01 February 2015

Jesus Has Come and Brings Pleasure Eternal

Jesus has come and has entered in.  But what does Jesus have to do with you?  Why has He come?  Is He here to destroy you?  No, not really.  But it may seem that way; and in a sense He does.

He has come to set you free, to save you, to cleanse and heal you and give you life.  But, as all of that requires the drowning, death, and destruction of the old Adam in you, the washing away of your unclean spirit, it is painful and difficult, even deadly.  It cuts you to the quick and slays you.

The unclean spirit is in the synagogue, right there in the church, in the midst of the congregation.  And there is an unclean spirit in you, too, as you rightly confess that you are sinful and unclean.

The unclean spirit knows something about the Holy One, but it does not know as it ought to know.  It knows the holiness of the Law, at least in part, but not the holiness of the Gospel.  It knows the threats of punishment, but not the promise of grace and every blessing; the fire and brimstone of God’s righteous wrath and divine judgment, but not His patience, steadfast love, and mercy.

Therefore, the unclean spirit does not trust, and it does not love, neither God nor man, because it does not know the Lord Jesus rightly, that is, according to the divine Self-sacrifice of His death upon the Cross, and according to the indestructible power of His Resurrection from the dead.

Thus, you are afraid, and out of your fear derives anger, accusation, or apathy; either competition with instead of compassion for your neighbor, or a lazy complacency that does nothing at all.

But, now, be quiet.  Close your mouth and hush your thoughts.  Listen, first of all, and learn from the Lord, who is your Teacher, before you presume to know or to speak anything about Him.

The Lord Jesus comes, and with His Word He kills you, to be sure.  But He does so in order to make you alive, to raise you up from sin and death to righteousness and life everlasting in Him.

For He is the Prophet like Moses, who speaks the Word of God most high.  But He is more than a prophet.  He is the incarnate Word, the Lord Himself, who has become your Brother in the flesh.  And He has the authority, the power and ability, to put you to death and raise you to life, to call you to repentance, to redeem you, and to justify you with His own perfect righteousness, holiness, innocence and blessedness; because He has borne your uncleanness in Himself, and put it to death in Himself, in His own Body on the Cross, and washed it away forever and ever with His Blood.

Now, then, just as He is risen from the dead and ever lives to make intercession for you, so does He cleanse you in body and soul with His Holy Spirit by the speaking of His Word, His teaching or doctrine, which bears and conveys the power and authority of His Cross and Resurrection.

Every spirit speaks and acts, and it is known, by its words and actions, by what it says and does.

So, for example, your unclean spirit is not just a cancer hidden inside of you, in the secret thoughts of your heart and mind, in the words you mutter quietly under your breath to no one but yourself; but it also emerges in toxic words and hurtful deeds that actually attack and destroy your neighbor.

By your accusing, criticizing, gossiping, and harsh speech, you lash out and rail against the Lord Jesus Christ.  And when you sin against your brother or sister, for whom Christ Jesus died, you sin against the Lord Himself.  Thus, your unclean spirit is manifest and exposed for what it really is.

But so does the Holy Spirit emerge and proceed in and with and through the good Word and good works of Jesus Christ, which He does for you and speaks to you in the synagogue of His Church.  And His Spirit is also then present in the good words and good works of His Christians, as they are rescued from sin and death and brought to life by the Ministry of the Gospel.

With what sort of voice will you speak?  What will you say?  What spirit shall you breathe?  The unclean spirit of guilt and shame, of doubt and fear, of anger and despair?  Or the Spirit of Christ?

Here and now is the confrontation of the Word and teaching of Jesus with the voice and violence of your old Adam, the puffed-up knowledge and sacrilegious blasphemy of your unclean spirit:

“Be Quiet,” the Lord Jesus declares, and “Depart, unclean spirit!”  Shut up and go away!  And make room for the Holy Spirit!  That is what happens in Holy Baptism, and in the lifelong daily significance of your Baptism into Christ Jesus.  It is the divine work of repentance and forgiveness, which results in a wrenching separation of the old man from the New Man in you.

Little wonder that you convulse and cry out, as you are ripped and torn apart at the seams, as it were; turned completely inside-out, entirely emptied of yourself, and refilled with new stuffing.  So entangled and deeply-seated is your sin within every part of you, body and soul, that you must die and be reborn as someone altogether new.

The daily death of contrition and repentance is painful and scary.  But this doctrine and authority of Jesus is for your rescue and salvation and life.  He destroys you in order to save you forever.

The Word of the Lord Jesus commands your sin and death, and they must obey.  They must depart, because He has atoned for sin and swallowed up death by His sacrifice upon the Cross.  He has suffered Himself to be destroyed on account of your unclean spirit.  And it is in His Crucifixion that you are now put to death, to yourself and to your sin: Far better to die with Him than forever!

So it is that the Word of Jesus, who was crucified for you and raised again, also raises you up and gives you a brand new life in and with Him.  As He has become like you, so does He recreate you to become like Him.  He is your New Man, and you are a new man (or woman) in Christ Jesus.

He cleanses your spirit, and He fills your body and soul with His Holy Spirit, by whom you live, through His forgiveness of all your sins.  He does not hold anything against you.  He does not accuse or condemn you.  He does not count or consider your sins at all.  He removes them with His Word, His Holy Absolution, and at that Word of Christ, sin, death, the devil, and hell are cast out.  They have no choice but to obey Him.  They cannot remain or stand before Him.

Whereas you are raised up to stand fast in Him who is risen and stands fast for you forevermore.

Therefore, you have a new word to speak: to and about the Lord, to and for your neighbor; and you have a new way to live and to act; because you are known by God in grace, mercy, and peace.

As He knows you in His love for you, in the intimacy of the flesh and blood that He shares with you unto the life everlasting, so do you know Him rightly, even now, by faith.  And by such faith you love Him, according to the new and right spirit that He has granted you; and knowing Christ Jesus, you know the Father and the Holy Spirit, and you love the Lord your God as you are loved.

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

No comments: