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And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:11 ESV) The transition from Christmas to Epiphany is marked by continuous revelation. What was announced as good news on the hillsides of Bethlehem – the birth of God as Man - is now reversed as this man Jesus is declared to be the Son of God! Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan not only marks the beginning of His public ministry, but also the good news that our baptism is into His beloved relationship with the Father!

Here at International Lutheran Church, we will be reading through the Gospel of Mark this Epiphany season. Mark starts his gospel by clearly defining the focus of his message, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” (Mark 1:1 ESV) Jesus’ identity as the Son of God is revealed again and again from the beginning to the end. In this way Mark helps us to confess with the centurion at the cross, “Truly this man was the Son of God.” (Mark 15:39 ESV)

But the identity of Jesus as the Son of God is more than just a doctrinal statement. This is good news for us, because this Jesus was born, lived, and died for us. His unity with the Father and the Spirit incorporates us into the family of God as we are connected to Him in our baptism into Jesus. Baptism, even Jesus’ baptism, was no ceremony. Our baptism connects us to Jesus in such a way that His death becomes our death, His life becomes our life, just as in His baptism, everything of ours became His.

Why do we baptize today? It is because in baptism we are connected to Him who has overcome our sin and death. He has won victory over sin, death, and the power of the devil and now stands alive forever. In baptism into Jesus, we are promised and receive the forgiveness of sins, eternal life, and salvation, and the same Spirit that descended upon Him in the Jordan. We are declared in baptism beloved children of God, not on our account but on His.

Our identity in the world today as beloved children of God is vital not only for us, but for all. God has chosen to make His Name and Glory seen and experienced in and through our lives. By the way we live, our words and our deeds declare the grace of God as we are renewed each day in our identity in Him. In and through your life and mine, this mystery and glory is shown to all the nations. Let the world hear His voice as we step forth in Him each day.

Pastor Carl