First Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A

baptism-of-christ-xx-francesco-alban1The Baptism of our Lord

The Testimony of God

The Epiphany Season has to do with God manifesting himself or revealing himself to humankind. In today’s Gospel reading God the Father leaves no doubt about who Jesus is and how he feels about his Son.  We read:

And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”

This testimony echoes the testimony found in the Book of Isaiah:

Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen, in whom my soul delights;

I have put my spirit upon him;
he will bring forth justice to the nations.

The testimony of God is powerful. By his voice God spoke the universe into existence. The psalmist wrote:

The voice of the Lord is upon the waters;
the God of glory thunders;
the Lord is upon the mighty waters.

The voice of the Lord is a powerful voice;
the voice of the Lord is a voice of splendor.

The testimony of God far outweighs any human testimony. Because he had a testimony directly from the Father, Jesus did not need any human testimony to establish who he is. He understood that such testimony was not reliable. We read in the Gospel of John:

When he was in Jerusalem during the Passover festival, many believed in his name because they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part would not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to testify about anyone; for he himself knew what was in everyone.   (John 2:23-35)

Jesus had the testimony of God the Father and he also proved himself by the works which the Father gave him to accomplish. In the First Epistle of John we read:

If we receive human testimony, the testimony of God is greater; for this is the testimony of God that he has testified to his Son. Those who believe in the Son of God have the testimony in their hearts. Those who do not believe in God have made him a liar by not believing in the testimony that God has given concerning his Son.   (1 John 5:9-10)

One of the great misunderstandings of the Gospel for many people is that the testimony of the Father concerning Jesus is also his word for us. Do we understand that the same powerful testimony which the Father gave to his Son at the time of his baptism, the Father also gives to us? He tells us that he is well pleased with us.

In this life many people will attempt to define us. Some will accuse us falsely. What anyone might say cannot compare to the testimony of  God the Father. There will come a time when false testimonies will cease. We read in the Book of Revelation:

And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and thepower of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.   (Revelation 12:10)

Do we believe the testimony of God concerning Jesus? If so, what is our testimony today concerning Jesus? Jesus said:

“Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.   (Matthew 10:32-33)

Do we believe the testimony of God concerning us? If so, let us hold onto his testimony. Jesus came to die for us so that the Father’s testimony might hold true regardless of how we have lived our lives to date. And lot us remember this, that Jesus’ testimony before the Father on our behalf never ceases. The author of Hebrews wrote:

He is able for all time to save those who approach God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.   (Hebrews 7:25)

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Filed under Epiphany, homily, Jesus, lectionary, liturgical preaching, liturgy, preaching, Revised Common Lectionary, sermon, Year A

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