticed in the congregation. A sacrament ordained by Christ himself ought not to be treated in this way. The admission of every new member into the ranks of the visible church, whether young or grown up, is an event which ought to excite a lively interest in a Christian assembly. It is an event that ought to call forth the fervent prayers of all praying people. The more deeply we are convinced that baptism and grace are not inseparably tied together, the more we ought to feel bound to join in prayer for a blessing whenever any one is baptized.

We are told of the presence of all three persons of the blessed trinity. God the Son, manifest in the flesh, is baptized. God the Spirit descends like a dove, and lights upon Him. God the Father speaks from heaven with a voice. In a word we have the manifested presence of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Surely we may regard this as a public announcement that the work of Christ was the result of the eternal counsels of all Three. It was the whole Trinity which at the beginning of creation said, 'let us make man.' It was the whole Trinity again, which at the beginning of the Gospel seemed to say, 'let us save man.'

May we ponder these words well! They are full of rich food for thought. They are full of peace, joy, comfort and consolation for all who have fled for refuge to the Lord Jesus Christ, and committed their souls to Him for salvation. Such may rejoice in the thought, that though in themselves sinful, yet in God's sight they are counted righteous. The Father regards them as members of His beloved Son. He sees in them no spot, and for His son's sake is "well pleased." (Ephes. i.6.)."