Old Testament: Genesis 1:1-5 (The Baptism of Our Lord: Series B)

Reading Time: 4 mins

Just as God brought life from the chaotic formless waters at creation, so He brought life from the waters of the Jordan for you in Christ.

There is a curious detail about our reading which is often overlooked. For this reason, you can use the “Lowry Loop Structure” for this sermon to help highlight the connection between the liturgical theme of the day to the text for the day through Christ.[1] This critical detail is actually the key to uniting the work of God in creation to the work of God in baptismal regeneration through Jesus. Arthur Just Jr., in his Luke commentary, does a masterful job of explain this curious detail:

“In the record of the first creation, each of the first six days closed with the notice that, “There was evening and there was morning” (Genesis 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31). The sequence of darkness and light signified the completion of each day. But on the seventh day, the day of Sabbath rest, there is no concluding notice of evening and morning (Genesis 2:1–3). That lack of closure leaves the first creation open-ended. God had finished His work, but God did not forever cease all activity. The rest of Genesis, and indeed the entire canon, witnesses to God’s continuing involvement in earthly history and human affairs. In a Sabbath controversy over Jesus’ “work” of healing on a Sabbath, Jesus Himself affirms that God keeps working, even on the Sabbath: “My Father until now is working, and I am working” (John 5:17). The work that the Father and the Son continue to do—even on the Sabbath—is the work of re-creation, restoration, and redemption.


In the crucifixion account in the gospel of Luke, it brings up something that was happening which threatened the very existence of creation. Luke reports how the sun “failed” (23:45). The darkness is a sign that evil is threatening to destroy God’s creation and revert it to chaos.


In the first creation, “Darkness was over the face of the deep” (Genesis 1:2). God then created light, which was “good,” and separated the light from the darkness (Genesis 1:3–5). As Jesus, the source of life and light, dies, the sun, the source of natural light, fails to carry out its divine mandate to distinguish between night and day, darkness and light, and to rule over the day (Genesis 1:14–18). Instead, day and night are confused, confounded, and darkness usurps the rule of the sun as evil reigns over good—temporarily. Creation’s bondage to sin and the curse of death, which Jesus had been absorbing into His flesh since His conception and bearing with Him publicly since His baptism, is now completely laid upon Him to do its destructive work. All demon possession, all sickness, all sin, all death is now placed upon Jesus.


Yet the Creator, who took on flesh and was born into his creation, is, at this moment of death, bringing in new and eternal life, a new creation. A new and eternal day, a dawn from on high, is about to break forth and shine forever on those who dwell in “darkness and the shadow of death” (Luke 1:78–79).

A new and eternal day, a dawn from on high, is about to break forth and shine forever on those who dwell in “darkness and the shadow of death.”-Arthur Just

Here during Jesus’ crucifixion, the darkness signals the imminent conclusion of God’s work of redemption. In the cosmic history of the first creation, the three hours of darkness provide the closure to the Sabbath of Genesis 2:1–3. The history of the first creation draws to a close. With Jesus’ death the old order succumbs to the curse of death brought on by Adam’s sin. At the same time, Jesus’ work of atonement is completed, and He is about to enter into His own Sabbath rest (Luke 23:54, 56). God’s provision for His new creation is completed; the new order is ready to shine forth, and it will do so with the first morning light of Easter. Together, darkness and light—the three hours of darkness while Jesus is on the cross and the brilliant light of Easter morning—inaugurate the new creation, the eternal Sabbath rest (σαββατισμός) for the people of God (Hebrews 4:9–10). The new day of Sabbath rest has that beginning, but it will have no end. In the eschaton there will be no darkness, only light (Revelation 21:23–25).[2]

It is clear that the work of God in creation is connected to the work of Jesus in redemption. But how does it connect to the waters of baptism for us? Just as God brought life from the chaotic formless waters at creation, so He brought life from the waters of the Jordan for you in Christ. When Christ was baptized, He went into the water to pick us up. When you are baptized, you are baptized into Christ. The very same Christ who accomplished something for you on Calvary is the Christ who delivers that work to you in the waters of your baptism. If the question becomes: How do we get from the waters of creation to the death and resurrection of Jesus in the waters of our baptism? The Apostle Paul has the answer in Romans 6:3-6:

“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His.”

The Baptism of our Lord brings the benefits of His shed blood and third day resurrection to you as a gift in the waters of your baptism. Your old life, defined by the old creation which was stained by sin and the power of the Law, is made new and you are recreated in His forgiveness through Jesus’ third day resurrection for you.


Additional Resources:

Craft of Preaching-Check out out 1517’s resources on Genesis 1:1-5.

Concordia Theology-Various helps from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO to assist you in preaching Genesis 1:1-5

Text Week-A treasury of resources from various traditions to help you preach Genesis 1:1-5.

Lectionary Kick-Start-Check out this fantastic podcast from Craft of Preaching authors Peter Nafzger and David Schmitt as they dig into the texts for this Sunday!


[1] https://concordiatheology.org/sermon-structs/dynamic/narrative-structures/lowry-loop/

[2] Arthur A. Just Jr. Luke 9:51–24:53, Concordia Commentary. Saint Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 1997. 941–942.