Sunday, October 24, 2021

2 Kings 5:1-12; Twenty-Second Sunday after Pentecost; October 24, 2021; Baptism of Axel West Zimmer;

2 Kings 5:1-12; Twenty-Second Sunday after Pentecost; October 24, 2021
Baptism of Axel West Zimmer;
Life in Christ Lutheran Church, Grand Marais, MN;
Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master and in high favor, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper. Now the Syrians on one of their raids had carried off a little girl from the land of Israel, and she worked in the service of Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “Would that my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.” So Naaman went in and told his lord, “Thus and so spoke the girl from the land of Israel.” And the king of Syria said, “Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” So he went, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten changes of clothing. And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, which read, “When this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you Naaman my servant, that you may cure him of his leprosy.” And when the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Only consider, and see how he is seeking a quarrel with me.” But when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent to the king, saying, “Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come now to me, that he may know that there is a prophet in Israel.” So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stood at the door of Elisha’s house. And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean.” But Naaman was angry and went away, saying, “Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage.” (2 Kings 5:1–12, ESV)
Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Naaman was an important man, and no friend to Israel. In fact, some of the early church fathers believe he was personally responsible for the death of a previous king. He was a brave man, leader of the armies of Syria. Second only to the king, it seems. But he had a problem. He had leprosy. It was a serious problem. It was a fatal problem. All that he had, his reputation, his wealth, his position was in jeopardy. So, when the little Hebrew slave girl spoke up he listened. She had faith that God could heal through the prophet Elisha. Naaman wasn't taking any chances. He went to the king to request the necessary travel arrangements. The king quickly sent him on his way with a letter of introduction. Naaman gathered up offerings, expensive gifts, and hit the road. When he arrived, he wasn't well received by the King of Israel. Of course, it didn't help that Syrians were in the habit of raiding the border and carrying off people and treasure. The king of Israel was naturally suspicious. But more than that, given the impossible task of healing leprosy, he was sure it was a trap to give the foreign king an excuse for another raid. What he didn't see, was God's hand at work. The little girl was a foreign missionary. She trusted in the possibility of God's work through the prophet Elisha. She spoke out in faith. Naaman listen. The king of Syria also acted in a kind of faith that something could be done. The king of Israel doubted God's willingness or ability to act, but the prophet Elisha set him straight. "Send him to me, so that he can know (as you should know!) that God's prophet is in Israel." Naaman takes his whole company to Elisha's door. And there he stands waiting for the prophet to appear. But he doesn't. Instead, he sends a servant with a message. "Go and wash in the Jordan river seven times and you will be healed." Now its Naaman's time to show his true nature. He is a proud man. "I've come all this way and he sends a servant! He should come out and meet me. After all I'm an important person, not some lackey who doesn't get the attention of someone who should be my servant!" His pride is so strong he would rather die than do what the prophet said, wash in the Jordan river. He knew the river. He likely crossed it on his way. It didn't even matter that he would probably have to cross it in order to return home. The Jordan was a mud hole. The rivers in Damascus ran crystal clear. In Damascus the river water was used to irrigate the farmland. The Jordan was even worthless for that. "How can that filthy water do anything! I'm an important person, my healing needs to be done some other way." He stomped away in a tantrum. But God's Word wasn't done yet. Just like the little slave girl spoke up, Naaman's other servants speak up. "Father! (a term of respect for their master) This is an easy thing to do. If he had told you to do something difficult, you'd have been right on it. What have you got to lose! All you have to do is what he said, 'Wash and be clean!'" Again, Naaman listens. He sets his pride aside make the trip to the Jordan and washes away his leprosy. "... and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child." And a miracle happens. He returns to Elisha and says, "Behold, I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel." It's a kind of double baptism. His disease is washed off and left in the dirty Jordan water. His unbelief, his sin, is washed off, too, into the water. As it is all washed away in that muddy water, in the washing, God gives him faith. It is the miracle of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.
It is no coincidence that many years later Jesus washes in the very same water. But he doesn't need to do it to be clean, that's what John the Baptizer says. Jesus steps into the water and John protests. "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" But Jesus answered him, "Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." (Matthew 3:14-15, ESV) You see, he is going into the water with Naaman. Down there in that filthy water is Naaman's leprosy. Down there in that filthy water is Naaman's unbelief and sin. Jesus is going down in there to take it up into himself. As, the perfect and righteous Son of God, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, steps in the Jordan river, his righteousness is filled up with Naaman's leprosy, Naaman's unbelief, Naaman's sin. Jesus and Naaman down there in the water together. Naaman comes up clean. Jesus comes up filthy. Naaman goes to Elisha to confess his faith.
Surely [Jesus] has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:4–5, ESV)
To the cross he goes with sin, and unbelief and disease and suffering... he dies there to put it all to death there and bury it all in the deepest pit.
This font is your Jordan river. "I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." That's you in the filthy water, up to your neck in disease, and unbelief and sin, and death. And that's Jesus standing with you down there in the filthy water. Jesus is there to take it up into himself.
Holy Baptism the Third Part
How can water do such great things?
Certainly not just water, but the word of God in and with the water does these things, along with the faith which trusts this word of God in the water. For without God’s word the water is plain water and no Baptism. But with the word of God it is a Baptism, that is, a life-giving water, rich in grace, and a washing of the new birth in the Holy Spirit, as St. Paul says in Titus, chapter three:
“He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying.” (Titus 3:5–8) And out you come confessing your faith. Out Jesus comes and to the cross, to suffering and death, your suffering and death, for your sin. Promising you rebirth and renewal. It's the word of God, brought to you by his servants. The word of promise. The word of life.
And there's more... there's always more. Jesus' death leads to Jesus' resurrection, his restoration before God, the Father. Naaman came up out of the water with resurrection flesh, like that of a young child. Baptism is your promise of resurrection flesh.
... Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” (Ephesians 5:25–27, ESV)
... without spot wrinkle or blemish you will stand before Christ for all eternity, perfect and holy. Fully human, fully forgiven, forever.
And so, we remember that little splash of water, that promise of healing and forgiveness, our little part of the Jordan river. Just like the little slave girl focused on God's promises, just like Naaman's servants focused on God's word of promise through Elisha, we focus on God's Word of promise here. Amen.
The peace of God that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Mark 10:17-22; The Twentieth Sunday after after Pentecost; October 10, 2021;

Mark 10:17-22; The Twentieth Sunday after a; October 10, 2021;
Life in Christ Lutheran Church, Grand Marais, MN; And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’ ” And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”” (Mark 10:17–27, ESV)
Grace and Peace to you from Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. On the school bus the other day, as I was waiting to take the kids home, I had a discussion with a preschooler. I was out of my league. “Why is that there?” Pointing to the knob on the radio. “Uh, to adjust the volume on the radio.” “Why would you that?” “So, people can hear it.” “Why…”. If you go down that dark rabbit hole with them, you’ll get to questions with no good answers. It continued until grace intervened, and I “had” to tell the child to sit down because we were leaving. “Why?” He asked again.
Jesus had a similar question from the rich man in our text.
“Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
It is a nonsense question. He’s made a fundamental error. First, he has assumed the Jesus will be complimented by being called good. As with many in the life of Jesus he speaks better than he knows. He has likely done it because he wants to swap compliments. “Good Teacher.” Yes, “Good Student, rich in this world because you are loved by God and your riches show that.” It is how he saw himself; it is how the average person of the day saw him. From his point of view, he deserved the compliment, so he begins with one for Jesus.
Jesus won’t have it. He points out what the man is actually saying. The truth, but beyond his understanding. Like me and the preschool child. “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” You don’t know who you are talking to. I am God, but you have mistaken me for a simple teacher who can be bribed by compliments.
Jesus sets him up for a fall. He begins in the way the rich man expects.
“You know the commandments: Don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t bear false witness, don’t defraud, honor your father and mother.”
“Of course, I do. “I have kept them all since I was little.” He must have had a beaming smile on his face. He thought he knew where this was going.
“Well then, Beloved by God. You have done well. Welcome to the Kingdom of Heaven.” But Jesus didn’t say that.
Instead, Mark says, “Jesus looked at him and loved him.” And, as I have said before Mark is the devil for details. CFW Walther said, that distinguishing between Law and Gospel is “only taught by the Holy Spirit in the school of experience. ” Jesus doesn’t need experience. He sees into the heart. And what he always sees in the naked human heart is sickness, pride, and death. And yet, he “loved” him. In fact, he loves him in such a way that he won’t let is pride stay. He knows it must be rooted out, the prideful heart killed and replaced with a clean new one. Jesus pushes the law to the breaking point. It is what this rich man needs.
“You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have …” everything you own, everything that makes you feel favored by God, everything that pushes your pride to the forefront, everything that stands in your way to seeing me clearly for who I am. “and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”
Jesus is perfect in his application. You can see it in the text.
“Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful for he had great possessions.” Well, “disheartened” doesn’t quite capture it. “Surprised because of something that appears incredible and alarming,” is what the Greek word means. Shocked at the impossibility of it, might be better. He went away sorrowful, distressed. And then its our turn to be shocked. Jesus lets him go. No application of the Gospel to the hurting soul. No saving words of grace. But that’s not what happened in the man’s heart. The law didn’t penetrate. His heart was stubborn, pride was still alive. He leaves because he can’t do what Jesus asks. He leaves because he simply won’t do what Jesus asks. He doesn’t see Jesus as the “good” teacher he thought he was. He is going away to find his compliment elsewhere. Jesus turns to his disciples. “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!”
And it’s their turn to be shocked. Jesus tells them of the impossibility for even favored human beings (in their eyes) to be saved.
“Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” His point is vivid. They know camels, they know needles. Camels are large, needles eyes (even those used to mend sails) are small. A camel won’t fit. You can’t make it. (And forget about the “eye of the needle” being a small door in the wall of a city, that you could enter with a camel with great difficulty by unloading it. It doesn’t exist.) Jesus isn’t just saying it is hard, even for people who have things easy, he is saying the difficulty approaches impossible. Jesus isn’t just talking about rich people. He’s talking about everyone.
The shock shows on the disciples. “Who then can be saved?” If God’s favorites can’t be saved, what chance have I got?”
Jesus could have said, “Here endeth the lesson.” They have gotten the point. People can’t be saved by anything they have, by anything they do, by any personal attribute, or anything they could give to God.
“With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” It takes God to save.
How wonderfully miraculous. How wonderfully profound. People can’t do it. You can’t buy it. You can’t earn it. God saves purely by gift.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Eph 2:8–9).
Boasting is borne of pride. The rich man had that and wanted to stoke the fire. Jesus says it doesn’t work that way.

So how does it work? Let’s go back to that detail: “Jesus looked at him and loved him.” Jesus saw into his sin sick heart and saw the pride that lurked there. He was sicker that even the rich man thought. Sin was at the heart of his being, so sinful, in fact, that he needed killing. You need killing. Objects in the mirror or more sinful than they appear.
One of my favorite novels is “The Hammer of God: A Novel about the Cure of Souls” By Bo Giertz. Giertz was a Swedish pastor who struggled against Pietism (that is the idea that emotions play the lion’s share in our salvation) in the middle of the last century. In the novel a younger pastor tells an old, seasoned pastor that he has “given Jesus his heart.”
"Do you consider that something to give Him?"
By this time, Fridfeldt (the younger pastor) was almost in tears.
"But sir, if you do not give your heart to Jesus, you cannot be saved."
"You are right, my boy. And it is just as true that, if you think you are saved because you give Jesus your heart, you will not be saved. You see, my boy," he continued reassuringly, as he continued to look at the young pastor's face, in which uncertainty and resentment were shown in a struggle for the upper hand, "it is one thing to choose Jesus as one's Lord and Savior, to give Him one's heart and commit oneself to Him, and that He now accepts one into His little flock; it is a very different thing to believe on Him as a Redeemer of sinners, of whom one is chief. One does not choose a Redeemer for oneself, you understand, nor give one's heart to Him. The heart is a rusty old can on a junk heap. A fine birthday gift, indeed! But a wonderful Lord passes by, and has mercy on the wretched tin can, sticks His walking cane through it and rescues it from the junk pile and takes it home with Him. That is how it is."
The rich man’s heart is the tin can. Your heart is the tin can. Or you could think of the most useless, gross, piece of trash by the roadside. Covid medical waste or Isaiah’s filthy rags). Our Lord, Jesus, sees you, all of you, your sinful corrupt heart and all, and he “loves” you. He stabs you through the heart and takes you home to be his “treasured possession.” There is nothing in you that deserves this outcome. Only God’s grace, the gift of gifts.
“Why?” the preschooler asks.
Well, the answer is easy, and difficult at the same time. He does what he does, because of love.
God’s great love beyond the capacity of human beings. A sacrificial love that brings him to earth as a human being. A sacrificial love that takes him to the cross. You simply cannot understand God great love (his ἀγάπη love, the word Mark used when Jesus looks at the rich man) in any other way than to see him on the cross for you.
Your heart is that hopeless broken dirty tin-can on the side of the road. Jesus is stabbed through the heart for you. He is stabbed through the hands for you. He is stabbed through the feet for you. On that cross he takes the thing that makes your heart so retched. He takes the sin of the whole world on himself. He buries it in death. He buries it in the grave.
Jesus’ resurrection is the most miraculous thing that has ever happened. Dead and in the grave the greatest sinner that ever lived, rises from death through the power of God. Sin, your sin, your pride particularly, is left there to rot. But not Jesus. He comes out of the tomb and carries you with him. He chooses you at the side of the road and brings you through death to new life. And new life in Jesus is the only way to overcome our pride, our selfishness, our sin. When faith is focused on Jesus, instead of what we can do to save ourselves, the Holy Spirit works in that old slimy, filthy hearts to make it new. It doesn’t happen overnight. You are saved in an instant, faith grows brining you to depend on Jesus more and more over lifetime.
Well, the account in Mark can be a bit unsatisfying. We don’t find out what happened to the rich man. There is an old church tradition that says that he fell on hard times and became a thief, crucified next to Jesus. The one who says, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” I don’t know. Like I said, unsatisfying.
But it is not unsatisfying for you, oh child of God, blessed by God, chosen by God. You have Jesus. You have the Holy Spirit. You are God’s favored position. Amen.
The peace of God that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Sunday, October 03, 2021

John.19.30; Hebrews.10.1-14; Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost, October 3, 2021

John.19.30; Hebrews.10.1-14; Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost, October 3, 2021
Life in Christ Lutheran Church, Grand Marais, MN;
For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’ ” When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:1–14, ESV)
When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” (John 19:30, ESV)
(From a Sermon by Pastor Tim Pauls)
Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Once a year, once every year, a very important thing happened among the people of God. On the tenth day of the seventh month, all work was to cease. Everyone refrained from buying and selling. No one plowed a field. No one made bread. All work stopped, except for one person among all the people. The High Priest, especially chosen by God, was the only one who worked on the tenth day of the seventh month of every year.
He worked alone because what he was to do was of utmost importance. And the work he did on that day was different than all the other times he worked in the temple. Instead of the elaborate clothing that was usually worn, he wore only a simple white tunic. On that day, especially, he was to stand before YHWH in humility. First, he would offer a sacrifice for his own sin. The blood of a perfect bull was needed to purify him. According to God’s promise his sins were removed. Then he was to deal with the sins of the people.
The important work continued with the selection of two goats. The first was sacrificed before the Lord. It’s blood and the blood of the bull were taken into the holiest place in the temple. There it was sprinkled on the Ark of the Covenant. On the very place that showed the people that God was present among them. The sprinkled blood covered the sins of the people. In this way, once a year, every year, God made atonement for his people.
But the important work was not finished. There was still the other goat that had been chosen. When the Priest was finished sprinkling blood in the most holy place, he returned to the other goat. Placing his hand on the goat’s head he would confess the sins of all Israel and place the sins of the people on it. That goat was then driven out of the city into the wilderness, carrying the sins of all Israel away.
Every year, once a year, on the tenth day of the seventh month, again and again, God provided a means for the people to have their sins removed; a bull and two goats; spoken words and actions; and the people were cleansed.
It was messy business; throats were cut, blood was spilled, and sprinkled. It was difficult to watch, it wasn’t enjoyable. But it was necessary. God is serious about sin. The consequences of sin are the spilling of blood and death. The bloody business made that clear. It also made something else clear. God had provided a way for the people to be forgiven. The High Priest was chosen. The sacrifices were made. One goat would carry the sins of the people away, one goat would be slaughtered, and blood was used to cover the sins so that God would not count them against the people anymore. That one important day was known to God’s people as: the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur (which literally means the day of covering).
How can blood do something like that? Remember the hymn:
Not all the blood of beasts on Jewish altars slain;
Could give the guilty conscience rest or wash away the stain.
It wasn’t the blood of the goat that did anything. The sacrifice on that one day a year pointed instead to the sacrifice on one day that was yet to come.
It happened once. Not once a year, but once.
It was a working day in Jerusalem. In fact, everyone was busy because the Sabbath was almost at hand and there was much preparation to be made. The people were bustling around, buying, selling, and making bread. The Romans were working, too. They had bloody business to deal with. Three men have been crucified outside of the city.
Even though everyone seems to be doing important work, one is doing more important work than everyone else. The High Priest is at work offering the sacrifice for sin. But he’s not working in the temple; instead he is working from the cross. He is the High Priest not just for the Jews, but the High Priest of all people. His humility is evident, but really, it is showing in shame, as the simple white linen garment has been taken from him and he hang there naked, wounded, and bleeding. It is a bloody, terrible, grisly scene. We’ve seen so many pictures; so much jewelry; that I think we forget how awful it was. If you and I had been there we would have wanted to leave.
But don’t look away because this is your Day of Atonement. Really, He is Your Day of Atonement. As Jesus Christ hangs there on the cross, He is your High Priest. He offers a sacrifice for you. He is the goat whose blood is spilled. His blood covers all your sins so that they are no longer counted against you. Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin. By His death on the cross he atones for your sins. His blood covers them all and for His sake God no longer counts them against you.
Jesus is also the scapegoat there on the cross. God, the Father, places your sins on him. In the past the goat, who bore the sins of the people was driven into the wilderness, never to be seen again. Jesus carries our sin to the grave, never to be seen again. Jesus will rise again from death, but our sin will not.
Jesus, High Priest, Sacrifice, and Scapegoat, suffers an eternity of hell for your sins. His sacrifice is worth an eternity of sacrifice. No more blood needs to be spilled. No more animals need shed their blood. God commanded that it be done once a year, every year, for all eternity. And that’s exactly what Jesus did; he made the bloody sacrifice for you, for every year, for all eternity, forever.
“It is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.”
The writer of the Hebrews tells us,
“But, by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.”
He has taken care of all sin for all time, there is nothing left to be paid.
Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “It is finished.” He’s not just talking about his life, he’s talking about the price paid for all sin, for all time. Jesus speaks these words loudly and clearly. His death isn’t like our death. Death robs us of power and ability we are no match for death it will have its way. But Jesus is stronger than death. He cries out in a loud voice because he has power over it. Death doesn’t take Jesus to the tomb; he carries death there. He dies, not because death takes him, but because he wants to die for you. He defeats death for you and rises again on the third day. “It is finished.” … Completed, done.” Nothing more can or needs to be done.
Whenever we face doubt, guilt and uncertainty; whenever there is persecution, illness, worry, suffering; whenever we face the consequences of sin; the words of Jesus from the cross give us great comfort. But no words of Jesus bring more comfort, especially as we consider our own death, then the words Jesus spoke as he, himself, died. Each of us must sooner or later (unless the Lord returns) face our own death. When someone will speak over us “There’s nothing more we can do.”
Even for the strongest Christian, death is a fearful future. And Satan takes great advantage of the situation. He is always trying to distract us, to take our eyes away from the cross. His most often used trick is to lie to us and convince us that we shouldn’t be afraid of death. “If my faith was strong enough, I wouldn’t be afraid to die. Maybe I’m not truly saved after all.” It is a lie of Satan, the final destructive act of a desperate and defeated enemy.
Do not believe the lies of Satan, believe, instead the truth of God. Satan misleads and lies; he convinces you that those feelings are true and right. But they are not. Jesus Christ, your Lord, does not lie. When Satan tempts you, don’t argue with him, speak instead the words of your Savior.
“It is finished.” There is nothing more to be done. You don’t have to wonder what you must still have to do; Jesus Christ has done it all.
“It is finished.” You don’t have to wonder if God is still remembering some hidden sin that you haven’t dealt with. He isn’t punishing you just a little before your life ends. He has taken all the punishment of sin and placed it on Jesus. There is none left for you.
“It is finished.” Jesus Christ has died for you and all your fears. Many Christians are afraid of death. It’s ok to be afraid, it is a fearful thing. But say the words again, “It is finished.” God has made you his own in Baptism. If you are a fearful child of God, you are still a child of God. Fear cannot harm you; it can still frighten you, but its power died on the cross. It is finished.
Jesus is your High Priest, and Sacrifice. He offered himself for your sin. What He did has taken care of it all, there is nothing left to do. Your salvation is sure, because the price has been paid in full. It is finished. Amen.
The peace of God, that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.