Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Today we conclude the cycle of the humiliation and exaltation of Jesus Christ.
The Son of God descended from heaven to be born of the Virgin Mary and was laid in a manger. This was the beginning of his state of humiliation. During the days of his humiliation he was truly God, but he did not constantly use the powers of his divinity. Beginning with his victory on the cross, almighty God the Father exalted him.
"And the Lord, after he had spoken to them, was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God."
This account of the Ascension is very short, but has the key phrase, "He sat at the right hand of God." This is an echo of Psalm 110: "The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool." Jesus, in his discussions with the Pharisees and Sadducees in the temple during Holy Week, also quoted Psalm 110 (Matthew 22: 42-46) and identified this psalm as a prophecy of King David. God promised David that his descendant would reign forever, and David understood that the Messiah's kingdom would not be just the King of Israel, but the King of kings. The right hand signifies the position of trust, in which the king hands over all authority to his successor. David also prophesied that his descendant would be a priest according to Melchizedek. We read in Genesis 14 that Melchizedek, the king of Jerusalem and priest of God Most High before the Sinai covenant, blessed Abraham. The author of Hebrews, then, says that Jesus Christ, by his sacrifice on the cross, is our high priest after the order of Melchizedek. As we confess in the creed, he is seated at the right hand of Almighty God the Father and from there will come to judge the living and the dead.
In our reading of the Old Testament (2 Kings 2: 5-15), we read that Elijah ascended into heaven in a whirlwind. He handed over his role as prophet to his disciple, Elisha. However, there is a difference between the ascension of Elijah and that of Jesus. The Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article VIII, reads as follows: “But now, after having ascended to heaven, not simply as any other saint, but above all the heavens to fill everything in true form, as witnessed by the apostle (Paul, in Ephesians 4:10), now he also rules, present everywhere, not only as God but also as man, from one sea to another and to the ends of the earth. " Now, Jesus, in his human nature now uses all the powers of the divine nature. When he ascended, his human nature was seated at the right hand of God, too.
There is more. As the mantle of Elijah fell on Elisha with a double portion of the Holy Spirit, our Lord ordered the proclamation of the gospel in all parts of the world with the promise of the help of the Holy Spirit for all his church.
And he said to them: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe, he will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In my name they will cast out demons; they will speak new languages; they will take snakes; and if they drink anything deadly, it will not harm them; they will lay hands on the sick and they will get well. "
In the early church age, wherever a confirmation of the gospel was necessary in the form of some external sign, such a miracle occurred, in accordance with his promise. But, Saint Paul did not always take hold of poisonous snakes, as in Acts 28: 3-6, but this time this sign was given to his faith. God showed that he was protecting the apostle.
We now have the written Word of God, so there is no need for this kind of sign, although, of course, if God wants miracles to happen through faith, they will surely happen. We are told to preach the Word. God will take care of the signs, if they are needed. The presence of Christ is with those who preach the pure Gospel today with as much certainty as ever. The Holy Spirit is active in the preaching of the Word, the Lord is also with us in his human nature in the Lord's Supper. The Spirit works through the Word and the sacraments.
Mind you, we cast out the devil at every baptism. Baptism is the great exorcism, the seal of freedom from sin and the power of the devil. The miracle of a new creation, a new life in Christ, occurs each time we baptize them with water and the Holy Spirit.
If our faith only trusts in Him, who works in and with us, and therefore in and with the gospel, then the great miracles that He has always performed through His Word will be done today as always: the souls that were lost. and sold to the power of the devil they will be redeemed and given the freedom of the children of God; people whose entire nature is sick from the terrible disease of sin will be healed and strong to fight the Lord's battles, all through the power of the gospel.
That the peace that surpasses all understanding be with you. Amén.
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