In between the storms, some folks try to wash their cars. It lasts a couple or three days, then back under the rain/snow/ice we go. Can you imagine going into a car wash clean, then coming out dirty? Maybe there was a malfunction. Maybe the hose was clogged, but usually, the dirty, salt-encrusted vehicle comes out with a cleaner look than before it went in. This last Sunday we celebrated as a church, the Baptism of Jesus, which is like the clean car coming out dirtier than the dirtiest it could have been. It went sort of like this: Jesus comes to be Baptized by His kinsman, John the Baptizer, and John, fully aware that he, John, is the sinner and that his Kinsman, Jesus, is not a sinner. So John tries to have Jesus Baptize him, but Jesus tells John to Baptize Jesus, so that all righteousness will be fulfilled. Jesus in essence was telling John that Jesus was beginning His ministry, and here, at the muddy Jordan, Jesus was identifying Himself with every person of every time and place--doing all the righteousness for them. Jesus was obeying and fulfilling all the Law for each person who was unable to do so--not even in any way to earn salvation. Jesus becomes our substitute, and here at the Jordan, Jesus begins the ministry that will culminate in His triumph on the cross of punishment for all people. Jesus is Baptized as though He is the great sinner above all of us, and it is as though He enters into the Jordan clean and comes out dirty. Not with just the dirt of a dirty river, but with the filth of millions of people on Him. Jesus takes our sin away, but He is covered with our sin before He is nailed to the cross. A washing for Him is an exchange of our filth for His perfect righteousness. He fulfills all righteousness for us in our place. He is our righteousness. John's Baptism is not Jesus' Baptism of Matthew 28:19, but John's points to Jesus. Jesus' Baptism is where water and Word meet upon a person to drown the old sinfulness within so that a new person rises from the Baptism, holy, righteous and forgiven. Jesus' Baptism unites us into God's holy family called the Church. We don't stop there but we find rest, comfort and peace from God in our new family, which lasts forever. All this from a simple Water and Word Baptism from Jesus Christ.ย