In Memoriam + Gary D. Cropp +
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Delivered By
Pr. Mark D. Lovett
Delivered On
December 12, 2016
Central Passage
Matthew 11:2-10
Description

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

One can hear many things in the question of St. John the Baptist, addressed to the Lord: Are you the one to come or should we wait for another?

We can hear hope in St. John’s question. Hope like a football fan cheering on his team that is already winning. Confident in the outcome. Christians are confident in the outcome. But we can also hear desperation in that question: are You the one to come or should we wait for another?

John sat in prison for preaching the truth. He sat in prison and was subject to the whims of a madman and his mad court. John’s situation was rather desperate as things go in this life. It isn’t hard to hear John asking the Son of Mary, Are You the one to come or should we wait for another, because John’s surroundings, his situation was beginning to weigh on him and get the better of him. It is not without reason that the Church prays to her Lord, “Keep us steadfast” and “Lead me not into temptation.” If we were left to our own devices and imaginations we would be driven to live a fantasy. We would ignore the reality of sin and death. Such people either pretend that they are not affected by sin and death or they pretend it’s all a made-up morality.

But days like today are stark reminders that we cannot ignore the truth and we cannot pretend it’s all a made-up reality. The wages of sin is death.

But the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ.

That’s the promise. For Jesus’ sake, by His body given and His blood shed, we have peace with God and the death we die is only a sleep to be awakened from. Jesus is the firstborn from among the dead, the first-fruits of the resurrection. Now we, with our brother, Gary, and all those who dwell on earth, either awake or asleep, are waiting for the completion of the resurrection began in Christ Jesus.

In the face of such sorrow, be it ours by right or borrowed from the sorrow of others, such sorrow leads the world to embrace St. John’s question as its own: Are You, Jesus, the one to come or should we wait for another?

We know who Jesus is, who He claims to be. And we know the evidences: the lame walk, the deaf hear, the mute speak, and the dead are raised up. And the poor have the good news preached to them. The good news. The good news is that God Almighty has made His home with us. He has thrown in His lot with His creatures and taken up our cause. Our God wears our flesh. That’s good news. Because He is the author of life. And if the author of life wears our flesh then we shall live! Even though we die, yet shall we live.

We can, even in sorrow, say to the Son of Mary, the Son of God, “To you, O Lord, I life up my life, O my God. I trust in You: let me not be put to shame. Let not my enemies laugh at me. For all who wait upon You shall not be ashamed.” If this is you, Lord, then fulfill Your promises. Exalt Your people. Lift them up and carry them forever.

The Lord replies to our question: “Blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

Jesus, the Son of Mary, is Lord. He is the Promised Offspring of woman. He is the Expected Prophet like unto Moses. He is the Pride of Judah, the Son of David, He is the Root of Jesse. He is the Righteousness of God with healing in His wings. And He is gathering His people from the whole world. He is collecting His flock, calling His sheep out of the crooks and ravines and off the plains and down from the mountains. They hear His voice and are drawn to Him. And they follow Him as He makes His ways known to them. He teaches them His paths. (Psalm 25)

The way of the Lord is the cross. His path is suffering. As the blessed apostle teaches, “that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22b) Do not be surprised when the fiery trials come upon you, as if something strange were happening to you. The Lord has given you all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue. By these you have been given exceeding great and precious promise, that through these promises you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world.

In a word, the Lord’s answer to John, His answer to us, is to wait. It is good that one whoudl wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. Our bother here is waiting quietly for the salvation of the Lord. Put your trust and hope in the Lord. Just as the people of God had been doing for thousands of years and still do today. The Lord knows where you are and what you are suffering, even as He knew of John in prison. He hasn’t forgotten you. Indeed, He loves you beyond measure just as He loved John and all His holy prophets. Remember, He is the God who called Noah to build the ark and called Abram to leave his father’s land. He is the God who build up Jacob and raised up Moses; who saw His people endure slavery for some 400 years. He is the God who brought them out of Egypt and into the Promise Land. He is the God who defeated the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Jebusites, and all the others. He is the God who raised up Gideon and Sampson and finally David. He is also the God who saw His people be taken into captivity; their cities and country burned and destroyed. All the while He is the God who brought comfort to His people by the Promised Offspring of woman.

Well unto You has been given this Savior; to us a child is born to us a Son is given. He is your hope and your comfort. And at the appointed time, be it today or in another thousands of years, He will restore you and His people, even John the Baptist, giving us the crown of life that will never fade away.

+ In Nomine Iesu +