The grace, mercy, and peace of Christ Jesus rest upon each and every one of you this day.
It’s clear from today’s lessons that God’s Word is powerful and efficacious. His Word does exactly what it says. God says, “Let there be…,” and there is! Out of nothingness God creates and gives life to very real and tangible creation—the entire heavens and the earth—all by means of His spoken Word. We hear in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians how we are to take up and put on the full armor of God’s Word while we reside on this side of eternity. Just think how God protects you, arms you, and equips you in the fullness of His Word. In and of ourselves, we’re naked. We’ve got nothing to even cover over our own sinfulness, let alone put up any kind of a fight against the deadly foes of sin, death, and the devil. Sewing together a couple of fig leaves is the best idea we’ve had, and that was woefully inadequate. But…clad in His blood-bought peace and grace, we have nothing to fear, in spite of the fact that we daily live, work, and play in a spiritual, hellish no-man’s land; a place just crawling with the sinful enemies of the devil, the fallen world, and our own fallen flesh. Clad in Christ and His victorious Word, we have a peace that surpasses all understanding.
The Word of God is powerful and effective. It does what He says. Just look at our Gospel lesson. This Word of God, spoken from the Word Himself in the flesh, was immediate in its efficacy. “Come, Lord Jesus, come…before it’s too late.” And our Lord Christ responds to such powerful words of faith. “Go. Your son lives.” You may not pick up on it, but all this language of fever and death (a fever was basically a death sentence) and speaking the Word that gives life and drives away the fiery death of fever, is all very exorcistic. Christ speaks, and even the fires of death obeys Him. “Go, for at this very moment (snapping of the fingers) your son lives.”
There’s a reason I word this in such a way. The English translation is so poor here. We translate this as “your son will live.” That’s a future-tense thing. That may mean tomorrow. It may mean next week. It may mean eight years later, after he’s been a vegetable in a coma. Someday, at some time in the future, he will live. NO! Christ speaks His powerful Word, and creation immediately obeys…even that corrupted creation which stands against Him and fights against Him. He speaks, and it is. “Your son lives. Let there be…” and there is. It’s as simple and powerful as that. So powerful, in fact, that this Word wrought life-saving, life-giving salvation not only in this one dad, but in his entire household. They all bore witness to the powerful efficacy of Christ’s Word. They all saw the result. It changed them. It resurrected, not just the dying boy, but all of them from unbelief to saving faith; from death to life. Truly a powerful, miraculous, life-giving Word indeed!
No one here disagrees, do they? God’s Word is all-powerful and efficacious. God’s Word works! The big question, then, is do the fruits of your faith match the words coming out of your mouth? It’s easy to say the right words. It’s easy to speak the language of “Christian.” Anyone can sprinkle the right words into the conversation or slap ‘em on a business card or a sign. Anyone can put on a good show. You can fool everyone in the room…including the person in the mirror. But…you can’t fool God.
Do you trust in the all-powerful, efficacious Word of God? The lessons for today give a very clear picture of the power and efficacy of God’s Word. This Word creates from nothingness. This Word gives resurrection life to death. And in the midst of these two bookends is the Word that equips, protects, guides, and nourishes us through every moment of daily life. This same Word calmed terrifying storms. It healed lepers. It fed thousands of people. This same Word led Gentile wise men into the presence of their infant Lord and Savior. This same Word converted thousands of people in a single day we now call “Pentecost.” This same Word kept men confident and at peace as their lives were brutally snuffed out. Just think of the stoning of Stephen. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” That’s the very Word of Jesus, pouring forth from St. Stephen in his final moments in this veil of tears. That’s powerful!
Do you trust in this all-powerful, all-efficacious Word of God? “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased. Listen to Him!” And what does this Son declare, not just in the pages of Scripture and the annals of history, but in our very hearing today; in our very presence? “It is finished, once and for all. Take and eat. Take and drink. Be baptized, all for the forgiveness of all your sin. Depart in peace, and in your goings be making disciples of all nations, baptizing them and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded.”
Folks: Hear the Word of your Lord! God so loved you and the entire world that He gave His only-begotten Son to die and rise again; to victoriously declare the deadly war against sin, death, and the devil finished and over. “It is finished!” And it is finished, totally and completely. Because of Him (and Him alone), you are completely forgiven and redeemed in Him. Look to the font, for it is here that He has poured out this cruciform gift of life upon you, sealing you with this very same victorious cruciform Word and promise. “It is finished. You belong to Me.” His Word of life, in, with, and under the water—the same Word that victoriously declared, “it is finished”—washed you and completely covered you in His blood-bought gift of redemption, declaring you to be His blessed child and heir. Look to the altar/rail, where He feeds you and nourishes you with this very same Word and promise, in, with, and under the elements of ordinary bread and wine. “Take and eat; take and drink; this is My body and My blood, given and shed for you for the forgiveness of all your sin. As often as you do this, remember My Word; remember what I have said this is and does.”
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ: God’s Word does exactly what He says. This has ALWAYS been the case. This same Word that spoke into existence out of nothing; that calmed storms and cured sicknesses and resurrected people from the dead, speaks to you today into your heart, mind, and soul. He speaks His Law to you in order to put to death the sin that clings to you, deceives you, and kills you. He also speaks His Gospel to you, resurrecting you in His life-giving, peace-giving absolution. It is finished, once and for all. You are redeemed in Christ. There is nothing mightier than that Gospel Word of your God and Lord; not height, not depth, not powers or principalities, not angels or demons! The gates of hell cannot prevail. You belong to Christ! That’s God’s Word, and that’s the final Word.
May this Good News—this almighty Word of God—be your strength, your confidence, your joy, and your reason for all hope and peace all your remaining days. May this Divine Word guard and keep your hearts and minds in Christ, now and into all eternity. AMEN
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