Holy Baptism—How can water do such great things?
In the water is God’s Word or command and God’s name. His name is a treasure greater and nobler than heaven and earth.
Baptism is quite a different thing from all other water. This is not because of its natural quality but because something more noble has been added here. God Himself stakes His honor, His power, and His might on it. Therefore, Baptism is not only natural water, but a divine, heavenly, holy, and blessed water, and whatever other terms we can find to praise it. This is all because of the Word, which is a heavenly, holy Word, which no one can praise enough. For it has, and is able to do, all that God is and can do [Isaiah 55:10-11]. In this way it also gets its essence as a Sacrament, as St. Augustine also taught, “When the Word is joined to the element or natural substance, it becomes a Sacrament,” that is, a holy and divine matter and sign.
—Large Catechism, Part 4:16-8
You must honor Baptism and consider it glorious because of the Word. For God Himself has honored it both by words and deeds. Furthermore, He has confirmed it with miracles from heaven. Do you think that it was a joke that, when Christ was baptized, the heavens were opened and the Holy Spirit descended visibly, and everything was divine glory and majesty [Luke 3:21-22]?
—Large Catechism, Part 4:21
I encourage again that these two—the water and the Word—by no means be separated from each other and parted. For if the Word is separated from it, the water is the same as the water that the servant cooks with. It may indeed be called a bathkeeper’s baptism. But when the Word is added, as God has ordained, it is a Sacrament. It is called Christ’s Baptism.
—Large Catechism, Part 4:22
Lenten Catechesis from Treasury of Daily Prayer © 2008 Concordia Publishing House.
Used with permission.
All rights reserved. www.cph.org
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