The Sermon Notes of Harold Buls

The Sermon Notes of Harold Buls

On the Gospel Lessons of the Ingrian Lutheran Church of Russia

Text from Matthew 3:11-12

Epiphany I

1. Epiphany means "manifestation." The word occurs six times in the New Testament. At II Timothy 1:10 it speaks of Jesus' first coming. At II Thessalonians 2:8; I Timothy 6:14; II Timothy 4:1 and 8; and Titus 2:13 it speaks of Jesus' final coming on Judgment Day. In the church calendar Epiphany is a fixed festival, January 6. Today's text speaks of the appearance of John the Baptist and Jesus. The number of Sundays in the Epiphany Season depends on the date of Easter which is a moveable festival. Traditionally, Epiphany commemorates the coming of the wisemen, Matthew 2:1-11. For some Christians it commemorated also the birth of Jesus.

2. Both John the Baptist and Jesus appeared as a result of Old Testament prophecies. John was prophesied at Isaiah 40:3-5 and Malachi 3:1a and 4:5-6. Jesus was prophesied hundreds of times in the Old Testament from Genesis 3:15 to Malachi 3:1b- 5.

3. Elizabeth and Mary were kinsmen, Luke 1:36. We do not know exactly what their relationship was. But, in any case, John and Jesus were also kinsmen.

4. John the Baptist was six months older than Jesus, Luke 1:26. Bible scholars are of the opinion that Jesus began His public ministry also about six months after John the Baptist began his ministry.

5. The Ceremonial Law in the Old Testament foreshadowed Christ. It covered the Sabbath Day, the Levitical Priesthood and the sacrifices, etc. Christ fulfilled the Ceremonial Law, Colossians 2:16-17. So far as we know, John the Baptist said nothing about the Ceremonial Law. He was on the threshold of the New Testament, introduced Christian baptism and stressed Christ, the fulfillment of the Ceremonial Law.

6. Today's text, Matthew 3:11-12, shows us the contrast between the person of John the Baptist and the person of Jesus Christ. There is no contrast between the baptism of John and the baptism of Jesus. At Ephesians 4:5 Paul says: "There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism." Likewise the Nicene Creed professes "one baptism for the forgiveness of sins." The charismatics claim to have a "second baptism of the Holy Spirit." That is not found in the Bible. They claim that at Acts 19:1-7 Luke describes a rebaptism. Such a word does not occur in the Bible. Read Acts 18:24 to 19:7 in one reading. Apollos, who knew only the baptism of John, was instructed by Aquila and Priscilla more precisely concerning the way of God. In this context that means that they told Apollos about Jesus who fulfilled what John the Baptist foretold. Note carefully that nothing is said about him being baptized again. He had been baptized with the baptism of John. That was sufficient. It forgave his sins. Then, at Ephesus Paul found disciples who had been baptized with the baptism of John but who did not even know that there was a Holy Spirit. Their baptism was evidently a false baptism, not the true baptism of John. Paul explained: "John baptized a repentance baptism, saying to the people that they believe in the Christ who was coming." They had not even heard of Christ, the very heart of John's preaching and baptism. When these disciples heard this they were baptized, not REbaptized. The text says that they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. That was also what John the Baptist did. Matthew 3:11-12 distinguishes _persons_, not _baptisms_.

7. It is clear from Matthew 3:11 and Acts 19 that the Holy Spirit came through Christ, not through John the Baptist. But the Holy Spirit came through the baptism of John. Titus 3:5 calls baptism: "The washing of rebirth and renewal of the Holy Spirit." There is only _one_ baptism. John's baptism bestowed forgiveness of sins and the Holy Spirit.

8. Like Elijah, John the Baptist dressed very simply. See II Kings 1:8. Both Elijah and John were preachers of repentance. Jesus said at Matthew 17:12 that Elijah had already come. He was referring to John the Baptist. Elijah and John dressed very simply and lived on very little. Their life was a living example of repentance. Jesus was not a pauper but He lived a very frugal life. The Kingdom of God does not consist of earthly things and wealth. It is spiritual.

The Sermon Outline of Harold Buls

On the Gospel Lessons of the Ingrian Lutheran Church of Russia

Text from Matthew 3:11-12

Epiphany I

THEME: John The Baptist And Jesus


Luke 3:15 tells us that John spoke the words of our text when the people asked him whether he was the Christ. John 1:24 tells us that John spoke these words when the Pharisees asked: "Why, then, do you baptize if You are not the Christ, nor Elijah nor the Prophet?" All four Evangelists have preserved John's answer (see also Mark 1:7-8). Evidently John was asked often about his person and his baptism. And, evidently, he testified again and again. That's what the Lord expects of us. And our testimony should consistently be the same all the time.




John the Baptist is our model of humility and confession.

This text was converted to ascii format for Project Wittenberg by Cindy A. Beesley and is in the public domain. You may freely distribute, copy or print this text. Please direct any comments or suggestions to: Rev. Robert E. Smith of the Walther Library at Concordia Theological Seminary.


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