Sermon at the opening Divine Service for the Higher Things Youth Conference held in Asheville, NC last week:
“God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” +INJ+
For you, God made the world.
Because of you, it is a sewer.
For you, God gave parents.
Because of you, they have wept.
For you, God made a body.
But you have done corrupt things with it.
For you, God made a mouth.
But you have used it to speak lies, gossip, and words that tear down but do not build up.
For you, God made ears.
But you have paid more heed to pop culture than the Word of God.
So because of you, people have been hurt.
Because of you, teachers have been angry.
Because of you, angels have mourned.
Because of you, demons rejoiced.
Against you are arrayed those demons. They desire to have you, to bring you to their hellish, never-ending death.
Against you is the world, beckoning you to follow the broad path leading to destruction.
Against you is your own flesh, urging you to give in to temptation.
But rejoice, O children of God! Rejoice and sing, for God gave His only-begotten Son for you!
For you, “the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men” (Tt. 2.11).
For you, God became a Child, that you might no more be children of Adam, but children of God!
For You, God fulfilled His ancient promise.
For You, God kept His Word.
For You, the Word became flesh.
To you who have not done works of righteousness, the Righteous One comes.
To you, who could not draw near, God draws near.
For you, God sentenced His Son to death.
For you the Son died, to set you free.
For you, He gave the washing of regeneration – the Sacrament of Baptism.
To you this day is delivered the invitation: “[Let us] draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (Heb. 10.22).
You, born of blood, and the will of the flesh, and the will of man, He makes to be reborn of God (Jn. 1.13).
In you is death, inherited from the first Adam; but for you is life, in the inheritance from the Second Adam.
For Him, there was no room in the inn; for you, He prepares a mansion.
For Him, there was no food in the desert; for you, He prepares a feast.
For Him, there was only gall and vinegar to drink; for you He gives wine that makes glad the heart of man.
For Him, there was a crown of thorns; for you He gives a crown of precious gems.
For Him, there was a spear thrust into His side; for you is healing.
For Him, there was the cold grave; for you, the stone is rolled away.
Against you, the portal to paradise was barred; for You, Christ comes and flings wide the gate.
You are all prodigal sons who had squandered the Father’s inheritance; but to you is given a greater inheritance, through the Son who was ever obedient to the Father.
You are all prodigal sons, yet for you the Father gives the royal ring;
for you He gives sandals;
for you the kiss of peace;
for you, Christ the fatted calf is slain!
Christ the Passover Lamb has come for you. His blood now marks your door!
Christ the true Joshua has come for you, to lead you into the land of promise!
Christ the true David has come for you to slay Goliath, and all the giants who taunt you!
Christ the Master of the waters came to lift up sinking Peter; Christ the Lord of Life came, and returned to the widow of Nain her son; Christ the conqueror of death came, and bade Lazarus come forth from his tomb; and if He did all of this, will He not also rescue you, O you of little faith?
Christ has come for you, to give you new life!
Christ has come for you, and sins are remitted!
Christ has come for you, and death shall be no more!
Christ has come for you, and hell is overthrown!
Christ has come for you, and the demons quail!
Christ has come for you, and the horror of the grave is removed!
For you is the love of God. Nothing else matters. Not what car you drive. Not what room you were assigned. Not what college you will go to. Not what others think of you. None of it. Only this matters: God so loved the world that He gave His Son, for you to have His life. Without that, you have nothing. With that, you have everything. And behold, in this Sacrament He gives it all now, to you, for you, in you. +INJ+