Sermon for Epiphany 6 – 2.13.22
+ 6th Sunday after the Epiphany – Februar7 13th, 2022 +
Series C: Jeremiah 17:5-8; 1 Corinthians 15:1-20; Luke 6:17-26
Beautiful Savior Lutheran
“Your Identity is in Christ”
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The word “identity” is one of the buzzwords of our day and age. There’s identity theft. Identity politics. Gender identity. Self-identification as this or that or whatever. Identity is humanity’s version of a dictionary, it’s how we look for what defines us. People constantly define themselves by how they vote, how they dress, how they live, and so on.
Identity is humanity searching for an answer to the age-old question. Who are you?
Jesus answers these questions of identity – who am I? Who are you? – as he begins his famous sermon on the plain in Luke 6. Jesus proclaims four beatitudes. Four blessings. Four declarations.
Blessed are you poor, For yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are you who hunger now, For you shall be filled.
Blessed are you who weep now, For you shall laugh.
Blessed are you when men hate you, And when they exclude you, And revile you, and cast out your name as evil, For the Son of Man’s sake.
It’s easy to start looking at each of these beatitudes from our perspective. As declarations of blessings that God is giving to us. And they certainly are. Each and every one of Jesus’ beatitudes here is a promise, blessing, and declaration of who you are in him. Though before we see how these beatitudes define who we are in Christ, we must see how Jesus’ words identify and define who he is for you. The beatitudes are first and foremost a description of who Jesus is for you.
Jesus embodies and incarnates each and every one of these beatitudes. Jesus is the one who was poor for you. Jesus is the one who hungered in the wilderness and thirsted on the cross for you. Jesus is the one who wept for you. Jesus is the one who bore all the hate and exclusion and wickedness man could muster, and who was cast out called evil even as he hung on the cursed tree of the cross for you.
This is who Jesus is for you. All of the beatitudes are descriptions of him, identifying who he is to save you. And in Jesus, all of his beatitudes, his blessings, come to you as well.
For, try as you might, you do not define yourself. You cannot. It is not we who define ourselves, but God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who defines who you are. And yet, ever since Genesis 3 and the fall of sin, you and me, and the whole sinful world has been wrestling with a giant identity crisis of body and soul. We’re tempted, as Adam and Eve were, to define ourselves for ourselves. You define who you are. I define who I am. We’re tempted to look to ourselves for our own good, for our own definition of who we are, to look at our thoughts, words, and deeds and define ourselves by them. But that is the very definition, not of identity, but of idolatry. In the biblical view of things, this is who I am. Who you are. As we confess the truth…I, a poor miserable sinner.
And yet, this is not the whole truth. All of your self-righteousness, self-serving, and sin does not define who you are. Because Jesus was born and lived for you, because he declared these beatitudes in his sermon on the plain, because he went to Jerusalem to be rejected, crucified, died, and was buried, because he rose again from the dead on the third day…your sin no longer defines you.
Who are you? We’ll each answer that question differently at first. Who are you? I am a husband, father, pastor, son, brother, uncle, and so on. And those things are true. But they are not the whole truth.
Who or what defines you? Not your politics, your hobbies, your vocations in life – as good as all of these things can be. No, your identity in Christ is defined not by anything you do, say, or are on your own, but by who Christ is, by what he says, and by what he does.
Your identity is in Christ crucified and risen.
Blessed are you who are poor in body and soul – who receive all good things in our earthly life as well as our eternal life as gift from God in Christ Jesus. Yours is the kingdom of God. Right here, right now. Today. The kingdom of God comes to you in Jesus’ gifts of word, water, his body and blood.
Blessed are you who are hungry now. Blessed are you who see that all our needs of body and soul – from our kitchen table to the Lord’s table – are given to you out of God’s fatherly divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness of your own. You are and ever shall be satisfied in Jesus the Bread of Life.
Blessed are you who weep. Sounds strange that Jesus blesses our weeping. But he does. He who wept for us and with us has promised that in His dying and rising, one day he will wipe away every tear from our eyes and make all things new. And you shall have the last laugh over sin and death forever.
Blessed are you when you are hated, excluded, cast out, reviled, and spurned as evil on account of Christ. For in him though you are hated by the world, you are loved eternally. Blessed in Him who bore all the hatred and evil in his body on the cross.
Who are you? You are blessed in Jesus. You are blesses because you are united to Christ in the waters of your baptism where God the Father declares and identifies you as his beloved, baptized child.
You are blessed because you are his handiwork, created in his image. You are redeemed and restored from sin in the image of the Son of God who was crucified for you and rose from the dead for you. You are a dwelling of the Holy Spirit. Baptized. Blessed because of your communion with Jesus in his body and blood. Blessed because of his word of life and forgiveness declared to you.
All of these beatitudes…they’re all yours. For you belong to Christ. And because of all that He is and has done for you, all that belongs to Him belongs to you as well.
Who are you? You are baptized and blessed in Christ Jesus. You are citizens of his kingdom now and forever. You are, as the prophet Jeremiah says, “a tree planted by the water,” rooted and alive and growing in Christ.
Yes, in this life, you may hunger. Thirst. Weep. You may even be persecuted or reviled because of who you are in Christ.
But nothing in this fallen world defines you. You are united with Christ. Blessed in Christ. Redeemed. Rescued. Forgiven. In Christ.
Your identity is in Christ. And that is who you are.
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.