He Is the Firstborn from the Dead

by Rev. Terry Forke

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Clumps of mud flung happily from the tires of my truck, landing on windshield, mirror and roof. If you head north from Lavina, Mont., in early spring in search of a late-season cross-country ski trip to the Snowies, you are bound to encounter puddles and mud . . .and life.

On the side of the road and just feet from my wife’s window stood a spindly-legged newborn calf. As his mother licked the birthing wetness, wide-eyed at the wonder of light, he stood in about as sloppy a place as could be found. Yet he was alive. He was, as far as we could tell, the first calf of the season in that herd. He was the promise of many more to come.

Life in a sin-filled world can certainly get sloppy. The world distracts us with its constant calls to the newest solution to the problems of our lives. Satan attacks us with his leering questions about whether God really loves us. Friends and relatives drag us down with their selfish desires. Our own sin dumps us in the mire of death. This morass of mortality is hardly the place we would expect to find life.

Yet, right there on the side of the road, in the muddy puddle of flesh, a Savior was born. Jesus is not far removed from the messiness of the sinful world. He came to be with us. He came to bear the distractions, the attacks, the selfishness and the death of sin. For 33 years, sinners happily flung clumps of mud at Jesus, hoping somehow to free themselves, never believing that cleansing was only faith away.

Finally, the mud pierced His hands, His feet, His side and He died. We laid Him in the mud and rolled a stone in front of Him. This is how the mud wins. It suffocates. It immobilizes. It kills. Nothing can extricate itself from its grip. The mud always wins.

Unless it is trying to hold Jesus. I imagine Jesus fresh from the dampness of the tomb, wide-eyed at the wonder of light, still in the sloppiness of the world and yet somehow different, victorious and glorious and free. “He is the firstborn from the dead” (Col. 1:18). He is the promise of many more to come.

You also are born again from the death of sin. Here is your Savior. He is not up in heaven as if you have to go find Him. He is not in the depths as if death still has its hold on Him. He is near to you in His Word and in His Sacraments. There you see the wonder of His resurrection. He is alive, still breathing out life, still speaking words of salvation. Through faith in Jesus, you have been lifted above the mire of this world. He has set your feet on the Rock. In the waters of Baptism, the mud, unable any longer to harm, has been washed away.

This is your new life. You are still in a muddy world, but you are free to celebrate the resurrection. You have followed Him into life. You know that the mud has not won. You are alive, and you, too, breathe and seek words of life in a grimy world. You rejoice at the wonder of new life in the places you would least expect to find it.

About the Author: Rev. Terry Forke is president of the LCMS Montana District.

April 2011

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