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Safe In Jesus

July 21, 2018 Pastor: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Verse: Ephesians 2:13–2:14

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Christ Lutheran Church
Cleveland, Ohio
July 22, 2018
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Pentecost 9
Safe In Jesus

But now you are in Christ Jesus, you who were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our Peace; who made the two into one. Ephesians 2:13-14

Today good news abounds in the church!

Today the joy of salvation proliferates!

Today our cup overflows as the promise of the 23rd Psalm is fulfilled before our very eyes..

Today Jesus prepares a table before us while our enemies look on in dismay, powerless to stop the remission of sins, life and salvation that are served to us today in the Lord’s House without money, and without cost.

As long as we live in the world our enemies abound! If ever our eyes were opened to the spiritual warfare that rages all about us, to the machinations of the devil, the world and even our own sinful flesh that seeks to devour itself. If we could comprehend that, we would do what David sings about in today’s Psalm. We would dwell in safety of the house of the Lord, forever!

But let us realize today, if we have not realized it before, that that is the very thing that happened to us in Baptism. We moved into the safest place of all. We took up residence in Jesus. As our text says, “But now you are in Christ Jesus.” By baptism we are factually incorporated and embodied into Jesus. And both today’s gospel and epistle help us to understand that.

In the gospel the Lord says to the apostles, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.”

But Jesus was not simply inviting them to get away from the maddening crowds for a while as the term “desolate place,” might indicate. That could hardly be the case because the “desolate place” the Lord speaks of is the Palestinian desert, where neither safety nor rest were to be found!

No, he wasn’t inviting them there, even though that is where they were physically going. He was inviting them, rather, into himself! Because he is the Place where all men can dwell in peace and safety, even if they should find themselves in a place as hostile as the Palestinian desert.

But the good news for them, and for us, is that Jesus is our dwelling place. Jesus is our Safe Place. And so even in the desert of this world, even as we “walk through the valley of the shadow of death,” we need “fear no evil.” Because, as David confesses so well, “Thou art with me! Thy rod and they staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies. My cup runneth over.”

That is the meaning of today’s epistle as well. Six times in eleven verses Paul uses the phrase “in Christ” (or some similar). But let us never think of that as an imaginary idea; but as the mystery of the Gospel instead! That we who were once alienated from God by our sins, who were once strangers to the covenants and promises of God, have now been brought near by the cross!

This is what David saw a thousand years before “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14). The “rod and staff” that David sees are nothing else than a prediction of the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the divine blood he shed upon it to purge us from our sins, and to clear away thick, hardened and encrusted layers, of long lasting guilt from our hearts and minds. Destructive guilt, and poisonous shame, that make us punish ourselves, and that taint all our relationships, and all we do. That, along with God’s displeasure at sin, are washed away by the blood of the cross.

That is comfort! That is consolation. That is peace, and rest and safety and joy and gladness to all who suffer from sin and its debilitating effects each day. That is the gospel; and the gospel is the reason we love God. The reason we pray, praise and give thanks / eucharistia at his altar. Because in the words of our catechism he has:

“Redeemed me a lost and condemned person, purchased and won me from all sin, from death and from the power of the devil. Not with gold or silver but with his holy, precious blood and with his innocent suffering and death. That I may be his own, and live under him in his kingdom and serve him in everlasting righteousness, innocence and blessedness. Even as he is risen from the dead, and lives reigns to all eternity. This is most certainly true.” (SC Expl. 2nd Art.)

Yes, we are the redeemed of Christ and by God’s mercy salvation flourishes among us. The heart and soul of that deliverance in the life of the Baptized is the Table the Lord Jesus Christ prepares before us in the presence of our enemies.

And if ever there were a time to laugh in derision at sin, death and Satan. If ever there were a place to “eat, drink and be merry.” If ever there were a time and place to “lay aside all earthly cares,” all sinful sadness and to rest and eat with Jesus, it is here. It is now. It is when you open your mouth to incorporate the Lord into yourself, who has incorporated you into himself: into his own glorious Body.

And so you can see that today’s lessons: the Psalm; the Gospel and the Epistle all work together to proclaim “Salvation! Oh Salvation!” to you, and yours today.

But let us not forget the Old Testament lesson. In it Jeremiah takes to task the pastors of the Old Testament church. Those priests and prophets who attended only to themselves; who were derelict in their duties of teaching the Law and the Gospel to God’s people so that their faith failed: and so that they were finally sent into grim exile. But even for them there was excellent news. the Righteous Branch” that the LORD himself would raise up to “execute justice and righteousness in the land.”

The cross is the Tree and Christ crucified is the Branch that achieves “justice and righteousness” for us.

In Bible-speak “justice” is the means by which a wrong is made right: in this case the Lord’s sacrificial death on the cross. And “righteousness” is the new prevailing condition: namely reconciliation between God and man in Christ. Reconciliation between man and man in Christ. This is true Peace. Peace that is preached to them that are far off, and to you who are near. Peace – not as the world gives it but as Jesus gives it to you today.

Surely goodness and mercy will follow you all the days of your life; and you will dwell in Jesus, who is the house of the Lord, forever! Amen.