30 March 2014

Day Calls Unto Night and Pours Forth His Light

The truth is that everyone is blind.  No exceptions.  Because no one can see God — not until Christ Jesus enters in and shines His Light upon the world.  And surely it is true that He does.  He speaks, and it is so!  The Light shines in the darkness; yet, the darkness does not comprehend it.

All of creation depends upon the Word of the Lord, not only for existence, but for enlightenment.  Apart from His speaking, there is no Life, nor Light, nor Love.  So, when His Word is rejected, darkness and death descend like a pall over everything.  Wherever you turn, the nighttime reigns.

It is a far deeper darkness than this or that sin by you or your neighbor or your parents; unless you trace it back to the sin of that one man, Adam, in whom all men sin and all men die.  The curse and consequences of sin — the creeping death of mortality, with all its ravages of time and space and its wrecking of relationships — does go back to the fall of Adam; it is inherited by all his children; indeed, it is suffered by the entire world, which groans under the burden of human sin and death.

But now, understand that the Lord has cursed His creation on account of Adam, not in futility, but in the hope of the New Creation in Christ Jesus.  He spits on the ground that He has made, from which He has taken the man, in order to put sin and death to death, and so to make all things new.  Out of the curse, He brings forth the blessing; out of death, new Life; and out of darkness, Light.

This Lord Jesus is the Word of God by whom all things are created and sustained.  He is Himself the Light, which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.  He comes in the flesh of Adam’s flesh, in the blood of Adam’s blood, conceived and born of the Woman, to become the true Man.

In Him, eternal Day calls unto night, and, at the speaking of this Word made Flesh, there is a New Beginning.  For His own Body is the Light in the darkness.  As He shall be crucified in the frailty of our mortal flesh, and raised from the dead by the Glory of the Father, so does He bring about the resurrection of the New Man from the dust of the ground, a New Creation from the clay.  And by the washing of the water with His Word, He opens up blind eyes to behold the Light in Him.

These are the good works of God in Christ, which are manifested, also now for you, in the man who was born blind: Not only in the opening of his eyes to see, but in his coming to faith in Christ, and in his courageous confession of Christ Jesus.  The latter works are no less miraculous than the first, for he is raised from death to life in both body and soul.  He becomes a brand new person.

Jesus catechizes this man, as He catechized Nicodemus in the night and the Samaritan woman at the well, and He leads him by this catechesis of His Word and work to the enlightenment of faith. He leads the blind man on a Way he did not know, and thereby makes the darkness into Light.

The same Lord Jesus Christ does the same for you.  He still works on the Sabbath, in order to give you relief from all your burdens and infirmities, and to give you perfect peace and rest in Himself.  He opens up the blind eyes of your heart and mind, by His Word and Spirit of the Gospel, so that you now see and understand, you believe, and you confess, what before you could not comprehend.  More than that, He makes your body and soul brand new in His own Body of flesh and blood.

Those who resist and reject the Word of Christ, who refuse to receive the work of God or even to recognize their own blindness, are not only ignorant in doing so, but blasphemous and idolatrous.  For not only do they profane the Name of God, but they put their trust in that which is not God.

The one true God is known only in the flesh and blood of the Incarnate Son, Christ Jesus.  Apart from the Man called Jesus, whatever it is that you see and know, or whatever it is you think you see and know, it’s not what you think; and it surely is not the Lord.  No matter how bright and shiny it may be, and no matter how good it may appear to you or anyone else, it is not that true Light of the world, nor real Life, nor the Love of God, but only darkness and death.

Not even the Law of God can be gotten right apart from Christ, who is the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets.  You don’t actually know Moses, nor can you be his disciple, if you do not know and follow Jesus Christ, the Lord, to whom the Prophet Moses pointed in all his words and works.

Buried alive, as it were, in the dust of the earth — confused and confounded by the darkness, and breathing only your own poisoned air — you don’t know what is real and what is imagined, true or false.  All you really know, then, apart from Christ, are death and dying and hallucination.

So it remains, until Christ Jesus comes and saves you.  He raises you up, opens your blind eyes, and breathes His Life-giving Holy Spirit into your flesh with His Holy Absolution of the Gospel.  Only then do you begin to see and know the Truth; which is to say that you know God in Christ.

What also happens, then, is that the world in its darkness, and those who desire to be religious in their own self-righteousness, in the blindness of their ignorance and unbelief, will hate you and persecute you for the faith and confession of Christ Jesus.  For the works of darkness are exposed and made evident by the shining of the Light; and, as the Light now shines on you, and is displayed in you, it drives the darkness to great fear and frustration, and finally to outright fury.

You will be threatened in all sorts of ways, sometimes subtle, and sometimes savagely blunt.  You may lose friends, or miss opportunities, or suffer insult and rejection.  Your own family may let you down, rather than risk being caught up in the scandal of calling this Man, Jesus, the Christ.

But do not succumb to fear!  Do not love the praises of people more than God.  Rather, cling to Christ, and trust in Him to care for you.  The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it.  The deeds of darkness, by contrast, are unfruitful; they bring forth nothing but death and damnation.

Recognize and repent of your own dark deeds, of your infirmity and blindness, inside and out.  Instead of relying on yourself and your own righteousness, which cannot help but fail, find your Life and Light and your Salvation in the Lord Jesus, who speaks to you in Love.

Repent and be baptized, every one of you; or, return to the significance of your Baptism.  Wash in those waters of forgiveness, which flow for you from Christ Jesus unto the Life everlasting.

Awake, sleeper, and rise from death!  For here Christ shines on you with His Gospel.  Listen to what He says, and look to Him, that you may see.  Hear and heed His Word to you, even in the midst of deep darkness all around you; and worship Him from the heart in the witness of your words and with the works of God in your body and life.

Though you cannot see Him — no more than the man born blind could see Him when Jesus first approached, and anointed his eyes with mud and spit, and sent him to wash in the water — yet, by His grace, you believe in Him and love Him, who first loved you and recreated you in mercy.

Once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Walk in His Light by giving attention to His Word and His works.  See, His sent ones are here to serve you in His Name, to work the works of God while it is Day.  And it is now Day, since Christ has come, even in the darkness of the night, and even in the face of death and the grave.  It is the Day of His grace and salvation, so long as the Gospel is preached and the gifts of God are given to His Church.  In the Light of the Word and Spirit of Christ Jesus, your eyes and ears, and your whole body and soul, are healed.

So it is that you, who are born again of water and the Word in Holy Baptism, shall also be raised up from the clay in the Resurrection of all flesh; and then with your own eyes you shall see your Redeemer face to face, when He stands at last upon the earth and every knee shall bow to Him.

You shall see Him as He is, and you shall be like Him: all glorious in His righteousness, because you are forgiven all your sins, in which you were born, and which you have committed ever since, and you are justified by His grace, by His Cross and Resurrection in the flesh.

Even now, by faith, you are able to see His salvation in His Body and His Blood, given and poured out for you here at His Altar.  Fix your eyes on Jesus, therefore, in these gifts He freely gives you.  Be ever looking to Him, the Lamb of God who takes away your sins, who feeds you with His flesh and covers you with His Blood; for He shall pluck your feet out of the net and raise you up from death to life.  Even now He lifts up your head, as He lifts up His countenance upon you.

Behold the fair beauty of the Lord.  Seek and find Him in His Temple.  Worship Him with your body and your soul in the splendor of His holiness.  Kneel and bow down before Him.  For He is the Light of the world, who shines upon you in Peace; and in His Light, you have Life.

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

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