Video of the Divine Service is here. The sermon begins around the 26:20 mark.
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Isaiah says, “Your God is coming! And no one will miss it. Your God is going to appear, and everyone will see it. Eye to eye, in the presence of everyone, they will see the return of Yahweh to Zion. To the ends of the earth, every eye will see the salvation of our God.” Everyone will see Him when He comes, and when He does appear, it is as a baby.
A baby. If ever the expectation of the appearance of God in the world was anti-climactic, this is it. Who saw it? Only two sets of eyes saw the birth into the world of God in the flesh. And then the heralds of good news. Then the watchmen shouting that God has come. Then, hark, the herald angels—they sing. Here is an army of angels, but they don’t start destroying unbelievers. They start singing to shepherds. And then the shepherds tell some people. And then the apostles, and then the evangelists. God gives some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors, and some teachers to speak this word that the arm of God has been revealed in the world. Here is the arm that will work the mighty and powerful action of God’s salvation in this world, but that arm is weak and not very long. It’s a baby’s arm.
Everyone will see this work of God, His salvation clothed in infant flesh. The proof is here this morning. Where are we? We are just about at the end of the earth from Bethlehem. And the Word from the the wordless Child has come to us here. Every eye will see Him. Every ear will hear. Your God is King! Your God reigns! He has conquered! He is victorious! There are those who do not like it. Every year they try to tell us that the Christians stole a pagan holiday, with pagan trees, and pagan gifts, and pagan celebrations. But even if we did (we didn’t), we’ve been pretty successful! Otherwise they wouldn’t feel the need to remind us every year. The pagan gods bow down and the pagan celebrations have been conquered! Our God reigns! He is victorious!
And there is the fact that every single person in this world uses the numbering of years that centers around the birth of Jesus. We are about to enter anno Domini—the Year of our Lord—2022. Some people don’t like that, so they renamed it the “common era,” and “before the common era.” They are absolutely right: it is the Common Era, because our God reigns. He is victorious! He has conquered! And no matter how things are renamed or what they are called, the Word has gone into all the earth. Every eye sees, even if they deny it. Every ear has heard. The salvation of our God, even covered under all the other wrapping of this time of the year, is still seen and proclaimed and worshiped. You can even hear His Name when you’re shopping at Target or Fred Meyer or Safeway. The Word of our God will not be silenced.
No doubt there are many who do not believe. In the very next chapter after Isaiah says that Yahweh is returning to Zion, he says, But who has believed what they have heard from us? To whom has the arm of Yahweh been revealed? And John says that the Word-made-flesh came to His own creation, His own people, and they did not receive Him. Every eye has seen, but not every eye has believed.
No matter. God’s kingdom comes. God’s will is done. God’s name will be holy. God’s kingdom comes with or without our prayer. It comes with or without our belief. But we pray that God’s kingdom would come and remain among us also, that there would still be some who believe, who worship, who rejoice at His appearance. To whom has the arm of Yahweh been revealed? To you. Your God reigns! Your God is King! He is victorious! He has conquered!
He has been revealed to you. You have believed what you heard. What has been revealed and what has been heard and what has been believed? Paul tells Titus: The grace of God has appeared—that is the revelation, the epiphany, the shining of the Light of God on all the darkness of this world—the grace of God has appeared, the salvation of all people. Whether they believe it or not, whether they worship or not. It has appeared and it is the salvation of all people.
But this grace and this salvation has been seen by you. It has captured you, joined you to the living Jesus, by the death and resurrection work of God in your baptism. And we who have been caught up in that grace and that salvation, Paul says, are being disciplined, are being trained to deny the opposite of the denial of this world. Trained and disciplined to deny ungodliness and worldly desires, to die and rise every single day, until the day when there is no more death, only resurrection. We are being trained to deny the ungodliness in us, in our sinful flesh; the worldly desires in us, in our sinful flesh. We are being disciplined, trained to live self-controlled lives in a world out of control; upright lives in a world that has fallen; godly lives in a world that denies all godliness. And all of this because we know whose we are and we bear witness to the fact that God has claimed us for His own.
We know that our God reigns, and we are waiting for Him. He is coming, and no one will miss it! He is going to appear, and this time, all denial will vanish and disappear. Every eye will see Him, every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Your God reigns! We are longing, waiting with eager expectation for the revealing, the epiphany, of the glory of the great God and our Savior, Jesus Christ. He is gathering and purifying a people for Himself, zealous for good works (Titus 2:11-14). The glory of God was there, wrapped up in the flesh of Mary’s child. And the glory of God was there, wrapped up on the cross. The glory was there, before the eyes of all people—unseen by unbelief, but there nonetheless.
And God is not done. Here and in all the churches of Jesus Christ, every eye may see Him. He is doing His mighty work in the sight of all the nations. Behold your God! He has come and appeared among us in His resurrection glory. Here is the light for revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of His people Israel. Here He wraps up His glory in words of forgiveness that He delivers from the mouths of sinful men. Here He wraps up His glory in the Body and Blood of Jesus hidden in bread and wine. To the ends of the earth, the salvation of our God, the Yah-shua of our God, the Jesus of our God, is revealed before everyone.
Here is your peace! Here is your joy! In the middle of the destroyed city of Jerusalem, Isaiah said that all the waste places sang together for joy at the coming of Yahweh. So here, in the midst of all the broken-down destruction, the pieces of this dark world left over from the beginning of creation, the waste places, the wilderness places, we sing together for joy! Our God comes. Your God reigns! Your God is King! He has conquered! He is victorious! O come, let us worship Christ, the new-born, the crucified, the resurrected King!
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7, ESV). Amen.
— Pr. Timothy Winterstein, 12/24/21