The Lord Jesus Christ has taken your place — from His Baptism in the Jordan River to His crucifixion, death, and burial — in order to give you His own place in His Resurrection from the dead and His Ascension to the Right Hand of the Father. So it is that, in the crucified and risen Lord Jesus Christ, the one true God is your own true Father, and you are His very own dear child.
As your Savior, the incarnate Son, Christ Jesus, has come down from heaven to save you from sin, death, and the devil. He has borne your griefs and carried all your sorrows on His own back and shoulders. He has taken the heavy yoke of the Law upon Himself, and carried the full burden of your sin in His Body to the Cross, in order to make Atonement for you by the shedding of His holy, precious Blood. So, then, in His Resurrection from the dead, by His Word and Holy Spirit, you receive all the good gifts and blessings of His Father, and you find your dwelling place in Him.
Come to Him, therefore — here within His House on earth — and find your perfect Sabbath Rest in Him, in the Liturgy of His Gospel, in the Ministry of His preaching and His Holy Sacrament.
He has ascended into heaven, where He ever lives to make intercession for you before the Throne of God, and where He has established a place for you with the Father in Himself. But so has He also made a place for you within His Church on earth; and He abides with you here, especially by the Gospel Ministry of those men whom He sends in His Name and stead, who preach and teach His Word, who work His works with His authority and administer His means of grace and peace.
It is by this Ministry of the Gospel that God the Father reveals and gives to you His beloved Son. So also does the Son pour out the Holy Spirit upon you and reveal the Father to you. It is in this way that Christ Jesus brings you with Himself, in the Holy Spirit, to His God and Father in heaven.
Thus, by the way and means of the Gospel, it is indeed on earth, here and now, as it is in heaven.
You cannot come into this divine Life by your own reason or strength. You cannot grasp it by yourself, nor for yourself. You will fail every time you try. You cannot take it, nor can you keep it by your own labors and hard efforts. Not by your intelligence; not by your instincts, intuition, or experience; and not by any strategy of your own devising. It is simply not within your power.
But Christ has come to you, and He calls you and brings you to Himself, by the preaching of His Gospel of forgiveness. And with His Word of grace and peace, He gives you a place that remains.
Better than that, your merciful and great High Priest, Christ Jesus, is your Place. He is your Home, in whom your righteousness abides. He is your Place of perfect Peace and genuine Sabbath Rest.
You live and abide and rest in Him, in His crucified and risen Body of flesh and blood, as you live and abide within His Body, the Church. You live in Him, in faith before God, and in love for your neighbor. Such faith and love are the fulfillment of the Law, the righteousness of Christ, which is credited to you through faith in His Gospel. Such is the life that He grants to you by His grace, and to which He calls you by His Word and Spirit. That is the place where you now live with Him.
It is sobering to consider that Judas Iscariot was given that same place, as a disciple, and as an Apostle of Christ Jesus. But he departed from that blessed place, in order to go to his own place, to a place of his own making, apart from God, to the darkness of despair, death, and damnation.
St. Matthias, though, who has already been given the place of Christ as a disciple, is now called and ordained to work within the place of Christ as one of the holy Apostles, as well. In that Office he speaks with the voice of Christ Jesus. He speaks the Word of the Lord, the Law and the Gospel, unto repentance and faith in the forgiveness of sins. He works the works of Christ in His Name.
There is hard work and suffering involved in this sacred vocation. And at the end of his life and service on this earth, Matthias will be martyred for the Ministry of the Gospel of Christ. Not only in his words and works, but in his very body and life, he bears the Cross of Christ the Crucified, precisely because he is one who has been given the place of Christ. That is true, not only for the Apostles of our Lord, but for all of His disciples in their respective vocations and stations in life.
For all of that, and as hard as it may be to comprehend, Jesus declares and promises that His yoke is “easy,” that His burden is “light.” Not from the standpoint of the world and its expectations; nor from the perspective of your old Adam and your mortal flesh, which, like Matthias, are finally put to death. But even the burden of mortality and death becomes “light,” and the work that you are called to do is “easy,” because your peace and rest are found in Christ Jesus, in His risen Body, in His indestructible Life. Your body and life are hidden safely and securely with Christ in God.
You have been granted the place of Christ in the presence of your God and Father in heaven. So do you also occupy and live within the place of Christ Jesus in loving service for your neighbor, wherever the Lord your God has stationed you in this world, in this poor life of labor. Here, it is true, the place that you are given and its duties are heavy and hard. To be called to faith and love in the here and now, is to be called daily to death, to carry the Cross and follow after Christ. So are you commanded, for example, to love your enemies and to pray for those who persecute you.
Remember, though, that it is the place of Christ to which you have been called, in which you now live and abide by His grace. He, too, has suffered and died, not only for your neighbor but for you. By His death He has conquered death, and in His Resurrection He has opened up the way of life for you and for all, forever and ever. So the yoke is easy, because you do not work or suffer for yourself and your salvation, but for Him who has already died and is risen for your Atonement and Justification. And your burden is light, because your sin is forgiven and your death is undone.
Such is the Peace of Christ, which the world does not know and cannot provide, but it is yours.
In gentleness and tender care, the Lord who loves you comes to serve you in body and soul, and to give you His own life. He daily removes and washes away your sins with His holy forgiveness. He raises you up from death to life, not only by the promise of His own Resurrection from the dead, but also by restoring you to the pledge and promise of your Baptism; by providing for all your needs, according to His grace and mercy; and by feeding you with His Body and His Blood, in which your flesh and blood are made brand new and made ready for the resurrection at the last.
In receiving these gifts, rely upon His gracious Word and promise, and so rest yourself in Him. Rejoice in the knowledge of faith, trusting that you are reconciled to God in Christ Jesus, your Savior. Be at peace, dear child of God, as your Father is at Peace with you in His beloved Son.
It is not by your own wisdom, reason, or strength. It never is, nor can it ever be. But like a little baby, as in your mother’s womb or at her breast, or cradled in your daddy’s arms, so are you fed and cared for by the Lord your God within His Holy Christian Church, on earth as it is in heaven.
Consider the example of St. Matthias, who does not say or do anything in the case at hand, but he simply receives the Office to which he is called and ordained. So does the dear Lord Jesus raise up servants for His beloved Church on earth. He has always done so, even to this day and place.
Through pastors who are given a place by God’s grace — who follow in the train of the Apostles and Prophets and Martyrs, who speak and serve by the calling of Christ Jesus — by their preaching and administration of His Holy Gospel, the Father reveals His beloved Son to you, the Son reveals His God and Father to you, and the Holy Spirit establishes you in the Kingdom of God by faith in His Word. Not only are you called to occupy an office of love, wherein you serve your neighbor in the world to the glory of God, but so are you given your own house and home with God, your own dear Father in heaven. For the Body of Christ, His Son, is your Place of Peace and Rest.
In the Name + of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.