Sermon — Pastor Tony Sikora – First Sunday after Christmas

Beloved,
Happy New Year. Rather than preach once more on the Name and Circ. of Jesus I made use of the propers for the First Sunday after Christmas. This year the text is a continuation of Luke 2:22-40. In this sermon I made use of Luther’s distinction between the “hidden God” – God in His majesty, and the “revealed God” – God in His Son. Blessings!

Pr. Sikora

 

Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. AMEN!

Beloved in the Lord,

As Mary and Joseph make their way to the temple, God is bundled up in Mary’s lap. In Jesus, our God has become small, vulnerable, dependent and weak. Born in poverty and cloaked with humility the one who brought all life into existence is shielded from His own creation. His glory is covered. His light is under a bushel. Herod plots the child’s destruction, but our God won’t let Satan snuff it out. The Child is safely tucked away in the arms of the virgin. Jesus goes where Mary and Joseph go. Wherever Jesus goes, there goes the consolation of Israel, the salvation of our God, the Glory. All that is good, right and salutary resides in, with, and under the Child, Jesus.

It’s been 40 days since Jesus opened Mary’s womb. Thus Mary and Joseph are making their way to the temple. It is the Child’s presentation. In fulfillment of scripture the fullness of time has come. The Child born from the virgin’s womb is born under the Law. After 8 days He is circumcised. And after 40 he is presented. He is under the Law that we who are under the Law may receive the adoption as sons. Today, God is in Jesus reconciling the world unto Himself.

God is in Jesus, but He is cloaked with humility. Despite this meekness it is God’s plan that the world find Him in Jesus. Our God doesn’t veil Himself to get away from us. He is masked with flesh and blood in order to draw near to us. It is us, fallen as we are, who cannot bear the naked God. The Naked God, the God of majesty and might, of glory and dominion, is dangerous. He cannot be seen, touched, or grasped. He is beyond us, above us, even against us. He is righteous and Holy. We are not. We are fallen, sinful, blind, dead, and by nature enemies of the God who created us. Sin cannot commune with holiness. Thus neither can the sinner have fellowship with the naked God. For no one sees God’s face and lives.

Fallen humanity seeks after God in His nakedness. Broken hearts and broken bodies long for a God of power and might. Poor souls search after God’s majesty. We want to climb Jacob’s ladder and peer into heaven and gaze upon the beauty of the Lord in all his wonderful brilliance. As we covet God’s glory, setting our hearts where God has not revealed Himself to be for us, we often find ourselves creating idols and images to fill the void in our souls. We look for ways to see, touch and grasp the eternal God through ways and means that have not been revealed to us.

How does this happen? This happens when we attempt to manipulate God on account of our works. Seeking after God’s glory almost always results in us having something to do. We just can’t seem to get past the idea that our works don’t save us. We don’t want to believe we are saved by grace through faith so we chase after God’s nakedness in the hopes that we can flatter Him enough that He’ll let us have a hold of Him. Modern evangelicalism has polluted itself with such theology making idols out of praise bands and graven images out of flashy lights and big screens. “Movements” like these sing for Jesus to “shine Jesus shine and fill the land with the Father’s glory” or they plead to “worship His Majesty.” Everything is all about the person singing! And God is supposed to be impressed. Humanity is finally doing their part – as though God needed to hear His name repeated 7 times 70 times. Such worship sets man’s works before the majesty of God. This is not only not good, but it’s DANGEROUS! You cannot have God anyway you want. You cannot have God your way. The god of your way is a false god attempting to appease the true, living, and naked God. False gods deal with sin, your sin, very differently than the God riding in Mary’s lap.

In Jesus, God is no longer naked. He is revealed. In His presentation the LORD whom we seek suddenly comes to His temple.[1] Simeon is right where God wants him. So is Anna. They are where Jesus is. And wherever Jesus is, there is the consolation of Israel, the Salvation of God, the Glory.

This is the one who will deal with your sin and the majesty of God in a way that is good for you. He is the mediator between God and men. He is your reconciliation. He is good for you. Where the naked God, the God of majesty and might, glory and dominion was against you in His righteousness, now the naked God has cloaked Himself with flesh and blood. He has made Himself a little lower than the angels. He has bowed low to be born of a virgin, born under the Law, to save us who are under the Law. His humility is your redemption. He is not ashamed to be “numbered with transgressors.”[2] He did not consider equality with God something to be grasped.[3]

In Jesus God is essentially against God, the revealed God against the naked God. Thus the incarnation takes on a meaning beyond our full comprehension. For Jesus, God in the flesh, stands before the naked God’s righteousness and holiness in our place. God’s mercy is pitted against God’s justice. And yet God remains both just and merciful. For, in Jesus God is both just and justifier. In Jesus, God is for you. He bears God’s wrath for sins for you. He suffers hell on behalf of sinners. He beholds God’s face and He dies. He dies on the cross. He sheds His blood. And on the third day He rises. In other words, though He dies, He survives. Thus, God against God wins by losing, gains life for humanity by dying, restores our health through His suffering, defeats death by rising again. And it’s all for you!

IN Jesus is God revealed. You may ascend Jacob’s ladder but you will not find the God you’re looking for – namely a merciful God. The God of mercy is wherever Jesus is. Jesus is found in Bethlehem in a manger. He is at Mary’s breast. He is under Joseph’s protective arm. He rides along in Mary’s lap, and today He is taken up by Simeon. In Jesus God is seen, touched and grasped. He’s held in the arms of an old man and the old man doesn’t die. In fact, the old man can’t help but sing and dance and make merry with the Son of God in His arms. “Lord now lettest Thou, Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy Word, for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation which Thou has prepared before the face of all people, a light to lighten the gentiles, and the Glory of Thy people Israel!”[4] Simeon holds the Son of God! He takes Jesus up into his arms fully believing that this child is His Salvation. The GLORY that could not be seen, now is seen in the face of this Child! The sinner is reconciled with the Creator. There is communion with God. For Jesus is “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through Him and for Him. He is before all things and in Him all things hold together.”[5] In “Him the fullness of the deity now dwells in bodily form[6], in Jesus’ body, the body born of Mary and taken up by Simeon.

Beloved in the Lord, in Jesus the naked God takes on flesh and blood and poverty and weakness and mortality. Wherever Jesus is there is the mercy of God for you. Jesus is always in His Word and His sacraments. If you would find God you must find Him in Jesus. There is no other way either to God or paradise. All must come to the Father through the Son. All must honor the Son as they honor the Father. Outside of the Son you will never find God. The Son has become flesh and blood. He, in His incarnation, is the icon of the Father, or as Hebrews puts it, “the Radiance of the GLORY of God, the exact imprint of His nature.”[7]

This morning Jesus is for you no less now than He was for Simeon or Anna. Being for you He is cloaked once more that He may draw near you and deliver His salvation into your heart. Thus by the power of His Mighty Word, the flesh and blood of the eternal Son of the Father born of the virgin Mary, is tucked in, with, and under bread and wine. If you wish to worship the Child, you must gather around Him where He promises to be. You must receive with faith what He promises to give. Here in this place the Son gives Himself that you may take Him up in your arms, hold Him dear to your heart, eat, drink and be merry. Do not deny Him because of His meekness, rather repent and believe He is for you, for you in His flesh and blood, for you in bread and wine, for you and your salvation. AMEN!

The peace of God which surpasses all human understanding keep your heart and mind through faith in Christ Jesus. AMEN!

[1] Malachi 3:1
[2] Isaiah 53:12
[3] Philippians 2:6
[4] Nunc Dimittis, LSB Divine Service III post communion canticle
[5] Colossians 1:15-16
[6] Colossians 1:19.
[7] Hebrews 1:3

Pastor Tony Sikora
Hope Lutheran Church
De Witt, MI

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Comments

Sermon — Pastor Tony Sikora – First Sunday after Christmas — 1 Comment

  1. What a meaty message; thoroughly solid, meaningful and comprehensible. A true treasure from the pulpit.

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