17 January 2009

You Will See the Heavens Opened

The Lord sees you and knows you — and He loves you — before you have ever heard of Him.

He desires and purposes to seek you out and find you, by His grace, because He loves you. He comes to you, in and with His Word, and He calls you to Himself — to live and abide with Him.

He opens heaven to you — by His Baptism, His Cross and Resurrection — and He reveals God the Father to you in Himself, in His own flesh and blood, by the speaking of His Word.

He is the fulfillment of the Law and of all that God has spoken in the past by Moses and the Prophets. But now He reveals greater things than even these, by His Word of the Gospel, by the Ministry of His sent ones, to and for His disciples; to those whom He has called to Himself, to follow Him by faith in His Word.

As He is speaking to you, listen.

As He is calling you to Himself, come and follow.

As He reveals the Father and opens heaven to you, behold and believe.

That’s the hard part, though, isn’t it? To see it and feel it and trust it?

Your experience contradicts the Word of the Lord, and so your expectations are very different than His promises.

The desires and demands of your flesh are more immediate and tangible. They press upon you hard and exercise a powerful influence, the more so as you pursue it.

Then there are the frailties and failings of your flesh, and that not only in your body, but in your heart and mind; in your thoughts, words & deeds.

Instead of running to Christ in faith, hope and love, you are sorely tempted to run away from Him and hide in terrible fear. Instead of following Him as a disciple, walking in the way of grace and truth, you are prone to walk after the desires of your mortal flesh. You chase the hunger of your stomach and the lust of your heart, though none of that will last for long; nor can it save you.

All of this is what you see and feel: your sin, and death, whether you revel in it or shudder in revulsion of it.

Where is the heaven that Jesus has opened for you? Where is the life that He has gotten for you? Where is the promise of His coming?

It is all right here. Come and see. Listen, O servant, your Lord is speaking.

Do not become cynical or callous. Do not harden your heart to His Word. Do not despair, nor become bitter. But hear and believe, and live.

What do you want? A fortune teller? A mind reader?

Here there are better things than these. Here is the One who knows your heart and mind; who knows your sins; who knows you better than you know yourself — who loves you; who gives you a future and a hope, because He forgives you all of your sins (of thought, word and deed).

You are forgiven. You shall not die, but live.

In love, He does provide for the cares and concerns of your body. He gives you food and clothing, shelter and protection. (You, then, do the same for your neighbor.) But He does all of this for your body, because He does far greater things than these.

With food and clothing be content, but your body and life are more than these. Your body is for the Lord, because the Lord is for your body. He cleanses and heals your body with water and His Word, and He clothes your body with His righteousness, and He feeds your body with Himself, with His own Body.

True, you cannot see it with your eyes (yet), but hear what His Word says to you: This Body of Christ is given for you. This Blood of Christ is poured out for you, for the forgiveness of all your sins.

As He was baptized in this Body for you, so has He been crucified in this flesh and blood, and so has He been raised bodily from the dead.

He was buried in the dust of the earth, but He has opened the grave in His Resurrection, because His Cross and Passion have opened heaven to you — to both your body and soul.

This Body of Christ is the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world, and for all of your sins.

This Body of Christ is the First-born of the Resurrection, the First-fruits of the New Creation.

Therefore, this same Body of Christ — conceived and born of Mary, crucified under Pontius Pilate, risen from the dead and ascended to the Father — this Body of Christ is for you the very gate of heaven.

Here is the Temple of God, open for you, on earth as it is in heaven.

Here is where the angels of God take their starting point, and to here they return, ascending and descending upon this Body of Christ, given for you.

He is your true King, who serves you with this flesh and blood. He is the Son of God, who forgives all your sins, heals all your diseases, and gives you divine, eternal life. He is the Lord, who speaks to you in love.

Open your ears, and be taught. Open your mouth, and be fed. Taste and see that the Lord is good, and His mercy toward you is forever.

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

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