Zechariah 8,23: „Thus saith the Lord of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.“ (KJV)
John 12,20-21: „And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast: The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus.“ (KJV)
Dear friends of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ + In today’s readings our attention is drawn to the faithfulness of God, who builds his kingdom and spreads his reign to the very ends of the earth and until the very end of time. After the holy city of God Jerusalem and its centre in the temple had been destroyed and his people had been defeated, decimated and the small remnant exiled, he now promises through his mouthpiece and faithful servant Zechariah that he will turn this around. By divine intervention he will bring about a miraculous exchange and most wonderful reversal of history. Jerusalem will be restored, the temple rebuilt and the people of God gathered from the ends of the world so that they prosper and flourish under the abundant blessings of the heavenly father – without any merit or worthiness on their own part – for he is faithful, merciful and so ready to forgive, save, heal and grow. This godly mission to do good to his people is unbound and not limited to the narrow confines of Israel and the Jewish nation. Rather God’s plan goes well beyond these national, racial and traditional borders to include the heathen people in the very outskirts of the world. They all are to hear of God’s goodness and mercy. They all are to hear that they too have been chosen to be partakers of God’s promises and heavenly gifts. They too are no longer foreigners and strangers, but rather friends and family members of God’s one holy Christian Church. In his only begotten Son Jesus Christ God has called those that were near by, but also those far off. He has taken down the fence that was keeping the one from the other, he has opened up the very sanctuary of the holy of holies through his atoning sacrifice on Golgotha and by his Holy Spirit called, elected, gathered, connected and brought into unity and communion with the head of all: Jesus Christ our Lord and King.
Before the suffering, crucifixion, death and burial, but also before his glorious and most victorious resurrection the pagan Greeks and Germans, Africans and Aborigines, Eskimos and Japanese couldn’t come to Jesus. However when he was raised up in glory by the Father and was seated at his right hand with all authority in heaven and on earth entrusted to him, he drew them all towards himself. He’s still doing that today. Pulling, entreating, inviting those at a distance to come close and taste and see how friendly our God is. It is he, who is building his Church. It is he who is faithfully fulfilling all his promises. It is he, who is comforting and strengthening our trust in him even as we fail to see his divine glory and to often doubt his divine authority and effective power and might to do as he pleases and is best for us.
Just look how he is building, spreading and growing his kingdom not only in Africa, but especially in those last reserves of pagan and heathen strongholds in the muslim and communist world of the Middle East and China, but also in that centre of idol worship India and even in the secular West. For me the stories are multiplying even here in Southern Africa. Just look at how the people from up north are flooding in. Thousands of Lutherans are filling up previously diminishing churches. Many more are finding a church for the first time. They know, they need God and without him they are at a loss, yes, seriously lost and condemned forever. That is why they are knocking at our door and at the churches doors: Let us in and show us the way, the truth and the light. It’s not as if those high and mighty places up north in Europe and in the Americas are at rest or have come to the end of history either. No, God is making history as we speak – all over the place. He, who has eyes let him see and he, who has understanding, let him grasp it. God is stirring the pot quite violently. Many, many are shaken awake from their deep sleep of sinful isolation, delusion and false complacency to face the reality of their own dismal poverty and destitute ideologies and barren idolatry and empty religion and they come and say to the Christian people: „We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.“ Yes, they too would like to see Jesus Christ. Let them enter in and tell them, what great things the one living God has done – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit – in creation, salvation and sanctification. It is he, who is our hope and our life and our salvation. If we have but him, we don’t ask for heaven or earth, but are content, because his grace is better even than life. Amen. The peace of the Lord be with you always + Amen.
1. Fight the good fight With all thy might;
Christ is thy Strength and Christ thy Right.
Lay hold on life, and it shall be
Thy joy and crown eternally.
2. Run the straight race Thro’ God’s good grace;
Lift up thine eyes and seek His face.
Life with its way before us lies;
Christ is the Path and Christ the Prize.
3. Cast care aside; Upon thy Guide
Lean, and His mercy will provide;
Lean, and the trusting soul shall prove
Christ is its Life and Christ its Love.
4. Faint not nor fear, His arms are near;
He changeth not, and thou art dear.
Only believe, and thou shalt see
That Christ is All in all to thee.
Author: John S.B. Monsell, 1863