P: Christ is risen.
C: He is risen indeed. Alleluia.
"Who is a God like you?" Micah asked under inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
It's a good question, albeit a rhetorical one, for the true God is not at all like any of the false gods men have created in their sinful minds. They love only after they're loved. They give only after they get. They bestow their blessings only upon those who've merited them by their obedience and submission.
But the one, true God "pardons iniquity and passes over the transgression of the remnant of his heritage," Micah explains. "He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in mercy. He will again have compassion on us and subdue our iniquities." Then the prophet confessed, "You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea."
Not that God has had a change of heart in regard to sin. As do the false gods of this world, so he too threatens to punish everyone that disobeys him. He told Adam that on the day he ate of the forbidden tree he would surely die. Thousands of years later he told his OT people through Ezekiel, "The soul that sins, it shall die." And centuries after that he declared through the pen of St. Paul, "The wages of sin is death." And true to his Word, every five seconds or so nine more people in this world die.
But what makes the one, true God unlike all these other gods is that after Adam sinned, he promised a Savior who would crush the serpent's head; he also told his OT people through Ezekiel, "As I live... I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his evil way and live;" and immediately after he declared the wages of sin to be death, he gave this promise that "the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
And that brings us to these words, which Jesus spoke to his disciples on the night he was betrayed, "A little while, and you will not see me; and again a little while, and you will see me, because I go to the Father."
The disciples did not understand this. So Jesus in love explain it to them. In a very short time, that very night to be exact, they would weep and lament. For he would be arrested, falsely tried, and tortured. The next day he would be scourged, crucified and killed. But so that they would not fall away on account of this, as did their companion Judas Iscariot, Jesus, after warning them of what was going to happen to him, added the promise that in a little while, they would see him again.
That little while lasted only until Easter Sunday, the third day after his Death, when Jesus, who had risen from the dead, appeared to his disciples. Then their grief turned into overwhelming joy, just as he said it would.
"O Lord, who is a God like you? A God, who became one with us in our flesh, bore our sins in your own body, suffered our cursed death, and then rose again to conquer death and the grave. Who is a God like you, who ascended into heaven not to leave us alone to fend for ourselves, but to direct all things in this world for our salvation? Who is a God like you, who, though exalted to the right of your Father, comes to us in the humble forms of Baptismal Water, Spoken Absolution, Preached Word, and Blessed Bread and Wine, so that we who have been washed and cleansed of sin, and who are continually reassured by your Word, can actually eat your Body and drink your Blood for the forgiveness of our sins?" Dear Christian, there never has been nor will there ever be another god like your God, who bestows his gifts upon his people out of pure grace, without any merit or worthiness of their own.
But true as that is, so is this that the words our Lord spoke to his disciples on this night were meant for our ears just as much as for theirs. For in the little while we call the NT Age, we do not see him either, at least not physically, and as did they, so we too weep and lament. How can we not? Time and again we are reminded of how evil and cruel the people of this world have become. We see how selfishly they live, how immoral they are, how easily they hurt and even kill others in pursuit of their own wicked agenda. We are also all too aware of how deeply they hate Christ. Even many churches and church bodies have abandoned him these days, preferring to please men rather than be the instrument through which he brings his salvation to men. And as if that weren't reason enough to grieve, there are the personal tragedies that come in a world ruined by sin. Love ones grow sick and die; so will we sooner or later.
But do not lose hope, for in a little while you will see your Lord. And you will indeed rejoice. Again, how can you not? He is coming back to take your home to heaven, where you will live with him, as well as with your loved ones and all the saints who died in Christ Jesus, where there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain for together with sin all these evils will have passed away, where you will instead experience fullness of joys and pleasures with your Lord forevermore.
Let's face it. There is no other god like your God, a God who acts for you, not demands from you, and who because of this will turn your present sorrow into everlasting joy.
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
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