November 5, 2022 Pastor: Rev. Peter Mills
ALL SAINTS’ Day/S-transferred, 11/06/2022: Ps. 149; Revelation 7:2-17; 1 John 3:1-3; Matthew 5:1-12.
Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure (vv. 2, 3).
“Like recognizes like”; who Christians are does not appear to physical sight; but revealed to spiritual eyes. The introductory Beatitudes of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount inaugurated power upon his disciples to a new identity for knowing God “as he is”.
Christians are not to misconstrue the Beatitudes as virtues requiring what the blessings themselves impart; rather they inform us of our new status as God’s children in the power of Jesus’ imparted word, now!
God’s kingdom is among us in his Presence, by whom we are a work in progress by the HS, being “perfected” from faith to faith (cf. Mt. 5:48). The Beatitudes speak of “sealing” work in Word and Sacrament, as new Israel on earth represented by Revelation’s “144,000 male virgins” (Rev. 7:3, 4, 8; 14:4).
Heading-up the Kingdom blessings is “a spirit of poverty” (Mt. 5:3). At heaven’s end-time banquet and this morning’s foretaste of it there are no “wealthy” people in attendance; as bride we bring nothing but Thanksgiving to the celebration. By this beatitude we lay aside all pride of merit, clothed only in his bestowed righteous robes (cf. Mt. 22:11-14).
Baptism initiates our “sealing” into spiritual poverty; we come before the Father washed and clothed only in Jesus’ crucified flesh, obedient, and dependent on God for all things. Jesus entered our humanity as our atoning Servant; so that God exalted him above all (Phil. 2:5-9) as we following in his train.
The Beatitudes progress our empowerment. Baptized into Jesus’ sacrifice, we are minted into his poverty for humility and mercy as he is merciful; “we love because he first loved us” (1 Jn. 4:19).
Blessed with poverty of spirit, we learn and advance in meekness, mourning over sin’s wrack and ruin in our lives. Enrolled into the Church Militant on earth, the 144,000 are sustained by word and Sacrament as we “come out” of the world’s tribulations (Rev. 7:14). Thus, the Baptized are garbed in white robes of purity’s worship before God with heaven’s innumerable (v. 9).
If, still in the world, how then are we to be recognized at Jesus’ Parousia; will it not be by our martial-like fidelity to the Church’s Word and Sacraments for on-going sealing? Lord’s Day to Lord’s Day we are purified “as he is pure”; so that on the Last Day, “like will recognizes like”.
Blood is the body’s cleansing agent for life (Gen. 9:4). Jesus’ blood, shed for our forgiveness is the tangible blessing for our purity. As Jesus knows the Father in holiness; we purified by faith behold his face in worship.
The Psalmist described sanctified worship, “Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart … who seek the face of the God of Jacob” (Ps. 24:3-6b) processing up Zion.
Look to liturgical east, the rising Sun at our Altar; there we acknowledge Christ, “appearing as he is” in the “breaking of the Bread” (Lk. 24:30, 31, 35; Acts 2:42). As we continue to ascend in Zion, Jesus speaks his blessings as we come-out of worldly tribulation.
The final blessings for the Church are peace and reconciliation, by which Jesus restores wholeness for and in the new heavens and earth. Be aware that the Church’s gospel “peace” is not universally welcome.
Peace with God does not admit of peace with the world; rather one must expect this beatitude in persecution; the Church, mirroring the experience of her Lord, must continually be sealed to her gifted faith.
Later, Jesus would explain Christian persecution (Mt. 9:35-11:19). He had come into the world for division, by “Sword of the Spirit” (10:34). Jesus as “an eternal gospel” out of heaven (Rev. 14:6) confronts all men with a choice about his identity and ours.
If we love worldly families and associates more than Jesus; tribulation in the world will deal a gut-wrenching fact, “one’s enemies will be those of his own household” (Mt. 10:36) both physical and spiritual.
As for spiritual families, we observed last Reformation Sunday, “violent of men” against “an eternal gospel” even among “broader Christendom”, (Mt. 11:12).
Jesus’ presence in the world, brings crisis to families, even “Christian families”. In some, his “peace” is received with hospitality (Mt. 10:12-14). As for persecutions, Jesus’ beatitude of peace empowers on-going fidelity for “Righteousness’ sake”; but if we refuse his leading to the cross and atonement, we become unworthy of so great a salvation (Mt. 10:34-39).
Peace, forgiveness, healing, purity, and restoration is God’s work in Christ alone, bestowing faith, that beholds our “perfecting”. In him, we are sons and daughters who worship in purity, with all the angels and saints now and on the Last Day, to behold the face of God. Amen.