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Archive for December 16th, 2012

 

When John’s messengers had gone, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?–St. Luke 7: 24

St. Luke 7: 22-23 “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. 23And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

 Blessed are those who are not scandalized by Me. Jesus is definitely the reason for the season; but the Lord Jesus is also  the scandal of the season.  Why do so many want to take Christ out of Christmas?  Excise Him from the public square?  Excise any mention of Him from public discourse?  No one would dare do that with Muhammad, say.  If that is true, why? One reason, some folks would be scared about a fatwa against them.  The actual reason:  Muhammad is a dead false prophet and the world loves falsehood and lies.  Muhammad can do nothing today.  Jesus Christ is risen.  He changes us by the preaching and teaching of the Word:  absolving, forgiving, filling and renewing. Those holding onto their sin stop up their ears to the joyful noise of the Coming One as did the Pharisees and scribes who would not be baptized by John.  Jesus Christ is the Coming One.  Everyday cannot be Christmas but everyday can be Advent: come, Lord Jesus, come, enlighten the darkness of our hearts.  He sees and blesses in the worst distresses.  Muhammad cannot. There is no agape, love in Muhammad.  Jesus Christ is love’s pure light.  The world knows that and wants to hide Him to be hid from Him. As the Israelites said of the prophets in days of Isaiah (chapter 30: 10-11):

“Do not prophesy to us what is right;
speak to us smooth things,
prophesy illusions,
leave the way, turn aside from the path,
let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel.”

The world was scandalized by both John and Jesus because John primarily preached the Law of God and Jesus the  Gospel of God primarily and worse for the world: they preached it truly.  John said everyone needs baptism.  You cannot escape. Flee for refuge to His infinite mercy.  All are sinners, all have been warned about the wrath of God against all ungodliness and those who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth (Romans 1: 18). but those who were dead, blind, lame, leprous, are cleansed and forgiven and cling to Him in true faith for He has done that, raise the dead, give sight to the blind, the lame to walk, the leprous to cleanse.  Pr. Johann Gerhard preached it well:

“All His outward miracles—as he healed the blind, the deaf, the mute and raised the dead—point to what He wanted to accomplish inwardly for the soul’s health.  With this, He wants to show He had come to heal the inward damage of the soul—the fount from which all these physical ailments flow, namely sin.  He did not primarily and solely come to take care of the body’s well-being; for other holy men of God like Elijah and Elisha also had done this.  They had miraculously healed the physical ailments of the body.  Instead, Christ came to heal the entire person…He  principally came to help the soul from the misery of sin,which no holy man of god had ever done, nor could do.  Tthat’s also why the outward miracles ceased, but His inward work of grace still endures forever. “ Gerhard, pp. 26-27

He comes to us to save us, the coming one to work grace within and by doing so faith, hope and love.  We so need Him these dark days.

 Joy to the world the Lord has come…not joy of the world.  There is little joy in the world, the flesh and certainly not the devil. It is set in upon itself.  Incurvatus se, is the Latin saying describing sin at the time of the Reformation: curved in upon oneself and that is darkness. On a sunny school day in Newtown, Connecticut, this past Friday,  we saw that darkness again:  20 children massacred. When Jesus was born the rage of Herod the Great was such he killed all the male children in Bethlehem age 2 and younger.  The Holy Innocents. Herod the Great was bent in upon himself.  We do not know how many Holy Innocents there were. The Bible does not tell us but it tells us this:  one child murdered is one too many:  in a classroom or in the womb.  The incurvature of the soul is monstrous these days in so many ways. A curved spine is impossible to heal but so is a curved soul but with Him all things are possible. It is the curved soul that wreaks way more harm and horror than a curved spine, maybe not murder, but say infidelity in marriage, or…You name it and it has been named by the Lord in the 10 commandments.  The One who was the only one who ever walked on earth not curved in upon Himself at all can heal the soul. John preached to show the people their sin within and Jesus came to show them His mercy to turn them without:   

…the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. 23And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” 

Blind, lame, leprous deaf and dead is poor in the spirit indeed.  Preached Good News of the Word that comes to us outside of our bodies and souls to heal them and seal them with the Holy Spirit.  People were scandalized that God could so mightily forgive in such a weak vessel as Jesus of Nazareth.  For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

Today’s opening collect is a one sentence prayer:

 Lord Jesus Christ, we implore You to hear our prayers  and enlighten the darkness of our hearts by Your gracious visitation

This prayer is so needed these days by us all. Jesus will not dance to the tune of the world. People say to Him: You did not take much notice of how much we have done and have done for You. You did not dance to our tune.  They imagine that God owes them eternal life for their merits and holy life (Johann Gerhard). It is as if the Lord says:  My people please believe what I have done for you!  Show me your wounds and I show you My Hands, scarred for all time by the Cross and I give you life. 

Lord Jesus Christ, we implore You to hear our prayers  and enlighten the darkness of our hearts by Your gracious visitation

You did not expect to see in the desert a reed shaken in the wind, a man who falls prey to every new idea that comes down the pike.  A man who is tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine. 1 Timothy 3:  15if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth Revelation 3: 12: The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God.. Lord Jesus Christ, we implore You to hear our prayers  and enlighten the darkness of our hearts by Your gracious visitation.

For those who mourn, Lord Jesus Christ, we implore You to hear our prayers  and enlighten the darkness of our hearts by Your gracious visitation.  

For those who do not know where to turn:  Lord Jesus Christ, we implore You to hear our prayers  and enlighten the darkness of our hearts by Your gracious visitation.

For the Church that she may preach His unvarnished truth the light of His Word:  Lord Jesus Christ, we implore You to hear our prayers  and enlighten the darkness of our hearts by Your gracious visitation.  

 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4: 7

 

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