Truly truly I say to you, those listening to my word and believing Him who sent me have life eternal and does not come into judgement, but rather has passed from death into life.
Godâ€™s many promises through baptism are a special thing. Paul writes to the Romans (chapter 6) that we are baptised into Jesus Christâ€™s death and so surely now live with Him and await the time when our bodies will too become like His. To fully come into that eternal, limitless life that He has promised right here, those who listening to my word and believing Him who sent me have eternal life. And itâ€™s a very special thing to see God promising these things again in baptism today. A special thing on a special day in the church year, the last Sunday when we look forward to that full realisation of all Godâ€™s promises, the return of Christ Jesus the King. When He comes again and we with all Christians, saints of all time, see our salvation. Free not just from the power of sin and the fear of death, but completely free from all evil, sin, wickedness and living in the full and perfect life that God gave us all by promise through baptism.
In this chapter of Johnâ€™s gospel, Jesus responds to the hatred of those who rejected Him because He spoke of God Almighty as His equal. But as we confessed earlier Jesus is equal with the Father, and the Holy Spirit; and He declares it here too. Jesus is not just a great teacher and holy, righteous man, He is God. Just as the Father wakes the dead and makes them alive, so too does Jesus; The Father has given authority to judge all to Jesus; to honour Jesus is to honour the Father. Jesus is divine, He is one with the Father and the Holy Spirit as the only true, almighty and lifegiving God. And He tells us to listen to Him and believe the one who sent Him. Each and every one of you, to listen and believe, and what does Jesus tell you?
He tells us that no one is perfect, that we all make mistakes, that you sin and you need help. But itâ€™s not just that, itâ€™s not just a surface thing that we can put off or give up; He tells us through Paul and the Psalmists that no one here on earth seeks for the one true God, there is no one who is righteous no one who understands, all have fallen short and utterly failed (Romans 3:10-18; Psalms 14, 53, 5, 140, 10). A few weeks back we hear Jesusâ€™ words, it is impossible for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God (Mark 10:27), and Paul also tells us that by our own human effort we cannot understand anything of God (1 Corinthians 2:14) that His words are foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:18) He even describes us as dead in trespass and sin, following the course of this world (Ephesians 2:1-3) picking up that imagery from Ezekielâ€™s vision of the valley of dry bones (Ezekiel 37). Truly speaking, without Jesus and the Holy Spirit that is who we are, that is what we are dead and foolish to Godâ€™s wisdom.
And if that was all He said we would be the most pitiable people on the planet. But Jesus, God Himself, did rise from the dead; He is alive! Risen indeed! God created all living things, He makes life from nothing and Jesus too makes life, generates it, is it. Someone with a cold passes on the cold, and someone with and infectious disease passes on that disease and the death that goes with it; but Jesus is the opposite of death, He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life! (John 14:6) Instead of being destroyed by death, He is so much life that death becomes life. He is so holy that instead of being made unclean by touching the diseased He makes them clean, healing and forgiving. In His word He tells us clearly, you were dead, wicked and utterly selfish, but by Godâ€™s power, by His lifegiving you now have true life. Paul writes it like this, all of us who were baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into His death, buried with Him on that Good Friday with sin paid for, destroyed and gone (Romans 6). You were joined together with Jesus in that death He died, so that, just as He was raised from the dead by the glory of The Father, you too might walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4). Joined together with Jesus on the cross and certainly we will be joined together with Him in the resurrection, that new and fulfilled life of divine peace and sinlessness. Dead to sin alive to God in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:11).
Baptism is not just something we do because we listen to Jesus, itâ€™s not just water and itâ€™s not just a once off thing, done, dusted and forgotten. It is where we, by Godâ€™s power, promise and grace, are joined together with Jesus Christ, God become man, the beginning and end of our Christian life and our faith; from creation to the great apocalypse, everything that matters points to Jesus, the one our Heavenly Father sent. And so, you, who are listening to Jesus and are believing The Fatherâ€™s promises are already joined to life eternal, even though you might not always see it. Being joined to Him you also share in His judgement, that has already been paid and resolved, nothing more needs to be said. You have already passed from death into life, dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. So live it by The Spiritâ€™s strength!
Pastor Joseph Graham