05 January 2013

The New Creation in the Baptized Body of Christ

Here is the New Creation that God the Father makes by His Son and with His Holy Spirit.  It is in the Body of Christ Jesus, the incarnate Son; and the Life of the new heavens and new earth is in His holy and precious Blood.  For He has come in the flesh to receive and bear the Spirit on behalf of the children of men; in order to pour out the Spirit upon them, and to give them new birth as children of God.

This is what He has done for you, and given to you, by the washing of water with His Word in Holy Baptism.  In this way, by this means of His grace, He has manifested Himself to you, and made Himself known to you.

Otherwise, because of sin and death, you did not know Him; you would not and could not know Him.  Nor could you have found your way to Him or figured Him out.

But, see here, He has come to you.

From before the foundation of the world, He has known you in His love; and so has He come down from heaven to raise you up with Himself, to give you Life with His God and Father.

It is for such Life and Love that He conceived you in your mother’s womb and gave you birth; and for such Life and Love that He has recreated you and given you the new birth of Holy Baptism.

Before you ever called upon Him, and before you even knew to pray, or how to pray, He has answered your prayer and met your deepest need and longing with Himself.

He has done away with death by taking away the sins of the world.  As the Lamb of God, He has borne them in His Body to the Cross, and He has given Himself into death as the Sacrifice of Atonement.  He has poured out His Lifeblood, for you and for all, to redeem you from death, and to grant you His own divine Life by the Spirit.

It is for this purpose that He comes to St. John, to be baptized by him.  He enters the waters of the Jordan in His own Body of flesh and blood, conceived and born of St. Mary, in order to achieve and establish the salvation of the world.

On the one hand, He receives your sins, and the sins of the whole world, into His flesh; so that, by the shedding of His Blood, all those sins should be paid for, and death thereby undone, the devil defeated.  In this respect, He is baptized into your death; because He makes His Body mortal with your sins, in order to open the way for your mortal body to pass with Him through death and the grave into the Resurrection of the Body and the life everlasting.

Therefore, on the other hand, He receives the Spirit of His God and Father into His flesh; so that His own flesh and blood — bearing the Spirit to and from the Cross, and in His Resurrection from the dead — His own flesh and blood should become the first fruits of the New Creation.

In this, also, His divine Sonship from all eternity is realized in His humanity, so that He might become the firstborn of many brethren.

As pivotal as the Baptism of Jesus was for Him, for His Life and Ministry, and for His great work of Salvation, so pivotal is your Baptism for you.  In those waters of the font, your body of flesh and blood has been cleansed of all your sins and set free from death.  And at the same time, you have received the Spirit of Christ Jesus and the gracious adoption of His God and Father.

This now is your life, even in your flesh here on earth, and as it shall be in the resurrection of your body forever and ever.  For the flesh of Christ is your Anchor in the Paradise of the New Creation, your Stronghold in the new heavens and the new earth.  What He has already accomplished, once for all, by His Baptism into death, is fully yours by your Baptism into Him.

Therefore, your labors are not in vain, no matter what you may seem to be accomplishing (or not) in this fallen world.  Nor do you bear children for calamity — whether your infants live but a few days or to a ripe old age.  Because you and your children are the blessed offspring of the Lord.  It is no longer the legacy of sinful Adam, but the inheritance of Christ, the Second Adam, which belongs to you by His grace.

That is no fickle or arbitrary thing, but a sure and certain promise, a sure and certain hope, in His own crucified and risen Body.  As you are baptized into His death, so do you live in His rising.  And as the Spirit remains upon His Body, so does the Holy Spirit, the Author and Giver of Life, rest and remain upon you.  And so shall He raise you up at the last, even forevermore.

In the Body of Christ, God the Father has built a House that stands fast and shall not fall.  And you now live in that House.  So, too, the Body of Christ is the Father’s true Vine, in which His whole Vineyard lives and grows and prospers.  And from His Vine you drink the sweetest Wine of all, which is the holy and precious Blood of Christ, as of the Lamb unblemished and spotless.

So does the Lord your God rejoice over you with gladness in the midst of His Holy City, His true Jerusalem, in heaven and on earth.  For you are His beloved and well-pleasing child, and He shall permit no evil, nor any harm to befall you, in all His Holy Mountain.

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

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