Sermon Starters

Support and Resources For Pastors and
Christian Ministry Professionals

Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor

First Sunday After Epiphany/
Baptism Of Jesus
Series B

 Option One: "Hearing Voices"
Mark 1:4-11
Rev. Kelly Bedard, M.Div.

(The following outline is based on a homiletical help by Michael Redeker in 
Concordia Journal,
October 2002)

1. Scripture's: (Mark 1:2-3), pointing to John the Baptizer anointed and authentic ministry

2. Baptizer's: pointing to The Anointed and Authentic Minister, Jesus Christ

3. Reason's: pointing to our self-made status and works

4. God's: pointing to Christ's status/work on our behalf; "You're my pride and joy!"


1. What's unique to this text, however, and hence worth emphasizing, is not the repentance we do but what God does for us in Christ Jesus. (Michael Redeker)

2. Nearly every English translation reflects the Greek in that the people "were baptized by him in the Jordan river, confessing their sins." The "baptizing" precedes "confessing" in the translations. The NIV, for whatever reason, switches the order so that "Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River." The emphasis is on the person's act of confessing rather than where it ought to be, namely, on baptism and Christ. (Michael Redeker)

+   +   +

Option #2: "The Day the Heavens Were Opened"
Mark 1:9-11
Rev. Wayne Dobratz, M.Div.

I. Like Israel at the Red Sea, we were trapped on the wrong side 
    A. They were in the wilderness because of sin
    B. Only God could open the way to the other side, v10 (schizoo--"divide, open, rend")

II. Jesus is certified to open the gate
    A. Isaiah’s prayer (Isa 64:1) is answered in Christ’s coming, v10
    B. The Father certifies Jesus’ work in advance--v11 (eudokeo--think well of, approve, have pleasure)
        1. He is the holy only-begotten Son of the Father
        2. His sacrifice will be sufficient for all mankind--cf Heb 7:26, John 1:29

III. He still does open the way today through Baptism--cf Rom 6:4ff; Eph 4:5; Col 2:12; 1 Pet 3:21; Titus 3:4-7


"But now behold how glorious a thing Baptism is, also how sublime a spectacle Christ’s Baptism presented. The heavens opened, the Father’s voice was heard, and the Holy Spirit descended, not as a phantom but in the form and figure of a natural dove. Nor was the Father’s voice an illusion when He pronounced these words from heaven: "This is My beloved Son; with Him I am well pleased." These were real, natural, human words. And this dove, in the form of which the Holy Spirit was seen, was real and natural. Nevertheless, it was the Holy Spirit. All this was done in honor and praise of the Sacrament of Holy Baptism; for this is not a human institution but something sublime and holy. Eminent personages are involved in it: the Father, who bestows and who speaks here; the Son, who receives and is baptized; the Holy Spirit, who hovers above and reveals Himself in the form of a dove. Furthermore, the entire heaven stands ajar. If Baptism were a human act and 

institution, such scenes would not be enacted here." Luther, M. (1999, c1957), Luther's Works, vol 22 : Sermons on the Gospel of St. John: Chapters 1-4 (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed). Luther's Works (Jn 1:35). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.


The hymn writer Nikolaus Herman refers to the angel who guards the gate of paradise in Gen 3:23-24:

He opens us again the door of Paradise today;
The angel guards the gate no more,
To God our thanks we pay,

To God our thanks we pay.


Source: Praise God the Lord, Ye Sons of Men, The Lutheran Hymnal, 105, v. 8

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