Etching by Jan Luyken from the Phillip Medhurst Collection of Bible illustrations
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || VIDEO
In Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them.
Jesus said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
INI + AMEN.
Today is Good. It has to be Good. No matter what else is going on in the world today’s Good. We call it Good, and because of today, every other day of the year is also good.
Because of Good Friday everything is good. It’s Good because of what Jesus did today: He died for you, for all, for the whole world. All sins covered by His blood. Every sin debt paid for by His life. Every death swallowed up in His. Jesus dead on the cross makes today what it is: Good.
Now, you’re good with God, or rather God’s good with you! Your Father doesn’t hold anything against you, not even your sins. Jesus’ body on the cross says so. You’re no longer His enemy—rebel child, child of wrath. No, you’re His baptized child. You’re reconciled—in Christ that’s you and God the Father.
WE ARE FULLY RECONCILED TO GOD OUR FATHER IN HIS SON, JESUS.
((I. Are we really fully reconciled, though?))
But are we really reconciled to God? Is He reconciled to us? Has He really reconciled the world to Himself? From the looks of it, no. No, He hasn’t. At least, it’s not any sort of reconciliation as we define it. Reconciliation doesn’t look like trouble, doesn’t look like death, doesn’t look like loosing everything.
That’s our problem. We look to this world and what happens in it. We look to our daily lives and what happens to us. We look at those things to decide if God’s happy with us, if we’re good with God or not, if He’s good with us and what we’re doing or not.
Adam was afraid of the wind, as if God was going to get him. People in Jesus’ day thought people killed by a collapsed tower were worse sinners. The disciples thought a man was born blind because either he sinned or his parents sinned. That’s what sinful people do.
There’s trouble in the world because the world’s been affected by sin, too. The world was placed under a curse, the consequences of mankind’s rebellion against God. Reconciliation with God doesn’t mean everything is great in the world—worldly peace, worldly prosperity, worldly power. That’s a man-made idea of reconciliation.
Now, God will still certainly give us our daily bread. He does that for the birds and bees. He clothes the flowers and the trees. He gives daily bread to all people, even those who don’t actually have faith in His Son. Yet, there will still be no lack of sin and trouble in the world until the Last Day. Then God will fix it all. Yet, right now, what Paul says is true: “In Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself.” And that means, WE ARE FULLY RECONCILED TO GOD OUR FATHER IN HIS SON, JESUS.
((II. Yes, we really are!))
But how can it really be true? How ARE WE FULLY RECONCILED TO GOD OUR FATHER IN HIS SON, JESUS? Because reconciliation from God’s perspective has to do with something completely different. God’s reconciliation goes to the heart of the problem, not the symptoms. In fact, Paul lets us know what God’s reconciliation really is, “not counting their trespasses against them.” God’s reconciliation is the forgiveness of sins.
And that forgiveness of sins happens in Christ, and so God’s reconciling the world to Himself is Jesus bleeding, dying, and dead on the cross. And so, in Christ, only in Christ, your reconciliation with God does look like trouble, does look like death, does look like loosing everything, even His clothes—Christ for you, in your place.
He suffers the wrath of God in your place. COVID-19 isn’t some wrath of God against anyone or any nation in particular. It’s what happens in a sinful world, which God our Father uses as discipline to draw His children closer to Himself, to look to His Son, to hear His Son.
The forgiveness for your sins, even your not trusting God in the midst of a pandemic, means that a pandemic isn’t God’s final word for you. It’s not even a preview of His final Word for you! The final Word for you has been given already by Christ on the cross: “It is finished!”
Every commandment: finished. Done by Jesus for you. Every sinful act, trespass owed against God and neighbor: finished. Paid for by Jesus. In fact, just being sinful, a sinner: finished. Washed clean in His blood. In fact, God the Father made His Son, “who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Every sickness, pain, and death: finished. Swallowed up by God’s own death on the cross.
And in the midst of sickness, pain, death, even want or need, you have a God who understands, who went through that for you. “I thirst,” He said. He went through it to remain faithful for you, that His faithfulness in the midst of chaos and evil would be credited to your account. “It is finished!”
And the reconciliation that Christ Jesus, the Son of God, works out for you is yours. As Paul tells us, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.”
The ministry of reconciliation is the delivery of reconciliation, of forgiveness and new life, new creation. That’s you through Holy Baptism—new creation in Christ, baptized into Him. To “be in Christ.” means to be baptized. We have the “message of reconciliation,” the word of forgiveness, too. In many and various ways that forgiveness with God is delivered to you. It really is yours. You’re really reconciled. You’re forgiven.
WE ARE FULLY RECONCILED TO GOD OUR FATHER IN HIS SON, JESUS. You are forgiven in His death. That’s what makes even today good. This is an odd Good Friday, but it’s still Good Friday.
It’s Good because of what Jesus did today. He died for you, for all, for the whole world. All sins covered by His blood. Every debt paid for by His life. Every death swallowed up in His. Jesus dead on the cross makes today and every other day of the year what it is: Good.
“It is finished!” That’s God’s reconciliation, forgiveness for you. God reconciled the world—you, too!—to Himself through the death of His Son, Jesus. God’s death, God’s blood, God’s cross wins for you the forgiveness of your sins. But there’s also delivery. It is delivered. “Ministry” and “message” of forgiveness. Delivered in Baptism, in preaching, and also in just forgiving one another within our various callings.
No matter what trouble we experience in this life, God’s not out to get you. WE ARE FULLY RECONCILED TO GOD OUR FATHER IN HIS SON, JESUS. That means God’s running the universe so that you would live forever with Him. And that means you already know what’s coming on the Last Day, too. Christ said, “It is finished!” Fully forgiven. Fully reconciled. That’s you. You’re right with God, or rather He’s made you right with Him. Cross, Font, Word all say so.
INI + AMEN.