Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Cross and the Cross

Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Matthew 16:21-28

There is the cross. Nearly everyone knows about the cross. It is that which is the center of Christianity and the decisive point of history. It is the basic proclamation of the Gospel: we preach Christ and Him crucified. It is the great reversal God has brought about: through this brutal instrument of suffering and death life is brought about for all.

But wait, there’s more! This certainly isn’t the end of the story. Jesus tells us there’s much more to the cross than just the cross. There’s the cross and then there’s the cross. But it’s this other cross we don’t like to hear about. It’s one thing to hear about Jesus suffering on the cross. It’s quite another to hear about us bearing the cross of suffering.

Peter actually was not all that hot on Jesus suffering on the cross. And who would be? But we already know what happened. We know that it’s a good thing that Jesus suffered and died. Jesus put an end to Peter’s protests and speculation about a Christianity devoid of the cross: “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a hindrance to Me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” We, too, must set our minds on the things of God and not of man. We, too, must continue to preach and hear Christ and Him crucified. We, too, must deter Satan by putting before us always who Jesus is and what He has done.

His cross is the basis for our setting our minds on the things of God and not on the things of man. How this happens is through another cross. It is not the cross of Christ. It is your cross. He says: “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.”

If anyone knows about bearing a cross it’s Jesus. Listen to Him about what it means to bear your cross. Your life is shaped by the cross. Bearing your cross means being shaped by the cross of Christ. Christ alone bore the cross for the sins of the world, you bear your cross because of His. He bore the cross for you. He bore the cross to give you life and His eternal blessings. He didn’t do it so you could go on your merry way and live the life that suits you with no regard for Him and His will.

Jesus says you must deny yourself. He doesn’t mean you don’t matter. He’s not saying you’re no longer an individual and have no dignity. He knows that left to your own devices you will make your way down that broad path that leads to eternal damnation. The Old Adam in you hears that you’re not saved by good works and says, “All right! I don’t have to do good works! I can just live for myself.” On the other hand, when the Law of God tells you to follow God’s will and do good works, your Old Adam looks at those works and says, “Wow, look at me and all my good works—God must be pleased with me.” Both of these miss the point and so you need some cross-bearing placed upon you to turn your gaze back on Christ and His cross rather than on your comfortable little life.

What does bearing your cross look like? When it would be a very easy thing to lie so that things can work out much easier for you and you do the right thing because that’s what you do as a Christian. That’s who you are. You are not your own, you are Christ’s. He bore the cross for you and you now bear your cross so that you may be reminded that you are not your own. In the Epistle Paul gives guidance in what cross-bearing looks like: be patient in tribulation; bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse them; repay no one evil for evil; rather, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. What do you want to do? You want to live as though your life is your own. But Jesus says, “Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life?”

What does it look like, this life of being a Christian in a world that so easily chooses the wrong thing? It looks in many ways like that of the life of those who do not believe in Jesus and His bearing the cross for them. Jesus said, “What shall a man give in return for his life? For the Son of Man is going to come with His angels in the glory of His Father, and then He will repay each person according to what he has done.” What it looks like may not necessarily be what others see, but what you see. You see in the mirror a person who has been bought by the works of Christ, ultimately His bearing the cross for you. And you see one who will be rewarded for this. That’s the great difference between the one who looks to Christ crucified and the one who looks to himself. The one who looks to himself seeks to be rewarded because of himself. The one who looks to Christ crucified seeks to be rewarded because of what Christ has done.

Luther said that for a Christian it’s this way: “He neither boasts if he does good works, nor is he disturbed if God does not do good works through him. He knows that it is sufficient if he suffers and is brought low by the cross in order to be annihilated all the more.” Bearing your cross means that doing what is right is never a waste of time, that you can safely leave the results up to God. You do them because you are not your own, you are Christ’s. You do them because it’s not about you being comfortable and satisfied and successful in life, but brought low so that God may lift you up with His refreshing gifts in water and bread and wine.

Bearing your cross means that your life is going to be more difficult as it goes on, not less. You will struggle more. You will ask why. You may have more doubts than you did before. And you will ask, as you might be now, why would I want this? The answer is, you wouldn’t. But that’s exactly why Christ gives you your cross to bear. It’s not about you or what you want but what He wants. But what He wants is what is best for you. This is why you must set your mind on the things of God, not of men.

When you bear your cross you will probably think that God made a mistake, that this isn’t how it’s supposed to be, that He got it wrong. Isn’t that what it seems when Jesus concludes by saying to His disciples that “there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom”? Jesus has not come again in glory on the Last Day and those disciples died a long time ago. But what has Jesus been talking about? He’s been talking about His cross. He’s been talking about your cross. The Son of Man came into His Kingdom when He ascended the hill of Calvary and suffered the sin and guilt of the world.

You, too, have not tasted death until the Son of Man has come into His Kingdom. He has brought His Kingdom to you in the water of your Baptism. He brings His Kingdom to you today in the bread and wine of His Holy Supper. Know this as you bear the cross your Lord has placed upon you: it is not in vain. It is to make you who you are and strengthen you by refining you. If it seems too much to bear, go again to your Baptism and the words placed upon you there—you are His child and He will not forsake you. If it seems that God is not quite right in how He is doing things in your life, come again soon to Christ’s altar to receive His Body and His Blood. Because of His cross He will guide and guard you to bear yours. Is it any wonder Paul said in the Epistle to be constant in prayer? The Collect we prayed earlier can be your continual prayer: “Almighty God, Your Son willingly endured the agony and shame of the cross for our redemption. Grant us courage to take up our cross daily and follow Him wherever He leads.” He will indeed lead you through the valley of the shadow of death, all the way to heaven. Amen.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Even If It’s Just Crumbs

What do we want from God? Well, all that He’ll give us, right? And what does He give us? The fullness of His grace and salvation. We couldn’t ask for more, right?

But we do, don’t we? We ask for more than simply what is according to His will. We hope and pray that His will will be in line with our will rather than simply rejoicing in what He gives us.

Even if that’s just crumbs. Well, that’s the way we should think, anyway. That’s the way the Canaanite woman thought [Matthew 15:21-28]. And that was after Jesus called her a dog. Her thought was, if this is an insult, it’s still not such a bad thing, because even dogs get something. Even dogs get to live in the house. Even dogs get the scraps from the table. (And they love those!)

And that’s better than being treated worse than a dog. That’s better than receiving nothing. Because when it comes to Jesus, when He gives it’s a lot. Even if it’s a little. Even if it’s just crumbs.

We want so much from God that we forget that He already gives us more than we can imagine. Maybe we don’t realize it because we’re too busy thinking about and asking for simply what we want and not what His will is for us.

If the woman was happy just to receive crumbs from the Savior, how much more should we rejoice in receiving the Vault of Heaven from our Lord? When we ask for things from our Lord, how much more should we be grateful that we don’t just receive crumbs but the very Bread of Life?

When we are searching and seeking for His will, how much more content should we be that He doesn’t just leave us in the dark but gives us His Very Word, the Bible, so that we may have an entrance into the Holy Will of God for us and for our lives?

Paul says in Romans 8:32, “He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things?”

Even if He only gave us crumbs we would have reason to rejoice and be eternally grateful. As it happens, He gives us all things. He gives us His very own Son. He gives us eternal salvation in the suffering and death and resurrection of our Lord.

When He gives us all things in His Son He produces in us a desire to want more from Him. That’s because He wants to give more and more. He does so in His Word, in our Baptism, and in the Holy Supper of our Lord.

These are not just crumbs. They are the eternal gifts of God. But even if they were, they’d still be greater than anything for which we could ask or imagine.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Who Does Jesus Say that He Is?

Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Matthew 16:13-20

Almost everybody loves the Olympics. It's thrilling to see the very best athletes compete against one another. The challenge, the drama, the drive, draw us in. But there's also something else that draws us to the Olympics. It's the rules. Everybody comes into the Olympic Games knowing the rules and everyone expects them to compete according of the rules. When there's talk of unfair advantage, of some athletes not abiding by the rules, it casts a cloud on the competition. We may not like every single rule as it stands but we like the fact that the rules apply to everyone because then there is fairness to the competition.

This is the way we want life to be also. We want it to be fair. We want everyone to have to play by the same rules we have to. Everyone gravitates toward this way of thinking and acting. We naturally assume it's the way life should be. The Bible tells us what this stems from: the Law.

In contrast to this is something else the Bible tells us about—it is the Gospel. What is the Gospel? It is what Jesus has done. It is who Jesus is. It is salvation for the world. It is pure grace, no strings attached, unconditional.

What is it about this that we don't understand? What is it about the Gospel that we just can't take as it is? There's got to be something more. There's got to be something about it that's not so, well, simple. Easy. You know, we don't want people to take the Gospel for granted. We don't want them thinking they're saved by not doing anything. We want Christians to be excited about salvation. We want them to have a hunger and desire to spread the Word of God and the Gospel. We want them to jump at the chance to tell people about Jesus. We don't want people just resting on the laurels of Jesus saving them solely by His work and not by anything they have done.

When we get to heaven we are going to have a clear understanding of what it means to be saved by Christ alone. In this life our understanding of it is warped. It's not just off a little bit. Or even a lot. It's seriously out of control. Find me the most ardent advocate of salvation by grace and I will show you someone who does not really understand what it means to be saved by grace and not by anything that he does.

That is because there's still something within him that believes that it can't be that easy. Yes, we're saved by grace, but aren't I a pretty good person? Yes, we're saved by what Christ has done, but isn't it wonderful how much better of a Christian I have become? I believe with all my heart that I am saved by what Jesus has done for me, and I'm sure He's glad I'm not nearly as bad as those people who are descipable human beings with the brutal way they treat others.

We don't really believe we're saved by grace. Well, yes we do. But deep down in our hearts, we tell ourselves that we're glad of ourselves. Our heart, mind, strength, and soul are not fixed on Jesus. They are fixed on ourselves. Doesn't this happen to us a lot? We're thinking things are going really well in our spiritual walk. We're calm and patient and loving in disciplining our children. We take the time to explain that what they did was wrong, and why it was wrong, and what they need to do to make amends, and ask God to help them to do better. The next thing we know our children do something that strikes a chord in us and we lose it. We grab them forcefully and speak, or yell, even more forcefully, and strike terror into their hearts.

This is an example of how we live by the Law. This may sound as if it's just the sinful flesh acting out. And it is that. But it is that very thing that is us living by the Law. Everything we do is against God. You may think that's not true or ask how it can be. We see that this is the case by the different responses Jesus got to His question about who people say that He is. "John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, or another prophet." So many people did not believe who He really is, the Son of God and the Savior of the world. That's because they live by the Law. There's gotta be salvation in something more or other than just Him. They all gave nice answers. Even good answers. Religious answers. But they weren't the right answers. Because they were answers that said this is the kind of Jesus we want, not the kind that He is.

And then there's Peter's response. The right answer, of course. A great response—it couldn't have been better. So what's the problem? Well, there's no problem, of course, with his answer. The deal is that it wasn't his answer. Jesus says to him, "flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven." So Peter got the right answer, and that's great, but it wasn't because he was. It was because God the Father revealed it to him. Peter, of his own, is not drawn to Jesus but to himself. But because the Father reveals Jesus to him as the Christ, Peter is blessed.

That's why Jesus says to him, "Blessed are you." God loves to bless us. But He doesn't do so because we get the right answer or do what He commands us to do. He does it because of who He is. In other words, "the Christ, the Son of the living God." Peter is blessed because of who Jesus is, not because there's anything special within Peter. Peter is blessed because of what Christ has done, not because of anything special that Peter would do.

We are drawn to the Law, not the Gospel. There's a reason someone came up with the saying, "There's no such thing as a free lunch." Someone might in fact give you lunch. But the reason the saying came about and resonates with us is because deep down inside we all believe that there has to be a catch. There's something that we gotta do. Or want to do. Or will be expected of us. Deep down we look to ourselves to earn what we get. What did Jesus say to the sheep when He welcomed them into the Kingdom? "For I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed Me, I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you visited Me, I was in prison and you came to Me." Their response was, "What are you talking about? When did we do those things for You?" When we get to the gate of heaven there will be no list Jesus will go through—Did you do this, this, this? We won't say, "Hey Jesus, let me into heaven because I did this and this and this." He'll say, "Welcome into heaven" and we'll say, "What? You're letting us into heaven? Why? Oh yeah, because you died for us!"

What is the picture of Jesus in the Book of Revelation, the picture of the glory of heaven? It is of the Lamb Who Was Slain. Not the glorious powerful Jesus-the Lamb who was slain. If we want power and glory and emotion then we're not looking to Jesus. There's a reason He saved us in the way He did. Not in glory, not in power. In weakness. God became a man. Jesus suffered and died. We must look to Christ and Him crucified. Nothing else. Anything else is of the Law. Anything else is us looking within ourselves for salvation.

Jesus asks the disciples who people say He is. He then asks them who they say He is. But what Jesus is really getting at is who He says that He is. Because this is of the Gospel. It is the Gospel. He is the Gospel. How do we find God? Is it through the Law? No, it is through the Gospel. It is His grace, His unconditional giving of forgiveness and His eternal love. In His Holy Supper He gives of Himself freely. It is all gift. There are no expectations He places upon us, there is simply the invitation to receive Him in the fullness of His grace and mercy. This is why He Baptized you and why He will welcome you into heaven. It is why you have life and may rejoice. Amen.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

He Is I AM

Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Matthew 14:22-33

The disciples had wanted Jesus to send the crowds away so that they could get some food for themselves, because, you’ll recall, there wasn’t enough with just five pieces of bread and two fish. But Jesus had different plans. We’ll feed them with what we have.

Now Jesus was sending the disciples away. Get into the boat and go to the other side. And Jesus was also now sending the crowds away as well. Now He would have His time to be by Himself to pray. Presumably, He would meet up with the disciples later. But how would He get there? He was sending them to the other side, was He planning on walking around the lake? Or did He already have in mind to meet them out there on the water by simply walking on it?

Whatever He had in mind, we know that what He really needed was the time in prayer. A phone call in the middle of the night is the last thing we want. Jesus wasn’t awakened from sleep, but was once again interrupted from His prayer time. He saw the disciples out there in the middle of the lake being battered by the wind and the waves. He created those things so He decided He’d come out and give them a hand. No need to find a boat, He’ll just walk on out there.

Now, I’m with the disciples in being terrified at the sight. It’s the middle of the night, they’re being hit hard by the elements, and here’s this figure walking toward them on the water. I’ve never seen a ghost, but I think that’d be my first thought as to what I was seeing. But ghosts don’t talk. Well, in the movies they do. But an apparition is a ghostly appearance of a person. This ghost they were seeing began to talk. He says, “Hey guys, it’s me, relax.” He doesn’t even say His name. He just says, “It’s me, don’t be afraid.”

So how did they know it was Jesus? Well, if they thought they were seeing a ghost, they may have thought they were seeing a ghost of Jesus. But it’s not only what they were seeing, it’s also what Jesus said. He didn’t need to say, “It’s me, Jesus.” All He needed to say were the words that He said. And although every English translation I looked at used the words, “It is I,” what He actually said was, “I am.” In other words, He wasn’t just saying, “Hey guys, it’s me, it’s going to be okay.” What He was saying is “Don’t be afraid, I’m not a ghost, I’m God.” I am the one who parted the Red Sea in order to bring the Israelites out of their slavery. I’m the one who created the very waters of the earth. I am the one who always has been, who is, and who always will be. I AM. No matter the circumstances, I AM.

There’s something very important about what Jesus is doing here. There were moments when Jesus made a big deal about His glory and His grace, moments that were removed from the day to day lives of the people of God. Moments that weren’t in the thick of difficulties and real life dangers. At His Baptism it was abundantly clear who Jesus was. At His Transfiguration He clearly made known who He was.

But we need more than just a mountain top experience to know who our God is. He is also the one who comes down that mountain and into our lives where we have real needs like being fed. Where we face real dangers like being dumped into the swelling waters. Jesus is all over that. He’s there. He’s been there and done that. He, the Lord of all creation, is the I AM. That’s all we need to know.

And so Peter, ever the impetuous one, takes Him up on His statement that He is Jesus, the One who has come claiming to be the Messiah, the one who is equal to God the Father. “Tell me, then, to come out to You.” “Come on out, the water’s great!” came the response from Jesus.

Was it faith that prompted Peter to step out of the boat? Was it his infamous impetuousness? Whatever it was, he stepped out and walked on the water. Did the other disciples, seeing this, want to go out also? Well, they didn’t really get the chance, because Peter decided it wasn’t enough to focus on what had gotten him out there—Jesus, the I AM. He decided he needed to take stock of his situation. After all, it wasn’t every day that he was out on the lake literally on the lake. And even more so, in the midst of some pretty bad weather. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea, after all. He began to focus on all that temporal stuff. Not that it was easy to ignore it. But what was more powerful in his mind at the moment was the stuff of the moment. The wind. The waves. The new-found ability to walk on water! This wasn’t a good thing at the moment. All this was more powerful than the one in front of Him, the I AM, the one who was and is and will always be. The one who created all the stuff he was afraid of with the simple speaking of a word.

There’s comfort in the words of the I AM: “Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt?” It sounds like a rebuke because it is a rebuke. But the comfort is abounding. He doesn’t say, “Peter, where is your faith?” He rather affirms that he actually has faith, little though it be. What does faith do? It always looks to Jesus. Never to ourselves. Never to the wind and the waves. To the troubles of our lives, the dangers we face. The doubts we harbor deep inside our hearts. Faith looks to Christ alone, the great I AM. And that’s what Peter did, He cried out to His Savior. “Lord, save me.” That’s exactly what Jesus did. He reached out and saved. His hand went out and grabbed hold of Peter. Isn’t it interesting that Matthew says that Peter started to sink? Peter knew how to swim. Couldn’t he have gotten back into the boat by himself and be hauled in by his friends? Of course, but some people drown because of panic. He had been walking on water because he was focused on Jesus. When his focus went elsewhere he became afraid.

His cry for Jesus to save him was exactly what he needed to do. Jesus alone can save us from ourselves. From our desire to look elsewhere. From our tendency to focus on the here and now rather than the one who is always with us and always in existence. But not just as all-powerful Being, as Savior. Walking on water and on to the cross where He also cries out to His Heavenly Father. A cry of desertion, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Jesus did not forsake Peter out on the water because of his little faith. He reached out and saved him. Neither does your Lord forsake you, for your very Lord was forsaken in your place.

The Ruler of the Universe walks on water. He doesn’t just tame the storms, He comes to you in the very storms of your life. He comes not to berate you for your at times little faith. He comes to save you. He comes to give you courage and hope. The Lord of Life walked the land in order to suffer on the cross. He is not proud. He doesn’t take joy in our suffering. He simply comes to us in the midst of it and offers us Himself. That’s why, whatever you’re experiencing in your life right now, your Lord invites you to partake of Him. He reaches out His hand to you and gives you Himself, His Body, and His Blood, for you, for your forgiveness. For your life and eternal welfare. Take heart, it is Him. The I AM is with you, always. Amen.


Sunday, August 3, 2008


Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost
Sunday, August 3, 2008
Matthew 14:13-21


[Turn as if stepping out of pulpit as if sermon is over. Pause, then turn back.]

“Amen” really is the sermon. And some might actually wish a one word sermon. But there’s so much to that word “Amen” that it really needs to be unpacked.

We’re so familiar with the ending of the sermon being “Amen,” that we might not think much of the word. As if it’s a spiritual way of saying, “The End.” We’re so used to saying “Amen” at the end of our prayers that we might not think anything of it. As if it’s just the way we end our prayers and nothing more. This sermon will be like every other sermon and end with “Amen”—it has also begun with it.

One of the things I love about being a Christian is that there is always more to learn. Sometimes this leaves you feeling a little foolish, as I did a few weeks ago at the Higher Things Youth Conference. The Conference theme was “Amen.” I must confess that I wondered why that was the theme. It didn’t seem to me a very Lutheran theme. Lutherans love to emphasize grace and what God does. The word “Amen” is a word we say. It’s our response to what God does and says. How were they going to turn that around and get a conference that emphasized grace and what God does for us?

Did I ever find out. Amen, I discovered, is all about God and what He does for us, including our response to what He does for us. You’ll recall from the Catechism that the explanation of the word “Amen” at the end of the Lord’s Prayer that it means “Yes, yes, it shall be so.” At times Jesus began His sayings, when He wanted to emphasize His point, with “Amen, amen, I tell you…”, or “Truly, truly, I tell you…” I’ve always thought of the word “Amen” at the end of a prayer or a blessing from God simply as a response: “Yes, we believe it.” “Yes, it shall be so.” Or, in the case of Jesus, simply to make a point: “What I’m saying to you is the truth—believe it.”

But the reason that we can say “Amen” is because of who Jesus is and what He has done. It might seem that the Gospel reading has nothing to do with “Amen.” But that’s because we take that little word for granted. The Gospel reading shows us how much is there when it comes to that little word. It begins with Jesus saying “Amen” to the tragic death of His cousin and Forerunner, John the Baptist.

How is this so? When Jesus heard of the death of His dear friend “He withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by Himself.” We all have times where we need to be alone to pray, especially to grieve. Jesus Himself has given us the words to pray in these situations in life in His Holy Prayer, “Thy will be done.” This is another way of saying “Amen” to those things God tests us with or allows to happen. Even in His grief, Jesus gave His “Amen” to His Heavenly Father’s divine will that John the Baptist was now called to eternal glory. Amen has nothing to do with God answering our prayers the way we’d like and everything to do with His will being done. That is why Jesus could grieve even as He could say “Amen” to the reason for His grief.

But can we continue to say “Amen” when in our difficult situations in life more gets piled on? When the crowds found out where Jesus went they raced after Him. Did Jesus pray to His Heavenly Father for a reprieve? No, He said “Amen” once again. He had compassion on them. This is why Christ came. Jesus Christ is Lord over all and yet submits to the will of His Heavenly Father. In grief, He says, “Amen.” When His grieving is interrupted He says “Amen.”

When the day goes long we’re ready to go home and rest, aren’t we? That’s what the disciples had in mind. Jesus, send them home so we can rest. They’re getting hungry and we can’t do anything for them. But Jesus’ “Amen” to His Heavenly Father’s will is for the long haul. It wasn’t convenient for Jesus when they showed up and it wasn’t convenient now for the already long day to be extended. Being the Creator of all there is, what the disciples had for food was enough to say “Amen” to the need of the crowds. Of course, what the disciples said was true, it wasn’t enough. But God’s “Amen” doesn’t deal with what is or isn’t enough. It simply deals in grace. God who made the earth and heaven can give bread to thousands out of little.

Before He did, though, Jesus gave thanks to His Heavenly Father. This was His verbal “Amen” to the opportunity to give them the food they needed. The very ones who wanted to go home and be done with the crowds were the very ones Jesus had hand out the bread and fish to the crowds. The very ones who said that it wasn’t enough were the very ones who continued to hand out more food to the multitudes. “Amen” always means that in Christ there is always more—even when, and especially when, it seems that there’s not enough. This is especially seen in their taking up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over.

Matthew says that they all ate and were satisfied. I imagine that there were more than a few people that day who were saying “Amen” to what they had received. God’s Amen is always about what He desires to give us and our Amen is always about what we receive from Him. Both Amens are met in Jesus Christ. God’s answer is always “Yes” in Jesus Christ.

“Amen” shouldn’t just be the way we end our prayers. Amen should be the confession we make in response to God’s miracles. We might think it would be easy to say Amen to a miracle of feeding thousands of people with just a few pieces of bread and fish. But our Lord gives us a greater gift, a greater miracle, a greater meal in our day. At this very altar, often, our Lord takes a few pieces of bread and some wine and gives us more. He gives us His very Body and Blood for us to eat and drink.

If a human being could become God, that would be a miracle. Isn’t it all the more miraculous that God became a human being? That God, eternal and glorious, suffered and died? That God heard our prayer and said “Amen” to it in His Son? That, as He gave His Son to suffer on the cross, He forgives our sins in the giving to us of His Son to feed us? Jesus on the cross is God’s Amen to us, I have accomplished your salvation. Jesus’ Body and Blood, given and shed for you in the Sacrament, is God’s Amen to you, He forgives you all your sins. The washing of renewal and regeneration of your Baptism is God’s Amen to you, you have new life in Him.

Amen isn’t just a way to end a sermon, a creed, or a prayer. But it is the perfect way to declare that all is accomplished in Christ. Amen.