On the day of your Baptism.
Philippians 3:8, 14 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Wesley to Buttercup in The Princess Bride- “Life is pain, your highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.”
This is a momentous occasion in your life, Luca. You won’t remember much about it if anything. But something miraculous happened to you today. The Creator of the universe, the One who spoke all things into existence, adopted you into His family. You are His little one, His lamb. He gave you incredible gifts today. I’m sure you’ll get others too from the rest of your family. They will be nice, precious, and special. But I have to say that nothing you get today will compare to the gift of faith that God has given you. Because that gift of faith will be with you for the rest of your life. It won’t fade or break or come unraveled. In the gift of faith comes wrapped up, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will be your guide, your teacher, your comforter, your friend, your advocate, your spokesperson. And in case that wasn’t enough, God also created in you a steadfast, everlasting connection to His Son Jesus Christ. Because of that gift comes all the things that Jesus has done for you. His life, death, resurrection, and ascension all become yours. With that comes the gifts of forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation. Most of these gifts you can’t see. But they are there. Through the gift of faith, they are there. They will always be there. When Jesus was baptized, God said some important words about Him. He said that Jesus was His beloved Son, in whom He was well-pleased. Today, He says these words to you, Luca. “Luca, you are now my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.” Treasure these gifts. Keep them close to your heart. Celebrate them all the time. We’ll help you because we have these gifts too. God gave them to us in our baptisms. Come now, brother, son, grandson, precious gift from God. Let’s rejoice together.
We rejoice because of being wrapped up in the robe of Christ’s righteousness.
We rejoice today because there is already so much sorrow and pain for the rest of the days. There is pain to meet us at every turn. Some of it is because of the sin in the world that has caused such corruption in creation. There is pain because of our own sin, the things we think, say, and do that directly cause someone to be hurt. There is pain because of the devil at work around us, tempting us to embrace the sin that causes such pain. There is enough pain in life. We need time to rejoice.
But even in the very midst of pain, we have cause to rejoice. We don’t rejoice because of the pain. We can rejoice despite the pain. We have the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus, our Lord and not only that, but of being known by Christ Jesus, our Lord. He knows you. He knows you better than you know yourself. He has given you the incredible gift in your own baptisms of the deepest of connections with the Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer of the cosmos.
In this life, we expect pain. We know it’s inevitable. As Ella Fitzgerald sang, “Into every life, a little rain must fall.” There’s no umbrella to protect us from the pain that comes with being human, being alive, and being a sinner. God does not shield us from pain. Once sin became part of the world He created, pain was going to be common. Adam would work and labor painfully for the earth to give any type of growth. Eve would have pain beginning in childbirth. Physical pain is the result of our bodies not working properly, either through sickness or injury. Jesus knew physical pain beyond our abilities. From being beaten, scourged, and crucified. Physical pain reached its limit.
Relational pain comes when people are together. In almost any capacity, when people gather there is going to be pain of one sort or another. When the relationship is broken or strained, people hurt. Jesus knew relational pain greater than any. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Separation from the Father in heaven.
Psychological, emotional pain is so prevalent. We often normalize the horrible behavior of others saying, “That’s just the way they are. They aren’t going to change.” We experience trauma and pain in our hearts as they break. Our spirits can be crushed by the manipulation of others. But this is pain that is hidden. Jesus knew this pain too. As his disciples abandoned him, as the false accusations flew, as the sentence was passed and he was mocked on the cross, his heart broke. He wept for Jerusalem, for Israel, for the nations.
Paul, as he writes in Philippians, knows pain. He’s been beaten, scourged, and left to die in prison. He knows all of the other types of pain too. His people struggle in the churches he served and built. His fellow believers don’t want him around in Jerusalem. Yet… Paul held onto something more.
Everything I’ve been through, everything I’ve had I count as loss, as less, as left behind, exchanged for the greater blessing in knowing Jesus. How much more valuable is the faith of Christ, in Christ, and from Christ to us! How comforting is the prize of life with Christ.