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Christ the Crucified Comes to Save Us by the Word of Faith
The Church Lives Under the Cross of Christ and Prays in the Hope of His Mercy
The Lord Jesus Christ Is the Son of the Living God
St. James the Elder, Apostle
The sons of Zebedee ask for seats at Jesus' right and left in glory (Mark 10:37). But they do not know what they are asking (Matt. 20:22), for God's kingdom is not of glory and power but the cross. We will bear ours after Him. For His sake we are killed and regarded as sheep to be slaughtered. But in all this we are more than conquerors through Him (Rom. 8:36-37), for Jesus' death is unique. He alone is baptized with our sin and drinks the cup of God's wrath against it (Mark 10:38). We live in service to our neighbors after His example; but He alone is the Son of Man, come to give His life as a ransom for many (v. 45). Today the Church commemorates the fulfillment of Christ's prophecy about James, killed with Herod's sword (Acts 12:2). He is honored as the first apostle to be conformed to the image of God's Son (Rom. 8:29). But what is that when Christ Jesus has died-more than that, is raised-and is at the right hand of God, interceding for us? Nothing (not even a sword) can separate James and us from the love of Christ (v. 34-35).
Christ Jesus, the Living Bread from Heaven, Feeds the Children of God
The Word of the Gospel Bestows the Righteousness of Christ and Brings Forth Faith
The Preaching of the Word of Christ Bears the Good Fruits of Faith and Love
Jesus Christ, Our Savior, Is Our True Peace and Sabbath Rest
Though we have died with Christ in Holy Baptism, and we are raised to new life in Him, we find "another law waging war" in our body and life, that is, between our old Adam and the new man (Rom. 7:23). By the Spirit of Christ, we "desire to do what is right," but we are not able to do so because "nothing good" dwells in our sinful flesh (Rom. 7:18). "Thanks be to God," therefore, "through Jesus Christ our Lord," who delivers us from "this body of death" (Rom. 7:24-25). We rejoice in Him, our gentle King, who comes "righteous and having salvation" (Zech. 9:9). He speaks peace to our embattled hearts, and by His blood of the New Testament He sets us "free from the waterless pit," and He returns us to the stronghold of our Baptism (Zech. 9:10-12). Though we "labor and are heavy laden," He calls us to Himself and gives rest to our souls through His free and full forgiveness (Matt. 11:28), not because we are "wise and understanding," but by the "gracious will" of God the Father, whom "the Son chooses to reveal" in love (Matt. 11:25-27).
The Lord Jesus Brings Division on Earth for the Sake of Peace with God in Heaven
Delivered from Sin and Death, You Now Live before God in the Righteousness of Christ
The outcome of sin is death, "but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom. 6:23). He has set you free from the slavery of sin and has brought you "from death to life" (Rom. 6:13). No longer are you under the condemnation of the Law, but you live "under grace" (Rom. 6:14). Such is your courage in the face of "those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul" (Matt. 10:28). For though "you will be hated by all" and maligned by the world for the name of Christ (Matt. 10:22, 25), you abide in the care of your Father in heaven, who numbers "even the hairs of your head" and values you more "than many sparrows" (Matt. 10:30-31). By the Word of Christ, you have become like Him, your Teacher and Master in whom you endure to the end, and "will be saved" (Matt. 10:22, 25). For He is with you "as a dread warrior," who has overcome your enemies (Jer. 20:11). By the righteousness of faith, He delivers your heart, mind, body and life "from the hand of evildoers," and He brings you into the land of the living (Jer. 20:12-13).
The Lord Our God Saves Us in Love and Cares for Us by the Ministry of His Gospel
The Holy Triune God "shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners," ungodly and at enmity with Him, "Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8). The incarnate Son has justified us by His blood and reconciled us to His God and Father (Rom. 5:9-10). Whereas sin and death originated with Adam, forgiveness and life abound for all his children "through the one Man Jesus Christ" (Rom. 5:12-17). As the Lord brought Israel out of Egypt, so does He bring us to Himself by the Gospel and make of us a "kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Ex. 19:6) by our Baptism into Christ. For "all that the Lord has spoken" (Ex. 19:8), Christ has done for us. As He has gone up to God by His Cross and Resurrection, so does He bring us to the Father in Himself (Ex. 19:3-4). Nor does He leave us "harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd" (Matt. 9:36), but He sends men with authority "to heal every disease and every affliction" by His forgiveness of sins (Matt. 10:1). In their proclamation, "the Kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt. 10:7).
The Holy Triune God Recreates Us in the Image and Likeness of Christ Jesus
The holy Triune God "created the heavens and the earth," and "behold, it was very good" (Gen. 1:1, 31). However, after Adam and Eve fell into sin and plunged God's good creation into decay and death, the Son of God would be "delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God" to be "crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men" (Acts 2:23). As Jesus "received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:33), He also raises up all the baptized and pours out the Spirit upon them through the preaching of His Gospel. He sends out His apostles to "make disciples of all nations" by "baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit," and "teaching them to observe all that [He has] commanded" (Matt. 28:19-20). Through such baptizing and teaching - Gospel and Sacraments - the holy Triune God recreates us in the image and likeness of His incarnate Son, Jesus, the Christ, and behold, it is "very good" (Gen. 1:31).