The Children of God-and So We Are! – Easter 3

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God – and we are! … Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.  [I John 3:1-2]

A Melvin Hiscock once wrote in a Reader’s Digest [no identification available other than page 120] about how, during his daughters’ high school years, his family had adopted the slogan, “Remember who you are and what you stand for.”  Some time later, one daughter asked her boyfriend if it was OK if she went with a friend who was dateless for a party at his new job.  He agreed, but added, “just remember whose you are and what I’ll stand for.”

“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God” – for centuries up until 1969, the second week after Easter was called “Misericordias Domini” or “the Mercy of God” Sunday, which came from the Introit or the Entrance Sentence of the day: “The land is filled with the mercy of the Lord.”  “Misericordias” is made up two words, “miseri” – “to pity” – and “cor” – “the heart” –, so it speaks of “heartfelt compassion,” and so “mercy” is not a bad translation.

However this word entered into whole new class of meaning when the Bible was translated into Latin, when “misericordias” became the word of choice for the Old Testament Hebrew term “Hesed.”  “Hesed´ is one of those words that really cannot be translated very well, because when used of God, it attempts to plumb the depths of the heart of God, and there is just no word in any language that is adequate to that task.  In English, “Hesed´ is translated as “steadfast love, mercy, kindness,” and other terms that really do not quite do the job.  In the New Testament Greek, its equally difficult counterpart, of which you may already be familiar, is “Agape” – that word for “love” which we see in the text I just read: “Behold what manner of love the Father has.“

So if we were to think of the title of today, “Misericordias Domini” Sunday, the emphasis is as the Introit put it, “The land is filled with the Lord (the Creator of the Universe, the Jehovah of Covenant, the God of Glory)’s heartfelt, merciful, steadfast love.“  Indeed that is an ideal title for today, since that is exactly what we will see as we come to the Baptism of Alayna.

God’s heartfelt, steadfast, merciful love – “Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God.”  Can you imagine how precious this identity is?  It is something that should make us drop to our knees when we realize what it means to be actually be “God’s children.”  Now please realize this in not the insipid concept that all creatures, or to narrow it down, that all humans are children of God.  That popular belief does not even touch what John and even St Paul talk about when they use this phrase.

No, for their understanding we have to go back to Bethlehem and behold a human child in a manger in a stable.  But this is not just any human child, for we discover that both God and Man are in one Person in this Baby.  God the Son has become a human, the Creator has stepped down to become His own creature.  He is now subject to time and space.  He is subject now to the health and welfare of His body.  He is now subject to human emotions, He feels our griefs and our despairs, our joys and our amazements.

He does this in order to live our life, that life which we should have lived to please God, which we must live, which we cannot live because of the destructiveness of our sin [Hebrews 2:17].  His life was without blemish [I Peter 1:19] – He was faultless as was proclaimed by the prophecy of God [Isaiah 53:9], by the declaration of Pilate [Luke 23:4], even by the High Priest’s false witnesses who could not make any charge stand against Him [Matthew 26:59-61].  Therefore the innocent Lamb of God lived in our place, died in our place – and then rose from the dead so that we could have an eternity, a life forever in the presence of the Father.

But there is another reason why He became human.  Think of a suspension bridge – both ends have to be firmly anchored before anyone can go from one side to the other.  That’s one of the things that the Baby in Bethlehem has done: on one side He is firmly anchored in God because He is God the Son; and now, in that manger in the stable, the other side is firmly anchored in humanity.  If Jesus had not become Man, then Baptism could never have made us become the children of God.

By Baptism we are placed on that Bridge called Jesus.  In this act, Paul says we are buried with Jesus into death, so that as He was raised from death by the glory of the Father, we also have newness of life – actually, Paul even says “we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His” [Romans 6:4,5].  This is where it gets interesting, because if we are united with Him, then the other side of this Bridge, we discover, is not that its anchor is merely in heaven – rather It (or better, He) is anchored in God.  Why are we called the sons and daughters of God?  It is because in Baptism, united to Jesus, we find ourselves on the end of the Bridge that is the Son of God
They decided to thank Righraj for this and went to India to his address, but found that nobody stays on that address. The clinic is there for you to solve all your queries that come to your mind regarding the viagra purchase buy Dosage and Prices. The same active ingredient used in brand counterpart is also used to keep the airway open by allowing moderated air pressure to stream down the patients airways so that breathing can be maintained properly during sleep. brand levitra in usa Reduced levels of testosterone cause lot of troubles order levitra online official drugstore in your life.
We are not God’s children in some romantic generalized all-creatures sense, nor are we “like Him” as if we become little gods ourselves, no, we are in the Son of God and therefore we participate in what He is, or as St Peter put it, we have become “partakers of the divine nature” [II,1:4] and through this we have become the children of God.

Now perhaps this all sounds like confusing mental gymnastics, but actually being “in Christ” is really quite an important concept in the Bible – in fact, that phrase is one of Paul’s most favorite word images in his writings.  Consider for the moment the kind of relationship that is going on constantly between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  How could we ever describe the extraordinary heartfelt closeness between the Persons of the Trinity.  There just is no way we can even begin to imagine the love, the fellowship and the communication that flows between them – just remember that problem we had earlier, trying to describe what “Hesed” and “Agape” mean!

Now remember, we are “in Jesus,” Who is the middle of all of this flow of mutual love.  Everything that Jesus receives flows right to us.  This is what is behind what Paul says in Ephesians, chapter 2[:4-7] – and listen for the phrase “in Christ”:

But God, Who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Baptism is the beginning of what Jesus means when He said, “Abide in Me, and I in you” [John 14:4].  Here in Baptism is God’s impossible-to-understand relationship of love and closeness, in this atmosphere of “the immeasurable riches of His grace in His kindness” – there we are, right in the middle, right in the pathway of that flow that swirls between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  This intensity of His love gets even better when you remember that in Baptism, the Holy Spirit also comes to make His home in us, with one of the aims being that Father wants to hear the deep things of our own hearts, those things that we could never have put into words – just as much as the Father listens closely to the heart of His Son, so also He wants to hear us.

Baptism declares, that even though we have our moments where we feel separated, where God seems distant, where there just seems to be a black hole in the sky, that that is never the truth.  “No!” this Sacrament declares, because constantly swirling all around us is the flow of love, care, involvement, grace and kindness that is internal to the nature of God – and because we are “in Christ,” then there is no other choice, God is deeply involved with us.  We have an unshakeable confidence.

With this background, now that little story with which I began plays its part.  Baptism does not encourage us to remember “who we are” – because even as a child of God, our concepts of ourselves can be far too faulty, influenced by whatever mood or circumstance happens on this or that day.  No, Baptism reminds us “Whose we are” – remember that Baptism is always passive: we are Baptized, we don’t Baptize ourselves.  God reaches down and takes Alayna, you, and me and then places us into Christ, on that Bridge, where we end up in God the Son, in the midst of a relationship that is impossible to find words for –  all because that is His choice, His desire, His action – and His love.

What a wonderful security that gives to us!  Think of when Jesus declared that even the hairs on our heads are all numbered [Matthew 10:30] – that is the intensity of God’s interest in His Son, and we are right in the middle of that attention.  Being so deeply imbedded into Christ fulfills the Psalmist’s description [139], “where can I go from Your Spirit?” – heaven, death, east, west, dark, light, it does not matter.  No wonder Jesus can say, “Lo, I am with you always” [Matthew 28:20], and “wherever two or three are gathered together in My Name, I am in their midst” [Matthew 18:20] – because not only is He in our midst, we are in His midst.

But there is also something else that is so wonderful about “Whose we are” – Luther reminds us that every time we turn to the Lord in repentance, we renew what happens in Baptism: we are again cleansed by Jesus “by the washing of water with the Word, that He might present [us] to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that [we] might be holy and without blemish” [Ephesians 5:25-27].  Think of how every single time Jesus touches us with His forgiveness, all the old baggage, all the old burdens, all the pain and the distortion of life that sin brings with it is removed.  In Jesus we stand in God, and we stand thoroughly clean, thoroughly delightful – as delightful as Jesus Himself is – to the Father.

This is what we are placing Alayna right into the middle of.  What a wild ride of God’s love is she in for!  “Behold! – here at the font – “what manner of love the Father has given to us that we should be called the children of God – and so we are!

Leave a Reply