Epiphany in Four Parts 02 - Saved through the Flood
Epiphany in Four Parts (02) - Saved through the Flood
Isaiah 43:1- . . . O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.
Psalm 29:10 - The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD sits enthroned as king forever.
Luke 3:22 - And the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased."
Acts 8:17 - Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
Explanation - As we noted last week, Epiphany is a cluster of revealings resulting in light to the nations. This Sunday emphasizes the Baptism of the Lord. We see refracted in our four texts the Light that has come culminating in Baptism, first of Jesus, then the Samaritans.
Exposition - 1) Like much of Isaiah 40-65, ch. 43 speaks of the return of Israel to the Land. The imagery is a gauntlet through which they pass. They shall pass through the water and fire without harm as their offspring return and are gathered. 2) Psalm 29 extolls God’s power in the language of a great storm with a repeated reference to His sovereignty over the waters. “The voice of the LORD is over the waters. . . .over mighty waters” (v3) and “He is enthroned over the flood” (v10). 3) The baptism of Jesus in Luke 3 emphasizes the Spirit of God anointing Jesus and the resulting declaration of sonship of Jesus (Lk. 3:22). 4) Acts 8:14-17 explains the conversion of the Samaritans. While they had accepted the Word (v14), they did not receive the Spirit until Peter and John laid their hands on them. Non-Jews received the Spirit just as Jewish believers (cf. Acts 10-11 also).
Exhortation - The beautiful thread that is woven in the texts above is the grand story of the Bible: creation, fall, redemption and kingdom. In this case it is seen in the lens of Baptism. Like Israel we have been exiled due to our sins. Yet God did not leave us there but calls back into the Land, through the water and the purifying fire because, “I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine” (Is. 43:1). Just because of God’s covenantal power and purpose, the destroying flood will not overwhelm us but we shall be saved through it (Ps. 29:10). When true Israel, Jesus Himself, crosses the Jordan river and is anointed and empowered in the declaration of sonship (Lk. 3:22), this opens the way for all who follow Him to also receive this sonship (Jn. 1:12-13). This even includes the Samaritans. They too received the Spirit just as the Jews of Jerusalem. The nations shall be washed, clothed and made sons of God. We are thus set apart as His baptized children. We have a Father, we have the Spirit, we have been protected through the flood through the Son.
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more