In light of His Baptism, St. John has recognized that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. What is more, he perceives and proclaims that Jesus is the Lamb of God, the Savior of the world.
It is for this that the Lord Jesus has been anointed by the Holy Spirit in the waters of the Jordan, in His own flesh and blood; namely, to accomplish salvation. And that sacred purpose determines where He goes and what He does, in order to save you and all people for eternal Life with God.
According to the good and gracious will of His God and Father, He bears sin and death in His Body to the Cross. In perfect faith and holy love, He sacrifices Himself to atone for the sins of the world, to defeat death and trample Satan underfoot.
Remember, therefore, the significance of your Baptism in His Name, and listen to this preaching of repentance for the forgiveness of your sins. Behold the Lamb of God in His Holy Gospel, in His means of grace, His Body and His Blood. And follow Him. You are called and catechized to be His disciple, to go where He goes, to live and work according to His Word, and to stay with Him throughout the long day and night of this life on earth, unto the Resurrection of your body and the one Eternal Day of the neverending ChristMass in heaven.
As the Holy Spirit rests and remains upon His Body — from His Baptism unto His Cross, and in His Resurrection from the dead — so then, come to His Body, and rest and remain in Him. Here is your house and home. Here is the Christ, the promised Messiah, who brings you out of slavery into freedom, who guards and protects you in body and soul, and who shall bring you into the Glory that He shares with the Father. He has baptized you for this divine, eternal Life, in and with Himself, by anointing you with His Holy Spirit through the washing of the water with His Word.
Come and see where He is staying. How so? He is to be found where His Holy Cross is preached and lifted up as a standard for the nations, as the Tree of Life for the salvation of the world.
Because He is the very Lamb of God — the true Passover Lamb who has been sacrificed for you and for the many — He is found and He remains where His flesh is given for Communion with God, and where His blood is poured out to cover you and seal you for Life instead of death.
You “see” Him with your ears and with the “eyes” of faith, and you stay with Him, where His messengers preach and point to Him: From the preaching of John the Baptist and John the Apostle, to and from St. Andrew and St. Cephas, even to the present day, and so now also in this place.
By and with the preaching of His Word, He rules in the midst of His enemies. Which means that you also, if you are His disciple, are surrounded by His enemies. It is a hostile and difficult world. And His Cross puts sin to death within you: in your mortal flesh, in your heart, mind, and spirit.
But for all of that, you are not His enemy. No, beloved. He crucifies and puts you to death with Himself in order to offer you to His Father in the holy garments of His own Royal Priesthood.
For He is the great High Priest of God Most High forever and ever. His Sacrifice for you upon the Cross has been received and accepted. His Body is the pleasing Aroma and acceptable Offering by which the Father draws you to Himself in Peace. As the Son is seated at the Right Hand of the Father in His own glorified Body of human flesh and blood, so are you seated there with Him.
That is where He is staying, even as He abides with you here in His Church on earth. Heaven and earth, God and Man are united in His Body and His Spirit forever and ever. Indeed, His crucified and risen Body is the New Jerusalem, the New Heavens and the New Earth, wherein you live and abide in righteousness. You stay with Him there by faith in His Word, as you receive Him here in the Ministry of His Sacrament. You rest and remain in the Body of Christ, and you belong to the Body of Christ, because you eat the Body of Christ and drink His Blood, just as He has spoken.
So is your life like that of His Tree. Despised and ridiculed by the world, and yet, for us who are being saved, it is the Wisdom of God and the Power of His indestructible Life. You are called to bear His Cross and follow Christ Jesus in your own place. I do not know what that may require of you, but it will serve the purposes of God for you and for your neighbor, to the glory of the Name in which you are baptized. Sacrifice and suffering are the Way of the Cross in this fallen world of sin and death, but none of this hardship, heartache, or hurt shall be given the last word.
Christ, the Lamb of God who bore your sins and the sins of the world in His Body, who died your death upon the Cross, is risen from the dead and lives and reigns to all eternity. He stays with you, and He rules in love for you in the midst of all these enemies, so that you are not defeated but strengthened by what you suffer under His Cross.
In His Body, Jerusalem rejoices and His people are glad. And you also are among them, as those who are blessed by the Lord, who are born again of water and the Spirit for the Life everlasting. Your labors are not in vain. Your marriage and family are not in vain. Your work and studies are not in vain. You and your life are not in vain. For Christ Jesus, the Messiah, has found you and abides with you. Come and see. Receive His Body, given for you, and rest and remain in Him.
In the Name + of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.