Reflections: Wednesday of the 15th Week after Trinity

Today’s Reading: Small Catechism: Baptism, part 3

Daily Lectionary: Deuteronomy 1:1-18; Matthew 5:1-20

How can water do such great things? Certainly not just water, but the word of God in and with the water does these things, along with faith which trusts this word of God in the water. For without God’s word the water is plain water and no Baptism. But with the word of God it is a Baptism, that is, a life-giving water, rich in grace, and a washing of the new birth in the Holy Spirit, as St. Paul says in Titus, chapter three: “He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying.” (Small Catechism: Baptism)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. When Naaman dipped himself in the waters of the Jordan, he was healed of his skin disease (2 Kings 5). How could water do such a great thing?

Ironically, the same Protestants who scoff at Baptism and wonder how water could ever do such great things treat the muddy water of the Jordan River with special reverence (or rather, superstition). They seem to think that the Jordan River is something special, something holy. Many long to be baptized in the Jordan and countless tourists have filled small bottles with water from the Jordan to take to their homes.

We know that the water of the Jordan is just water, no different than the water in your tap. You won’t find any fountain of youth or water with any kind of magical properties. Water is just water.

How did the Jordan heal Naaman? God connected a promise to the Jordan: “Dip yourself in the Jordan and be healed.” The Word of God is effective and does what it says.

In the same way, the Lord connects His promises to the waters of Baptism. He promises that Baptism will wash away your sins (Acts 22:16), crucify and bury you with Christ (Romans 6:3), give you new life (Titus 3:5-8), make you a disciple (Matthew 28:19), and save you (Mark 16:16). Faith believes the promise and receives what was promised in Baptism. It’s as simple as that. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

The gifts flow from the font Where He calls us His own; New life He gives that makes us His and His alone. Here He forgives our sins With water and the Word; The triune God Himself Gives pow’r to call Him Lord. (“The Gifts Christ freely Gives” LSB 602, st.2)

-Pastor Alexander Lange is pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Albany, Oregon.

Audio Reflections Speaker: Rev. Duane Bamsch

Study Christ’s words on the cross to see how you can show more Christlike grace in your life. Perfect for group or individual study, each chapter has a Q&A at the end, and the back of the book includes a leader guide. Available now from Concordia Publishing House.