10 February 2013

For the Joy Set Before You in Christ

This is the Glory of God that shines upon you in the face of Christ Jesus: That the Father, in love, has given His only-begotten Son in the flesh, to die for you, and has raised Him from the dead, in order to justify you in His presence, and to give you the life everlasting in body and soul.

He is the Apostle and the High Priest of the one true faith, and of the Christian religion, by which alone you shall be saved.  For He has been sent by God the Father to preach the Kingdom of God.  And He has come to establish that Kingdom in Himself, for you and for all, by the atoning sacrifice of His death upon the Cross, and in His bodily Resurrection and Ascension to the right hand of the Father.  Heaven and earth are permanently united in Him, in His Body of flesh and blood; so that God abides with you in Him, and you abide with Him in God.

This is the mission that He undertakes, the journey that He undergoes, from the heights of heavenly divine glory into the darkest depths of sin and death, and back to His God and Father again.  What He thereby accomplishes and achieves is not for His benefit, but for yours.  Because what it means is that the Glory that was always His, with the Father and the Holy Spirit from eternity, is now possessed and manifested in His human nature, in His Body; in order that you, also, should be glorified in Him and share in His Glory.

The transfiguration of His face, of His whole flesh and blood, and of your body, also, is by the way of His Cross.  It is by His priestly sacrifice that His Glory fills and permeates His Body, though in it He has borne the sins of the world; for by His death and bloodshed He atones for all those sins, and He sanctifies the flesh of man for life with God.  That Glory of His Cross is now manifest in His Resurrection from the dead.  His crucified and risen Body bears, forever and ever, the Spirit of His God and Father, whom He bestows upon His Body, the Church, through the preaching of His Gospel of forgiveness, and with His Body given and His Blood poured out in His Supper.

His Cross and Resurrection are His Exodus, by which He brings you out of Egypt, out of bondage into freedom, out of death into life.  His dying and rising are the completion and fulfillment of His Baptism, whereby He brings you through the Red Sea in safety, while Pharaoh and his horses and their riders are drowned; and whereby He also brings you through the Jordan River into Canaan, that is, into blessed Paradise.  As you are baptized into Him, you also pass through death and the grave, into His Resurrection of the Body and the life everlasting.  For by your Holy Baptism into Christ, you have washed your robes and made them white in His cleansing Blood; so that you are now clothed in the gleaming radiance of His holiness and righteousness.

What the disciples see in Jesus on the mountain, and Moses and Elijah share with Him in Glory, is also given to His Church, on earth as it is in heaven, and to you, who belong to Him by grace through faith in His Gospel.

Listen to Him.  His Word to you is true and Life-giving, and His lips have been anointed with grace.  His forgiveness of your sins actually does what it says.  What He speaks to you, He gives to you.  Therefore, hear and heed His calling.  Repent of your sins, and believe His Gospel.  Do not fear His Cross, but bear it patiently, and hope in His Resurrection.  The One who calls you is faithful, and as surely as God the Father raised His Son Jesus from the dead, so shall He also raise you up in Glory.  The guarantee of that is already in your Baptism.

Not only that, but you abide in His Glory, in peace and joy, in the Sacrament of the Altar, which is given and poured out for you to eat and to drink.  This Body and Blood of Christ are the Fruits of His Cross, transfigured by His sacrifice for you, so that your body also, even now, and forever in the Resurrection of all flesh, is glorified in Him.  Even though you are weary and overcome with sleep, yet are you raised up in Christ Jesus to newness of life, day by day, unto the neverending Eighth Day of the Kingdom of God.

The Glory of God is not something you can grab for yourself, or take and put into a box for safe keeping, or manipulate and manage like some kind of product or commodity.  It isn’t for sale at any price, and you can’t make it with your hands, nor achieve it by your striving.  It is elusive and mysterious, but it’s not just that the Glory of God is too hard for you, or too difficult to understand. The Glory of God is the grace of His Gospel, the gift of His Son, accomplished for you, and given to you freely, by His Cross.  You can’t take it for yourself, but it is given to you by His Word.

You do not need to build a house for God.  Nor could you do so.  He is not homeless, in any case.  And not even heaven and earth could contain Him.  But He has come to make His dwelling with you, in order to abide with you, so that you are able to live and abide with Him.  It is in the Body of the incarnate Son, Christ Jesus, that Yahweh Sabaoth, the Lord your God, the Holy Trinity, is with you.  You’ll not find Him, nor have Him, anywhere else, but He is with you, and He is for you, in the flesh and blood of this Lord Jesus Christ.

Such is the Cloud that both conceals and reveals the Glory of God.  It rests and remains upon Jesus alone.  In many and various ways, God spoke to His people of old by the Prophets, by faithful Moses and Eliljah, by Samuel and Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and many others.  But now, in these last days, He speaks to you by His Son.  In Him, the Word who is God is made Flesh, and He now tabernacles with you.

His Glory is hidden, for now, under His Cross.  You cannot see it with your eyes, but you hear it with your ears in the preaching of the Gospel, in the forgiveness of your sins.

This is the way and the means by which He journeys with you through the wilderness.  This Gospel of Christ Jesus is the pilgrim’s way.

You do not need to pitch a tent for Him, because He is the Tent of God, which His Father has pitched on earth for you.  In His flesh, the Lord God abides with you, and you abide with Him.

He comes to you, and He is here with you, in the Body of His Church on earth.  But, so also, in His flesh and blood, He takes you with Him up the high mountain to His God and Father.  For not only is He the Apostle who is sent to you by God, but He is also the merciful and great High Priest who brings you to God in Himself.  He is the Sacrifice of your Atonement by His Cross, and now He is the Incense of your prayer and intercession in His Resurrection and Ascension.  As He has died and risen for you, so does He ever live to make intercession for you.  And in Him, your prayers also are heard and received, and they are answered in grace, mercy, and peace.

As the very Son of God is here with you in the flesh, so are you also with Him, abiding in the Glory of His God and Father.  What you behold in His Voice, in His Word of the Gospel, is the Light of the Revelation of the Glory of God, which is His gracious presence and power to save.

Do not be afraid.  For in this dear Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, your Savior, who preaches forgiveness and feeds you with Himself — in Him, the Father has chosen you in love, and called you by His Name, to be His own dear child.  And so you are.

Hear now what He speaks to you by His Son: It is good for you to be here.  See, I have built this House for you, and here you are at home.  Behold the face of My Anointed, in whom you know My Peace and My good pleasure.  The Lord, Yahweh, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love; faithful and just, who forgives you all of your iniquity, transgression, and sin, forever and ever.

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

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