07 May 2014

Now You See Him Where You Don't

The path that you are set upon may be a lonely one.  All the more so if it is a way that you have chosen for yourself.  But you are not alone.  The Lord has not lost sight of you, even if you are not able to see Him.  For one thing, you have companions on the journey to share the story of Jesus with you.  And by and with this very Word, Christ Jesus Himself draws near and goes with you.

He is the One who, by His Word and Spirit, opens the Scriptures to you; who opens your mind to comprehend and your heart to believe His Gospel; who opens Himself to you in His Supper, and opens you to Himself, to recognize and receive Him to yourself, in the Breaking of the Bread.

He brings you into His Glory by the way and means of His Cross and Passion; by the catechesis, not only of the facts, but of the Cross itself, which crucifies and buries you with Christ, in order to raise you up with Him in His own Resurrection from the dead.

This catechesis of the Cross continues all the way, even for those who already “know it all,” who already confess the things concerning Jesus of Nazareth.  It is an ongoing journey with this same Jesus who was crucified; which daily puts you to death, not for destruction, but for repentance, unto faith in His forgiveness of sins, and for newness of life in Him, who is not dead but living.

So does it lead you and bring you to the Place that Christ has prepared and made ready for you.

Sounds pretty sweet, doesn’t it?  But be forewarned, and bear in mind, that, on this Way of Life, your eyes are prevented from recognizing Him.  Because, even in the Resurrection, His Glory is that of the Crucified One.  He is the One whom God has raised from the dead and made both Lord and Christ.  In fact, He has entered into this divine Glory through His suffering of all these things.

But you do not perceive or recognize Him in your difficult and needy neighbor, for example; nor do you see Him in your own suffering, hurt, and pain; because you are not able to see the Glory of His Cross, even as it is now revealed in the preaching of His Resurrection.  Instead, you suffer disappointment and sadness, the crushing of your hopes and expectations.  In this way, the Cross of Christ brings to light your foolish ignorance, and it exposes your stubborn slowness of heart.

So it is that your perceptions, interpretations, and conclusions are all challenged, contradicted, crucified and put to death.

After all, He acts like He is going farther.  He plays a bit of cat-and-mouse, or so it seems at least.  His presence and His providence are elusive, especially as the Cross is constantly calling a halt to your progress and your plans.  Just when it seems that the answer is finally within reach, your goals in sight, the prize at hand, it all slips away from you.

He’s actually not teasing you, not really.  He’s teaching you to live by faith, and teaching you to pray, to call upon His Name.  He’s also training you to exercise love for your neighbor, rather than focusing on your own hurts and needs and sorrows; that you would love and serve Christ Jesus, precisely under the Cross, with Glory not earthly but divine, by loving and serving and caring for the widows and orphans and strangers set upon your path, and for the Lazarus laid at your gate; that you would do so in the confidence of the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.

In the meantime, though, He vanishes from your sight.  For it is not yet with your eyes that you are given to see and know Him.  It is rather in the darkness that you “see” Him by faith, by the Light of His Word, hidden in the Breaking of the Bread: in the distribution of His Body and His Blood.

Now you see Him where you don’t: In the Gospel of His Cross, in the Fruits of His Passion; at the Font and at the Altar, at His Table in His House; in the Holy Communion of His Church on earth.  Not by the simple knowledge of the facts, but by faith and trust in the Word and promise of this Lord Jesus Christ.  Not simply news and information, but the Body of Jesus, crucified and risen, given and poured out, for you and for the many, for the forgiveness of all your sins.  For Life.

He is with you in these ways and means of His Gospel, not simply as a companion on your journey, but as your Redeemer, who brings you with Himself into the Resurrection of the Body and the life everlasting.  He brings you to the portal that leads to bliss untold; that is, the portal of His Cross.

He does it by the apostolic Ministry of the Gospel; which is and remains, to this day, the teaching and fellowship of the Holy Apostles of Christ Jesus Himself.  And this holy apostolic Ministry is established, defined, and characterized by His own Cross and Passion.

All the more so, then — if you are called to preach His Word and to administer His gifts — all the more so do you need to hear and receive His Gospel, by which He reveals and gives Himself to you and to His Church, and by which He conforms you to His own Image as the Crucified One.  You’ll not manage this on your on.  Nor will His Church be fed by you, if you are not being fed by Him.

Take heart, therefore.  At this very Hour, in the Breaking of the Bread, you have communion with Him who loves you, and so also with each other in Him.  Here and now, you belong to His Body, the Church, as He gives to you His own Body to eat.  Herein resides your fellowship in Christ, whereby you live both to and from His Altar, into all times and places, wherever you may roam.

Thus do you rise with Him and enter into the Glory of His true Jerusalem, already in His Church on earth, even as it is in heaven.  Not in spite of the Cross, but in, with, and under the Cross, by the Word of the Cross, in the Fruits of the Cross.

His crucified and risen Body and His Blood are the Firstfruits of the Resurrection, and of the New Creation, your spiritual Food for the journey, and the Meat and Drink indeed of the Feast which has no end.  The promise is for you and for your children, and for all whom the Lord Jesus will call to Himself, even from the farthest ends of the earth, to the close to the age.  Blessed be the Name of the Lord!  Blessed be the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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