Today is North Texas Giving Day… an opportunity to support various organizations from all around north Texas. Messiah Lutheran Classical Academy is part of the festivities. If you would like to support Lutheran classical education in Keller, Texas, follow the link HERE.
Nicodemus, do you not know…
In the name of the Father and of the ☩Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
It’s not by blood…It isn’t the will of the flesh…It isn’t of the will of man, but it’s of God, that you are called heavenly heirs. It isn’t by our own reason and strength that we call Jesus, Lord – but because we have been born of the Spirit. Not presenting yourself once again in your mother’s womb (No!)– but passing through water combined by the command of God to the living Word of God.
Nicodemus – are you not a teacher of the children of Israel and yet you do not know that the Law does not lead to eternal life?
God’s holy law only points to that which is greater. Moses and the prophets only direct us to the Son of Man lifted up. And so just like Moses lifted up the serpent – the Great Serpent and deceiver of our souls is destroyed ONLY!! —by the Son of God, lifted up. That he who first deceived by the tree of knowledge, would see his destruction by a NEW tree of life – Golgotha’s cross.
God lays down his life to redeem rebels who have forsaken Him. For his own did not receive him. AND…the world did not know him. The world does not love him, and yet he loves them (He loves you). This work of God is his love. This is how he loves: He dies the death we deserve, exhausts his own wrath, and satisfies justice. And so we can rightly say God is LOVE.
And it’s this love that is the toughest thing to grasp! It makes mad the children of men as they wag their tongues: Foolish are these Christians – stupid is this thing they call the Gospel! For this gospel makes it sound like you don’t do a thing to inherit the Kingdom of God. It makes it sound like you are passive receiver. Nicodemus would agree. Doesn’t a person enter the kingdom of God through the Law, through his own works as he pleases God by his doing?
Jesus says: no, a person must be born anew, from above. God lavishes his love upon the sinner – from above sinners are made new. Rebirth is it. Rebirth it has to be! Holy rebirth – where the Holy Spirit gathers you up and places his mark upon you. He bathes you in God’s eternal and powerful love. The love that is so great and precise that he knows the intimate details of each person, even counting the hairs on their heads and their chins. Not a generic love, the way some people love cats and chocolate – no a love of deliberate action. A birth from above, o passive receiver, uniting us to the love of God in Christ Jesus.
And, this, the world hates. It’s not that the world misunderstands Jesus or you for that matter or me. The Gospel is clear. IN YOUR FACE clear. You are a passive receiver, saved by Grace —through faith in Jesus Christ and it isn’t your own work, it is the gift of God. You are his workmanship and the object of his love. It is that this infuriates the world. It is a stumbling block and foolishness and they hate it and they Him and they hate you for it.
Our God—this JESUS—deliberately laid down his life for a specific kind of person. Jesus comes only for sinners. And so this birth of baptism makes children of God. Baptism calls the lost and rescues the sinner.
Baptism shows the individual, specific, unique love God has for each of his children. Your God has deliberately and specifically rescued and recreated you – turning what was doomed for demise (an eternal damnation) into heavenly heirs and children of God.
This Holy Trinity, of which we celebrate today, has rescued and recreated you in the waters of Baptism—naming you as his own. We are no longer who we were. We have been drawn into his death and resurrection, expelled from the womb to life eternal, born again of Water and the Spirit, renamed and reclaimed into the name of the Holy Trinity (The Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit). So also he continues to rescue and recreate you, today. Your name has been called out and your heavenly Father lavishes his love here upon you.
Create in me a clean heart, we will sing. Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me. He does just that. He takes what was broken and shed upon the cross of Calvary and rescues and recreates us again. Resting upon our altar – the God Man Jesus brings heavenly glory and calls you by name again.
The Word was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to us whom the Holy Spirit has showered the love of God upon – to us – The Children of God – born of water and the Spirit…we behold the glory of the cross. We see the salvation prepared before the face of all people and we hold onto our King and our God. Children of God, once again, COME, be guests at the Father’s table, with the Son as your Host with the unity of the Spirit.
**But you might be thinking that your sins are too much. You can’t come because you aren’t worthy of a King GodMan. Like Nicodemus who had to come to Jesus by night or Isaiah who shouted “Woe is me for I am a man of unclean lips!” But you would be wrong about Jesus. He’s the one that brought you here. And just like the angel that carried a live coal to Isaiah’s lips, so also a live coal—the Living, Resurrected Lord will be carried to your lips…he bids you welcome and worth at his altar. Have your sins purged and the coal of Jesus’ sacrifice burn away your sin.** Dine on his body. Drink his blood. Lift up the Cup of Peace. Our God and King we see, as at the rail, here, on bended knee our hungry mouths from Him receive the food and drink of immortality. The victory is declared HERE…in this place…again today. God’s love is lavished upon the children of God and you are renewed, recreated, and made whole and complete again. Your sins are forgiven. ✞ In Jesus’ Name ✞
Soli Deo Gloria!