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The Prayer of the Day

O  Lord, as we have known the incarnation of Your Son Jesus Christ by the message of the angel to the Virgin Mary, so by the message of His cross and passion bring us to the glory of His resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. 

The Old Testament Reading for the Day: Isaiah 7:10-14   Psalm 45: 7-17   The Epistle Reading:  Hebrews 10: 4-10 The Gospel Reading for the DayLuke 1:26-38

The Annunciation of Our Lord:  The angel Gabriel appears to Mary and announces that God has shown her favor and will use her as the means for the Messiah’s birth. So Mary conceives Jesus when the angel says: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you” (Luke 1:35). This same Spirit who hovered over the waters and brought forth creation (Genesis 1:2) will now “hover over” the waters of Mary’s womb to conceive the creation’s Redeemer. As the Holy Spirit comes upon Mary, she conceives Jesus “through her ear” (as Martin Luther says). The one who is conceived is called Holy, the Son of God. This is the moment of the incarnation of our Lord. The date of the Annunciation falls on March 25, because the Ancient Church believed the crucifixion occurred on that date. In antiquity, people linked the day of a person’s conception with the day of his or her death. Thus, in the Annunciation, the Church joined together both the incarnation of Jesus and the atonement He accomplished. (The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House)

In exactly nine months from today, March 25th, will be Christmas.  On this day the Church rejoices that the angel Gabriel announced (and so, annunciation) that the Virgin Mary would conceive and bear a Child:  the Son of God.  When Gabriel announced this, Mary responded, Let it be according to your word.  So the Annunciation is the Incarnation. The Word became flesh.  The Feast of the Annunciation is always in Lent.  His birth is our death, our death to sin.  His resurrection is our life, our life in Him. There is more than one annunciation. We will hear the annunciation from the Cross, from the Lord’s mouth:  It is finished.   We will hear again the glad announcement, even more wondrous than the first to Mary:  He is risen! We will yet again the last Annunciation:  He comes again! In the midst of death, there is life (Luther).  

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There were words on the Cross: the Titulus, the Title, the Inscription that Pontius Pilate, the Roman Procurator caused to be affixed, written in three languages: Greek, Aramaic and Latin. Greek was one of the main languages of the Roman Empire since the days of Alexander the Great when he conquered the world in the 4th century BC. Aramaic was the language of Palestine and hence Jesus since Hebrew was no longer spoken, except in synagogues and in the Temple. Latin was the language of the Roman Empire. For some reason Pilate wanted everyone to know that this man’s identity: “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews”. One of my college professors said that Pilate was the first evangelist to publish the Gospel, the Good News that Jesus is King of the Jews. Even more, in three languages, everyone’s King, as in thy kingdom come. The bloodied, suffering, bleeding king. The King who died for His subjects and the Physician who died for his patients, the Master who died for slaves as a slave, the Creator dies for His creatures, the only-begotten Son dies to make us His brothers and sisters. The Sanhedrin did not like the Titulus. They requested Pilate take it down. Pilate responded, what I have written, I have written. Ever more the Lord has written what He has inspired to be written: the Scriptures, His Word.

There were words from the cross, 7 verses:

The First Word: “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do” The Lord at the beginning of His public ministry taught the disciples, the nascent Church to pray, Our Father who art in heaven…and Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. He forgave His enemies. It’s that simple.

The Second Word: “Today you will be with Me in Paradise” The repentant thief on his cross next to Jesus knew Jesus was innocent, without sin, and the thief, the malefactor, was guilty. Remember, me when you come into your kingdom the thief prayed to Jesus. Jesus answered his repentant prayer and all the prayers of the repentant. It’s that simple.

The Third Word: “Woman, behold your son; Son, behold your mother” The only-begotten Son of the Father, knew His mother would be bereft without her oldest son, both in death and in the Resurrection. He formed a new family between Mary and John. He calls, gathers, enlightens the whole Christian church on earth, the family of the Father in the waters of rebirth. His death and Resurrection is our baptism. He baptizes us. It’s that simple.

The Fourth Word: “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” He cries out in dereliction. He quotes the first verse of Psalm 22, later in the Psalm. For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet— 17 I can count all my bones— they stare and gloat over me; 18 they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots. Psalm 22 written centuries before the Lord’s birth. He suffered. The soldiers cast lots for his clothes. He fulfilled the prophets and all the Scripture. It’s that simple.

The Fifth Word: “I thirst.” He sat by a well in Samaria, thirsty after walking for a long time, and said to the Samaritan woman, give me something to drink. He thirsted for her salvation, yours as well. We are thirsty people. His Word quenches our thirst in His straightforward mercy. It’s that simple.

The Sixth Word: “It is finished.” Accomplished. Jesus had come to the end, the fulfillment. Our salvation is accomplished, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. We can bear our own iniquity. He has, pure God and pure Man, not 50%-50%, 100%-100%, all our works can not atone, Thou must save and Thou alone. He has by His grace alone as a gift. It’s that simple.

The Seventh Word: “Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit” His was the commendation of His blood into the holy of holies in heaven, once and for all. In Him there is no condemnation, only commendation, not of our good deeds to save, but His good deed to save us all. By His Spirit, we are commended in life and death. It’s that simple.

Jesus Christ is the “Word made flesh”upon the Cross. He is the Word of God incarnate, nailed to the timber-trunk of the Cross. Cursed be anyone who hangs from a tree, it is written in the Old Testament. The Word of God, love’s pure light, became accursed, the curse of Adam, His blood flowing with this purpose: He comes to make His blessings flow Far as the curse is found, Far. as the curse is found, Far as, far as, the curse is found No longer cursed, but blessed in faith clinging to Him unto eternal life. Joy to the world.

Words on the cross, His Word from the Cross, as He is the Word of God incarnate, nailed to the cross and lastly His Word from the Cross. Luther:

“If now I seek the forgiveness of sins, I do not run to the cross, for I will not find it given there.(There is no “old rugged cross”, you can’t take it to the cross. Jesus is present in His Word from, on and on account of His Cross) Nor must I hold to the suffering of Christ, as Dr. Karlstadt trifles, in knowledge or remembrance, for I will not find it there either. But I will find in the sacrament or gospel the word which distributes, presents, offers, and gives to me that forgiveness which was won on the cross”

Jesus said to the devil when tempted to turn rocks into bread, Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. His Word from the Cross, in preaching, teaching, Sacraments, praying, serving feeds us His forgiveness. He feeds us His Word within His Church. His Word from the Cross is the last Word, the Word of our salvation, once and for all, today and everyday. We rest in His every Word: the Word made flesh. WE hang on to the Lord’s every Word as He hung on the Cross so that we are his and if he is ours, we fear no powers, not of earth, nor sin, nor death, He sees and blesses in worst distresses, He can change them with a breath.

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Johann Sebastian Bach, the great confessional Lutheran musician composed for churches and for all four seasons…of the Church Year:  Advent/Christmas, Lent, Easter and the Sundays after Trinity (or what we call the Pentecost season).  It seems Lent dominated his compositions.  He would write Lenten themes for the Sundays after Pentecost for instance.  Why?  The cross of Jesus Christ, His suffering, crucifixion, death and burial is for the whole year, everyday of our lives. We are remembering this evening not only a one-time event in the distant past, but His crucifixion is ever near, as  present as He is risen, He gives us the fruits of His Cross, His grace and peace,  received by faith.   When we consider that the 4 Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, that 50% of them is about this the Lord’s last week alone, it’s clearly all about the Cross, clearly what drove Him there, our sin and our separation from our Father, and clearly He seeks and finds us to draw us to Himself.

 It is not good to put ourselves in the center of church life.  On the top of this sermon is a painting of Luther preaching as depicted by Lucas Cranach. Here is my incorrect depiction of Cranach’s painting

Cranach not for you

with the congregation front and center, not Jesus Christ, for then the death of Jesus Christ is put behind us and there is no forgiveness.  Then the preacher is only pointing judgment’s finger at the congregation, telling you how to live or winning a congregations’ vote. We do not preach the Christian, but Christ for you. The preacher is then suppose to tell you how to live.  Now if you want to know the way the Lord wants us all to live, read the 10 commandments and especially Luther’s Small and Large Catechism and you will find out we fail.  Jesus Christ is not behind. It cannot be because God’s Word the Scripture will not allow it. His Cross is front and center, as John the Baptizer preached at the beginning of the Lord’s public ministry, Behold!  The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.  As Luther is depicted in the correct Lucas Cranach painting.  Cranach was friends with the Luthers.  Lucas portrays himself in the back row of the congregation. Luther’s wife and her children are in the front row.  We think we know our best interests by ourselves, but the Lord shows us His death of our sin, His life who is the life of all the living. Luther and all true Christian preachers point not to us but to the Lord in all His work and in all His Word.

  • It is written in 1 Corinthians that we preach Christ and Him crucified, not preached, past tense, but today and everyday for needy sinners to receive His mercy in the day to day sameness of things.  Paul said, I am the chief of sinners, not I was, as he wrote to Timothy.  Matthew makes clear as he lists the apostles, including himself, he alone identifies himself in the Gospel he wrote, “Matthew, tax collector”.  Even though Matthew never collected taxes again, yet like Paul, he knew he was a sinner for whom Christ Jesus died and rose. The Lord calls His Church to preach a present tense crucified and risen Savior for present tense sinners. 
  • It is written that our baptism, Romans 6 is into His death and resurrection. 
  • It is written of the Lord’s Supper that as oft we eat and drink we proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.  In fact, the Atonement upon the Cross, the forgiveness of sins and the reconciliation of sinners, broken and hurting under the weight and burden  of the Law, is clearly connected by Jesus in His Words of Institution:  for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. (St. Matthew) Anyone who says the Lord’s Supper is not His Body and Blood does not know the Scripture and the Sacrament of the Altar but also Good Friday and Easter Sunday.  They want a different Jesus, a glorious Jesus but His glory is yet to come when He comes again, as He promised.  We want God the way we want Him, a sugar daddy, an empowerer of our plans…then we do not have the Lord but a divine double of ourselves, as idol and our idols keep us cozy in our sins.

On April 9, 1945, Pr. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was executed by the Nazis.  He preached to the centrality of the Cross.

Either I determine the place in which I will find God, or I allow God to determine the place where He will be found. If it is I who say where God will be, I will always find there a God who in some way corresponds to me, is agreeable to me, fits in with my nature. But if it is God who says where he will be, then that will truly be a place which at first is not agreeable to me at all, which does not fit so well with me. That place is the cross of Christ.

Pr. Johann Gerhard taught the riches of His blood upon the Cross for you: 

He bows His head on the timber-trunk of the cross to kiss us in love. He stretches out His arms in order to embrace us in love. He prays for His crucifiers because He suffered out of love for them. His side is opened up with a spear so that the flame of heartfelt love might break forth from it, “so that we through the wound’s opening may behold the mystery of the heart.” In love He longs for us, and thus He said: I thirst [that is,] for your salvation.

  •  Some say I wish Christmas is every day.  It is.  Everyday Christ can be born us as He bore ours sins upon the tree. 
  • Everyday is Good Friday as His cross is the life giving green wood in the paradise of His saints: you. 
  • Everyday is Easter as He is risen from the dead to give us the all the benefits of His death, His blood, His life as He sees we can benefit. 
  • Everyday is Pentecost as the Holy Spirit teaches us Jesus in the preaching and teaching of the Word of God, written, spoken and Incarnate to walk in Him, daily dying and rising.  Even so, come Lord Jesus. Amen.

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Matthew 26:47

Why all the swords and staves? Weren’t (the disciples and Jesus] a poor, unarmed band? But (these precautions) were brought about by Judas’ evil conscience, which feared where there was nothing to be feared. So it still is with the enemies of the Church; even though they have in hand swords and staves, i.e., external power, yet their heart is never still (at peace) and is constantly filled with fear, for they carry their accuser in their hearts. This is also shown by the fact that they carry out their undertaking, not in the clear light of day, but rather in the darkness of night: Whoever does evil, such a one hates the Light, John 3. Their hearts were darkened and widely separated from the true light of divine knowledge. Therefore, they also love the outward darkness, which they use to their advantage.

Finally, we see from Judas and his gang that the enemies of the Church employ hypocritical deception. Judas kisses Christ, and yet leads with him swords and staves. Thus it still happens. The enemies of the Church exude honey-sweet words from embittered hearts, Psa. 55: Their mouth is smoother than butter, andyet they have war on their mind. Their words are more soothing than olive oil and yet are naked swords. This they learn from their father, the Devil, who, while seeking to destroy mankind, nevertheless deceives by means of a loving, outward appearance…

Psalm 37 states: If he falls, he will not be thrown away, for the Lord supports him with His hand. Just as a mother, when she sees that her dear child is about to fall, spreads out her hands so that it does not come to harm, so also does the Lord when His dear children—the true Christians—somehow stumble into sin. He supports (upholds) them so that they do not suddenly sink into hell. Instead, He sets them straight once again, and speaks in a friendly manner to the heart. God grant this to us also through Christ. Amen.

O  Lord Jesus Christ, You who willingly gave Yourself up into the hands of Your enemies in order to atone for my disobedience, help, so that I give myself to You with my whole heart to live, suffer, and die according to Your will. Amen.

From An Explanation of the History of the Suffering and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ by Pr. and Prof. Johann Gerhard

 

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 Marxist Theology:  Groucho that is!Groucho Marx said, “I don’t want to be a member of any club that would have me as one of its members.” Apply his comment to the Church: I don’t want to be a member of any Church that would have me as one of its members. I have heard people say something like that: “Oh, I can’t go to church….it’s for good people”. If that’s true, then church buildings should be empty. Remember this is the Lord who came not to seek the right people, but the wrong people.

Election is selection—in some clubs, if you have the right stuff you are elected by the membership. Sometimes that kind of election is in secret and someone may “blackball” the candidate. For the Church, one is also elected, but not by the membership. The Lord elects. Why is someone chosen for the Church by the Lord? Look at the Bible: Moses…a murderer; King David…a shepherd boy wet behind the ears; St. Paul…persecutor of the Church! The thief on the cross! All those people had been blackballed by their sin and they found out about their sin, and were cut to the core. Someone chosen because she is the best candidate? Just the opposite! There’s more. I have the wrong stuff and I need some work, in fact a total makeover in my soul! In the TV show, M*A*S*H, Hawkeye was explaining triage, the process of choosing those first for surgery: “See, it’s the person who is the bleeding the most, who has the most hurt, who’s admitted first. This is the only place where being the worse gets you to the head of the line”. Incorrect, Hawkeye: the other place is the Church and Jesus is the Physician.

Divine Election Day—  The Lord elects us. We do not elect Him! A candidate says:  “I need your vote”.  Jesus is no candidate.  He is the elect One.  We need His vote. Unlike the assertion in an election day billboard pictured here!  In the Lord’s election only one vote counts: His. Not yours, not mine!   “Has He elected me?” This is the fearful question.  Where and when has the Lord cast His vote? IN some secret incense smoke caucus in heaven behind closed doors? NO. From the Bible we know exactly when the Lord has cast his vote: Good Friday. Where? Golgotha is where and when the 

Lord was crucified. The red ‘x’, His Cross, marks the spot and the ballot electing you. Many are saying this is the most important election of our time.  No, it is not!  Good Friday is still the most important Election Day of this time and of all time.  Jesus Christ has won the election.  His red ‘ink’ is not dry. There He elected us all. He died for you. We so need His vote, His election. There He died and rose for us and our election, a very public election, for all to see. It’s like the Cross is put onto a billboard and the slogan HE”S ELECTED YOU! (See Galatians 3: 1) and pastors and ministers are the imbedded reporters announcing His election results for you. As another pastor, an Apostle no less, preached: For he says,    “In a favorable time I listened to you,   and in a day of salvation I have helped you.”   Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. 2 Corinthians 6: 1-3  Everyday is election day because of the Friday called Good. When the election results are announced, then today is the day of salvation! Every day we turn to Him in repentance, prayer and thanksgiving is the Lord’s salvation. The election result is His:  faith.

The Contested and yet the Utterly Necessary Election–Some will believe the message and Him. Others will not. Some will contest Him and His election. Many will embrace the election results because He loved you so much on that Friday, Election Day. He died for an electorate that was His enemy. The Holy Spirit announces Christ Jesus’ election results in the morning, Easter morning, the Lord’s Candidate  has won!  His enemies are defeated. Death where is thy sting? Devil, where is thy temptations?  Sin where are thy chains?    He is risen and you are  forgiven, one for all, once for all. He elects us. I need it so!

The Most Important Election of All Time:  The Lord’s election can not be bought: His election has bought us. I have heard that this election will cost $1 billion but that is chump change in comparison to the blood of God shed for sinners. The costliest election ever?  Hardly!  Good Friday  is the costliest election ever held, the blood of God shed for us all and for an electorate who didn’t care and did not turn out for the results on Good Friday, instead His own elected apostles fled at the costliest defeat ever in an any election imaginable (see Mark 14: 50)! The costliest defeat became the greatest victory in the world.  Jesus Christ’s  merciful election is for the worse candidates imaginable, liberal or conservative! And the Lord wants everyone to win His election. It was a hard won campaign still going on. See, it’s the person who is the bleeding the most, who has the most hurt, who’s admitted first. This is the only place where being the worse gets you to the head of the line. See it is the wounded and risen Jesus Christ: the Head of the line, for you, you: the most unlikely candidate who should not elected but needs to be! You have been elected! The victory party rejoices in the heavenly caucus over His finding you, His electorate!  (see St. Luke 15: 7)

The Prayer to See God’s WaysSpeak, Lord, for Your servant hears. Please show me now Your ways, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the Law, but that which comes through faith in Christ. Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Give me life, O Lord, according to Your Word, and I will declare Your greatness. Amen.

 For Further Study:

Note:  I based this reflection on Article XI:  Election, Epitome of the Formula of Concord (1577), in the Book of Concord:  the Confessions of theEvangelical Lutheran Church (Wengert/Kolb) which is cited below for further study.     In the Christ, Pr. Schroeder

XI. Concerning the Eternal Predestination and Election of God

On this article there has been no public conflict among the theologians of the Augsburg Confession.  However, because it is an article of comfort when properly treated, it is also explained in this document so that no offensive dis­pute may arise in the future.

 Affirmative Theses

The Pure, True Teaching concerning This Article

1. First of all, the difference between praescientia and praedestinatio, that is,  between God’s foreknowledge and his eternal election, must be carefully noted.

2. God’s foreknowledge is nothing else than that God knows all things  before they happen, as it is written, “God in heaven reveals mysteries. He has disclosed to King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in future times” (Dan. 2:28).

3. This foreknowledge extends equally over godly people and evil people, but it is not a cause of evil. It is not the cause of sins, when people act wrong­ly (sin proceeds originally from the devil and the wicked, perverted human will), nor of human corruption, for which people are responsible themselves. Instead, God’s foreknowledge provides order in the midst of evil and sets lim­its to it. It determines how long evil can continue and determines also that everything, even if it is evil in itself, serves the welfare of God’s elect.

4. Praedestinatio, however, or God’s eternal election, extends only to the  righteous, God-pleasing children of God. It is a cause of their salvation, which God brings about. He has arranged everything that belongs to it. Our salvation is so firmly grounded on it [cf. John 10:26-29] that “the gates of hell will not prevail against it” [Matt. 16:18].

5. This election is not to be probed in the secret counsel of God but rather is to be sought in the Word, where it has also been revealed.

6. However, the Word of God leads us to Christ, who is the “Book of Life” 7 [Phil. 4:3Rev. 3:5], in whom are inscribed and chosen all who shall be eter­nally saved, as it is written, “He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world” [Eph. 1:4].

7. This Christ calls all sinners to himself and promises them refreshment. He is utterly serious in his desire that all people should come to him and seek help for themselves [cf. Matt. 11:28]. He offers himself to them in the Word. He desires them to hear the Word and not to plug their ears or despise his Word. To this end he promises the power and activity of the Holy Spirit, divine assis­tance in remaining faithful and attaining eternal salvation.

8. Therefore we are to make judgments regarding our election to eternal life neither on the basis of reason nor on the basis of God’s law. Such a course of action would lead us either into a wild, irresponsible, Epicurean life, or into despair—and would awaken harmful thoughts in human hearts. Whenever people follow their reason, they can hardly escape such reflections as these: “As long as God has chosen me for salvation, I cannot be condemned no matter what I do!” or, “I have not been chosen for eternal life, so it does not help when I do good; everything is really in vain.”

9. Instead, the true meaning of election must be learned from the holy gospel of Christ. It clearly states, “God imprisoned all in unbelief that he may be merciful to all,” and that he wants no one to be lost but rather that everyone repent and believe on the Lord Christ [Rom. 11:321 Tim. 2:4; cf. Ezek. 33:11;18:23].

10. This teaching is useful and comforting for all those who are concerned about the revealed will of God and follow the order which St. Paul observed in the Epistle to the Romans. There he first of all points people to repentance, acknowledgment of their sins, and then to faith in Christ and obedience to God before he speaks of the mystery of God’s eternal election.

11. That “many are called and few are chosen” [ Matt. 20:161 does not mean that God does not want to save everyone. Instead, the reason for condemnation lies in their not hearing God’s Word at all or arrogantly despising it, plugging their ears and their hearts, and thus blocking the Holy Spirit’s ordinary path, so that he cannot carry out his work in them; or if they have given it a hearing, they cast it to the wind and pay no attention to it. Then the fault lies not with God and his election but with their own wickedness [cf. 2 Peter 2:9-15Luke 11:47-52Heb. 12:15-1725].

12. A Christian should only think about the article of God’s eternal elec­tion to the extent that it is revealed in God’s Word. The Word holds Christ before our eyes as the “Book of Life,” which he opens and reveals for us through the preaching of the holy gospel, as it is written, “Those whom he has chosen, he also called” [Rom. 8:30]. In Christ we are to seek the Father’s eter­nal election. He has decreed in his eternal, divine counsel that he will save no one apart from those who acknowledge his Son Christ and truly believe in him. We should set aside other thoughts, for they do not come from God but rather from the imagination of the evil foe. Through such thoughts he approaches us to weaken this glorious comfort for us or to take it away com­pletely. We have a glorious comfort in this salutary teaching, that we know how we have been chosen for eternal life in Christ out of sheer grace, without any merit of our own, and that no one can tear us out of his hand [John 10:28-29]. For he has assured us that he has graciously chosen us not only with mere words. He has corroborated this with an oath and sealed it with the holy sacraments. In the midst of our greatest trials we can remind ourselves of them, comfort ourselves with them, and thereby quench the fiery darts of the devil.

13. Along with this we should strive as diligently as possible to live according to God’s will and to “confirm our calling,” as Saint Peter admonishes [2 Peter 1:101. We should especially abide by the revealed Word that cannot and will not fail us.

14. This short explanation of God’s eternal election gives God his honor 15 fully and completely. On the basis of his pure mercy alone, without any merit of ours at all, he saves us “according to the purpose of his will” [Eph. 1:111. In addition, no one is given reason either for faintheartedness or for a reckless, wild life.

Antitheses or Negative Theses

False Teaching regarding This Article

Accordingly, we believe and maintain that those who present the teaching of  God’s gracious election to eternal life either in such a way that troubled Christians cannot find comfort in it but are driven to faintheartedness or despair, or in such a way that the impenitent are strengthened in their arro­gance, are not preaching this teaching according to the Word and will of God but rather according to their own reason and at the instigation of the accursed devil, because (as the Apostle testifies) “whatever was written was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the comfort of the Scriptures we might have hope” I Rom. 15:41. Therefore, we reject the following errors:

1. When it is taught that God does not want all people to repent and believe  the gospel.

2. Likewise, that when God calls us to himself, he does not seriously intend  that all people should come to him.

3. Likewise, that God does not desire that everyone should be saved, but  rather that without regard to their sins—only because of God’s naked decision, intention, and will—some are designated for damnation, so that there is no way that they could be saved.

4. Likewise, that the cause of God’s election does not lie exclusively in God’s  mercy and the most holy merit of Christ but that there is also a cause in us, because of which God has chosen us for eternal life.

These are blasphemous, horrible, and erroneous teachings, which take away  from Christians all the comfort that they have in the holy gospel and in the use of the holy sacraments. Therefore, these errors dare not be tolerated in the church of God.

This is the brief and simple explanation of the contested articles which for a  time theologians of the Augsburg Confession taught and discussed in ways that contradicted each other. From this every simple Christian can recognize, according to the direction of God’s Word and the simple catechism, what is correct and incorrect. For here we have set forth not only the pure teaching but have also exposed and rejected contrary, erroneous teaching.  In this way the offensive divisions that had arisen are completely resolved.  May the almighty God and Father of our Lord Jesus grant the grace of his Holy Spirit, that we may all be one in him (John 17: 20-21) and steadfastly remain in this Christian and God-pleasing unity.

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What does sin look like?  No, it does not look like the front page of the newspaper, or the daily internet feed…that’s too easy, for then I can say, It’s them, not me…that somehow I am exempt from the sin of the world for which Christ Jesus came? I am not.

If I think I am, I lie and His truth is not in me, but beloved in the Lord, His truth is in me. 

What does sin look like?  It looks like the Word picture, the verbal icon we just heard from St. John’sGospel and as we sung and prayed in O Sacred Head, Now Wounded.  Sin looks like Jesus Christ: there, in Him as He is beaten, flogged, derided, spat upon, impressed with a crown of thorns, mocked, whipped 39 times, chained, bound, nails pounded into His feet and hands, thirsting…bloody and naked.  Adam, after he ate of the tree to become like God, saw he was naked and he was ashamed.  Jesus died naked for all to see, bearing the shame on the Tree for you and for me, so He calls us to His own.

What is unbearable to see in my self, He makes bearable by carrying our shame. He has.  once and for all: He does and He will be our Savior.  Not just in one time of decision, but His decision is to be your Lord day by day.    What is unbearable to see in your self, He has bourn.  Do not look inward, look outside into His Face, His Cross, His Word, His life.  This word picture is for you that when sin and sorrow oppresses, we see not only what our sin looks like but we hear who our Savior is and immensity of His burden. For you. The two most important words in Holy Communion are For you, as in His body broken for you, His blood shed for you.  Everyone of His Words from the Cross are for you. I will focus on two:

In the old B.C. comic strip by the late Johnny Hart, two cavemen are gazing off and the one asks, “Do you believe in heaven or hell?” “It depends on what I did the night before.”

This is great cartoon!  It is a great cartoon of God’s Law!  On Good Friday we are reminded heaven or hell depends finally and fully  upon what He did…for you!  He does not want to give you hell, but His heaven as the thief on His right hand knew he deserved,  as we all do, and there on his cross he confessed his sin:

 

 39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”  St. Luke 24

There is little ditty, made popular by the Taize community, with the lyric straight from thief on the cross, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”  It is simply repeated again and again and again, but it never comes to the answer to the thief’s repentant prayer and his answer, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”[1] This is what finally matters and upon which our salvation rests in true repentance…today you will be with Me in Paradise:  for you.  Even before the last day, when we know of the Lord’s love toward us it is paradise even now:  for you.     

 

It is finished. Finished…come to a completion, fulfilled. Here in His Body is the beginning of the end of the world and beginning of eternal life in Him…for you.


[1] Insight courtesy of Pastor Mark Jasa, campus minister at USC, from his video blog

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COLLECT OF THE DAY

Almighty God, graciously behold this Your family for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed and delivered into the hands of sinful men to suffer death upon the cross; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

READINGS: 

Isaiah 52:13-53:12

Psalm 22 (antiphon: v. 1)

or Psalm 31 (antiphon: v. 1)

 Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9

John 18:1-19:42

or John19:17-30

GRADUAL      (Heb. 9:12a, c, 15a; Ps. 111:9a)

[Christ] entered once for all into the holy places, by means of I his own blood,* thus securing an eternal redemption.

Therefore he is the mediator of a new I covenant,*

so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal in heritance. He sent redemption to his I people;*

he has commanded his covenant for- I ever.

I am shut in so that I cannot escape; my eye grows dim through I sorrow. Every day I call upon you, O LORD; I spread out my I hands to you. For my soul is full of I troubles,*

and my life draws near I to Sheol.

VERSE:

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.  (Is. 53:4)

But if any honest Christian wants to know why the Lord suffered death on the cross and not in some other way, we answer thus: in no other way was it expedient for us, indeed the Lord offered for our sakes the one death that was supremely good. He had come to bear the curse that lay on us; and how could He “become a curse” otherwise than by accepting the accursed death? And that death is the cross, for it is written “Cursed is every one that hangs on a tree.” Again, the death of the Lord is the ransom of all, and by it “the middle wall of partition” is broken down and the call of the Gentiles comes about. How could He have called us if He had not been crucified, for it is only on the cross that a man dies with arms outstretched? Here, again, we see the fitness of His death and of those outstretched arms: it was that He might draw His ancient people with the one and the gentiles with the other, and join both together in Himself.  even so, He foretold the manner of His redeeming death, “I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto Myself”  Athanasius of Alexandria

Reflection:  This is great cartoon!  It is a great cartoon of God’s Law!  On this Good Friday we are reminded heaven or hell depends finally and fully  upon what He did…for you!  He does not want to give you hell, but His heaven as the thief on His right hand knew he was deserving as we all do, and there on his cross he confessed his sin:

 39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”  St. Luke 24

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