Friday, December 27, 2013

Sermon for 12/25/13--The Nativity of Our Lord



God in Flesh

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

People everywhere have certain ideas about what God is or what He is like. But to look anywhere other than in Jesus is to have no real or true God at all. Blessed Martin Luther once said something like this: “I know of no other God than the One in the manger, on the cross and on the altar.” St. John tells us why: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” God became man. The Son was incarnate by the Holy Spirit in the Virgin's Womb. Jesus is Immanuel, “God with us” literally, because He is God and man in One Person. In fact, the most important thing you can say about God is that God took on flesh to save you from sin and death.

The Son comes into this world in the flesh not simply appearing and walking into town one day but by being conceived in the womb of the Virgin and born as a baby. This is so that we who are born in sin may be born anew from above. You see, ever since Adam, we have inherited the curse of sin. It is passed from one generation to another. We are conceived and born in sin. We don't like to hear it, but even when we are babies we are sinners. This curse of sin is passed from father to children. We are born with it, born under the condemnation of God. So Jesus is born in the flesh. He does not have an earthly father; therefore He has no sin. His holy and perfect and spotless flesh comes to us because ours is ruined and tainted. By His holy flesh, He gives us new birth.

The Son of God comes into this world in the flesh so that His flesh can suffer and die. Our sin has brought the curse of death. Sinners die. That's our fate. So God comes to take care of death by dying Himself. He takes our sins upon His spotless flesh and dies for them on the cross of Calvary. It is hard to think that the little baby in the manger is headed someday for the cross and death, but that is why He came. In our flesh is sin and death. Jesus' spotless flesh takes our sins so that He may die our death. And that holy flesh that is pierced and that holy blood that is poured out—these are the price of our redemption. The price paid by Jesus for our sins: “not with gold or silver but with His holy, precious blood and His innocent suffering and death.” That's how He redeems and saves us: Christ comes in the flesh so that His flesh and blood may pay for our sins.

Christ also comes in the flesh so that He may give His flesh to us as food. Later in St. John's same Gospel Jesus says, “Eat my flesh and drink my blood and I will raise you up on the Last Day.” Jesus gives us His flesh to eat so that our flesh will be raised from the dead. Jesus has died and risen from the dead. So will you who have eaten and drunk His flesh and blood. Death couldn't keep Jesus down. It can't keep you down either if you have His flesh and blood in you. If sin and death want you, they have to go through Jesus! He's already beaten them. When we eat regular food, it gives some life to our bodies, at least for a little while, and then we must eat again. But the flesh and blood of the Son of God give us a life that does not end.

Christmas teaches us to look for no other God than the one who is in the manger, on the cross and on the altar. Beware of a god that isn't there in the flesh. Beware of a god who's too big and powerful to be a Baby, or too big and mighty to suffer and die or to distant and far away to be in the Sacrament. Beware of a god that's found in your feelings or in the ups and downs of life or the world around us. Beware of any god who doesn't have flesh. Beware of any Jesus who isn't truly God. And let us be reminded by this Christmas flesh of Jesus to repent of looking for God anywhere other than where He is in His flesh. God is not in our ideas and our notions about Him. He's in the flesh: in the manger as a baby, on the cross as a man, on the altar with the food of His flesh and blood. No other God saves you than the One who has taken on flesh for you! You have flesh. So now does your God. 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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