Sermon Starters

Support and Resources For Pastors and
Christian Ministry Professionals

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

The Baptism Of Our Lord/Epiphany
Series B

Option #1: "The Day the Heavens Were Opened"
Mark 1:9-11
Rev. Wayne Dobratz, B.A., 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." 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's Works, vol 22.

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.
"Praise God the Lord, Ye Sons of Men," The Lutheran Hymnal, 105, v8
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For just a moment, I’d like you to imagine the day of your Baptism. See yourself in a white Baptismal dress (like this one). Now imagine hearing the song that the congregation is singing as you are brought forward: Dearest Jesus, we are here, gladly your command obeying. With this child we now draw near, in accord with your own saying. That to you it shall be given as a child and heir of heaven.

They were singing that about YOU! Now don’t turn off your imagination quite yet. Who do you suppose is here for your Baptism? Can you name someone? (Ask for names)

I think you forgot someone. Any idea who? Yes, you did forget someone. What did the pastor say when you were baptized? I baptize you in the name of... (you finish it)

Wow! God himself was at your Baptism, making you his own dear Child. The Father was there--he created you. The Son was there--He died for your sins and rose again. The Spirit was there--he gave you God’s Word to learn and to live by.

God is still with you in your life; you can turn your back on Him, but that would not be a good idea. After all, he loves you and wants only what is best for you. And He wants you to enjoy eternal life!

That is what your Baptism means to you!


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Option #2: "God's All Wet!"
Mark 1:4-11
Rev. Kelly Bedard, B.A., M.Div.


Point: We're God's pride and joy!


Problem: We tear Him apart by our unrepentance and unforgiveness.

Promise: Jesus was torn apart by and for us and for our sins and now gifts us with Baptism and Spirit.
1. What's unique...and hence worth emphasizing [in this text] 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)



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