"Born from Above"
Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
The Triune God was too much for him. Isaiah could not abide the presence of God’s majesty. He was only a man; he was not holy. He mourned his sinful state, his lying lips, his fearful heart. He was not worthy to sing the angelic song. He was headed for destruction. His guilt was too great. His sin was too shameful. He had no wings or fig leaves with which to cover up. There in the presence of the Truth, he could not lie about who he really was. He was exposed, vulnerable, undone.
But then an angel flew to the altar at God’s direction. He picked up a burning coal, the remnant of the burnt offering, and placed its fire to Isaiah’s lips. His guilt was removed. His sin was forgiven, for the coal touched his mouth and made him clean. Now He, too, could sing God’s praise: “Holy! Holy! Holy is the Lord of hosts!” Now Isaiah, like the seraphim, is holy. The Almighty has declared it so. Isaiah has been redeemed. He is able to call “Brother” the One who is the Second Person of the Trinity, the Incarnate God of Moses and of Abraham, the only begotten of His Father.
How unsearchable are the judgments of God! The men who murdered His Son, who mocked His name, who hid and ran from Him—He proclaims them innocent. He makes them His sons. In their place He judges His perfect Son worthy of the price that justice demands. All the burdens of all the evil the world has withstood—genocide and abortion, half-truths, bragging and cowardice, bullying and drunkenness; all the evil in which men have engaged, all their secret sins, all their violence and their vanity; all their greed, malice, and lust—He places all of it upon the Lamb who was born to be the Sacrifice. The Father raised Him up on the cross. Look with eyes of faith to the agony of grace outside of Jerusalem. There the demons are cast out. There the snakes are driven away. There salvation is won and the lips of men are made clean. Songs of praise ring out again.
Whoever believes in the One who received the praise of the Seraphim, who sent Isaiah to foretell the Virgin birth—whoever believes in Him will never perish. He will have eternal life. No matter how bad, how despicable, how wrong or mean or stupid or lazy or negligent or resentful or lonely; whoever believes in Jesus Christ; whoever trusts in Him, true God and true Man; whoever looks to Christ, crucified and raised, despite his past crimes: whoever believes in Him is forgiven. He finds peace and comfort, hope, and joy.
Jesus Christ was lifted up and sacrificed for all the sins of the world. That is how God loved the world. That is how God has loved you. The Father gave His only-begotten Son over to the death you should have died. He declared the innocent One guilty so that He could declare you innocent and righteous. He has had mercy upon you, mercy that endures forever! He did not send His Son to condemn the world, but to save it—to save you. And so He has saved—not by works we have done, but according to His mercy. His Word creates and sustains faith in whoever believes in Him.
Today, at God’s direction, a servant of God’s Word will take from this Altar the crucified body of Christ and place its purifying fire to your lips. Your guilt is removed. Your sin is forgiven. You partake of that which was sacrificed in your place: Christ’s body and blood. It will make you clean. That which has appeased God’s wrath on your behalf will be joined to you. Thus you can sing. Like the Seraphim, like Isaiah, like Nicodemus, you are holy. You have been redeemed. You belong to God. You have been spared. You have been named by Him. You belong to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Through water and the Word, You have born from above. 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.