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Fourth Sunday in Lent

March 26, 2006

Fourth Sunday in Lent                     Trinity Lutheran Church
26 March 2006                                        Murdock, NE

+ Jesu Juva +

Ephesians 2:4-10

Lent’s laser sharp focus is on Jesus. Especially His death.  For the salvation of the world.  The Gradual says:  “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus.”  Why?  Because “He’s the author and perfecter of our faith.”  How do we know that?  Because He endured the scorn and shame of the cross!   The Holy Gospel proclaimed:  “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son [into death] so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Eternal life — not just a possibility.  Not earned if only we get our lives straightened out.  Not deserved.  Not an eventuality if we prove to God that we can keep our promises.  Eternal life.  Not a virtual reality game.  Eternal life is a fact of life for you!  Right now!  In, with and under Jesus. 

Get a load of what the text says today.  A great love for us.  A mercy that’s never exhausted.    God’s love and mercy that never go bankrupt. It’s absolutely breathtaking.  Three big verbs grab our attention today:  “Made alive.  Raised up.  Seated together.”  Who’s doing these verbs?  Not you or me, that’s for sure. These verbs are God’s doing.  We are alive.  We are raised.  We are seated in the heavenly realms.  In Christ!

Sounds too good to be true.  And we know what to do with those too good to be true advertisements, emails, and late night infomercials.  Switch channels.  Hit the delete button.  So outrageous that the Church and her preachers aren’t so sure that they should take the chance and preach something like this.

But we will.  We will bask in the outrage of Jesus.  What He’s done and given to us.  We revel in Him and His gifts.  We trust Him and what He’s done for us with all our hearts.  For when it comes to salvation and eternal life, He’s really the only game in town.

So here we go.  On to those three magnificent verbs – God’s good works for us:  “made alive, raised up, seated together.”

First, “made alive” means you once were dead.  And dead we were.  In our sins.  Living only in and for ourselves.  But God’s taken care of the lifeless darkness of sin’s death for us.  Dead-in-our-sins people like us can’t raise ourselves from grave.  So the text says:  “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, MADE US ALIVE WITH CHRIST even when we were dead in transgressions.”

“Made us alive WITH CHRIST.”  That’s a fact.  Right now.  Done deal.

We’ve not been abandoned in our sins.  Not been left in the deep dark black hole of sin’s death.  Jesus embraced our pitch-black sin sickness unto death in His Body.  Bore it all on the Cross.  And He died with it all.  And in His death we miserable sinners all died with Him.  That’s where we’re safe.  In His death.

Picture it this way.  The scene is the beach.  Palm Beach?  Myrtle Beach?  Malibu Beach?  Doesn’t matter.  Let’s run with Malibu.  Everyone’s having a grand time. Sand castles.  Getting a tan or a burn.  Playing beach volleyball.  All of a sudden the imbedded beach camera spots a little boy drowning in the ocean.   We’re that little boy.  Bobbing up and down.  Taking in huge amounts of sea water.  We need saved.  Rescued.  Where’s the life guard?  There He is!  Life Guard Jesus jumps down from His chair.  Sprints into the surf.  Swims out to the drowning boy.

Everyone expects Life Guard Jesus to carry the boy to the beach.  Do a little CPR.  And hand him back to his mother. Isn’t that sweet.  But wait!  The impossible happens!  It’s horrific!  Life Guard Jesus and the boy disappear under the water.  Everyone waits.  Seems like an eternity.  They don’t come up.  They’re dead. 

Then the embedded camera switches to the life guard’s chair.  In the seat there’s a note.  On it Jesus wrote:  “Don’t worry – he’s safe in my death!”

Safe in Jesus’ death.  That’s all of us.  For we have been baptized into Jesus’ death.  Buried with Him through Baptism.    And then there’s life.

Made alive we are.  Risen.  Resurrected.  In and with Christ the text says.  You see, Jesus is the First Fruits of the resurrection.  What counts for Him counts for you.  When He rose from the dead He took us with Him.  He doesn’t leave us in the grave  The text says so:  “And God raised us up with Christ.”  And your Baptism is proof of that.  Romans 6 says that in Baptism we are united with Christ is His resurrection.

And if that doesn’t make you marvel get a load of the third verb:  “seated together.”  Seated where?

Well, if you died with Jesus, if you’ve been raised with Jesus, what’s next?  Ascension.  Going to heaven. And that’s exactly what the text says:  “God seated us with Jesus in the heavenly realms.” Heaven.

We all want to go to heaven when we die.  And we will.  But it won’t be like going to a place where no man has gone before.  The text says you’re already there!  In and with Jesus.  Seated together with Him in heaven you are!

Are you basking in the outrage?  I am.  In, with and under Jesus we are alive.  We are risen.  We sit together with Him in the heavenly realms.  God’s already seen to it.  God’s already gone and done it in Jesus.  For you and for me.

We’re not on our way to heaven.  We’re already there!  Proof of that today is the Supper of our Lord’s Body and Blood.  Reserved front row seats at the Lamb’s Wedding Feast with all the angels, archangels, and all the company of heaven.

The deepest truth of our being is that we are in Jesus and He is in us. What’s His is ours.  We’re not left out.

“Made alive.  Raised up.  Seated together.”  In, with, and under Jesus.  Saved totally by God’s grace.  An amazing grace indeed!  It’s so wonderful to walk by faith in God’s good works of making us alive, raising us up, seating us together in heaven with Jesus.

In the Name of Jesus.  Amen. 

From → Sermons

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