In our sermon text today, the Lord promises to come in great glory and terror and judgment. The day of the Lord will come and men flee and tremble. The earth shakes mightily, and the glory of the majesty of the Lord shines forth in splendor casting down all the high things, all the pride and haughtiness of men. When God draws near there are thunders and lightening and earthquakes and great terrors.
But then God draws near in Jesus, and He’s a baby lying in a manger. Then he’s itinerate preacher rabbi like many others, and then he’s crucified on a Roman cross like thousands of other Jewish men in the first century. Of course, we can point to a number of rather extraordinary things about the life of Christ as well. There were angels announcing his birth, a voice from heaven at his baptism, numerous miracles, and of most importantly his resurrection from the dead. There were thunders and earthquakes at various points throughout His life and ministry. But it is not hard to imagine many Jews being perplexed looking at the descriptions in the prophets and then back at the Jewish carpenter in front of them saying, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven…” And “do not resist an evil man…” And “bless those who curse you….”And “love your enemies…”
Hebrews says that this New Covenant shaking in Jesus is a fulfillment of Haggai, another prophet who speaks of the Lord shaking the earth. He writes: For thus says the Lord of hosts: Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations,’ and I will fill this temple with glory, says the Lord of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, says the Lord of hosts. The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,’ says the Lord of hosts. (Hag. 2:6-9)
The covenant is the greater glory that Haggai foretold. But greater glory isn’t necessarily bigger and more obnoxious sound effects. This greater glory is a deeper and more intense glory. And it does shake heaven and earth, but part of the glory is in the wonder of it all. In one sense, someone might have seen a little baby in a manger 2000 years ago and been a little disappointed comparing that scene to the descriptions of the prophets, though we know there were plenty of other indicators. But from our vantage, we can look back and unmistakable see the explosion that was detonated in that Bethlehem manger. What looked like an ordinary child, a nondescript man, another Roman crucifixion has in fact turned the world upside down. That spark has burst into a blaze that has begun to fill the world.
And all of this may seem rather unrelated to baptism, but the point is exactly the same. God loves to take ordinary looking things and reveal His glory in and through them. He takes weak things and displays His power. And so here this morning, we sprinkle a little water on this little baby’s head, and though it looks ordinary and small and weak, we see God shaking heaven and earth, we see God pulling down the proud and the arrogant, and raising up the humble and weak. We see the terror of God’s majesty shining forth. So Toby and Emily, as you raise David Wallace, the exhortation is twofold: first, believe the gospel, the story of God come for us in deep glory, the glory of a child, the glory of weakness, the glory of humility to save us all. And then teach your son that kind of glory. Model that glory for him in your love and care for one another, in your love and discipline of him. And raise him to love that kind of glory.