INI + AMEN.
Today, we continue our Lenten journey. Lent is all about journeying with Jesus not only to His cross and passion, to His death and burial, but to His resurrection from the dead. We began our journey with Jesus being tempted by the devil, being tempted to be a different Jesus than the one He was sent to be. That temptation continues today in the mouths of the Pharisees—their mouths are the devil’s mouth—“Get out of here, Jesus! Run away! Flee for your life! Herod’s going to kill you! Don’t go to Jerusalem! You’ll die!” Jesus of course ignores all that. He’s come from the Father full of grace and truth. He’s the Word made flesh, and so He’s come to die. There’s no way around it. Not in Jesus’ mind one bit. The Word became flesh to speak one Word, “τετέλεσται” “It is finished.” The Word He spoke before He was dead on the cross. But in our Gospel text today, we see something else profound in the Son of God come to die. Jesus isn’t just the Word made flesh, but on this second Sunday in Lent, we see that
JESUS IS THE GOSPEL MADE FLESH.
(I. Jesus was where you found the Gospel.)
Yes, you heard me right. JESUS IS THE GOSPEL MADE FLESH. How can this be? Well, the Gospel isn’t just some pie in the sky idea. Some abstract concept you agree to. Something you accept. The Gospel is always located somewhere, or rather the Gospel is always located in someONE. The Gospel is that Jesus has died and risen FOR YOU. That He saves YOU. Yes, YOU. Jesus was where you found the Gospel. That’s what’s going on in our text. In His preaching and in His working you had the Gospel. He speaks a harsh word against Herod, but in it is the promise of the resurrection, “Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course.” He also preaches His coming death and His resurrection. “I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following, for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.” He doesn’t just preach death and resurrection. He does it! He perished in Jerusalem not long after He said this. His three day ending would come soon. Good Friday then Easter. But He was passing out the benefits of His death and resurrection even before He got there. “I am casting out demons, I am performing cures.” He says. If you wanted the devil driven away, sin forgiven, death undone, you went to Jesus. For He is Light, Forgiveness, and Life. You went to Jesus for in Him you found the Gospel preached and delivered. There He was giving out resurrection to people before His own resurrection from the dead for them and FOR YOU.
(II. What do you expect from Jesus?)
So, what do you expect from Jesus? Do you want a friend? A good teacher? A moral example? You don’t necessarily need a crucified and raised Jesus for any of that. Where do you expect all comfort and security in this world? Is it in your God Jesus who was crucified and raised? Or is it other things? Your popularity? Your smarts? Your job? Your family? None of those things were crucified and raised. None of those things can save you from death. Restore you to life from the grave. None of those things, as satisfying as they may be, are the Gospel. You see, it’s like this: When you don’t have the crucified and raised Jesus, you don’t have the Gospel, and when you don’t have the Gospel, you don’t have the crucified and raised Jesus. When you lose one, you lose the other. If you forsake one, you forsake the other. Jerusalem rejected, the Pharisees rejected Jesus, and so they lost the Gospel. Because of this Jesus said, “Behold, your house is forsaken.” God rejects all who reject His Son for other comfort and security, for in rejecting Jesus they abandon the truth of the Gospel. The Gospel which says that you are now reconciled to God your heavenly Father because Jesus died and rose FOR YOU.
(III. You find the Gospel, you find Jesus.)
It is in this Jesus that you find the Gospel. He delivers the Gospel. He is always about the Gospel. Always about gathering sinners under the shadow of His wings. He calls sinners to receive His forgiveness won with His outstretched arms, His wings, on the cross. That’s what He’s about. He delivers the Gospel in His preaching, in His working. But in that same Gospel He is delivered! Jesus delivers the Gospel, and the Gospel delivers Jesus. They are one in the same. He is the Gospel made flesh. This is what He’s always about. Even FOR YOU! “I tell you,” Jesus says, “you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’” Yes, He would ride a donkey into Jerusalem to die, and they would shout those words then. Now, having been raised, He comes to you not riding a donkey, but with bread and wine He gives you His body and blood to eat and drink in His Supper, just as He said, “Take, eat; this is My body given for you. Drink of it all of you; this is My blood shed for you.” Because of His coming with the Gospel, coming to give it to us with His body and blood, we sing these Words (“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”) right before the Lord’s Supper. Jesus is the one who comes in the Name of the Lord to save you. To die and rise for you. To give you true and lasting comfort and security: His own flesh and blood for the forgiveness of your sins, for new life, and for eternal salvation.
There’s no other comfort outside of Jesus who gathers you with His nail-scarred hands. Who delivers Himself through His Gospel. He’s the Gospel made flesh, after all. Delivering Himself and the Gospel, the forgiveness of sins, with His flesh and blood in the Supper. There you receive Jesus. There you receive the Gospel. There you receive Him and the Gospel your whole life through until you see the Gospel made flesh, until you see Jesus face to face in your own flesh, in your own body, in the resurrection to eternal life.
INI + AMEN.