By Paul Koch

The moment when our Lord steps into the waters of the Jordan River to be baptized by John is of great significance for the understanding of our faith. Here the identity and purpose of our Lord’s arrival come into focus. John the Baptist is doing what his namesake calls for him to do: He is baptizing. He is washing the repentant children of God in the Jordan River as a testimony of their confession of sins and their longing for a new hope in the coming Messiah. Remember, John is preparing the way for the Messiah. He is the voice calling out in the wilderness. Things are going well. People are flocking out to him, to be part of this new thing. But all of it takes a strange turn when Jesus enters into those waters. The people had been entering the water to repent and so be ready to receive the Christ, but why does Jesus enter? What does he have to repent of? What sins does he confess?

By Joel A. Hess

In his argument with Erasmus about free will, Luther makes a profound case for the clarity of Holy Scripture and knowing the mind of God. One of Erasmus’ methods of dismantling Luther’s assertions was to point to the mystery and unknownness of God. He called to his side verses such as Isaiah 40, “Who has known the mind of the Lord?” and Paul’s similar statement that “his judgments are incomprehensible.” (Romans 11:33). At first these words seem to make the case that we should always be wary of ever talking about God as if He is comprehensible. Many quickly shut down any conversation about the interpretation of Scripture by pointing to these verses. How often do aspiring theologians on the airplane conclude their opinions by waxing eloquent about God’s incomprehensibility, pretending to preserve God’s godhood?