04 April 2012

For the Love of God

Little children, see what love the Father has for you, that He should give His only-begotten Son for you, and hand Him over to His death upon the Cross. And see how the Son of God loves you, by giving Himself for you, and by serving you at His own expense.

But no, you cannot see it, can you? Not with your eyes. It is with your ears, first of all, that you are a disciple of Christ Jesus. You seek Him, but you cannot find or follow Him, except you hear His Word to you; though it is a hard Word to understand, and even harder to bear and believe.

It is with His Word that He has cleansed you in the waters of your Holy Baptism. And it is with His Word that He gives to you His Bread to eat, which is His Body, here at His Table. Receive what He gives to you here, but do not take it lightly or for granted.

It is a risky business to eat bread with Jesus. Not only because the world will hate you for it, and seek to kill you (as Him); and not only because Satan will rage the more fiercely against you and press you hard; but especially because you are here presented with God Himself, His Glory and His Life, in such a way that you may receive Him to yourself and embrace Him in love.

As the Lord your God thus entrusts Himself to you, and gives Himself into your hands, take care that you do not betray Him. Do not lift up your heel against Him who kneels to wash your dirty feet. Do not deny Him with the same mouth that has received and eaten His Bread from His hand. Do not seek a greater glory or any other greatness than that of His Cross. But love as He loves, and live as He lives.

What would you profit; what would you buy or sell, or spend or give? What would you do or sacrifice to be with Jesus where He is? To follow Him into life with God?

It is not for you to purchase or to achieve by any machinations or efforts of your own, but to hear His Word, to receive His gifts, and to follow Him by faith in His Cross, reconciled to God the Father by His Blood; and thus to live by His grace, and to love your neighbor graciously.

Are you afraid that you will falter or fail, as Simon Peter did? Or, what is worse, that you will be enticed by the devil and fall from grace altogether, like Judas?

Little children, examine your heart and confess your sin, but do not look to yourself. Look to Christ Jesus by listening to Him. Hear what love He has for you; not because you are good and faithful, but He is, and in His love for you He does not falter or fail. Even while you are His enemy, He has given Himself for you, and He has reconciled you to God by His death.

You are forgiven. Your doubts and denials are healed. If you have even betrayed Him, repent and believe the Gospel, which forgives you all of your sins. Recline here at His Table in peace. For the Bread that Jesus gives you is not a threat, but a promise and a gift. Receiving it, you receive Christ Jesus Himself, and you follow Him into the life everlasting. Reclining here at His breast, you rest in the bosom of the Father who loves you, for Jesus' sake. Amen.

No comments: