Let us pray: Dear Savior, on this Your day of honor and praise we come to thank You for adopting us as Your dear children through holy baptism. We thank You for defending us from all evil. We thank You for patiently tending to our hurting souls. We thank You for teaching us how to live a blessed life and how to die an even more blessed death. And most of all, we thank You for making us Your dear children through the gift of Your holy Son, our dear Brother, Who laid down His life to save ours. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST AND FROM OUR HEAVENLY FATHER!
TEXT: Acts 13: 15,16,26-33 (Psalm 2)
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
Today is most special for all of us, but especially for little Sebastian and Juliet Cordes. That’s because today they have been reborn through God’s gift of holy baptism and thereby have entered into His eternal kingdom of grace, truth, and life. None of us who were baptized as infants can remember the events of our special baptismal day. And neither will these two little ones. But, but, the effects of what has occurred here today will last a lifetime and beyond. For right this minute, they are legal heirs of heaven and cannot be kept from Paradise. All this has been given to them by the implantation of faith in their hearts. Moreover, since that faith rests in Christ Who earned heaven for us, the angels in glory have put the welcome mat out for them—Christ, Who must be obeyed, has seen to it all!
Like these little ones, each of us had or has an earthly father and mother. I hope your parents were as loving and attentive as these children’s are. In any event, little babies rely on their parents for everything, don’t they? Early in life mom is usually the chief caregiver and the bond of closeness that is forged never goes away. Soon, however, little children turn to dad for safety, comfort, and the general feeling of security. And as long as your dad is alive on this earth, you will usually value his words and guidance more than any other. Motherly love and fatherly wisdom are both gifts from God.
Today we meet St. Paul along with St. Luke and perhaps a couple of other men traveling in central Turkey where they stop at a local synagogue in the town of Antioch. They worship there. And then they share with those folks the meaning behind that Old Testament centered worship. They get up and talk, really Paul leads all this; they talk about the ultimate fulfillment of that worship. In short, they focus the people on Jesus Christ.
The unity of God’s earthly family is clearly evident as the synagogue rulers ask these visitors to speak and give words of encouragement. And what amazing encouragement it is! Paul begins by addressing them as “children of Abraham.” The great patriarch Abraham was considered by all Jews to be the “father of the faithful.” They all traced their spiritual ancestry back to him. And what made Abraham the “father of the faithful?” Simple. It was FAITH! Abraham believed God when He told Him of the coming Messiah. Abraham believed God when He promised to make his progeny into a great nation “as numerous as the sand on the seashore.” And now St. Paul comes, he is sent by God, to tell these faithful believers in the coming Messiah that all those promises are fulfilled. For Christ, the eternal Son of God, has come to take away the sin of the world. Christ has come to live in their place, perfectly keeping every commandment for them, and has also died on the cross, perfectly paying for their failures of a faithful life. Paul lays all this out for them. And then he also informs them that Jesus Christ arose from the dead in their place, as well. He beat death to death! He lives! Thereby their faith has been proven true and genuine and sufficient for each of them to inherit Christ’s gift of eternal life.
In essence, St. Paul was telling them and us: God made promises and now God has kept and fulfilled those promises. Through Christ He has transferred to us Jesus’ eternal son-ship. Right now, each of you belongs to God’s eternal family. Right now each of you has all the rights and privileges of Christ Himself, because He won them all for you and has given them all to you. Right now you can bask in the joy of knowing what it means to have God as your Father.
Paul ends by quoting from Psalm 2: “You are my Son; today I have become your Father.” Everyone there knew that verse and that Psalm. Although it was written by King David about 1000 years before, in it David is given a glimpse into an eternal conversation between God the Father and God the Son. Already in eternity, before the world was even created, they both knew how human beings would fall into sin and mess everything up. They both knew how humans would destroy the unity of God’s family by their disrespect for their parents, by their all-consuming passion for human fame and fortune, and by their constant rebellion against God’s goodness. And so, the Trinity talks all this over in Psalm 2. They discuss how people will view Them as a hindrance to fulfilling human potential! How sinful humans will view following God and trusting His Fatherhood as akin to being chained! They talk about how God will shake His head at the stupidity of humankind and how He’ll have to get their attention by sending trials their way.—But how stupid humans won’t see those trials as a loving Father trying to wake up His wayward children, but instead such foolish children will just become more entrenched in their anger against Him. And so finally, while still in eternity, before any creation of anything or anyone takes place, both God the Father and God the Son agree that only pure love can change such hard hearts. So the Father agrees to send Jesus to suffer and die in order to pour out His love upon such hearts, while Jesus agrees to undertake this task of magnificent love! Thus, when the Father says in Ps. 2: “You are my Son; today I have become your Father” He is talking about the eternal day, that moment in eternity when they both agreed on this plan for our salvation.
Paul’s hearers understood all this. They had been waiting for it for a lifetime. And now St. Paul is telling them that Jesus has fulfilled it all! Can you imagine how grateful, special, and loved they all felt? Yes, on that fateful day the Holy Ghost literally was doused upon them all! And the heavenly welcome mats with their individual names engraved upon them were laid outside the pearly gates! Now the family of God was complete once more.
This same message has been preached here today. This same truth stands confirmed here today. Through baptism the Spirit has been poured out upon Sebastian and Juliet. And the living Spirit has re-ignited that same living faith that they now possess into all our baptized hearts. That being said, I want everyone to remember this special day. Because once again this Sunday, grace has been poured out from heaven upon all of us. It is for that reason that April 25th 2010 will go down in our history under the title:
TODAY GOD HAS BECOME OUR FATHER!