Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Sermon for 1/15/12--Second Sunday After Epiphany (LSB 1-year)

My apologies for the lousy audio. This time it's because my voice was nearly gone!



Both Body and Soul

Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Jesus turned water into wine. Why didn’t Jesus simply make wine out of nothing? Why did He take a substance that was already there and use it to make something new and different? Though it’s not easy to know the mind of God, God certainly knows the mind of man. If Jesus had created wine out of nothing, it would be all to easy for sinners to question whether or not He really had any authority over the created realm. Some might have questioned whether or not the substance was real. Others might have doubted that anything had been done at all, that it was all an illusion, or even a scam! But the unquestioned physical character of the water from which He made the wine meant that the wine itself was real. Why does it matter? It matters because Jesus here reveals that He has authority and power not only over spiritual things but over material things as well. His work is real; it involves real people and real things.

We are now in the season of the Epiphany, the time of the revealing of Jesus as the One who was promised, that One who would come to redeem this world from sin and death, and all of their consequences. Epiphany and Christmas, just past, fit together like a hand and glove. The baby born in Bethlehem was a real, live, baby boy. He did not just “appear” to be human, as one of the ancient heresies of the Church claimed. He did not come merely in the guise of a man. Remember what John wrote: “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory.

God has become a Man--a real flesh and blood Man. He has taken our poor human flesh from the womb of His virgin mother and has filled it with His glorious divinity. Just as He did with the water, so has He done with our flesh. The glory that is truly His is something we will here about again, in a few weeks, on the Sunday of the Transfiguration. But do not forget this: the body that He took to Himself, the flesh that He made His own from the womb of Mary, that same body, although purified and glorified, is still a real, human body. Our salvation is not just “spiritual.” The salvation our Lord Jesus has won for us will affect our bodies as well.

To be a human being is to be a person who exists as both soul and body. Jesus did not come merely to save “souls.” He came to save persons, those who are both soul and body. Jesus Christ took upon Himself real, live, genuine human flesh from His virgin mother. In Jesus Christ, God the Word united Himself with our flesh, becoming one flesh with us. This is very much like the union that occurs when a bridegroom unites himself with his bride and becomes one with her. For Christ Himself has a Bride, one which He has purchased with His own blood, one to whom He has given His Holy Spirit as a pledge of His faithfulness, a gift of His love. For God the Son is the Bridegroom, and we who are flesh, freed from all sin through Him, are His Bride. And both together are united in Him.

Jesus Christ has done all of this that He might take away the shame and stain of our sin, and present us to Himself as a glorious Bride, free of all spot and blemish. He has put away our sin, first, by His holy conception and birth, for the flesh of our Bridegroom, although it is fully and completely human, is also pure and unstained by any personal sin. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the perfect Bridegroom and Husband. He has laid down His life for the Church. And He has blessed the holy estate of marriage in this world as a sacramental picture of the mystery of the life of the world to come. Marriage is a divine institution into which God promises to pour His abundant blessing upon those who live in that state of marriage faithfully. St. Paul wrote, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish… For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the Church.

It is right and proper, therefore, that Christian weddings be times of holy joy and celebration. A Christian wedding is a picture of the marriage feast of the Lamb! The Scriptures picture heaven as an ongoing feast. As Christians we gather at the altar for a feast given by God, a feast at which the Bridegroom Himself, the Lamb of God, is both the host and the food. It is a foretaste of the feast to come. This feast is the one our Bridegroom has given for our celebration now, as we await what He will yet give us.

Jesus turned water into wine. He took ordinary means and through His Word made that everyday substance into something extraordinary. He did the same thing in Holy Baptism, where He puts His Word in the water to make it a life-giving and life-sustaining flood to drown the old, sinful Adam and wash away your sins. Thanks be to God, for in His flesh Jesus reveals that He has power over all things—the spiritual and the physical—and in His miracle at Cana, He reveals that His love guides Him to use that power for the good of His people both now and forever. In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.

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