23 April 2014

Come, Eat and Drink the Gifts Christ Freely Gives

The Lord Jesus Christ has laid down His own life for you upon the Cross, and He has taken it up again, also for you, in His Resurrection from the dead.

This was entirely His work, from start to finish, and His free and full salvation remains a gracious gift, unto the resurrection and the life everlasting of your body and your soul.

That is true, not only in the way it has been accomplished for you, but so also in the way and with the means by which it is given to you.  For the risen Lord Jesus Christ manifests Himself to you, gives Himself to you in love, and serves you with grace, mercy, and peace.  Otherwise, you would not even recognize Him, much less be able to come to Him or believe in Him.  Neither would you know what to do with yourself; nor would you be able to accomplish anything at all on your own.

You may resort to what you think you know, and return your attention and energies to the cares and occupations of this life.  Nothing wrong with that, actually, if that is where the Lord has called you to serve your neighbor and glorify His Name.  But all of your pursuits and efforts are pointless and unproductive apart from the Word of Jesus.  Even if you manage to succeed in the eyes of the world, you really accomplish nothing of any lasting value without Him.

As that goes for your temporary body and life in this world, it is all the more so for your spiritual life and salvation, which is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

Throwing yourself into your job and into your hard labors may be good and right and useful, especially for your neighbor’s sake.  But it may also be a frantic and futile attempt to remedy your spiritual doldrums, or to make amends, to make up for and atone for your sinful faults and failings.

That is to say, for every time you’ve dropped the ball or really blown it, you’re going to work twice as hard as everyone else put together, to prove yourself, to demonstrate your ability, your zeal and commitment, your worth and value.  But it won’t work that way.  And it isn’t necessary.

Such efforts are driven by guilt and shame and fear, and all of this leads only to despair and finally death.  Your own self-righteousness is really no righteousness at all, but only a lie.

That is not the repentance to which you are called; that is not the newness of life which you are granted in the Resurrection of Christ Jesus from the dead.

Before you are sent to work for your neighbor, you are first of all called to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.  Before you are sent to feed and clothe and visit your neighbor, you are invited to be fed and clothed and visited by Christ, your Savior.

He has not come to scold or reprimand you, but to care for you and provide for you.  He died for you on purpose, in order to atone for all your sins.  And He has risen to life again, in order to raise you up with Himself through His forgiveness.  There are no amends for you to make up to Him, no worthiness for you to prove in His sight.

Set things right with your neighbor, as you are able.  But know this, that your debt with God is already settled and paid in full.

Here, then, in the Lord’s House, there is only Jesus on the shore, with the Meal that He has already provided and prepared for you.

Little children, you have nothing of your own to eat, do you?  But never mind that.  Come here and eat what Jesus has for you, which is given and poured out for the forgiveness of all your sins, for the resurrection of your body from death to life, and for your everlasting salvation with Him.

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

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