O, glorious, high office, too high for the angels! May we always hold it in high regard, not looking at the person who bears it and despising his weakness, but looking instead at the Institutor of this office and His exuberant goodness. Let us turn to Him in faith so we can experience the blessings of which the preachers have spoken and, through them, be gathered together one day into the barns of heaven as a completely ripe sheaf.
– C.F.W. Walther, from God Grant It, (c) CPH 2006 [emphasis mine]
This morning, in our family devotions, we read this passage as reprinted in the Treasury of Daily Prayer, and the phrase “exuberant goodness” stuck with me. What a way to describe the grace of God in Jesus Christ!
In this coming Sunday’s Gospel lesson, St. Luke records that when Jesus showed Himself to the disciples, “they disbelieved for joy, and were marveling.” (Luke 24:41) In other words, what the Lord set before their eyes was “too good to be true.” This fact that the Lord of life whom sinful men crucified was standing before them in the flesh – that was too good to be true.
That is why Thomas doubted. That is why we doubt. It’s too good to be true. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved” can’t be the whole story of salvation. You must need to do something, to choose something, to cooperate somehow. Nothing is free.
Except it is.
“Peace be with you,” proclaims our risen Lord. Not just a warm, fuzzy contentedness, like being wrapped in a warm sweater. A real peace, the peace that only comes from the presence of the Body of Christ among us. This peace is your being made whole by having your sins forgiven. For sins cannot remain where our Paschal Sacrifice stands for you.
The exuberant goodness is that God gives this gift to you. And He gives it. And He gives it again. And then He gives it a different way, but still the same Jesus. He gives you a minister to administer it to you, to make the historical fact a present reality.
Every. Single. Time.
Christ is risen – Alleluia!
He is risen indeed – Alleluia!