Proper 15b, (August 16, 2015)
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Rev. Todd A. Peperkorn
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen. Our text for today is the Gospel just read from St. John chapter six.
I don’t think we fully appreciate the depths to which our Lord, Jesus Christ, gives us Himself. His love for you is not a passing shower, which comes once in a blue moon, a divine El Nino that we hope will land just right. His love for you isn’t an inconvenience to Him. He isn’t one who only comes to you when things get really, really bad. Nor is His love for you, His participation in your life, just a matter of showing up for the big game, while all the mundane work, the practice and drudgery of everyday life, well, with that you’re left on your own. No, when you eat His flesh and drink His blood, as Jesus Himself says, He abides or remains in you and you abide in Him.
We live in a time and an age all about choice. I choose what to eat and where to live. I choose who to marry and whether to carry my child to life outside the womb. I choose how to look, what to wear, where to go to school. I can choose whether to be black or white, male or female, who or what to love, and I can make myself into anything and anyone I want to. For many, it seems as though I can choose whether to live or die, whether to murder to keep life. Everything is a choice, every decision is mine and mine alone.
The problem, of course, is that it’s all a lie from Satan, who wants nothing more that to get you and me to believe that this so-called freedom he offers means to be free from God and from anyone and anything else. The freedom that Satan would have you believe is nothing more than velvet shackles, a bondage as strong as death itself, that has no more freedom than the narrow walls of a coffin. This freedom means you are separated from life, from the family of God, and you are joined together with death itself. Satan’s goal is to cut you away from God and from the eternal life in Him which is yours by grace alone. Don’t believe him. Repent.
So what does it mean, then, for Jesus to say that He abides in you and you in Him? What it means is this. Jesus Christ, who is the very image of God the Father from eternity, He gives Himself to you completely, utterly, without question and knowing full well the consequences of His action. This is not just a choice that He makes. Far from it. His nature, His very character as God-in-flesh is that He gives Himself wholly to you, that He remains in you and you in Him. You have always been in His mind and heart, from before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1). And that love, that enduring loyalty and faithfulness to you, that is what shows you how God our Father really looks at you, His beloved.
Now this has some very real, earthy consequences for you and me today. It means that as you sit in fear of the future, He sits with you. It means that as you fret and worry about how to pay the bills or what to tell your children, He feels that worry as His own. It means that the regret you have of sins past are His, and it means that whatever has come or whatever will come, it means that He is there, not just as an observer, but that He takes your life into Himself, and that there is nothing, nothing you will face that He will shy or run away from.
What’s more, this also means that His indestructible life is now yours. You now have life in you, real, abudant life that will reach its fullness in the resurrection of the body. You have the seed of eternity in you, and that we cannot even know how wonderful and amazing that seed will be as it sprouts and grows up into Him who is our head.
All this is yours by water and Word, preaching and Eucharist. There is no place else to go that can compare to He who is your life and your hope. When Jesus said those words to the Jews and the crowds, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven,” (John 6:51 ESV) there were many that turned away. God cannot give Himself to man like that. Bread and wine, His body and blood? Surely not. God doesn’t work that way. God must be away, apart from us, He is too far above us to come down as real meat and drink indeed.
But He does. He comes now to you, “This is my body, this is my blood,” and in that Word-made-flesh comes life, a life in Him which means a life in each other. Do not be afraid of the past or the future. It is all secure in Him. Jesus asked the disciples if they would leave now that He has said these words. Peter’s response is the confession of the Church to this day, ““Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”” (John 6:68–69 ESV)
That Holy One of God is yours now. Come, receive Him who is your life. And this life will never end, for the future is secure in Him, and is now secure in you.
Believe it for Jesus' sake. Amen.
And now the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in true faith to life everlasting. Amen.