Monthly Archives: October 2015

All Saints Day – Revelation 7:9-17

Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come? John doesn’t know. Because he asked for us, now we know with him who they are.

These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. You are now in the Great Tribulation. It’s called life. Though there are many successes and happy days in life, when you look at life from the perspective of eternity, it is a long funeral march to the grave. The happy times are interruptions in this protracted funeral march.

Life wasn’t supposed to be that way. Life was supposed to be living by being giving to by a giving God. Because of sin, life has become busting your tail bone as hard as you can in order to make a living for your family. Now and then good things happen. Now and then you suffer the bad moments. The bitter goes with the sweet. The smooth is taken with the rough.

For a Christian, the Great Tribulation has an end. The end is called death. Yet temporal death isn’t the final end. The final end is what John sees in the book of Revelation. The summary of John’s vision is two words: Jesus wins. You might add a few more words to it, like, “A lot of strange things happen, yet Jesus wins.” Jesus wins because the serpent has been trounced once and for all. Jesus wins because there is no room in heaven for Lucifer and the angels of darkness. Jesus wins because Satan and those who travel with him ride the express into the burning lake of fire, where torment and agony have no end.

The ones who have come out of the Great Tribulation have been spared that end. They have white robes washed clean in the blood of the Lamb. Now there’s an oxymoron if there ever was one. Whoever heard of a robe dipped in blood that comes out clean? That’s your baptism. You are washed in the blood of the Lamb and made a partaker of all that Jesus is and gives. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin. It makes perfect sense. You’re all wet, covered in His blood, and you live. You live forever because of it.

They serve Him day and night in his temple. This service is not a burden, but a blessing. The word for serve here is actually a word of worship, the highest form of worship. For us now, the highest form of worship is to receive good things from God. By good things is not meant your best life or a free cup of coffee paid for by the person in front of you in the drive thru. The latter thing is a great gift, but it won’t earn you eternal life. Receiving good things from God is being fed with His Word from the altar, the pulpit, and the font. Being served, being given to by a God Who loves to give good things to His precious children, is the highest form of worship.

Having come out of the Great Tribulation, those dressed in white robes dipped in the blood of the Lamb of God are served good things by a giving God. They are sheltered in His presence. No more going hungry. No more dying of thirst. No more hot sun striking them. No more scorching heat. The elder is telling John that being out of the Great Tribulation is more than living in a temperate climate and always having a drink with an umbrella in it in your hand. You are in the nearest presence of God Almighty. What better way to spend eternity than resting in His presence and being given to by a God Who loves to give!

Christians often misunderstand when this gift is given or that eternal life is theirs RIGHT NOW. We often speak as if the Great Tribulation has nothing good about it and those who have died are the “lucky ones.” Although it is a blessing to have passed from death to life in Jesus Christ, you have this gift by virtue of your baptism. As you grow in wisdom and in stature, your faith is strengthened as you hear the Word and live in your baptismal grace. You are fed with the true Body and true Blood of Jesus. You desire more of what the Lord offers. While all these things happen, your body still decays. You can hide it with makeup. You can tint your hair. You can even work out and lose weight. But you can’t stop the march of death.

The march of death is the sign of mortality. The sign of mortality is the wage that sins pays out. Death, though, is a nap. We live in a culture that celebrates death, but not in the way a Christian celebrates death. The focus of the world is on a “celebration of life” that has a sudden ending. There’s nothing to do once it’s over. You look back on all the good times, shrug your shoulders, and go on about your business. One day the same thing might be said about you.

Not so for a Christian. The “celebration of life” is actually a celebration of Jesus’ life. Jesus’ life, applied to the Christian in the Gifts that Jesus gives His Church, is the only life worth celebrating. The dead in Christ will rise, their bodies changed, and thus we shall always be with the Lord. Saint Paul calls those words in First Thessalonians comfort.

The view of those who have come out of the Great Tribulation is also comfort, because you, one day, as the Lord wills, will join that number. Your loved ones will cry when you fall asleep in the Lord, but they won’t cry as those who have no hope. Mourning and sorrow are turned to joy. You are out of the Great Tribulation. You have a wet robe in the blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God. You are in His nearest presence. There’s a palm branch in your hand. You are guided to streams of living water. There are no tears. There is only joy.

You have a glimpse of what is yet to come every time you enter into the house of the Lord for the Divine Service. Our time here is a foretaste of the feast to come. While you live in the Great Tribulation, you have comfort in believing this whole business will come to an end. While you wait, you have comfort in resting in the near presence of God as He gives you the gift of His only-begotten Son in Word, water, bread, and wine.

Who are these? Who are you! You are one of them. Though here now, this picture of what is to come is yours also. Jesus won it for you and gave it to you. He did the heavy lifting and gave you the benefit. Sir, madam, now you know.

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Reformation Day (Observed) – Revelation 14:6-7

From an outline by Georg Stöckhardt. Here’s the outline.

October 31, 1517 is a day to remember for all eternity for the kingdom of God on earth. On that day the work of the Reformation began. The shape of Western Christendom was completely changed by this work. The Evangelical Lutheran Church, the church of the pure Word and Sacrament, came to light and was a city of God on the mountain, a Zion of the Lord, and by God’s grace has remained to this very day. Though there are no lack of those who regard the Reformation as something deplorable, as a misfortune. They point out the fracturing and splitting up which has occurred in the Western Church since the Reformation, whereas before this had been like one flock under one shepherd, namely the pope. We cannot let ourselves alone be misled by this. We cannot let this interfere with our joy. The Reformation did not cause this splitting up, that we no less heartily lament, but the disobedience of so many toward God’s pure Word caused the Reformation. Luther’s reformation of the Church is and remains a great miracle of God.

The Reformation of the Church brought about by Luther: A great miracle of God;

  1. It was God Who wonderfully prepared Luther as the instrument of the Reformation. “And I saw another angel flying”.[1] It is the custom of Scripture to call the teacher and preacher of the Church angel, i.e. messengers.[2] Thus we certainly rightly behold a great, outstanding teacher of the Church in the angel of our text. Here indeed in this angel we obviously have a prophecy of the Reformation: none other than Luther. Luther was the tool of the Reformation in God’s hand. And how wonderfully God has prepared him for this work! All his choices in life from youth onward were highly remarkable and suitable to educate the boy and youth with very extraordinary intellectual and spiritual gifts as the reformer. He must not only acquire the necessary scholarship, but also recognize the nothingness of all human works and its own holiness and the groundless corruption of the human heart; he had to be led to the Bible and brought to the knowledge of the Gospel, in which he found comfort and peace for his anxious soul. The fundamental doctrine of all Christianity, the doctrine of justification, had to be unlocked for him and known to him, he had to be first of all in himself a righteous, saved man by true faith in Christ. (As evidence for this, some features from Luther’s youth, monastic life, his journey to Rome, especially the blessed moment when he came to understand Habakkuk 2:4.) – Regarding his manner of life, Luther is represented appropriately by the angel in our text, a man full of the fear of God and faith, on whose impeccable character and moral purity all blasphemous arrows of the fiercest enemies had to bounce off.
  2. Furthermore, it was God Who bestowed to this instrument a wonderful triumphal course. “And I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven”.[3] As an angel is a messenger of God, sent from God, so also Luther had a divine calling to his high work. He had sworn on his dear Bible as a doctor of Holy Scripture (to teach and to defend it), whose calling he consoled himself to the utmost in his temptations. Truly, he was God’s messenger, an angel, whose flight went through the midst of the heaven of the Church. That is why no one could stop or hinder him. How many a faithful witness of Christ had been silenced already by the bloodthirsty Antichrist (Huss)! On the other hand, Luther at the Diet of Worms was defenseless against his fiercest and most powerful enemies and could not hurt a hair on his head; the bold hero of the faith again emerged intact from the “jaws of the Behemoth”; and so often. No one could stop his teaching, it echoed through the whole of Christendom. With what rapidity his 95 Theses spread through Germany, through Europe, and beyond! Truly wonderful was this angel’s flight. The reformer’s run was a heroic and triumphant one. His work was from God, a great miracle.
  3. Finally, it was God Who through Luther renewed the Church from the ground up by means of the newly-given Gospel. “Who had an eternal Gospel.” The Gospel was completely obscured under the papacy by doctrines of men, lies and idolatry, the way of salvation locked, souls had to languish, the pope led them in droves to hell. (Gruesome description about the destruction of the church in the papacy by Myconius.[4]) Finally, God took pity on His poor people and sent Luther with the eternal Gospel. Luther brought up no new doctrine, no “fifth” Gospel, as the papists blasphemed, he again brought the one, true old Gospel that is from eternity and extends to eternity, proclaimed eternal life, eternal joy, eternal salvation for all forlorn sinners.

And how did Luther preach this eternal Gospel? “With a loud voice” the text says, i.e., courageously, without fear of men, as without the favor of men, full of power and vigor, before kings, princes, and the entire world. (Examples are places such as SA II:1, “Of this article nothing can be yielded or surrendered” etc. and the like.)

Furthermore, Luther preached the gospel so that all shame is given to men and all glory is given alone to God. “Fear God!” This is the penetrating preaching of the Law with which this angel is sent “to those who dwell on earth”, in order to chastise all their sins and wickedness, and particularly to reveal and overthrow the men of sin, the Roman antichrist. “Give Him glory!” This is the sweet, saving Gospel, through which all glory is given to God. He wants to say: Take your refuge in God’s grace in Christ, you forlorn, poor sinner, and give Him all the glory, that He, the Creator of all things, is in Christ your dear Father, Who forgives all sins for the sake of Christ for those who believe in the Son and wants to give eternal life, all without your merit or worthiness. Give Him all the glory and believe it! – How pale is the threefold crown of the pope in the light of this Gospel, how faded is his halo in it, how the papal chair trembled before the mighty voice of this angel! His idolatrous abomination was revealed before the entire world. People again recognized Jesus Christ as the only Savior, as the only door to life, as the only head of His Church. A new springtime of spiritual life dawned. Many thousands cheered on the resounding preaching of the Gospel once again. The papal abomination was swept clean, the doctrine was thoroughly purified, the Church was renewed from the ground up. This was the great work to which Luther was called by God. This work has succeeded because it was God’s work, a great miracle, whose fruits we still enjoy today.

[1] Revelation 14:6.
[2] Ecclesiastes 5:6; Haggai 1:13; Isaiah 33:7; Malachi 2:7, 3:1.
[3] Revelation 14:6.
[4] Oswald Myconius (1488-1552).

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Saint Luke, Evangelist – Luke 10:1-9

“Near” is one of those sticky Law words. How near is “near”? There is no clear answer to that question. Perhaps it is better to stay close to what the original language says: The kingdom of God has come upon you.

It’s a presumptuous statement, especially when it comes from one of seventy-two mouths sent out, two-by-two, ahead of Jesus to proclaim the kingdom of God. This proclamation happens with more than their mouths. There are healings expected as well. Granted those healings do not happen today as they did long ago, but when they happened, it was a witness that the kingdom of come has come upon you.

That’s the message of Luke’s Gospel in a nutshell. When we learn a bit more about Luke and how his writings are shaped, we see that Luke writes to a primarily Gentile audience, unlike Matthew, who writes to an audience that seems to have a significant understanding of what it means to be Jewish. Luke’s words are written for folks like us. His is a teaching Gospel. He teaches Gentiles that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. As Luke would write it: Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

Luke writes the words that summarize the ministry of the New Testament to sinners. Those words are the kingdom of God that has come upon you. Those words are also the center point of the continuation of Luke’s Gospel written in the Acts of the Apostles. Acts is a history book that not only has miracles of the apostles, but also, and more important, selected sermons preached by Saints Peter and Paul. The sermons, the eyewitness accounts of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and how the Word of the Resurrection grows from Jerusalem to Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth, is how the kingdom of God has come upon you.

This proclamation of the kingdom of God will run into obstacles. Even our Lord knew this Word would not be welcomed everywhere. He tells the seventy-two: I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Lambs rarely, if ever, attack wolves. Wolves are the ones who do the attacking. They look for easy prey. They seek to devour those who will not fight back. Why should the lambs of Christ fight back, especially those sent by our Lord? They have nothing to give the wolves. Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, and no sandals. Say Peace be to this house. Eat and drink what is put in front of you. Jesus says that twice. Those sent come as servants, not as kings. They come to serve, not to be served.

That’s the pattern of ministry Luke lays out in both the Gospel that bears his name, as well as the history book of the Acts of the Apostles. Luke shows how much the Apostles had to suffer for the sake of the Gospel, just as Jesus told them. The Jewish authorities wanted them to stop proclaiming the resurrection. They would not stop. The Romans did not like much of what they had to say. Who could forget the riot at Ephesus when Paul tried to ruin their city’s largest source of income: worship of Artemis and all the trinkets that come with it. Luke even records what could be considered as a failed mission start in, of all places, Athens.

Luke also gives us some of the best of Jesus’ words, especially the three parables of lost items: a sheep, a coin, and a son. Lest we forget that Luke chapter 24 is the only place in any of the Gospel accounts where we read of Jesus’ appearance to two disciples on the road to Emmaus on that late Resurrection Sunday afternoon. There Jesus was made known to the two men in the breaking of the bread. Everything Jesus taught them on the road fell into place in that simple action.

The Kingdom of God comes right on you when you read Luke’s Gospel. His is an in-your-face Gospel, but not in a harsh way. Since you can’t climb the ladder to Jesus, Jesus comes right down to you in the flesh. It is Luke’s account of the birth of the Savior that makes our heart rejoice every Christmas Eve evening when we hear those familiar words about a Roman Census, about two travelers named Mary and Joseph, and the Baby in Mary’s womb. It is Luke who shows us a twelve-year-old Jesus in His Father’s house, confounding the doctors of the Law. It is Luke who shows Jesus eating with tax collectors and sinners, confounding the Jewish way of doing things. Today again it is Luke who shows us that the kingdom of God has come upon you.

The kingdom of God that has come upon us is hidden in earthly things, just as our Lord came in a humble earthly body, yet in that body is the Son of God, the Messiah. The kingdom comes where Christ is preached, and where Christ is preached, there is His Name and His presence among us, bringing us joy. We have joy in His forgiveness, for He has justified us in His innocent death and resurrection. The words of Isaiah in the Old Testament reading come alive in the ministry of the Savior sent by Jesus into the world. Isaiah writes: Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who have an anxious heart,“Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.”

Then watch what happens next. The eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. All this happens when the peace of Christ is proclaimed. That peace is in the kingdom of God that comes upon you. That peace is still proclaimed today as the kingdom of God comes upon you in the preaching of the Good News that Jesus has taken care of your eternal welfare in His blood and righteousness. He has taken care of your inheritance by washing you in baptismal waters and placing the robe of righteousness over you; a robe that perhaps looks much like the robe the lost son wears in the parable in Luke chapter fifteen. He strengthens you as you eat and drink His true Body and Blood for the forgiveness of sins.

The kingdom of God has come upon you. Jesus continues to send laborers into the harvest until the entire world has heard His saving peace. This is Saint Luke’s heritage to the Church, yet not his alone. He is an evangelist, a witness of the Good News wrought in Jesus Christ first to the Jew, and then to the Gentile. In His healing words inspired by the Holy Spirit, you have healing and life.

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Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity – Matthew 9:1-8

Say to my soul, “I am your salvation” says King David in today’s Introit. Psalm 98 begins, Sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done marvelous things! The new song is Jesus Christ. The lyrics to that new song are much like what the crowd says in today’s’ Gospel when they glorified God, Who had give such authority to men.

The authority given to men is not so much the authority to heal from sicknesses, though that did happen in the apostolic age of the New Testament Church. I can lay hands on you all you want and even anoint you with oil if you would like, but that doesn’t guarantee you will be healed. Healing from paralysis is an amazing thing. It shouldn’t be downplayed. The authority, however, that left the crowds in fear was the authority given to men to forgive sins. The healing was, if you will, icing on the cake.

If only the scribes would return to Psalm 35 and read what King David writes about the Lord’s words to His children: I am your salvation. They can’t, or won’t, make the connection between the word spoken by King David and the Messiah Himself standing in their presence. This man is blaspheming, they say among themselves. Blasphemy is a serious charge. You don’t take on divine authority in such a flippant way, or so they think. The scribes would know. They spend a lot of time writing the Word as well as interpreting the Word. Ascribing to one’s self the authority to forgive sins with nothing to back you up is blasphemy.

Jesus has something to back Himself up. He is the divine Word Who has come down from heaven and pitched His tabernacle among us. The tabernacle is made of flesh, blood, and bones, as Jesus is born of the Virgin Mary. In [Jesus] the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, says Saint Paul in Colossians chapter two. That is why Jesus is able to read their hearts and ask them the first of three consecutive questions: Why do you think evil in your hearts?

Apply Jesus’ question to yourself. When you apologize and receive forgiveness from your neighbor, why do you think evil in your hearts? When you are the one giving forgiveness to your neighbor when you have been offended, why do you think evil in your hearts? It is probably not because you or your neighbor has committed blasphemy. Perhaps it is because God has given such authority to men.

The smart thing to do, from a human standpoint, is to hold the sin over your neighbor’s head and make them ferment in their own juices for a while. Human beings play that trick all the time. You are offended. You bring that offense before your neighbor. Maybe your neighbor understands what has happened and apologizes before you bring the offense before him. You hear the apology…and say nothing in return. Perhaps you tell him that you’re thinking about whether or not you want to forgive him. Come back this time next week and you might have an answer. Then again, you might not have an answer except for him to go to hell where he belongs. After all, he deserves it.

What about you? You deserve a place right there next to your neighbor when you blaspheme God’s authority given to me to forgive sins. There is a more subtle way to play the same game. You forgive your neighbor, but you also let them know the hurt, the gnawing pain, will never go away. That’s another way to let someone ferment in their own private hell. Now you have some real power over them. They won’t forget your words anytime soon. Forgiveness, yes, of course. But forgetting the transgression means you have something over him. It’s a more subtle way to get your point across.

What kind of point are you making? You’re making the point that the authority to forgive sins equals the opposite reaction: the authority to judge someone’s soul straight into the burning lake of fire. Maybe authority isn’t the right word for it. Power. That’s the better word. It’s a different thing from authority. Power means you have something and you are able to use it to your own advantage, whether that advantage is right or wrong. Using power to your advantage in this instance means you do the opposite thing Jesus does to the paralytic. You forgive his sins, but you let him lie in his paralysis. There needs to be some temporal consequences for sin. There needs to be some sort of sign that a person is a filthy, stinking, rotten sinner…and others need to know about it.

When you treat the blessed authority to forgive your neighbor’s sins like it’s a hard-core Fortune 500 board room hostile takeover from hell, you blaspheme the Lord’s name and why Jesus becomes man. Forgiveness is not a bargaining chip to make you look powerful and your neighbor weak. Forgiveness is simply that: forgiveness. The slate is clean. The debit column on the balance sheet of life is clean, paid in full in the blood and righteousness of Jesus.

You may be familiar with the phrase, “Hey, watch this!” or “Hey, hold my drink!” Nothing good usually happens after those phrases are spoken. What follows is a stupid human trick that often ends in failure. When Jesus says to the scribes, But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…”Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” He is saying in His own way, “Hey, watch this!” If you think that forgiveness of sins is something, He adds a little something extra. The paralytic gets up, takes his bed, and goes home. There’s no need for friends carrying a bed. He’s gone.

Forgiveness of sins works just that fast. Jesus gives authority to His Church to forgive sins. Everything she does is about applying the forgiveness of sins, even when she has to retain the sins of an impenitent Christian. It’s all about forgiveness and how that forgiveness is received. Forgiveness is given as it is received. There’s no catch, no fine print, to the forgiveness of sins. The pastor publicly or individually absolves a penitent. It’s over. Nothing left to see or say here. The Christian absolves a neighbor. Done. Gone. Forgiven. It’s not brought up five days later. There’s no condition to it. There is certainly no power play behind it. You are free. Pick up your bed and go home.

Christ’s Church gives away forgiveness of sins every opportunity she gets. She gives it away in the Absolution. She gives it away in Baptism. She gives it away in the Lord’s Supper. She doesn’t hoard it and hide it in a cellar to age and mature or to keep it away from undeserving schmoes. She holds a fire sale every day and gives it away as fast as she can. The Church gives it away for free because she has received it for free from a giving God Who gives his only-begotten Son to save you from eternal hell.

Forgiveness of sins is a precious gem, and it’s also a hot potato. You treasure the authority to forgive sins that comes from Jesus Himself. You also are in need of forgiveness so you treat this authority with respect. But forgiveness is also a hot potato. You can’t hold on to it for very long. You want to have it out of your hands and into your stomach once it cools down. In this case, you want to give it to someone else, who will in turn give it to someone else, and so on. Sinners will take advantage of it, as is their wont. When sinners return, the arms of the heavenly Father wait for them, ready to welcome them home from exile. He will give them the precious gem of the hot potato of the forgiveness of sins.

When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears. The Lord hears because He says to you again today, I am your salvation!

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Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity – Matthew 22:34-46

I am grateful to my friend Chad Bird for his thoughts on this text. To God alone be the glory.

If a Gentile wants to know something about the Law of God, who better to ask than a Jew. A Gentile once asked a Jewish rabbi to teach him the whole Law…with one stipulation. The rabbi was to teach the Gentile the whole Law of God while the Gentile stood on one foot. It was an easy challenge. The rabbi told the Gentile, “What is hateful to you, to your neighbor don’t do.” The rabbi added that everything else beyond that one sentence was variations on that one theme.

Saint Paul seconds that sentence when he wrote, the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Even Jesus agrees, and He adds love toward God to that one sentence. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets. Everything else is details.

Easy, yes. Happy, no. The rest of the Law and Prophets comment on how people learned the whole Law standing on one foot, while using the other foot to kick their neighbor. The citizens of Sodom attempt to gratify their lust on Lot’s two out-of-town visitors. Belly-aching Israelites get sick of God’s food and want to stone God’s prophet. Saul hounds David. David impregnates Bathsheba and murders her husband. Bathsheba’s grandfather Ahithophel becomes a Judas Iscariot figure to King David during Absalom’s rebellion and winds up slipping a noose around his own neck. So much for Old Testament figures being pious, God-fearing folks.

So much also for you when you compare yourself to pious, God-fearing folks in the Scriptures. Which is worse, a child who steals or an adult who steals? Even though a child may know what he did was wrong because he is immature and doesn’t fully comprehend the consequences of his actions, we can perhaps partially excuse his behavior. But the mature adult, who knows well what he does is forbidden yet consciously breaks the Law, we cannot excuse. Here we are today, even here in this church building. We have broken what we know and are fully aware of it. Consider how we cover our tracks when we consciously do wrong. We know it’s wise to wear gloves when committing a murder. Acting out lies to save our skin deserves an Oscar or Emmy nomination. The more we do it, and the more nothing seems to happen, then the bolder we grow, thinking we are invincible.

There’s only one thing left to say. It isn’t, “Lord, give me another chance and I’ll make it right.” It isn’t, “God, You know I really, really, really didn’t mean it.” It certainly isn’t, “Lord, I know just the thing that will pay for my misdeed.” It is, “Lord, have mercy.” Why not go from standing on one leg to kneeling on both knees and pray for the Lord’s mercy, for you have not kept His Law.

Jesus quotes from the prophet Hosea earlier in Matthew’s Gospel when He says, I desire mercy and not sacrifice. Mercy is Jesus’ greatest delight. The Lord takes no delight in the death of a sinner. He takes pleasure in those who are cleansed through the sacrifice in which He did delight.

If all the Law and the Prophets hang on the words, “Love God and love your neighbor as yourself,” those words also hang on something else. They hang on the cross. Saint Paul writes in Colossians chapter two, [Christ] did this by wiping out the debt which was recorded against us because of the Law’s demands. He took it out of the way by nailing it to the cross. The demands of the Law are met on the tree of the cross. God threatens to punish all who break these commandments. Yet He punishes His Son in your place for your sake. He promises grace and every blessing to all who keep these commandments. That grace and blessing He gives you because Jesus has kept them on your behalf. What was given at Mount Sinai is fulfilled at Mount Calvary. The Giver of the Law keeps His own Law. The Almighty and Powerful Judge takes the criminal’s place, and you go free.

Jesus has done all this for you, for the joy that was set before Him. Your salvation is His joy. He gladly wore a crown of thorns in order that you might wear the crown of glory. He willingly was stripped of His robes that you might be clothed in His righteousness. Jesus loves the unlovable, making them His friends.

He loves you, despite your lies. He says, You are mine. Despite your self-love, He never stops loving the selfishness out of you and loving you into your neighbor. Despite the fact that He sees everything you try to hide from Him, He still sees you as His precious child for whom He died. If earthly fathers care for their children, even if earthly fathers don’t care for their children, then how much more does your heavenly Father care for you? He sent His Son to die for your sin and rise for your justification. That’s how much He cares for you. That’s the love that satisfies the Law. That’s the love that is yours in Christ Jesus.

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