Photo by Vikas Makwana on Unsplash
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
You are my Lamp, O LORD; and the LORD will lighten my darkness. For by You I will run against a troop; by my God I will leap over a wall.
Alleluia! Jesus Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
᛭ INI ᛭
Are those words really true? It’s all well and good to believe that they are. It’s good to even feel that they are. David, King David, did. (They’re his words.)
They’re easy enough to say. It’s also easy enough to think, to feel, or to believe that these words say something true about God, when you’re on the other side of the darkness. The LORD promises such things—to save from the darkness.
But in the darkness, we may say we believe these promises, but we’re not too confident about them. On a day like today, it doesn’t even matter that Marvin was 98! What sort of God is the God who makes these promises? What sort of God is Jesus? And what sort of light does He bring?
((3. Jesus brings light to our ears.))
Well, Jesus brings light and life to our ears. “The Word of the LORD proves true.” “My sheep listen to My voice.” He enlivens our ears with His Word, pouring His light, the light of His promises, into them.
These words of promise shone into Marvins ears. The Lord’s promises, His Word, washed over him in Baptism. They were shown to him in Communion. “A light to enlighten the Gentiles and the glory of Thy people Israel.” Promises declared in the Scriptures, promises taught in the pure doctrine drawn from them, promises bursting forth in sermons, in hymns, and in the Absolution.
All such promises not just for Marvin, but each of you. The LORD Jesus brings such light and life to your ears. Listening to Jesus—you are His sheep.
What sort of God is Jesus? The God who brings light and life. The light and life of His promises into our ears. But the LORD Jesus is such a God that the light keeps on going. It doesn’t stay in our ears, or go in one ear and out the other. So, if it’s the light of His promises, delivered in all sorts of ways. What are those promises? Why do they bring light? And where does His light travel to after our ears?
((2.Jesus brings light to our hearts.))
David confesses: “Who is God except the LORD? Who is a Rock except our God?” Jesus is that LORD and God. (Jn 20) What sort of God is Jesus? The Prophet Micah confesses: “Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of His inheritance? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in steadfast love.” “The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.”
Jesus runs toward the danger. Sheds His blood. Gives His life. He earns forgiveness for His sheep. He also rises from the dead. “I have authority to lay it down and I have authority to take it up again.” His death and resurrection, and the forgiveness of sins He won for us on Good Friday and Easter—those are the promises that shine into our ears, but, not just into our ears, they shine into our hearts also.
For Jesus through the Word of His creates faith. Faith created and enlivened through Baptism, strengthened and preserved in His Word, His preaching, His Absolution, and the Supper of His body and blood. Through these He speaks to His sheep—they hear His voice. And Jesus promises in Revelation 2:10 (a promise given to Marvin March 21, 1937), “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
The Lord does this all for you. Even the faithful unto death part: “I lay down My life for the sheep.” But He also faiths you, gives you faith, strengthens your faith, keeps you in the faith through His Word and Gifts. He keeps you faithful, as David sings in 2 Samuel: “He makes my Way perfect,” blameless, spotless, without blemish. For the LORD Jesus Himself is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” “This God—His Way is perfect.”
((1. Jesus brings light to our graves.))
But the Lord’s light isn’t done. The Lord’s not done. It’s all wrapped up in the verses I reread at the start of the sermon: You are my Lamp, O LORD; and the LORD will lighten my darkness. For by You I will run against a troop; by my God I will leap over a wall.
Jesus promises to His sheep: “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of My hand.” But this isn’t just the eternal light of eternal life. This isn’t just the eternal life that Marvin is enjoying now. For the Lord’s empty tomb shines a light on all graves. Not just the light of hope, but actual resurrection.
“By [your] Jesus [you] will leap over a wall.” You will leap out of your grave. (Marvin will, too.) As Malachi also promises, “You will go out leaping like calves from the stall.” You will rise from the dead. You will follow the Lord Jesus. For “My sheep hear My voice.” He will call to the bodies of all His sheep to shepherd them to eternal resurrected life. Just like Jesus is raised so also His sheep will rise. “They will follow me.” Through darkness, death, grave, and coming back to life.
The Spirit, whom Jesus will send forth, “will raise all the dead…and give eternal life to all believers in Christ.” Believers are “the sheep who listen to the voice of their shepherd.”
You are my Lamp, O LORD; and the LORD will lighten my darkness. For by You I will run against a troop; by my God I will leap over a wall. Are those words true? They are! Have to be!
JESUS BRINGS LIGHT AND LIFE TO EVERY SINGLE GRAVE.
Beginning with His own. Jesus really is raised! Many saw Him alive again after He was dead. What happened at Jesus’ grave will happen at the graves of everyone, but especially for those who believe in Him, those whom He kept faithful to the end. “They listen to My voice. They follow Me. No one can snatch them from My hand.”
This is light and life—Jesus’ promise—that enters our ears. This is the promise that purifies our hearts through faith with His cross-won forgiveness. Light and life delivered over our foreheads—“we buried with Him by baptism.” Light and life delivered into our ears in preaching and His Word, and His Absolution. “He makes my way pure.” Light and life in His body and blood—whoever eats and drinks has eternal life and I will resurrect Him on the Last Day.
And so even on day like today, there’s light. Not just vain hope, but a real and true and certain promise. What sort of God is Jesus? The sort of God that
BRINGS LIGHT AND LIFE TO EVERY SINGLE GRAVE.
His own. Marvin’s. And yours.
Alleluia! Jesus Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!