The grace, mercy, and peace of Christ Jesus rest upon each and every one of you this day.
Perspective is a very interesting thing, isn't it? What I mean by this is that one person may see things one way, and another person may see the same exact thing in a completely different light. You see good…I see bad. You see failure…I see opportunity. You see heartless discipline…I see heart-filled love. Anyone who has dealt with kids can certainly relate to this difference in perspective. However, what about when the difference in perspective is just plain wrong? Think about it for a moment. It does happen. Do drug addicts see life through a different set of eyes than healthy people do? The same can be said of murderers, pedophiles, and every other dreg of society. From their perspective, they can certainly justify their actions, but does that make those actions right? Is it just a matter of seeing things differently or does it come down to seeing some things for what they are: "black and white," "right or wrong?" Can the wrong perspective be harmful?
Now, as we look to our Gospel lesson for this morning, we are confronted with the issue of perspective when it comes to our salvation. Some of you may hear that word "confronted" and scratch your heads. "What's the problem? Where's the rub?" How many of you heard this lesson this morning and instantly put yourself in the place of the man who buys the field or the merchant who buys the pearl of great price? Maybe all of you did, and you know what? That's quite normal and natural. Mankind has always had a way of seeing things through our own eyes and not through the eyes of God. Now, as normal and natural as this is, we need to remember that this difference in perspective isn't a good thing.
You see, viewing mankind's salvation through different eyes and from different perspectives does have a way of leading to different conclusions. In fact, seeing and recognizing Jesus Christ through different lenses often produces differing views and understandings of who He is and what exactly His ministry entails, some of which are quite harmful and actually lead one away from Jesus Christ. It never ceases to amaze me how many people will tell me how much of a Christian they are, yet turn around and make saving faith, forgiveness, and salvation into something they have to do in order to be saved, robbing Christ of everything He did for us.
How many times have you heard someone say that they remember the moment they decided to be saved; the very moment when they decided to seek Jesus out and accept Him as their personal savior? How often have you heard the sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion spoken of as mere signs and symbols that we do to show God how dedicated we are to Him and His cause? These are statements are made from the perspective of the creation. My brothers and sisters in Christ: What does the Creator have to say about all these things?
God is very clear in telling us exactly how we stand before Him from His perspective; the perspective of the Creator looking at His humble little clay pot. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and understand: "all" means everyone. Every man, woman, and child—from the point of conception onward, just as King David laments in Psalm 51: "In sin did my mother conceive me." God also tells us that the wages of sin; that is, what we deserve and merit for this genetic sin which makes all people natural enemies of God from the point of conception, is death—physical and eternal death and separation from our Lord. However, God also tells us that through the all-redeeming work of Jesus Christ alone in His death and resurrection, we have been given the absolutely free gifts of eternal life, salvation, and complete forgiveness of sins, not because we've done anything to earn these gifts, but solely because Jesus Christ took our place and paid our entire debt of sin to God in full.
In fact, Scripture repeatedly likens our condition before God, apart from Christ, as that of a dead corpse. We have absolutely no ability within ourselves to create or bring about our own salvation or deliverance. We have absolutely no ability to breathe life back into our corpses of sin. This is precisely why God Himself comes down to us and breathes His life from above into our souls. In baptism, God comes down and completely washes us with His all-atoning, life-giving Word, breathing Christ into our dead souls and stealing us from the grasp of the devil, claiming us as His own precious child and treasure. From our fallen and sinful perspective, these miracles of God do tend to take on the appearance of "what we do" for God. However, this is every bit as absurd and foolish as the baby who takes credit for their deciding to be conceived and born, having first sought out their parents and made the decision to accept them as their personal lords and guardians. It's not our works or decisions which save us. Our works and decisions didn't die on a cross for our sins. Jesus Christ saves us. The promise of God made flesh and hung on a cross for our sins—this is our redemption.
My brothers and sisters in Christ: Jesus Christ is the one who gave up all of heaven to come down to earth to take on our sinful flesh, all because He loved and cherished us so much. Jesus Christ sought us out and sold everything He had, including His very life, for the sole purpose of purchasing us from the bonds of death and damnation. Notice: He didn't come with fire and brimstone to make this happen. He came meekly, mildly, and unassumingly. He came in under the radar and outside of all the expectations people had. In fact, He continues to keep His Word, "Lo, I am with you always, to the very end of the age," coming to us meekly, mildly, and unassumingly in simple Word, simple water of baptism, and simple bread and wine of Holy Communion. Through the eyes of sin, it seems like there's something more that needs to be done; something we need to do save ourselves. However, through the eyes of saving faith; the eyes which God gives as a gift from above, the Christian is able to recognize and realize the immeasurable gifts and mercies given to us from the hand of Jesus Christ Himself as He strengthens, nourishes, and cleanses us from all sin.
My fellow redeemed in Christ: From God's perspective, you are saved—each and every one of you. You are saved because Jesus Christ declared from His cross "It is finished!" The entire work of salvation and redemption for all mankind was completely accomplished and fulfilled from God's perspective in that moment that Jesus Christ surrendered His spirit to God, giving up His life as a ransom payment for us. God gave us the empty tomb on Easter morning so that, from our perspective, we could see and know that Christ's payment for our sin was fully and completely accepted by our heavenly Father. My brothers and sisters in Christ: From our heavenly Father's perspective, we are completely redeemed—in Christ and because of Christ, and that's the only perspective that matters when it comes to our life before God.
May God grant you the simple child-like faith to see things from His perspective and simply trust and believe that you are Christ's precious treasure; a treasure so precious He willingly gave up everything to redeem you and make you His own—forever.
Feel free to use any or all of this sermon for the edification of God's people.
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