She's so blonde...she thought Meow Mix was a CD for cats.
‹Jim Genthe›
Atlantis: the domain of the Stingray
20Mar
2013
Wed
19:07
author: Stingray
category: Sermons
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Mid-week Lent 2013

The Stigmata

These are the five sermons preached over the course of the five Wednesdays of Lent, not including Ash Wednesday or Holy Wednesday. Rather than posting them individually, I post them together because they are connected by a theme, which are the five wounds of Christ in His Passion, the Stigmata: His Back, His Head, His Hands, His Feet, and His Side.

I have long wanted to do something like this for Lent, but could never get myself into gear early enough to have it completely planned. This year, I started thinking about this and putting it together in January. You can see the supplied lessons for the services and the suggested hymns for each evening by reading this .pdf file.


His Back - 20 February 2013

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

“By His stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5d) If there is one wound of Christ’s passion that we can immediately think about with regard to this snippet from Isaiah, it would be the stripes on His back, the first wounds of His passion. But, why His back?

In Pilate’s point of view, this was the punishment that Jesus needed. It’s not that, in Pilate’s eyes, Jesus deserved any punishment, but he felt that he had to do something to “the Man.” He would be no friend of Caesar if he did nothing, and he desperately did not want to be Caesar’s enemy. “I wash my hands of Him,” Pilate declared, “His blood is not on my hands.” How fortunate for him with regard to Rome, yet how unfortunate that Pilate wished not to be covered in Jesus’ blood.

So, Pilate delivers Jesus to be scourged. Jesus is beaten with canes; His body bruising and blood vessels rupturing beneath His skin. The flesh He assumed in the womb of the Blessed Virgin is ripped apart with cane strike after cane strike followed by lashes from a flagellum, a multi-tailed whip with bits of metal in the strands designed to tear apart and tear away flesh. He is scourged to within an inch of His life; it’s the way of beatings among the Romans, a fact to which St. Paul alludes. (cf. 2 Corinthians 11:24) But, He wasn’t killed yet. This was not the way of sacrifice for the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. Nor were any of His bones broken in the beating, so as to keep the word of the Psalmist. (cf. Psalm 34:20)

It’s a grotesque picture, and one made more vivid with the point of Christ’s coming: “for you.” It may be difficult to picture the beating that Jesus endures as being for you. Why would He do this for you? What’s in it for you? To put it quite simply, He does this, as He suffers the rest of His passion and death, in your place.

Consider the Son of God before the Sanhedrin. There, Jesus is accused left and right of doing things for which He is innocent. Yet, like a Lamb led to the slaughter, He did not open His mouth. (cf. Isaiah 53:7) He said not a word in objection to any of the charges leveled against Him. Even at that moment, He is taking the blame for your sins. Yes, you are guilty of all of those charges, and Jesus takes the blame.

Blasphemously, they call Him blasphemer. Dear hearers, you may think or want to believe that you are not guilty of blasphemy, but every time you sin, every time you transgress the Word of God, you make God out to be a liar, and you set yourself in God’s place. Well, here’s your time; set yourself in God’s place now, before the council as they hurl their insults and spit at the Son of God. You are the blasphemer that they call Jesus, and Jesus receives the insult, takes the label upon Himself willingly in full and righteous obedience to His Father.

So, even as He is being scourged, Jesus does not cry out that He is innocent. He very well could have, and He would very well be correct. Fully man, He felt every lash, certainly cried out in agony with every gash, but He obediently and willingly suffers every bit of it, never once cried out that He was innocent, never once asking for a way out (having already done so at Gethsemane). He “bites His tongue,” as it were, as His skin rips open, and He sheds His blood, knowing full well, that even in that moment, that blood was shed for you. He takes the punishment you deserve, sheds His blood for you, so that you could live and be healed and not shed the blood for the punishment for your sins, nor give your life because of your sins.

Oh, but it doesn’t end in the Praetorium. Even after Jesus receives His crown of thorns and “royal” scepter, He is led to Golgotha to be crucified. There, He will die with the sins of the world—die the death due you in your place, and so again, you do not have to die for your sins. But along the way, His cross is placed on His beaten and bloody back. Into and onto His already present wounds is placed the burden of His cross, further wounding Him. Imagine this, if you will: He carries on His back the weight of this world’s curse, and He willingly accepts it as His own. He takes your burden, and the beating that goes with it, and gives you His:

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

Yes, He stumbles along the way. He is still fully human. He was just beaten to within an inch of His life. He is bleeding, and is unable to carry the cross Himself for long. But it is still His cross, and it still left its mark on His back. He will be nailed to it and die upon it for the sin of the world.

It wasn’t pleasant receiving the stripes on His back, but it is also not the end of Jesus’ passion. He bore the wrath of man as from His Father on your behalf as He stood in your place before the Council, before Pilate, in the Praetorium, and along the Via Dolorosa—to death. He rose again from the grave on the third day, thus putting an end to death, bring life and immortality to light. He bore the wrath of God in full; therefore, there is none left for you, and you who are clothed in Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection by way of Holy Baptism are brought into peace with God. [Once, you] were alienated and enemies [of God], yet now He has reconciled [you] in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight.” (cf. Colossians 1:21-22) And thus is fulfilled the word of the prophet:

Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:4-5)
In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

His Head - 27 February 2013

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

It’s a pitiful sight, if it were one to behold. Here is the king of creation, humbled. Once, he dwelt in Paradise. His life was perfect, but no longer. Now, He carries a heavy burden. Through him was supposed to come forth life; instead, now, in him all die. Here he is, the Father’s crowning achievement, cast from Paradise, and the supposed crown replaced with the curse:

Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’:
“Cursed is the ground for your sake;
In toil you shall eat of it
All the days of your life.
Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you,
And you shall eat the herb of the field.
In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread
Till you return to the ground,
For out of it you were taken;
For dust you are,
And to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:17-19)

“Cursed is the ground for your sake,” said God, “in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you.” What was once a pleasure to do—tending to God’s creation—has now become toilsome. The ground is cursed on account of Adam’s sin. Where he tries to grow food to eat, the ground produces or also produces thorns and thistles. These prickly plants poke and lacerate the skin and serve as a constant reminder of the impending death that awaits every son of Adam, a little foretaste of his mortality. “For dust you are, and to dust you shall return.”

Dear listeners, this is the plight in which you share. You are a son of Adam or daughter of Eve, and the curse of creation applies to you, too. If you farm or have farmed, you know the toilsome work it is to produce fruit from the earth, and that no matter how hard you try, from the ground springs thorns and thistles. No matter your vocation, you produce fruit, as God provides for the production, yet the toilsome work to which you attend is not perfect such that along with the fruit you produce come the signs of the curse: hardships and failures, breakdowns and catastrophes, side-effects and injury...death!

It’s a pitiful sight, if it were one to behold. Here is the King of the universe, humbled. Once, He dwelt in Paradise. He was and is perfect. But before Him it is no longer. Now, He carries a heavy burden. “In Him was life, and that life was the light of man.” (John 1:4) He is the only-begotten Son of the Father, who, having humbled Himself and laid aside the crown that is His glory, now bears on His brow a crown of thorns.

He takes upon Himself the curse of creation. He takes from every son of Adam the curse of death, even as the thorns pierce into His skin, and He bleeds from His brow. Here we see a most marvelous exchange: The Father give life to Adam, and Adam sins, so God curses Adam, and Adam dies. Yet God would not see His crowning achievement dead for eternity. So, the eternal Son becomes one with Adam—He is the second Adam—takes on flesh and dies in place of Adam and every one of his sons and daughters, having assumed into His flesh the curse pronounced to Adam, Eve, and all creation, and He gives to them life.

Dear listeners, this is the grace of God with which you are lavished. Look upon the thorn-encircled head of your Savior, and see there the curse pronounced to Adam in which you share. Your God bears that for you. Think upon every thorn and thistle you have had to endure and with which, this side of eternity, you will still be afflicted and see them in your Redeemer’s crown.

He takes them upon and into His flesh and away from you. He wears this crown as He is led from the Praetorium, along the Via Dolorosa, and ultimately when He is crucified and dies, bearing in His flesh and into His death the curse of sin. Now, finally, the curse of Adam is broken. No longer need his sons and daughters die for their sins, for Jesus Christ has died in their place and given them His life.

God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned. But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. For if by the one man's offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man's righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. (Romans 5:8-12, 15-19)

But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:20-22)

Now risen and ascended, our Lord still bears the marks on His brow, but the crown of thorns is removed. The curse is gone, vanquished, but Jesus still bears in His risen and ascended body the marks of the curse, because you who believe on Jesus’ name and trust in His passion, death, and resurrection for your forgiveness, life, and salvation will not bear them! Adam’s curse afflicts you now—sometimes harder than at other times—but not on the other side of eternity. Jesus Christ bore it ultimately and finally for you, in His own flesh. And so is fulfilled the word of the prophet:

Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:4-5)
In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

His Hands - 6 March 2013

These hands were created to tend and care. Into the Garden of Eden was Adam placed after he was formed, as it seems, by the hands of God, certainly by the voice of God:

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground the LORD God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. (Genesis 2:7-9, 15)

We can probably imagine that it was a easy task to which these hands were set. Things grew as God had ordered them, but God had given Adam and his meet helper reign over creation. They could do with the Garden what they pleased, tend and care for it as they saw fit, and pluck from the plants the food that they wanted to eat. But, they were not allowed to eat from that tree in the midst of the Garden.

These hands, they can do so much more than the tending and caring they were created for. That’s what Adam and his meet helper discovered after they plucked from the forbidden tree and ate the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. So much was learned—these hands can create and these hands can destroy, these hands can soothe and these hands can maim, these hands can be instrumental in giving life and these hands can take life. Fascinating all that we can do with these hands.

Expelled from the Garden, Adam named his meet helper: Eve, the mother of all the living. They see to the task of multiplying and filling the earth, but their sons and daughters learn from them—inherit from them—the knowledge that they can do marvelous and treacherous things with their hands.

It wasn’t long until Eve gave birth. God has given her a man—Cain. She bore again another son—Abel. Cain was a farmer; with his hands, and likely the tools he built with his hands, he tilled the ground and grew fruit and grains. Abel was a shepherd; with his hands, and likely the tools he built with his hands, he tended to a flock of sheep. They offered of their bounty, but Cain’s offering was not acceptable, while Abel’s was. It came to pass that Cain used his hands to kill his brother.

Such is a short summary of the history of mankind. God says do this, and with these hands of Adam’s flesh, we do the opposite. God says do not do this, and with these hands of Adam’s flesh, we do it anyway. These Adamic hands have created many wonderful things, and have destroyed many others. These Adamic hands have soothed many an ill, and have maimed many others. These Adamic hands have been instrumental in giving life, and have taken many lives.

With these hands we declare war with God; these Adamic hands are a part of what makes us His enemies.

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. The Son of God assumed flesh by way of the womb of the virgin Mary. No hands were involved in His incarnation except His own, which were formed in that blessed womb. (cf. Luke 11:27) He was born, caught by hands from His mother’s womb. On His eighth day He was circumcised as hands took His foreskin, and He was given the name at which every knee should bow—Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. And by the hand of His cousin, He is baptized. Born, circumcised, and baptized, for you—He takes on flesh and blood, submits to His own Law, and receives the baptism of repentance with you in mind!

After being baptized, it comes time for Him to use His hands. With His hands, He cured a leper, taking, as it were, the man’s leprosy from Him. (cf. Matthew 8:3) With His hands, He took a fever away from Peter’s mother-in-law. (cf. Matthew 8;15) With His hands, He took death away from the ruler’s daughter and gave her life! (cf. Matthew 9:25) With His hand, He rescued Peter from the swallowing, dark depth. (cf. Matthew 14:31) With His hands, He blessed little children. (cf. Matthew 19:15) With His hands, He cleansed the temple of the money changers. (cf. Matthew 21:12) And if St. John is to be believed, and there’s no reason not to believe him, since his words are God-breathed (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16), Jesus did many more miraculous, wonderful, creative, cleansing, and restorative things with His hands that are not recorded for us in the books of the Gospels. (cf. John 20:30)

While those people certainly benefited from the touch of His hand, even those things He did for you. But here’s the other part of that: As we sang two weeks ago, “Many hands were raised to wound Him...” He was stricken, smitten, and afflicted at the hands of evil men, “Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted.” (Isaiah 53:4c, d) He endured the wounds by the hands of men as if from the hand of God Himself, because He endured them for you, dear hearer, in your place.

For, just as He had by His own hands taken the illnesses and death of others, the wages of sins and sin itself, into His flesh by way of His hands, even though He didn’t touch countless others, nor by His own fleshy hands did He touch you, He has, nonetheless, taken your illnesses and deaths, the wages of your sins and your sin itself, into His own flesh. And for it, “Many hands were raised to wound Him,” and “[W]e esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted.”

Scourged and crowned, Jesus is led to Golgotha. There, He is placed upon His cross. Railroad spikes for nails are driven into His hands. He is pinned to wood—one more evil act at the hands of men, endured as if from the hand of God on your behalf—as if to keep Him from using His hands for the benefit of others. This man who is God has never used His hands for anything other than the miraculous, the wonderful, creation, cleansing, and restoration; yet, as He is pierced, right and left, He accomplishes yet one more miraculous, wonderful, creative, and restorative work: your forgiveness, life, and salvation. You see, with His hands He reached down into the depths of darkness and pulled you out and into His marvelous light.

Therefore, gaze upon Him whom they have pierce, whom you have pierced—crucified—and see there the ultimate enemy of God! Yes, the warfare that you by your hands declare on God is taken from you, and by the nails driven through the hands of the Son of God, He creates peace for you. And so is fulfilled the word of the prophet:

Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:4-5)
In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

His Feet - 13 March 2013

“How beautiful upon the mountains Are the feet of him who brings good news, Who proclaims peace, Who brings glad tidings of good things, Who proclaims salvation, Who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’” (Isaiah 52:7) St. Paul uses these words to speak of the ones sent to proclaim the message of salvation through Christ crucified. (cf. Romans 10:13-17) And insofar as they preach that message, their feet are beautiful, for the sake of the message and not in their own right.

I could take my shoes and socks off now to show you that in and of themselves, my feet are not beautiful. I am no foot model. My feet bear the wages of sin: dry, cracking skin on the soles, sore, arthritic joints, cracked nails, and a toe that has suffered the effects of too many ingrown toenails. So, I’m sure you won’t mind if I don’t show you my feet.

However, these sore, broken feet still bring me here to proclaim to you your sinfulness and the full remission of your sins for the sake of Jesus Christ, your Savior, and Him crucified. My feet remain covered as this message is proclaimed to you, in similar fashion to the covering I wear up here to “hide” me from you so that you see only Christ and His cleansing covering which you also share.

Your feet are likely the same, bearing in their flesh the wage of sin. Likely, your feet share the same marks as mine and probably some others, too. Yet, even you have the joyous privilege of bringing the good news of the forgiveness of sins for the sake of Jesus to your families, friends, and neighbors in the various vocations God has given you and in the multitude stations of life in which you find yourselves. The angels in heaven rejoice over the repentance of one sinner (cf. Luke 15:10), likewise you and the angels can rejoice if a sinner repents because God the Holy Spirit has chosen to use your proclamation of His Words to cause faith to swell up in your listener. And so, you could say that in your speaking of the Word of God to others, you, too, have beautiful feet.

But, as with our hands, as we heard last week, we know that our feet can be used for so much more than the good works to which they have been set by God. We set our feet to the harm of others as we strike with them as much as with hands. Our feet carry us to such despicable tasks in which our tongues participate to the fullest, as St. James writes, “And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.” (James 3:6)

But not with Jesus. In the same way that He used His hands for all good works, so His feet were set to the good work of your salvation. His feet bring good news to all the world as they bear in their flesh the wages of sin and the wrath of God for the sin of the world. In each hand, a railroad spike for a nail was driven; at the same time, one was driven through both feet, and so the crucifixion of Jesus is complete, though it is not yet finished.

Bruised and bloodied, God is pinned to a tree of death, hands and feet run through with nails, and He is lifted up for all to see. (cf. John 12:32) See in the flesh of God the wrath due you. He has borne it all in your place, but it is not yet finished. He bears your iniquity, and will die in your place, and then He is finally run through.

What’s left for you is anything but the wrath of God. And if it is anything but His wrath, then it must be His favor and blessing. All of this for the sake of Christ, into whom you are baptized; you are covered there at the font in the blood of the Lamb, the blood He sheds for you from His head, back, hands, and feet. He tree of death is become your tree of life, because by the life given there and the blood shed there your sins are covered—hidden, you could say—making you beautiful on account on Christ, restoring you, healing you, granting you peace with God—giving you Life! The world may not see it, but your Father in heaven does, because He sees His Son’s sacrifice for you, because He has fulfilled the word of the prophet:

Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:4-5)
In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

His Side - 20 March 2013

“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” (Matthew 19:5)

It is the great wedding scene of the Lamb and His Bride, the church. Jesus, God-with-us, is nailed to the cross and lifted up for the world to see. Seeing His disciple, John, and His mother, the Lord of all creation says to Mary, “Woman, behold your son!” and to John, “Behold your mother.” (cf. John 19:26-27) And He cries out, “‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ which is translated, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’” (Mark 15:34) The Son of God and Son of Mary left Father and mother and joined Himself to His Bride, the Church.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5:25-27, 32)

The Son of God had joined Himself to the flesh of His Bride by assuming man-hood into God. Now, He becomes one flesh with Her as He assumes Her sin and the death it merits into His flesh and dies with it on the cross. “It is finished,” He cries out (cf. John 19:30), and with those words declares the sanctification and cleansing of His Bride for His sake. He bows His head, and breathes His last. Jesus is dead—the lifeless, bloody corpse of God now hangs from the instrument of His torture and your life. And as the Sabbath was coming, the Jews demanded that His death and that of the two criminals crucified with Him be hastened. Pilate orders their legs to be broken, but Jesus is already dead, so a soldier pierces His side with a spear, and blood and water gush forth.

These are the marks of the Church—Baptism, water with the Word, and Lord’s Supper, bread and wine, which are Jesus’ body and blood with the Word. Where these are present with the Word of God, that is a place where the Bride of Christ may be found. It is because with these that the Bride is made and kept among the people of that location. “Also they teach that one holy Church is to continue forever. The Church is the congregation of saints, in which the Gospel is rightly taught and the Sacraments are rightly administered.” (ACVII, 1, Triglot)

Mel Gibson, in his movie The Passion of the Christ, shows us this scene as I have long imagined the scene could have happened. Though St. John doesn’t tell us that it happened this way, the soldier pierces the side of Jesus and the water and blood came out and showered him. In the movie, the soldier drops to his knees, gazing up at His Creator and Redeemer; for a brief moment, you can almost see the man coming to faith and trust as he looks on Him whom he has pierced. If this is the case, the Word of God had his way with the soldier, as He was baptized right there at the foot of the cross, and washed clean in the blood of the Lamb. He was made right with God—made to be at peace with Him. And perhaps this is what prompted Him to say, “Truly this Man was the Son of God!” (cf. Mark 15:39)

Water and blood...this washing and covering were used repeatedly in Hebrew rites to cleanse and restore. By way of water, the priest would purify himself, according to the institution of God, in order to see to the regular sacrifices and in order to enter into the Most Holy Place with the blood of the sacrifice. The blood was sprinkled upon the cover to the Ark of the Covenant as an offering made in repentance for the sins of the people, not the least of which were his own, and then sprinkled upon the gathered mass in order to grant them remission of their sins. As the author of the letter to the Hebrews writes:

For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you.” Then likewise he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry. And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission. (Hebrews 9:19-22)

“Without shedding of blood there is no remission.” The Lord Jesus Christ is dead on the cross, having shed His blood, and He entered the Most Holy place in heaven by His own sacrifice for you. (cf. Hebrews 9) He covers you with His own blood, by which you have remission, the forgiveness of sins, having been washed clean in the water with the Word of Holy Baptism.

By way of water and the Word, you are purified, washed clean, regenerated, granted remission and entrance into the Bride of Christ. And through this, you can with all confidence and boldness approach the mercy seat of God, just as the High Priest was able to do in the Hebrew rites. The author of the letter of the Hebrews cites the blood of Christ as reason for that boldness, and so it is. (cf. Hebrews 10:19) This is because it is in and by the blood of Christ—shed in His once-for-all sacrifice—that you are forgiven and cleansed.

You have the marks of the Church—they are given to you—and so you are made a part of the Bride of Christ. Jesus, by water and His blood, and joined you to Himself. Therefore, it is no longer you who live, but Christ who lives in you.

Without these marks, you are totally lost. For, to be without them is to reject the grace of God and desire to “make it” on your own. These marks are what make you what you are before God the Father for the sake of Jesus, God the Son. These are given to you freely because you cannot make yourself what these make you and give you: the righteousness of God for Jesus’ sake. (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:21) Without the merits of Jesus Christ, you remain what you are in Adam—you are apart from Christ and an enemy of God.

But He would not have it so. Therefore, the Son of God join Himself to man, assuming humanity into His God-head, and one-fleshed with His Bride through death, the death of the cross. There, He gave His flesh and shed His blood so that man would not have to, because for Him, death is not an overpowering enemy as it is for us. We die, apart from Christ, and we are doomed eternally. Christ dies in our place, and He rises again on the third day. And all of this is for you, dear hearers.

The blood of Jesus was shed for you; His body broken for you. He was beaten and scourged for you. He was crowned with thorns for you. He was nailed, hands and feet, to a cross for you. He was pierced in the side for you. He died for you. This is the full wrath of God due you, borne in it’s completeness by God Himself, Jesus Christ, the Son of God. “It is finished;” there is none left for you. What you have is the covering by the water and the blood of the Lamb of God which flowed from His pierced side. And so is fulfilled the word of the prophet:

Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:4-5)
In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
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