Be sober in all things. Endure hardship and bear the cross patiently. Do the work that God has given you to do. Fulfill your calling as a Christian.
For the Lord your God has poured Himself out as a drink offering, for you and for all people, even to the ends of the earth. And He pours Himself out for you here — for you and for the many — that you should be crowned with His righteousness, sealed with His blood, and live with Him in His Kingdom, in safety, peace, and happiness forever.
By the baring of His holy arms upon the wood of the Cross, He has redeemed His people and the whole of His creation from the curse of sin and death.
And now He also bares His holy outstretched arms and His merciful hands by causing the Gospel to be preached to all the nations, to make known His salvation to all men and women everywhere, and to comfort His Church, His beloved Jerusalem, even in the midst of her suffering and sorrow.
The Lord Jesus Christ, the almighty and eternal Son of God, in flesh and blood like your own, has fulfilled the entire Law, the Word and holy will of His Father. He has established faith and love, righteousness and holiness, in Himself, in His own Body, in the perfect unity of His own Person as the One who is both true God and true Man. It is in Him, therefore, by faith in Him, that all the sons and daughters of man are called and given to live the divine life, to partake of the divine nature, and to abide in peace and joy forevermore within the bosom of His God and Father.
He has broken down the wall of hostility and separation between God and man, which sin erected in the fall of Adam. The Lord has removed the accusation of the Law and every condemnation. For He has suffered the death and damnation of sin in His own body, and the wrath of God against all unrighteousness; and having done so in perfect faith and love, in holiness and innocence before His God and Father, He has been vindicated and raised from the dead on behalf of all people.
Because His bloody Cross and Passion have made Atonement for the sins of the whole world, the death of the Lord Jesus Christ has defeated death forever and crushed the devil’s head.
His Resurrection is the Father’s Holy Absolution of the world, which He has reconciled to Himself in Christ, His dear Son. All flesh and all creation are restored in the flesh of Christ, in His Body, crucified and risen. So God the Father now beholds the world in Jesus Christ, and it is very good.
All of this redemption, reconciliation, and righteousness, the Lord has accomplished and fulfilled, not for His own benefit, but for you and for all; that you might live in His good and glorious New Creation; that you might live, by faith in Christ, in the love of God forever and ever.
It is into that life and love that God invites you and brings you by His Gospel, which is the Word of Christ, the proclamation of His Cross and Resurrection, the preaching of repentance and the forgiveness of sins in His Name, and of peace with God in His holy and precious blood.
As He brought all of creation into being out of nothing by His Word, so has He also brought about the New Creation by His Word. And so it is that He brings you out of death into life — out of the darkness of your sins into the Light of His Love, into His New Creation — all by His Word.
It is by His Word that He has given you the new birth of water and the Holy Spirit, so that you are no longer dead in your trespasses and sin, but having been crucified with Christ you are raised with Him to newness of life with God, here in time and hereafter in eternity. Outside of Christ Jesus you are condemned, but in Him you are alive and shall be saved forevermore. Remain in Him, therefore, by returning daily to your Baptism through contrition, repentance, and faith, and by living the new life to which He has called you, in love for God and man, according to His Word.
Do not underestimate the importance and necessity of His Word and the preaching of it. It is His Word that separates the darkness from the Light. It is His Word that raises you from death to life. And it is His Word that saves you from every evil of body and soul, until He shall call you from this valley of sorrow to Himself in heaven.
It is when His people disregard His Word and turn away from it that His good creation falls into the curse and condemnation of sin and death. And, as it is by His Word that you abide in Christ, and by His Word that Christ abides in you, so it is that, when you turn a deaf ear to His Word and refuse to hear it, then you are found outside of Him and condemned in your unfaithfulness.
Where His Word reproaches you for your unbelief and hardness of heart, repent. Do not become angry or defensive; do not persist in your stubbornness and sin, but repent and believe the Gospel. Do not refuse to hear the testimony of those who are the witnesses of His Cross and Resurrection, but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it. Do not despise this preaching of His Word, but receive it with your ears, ponder it in your heart, believe it, and live according to it at all times.
Trust Christ, that He was crucified for your transgressions and raised again for your justification. Live in Him, and do not allow the devil, the world, or your sinful flesh to rob you of that life.
Wherever in the world He has called you and stationed you to be, live and work there in the joyful confidence of His Gospel, and in the love that His Word directs you to have for your neighbor.
If you are a preacher, preach. But let none of you suppose that only preachers shall be saved or live by the Word of Christ. Rather, live in the Resurrection of Christ Jesus, according to His Word that has been preached to you, within your own vocation as a Christian, within your own proper office and station in life. Know that the Lord your God works with you, and in you, confirming His Word to you by the signs of His grace, mercy, and peace, in your faithful service as a husband or wife, father or mother, son or daughter, sister or brother, student or worker.
Live such as you are, as one whose life is safe and secure in Christ Jesus, who sits at the right hand of God the Father in heaven. That is where you live by faith, even as you live in love here on earth
And that, too, is very good, for Jesus’ sake.
The goodness of His creation — redeemed by His Cross and restored in His Resurrection — and the goodness of life in this world, is demonstrated by the ways and means with which He causes His Gospel to be preached to all the nations of the world, even to the ends of the earth.
Not angels, but men of flesh and blood like His own, He calls and sends in His Name to preach.
Men like St. Mark the Evangelist, whom we remember with praise and thanksgiving to God on this festival day. By his hand, the Word of Christ has been recorded and published in all the world. Surely by such proclamation he was useful to St. Peter and St. Paul. And he is useful to you, also, by the Word that he has written in the Holy Spirit. With mortal hands he wrote with human words on earthly parchment, and yet those Words he wrote are the Words of Christ, your Savior, alive with His Spirit and full of His forgiveness for the salvation of sinners, including you.
So do the preachers of Christ Jesus, even now, speak with new tongues, so that you may be healed of your sins, set free from your demons, and raised from death to life. The forked tongue of the serpent shall not deceive you or mislead you, and his deadly poison shall not hurt you, not while you are guarded and kept by this preaching of Christ and His Gospel of forgiveness. Not because you never fall, but because He has risen from the dead, and He raises you up with Himself.
With His Word He has made of ordinary water a Baptism for you, that is, a life-giving water, rich in grace, and a washing of the new birth in the Holy Spirit. Believe it, and be saved.
Believe, too, that the same Lord Jesus Christ who died and rose again, who called and sent Saint Mark to preach and publish the Gospel, and who reclined at the Table with His holy Apostles, making Himself known to them in the Breaking of the Bread — that same Lord Jesus Christ, by the same Word of the Gospel, reclines here at His Table with you, and He gives Himself to you here and now, His flesh and blood for your body and soul, in the same Breaking of the Bread.
His Word sounds from heaven here in this place through the mouth of His servant, and His holy arm stretches out to feed you from His own hand. There is no poison in His Cup. It is poured out as the Medicine of Life and Immortality, which He has brought to light through the Gospel.
By His precious Word, sweeter than honey, and by His Holy Sacrament, He reigns as your King.
All praise and thanks to Him for this great salvation, and for the gift of His servant, St. Mark, through whom He has caused His Word to be heard in your ears and your heart, unto eternal life.
In the Name + of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.