5Behold, I was brought forth in in- | iquity,*
and in sin did my mother con- | ceive me.
6Behold, you delight in truth in theinward | being,*
and you teach me wisdom in the | secret heart.
7Purge me with hyssop, and I | shall be clean;*
wash me, and I shall be whit- | er than snow.
8Let me hear joy and | gladness;*
let the bones that you have bro- | ken rejoice.
9Hide your face | from my sins,*
and blot out all my in- | iquities.
10Create in me a clean heart, | O God,*
and renew a right spirit with- | in me.
11Cast me not away from your | presence,*
and take not your Holy Spirit | from me.
12Restore to me the joy of your sal- | vation,*
and uphold me with a willing | spirit.
13Then I will teach transgressors | your ways,*
and sinners will re- | turn to you.
Additional Psalm: Psalm 12
Old Testament Reading: Malachi 1:1–14
1The oracle of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi.
The LORD’s Love for Israel
2“I have loved you,” says the LORD. But you say, “How have you loved us?” “Is not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the LORD. “Yet I have loved Jacob 3but Esau I have hated. I have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to jackals of the desert.” 4If Edom says, “We are shattered but we will rebuild the ruins,” the LORD of hosts says, “They may build, but I will tear down, and they will be called ‘the wicked country,’ and ‘the people with whom the LORD is angry forever.’” 5Your own eyes shall see this, and you shall say, “Great is the LORD beyond the border of Israel!”
The Priests’ Polluted Offerings
6“A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the LORD of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. But you say, ‘How have we despised your name?’ 7By offering polluted food upon my altar. But you say, ‘How have we polluted you?’ By saying that the LORD’s table may be despised. 8When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the LORD of hosts. 9And now entreat the favor of God, that he may be gracious to us. With such a gift from your hand, will he show favor to any of you? says the LORD of hosts. 10Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the LORD of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand. 11For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the LORD of hosts. 12But you profane it when you say that the LORD’s table is polluted, and its fruit, that is, its food may be despised. 13But you say, ‘What a weariness this is,’ and you snort at it, says the LORD of hosts. You bring what has been taken by violence or is lame or sick, and this you bring as your offering! Shall I accept that from your hand? says the LORD. 14Cursed be the cheat who has a male in his flock, and vows it, and yet sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished. For I am a great King, says the LORD of hosts, and my name will be feared among the nations.”
New Testament Reading: Matthew 3:1–17
John the Baptist Prepares the Way
1In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” 3For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said,
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord;
make his paths straight.’”
4Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, 6and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
7But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. 9And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 10Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
11“I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
The Baptism of Jesus
13Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 14John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
A person becomes righteous in the sight of God solely by faith… Faith is demanded of us, not in order that there might be at least some little work that we are to do, as otherwise there would be no difference between those who go to hell and those go to heaven. No; righteousness is of faith in order that it may be of grace. Both statements are identical. When I say: “A person becomes righteous in the sight of God by faith,” I mean to say: “He becomes righteous gratuitously, by grace, by God’s making righteousness a gift to him.” Nothing is demanded of the person; he is told: “Stretch out your hand, and you have it.” Just that is what faith is—reaching out the hand. Suppose a person had never heard a word concerning faith and, on being told the Gospel, would rejoice, accept it, put his confidence in it, and draw comfort from it, that person would have the true, genuine faith, although he may not have heard a word concerning faith.
—C. F. W. Walther
To Jordan came the Christ, our Lord,
To do His Father’s pleasure;
Baptized by John, the Father’s Word
Was given us to treasure.
This heav’nly washing now shall be
A cleansing from transgression
And by His blood and agony
Release from death’s oppression.
A new life now awaits us.
—To Jordan Came the Christ, (LSB 406:1)
Prayer of the Day
Father in heaven, at the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River You proclaimed Him Your beloved Son and anointed Him with the Holy Spirit. Make all who are baptized in His name faithful in their calling as Your children and inheritors with Him of everlasting life; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (L12)
Suggested Reading from the Book of Concord
Apology of the Augsburg Confession XIIb (VI) 34–42 [131–139]