Baptism is a Divine Work, Not a Human One

Epiphany 2 Tuesday

John 1:32-33

“And John testified and said: I saw how the Spirit descended like a dove and remained on him. And I did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me: He on whom you will see the Spirit descend and remain, he is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. “

Just look at the great glory baptism has! Look what a lofty thing it is that, when Christ was baptized, heaven opened up, the Father makes his voice heard, and the Holy Spirit descends, not like a ghost, but in the form and appearance of a natural dove. Likewise, the Father’s voice also was not a ghost when he says these words: “This is my dear Son with whom I am well pleased.” These were true, natural, and human words. Likewise, this dove, in which appearance the Holy
Spirit was seen, was also a true, natural dove, even though it was the Holy Spirit. This all happened to honor and praise the sacrament of holy baptism. For it is not a human work, but a great and holy matter. Exceedingly great persons are involved: The Father who gives speaks here. The Son who receives is baptized. The Holy Spirit who hovers over it appears in the form of a dove. And then there is the heavenly choir of all angels who leap and jump and are happy
because of this baptism. What’s more, the entire heaven is opened wide. Now, if baptism were a human work and doing, such lofty things would not occur here. And let us beware of the Anabaptists and sectarian spirits who speak mockingly of baptism, screaming that it is no more than mere water that helps no one. They look at the holy work like a cow looks at a new barn door. For they see that a poor preacher stands there, or in an emergency even a woman baptizes. This offends them and they say: “What is baptism supposed to be?” They also claim that if you do not believe, you are not baptized. This is why they defile and blaspheme this most worthy sacrament: because they do not look farther than a horse or a cow, that is, they only look to the water. They also see that the preacher and the midwife are lowly people who scoop up water with their hand and pour it out over the child. A sow and a cow see these as well. This drives them mad and they blaspheme baptism. But here it is written that when Christ is baptized, all three persons of the Trinity are present: God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, with all chosen angels, even if no one saw them. Additionally, the heaven was wide open. Indeed, God Father, Son, and Holy Spirit still stand daily by our baptism. Other than that, there were few
persons around when Christ was baptized; and there was no big outward pomp. The baptizing hand of John the Baptist was there, but also the heavenly hosts of the angels were there. Since it is a divine work that God himself carries out, and the three high persons of the Godhead are there, we are to hold baptism high and honor it, saying: Baptism was not invented by a human being, but was instituted by God. It is not mere water, but water that has God’s Word in and with
it. And this Word turns this water into the bath of souls and a bath of renewal.

St. Louis ed., 7:1729-1731.

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