INI + AMEN.
“Peace on earth and mercy mild; God and sinners reconciled.” God and sinners together. God and sinners not apart, separate, far off, far away. Is that really the way of things? We say it is—sing it is!—, but is that how we live? Sadly, we don’t live that way.
It’s how Jesus lived. It’s why He came to the Jordan to be baptized by John. Jesus came for sinner’s baptism. He wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. Yes, John was confused by Jesus wanting to go through sinner’s baptism. But Jesus had to. That’s what He said: “In this way it’s fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” “All righteousness fulfilled” by Jesus being in the midst of the waters, in the midst of sinners, doused with sinner’s baptism.
That’s the sort of God Jesus is. There’s no, “Hey, you’ve gotta get your act together first” with Him. That’s not to say you shouldn’t repent of your sins. You should! So much so that you actually stop and want to stop doing them! But being so very repentant doesn’t actually get you anywhere with Jesus.
But He comes to the Jordan. He comes to be baptized by John. He comes to be in the midst of the waters, in the midst of sinners, in your midst. Your God, Your Savior comes to bring you to Himself so that you would dwell in the midst of His kingdom forever. That’s how JESUS IS YOUR “IN THE MIDST” GOD AND SAVIOR.
((I. He’s your “righteousness” “in the midst” of your sin.))
Jesus is Immanuel: God with us. He’s the “Word who became flesh and dwelt among us.” That’s who He is for you. But how exactly is Jesus “in the midst” for you? Well, “in the midst” of your sin, He’s your righteousness, as Paul says today.
Sin separates. It puts you away from God, and we like to stay there. Your sinfulness, your selfishness drives you to sin. The sins you do daily and much flow from the midst of your heart. There your apartness from your God is abundantly clear.
Living like you do shows how often you separate yourself from the Lord. We live how we want and don’t necessarily care how it affects our standing with God and with our neighbor. We live how we want, and we so often the avoid the Lord’s Word and Gifts, those things the Lord uses in our midst to bring Himself into our midst. We think they’re optional as if “going to church doesn’t make me Christian.” Christ does, though, doesn’t He? And where’s He at—flesh and blood at?
We abuse our freedom in Jesus. We live and let others live in the delusion that nice lives make Christians. We live thinking that Christians obviously can’t go on living as if Commandments 4–10 don’t matter, but they can live as if Commandments 1–3 don’t. And what’s worse, is we then turn around and say that if I somehow get all that under control, as if I’m not doing that like those other so-called “Christians”, that I’m in the clear. You’ve just gussied yourself up real nice in your own works, your own self-righteousness, and those are just filthy rags in the Lord’s eyes.
But this is why Jesus comes. He comes to be in the midst of people like us. Who do all those things and more! He comes to the Jordan, to stand in the midst of sinners baptism, and He does it to take on all those sins. He claims them as His own. In His Baptism, Jesus shows Himself to be the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Your sin. My sin. He takes our unrighteousness, He takes our self-righteousness all the way to calvary’s cross and there they all die in His death. He drowns them in our here and now through our own baptism into Him, there He gave you His perfect righteousness. It doesn’t look like much—foolish really (something “weak” as Paul says)—, but Baptism is where Jesus your Righteousness came into your midst. He didn’t stand far off. He didn’t wait for you. He came to you. You are righteous in Him. Only in Him. That’s how JESUS IS YOUR “IN THE MIDST” GOD AND SAVIOR.
((II. He’s your “holiness” “in the midst” of your darkness.))
But that’s not all. We live in a dark world. Maybe you’re in a dark place. You live in such a darkness that the devil keeps hounding you with “you’ve done this” or “you did that.” Not with the goal of drawing you to repentance. No, with the goal of you believing, “You’re not a Christian. You’re unholy. You’re despised. You’re not a child of God.”
But Jesus doesn’t leave you alone. He’s one who comes in the midst of darkness, your darkness, and He comes with a word that silences the devil. “A bruised reed He will not break.” “He sets the prisoners free from darkness.” It’s a Word that creates light out of the darkness. It’s the Word that says, “I forgive you all your sins.” That’s what’s true. That’s alone true. Because Jesus says it. He wants it said to you. Not in the good times, the happy times. I mean, of course, the absolution still does what it says then, but He really wants it for you in the midst of your pain, your darkness, your devil. So that you can trust that He really did go through darkness, death, and hell for you, that you really a forgiven. You are holy. Jesus is your holiness, your sanctification, as Paul says. Delivered to you in the Absolution. That’s how JESUS IS YOUR “IN THE MIDST” GOD AND SAVIOR.
((III. He’s your “redemption” “in the midst” of death.))
But that’s not all. Jesus is your redemption in the midst of death, your death. He will bring you through death into His Kingdom forever. You won’t lie in the midst of your grave forever. Not since Jesus. Jesus rose from death. That’s yours in Baptism. But there’s always more with Him. His Body and His Blood there is the medicine that will give you eternal life. As Jesus promises, “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will resurrect Him on the Last Day.” Life in the midst of death for you from Jesus. Jesus is your Redemption, as Paul says. Not only from sin, but even from death. That’s how JESUS IS YOUR “IN THE MIDST” GOD AND SAVIOR.
Jesus came to our midst. He was born. He came to the Jordan. He came to be in the midst of sinners. Not to keep them separate, but to bring them into His kingdom forever. Sinner’s baptism for Jesus. Jesus’ Baptism for you. That’s the sort of God and Savior Jesus is.
In the midst of sin, He’s your Righteousness. In the midst of darkness and devil, He’s your Holiness. In the midst of your dying and death, He’s your Redemption. All through the Gifts. Only there has He and will He continue to be in your midst, even and especially in your sins, your darkness, your death. He will never leave you or forsake you. “A bruised reed He will not break.” His Font, His Absolution, His Body and Blood say so. Don’t let anything keep you from Him. Drink deep. Live forgiven forever!
That’s how JESUS IS YOUR “IN THE MIDST” GOD AND SAVIOR.
INI + AMEN.