Easter 4 2004

Psalms 98, John 16:05-15

In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The Lord has done marvelous things. They are greater in number than the imprecise mathematics of men dare to count, more marvelous than our feeble minds might comprehend. He has called the galaxies to be; set the planets on their course; established the infinite depth of all black holes. But, so too, Zeus and Mohammed´s Allah, or, at least, according to those who imagined them. They claim to be creators. God breathed life into men. He created all the living. He taught the plants to grow. He carved the paths of rivers and built mountains. But so, too, Zeus, and Allah, and even the Great Spirit or Architect in the sky.

And the devil says, “See. ‘Gods´ are all the same. Any name will do. Call him what you want. It does not matter to him or to me. We have more in common than that which is distinct. Unity is the highest goal. We should all be nice.’

But the devil always lies. Those things of creation are marvelous, but they are not gracious. And so, too, is morality good. Where the pagans agree with God, thanks be to God. But neither is there grace in morality. Both creation and morality are not so different from what a man might imagine would interest a god. Repent.

The God of Abraham in the Flesh from Mary´s womb is not imagined, nor is He like us. He has remembered His mercy. His right arm has gotten Him the victory. He submitted to defeat in humility to break death´s teeth. He died and He rose again. He lives. Unlike Zeus or Allah or any imaginary god fired in men´s fantasies by demonic impulse, our God died to pay for the sins of men who rejected Him. Our God died for us. That is the Truth. He has sent the Comforter to comfort us with that Truth. For that Truth sets men free. His love is perfect and forgiving. It reconciles sinners to the Father. It gives us a song to sing not of idle fancies but of history and of the future.

For though He was angry with us for our vile and selfish deeds, His wrath has been turned to the cross. It has been spent upon the Son. Our God sent His Son to die for us and to rise again! We could not have guessed what God would do to make us His, to buy us back again. We could not have expected or imagined such love. He has become our salvation, our strength, and our song. He has taken the sins of the world into His Body. The accuser has been robbed of his accusations. Jesus died for us and crushed the liar´s head. He let us kill Him rather than send us to Hell where we belonged. He is not fair. He is just and He is merciful. He is gracious and forgiving.

Death has no more claim upon us because He took our place. He died our death. It is finished. Death is now empty. There is nothing left. He rose up out of the grave, alive in His Body on the third day, reunited with His soul, the Victor over Hell. The grave did not hold Him. It cannot hold us. Like unto His glorious Body, our bodies will be raised and perfected.

This is the most marvelous thing. It defines our God and gives us a song. Our Lord and the Holy Apostles call it the Gospel. It is the power of God unto salvation. It is the content of our song.

Marvelous things! He has ascended to the right hand of His Father. He rules in the hearts of those who believe in Him in perfect grace. They call Him Lord and King. Once He was so mocked, now is He so worshiped. And from the Father´s side He has sent the Helper, that Holy Spirit who once hovered over the chaos and brought it into order. He is the Spirit of Truth. He teaches us to pray. He grunts out for us perfect prayers that words cannot express. He inspires the apostles and prophets to write His words. He glorifies the Son by taking what is the Son´s, and the Father´s, (perfection, righteousness, innocence, holiness) and declaring it all to be yours, and all for free. He delivers Jesus. And where there is Jesus, there is also life and salvation. And where there is life and salvation, there is singing.

We cannot help ourselves. It springs up from the depths of our souls. Our joy overflows. We are forgiven. We are loved. Our lives have purpose and meaning. The Spirit inspires us and puts His words through David upon our lips and we sing the new song of redemption.

Marvelous things! He has intervened in the course of human affairs to bring about our salvation. He has driven a tent peg through Sisera´s head and burned Ba´al´s prophets. He has scared the Caanites into killing one another with nothing more than Gideon´s name and some torches. He has caused the wheels to come off of Pharaoh´s chariots and the waters to come crashing in around his army. He struck the temple guards who watched the tomb as though they were dead. He broke the seal. He came through the door. He breathed upon those Apostles to deliver His Holy Spirit and the Keys to heaven. He has seen to all the details. He missed nothing

Marvelous things! God has called you to be. He has given you a mother. She birthed you in the Jordan´s bloody waters, made you clean by grace. She has raised you in the fear of the Lord and taught you to pray. She has reminded you of your grandfather Abraham, your uncle Jacob, your distant kinsman Job. She brings you to the Body and the Blood for you to eat and to drink, to sustain you for your labor and to seal your future. She is the Church, the handmaiden of the Lord, and she serves you as her own dear child. She is a holy Christian Mother and as all her daughter do, she also prays for you. For behold, the prayers of a righteous man, be he male or female, avails much.

So sing unto the Lord a new Song. For He has done marvelous things.

In +Jesus´ Name. Amen.

Rev’d David H. Petersen
Redeemer Lutheran Church
Fort Wayne, Indiana

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