15 March 2008

Have the Mind of Christ in You

Have the same heart and mind in you as in Christ Jesus. That is what it means to be His disciple (a Christian): Faith and trust in the Word of God; humble submission to His will; obedience, even unto death. That is what Jesus does in fulfilling the Holy Scriptures, all the words and promises of God, according to His grace and mercy, His love, His desire for your salvation (and the salvation of the world).

Everything unfolds and happens as it has been written, as the Lord has spoken, and as He fully intends. Nothing is by chance or accident. Nor is it really Judas or the chief priests, scribes and elders, who hand Jesus over to death. It is first of all God the Father, who sacrifices His Son for the world; and the Son willingly submits to the Cross. He lays down His own life voluntarily; and He will take it up again.

He is alone in doing so. He alone accomplishes the salvation of the world, of His disciples and His enemies, His friends and foes (who sometimes happen to be the same!). When the Shepherd is struck down for the sheep, to save them, the sheep are scattered in fear and denial.

How is it for you? Do you have the mind of Christ?

Or do you think and act like Judas, or Peter, or the other disciples who fled? Or like the fickle crowds of people, tossed about by every gust of popular opinion? Or like the leaders of the people, afraid for your position?

Do you know this Man, Jesus Christ of Nazareth? Or have you forgotten Him and His Word to you? Do you still not understand?

As you could not be converted by your own reason or strength, neither can you persevere by your own reason and strength. It’s not simply that you’re not trying hard enough. You can’t do it. It is not given you to make a disciple of yourself. That is the Lord’s gracious good work, and His gift to you, by His Word and Holy Spirit.

It is the Word of Christ that has made you a disciple: in the waters of your Baptism, and by the catechesis of all that Jesus has taught and commanded you.

That same catechesis of His Word is the way of ongoing discipleship. It is by the catechesis of His Word that you are and remain a Christian. By the catechesis of His Word that you think and speak and act as Jesus does. Not that you become the Savior of the world, but that you live by faith within your own God-given vocation. And in that vocation, by such faith, you love and serve your neighbor.

You love and serve with mercy and kindness, anointing the body of Jesus, washing His feet and drying them, by caring for His little ones, His brethren (be they big or small, young or old, rich or poor).

You love and serve your neighbor, also, with the Word of a disciple. For you speak as God speaks to you by His Son, and thereby you sustain the weak and weary with that Word of the Gospel (forgiveness).

You, too, are poor and weak and little. Sometime faithful, sometimes faithless and afraid. You are not called to sustain yourself, nor to stand on your own. (You cannot.) You are not given to speak your own word, but that of Christ, which He speaks to you in love.

Follow Him, and live in Him, by listening to what He says. Not only a command, but especially a promise. Not only a rebuke, but free and full forgiveness of all your sins.

How often have you denied Him, betrayed Him, or fled from Him? But He has not forsaken you, and He has not fled from serving you. He has saved you, in grace, mercy and peace, by His steadfast obedience and His innocent suffering and death.

Where you have failed Him, repent. If you have fled, return to Him. He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, speedy to help and save, eager to forgive you, abounding in steadfast love for you.

He has known ahead of time that you would stumble and fall, but He has come to save you anyway. He knows your sins, and that you are a sinner, but He is the Savior of sinners. And He has done it.

He has voluntarily taken your sin and death upon Himself. Therefore, as He has been vindicated by God the Father in His Resurrection from the dead, so are you vindicated, declared righteous, and set free from sin and death forever. Not a single charge against you will stick. You are "not guilty." Not because you have done so well and managed to keep your nose clean, but for Jesus’ sake, because He has done all things well.

And here He is for you. Do not be afraid. Here is His Blood poured out for you to drink, which reconciles you to God, and makes peace for you with God. Here is His Body, given for you upon the Cross to atone for all your sins, and given to you now for life and salvation in Him.

Here, then, have the same Lord Jesus Christ in you: in your hand and mouth, in your body and soul. And the Peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, will keep your heart and mind in this Christ Jesus — through life and death and everything in between — unto life everlasting.

In the Name + of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


sarahlaughed said...

Annalise says, "Nice Sermon!"

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

Thanks, Annalise.

Neil said...

Our only hope of glory is Christ in us! Awesome blog. Greetings from Biddeford, Maine USA
Neil http://www.neilshouse.com/forum/