25 April 2014

How Sweet Is the Word upon Your Lips

You also have received the testimony of the Gospel, including that of St. Mark, that the Lord Jesus Christ has risen from the dead.  And yet, how often do you harden your heart and refuse to believe this Gospel?  Not so much that you would deny the historical facts concerning Jesus, His Cross and Resurrection, but that you do not take these things to heart for yourself, as your life and salvation.

But, now then, repent of your unbelief and hardness of heart!  For whoever does not believe shall be condemned — just as surely as you witness all the signs of condemnation, all the curse and consequences of sin, all around you in the world, and in your own mortal body and life.

Repent of your sin and sinful unbelief, which lead only to death and condemnation.

Repent, trust Christ, and live!  For His Gospel, His forgiveness, His salvation, and His Life are not only most certainly true, but they are most certainly for you.

Indeed, as the Lord has commanded, this Gospel is preached to all creation; for all of creation has been redeemed, and is sanctified and saved, by the Incarnation, Cross, and bodily Resurrection of the Son of God, our dear Lord Jesus Christ.

And have you not heard, how those very men whom Jesus first of all reproached for their unbelief, are then immediately sent to preach this saving Gospel to the world?  Already with those first disciples, with the Apostles themselves, the grace and mercy of God in Christ is demonstrated.

So also in the case of St. Mark, the Evangelist.  He, too, was called from sinful unbelief to faithful discipleship and holy service.  That would be the case, in any event, as a matter of course, as it is for every Christian; but all the more pointedly, if Mark were that rich young man, as many think, who was previously unable to give up his wealth to follow Christ; who later ran away naked and afraid in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night when Jesus was handed over to His Cross.

It is by such men, who were so much in need of the Gospel, and who received it by the mercies of the Lord, that the Holy Gospel has been preached everywhere, ever since; and written down, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, for the preaching and administration of the Gospel in all times and places.  So that you, also, are here and now forgiven all your sins, unto faith and life and salvation.

It is by that Word of the Gospel that Christ is here with you, even as you recline here at His Table with Him.  He reproaches your unbelief by His preaching of repentance, it is true.  Not because He is here to condemn you; He is not.  But because He is here truly to save you, in body, soul, and spirit, for the resurrection and the life everlasting with Him.

He would have you believe these glad tidings of salvation.  And, to that end, He both grants to you and strengthens your faith in His Gospel.  Not only because it is true — Amen! It is! — but that you would be comforted in your weakness, doubt, and fear; and, that you would not despair and die in your sin, but live in peace and rest in Christ, your Savior.

Sin, death, the devil, and hell do not get to have you; nor are they permitted to have the last word concerning you.  The Lord Jesus, by His Cross and Resurrection, has shut that lion’s mouth, who would otherwise devour you with lies and bitter condemnation.

He has opened up, instead, the mouth of another lion, His servant, St. Mark, to publish peace to the ends of the earth by the proclamation of the Gospel, which is the Truth and blessed consolation.

That is the Word that is spoken, not only here and now to you, but by God Himself concerning you.

You are baptized into Christ.  In Him, by faith, you are saved.  For He has died your death, so that you are now raised up in His Resurrection.  Your sin is no longer against you, because you have died with Christ, and your life is safely hidden with Him at the Right Hand of your God and Father.

Sickness, suffering, and death are all finally powerless against you, because Christ is with you, who has risen from the dead and lives and reigns forever; and He is most certainly for you.  There is no poison in the Cup that He pours out for you.  He shall neither hurt nor harm you.  But He is your dread Champion, who has crushed that old serpent, your enemy, the devil, under His feet; who has sent the beautiful feet of His Apostles and Evangelists into all the world, to all creation, to speak with the new tongues of the Gospel, and to write with the skilled pen of His great mercy.

How sweet is this Word in your ear and in your heart, upon your lips and tongue, and in your body!

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

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