Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!
Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.
Sunday, November 20, 2016
Jesus, True God, Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier - November 20, 2016 - Last Sunday of the Church Year (Proper 29) - Text: Colossians 1:13-20
We get it right when we point to Jesus. We get it wrong when we point to ourselves. Why? Because we are conceived and born in sin and every inclination of our hearts is evil all the time. We sin, but Jesus was conceived and born without sin and He lived a perfect life. He never sinned. Thus, we point to Jesus who gives us forgiveness, faith, life and salvation. Today is the last Sunday in our present church year, it is our New Church Year’s Eve of sorts. This Thursday we will celebrate a national day of giving thanks, of course we will celebrate in worship on Wednesday evening, and then next Sunday we will begin a brand new Church year, a new year to prepare for our celebration of Jesus’ birth, to prepare for His suffering and death and to celebrate His resurrection which then is followed by another year of being given His gifts through the rest of the church year; quiet a wonderful way of living our Christian faith.
In our text for today we are reminded of who Jesus is. When we talk about Jesus, the Christ, we call this “Christology,” or the study of Christ. In the first part of our text we read of Jesus, who is true God, and who was at creation. “13He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 15He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (v. 15-17).
Jesus is true God as He was with God the Father and the Holy Spirit at the creation of the world. Even in Genesis chapter one verse one the Hebrew word for God is in the plural, not that we worship a plurality of gods, that is we are not polytheistic, but that we worship one God who reveals Himself to us in three distinct persons.
As we confess in the doctrines or teachings of the church, Jesus is always one with the Father and the Holy Spirit. In the Athanasian Creed which we use once a year on Trinity Sunday, we confess the unity of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. You might remember that rather lengthy confession, it is on page 319-320 in your hymnal. You might remember that what we say of the Father we say of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, what we say of the Son we say of the Father and of the Holy Spirit and what we say of the Holy Spirit we say of the Father and of the Son.
The point of this confession is that Jesus is true God and He had to be true God in order to be born in perfection. Jesus had to be perfect because of our imperfection. If He were imperfect then He would be in the same boat as we are in, in need of forgiveness and perfection.
The second part of our Christology study brings us to hear that not only is Jesus truly God, but He is also true man. “18And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether” (v. 18-20).
Jesus is truly human, as we confess in the creeds, being born of the human woman, Mary. Jesus was conceived in the same way you and I were conceived, except that His Father was not a sinful human father like yours and mine. Jesus was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, again as we confess. So, Jesus is truly God, as God is His Father and truly man as Mary is His mother.
Jesus is God in flesh, He is God who took on human flesh in order to live as a human. The only difference is that Jesus lived in perfection. Jesus came to live the life demanded of us, a perfect life. Adam and Eve were created in perfection and the expectation was that they would be perfect and live in perfection. Because of their disobedience and sin God cursed the earth and now we live in imperfection. Jesus came to make all things right so He came to live perfectly according to God’s demand. And He did. Jesus obeyed all of God’s laws and commandments perfectly. He also fulfilled all God’s promises concerning Himself as the Messiah/Savior, perfectly.
As a man, having lived in perfection, then Jesus took our sins, all our sins, as well as the sins of all people who have ever and will ever live, of all places on Himself and He suffered and died paying the price for sin, which is eternal spiritual death, hell. Jesus took the punishment which should have been ours. Jesus suffered for us in our place. Jesus gives us the greatest gift, the gift He purchased and won for us, the gift that gives us eternal life, that is the gift of forgiveness of sins. Forgiveness is the greatest gift because without forgiveness we would be left in our sins and we would be eternally condemned, but with forgiveness is life and salvation.
Jesus is true man and had to be true man in order to substitute His life for ours. When it comes to substitutions as we say you cannot compare apples and oranges, thus neither can you substitute unlike things, God for man. Jesus was a human so He could substitute His humanity for our humanity. And He did just that for us because of His great love for us.
What Does This Mean? As we approach the end of our present Church year we are reminded of the fact that we are also approaching the end of our earthly lives, either at our own passing or the Lord’s return. When will the Lord return? No one knows, not even Jesus, but only God the Father. When will we die? Again, no one knows, but God. However, I do believe we can agree on the fact that each day we live brings us one day closer to both of those eventualities, either the Lord’s return or our passing on and going to Him. The question we need to ask ourselves each and every day is are we ready for either of these days, the Lord’s return or our own passing? Indeed, this is the ultimate question because this earth and our lives in this world are fast and fleeting and compared to eternity our lives on this earth truly are nothing compared to our eternity either in heaven or not in heaven.
How do we face this eventual certainty? Jesus’ life, death and resurrection bring us comfort and confidence as we approach our own earthly end. Because God’s demand is perfection and because we know that we are imperfect, no matter how hard we try and very often our attempts are simply to place our imperfections alongside one more imperfect than ourselves so we do not look as imperfect, as if that makes us more perfect, yet we still see our sin. Of course, that is the purpose of the commandments, to be a mirror through which we see our sin and imperfection. That is also the purpose of the law, to show us our sin. It is only as we see our sin and the severity of our sin that we can truly hear the Gospel and the comfort we have in Jesus’ perfection for us in our place.
All history points to Jesus and so we are pointed to Jesus. Have you ever noticed how even our time designation, B.C., before Christ and A.D., Anno Domini, in the year of our Lord, or after death as we say, points us to Jesus as the center of all history. Even our Old Testament which points forward to Jesus and our New Testament which points us back to Jesus, centers all history on Jesus. So we point to Jesus.
Too often we forget or need the reminder that Jesus had us in mind from the start of creation and even before. From the moment of creation He thought of us and He created us in order to love us. During His life Jesus had us in mind so that He was living His life for us, for you and for me. While He was on the cross Jesus was thinking of us, and following His resurrection He had us in mind.
The whole purpose of Jesus’ life was to reconcile us to Himself by paying the price for our sins. Jesus loves us so much. He reconciled us by paying the price that we owe, that is He shed His blood, paying the price for our sins.
Thus, our confidence as we approach the end of the church year and our own earthly end should we pass on before our Lord returns, is always and only in Jesus. The whole of Jesus’ life has always been and always will be on us. He created us to love us. He loves us even though in His foreknowledge, that is even though He knew Adam and Eve would mess up everything, He created us anyway. He loves us so much that He lived for us, took our sins, suffered, died and rose for us. We are His and He loves us. Today He pours out His love for us through the blessings of Holy Baptism wherein He puts His name on us and marks us as His own. He pours out His love for us through confession and absolution wherein He gives us forgiveness of sins. He pours out His love for us through His Word which does and gives what it says. And He pours out His love on us through His body and blood in His Holy Supper, given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. Indeed, through these very tangible, earthly things God gives us His good gifts and blessings.
Today is New Church Year Sunday Eve. Today we conclude our current Church Year. How much longer, how many more days, even years will our Lord give to us and to our world. We do not know. No one knows, and I would suspect that is a good thing. As Luther is said to have remarked, “If I knew the Lord would return tomorrow I would plant a tree today.” And so we live our lives in the same way, with eager anticipation. Each day we live as if it might be our last, not in decadence, but in humble submission and faith. Each day we live being prepared for the Lord’s return or our passing on to Him. Each day we live in joyous faith and hope, which is a certainty of our eternal life in heaven with Him who created us, who loves us, who redeemed us, and who gives us all we need, faith, forgiveness, life and salvation. Thanks be to God and to Him be the glory for Jesus’ sake. Amen.