10 April 2015

Worship the Lord by Faith in His Word

It is the One who was crucified for you, who suffered and died in your place, who has also risen from the dead and lives forever.  Thus do you rise with Him and live with Him in His place.

As by His Baptism in the Jordan River He took your sin and death upon Himself and bore it in His Body to the Cross, so by your Baptism into Him have you received His Resurrection and His Life everlasting, in your body and your soul, through His forgiveness of all your sins.

The wages of sin is death.  Therefore, where there is forgiveness of sins, there is salvation from death and the free gift of eternal life with God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

It is because His death has atoned for the sins of the world that death has been defeated; and as it had to relinquish its hold on Christ Jesus, so must it also let go of all who belong to Him.  It is a lie of the devil to suppose that death is simply a normal and natural part of life; that is not the case.  Death is the devastating consequence of sin, but it has been undone by the Cross of Christ.

Therefore, the stone is rolled away, the tomb has been emptied.  The grave could not contain the Lord Jesus, and it shall not contain you: His disciple, His brother or sister, His friend.

Even so, that is not yet what you experience in your life here on earth, where the ground sometimes shakes beneath your feet, and airplanes can fall out of the sky and crash into mountains; where people die in countless ways, and you get sick and frightened; and where you are not the faithful disciple, brother, sister, or friend of Jesus that you are called to be and ought to be.

And I’ll not say or suggest that none of that matters.  It does, actually.  When you live in the fear of unbelief, you’re as good as dead already, even while you go about the pretense of living.  Then you have no peace or rest within yourself, and you have no love for others.

But the Lord has not left you without help or recourse.  Indeed, He is Himself your Strength and your Song, as He has become your Salvation.  Not just once upon a time, but now and forever.

Though He has risen from the dead, and He is never to die again, He has not forgotten you, nor shall He ever leave you or forsake you.  He has gone ahead of you, it is true, through death and the grave into the Resurrection and the Life everlasting; yet, He has not left you behind in the dust.  Although He is not visible to your eyes, He is actually not far away or absent from you.

His feet are rather firmly planted on the earth in the midst of His Church, where, by His Word of the Gospel, He meets you and greets you with His forgiveness of sins and His good gift of life.

The Font, the Altar, and the Pulpit from which His Word sounds forth in His Church, these are the Mountain to which He calls you and sends you, the Galilee where He now reveals Himself to you.

Everything depends upon His Word, just as everything has happened according to His Word, in fulfillment of the Holy Scriptures.  It is by His Word that He befriends you, and by His Word that He makes of you His disciple, His brother or sister.  It is likewise by His Word of the Gospel that He keeps you steadfast in the true faith, in place of your doubts and fears, anxieties and worries, so that even in the midst of death you live.

It is by His Word, therefore, and not by your own wisdom, reason, or strength, that you find Him — where He has promised to be with you — and you lay hold of Him by faith and worship Him.

It is likewise by His Word — by faith in His Word, and by His grace — that you speak in love to your neighbor in the world.  And it is His Word that you are given to speak, including especially His Word of forgiveness for those who have trespassed against you.

There is no place in the light of Easter for any refusal to forgive or to be reconciled to your brother or sister.  For your neighbor’s trespasses, along with your own trespasses, have been removed in the Resurrection of Christ Jesus from the dead.  Together you live by the grace of that Gospel.

Though your sins have been like scarlet, His Word of the Gospel has cleansed you white as snow.

And though the Lord remains here with you on earth, He has also hidden your life with Himself in God, until your body, too, shall be raised from the dead and glorified and live forever; for He has taken you with Himself, in His own Body, through death into life.  So it is that, already now, you live, as it were, a heavenly life on earth.  And that is especially the case here at His Altar.

Though you cannot see Him — but the day will dawn when you do, with your own eyes, from your own risen flesh — yet, even now, hear His Word to you, and know that His Word is true.  For the One who was crucified for you, who has risen just as He said, also speaks to you here and now:

“This is My Body, given for you.  This is My Blood, poured out for you.  Eat and Drink.  All your sins are forgiven.  And as I live, so shall you.”

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

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