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Sermon - 11/3/19
2019.11.03 20:12:27

ALL SAINTS’ (S) (2019): REV. 7:2-17; 1 JN. 3:1-3; MT. 5:1-12

 

Children,    Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure (vv. 2, 3).

 

This is to say, “like recognizes like”. We are God’s children now! Who we are does not appear to physical sight; rather to the eyes of faith by the power of the word delivered in the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus inaugurates his disciples to their new identity of knowing and seeing God “as he is” in the midst of his people (Lk. 17:21b).

 

Perhaps no Scripture has been so misunderstood as these Beatitudes. Even M. Luther comprehended them as the law’s impossible demands, only overcome elsewise by God’s gospel word. But they are not law as something for you to accomplish; instead you are to recognize by Jesus’ blessing, the pure gospel of a new status, children of God now!

 

God’s kingdom is present by his Word with us; and so, we are a work in progress by the HS through perfecting from faith to faith (Mt. 5:48). By these beatitudes from Jesus we have heaven’s “sealing” as new Israel’s 144,000 on earth (Rev. 7:3, 4, 8).

 

Heading-up the Beatitudes is “poverty of spirit” that grasps the Kingdom, which is to sat, Jesus in our midst. I have previously pointed out, there will be no rich people attending heaven’s end time banquet. Simply we have nothing of our own to bring but our Thanksgiving to the table.

 

In Baptism the NT saints are “sealed” to a child-like status of absolute spiritual poverty into Jesus’ naked, obedient, and dependent death to the Father. Jesus entered our humanity to be God’s Suffering Servant on the cross for our atonement; so God exalted him above all (Phil. 2:5-9).

 

By the power of Jesus’ blessings to poverty of spirit, and mourning in meekness over sin’s wrack and ruin in the lives of sinful men, we are baptismally enrolled into the 144, 000 martial array, sustained in an on-going sealing by word and sacrament “coming out” of the world’s tribulations (Rev. 7:14). Thus, we are garbed in the white robes of Jesus’ own purity and joining heaven’s innumerable multitude (v. 9).

 

There is a progression to the Beatitudes. In Jesus’ cruciform Body we are baptismally minted to his likeness in humility. Receiving the seal of undeserved mercy, we are empowered, like him, to be merciful; “we love because he first loved us” (1 Jn. 4:19).

 

How will Jesus recognize us at his Second Coming? By faithful attendance to word and sacrament’s on-going sealing. Lord’s Day to Lord’s Day we are being purified “as he is pure”; so that “like recognizes like”.

 

Blood is a life-giving and cleansing agent (Gen. 9:4). Jesus’ sinless blood, shed for our forgiveness blesses us for purity before God. As Jesus knows and sees the Father in holiness, we by faith possess the beatific vision in heaven’s purity.

 

Last Sunday (Reformation-observed) we heard an angelic “eternal gospel” (Rev. 14:6), the mystery of Christ with us; that our purity for seeing God face to face is of Christ’s shed blood applied as a gracious covering and new begetting in water and Word.

 

From the Psalmist, purity “in heart” occurs in communion with all the saints on earth and in heaven; “Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart… who seek the face of the God of Jacob (Ps. 24:3-6b). This is Zion’s liturgy speak.

 

Liturgically we look east, the direction of the rising Sun at our Altar, and recognize Christ “appearing as he is” now in the church’s “breaking of the Bread” (Lk. 24:30, 31, 35; Acts 2:42) that on the Last Day will be manifest to all.

 

Lord’s Day to Lord’s Day we ascend Mount Zion together where Jesus continues beatific words delivering forgiveness as we come out of the world’s fiery crucible through the place of our worship, the body of Christ.

 

Two final Beatitudes concern the church’s empowerment for peace and reconciliation, continuing the miracles of Jesus miracles for restoration of the creation to wholeness, to be revealed in the new heavens and earth.

 

Peace through the church’s gospel power is not a universally welcomed. She might therefor expect her that her final blessing in persecution for a status as sons and daughters of the Kingdom, mirroring her Lord; for for reason the church militant on earth are continually being sealed.

 

Later in his ministry, Jesus would expand his teaching (Mt. 9:35-11:1), explaining, he had come into the world for division by “a Sword” (v. 34). Jesus, the “eternal gospel” enfleshed confronts men with a choice about his identity and presence in the world.

 

If we love our families in the world more than Jesus; if we refuse to follow him to the cross, then we are unworthy of his salvation (Mt. 10:34-39). Our tribulation in the world will make clear that believers will need deal with the gut-wrenching fact, “one’s enemies will be those of his own household” (v. 36). Of broader Christendom, we observed the multiplicity of denominational division that continues to justify our Lutheran celebration for institutional Reformation of church bodies.

 

In both instances Jesus’ presence brings crisis and division as “an eternal gospel”, Christ alone in his congregation. In some instances, his gospel blessing of “peace” is received with hospitality (vv. 12-14); but in a hostile world that rejections Christ’s peace we expect persecution but nevertheless are beatified to faithfulness for “Righteousness’ sake”.

 

Peace, forgiveness, healing, purity, and restoration is Christ’s work alone; which by faith Christ recognizes his own for a final “perfection”; and we recognize him in status as he is attended by all the angels and saints, now in our worship and on the Last Day. Amen.

 

pem.    




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