13 April 2009

The Body of the Crucified and Risen Jesus in the Breaking of the Bread

You’re making your way — but where are you going?

You’ve got your home and your job — but what are your hopes and dreams? What are you working for? What life do you live? How and why do you live it?

Maybe a home and a job are the very things that you long for.

But whatever the case may be, whatever your particular circumstances, are you spinning your wheels and getting nowhere? Or, are you spending your life, your time and energy, even your self, on that which will not last and cannot save you?

What is it that you would give to your children? What will you teach them? What is it that you want them know and believe and pass on to your grandchildren?

The most important things, the most essential, the things that neither you nor your children can live without, are the things concerning Jesus of Nazareth: His Cross and Passion, and His Resurrection from the dead; the preaching of the Gospel and the Breaking of the Bread; and not only that, but the stories of the Old Testament, too, which really are all about Jesus.

Your children need to hear these things from you, and you need to hear and discuss these things for yourself.

Not that you will save yourself by your knowledge. You can know all the stories and know all the facts, and still not get "it," but miss the point entirely. You can know it all forwards and backwards, but still walk along dejected and despairing, or stopped dead in your tracks with your countenance fallen down around your ankles.

Thus, although you know and confess that Christ has died and risen in the flesh for you, how often do you live and work as though it were not so? As though none of it had ever happened or made any difference or even mattered to you and your life.

Christians do have this strong advantage in knowing the stories of the Scriptures and continuing to discuss and share them, even when they do not comprehend or rejoice in them. Because the Word of Christ and the stories of Him, which the Scriptures tell, are far from impotent or empty.

The Holy Scriptures are full to overflowing with Jesus and the Glory of His Cross. Thus, in the discussing and sharing of these things, Christ Jesus Himself and His Spirit accompany you, even when your eyes may be prevented from seeing Him.

For that reason, too, disciple of Christ Jesus, for your own sake and that of your family, and for the benefit of your friends (whether Christian or otherwise), don’t ever stop talking about Jesus! Day and night, in the morning and at bedtime, at work and play, at home or in the car, and ever on the way to and fro. Don’t stop.

For the Word of Christ Jesus is the foremost antidote for sadness, depression and despair, for hopelessness, melancholy and fear. Therefore, keep on talking about Jesus, and listen to His Word; even and especially when you are sad. And if your family or friends are sad, then, above all else, speak Christ’s Gospel to them.

Because, again, it is Christ and His Spirit who accompany His Word and are actively present and at work in and through the speaking of His Word.

The Gospel is not only what Jesus has done (once upon a time), but what He continues to do, by His grace: preaching peace through the forgiveness of sins. That is the authority and the judgment of righteousness that He has received from His Father by His Cross, and now manifests in His Resurrection from the dead.

Everything has been accomplished by His death, and that everything is worked out for you, and for all, by and through the preaching of His Cross and Passion.

Thus, in and through and with His Word, Christ Jesus accompanies you on your journey. So, too, even before you have recognized Him and His salvation, He is graciously at work to raise you up with Himself; to raise your heart and mind, your countenance, and finally your body, also, in the Resurrection.

He is an excellent Teacher, and He brings you along from foolish unbelief and sadness to heartfelt faith and hope and joy. He does it by the way of repentance and the forgiveness of your sins. Thus, He chides your slowness of heart to believe, but even this He does with gentleness and ready assistance. He does not leave you in despair, but forgives you, and with His forgiveness He opens your ears, heart and mind to His Word.

He may sometimes hide Himself from you, or act as though He were going on without you; not that He would tease you or toy with you, but that you would cling to Him by faith and call upon His Name in fervent prayer. Not that you should have to twist His arm, but precisely because He would be your Guest and come and make His dwelling with you.

It is not by sight, not yet; but to say it is by faith in His Word (which it is) is not to say that it is unreal, impersonal or intangible. Not so. But that which has been missing is revealed to you by His Word and given to you at the Lord’s Table in His Breaking of the Bread for you; that is to say, in the Holy Communion.

Not the empty tomb, nor simply the great good news and information of the Resurrection, but Him, and His crucified and risen Body, and His holy, precious Blood, poured out for you, which is the Redemption of His Israel and the New Testament of God.

That is where He would have you "see" Him and find Him and receive Him, because that is where He reveals and gives Himself to you. It is to His Table that His Word leads you, in faith and hope and confidence, in joy and peace.

He has come into the house of His disciples, but here He is the Host, the Waiter and the Meal; that serving you here with His own Body, your body shall be raised from the dust of the earth, as He is raised, to live with God in heaven forever.

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

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