✠ One Message: Christ crucified and risen for you ✠
2. Corinthians 4,16-18 2812
Jubilate (3. Sonntag nach Ostern) 038 weiß
Tychicus and Trophimus, disciples of St. Paul. Acts 20,4
29. April 2012
1. O Almighty God, who shows to all people who are in error the light of Your truth, with the intent that they may return into the way of righteousness; Grant faithfulness unto all those who are admitted into the fellowship of Christ’s religion, so that they may avoid those things that are contrary to their profession of faith, and follow all such things as be agreeable to the same (The Book of Common Prayer). Amen.
2. So we do not lose heart. Though our outer man is utterly corrupt, our inner man is being made new day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are temporary, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
3. In our Gospel today, Jesus describes Himself as the Vine and you as the branches (John 15,5). The Apostle Paul describes this reality with a different image: the outer man and the inner man. As such, all Christians have a dual personality: one is the old flesh or self that is thoroughly and utterly corrupt, and the other is the new flesh or self that is totally and completely holy. Martin Luther phrased Paul’s dual personality order with the phrase: A Christian is a saint and sinner at the same time
4. Jesus, Paul and Luther are describing human nature. In the beginning, Yahweh created man and woman in His Divine image and likeness. He created mankind with original righteousness so that Adam and Eve were sinless, perfect and holy. Man, however, sinned and through Adam exchanged original righteousness with original sin. Now every person born is born totally corrupt and separated from Yahweh. Yet in Christ, those who have been baptized have been given a new self, a self that is in the image and likeness of original righteousness. Thus, Christians are engaged in an internal wrestling match between their old and new selves as to whose will shall be done. Paul speaks of it this way: »I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing« (Romans 7,18-19). Luther comments on Paul, saying: „A Christian is righteous and a sinner at the same time, holy and profane, an enemy of God and a child of God“ (Luther 232-33). This is the daily struggle that we as Christians suffer, and as Paul honestly admits, we are more prone to side with the will of our old, sinful flesh and thus perform works of sin and bear wicked, poisonous fruit.
5. In the midst of this failure, when the new self yields to the will and desires of the old self, the Apostle Paul boldly proclaims: »We do not lose heart«. Paul knows that Christians are firmly grounded upon Christ. He is the Vine who gives the Christian branches the life-giving nourishment to grow and thrive. Jesus abides in you, and you abide in Him (John 15,4). „We ... teach and comfort an afflicted sinner this way: „Brother, sister, it is impossible for you to become so righteous in this life that your body is as clear and spotless as the sun. You still have spots and wrinkles (Ephesians 5,27), and yet you are holy.“ But you say: „How can I be holy when I have sin and am aware of it?“ „That you feel and acknowledge sin — this is good. Thank God, and do not despair. It is one step toward health when a sick man admits and confesses his disease.“ „But how will I be liberated from sin?“ „Run to Christ, the Physician, who heals the contrite of heart and saves sinners. Believe in Christ. If you believe, then you are righteous, because you attribute to God the glory of being almighty, merciful and truthful. You justify and praise God. In short, you attribute Divinity and everything to Him. And the sin that still remains in you is not imputed but is forgiven for the sake of Christ, in whom you believe and who is perfectly righteous in a formal sense. His righteousness is yours; your sin is His““ (Luther 233).
6. Therefore, this old flesh is a temporary struggle that will eventually yield to the eternal glory of the new flesh, and this suppression of the old self began in your Holy Baptism. „71] The old flesh goes unrestrained in its nature if it is not checked and suppressed by the power of Holy Baptism, for where men and women have become Christians, the old flesh daily decreases until it finally perishes and the new flesh daily increases until it finally thrives. This is simply to be buried with Christ in Holy Baptism, and daily to rise forth again. 75] Repentance, then, is living your Holy Baptism, for repentance is an earnest attack upon the old flesh and entering upon a new life. Therefore, if you live in repentance, then you walk in Holy Baptism, which signifies the new life, and also produces, begins and exercises this new life. 76] For in Holy Baptism grace, the Holy Spirit and the power to suppress the old flesh are given so that the new flesh may come forth and become strong.
7. 77] Therefore your Holy Baptism abides forever; and even though some one should fall from this Sacrament and sin, nevertheless you always have access to Holy Baptism, so that you may again subdue the old flesh. 79] Repentance, therefore, is nothing else than a return and approach to Holy Baptism, so that you repeat and practice what you began before, but abandoned.
8. 80] Thus, Holy Baptism is not something past, which you can no longer use after you have fallen again into sin. 83] Rather, Holy Baptism is a great, excellent thing which delivers you from the jaws of the devil and makes you God’s own, suppresses and takes away sin and then daily strengthens the new flesh; Holy Baptism is and remains ever effective until you pass from this estate of temporal misery to eternal glory.
9. 84] For this reason esteem your Holy Baptism as a daily garment in which you are to walk constantly, so that you may ever be found in the faith and its fruits, so that you suppress the old flesh and grow up in the new. 86] But if you fall away from Holy Baptism, straightaway return to your Holy Baptism. For just as Christ, the Mercy-seat, does not recede from you or forbid you to come to Him again, even though you sin, so all His treasure and gifts also remain. If, therefore, you have once in Holy Baptism obtained forgiveness of sin, this forgiveness will remain every day, as long as you live, that is, as long as you carry the old flesh about your neck“ (Large Catechism, Baptism § 71.75-77.79-80.83-84.86).
10. God the Father is very gracious and giving. He gives you Christ, and Christ gives you the Holy Spirit and Holy Baptism. Receive the gifts of Christ that He freely gives to you through the Church via the Office of the Ministry. Jesus promises: »I am the Vine, and you are the branches. Those who abide in Me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from Me you can do nothing. As the Father has loved Me, so I have loved you; abide in My love. I have said these things to you so that My joy may be in you, and so that your joy may be complete« (John 15,5.9.11). Jesus has given you the great gift and Sacrament of Holy Baptism in which you became a child of God, have all your sins cleansed and rise up in the new life of justification, sanctification and the bearing of the good works of faith. In your Holy Baptism, Christ abides in you, and you abide in Christ. In your Holy Baptism, your old flesh was drowned dead and your new flesh arose in those life-giving waters. In your Holy Baptism, you are holy as Christ is holy. In your Holy Baptism, the Triune God promises you an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. Christ is risen, and on the last day so too will you. Amen.
11. Let us pray. O risen Christ Jesus, who has conquered evil, preserve the lives of Your baptized people so that in this temporal life we withstand the assaults of this fallen world upon our faith. Amen.
To God alone be the Glory
All Scriptural quotations are translations done by The Rev. Peter A. Bauernfeind using the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, 4th Edition © 1990 by the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart, and the Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 27th Edition © 1993 by Deutsch Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart.
Book of Common Prayer, The. Copyright © 1549 Cambridge University Press.
ELKB. Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Bayern. www.bayern-evangelisch.de/www/index.php. Copyright © Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Bayern.
Luther, Martin. Luther’s Works, Vol. 26. Copyright 1963 Concordia Publishing House.