Tuesday March 19, 2019
Today’s Focus The Sacrament of Holy Baptism
Today’s Scripture Reading Acts 8:26-40
As for Philip, an angel of the Lord said to him, “Go south[b] down the desert road that runs from Jerusalem to Gaza.” 27 So he started out, and he met the treasurer of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under the Kandake, the queen of Ethiopia. The eunuch had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and he was now returning. Seated in his carriage, he was reading aloud from the book of the prophet Isaiah.
29 The Holy Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and walk along beside the carriage.”
30 Philip ran over and heard the man reading from the prophet Isaiah. Philip asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?”
31 The man replied, “How can I, unless someone instructs me?” And he urged Philip to come up into the carriage and sit with him.
32 The passage of Scripture he had been reading was this:
“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter.
And as a lamb is silent before the shearers,
he did not open his mouth.
33 He was humiliated and received no justice.
Who can speak of his descendants?
For his life was taken from the earth.”[c]
34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, was the prophet talking about himself or someone else?” 35 So beginning with this same Scripture, Philip told him the Good News about Jesus.
36 As they rode along, they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “Look! There’s some water! Why can’t I be baptized?”[d] 38 He ordered the carriage to stop, and they went down into the water, and Philip baptized him.
39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away. The eunuch never saw him again but went on his way rejoicing. 40 Meanwhile, Philip found himself farther north at the town of Azotus. He preached the Good News there and in every town along the way until he came to Caesarea.
Daily Reflection Luther’s “The Sacrament of Holy Baptism”
What is Baptism?
- Baptism is not simply plain water. Instead, it is water used according to God’s command and connected with God’s word.
What then is this word of God?
- Where our Lord Jesus Christ says in Matthew 28 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
What gifts or benefits does baptism Grant?
- It brings about forgiveness of sins, redeems from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe it, as the words and promise of God declare.
What are these words and promises of God?
- Where our Lord Christ says in Mark 16, “The one who believes and is baptized will be saved, but the one who does not believe will be condemned.”
How can water do such great things?
Clearly the water does not do it, but the word of God, which is with and alongside the water, and faith, which trusts this word of God in the water. For without the word of God the water is plain water and not a baptism, but with the word of God it is a baptism, that is, a grace-filled water of life and a “Bath of the new birth in the Holy Spirit,” as St. Paul say to Titus in chapter 3, “through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This Spirit He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is sure.”
What then is the significance of such a baptism with water?
It signifies that the old person in us with all sins and evil desires to be drowned and die through daily sorrow for sin and through repentance, and on the other hand that daily a new person is to come forth and rise up to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.
Where is this written?
St. Paul says in Romans 6, “We have been buried with Christ by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”
Some questions for reflection
- Do you suppose the fact that the person baptized in this Scripture based on where he is from and what he does is significant to your understanding of baptism?
- Luther describes a “rebirth” occurring through baptism; how does your own understanding of baptism work when it comes to “rebirth?”
- Do you believe there has to be any “foreknowledge” before a person is baptized?
Today’s discipleship challenge
Have a discussion with someone you care about on the topic of baptism. Share with this person in your own words; what baptism means for you personally and why you think it is important/or not important.
Gracious Lord, we give You thanks that through water and the Holy Spirit You give us new birth, cleanse us from sin, and raise us to eternal life. Sustain us with the gift of Your Holy Spirit; the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord, the spirit of joy in Your presence, both now and forever. Amen.