18 April 2009

Whoever Believes and Is Baptized

Your Savior, Christ Jesus, has risen from the dead. He who bore your sins in His Body on the Cross, who was crucified for your transgressions, He has been raised for your justification. As He is alive and lives forevermore, so shall you not die but live. You are baptized into His death; believe also that you share His Resurrection and His Life.

Throughout this week, again and again, you have heard the testimony of those who saw Him crucified and risen. Dear Mary Magdalene has spoken, declaring what she saw and heard. So, too, those first disciples of Emmaus, who were catechized by Him on the way, and who recognized Him in the Breaking of the Bread.

The Holy Apostles, Peter and John, in the Name of Jesus and at His divine command, have testified to His Cross and Resurrection. Even the angels and archangels and all the host of heaven have declared that the Lamb, once slain, is living.

Why, then, do you weep and mourn as though there were no hope? Why do you harden your heart and refuse to believe what you have heard?

"No, no," you say; "it isn't like that at all." You believe and confess that Christ has been crucified and that He is risen indeed. And after all, you have been gathered in His Name to worship Him in faith and love. Praise God, all of that is true. It is so because it is the work of Christ in you.

But where will you go from here, and what will you do and say? What doubt and fear or sadness lurks within your heart and eats away at you? If not consciously so, then manifested in your words and actions.

Why do you not deal with your neighbor as though Christ were risen? For His Cross and Resurrection have made all the difference in the world, for you and for your neighbor. But how, then, do you demonstrate that difference, the redemption of Christ Jesus, in your life and conversation?

Where is your patience and generosity for those who frustrate you and nag at you? Where is your compassion and charity for those who need you, though they may even take advantage of you? Where is your forgiveness for those who trespass against you?

Where is the joy and gladness of Christ's Resurrection as you perform your duties and go about your place in life? Children, how do you confess His Resurrection in the way you honor and obey, love and cherish your father and mother? Parents, how do you discipline your children in the peace and hope of the Resurrection?

Repent, dear child of God, disciple of the Lord Jesus. He has been raised, and so shall you be raised. As He was patient with those first disciples of Emmaus; as He was all mercy and compassion for Mary Magdalene; as He dealt with His Apostles, with Peter and Thomas and Saul of Tarsus, so does He deal with you in love. Believe it, and live.

His Words of love to you are not empty promises. His Holy Baptism is not powerless. He has not died and risen for nothing or in vain. And He has not come to condemn you, but to save you and to give you life.

Indeed, your life and salvation are already achieved and accomplished, whole and complete, in Him. And here He meets you at His Table to lay that life and salvation upon your heart, to press it into your hand, and even to feed you with it, that is, with Himself.

Seven times, or seventy, or seventy times seven, with grace, mercy and peace, He lays His hand upon you and removes all your doubts and fears. He forgives you all your sins. He casts out all your demons. He heals all your diseases of both body and soul; if not in your body now, then hereafter in the resurrection of your body.

There is no poison in the cup that Jesus gives you, but free and full salvation for you. As He lives, and death no longer has mastery over Him, so shall you not die but live forever.

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

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