The Apostles had it made. The long awaited Messiah, the Christ first promised to sinners in the garden, the Son of God and Son of Man of which the prophets spoke of now stood among them. He performed miracles in their presence. He laughed, cried, ate, drank, walked, and talked with them.
What would it be like to have that kind of access to Jesus? To see and touch —to ask God of creation any and every question that may pop into your head?
Jesus was truly Immanuel, God with us. In the incarnation, God came down to dwell with His people, to redeem and draw sinners to Himself. After His ascension, Jesus has not stopped being our Immanuel. He has not ceased being God with us, God for us.
“Our Lord is not back there today, but here, where He is having His words spoken, the words that deliver Him. Doctor Luther said if you want your sins forgiven, don’t go to Calvary. There forgiveness was won for you, but there it is not given out. You go to the Lord’s Supper. There forgiveness is not won for you, but there it is given out.” — Norman Nagel
The utmost comfort for the disciples could never come solely from the physical precense of Christ on earth. The miraculous sights and healings, as spectacular as they were, could never fill their deepest need. Jesus’ physical presence alone did not bring the Apostles salvation. Jesus for them, Jesus for us brings the utmost comfort. Jesus’ death in our place, His resurrection for us brings complete absolution. Jesus’ promise of forgiveness brings eternal comfort. His life-giving Word imparts life and sets the sinner’s conscience at peace through Himself.
If you want your sins forgiven, if you are seeking comfort for your sin-troubled conscience, run to where Jesus is found! Run to the Divine Service, to the Lord’s house where He speaks His life-giving Word and delivers on His promises. When you want your sins forgiven, take and eat the gift of forgivness in His body and blood which He gives for you for the forgivness of your sins.
The same Lord who welcomed and chose you in Baptism, who placed His Divine Triune Name on you in baptism, invites you to the feast of forgiveness prepared for you. He calls you to gather together with His church and receive the gifts He has prepared for you since the foundation of the world.
As Job confesses, we will one day behold our Redeemer face to face with our own eyes. (Job 19:27) We do not need to make a pilgrimage or run to Calvary in order to find forgiveness. Christ will forever be our Immanuel, God coming to us and God for us as He gives Himself to us to eat and drink in the sacrament.