Posted on April 11th, 2016
Alleluia! Christ is risen!
Children learn to speak by being spoken to. So it is with the children of God. Ephphatha, the pastor says to the one coming to Baptism. He is repeating the Word of Jesus spoken to a deaf man: “Ephphatha, ‘Be opened.’”
This follows the Lord’s Prayer, where the Pastor, as an elder brother, teaches his new little sister the words Jesus gave us. “Listen, baby sister,” the pastor is saying, “here is how we call on Our Father, and He will always hear us.” These words open the ears of the child – and they also open the ears of God, ears that are always open to our cry.
“Call on Me in the day of trouble,” the Lord says, “and I will answer you.”
It also runs the other way, as it must with children. Jesus says of His sheep, “They will hear My voice.”
The voice of God must first call us from error. When God’s Law condemns us, this is not unkind. For it is not unkind to warn a person that his manner of life will bring him to ruin. The Shepherd calls the sheep back because he knows the danger of the wolf and the thief. The sheep may not understand why they are not given more freedom; but the shepherd knows that some kinds of freedom result in bondage.
So Christ our Shepherd speaks to us clear words:
Everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment;
Whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart;
Love your enemies;
Do good to those who hate you;
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth;
Every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment;
Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!
Whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.
And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
The Lord Jesus speaks the same way today when He says, “The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” Shortly after this He says, “I lay down My life that I may take it again.” His death is the atonement, the ransom, the payment for the the innumerable ways we have failed to do and be what man was meant to be. Our adulterous hearts, our angry and judgmental words, our seeking after treasure, the idle words spoken to gossip and boast and share secrets, our desire to be great, and not a servant – for all of this, for all of us, for all the world Christ the Good Shepherd laid down His life.
Heeding His call to repent, Christ comes to you speaking another word:
Rejoice, your King comes to you;
Take up your bed and walk;
I forgive you all your sins;
I will wipe away every tear from every eye;
I will never leave you nor forsake you;
Let not your heart be troubled;
I am the way, and the truth, and the life;
Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.
Whoever eats My flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life;
I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.
Take away the stone.
Lazarus, come forth from your grave;
Take and eat, this is My body given for you;
Behold, I am making all things new.
This means He is also making you new. Not only in the resurrection, but even now. As the holy Apostle Peter said in the Epistle, “Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.” And again, “[Christ] himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.”
For you have become a part of this Shepherd’s fold. You got here entirely by grace, as the baptism of Sarah this morning was not her own doing. So you stay entirely by God’s free act of mercy. Listen no more to the lies of your flesh, the world, the devil. You hear the Shepherd’s voice and know that it is the truth.
Alleluia! Christ is risen!