22 March 2016

The Glory of Christ the Crucified

The Lord Jesus Christ is Life and Light in Himself, the very Son of God from all eternity.  He has no need of anything, for all things are made by Him, and apart from Him there is nothing at all.

But in love He has come in the flesh in order to give His Life and Light to you; so that you might not die in the darkness, but live and walk in the Light of God, as a son or daughter of the Light.

In order that you may be with Him where He is, with the Father forever, He has come to be with you where you are, even in the deep dark valley of death and the grave.  So He humbles Himself and takes up the Cross in order to lay down His life.  Thus He appears to be utterly defeated, as though He were not the Christ at all, nor the King of Israel, but a loser and a fool.

In truth, the Cross of Christ is the Hour of His Glory as the Son of Man, your Savior.  It is the pinnacle of His faith and love as true and perfect Man, and as your merciful and great High Priest.

By His death He glorifies the Father, doing exactly what the Father has sent Him to do.  And in being lifted up from the earth to His God and Father by the Cross, He bears much fruit.  That is to say, He draws all people to Himself, that He might bear them up to God in His Body by atoning for all their sins, redeeming them from death and the grave, and reconciling them to His Father.

So does He draw you to Himself, and He bears the good fruits of faith and love in you, as well, by the preaching of His Cross and by the working of the Holy Spirit through the Word of the Cross.

Now, that Cross of Christ puts you to death, because it puts you at odds with yourself and with the world.  For the ruler of this world, as well as your former way of life in this world, are cast out by the Cross.  And as you follow after Christ and serve and honor Him — as you begin to speak and act in the way that He does, in faith and love — you lose the approval of men and your place among them, who walk in darkness and don’t know what they are doing or where they are going.

Indeed, do not underestimate the furious hatred of the world against the Word of Christ and all who follow Him on the Way of faith and love.  It is ironic and strange that faith and love should incite such rage, but that is how it goes.  For those who dwell in darkness fear the Light and resist it with all their might.  And those who pursue death by their sins do not recognize the Life of God but feel threatened by it.  That is why they take out their anger on you, supposing that by shutting you up they will protect themselves and preserve their place in the world.

But now, take heart, and do not be discouraged.  For as you die by the Cross of Christ, bearing His reproach among men, so do you also rise and live with Him in His Resurrection from the dead, being lifted up to God and gaining His approval in the crucified and risen Body of Christ Jesus.  For He has become your Redemption, your Righteousness, and your Sanctification.

Therefore, do not be afraid, no matter what anyone may say or do to you on account of Jesus.  For God the Father vindicates you and honors you in Christ Jesus, His beloved Son, and He glorifies His Holy Name in you.  Not only shall He raise you up from death and the grave on the last day, but already by the Word of the Cross He calls you daily from your darkness into His marvelous Light.  His Word and Spirit work repentance in your heart and mind, body and life, converting you from sinful unbelief to faith and life in the Lord Jesus Christ.

His Light shines upon you here on earth for a little while in the preaching of repentance.  That is not just the booming thunder of the Law, which crucifies you, puts you to death, and buries you, but also the sweet message of the Gospel, which forgives you all your sins, lifts you up, and gives you divine Life in the Body of Christ.

By that Light you here perceive that His Grain of Wheat, having been crucified, dead and buried in the ground, has also now risen from the dead as the Firstfruits of a bountiful harvest.  Indeed, that Grain, which is the Body of Christ, has become the very Bread of Life, which is given for you.

So it is that He abides with you, and you abide with Him, where He is, in the Glory of His Father.

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

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