04 January 2018

Life with God in the Baptized Body of Christ Jesus

Here is the New Creation that God the Father makes by His Son and with His Holy Spirit.  It is in the Body of Christ Jesus, the incarnate Son.  And the Life of the new heavens and new earth is in His holy and precious Blood.  For He has come in the flesh to receive and bear the Spirit in His own Body on behalf of all the children of men; that He might also pour out the same Spirit upon them through His Word, and thereby grant them to be reborn as the children of God in Him.

That new birth is what He has done for you, and bestowed upon you, by the washing of the water with His Word in your Holy Baptism.  And by that means of His grace, mercy, and forgiveness, He has manifested Himself to you and made Himself known to you.

Otherwise, because of your native sinfulness and your mortality, you did not know Him.  Indeed, you were not able to know Him.  Nor could you have found your way to Him or figured Him out.

But, see here, the Lord your God has come to you in love in order to save you.

From before the foundation of the world He has known you in His love.  So has the Son of God come down from heaven to raise you up with Himself, to give you Life with His God and Father.

It is for such Life and Love that He conceived you in your mother’s womb and gave you birth, and for such Life and Love that He has recreated you and given you the new birth of Holy Baptism.

Before you ever called on Him — before you even knew to pray, or how to pray — He has already answered your prayer by moving to meet your deepest need and longing in and with Himself.

He has done away with death by taking away the sins of the world.  As the Lamb of God, He has taken them upon Himself and borne them in His own Body to the Cross.  He has given Himself into death as the Sacrifice of Atonement.  He has poured out His Lifeblood for you and for all, in order to redeem you from death and the grave, and to grant you His own divine Life by the Spirit.

It is for this holy purpose that He comes to St. John, to be baptized by him.  He enters the waters of the Jordan in His own Body of flesh and blood, conceived and born of St. Mary, in order to achieve and establish the salvation of the world.

On the one hand, He receives your sins and the sins of the whole world into His flesh; so that, by the shedding of His Blood, all those sins and debts are paid in full, death is undone, and the devil is defeated.  In this respect, He is baptized into your death.  He makes His Body mortal with all your sins and griefs and sorrows, in order to open the way for your mortal body to pass with Him through death and the grave into the Resurrection of the Body and the Life everlasting.

At the same time, on the other hand, He also receives the Spirit of His God and Father into His flesh.  Thus, His Body of flesh and blood — bearing the Spirit to and from the Cross, and risen from the dead in Glory — His Body has become the first fruits of the New Creation.

In this way, too, the divine Sonship that is His by nature from all eternity is manifested and fully realized in His humanity, so that He might become the firstborn of many brethren; and so that you might become a son of God by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, your Savior.

As pivotal as the Baptism of Jesus was for Him, for His Life and Ministry, and for His great work of Salvation, so pivotal is your Baptism for you.  In those waters of the font, your body of flesh and blood has been cleansed of all your sins and set free from death.  And at the same time, you have received the Spirit of Christ Jesus and the gracious adoption of His God and Father.

Thus do you live as a child of God, even now in your flesh here on earth, and hereafter forever in the resurrection of your body at the last.  For the flesh of Christ is your Anchor in the Paradise of the New Creation, your Stronghold in the new heavens and the new earth.  What He has already accomplished once for all by His Baptism into death, He has fully given to you in your Baptism.

The Lord is the Potter, and you are the clay whom He has fashioned for Himself in love.  He has breathed His Holy Spirit into your body and soul through His Gospel of forgiveness — from the waters of your Baptism, to His spoken Word of Holy Absolution, to the Body and Blood of Christ at His Altar.  Thus are you a living creature.  As surely as God the Father raised His beloved Son, Christ Jesus, from the dust of the earth, so does He raise you from death to life everlasting in Him.

Your life in the world right now, regardless of your age, and throughout all your length of days, is meaningful and significant, because you are a child of God in Christ.  It is no longer the legacy of sin and death that you inherited from your fallen father Adam, but the inheritance of God the Father in heaven which defines your life and determines your destiny in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The promise is for you and for your children, and it is sure and certain in the crucified and risen Body of Christ Jesus.  As you are baptized into His death, so do you live in His rising.  And as the Spirit remains upon His Body, so does the Holy Spirit rest and remain upon you: In life, in death, and in the resurrection of your body to the life everlasting of your body and soul in Paradise.

The significance and value of your body and life is demonstrated, already here and now, not only in the waters of your Baptism, but in the fact that Christ Jesus feeds you here at His Altar with the Fruits of His Tree in the midst of Paradise, His Body given and His Blood poured out for you, for the forgiveness of all your sins, and for your life and salvation with God.

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

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