29 March 2016

The Scriptures Are Fulfilled in Christ Jesus

As intended from before the foundation of the world, the Lord Jesus has perfectly fulfilled the Holy Scriptures by His becoming flesh, by His bodily death upon the Cross, and by His bodily Resurrection from the dead.  This work of the Lord is really what the whole Bible is all about.

So, too, by the preaching and teaching of the Scriptures, Christ Jesus Himself is actively present and powerful to save all those who hear and receive Him in the Ministry of His Gospel.

Because He has defeated sin, death, the devil, and hell by His voluntary suffering and death, so does He bring forgiveness, life, and salvation to His Church in His Resurrection from the dead.

Here in the gathering of His disciples, He comes to you as the crucified and risen One, and He grants to you His perfect Peace and Sabbath Rest through His forgiveness of all your sins.  Indeed, this peace and rest that He bestows upon you is the good and gracious will of God, the very point and purpose for which He has spoken His Word, so that you should have abundant life in Him.

Tragically, your sin and your sinfulness include not only all the bad things that you do and all the good things that you don’t, but also your false belief, your doubt and despair, and your failure and refusal to understand the Scriptures, to trust the Gospel, or to receive the Lord Jesus in peace.

But you are not able to believe in Jesus Christ, your Lord; nor can you come to Him; nor can you even recognize or receive Him when He comes to you — not apart from His Word and Spirit.

So, if you had been there in that upper room on that first Easter Sunday evening, do not suppose that you would have done any different or any better than the disciples in this Holy Gospel.

Actually, the crucified and risen Lord Jesus is very much with you, here in your midst, with His true body and blood, opening His holy wounds to you, speaking His Word of the Gospel to you, and granting His blessing of grace, mercy, and peace to you.  And yet, in your sins, you greet all of this with superstitious doubts and fear.  At best, it all seems too good to be true, and at worst, you dismiss the dear Lord Jesus Christ as a “ghost,” a specter, an immaterial, inconsequential fable.

As a consequence of your unbelief, you reject and despise the Peace of the Lord, which surpasses all your human understanding, and you refuse to accept the true rest that only He can give you from all your hard labors and heavy burdens of sin and death.

That is why it is so necessary to your salvation — no less so than the Cross and Resurrection — that repentance and forgiveness of sins be preached to you in Jesus’ Name.  For it is only by such preaching of His Word that you are called from your doubts to live by faith in Christ Jesus.

Because the Lord your God loves you and does not want you to die forever in the darkness of despair and unbelief, He sends His servants to proclaim the Lord Jesus to you.

By His Word and Spirit, by His Law and Gospel, they catechize you in the one true faith, calling you daily to repentance and turning you away from your sins to the forgiveness of His Cross.  In this way, they open the Scriptures to you, and the Holy Spirit opens your heart and your mind to understand those Holy Scriptures, so that you thereby receive and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.

So does the same Lord open His wounds to you by the Ministry of His Gospel.  And He opens your hand and your mouth to receive His Body and His Blood — not apart from faith, in order that you not be judged and condemned; but in the one true faith, in His Peace, and with great thanksgiving.

This is how He works to save you.  By His Word of the Gospel, proclaimed in His Name, your sins are freely and fully forgiven.  And by that Word of Holy Absolution, you are rescued from your fear of death, from your uncertainty and superstitions, and brought into the confidence of faith.  You are taught by His grace to trust and rely upon Him, and to receive all good things from Him.

And it is by this Spirit-wrought faith in the Word of Christ Jesus that you are given true Peace and Sabbath Rest in Him, unto the resurrection of your body and the life everlasting of body and soul.

So it is, also, by and with the Word of Christ — in fulfillment of the Scriptures of the Prophets and Apostles — that He who was crucified for your transgressions and raised for your justification is still eating with sinners; that He invites even you to recline at His Table and eat with Him.

Not only that, but one and the same Lord Jesus Christ is Himself the Feast that you eat and the Host who serves you.  For He gives to you His holy Body, and He pours out for you His precious Blood, for the forgiveness of all your sins and the nourishment of your faith unto life and salvation.

Here, then, is the promise, the down payment, and the guarantee that your own body and blood, and your own flesh and bones, no less than His, shall at the last be raised from death and the grave, glorified like unto His own glorious body, immortal and imperishable.  Indeed, you shall see Him with your own two eyes, in the flesh, and you shall be like Him, by the grace of God your Savior.

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

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