The Great Exchange

Luke 3:21-22

[21] Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had
been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened,
[22J and the
Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like
a dove; and a voice

came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

As we hear about the baptism of our Lord, we, like John, don’t
understand why Jesus, who is God in the flesh would need to be
baptized. It all seems backwards to us. He is the sinless One, the
Righteous One, born of a virgin with no Original Sin. That’s why John says
of Jesus” he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I
am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. ”
In other words, John knows as a sinner, he actually needs to be baptized
by Jesus, not the other way around. Nevertheless, Jesus tells John in
Matthew’s account of Jesus’ baptism “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting
us to fulfill all righteousness.” So here, we have the Righteous Son of
God entering into the Jordan, not to be cleansed, but to enter into your
sin and mine, to become the great sinner for you. To take upon Himself
the sin of the world. This is what Paul speaks about in 2 Cor. 5:21, where
we hear that,

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we
might become the righteousness of God. ” In other words, all that is yours,
Jesus took upon Himself, and all that is His, righteousness, forgiveness,
life and salvation is yours by gift. By His baptizing you into His name.
Luther called this the Great Exchange. For not only did Jesus take upon
human flesh at His conception and birth, but at His baptism, He was
actually baptized into the sin of the whole world, so that He could then
give you His righteousness, received by faith. He was baptized into your
sin. This is why John says of Jesus, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes
away the sin
of the world!” Just as your sins are His, so is His
righteousness yours.


In addition, we see all 3 persons of the Trinity here in our Lord’s
baptism. Jesus is being baptized, the heavens are opened up, and the
Holy Spirit, descends in bodily form, like a dove upon Jesus, and the
Father speaks, “<‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased. II

So often we speculate about what God thinks about us, or even perhaps if
He thinks about us at all. We are after all sinners, who are guilty both by
birth and by choice of all the commandments. To be sure, we can’t even
keep the first one. WE have many other gods, many other things that we
fear love and trust besides the Lord. So suffice it to say, we usually
speculate that God is mad at us. That He’s against us. Here to punish us,
for by the Law which is spoken to us, and even that which is written even
on our hearts, we know our guilt. We are not just imperfect, or mistake
prone, but we are tainted through and through with Original Sin. We are
conceived and continue in sin, and we don’t seek God, none of us do, for
we are dead in our trespasses and sins. Jesus came, however, not for the
righteous, but for sinners he tells us. Not for the healthy but for the sick,
for the poor in spirit, for those who mourn, those who are beggars in
desperate need of saving, in need of our sins removed, forgiven. He sent
his son, into the world not to condemn it, but that through Christ’s
shedding of His own blood on the cross for us, we would be saved. The
spoken word of the Father at Jesus’ baptism is definitely directed at
Jesus, II “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased. II, but by the
gift of Christ’s Gospel it’s also our word, it’s a word for you. So today, for
the baptized, the one who has been brought out of darkness and into His
marvelous light, that same word of the Father spoken to Jesus is yours. All
that is Christ’s, including the pleasure of His Father, is now yours by grace
or gift, through faith. You can rightly and certainly know that on account
of, or because of the work of Jesus for you and the gift of Jesus to you,
you are His, and therefore the Father is certainly pleased with you,
because you are Christ’s own. And the Father is well pleased with the Son.
Jesus has put His name upon you, as His own baptized child, therefore,
the Father delights in you too.


For the most part, growing up in the Baptist church, although I had
read about and knew about Jesus being baptized, it was never anything
that was emphasized or really even explained. Even though it is
mentioned in all 3 synoptic Gospels or Matthew, Mark & Luke, as well as
referred to in John’s Gospel, it was not really a point of emphasis, and

was even overlooked. Jesus’ baptism was seen and taught as Him being
our example, but nothing was really accomplished. In other words, I was
taught that you should be baptized, because Jesus was baptized and you
should obey and do what He did. There was no gift in this however. I had
an understanding that baptism was something that I did, not a gift to be
received as our Lord clearly teaches. Baptism, including the Baptism of
our Lord was Law and not Gospel. In fact, I didn’t know that baptism
actually did anything but it was just an act of obedience, something
among a long list of commands I was just supposed to do, in obedience. It
was important, but it didn’t give anything, and didn’t DO anything. I then
read carefully every verse about baptism I could find, and by God’s grace,
it became so very clear that baptism itself was an incredible gift, it was the
Gospel of Jesus for me, as the Scriptures teach and Peter says baptism
NOW saves you. What Jesus won on the cross, is actually, truly, certainly
and fully given to us in baptism. Although a pastor may speak the words
and pour the water, it is actually Jesus Himself who does the baptizing,
does the saving, does the forgiving, does the rescuing. We need someone
to do this for us, since we are unable to save ourselves, unable to repent,
unable to clean ourselves up, and that’s exactly what Jesus does through
the means, or with the gift of baptism. You are cleansed, you are
righteous, because the Jesus became the greatest sinner in your place,
paying the penalty. receiving God’s judgement for you. It is pure gift,
absolute forgiveness, pure Gospel.

And so we now have the connection between Jesus baptism into
your sin and His baptizing you as the One who removes your sin. Jesus,
after being baptized into the your sins, carries them all the way to the
cross, to Good Friday where He is crucified for you. Defeating sin, death,
which is sin’s consequence, and the devil for you. Everything against you


is defeated, because God is FOR you NOT against you. On the 3rd day, He
rose for you and now delivers His victory, where He declared lilt is
finished!” to you in in holy baptism, and all that is Christ’s is now yours. He
fulfilled all righteousness, so that He could give it to you, and you are
righteous and forgiven, His child whom He loves with an everlasting love.
So the same word that says II “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well
II is now your word as Christ’s own baptized, surely and certainly
forgiven and holy, His child from this time forth and forevermore.

In the Name of Jesus, AMEN


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