He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities - all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister. (ESV)
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The God You Need
Tuesday of Advent 2
10 December 2013
The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the God who reveals Himself in Christ. The God who gives His divine revelation to us in Scripture; that God reveals himself in ways that do not fit with our human reason. This is the God who was willing to place his Son into human flesh. And wearing that flesh, He went to the cross of Calvary so that He could pour out his blood. Now who are we talking about here? Who is this person who was nailed to the cross? We are talking about God of God, light of light, very God of very God (Nicene Creed). And now we're about to say with St. Paul: "Who made peace by his blood on the cross" (Col 1:20). Listen to the train wreck of words that St. Paul puts together in this text. The fullness of God was pleased to dwell in Him (Col 1:19). And He poured out his blood on the cross. Now here is a God worth worshipping.
He comes into our world, taking our broken, ailing, diseased flesh and renewed it in the incarnation and then bore it for us to the cross of Calvary. And he poured out His blood that we might be redeemed from that cross. There is no uncertainty here because it doesn't depend on our thoughts. It doesn't depend on our imagination. It doesn't depend on our views on what God might be like, or ought to be like. God has done that which no eye has seen and no ear has heard (Is 64:4). His Son bore our flesh and carried it to Calvary and was put to death on the cross so that His blood, the blood of God's Son should be poured out for sinners. God did this without any hope of recompense. He did not expect a return, but He loved us. We have to understand what this word "love" means when it's on the lips of God. It is that God was willing to be sacrificed fully and completely for a world full of sinners; people who would never believe him; who would always be His enemies and would distrust Him. And even if they would never have believed in him, He still would have done it for them; for us. Such passionate love does He have for us sinners.
Now what do you do with this? What do you do with the fact that God was willing to be put to death on the cross; that His blood was offered for us? The picture is kind of messy, let's be honest. But let's ask about our own lives. How near are our lives to this messiness? How clean are we? How clean from messiness? Some have elderly parents that you've now become caretakers for. That's a messy bit of business. Some are at the bedside of dear parents and you can foresee the trial and trauma of serious surgery. Some have chronic diseases that are great challenges. We can all look at our flesh as we age. Everyone is aging. Everyone is getting older.
I need a Savior who is willing to get messy, who is willing to come into my broken world; who is willing to take up my sins and carry my sorrows; who is willing that he should be arrested, tried, and driven to the place of execution. I need a Savior who is willing that he should pour out His blood for me and while there on the cross, and thinking of me, He could cry out to his dear heavenly Father and mine and say "Father, forgive them. For they know not what they do." That's the God I need. That's the God you need.
Cyril of Jerusalem
"The Savior endured suffering and 'made peace through the blood of his cross, for things in heaven and on earth' (Col 1:20). For we were enemies of God through sin, and God had appointed the sinner to die. Therefore, one of two things must needs have happened; either that God, in His truth, should destroy all men, or that in His loving kindness He should cancel the sentence against them. But behold the wisdom of God; He preserved both the truth of His sentence against sin and the exercise of His loving-kindness. Christ took our sins in His body on the tree, that we by His death 'might die to sin and live to righteousness' (1Pt 2:24). Of no small account was He who died for us! He was not a literal sheep. He was not a mere man. He was more than an angel. He was God made man. The transgression of sinners was not so great as His righteousness, who died for them. The sin which we committed was not so great as the righteousness which He accomplished who laid down His life for us, who laid it down when He wished, and took it again when He wished (Jn 10:18). How do you know that He did not lay down His life by violence, nor yield up His spirit against His will? He cried to the Father, saying, 'Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!' (Lk 23:46); I commend it, that I may take it again. And having said these things, He gave up His spirit (Jn 19:30); but not for any long time, for He quickly rose again from the dead."
Cyril of Jerusalem,
O Christ, You are the incarnate wisdom of God. You took on our flesh of the Virgin Mary for the purpose of cleansing it by Your suffering, death, and resurrection. Help us to live out our days in peace under Your cross in the patient expectation of your second coming. Amen.
For Sandra Esposito, that the Lord would be with her as she struggles with cardiac problems and that doctors and other health professionals would apply the proper therapies
For the search committees and others involved in the presidential elections at Concordia University Texas and Concordia University Chicago, that the Lord's will would be done on earth as it is in heaven
For those who are suffering inclement weather, that they would be kept safe
Art: WEYDEN, Rogier van der Annunciation Triptych (c. 1440)
© Scott R. Murray, 2012