When the night has come and the land is dark…No I won’t be afraid Just as long as you stand, stand by me. (“Stand by Me” – Ben E. King)
Jesus always embraces, welcomes, and forgives sinners. It is His association with, as well as compassion and love towards sinners that is most scandalous to the world. He runs after the doubters, the unbelievers, the sinners. Jesus goes after the poor, the lost, the sick, and the dead. They are the reason that Jesus came.
I am the reason Jesus came. I am the poor, the lost, the sick, and the dead in my sinful nature. In the waters of my baptism, it was Jesus who went after me and grabbed hold of me. I was embraced, welcomed, and forgiven by water connected to the Word. My spiritual poverty was filled with the riches of Christ. I was given a gift wrapped in water. I was eternally washed with Christ and a new identity was given to me. Christ placed His faithful Name on me in Holy Baptism and I belong to Him.
I have been adopted, purchased, and placed under the protection of the Good Shepherd. Martin Luther writes in the Large Catechism, “He has taken us as His own property under His shelter and protection so that He may govern us by His righteousness, wisdom, power, life, and blessedness.” All of the blessings of Psalm 23 are mine through the gift and promise given to me in my baptism. The Lord has made me His sheep through the water and the Word. I lack nothing because Jesus gave me everything, He gave even His own life for me and to me. He refreshes, forgives, and keeps my soul. He governs me by His righteousness that He has given to me. His goodness and love will follow me and run after me all the days of my life because I belong to Christ. His goodness and love will always stand by me.
The promise of baptism is a Jesus who stands by me. The promise is that Jesus will always be faithful though I am faithless (2 Timothy 2:13). He wrapped Himself around me in the waters of my baptism and took my sins from me giving me His righteousness. The promise is that “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). He has promised He will never leave me and God cannot lie.
“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me” (Psalm 23:4). Even though the darkness of my flesh, the world, and the devil come against me, I will not fear because I am baptized and so I belong to Christ. I have been clothed with Christ (Galatians 3:27). I have died with Christ and have been raised with Him (Romans 6:4). My sin has been answered for in my Savior’s life and death for me. When the night comes, when fears, doubts, and sin threaten me, I will fear no evil for my Savior is with me. Jesus will eternally stand by me.
Kathy Strauch is a member of Faith Lutheran Church in Troy, Michigan and is a graphic designer.