Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sermon for 4/3/11 "Moving Along"

Sermon: "Moving Along" Isaiah 42.14-21  Audio link

Lord, take us by the hand and guide us. Let us see where we are, where we are going, and what you would reveal to us in your word, through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Have you ever been lost somewhere? Maybe you thought you knew where you were going but took a wrong turn somewhere. Maybe you were looking for that street that didn't have a sign at the corner. Maybe you were planning on staying near someone who knew where to go but you managed to become separated. For a while you think everything is fine. You are under the impression that you know where you are and where you are going. But after a while you realize that you are not making the kind of progress you thought you would. You may find you see landmarks you have seen before, or maybe you have a compass and can see that you are going a direction that doesn't make any sense. The mild sense of annoyance may turn to frustration as you circle, hunt, circle some more, and realize you really don't have a point of reference to get you to your destination. You need help and you know it.

In our Christian life, as we see in the passage from Isaiah 42, God knows precisely where we are and what he wants to do with us. He takes us by the hand and moves us along. He takes our blindness and makes it see. He takes the darkness around us and makes it sight. He protects us from harm. And he does it by showing himself to us. God in Christ has revealed himself to us and will enable us to follow him, walking in the light which he casts on our path.

Like the man in John 9 we gradually see our Lord better. Did you notice the progression the man in John 9 goes through? First he talks about Jesus as the man who healed him. Then he starts talking about Jesus as "the prophet. By the end of the passage he is talking about Jesus as the one we need to worship. The more he thinks about what Jesus did for him, the more clearly he sees Jesus for who he is.

In the same way, our Lord takes us by the hand and turns on the lights. He shows us how to walk as children of the light, with our lives open to inspection and affirmation from our heavenly Father. He shows us our sin by the light of his word. He calls us to repentance and grants us forgiveness.

Can we trust in our Lord? Do we realize that he is truly the one who shows us himself? Do we realize as we walk in the light that our Lord himself is the redeemer we need? Do we realize that Jesus Christ himself is the light of the world? That's what our Lord shows us. In Isaiah we saw that the condition of this sinful world requires God to come in judgment. He comes to "lay waste" our territory (v. 15). He is not going to allow sin to rule in the land, for he is the holy God who condemns sin.

How is this good news? We see that our world is cursed by sin, and that sin brings death. But God is coming to judge sin and to put that sin to death, by receiving it in himself, in the person of Jesus Christ. He is the one who puts sin to death by dying while bearing the load of sin, the sin of the world.

Why is this death of Christ any different from anyone else's death? What does Jesus have that we don't have? In God's economy, as he has declared, the offering for sin must be perfect, and it must be a perfect sample of the same kind as the sinner. Therefore a perfect, sinless human must die to effect salvation on all the rest of the sinful people. It would not be adequate if he were not perfect, so we need a person with no sin to die. Only Jesus can do this. Only Jesus can give his life for us. Only Jesus is perfect, without sin, yet fully human. That's why we confess both the full deity and full humanity of Christ. We see that it is necessary that the Savior must be fully God and fully man. Jesus shows himself to be just that.

Jesus does not stop there, though. He is not content with showing that he is the perfect one, complete with both a divine and a human nature. He doesn't stop with our knowing who he is. He refuses to stop until he is put to death in order to bear our sins. The point of the incarnation of Christ is that he should go to the cross and bear our sins for us. If he did not complete that work, his incarnation would be for nothing.

Then our Lord and Savior, who gave his life for us, has shown his sacrifice is adequate by rising from the dead, the firstfruits of the resurrection. He points us to a future resurrection, when we will rise, our body and soul will be united, and we will live with him for eternity.

We can't see this. We can't understand it. We can talk about it all day and all night and we still won't get it. We have no idea how important it is. We have no idea how blissful that heavenly bliss will be. We have no idea of the consuming vision of God in Christ which is in store for us. We can't understand it or fully appreciate it. But we do know our Lord has promised his presence, and that he will bring us to be with him at the end of the age. We do know that our Lord has promised to take us by the hand, to show us his light, and to lead us through this world. We do know that our Lord gives eyes to the blind and ears to the deaf. We do know that our Lord will show us the glory of his word. We do know that our Lord will not allow anything to harm his chosen people, that he is entirely committed to their living in his bliss forever.

How is our Lord revealing himself to us? He has promised to reveal himself to us in Word and Sacrament, particularly being present here for us in his body and blood. He has promised to be with us always, in the flesh, just as he was with his disciples before going to the cross. He has promised that he will not leave us or forsake us.

How do we see our Lord? Do we see him as being the one who has purchased our life, our healing, our salvation through his body broken for us and his blood shed for us? Do we see him as the one who is coming soon to bring us to be with him? Do we see him as the one who moves us from this life to the next by his mercy, just as he promised in his word? Then let us rejoice as we, who were blind and deaf, unable to figure out where we were, without a hope in the world, are gathered into unity and one accord, with the angels and archangels, crying out to our holy Lord, the Savior.

Let us pray.

Our Lord, you have taken us by the hand and have shown us this world for what is is, shown up by your light. Make us walk in the light, over the level ground that you have created at the foot of your cross, where we stand, gathered into one body by the one name under heaven by which we might be saved. Receive our thanksgiving and praise as we offer ourselves to you, who have offered yourself on our behalf, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Dave Spotts
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