Jan27

God's Word Speaks to You!

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Third Sunday after the Epiphany

God's Word Speaks to You!

        Grace, Mercy and Peace to you from God our Father and His only Son, Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.

        God speaks to us through His Word. These Holy Scriptures bring us the Good News of our Salvation. This is the Gospel of our Lord, the Living Word, who humbled himself to be born human. He lived the true nature of God, that is, Jesus Christ was fully God.

        This means Jesus Christ not only lived as one of his creation, but also lived as our Creator fully intended us to live. He was and is innocent of all sin, from the moment he came into this world to eternity.

        This innocent man, holy and righteous in all things, took all the sin of this world upon himself. This is the sin that was, is now and will be. The holy one of God being truly God, did this because he was one with God, is one with God and forever will be one with God.

            As we confess in the Nicene Creed;

I believe in… one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all ages, God of God… begotten not made, being of one substance with the Father, through whom all things were made:[1]

        This man, Our Lord, Our Savior, let himself be tortured and crucified unto death. He let himself be ridiculed and mocked. At last, he allowed himself to be killed in a manner even the Romans deemed too repugnant for the lowliest of their citizenry. Jesus Christ died, not for his own redemption, but for the redemption of all people. He became the final and complete sacrifice that pays the price for our atonement.

        He was sent into our midst to do this righteous work because no man, woman or child in this creation could ever accomplish the will of God. The Apostle Paul writes in his letter to the church in Rome:

For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. [Rom 5:7-8]

        Jesus Christ was a good man. He was a righteous man and he dared to die for all the lost miserable sinners who have ever lived and those who will live in the future. This is the love of God given to us while we are still sinners.

        In our sin, we will surly die. We cannot live to the glory of God while there is still sin in us. Sin and death is our human inheritance. For this reason, Jesus Christ left our sin in the grave. Jesus Christ killed sin and vanquished eternal death. His resurrection was the power of God revealed to all humankind.

        The end of death is the guarantee of eternal life. The only righteous man and the only good and loving God did all of this.

        When God created the heavens and the earth, He saw that it was good. When He created man and woman, He saw that it was good. When He sent His only Son into our flesh to save us from our sin, He said, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” [Matt 3:17]

        At the baptism of Christ, the Spirit of the Lord came to him and anointed him to preach good news to the lowliest of sinners. At the baptism of Christ, the Spirit of the Lord revealed to us the Messiah who proclaims freedom for the prisoners of death. We were blind to the holiness of God and Jesus Christ is the light who brings us sight. We are oppressed by evil so great that only the life of our Savior can release us.

        Does this sound familiar? It should. God said it through the prophet Isaiah. The Son of God quoted his Father 700 years later in a synagogue in Nazareth. Not only did Jesus Christ speak these words of promise, he revealed his divine nature by adding, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” [Luke 4:21b]

        Yes, God speaks to us through His Word. This Word of God created the cosmos, brought His Law to His people, and now fulfills His promise in your hearing. The promise of a Savior who would redeem His people is fulfilled. We have the Word himself proclaiming the Good News to the lowliest of sinners… you and me.

        To many, this is truly good news. To many others, this is a frightful judgment. Upon hearing these words, the people in Nazareth, the God-fearing and church going people became angry and afraid. They wished nothing more than to get rid of the Word of God. They wished to throw Jesus Christ off a cliff.

        It doesn’t take much of a stretch to see these same church going people of Nazareth reflected in our own lives. Obviously, we do not have Jesus physically with us to throw off a cliff, but we cast him out of our lives just the same.

        We do this when we refuse to hear his word and reject his promises. We do this when we throw our neighbor, co-worker, brother or sister off the proverbial cliff. We do not want to hear God tell us that doing what everybody else is doing is against His will. We do not want to hear that our nature is not good and in fact is inherently evil.

        Instead of returning to God in repentance, we turn away from God in shame. We sin more boldly in not only what we do but by what we do not do. We look the other way when our neighbor is in trouble. We hide in our homes when others tear down Christ and speak against the one true God. We would rather be blind, deaf and dumb to God than to reprove our own people. We actually fear to hear our Lord’s blessed word of salvation.

        Just as the people at Mt. Sinai witnessing the thunder, lightning and the mountain smoking, trembled with fear, and pleaded with Moses, You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” [Exodus 20:18, 19], the people of Nazareth feared the Word of God in their midst. Fear comes because the Word of the Lord shows us the true blackness of our sin.

        Many of you may have lived through terrorizing and frightful experiences. Some of you may have experienced the closeness of death. Others may have experienced loss so great that you feared no release from your pain. Yet these fears are nothing compared to the day when we stand before the Lord and he says, “I do not know you. You do not belong to me.” Like the people who heard the words of the Law from the priest and scribe Ezra, we mourn and we weep for our very souls.

        And well we should weep! We have failed. To hold ourselves up to the Law of God, we are sorely lacking. We fail each and every day. It is so tragic that it almost becomes a comedy. We diminish ourselves to the point of not trying to keep the commandments of God but only to lessen the amount of transgressions we commit. For many, it comes to the point where we don’t even try at all.

        If we were to live under the Law alone, we would surly perish, but fear not! Jesus Christ has come into the world and he is with us. He has sent the Spirit of the Lord to you! In Holy baptism, sanctified by Christ, we have been set free from our prison of sin. The water and the Word have given sight to our sin-blinded eyes. Jesus Christ has anointed you with the Holy Spirit and claims you as his own.

        He knows who you are. We need not fear death, or hell or the devil any longer. God has claimed you as His possession, a treasure in His heaven. We now eat the fat and drink the sweet for this day is holy to our Lord. We do not live in sorrow, because the joy of the Lord is our strength. [Neh 8:10]

        The Spirit of the Lord is on you, because he has anointed you to preach the good news to those who have not heard. He has sent you to proclaim freedom for the prisoners of sin and to release the oppressed. He has sent you to proclaim the Lord’s favor.

        Through Christ, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Amen.

 


[1] The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church., ed. Theodore G. Tappert, 18 (Philadelphia: Mu?hlenberg Press, 1959).

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