Sermon Outline On Isaiah 43:1-7
But now, this is what the Lord says —
he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead.
Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you,
I will give men in exchange for you, and people in exchange for your life.
Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west.
I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’
Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth–
everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.”
The story of the baptism of Jesus is told in the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). In John’s gospel John the Baptist gives witness to the baptism described by the other gospels, but it does not describe the event.
In all of the accounts of Jesus’ baptism we are told of an epiphany. God is manifested in that place at that time. All accounts tell of the Spirit of God descending like a dove. This year’s focus will be on Luke’s gospel. Luke tells us that the heavens parted and the spirit of God descended like a dove. Luke tells of a voice from heaven saying, ‘You are my son, the beloved; with you I am well pleased.’
But Luke adds something to this story that is not present in the other tellings. Luke says that after Jesus was baptized (not giving any details about the baptism)’“ after Jesus was baptized he prayed. It was during this prayer that the Spirit of God descended like a dove. There were no words about Jesus parting the water as he came up. Luke says Jesus was praying.
We don’t know anything about the content of this prayer. When Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane before his betrayal he prayed, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.’ He gave us the example of praying for God’s will.
Even before this scene of Jesus arrest, John tells us that Jesus prayed for his disciples. In the 17th chapter of John we even find the words of this intercessory prayer offered by Jesus ‘“ this prayer for his disciples.
On the cross we are told that Jesus prayed, ‘Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they do.’ Later on the cross Jesus prays, ‘It is finished.’
But here at his baptism, we are not given the words of the prayer of Jesus that lead to the revelation of God. We don’t know what he said. It may be that following his baptism, Jesus was simply lifting his heart to God. He was surrendering himself to that will of God for which he would later pray. He could have been presenting himself to God in total commitment.
Wesley also considered our sincere desires as prayer. Could it be that Jesus was offering his sincere desires to God. Could he have been offering to God his desire that you and I might come to know God the Father through Jesus the Son.
God calls out, ‘This is my son, the beloved. In him I am well pleased.’ God calls Jesus by a name. He calls him My Son. According to Luke this voice comes to Jesus and not the people. Jesus hears God the Father call him.
Just imagine being at an awards banquet. You are one of several people who are possible recipients of a great honor. Maybe it’s a scholarship. Maybe the employee of the year. Maybe it’s the outstanding citizen award. You just won the publisher’s clearinghouse sweepstakes. What ever the award, how would you feel when your name is announced? What if they called your name? On the day of his baptism, God called Jesus. On the day of your baptism, God called you by name!
In the history of this earth, God has called many. God called Moses to the task of freeing the Hebrew people from Egypt. Jesus called Zacchaeus one day out of a tree that they might fellowship with one another.
In today’s scripture from Isaiah, God called Israel by name. Things looked hopeless and lost after 70 years in Babylon. God said to this nation in exile, ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.’ In the midst of despair, Israel heard God call them by name. God said, ‘I have redeemed you.’ God said, ‘Do not fear.’
It is in our baptism that God calls us by name. In our baptism God redeems us. In our baptism God says to us, ‘Do not fear for you are mine.’ In our baptism God says to us, ‘You are my son. You are my daughter.’ In our baptism we become the adopted children of God Almighty.
The one who created you, the one who formed you has said the waters may be deep and the fires may be hot, but do not fear for I will carry you through. I will take you safely to the other side. I will protect you.
The God who created you has said, ‘You are precious in my sight and I honor you and love you.’
This passage from Isaiah is speaking of an intimate relationship with the Creator of the universe. We are told do not fear by the one who knows each of us by name. In our baptism God has called us by name. To know our name in that Old Testament culture was to know all there is to know about us. God says, ‘I know all there is to know about you and I love you. I honor you. You are precious in my sight.’ That is grace, God’s unmerited love for you and me.
I love that great American theologian, Dennis the Menace. I have shared this one before, but it is worth repeating. In an old a Dennis the Menace cartoon, Dennis and his little friend Joey are leaving Mrs. Wilson’s house, their hands full of cookies.
Joey says, “I wonder what we did to deserve this.”
Dennis answers, “Look, Joey. Mrs. Wilson gives us cookies not because we’re nice, but because she’s nice.”
God loves us not because of who we are, but because of who God is. God loves us not because of who we are, but because of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. God redeemed Israel over and over again. God believes that you and I are also worth redeeming.
Isaiah gives us the hope that we need not fear for God will get us through to the other side. There are times when life seems overwhelming. There are times when we are filled with despair, but Isaiah says to take heart for God is with us. In your baptism, God has called you by name. God has promised never to leave you or forsake you. Deut. 31:6
Isaiah brought good news to the Israelites. Jesus Christ has brought good news to you and me. The question remains, ‘Who will take the good news to those who are hurting and do not know that they are precious and honored in God’s sight?’ Who will share that good news if not you and me?