Midweek Advent Series – “Christ – Servant, Substitute, Savior”
Part III: Christ – Our Savior
December 20, 2017
Peace be unto you this blessed evening from our Advent King, Christ Jesus. Amen.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. He is your Savior, my Savior, everyone’s Savior even though the world will not acknowledge it… acknowledge Him.
It does not matter. It does not change the reality of it all… it does not change what happened… what was accomplished… what the very Son of God did, as we say, “for us men and for our salvation.”
This includes His birth, His coming to earth… His ministry while He walked this land… healing the sick, restoring sight to the blind, raising the dead, performing many other miracles, and preaching about the Kingdom of Heaven to all who would listen… to all who had “ears to hear.”
And then among His accomplishments… that which is central to it all… central to our faith… central to our now having eternal life… is Christ’s suffering and crucifixion… His dying… God dying on the cross whereupon our salvation was affected. If was finished. It was done. Signed, sealed and delivered in blood!
Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. We have heard it so many times that personally, individually, it may have lost its import and impact without our even knowing it, our being aware of it. How is it with you?
Do we say, if not with words, then in thought, “We know all this already! We know Jesus is our Savior! Tell us something new! Tell us something more!
Hmm… the wanting of something new… to have… to obtain… to pursue something new. The urge goes back to our first parents, Adam and Eve.
They wanted more… something new… in their case to “be like God” instead of enjoying what wonderfully was the perfect life and perfect relationship they enjoyed with the Lord their God in paradise.
You will also remember Holy Scripture’s account of the Acts of the Apostles, and how in the Book of Acts, it talks about St. Paul going to Athens, being in Athens and at the Areopagus where the learned, the scholars and the philosophers would gather. We read in Acts 17, “Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.” (Acts 17:21)
The new and novel may be interesting and exciting, my friends, but not at the cost of forgetting or failing to ponder the known and to understand it more, appreciate it more… and this by considering and exploring all of its many facets more… far more.
Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. He is your Savior, my Savior, everyone’s Savior. As humbling as this may be for you… as it is for me… the truth is, we… to a person… have not even begun to scratch the surface of our understanding and appreciating the same… that which is found in God’s Word… God coming into the flesh… God dwelling with us. And this includes: (A) the very fact of the matter; and (B) the reality of what it means to you, me and the world, then, now and all of the days hereafter… for all of time and beyond time.
Because you know what? If we had a far greater understanding and appreciation of God’s Word now, right now… and what we claim to be our faith… things would be a lot different in your daily life and mine now, right now.
For example, just in terms of how we keep or fail to keep the Advent season. How we, in so many ways, jump the gun and go straight into ‘full Christmas mode”… and this, not even in regard to the true Christmas, but rather the commercialized Christmas, the glitz, the glamor, the lights, the music, the smells and the bells.
And all of this because, to varying degrees, we have convinced ourselves that yes… sure… we know that Jesus is our Savior… we know the “real reason for the season” that is, Christ’s birth… we know the nativity account… so given this, we can move beyond all of that and get about enjoying, really enjoying, the holidays from Thanksgiving on, having one highpoint after another and yes, fit in the worship of the Lord as much as we can with everything else going on in our lives… our secular lives.
Indeed, it is amazing and quite sad, tragic even, that during this time of all times, many spiritual lives are on life support with oh-so shallow and weak pulses. How is it with you?
With the help of the world, Satan and our own sinful flesh, we have convinced ourselves that we can have it both ways, when in reality one way will always dominate, predominate… and it will not be the way of the Lord. It will not be the holy and higher things. We are only kidding ourselves. The sinful flesh… the Old Adam in us… is strong and quite persuasive.
For many people, Advent is a farce… a charade… in regard to it truly being kept, properly kept as a penitential time, a time of real reflection and introspection… real soul-searching. How is it with you? How has it been for you these past three and a half weeks?
And Christmas is no better. Oh, for sure, we will stop by on our way to some family gathering or party and pay our respects to the Baby Jesus, even bemoaning the inconvenient time of the Christmas service, given everything else we have to do… want to do.
Certainly, we will give lip service to the fact that Christ is the greatest gift from highest heaven, while we focus predominantly on earthly presents, given and received.
And then, in just a month or so, we will do it all over again, this time blowing by Ash Wednesday, Lent, Holy Week and even Good Friday to get to what? Easter Sunday. And then it is far more for secular rather than spiritual reasons. Ya, we know… Christ died on the cross for us and rose again on the third day. Tell us something new!
We can all say that we want Jesus to be the reason for the season, but words alone to not make it so. Talk is cheap! And even if it were true, guess what? It isn’t enough. For the fact of the matter is, our Lord Jesus Christ, the very Son of God… our Savior… our Messiah… is not just the reason for this or that season… He is the reason for our entire life, here in time and in eternity. Why? Because Christ is our life!
My friends, for you, for me, the truth hurts because it unceremoniously and with great speed and precision cuts through all of the crap… all of the garbage… all of our rationalizing and compromising… all of our so-called “justifying” which again and again comes up short… and it brings us to our knees in rightful contrition over the gravity of our sinful ways, selfish ways.
The truth of the Law brings us rightly and thankfully to repentance… to our making confession of our sins… to our getting the great weight of the same off of our chests… freeing our hearts, our minds, our very souls.
And here is the wonderful thing. God’s Truth also heals… wonderfully heals… completely heals. His Divine Truth in Jesus Christ heals and restores us as we hear the words of absolution sweetly spoken, confidently spoken, announcing to us… proclaiming to us… that we are fully forgiven and given a new start, a fresh start… and this, in the One whose birth we are preparing to once again celebrate… this, in the One whose glorious return… imminent return… we are making ready.
How will it be for you… from here on out? Behold, Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. He is your Savior and mine and we couldn’t be more thankful, appreciative and humbled by the same. Amen.
May the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, unto life everlasting. Amen.
“Christ – Our Savior” 12/20/17 The Rev. Mark H. Hein St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL