I CREATED THEE

First Sunday after Easter, 2010

Readings: Isa. 43:1-12; Ps. 103: 1 John 5:4-12; St. John 20:19-23

11 April a. d. 2010

I CREATED THEE

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be always acceptable in thy sight, 0 LORD, my strength and my redeemer. AMEN.

(Headnote: This morning I re-read the sermon from last week, and could not but notice that in the providence of God, the message of last Sunday and this Sunday is identical: “Fear not! God has prepared glory for you.”

(Eastertide is the season when the implications of our salvation are openly shown: Christ’s divinity & manhood, Christ’s sacrifice, the Resurrection, the reality of our forgiveness and new life – what all that means in our lives. Now, for this Sunday . . . )

“Thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: For I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.” Isaiah 43:1

Here God makes a startling claim to his chosen people: “I created thee, thou art mine. I know thee by thy name.”

Isaiah is speaking to apostate Israel, after he has just said to them, because you are blind and deaf to God’s words, because you have left serving me, the One True God and served idols made by your own hands, I am punishing you. I am sending nations to overrun you. I will all but destroy you for your sin.

Hard on the heels of that announcement comes this amazing statement of ownership, protection, blessing — and glory.

In the tenderest terms God describes how he will walk with them through the water & fire so they come thru dry, unburnt, and unharmed.

Now these same people had abandoned God. They had left obeying him and run after other gods. They had looked for safety in politics and in alliances, in all their own cleverness and devices. From God they had no right to expect protection or love, only fear and punishment and sure destruction: the wrath of God.

And yet, although they are unfaithful, although they are treacherous, God is still faithful to his covenant. God is still merciful. He will make good his promised lovingkindness toward them. And he begins reclaiming them by reminding them who he is:

“Thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: For I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.” Isaiah 43:1

How had he created them? First, he formed them and all men in Adam from dust of the earth.

Second, he had called their ancestors and made them his own peculiar people in a covenant made spontaneously and voluntarily from his side. That covenant promised their final redemption from the Fall and eternal life with him.

Think: every one whom God has called and named is his own private possession, and he will not lose a single one of them. No one can pluck them out of his hand. (John 10:27-29).

So? What does thie mean to you and me? God’s speech to the Israelites is old news from the seventh century before Christ, 27 centuries old.

But wait: Who is God is addressing? Jacob? Israel? Why, by the time Isaiah is speaking Jacob had been dead hundreds of years, so God is talking about something much bigger than merely bringing a particular people back to a particular land. No, this is a message about his grace and favour towards all his chosen throughout all time. This incident is only one example of his working in history.

CREATED FOR GLORY

Whomever God has called to be his own, he created for his own glory. “I have created him for my glory, I have formed him, yea, I have made him.”

How is God’s glory revealed in them? In their redemption from sin, from death, & from every enemy of God and man. In Isaiah’s prophecies these are the Assyrians to the North, the Edomites to the east, the Chaldeans to the South, and the Canaanites and Egyptians to the west.

But more than in this single time-bound instance of salvation, God’s glory will be revealed in saving all those he loves & in resurrecting them to eternal life with him, just as old Israel was once returned to its home in the promised land.

How is this all possible? Because the eternal Son of God took on a man’s flesh, made under the law as a descendant of Jacob. Jesus Christ the Son of God made himself a creature to reveal his father’s glory in redeeming all the faithful from sin and death. As a man, he fulfilled perfectly all the duties of God’s covenant with Israel, and by his death on the cross offered mankind a new and perfected covenant, a New Testament in his own blood, shed to save the world.

This Jesus, true God and true man, rose again from the dead on the third day as the firstfruits, the first harvest, of all those whom God will raise from the dead to eternal life. He rose again as the new Adam of a new human race, redeemed from sin as the New Israel. He is the head of a new, mystical Body of all the redeemed from every age, a Body that fulfils all the promises that his father made to his human ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob, who themselves now live forever in and by him.

Jesus Christ fulfils every prophecy in the Old Testament. Every word in the Old Testament points to him. To have faith in Jesus means to believe that he fulfils all God’s promises. Remember our Gospel from last week?

“These are the words that I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms concerning me. Then opened he their understanding that they might understand the scriptures, and said unto them, Thus it is written, & thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:45-47).

The whole Old Testament reveals God’s will, to redeem mankind for his own glory. The New Testament is the record of how Jesus Christ fulfilled that.

Now why did God wait so long? Or, why didn’t he wait longer? We cannot know but we can know this: this was for God “the fullness of time”, this was the time and place that the Father chose to fulfil his purpose and reveal his glory.

Now why wasn’t Jesus born rich? A prince? Roman Emperor. The Father willed otherwise, using the worst of a fallen world and fallen humanity to glorify himself through his Son and to give us life and grace and hope.

YOU WERE CREATED FOR GLORY

Now with Jesus’ life in mind, think about yourself. Why weren’t you born rich? Why weren’t you born a prince? Why did God direct every moment of your life, every event, every circumstance, every coincidence, every gene in your body for thousands of generation to form you just exactly as you are?

Why didn’t God give you one of those lives where the wind is in your sails & you ease from success to success with ne’er a cross word or failure or slip? Why did God give you this cross to bear, this cross of poverty or disease or nearsightedness or persecution? Why did God order all of history so that you would end up exactly who you are and exactly when and where you are?

Why? Not because he wants to destroy you, but because he created you for glory. How? By your bearing your cross through the power of the Holy Spirit & the blood of Christ. That brings him glory and that brings you glory.

Fear not! God the Father created us for his glory, so what greater goal can we have than to live for his glory? If we seek first the glory of the kingdom of God, exactly as our Lord Jesus Christ sought it, then we will be able to bear all our crosses, because he will make us able to, and we will glorify him.

Think of it, imagine it: We will be exactly what God created us to be, what he has formed us to be every minute of our lives, we will fulfil God’s purpose for our creation. Our lives will become one continuous act of praise, and we will share in the glory of our risen Lord, to the endless glory of his Father. W
Glory be to the Father,

And to the Son,

And to the Holy Ghost.

As it was in the beginning,

Is now and ever shall be,

World without end, Amen.

The Collect for the First Sunday after Easter

ALMIGHTY Father,

who hast given thine only Son to die for our sins,

and to rise again for our justification;

Grant us so to put away the leaven

of malice and wickedness,

that we may always serve thee in pureness

of living and truth;

through the merits of the same

thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

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