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Galatians 3:1-6


O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain - if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith - just as Abraham "believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness"? (ESV)







A Condensed Love

Thursday of Epiphany 4

6 February 2014

The cross is a condensation of God's love toward us. It is not a condensation in the way Reader's Digest condensed books of great literature to half as many words, as though great literature could be accused of using too many words as Mozart was accused of using "too many notes." No, condensation of God's love in the cross should not be a diminishment of the content of the cross. This "condensation" can become a diminishment of the cross where the cross becomes a cipher for a sappy or purely emotionalistic definition of love. God's love is not a fleeting or watery emotion, it is not a passion for us that might wane if he comes to disregard us or despise us on account of our sins. God's love is Himself and is as certain as His existence. He could not choose not to love (sometimes double negatives do work), because to do so would be to cease to be God (1Jn 4:8, 16). He loves us never less intensely by offering the life of Christ unto the cross; always more.


The cross is a condensation of the love of God toward us in the same way condensed milk is an intensification of milk, the water is taken out of it, and sugar added. It is a thick and creamy reduction of milk. The only thing it is lacking is water. The cross is that kind of condensation of the love of God for us. It clarifies and intensifies our understanding of the love of God. It is one thing to hear that God loved the world. It is another entirely to hear that God has offered His Son into the death of the cross for the express purpose of saving those whom He has loved. There is nothing watery about this love that leads the Son of God to have his blood congeal in condensed rivulets of life flowing from his face, hands, back and side. This is why we preach Christ crucified. A condensation of the love of God is focused on the cross.


John Chrysostom


"The Apostle Paul says, 'It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified' (Gal 3:1). Yet Jesus Christ was not crucified in Galatia, but at Jerusalem. His reason for saying, 'among you' (Gal 3:5), is to declare the power of faith to see events which are at a distance. He says not, 'crucified,' but, 'publicly portrayed as crucified,' signifying that by the eye of faith they saw more distinctly than some who were present as spectators. For many of the latter received no benefit, but the Galatians, who were not eyewitnesses, saw it more clearly by faith. These words convey both praise and blame. Praise, for their implicit acceptance of the truth. Blame, because Him whom they had seen, for their sakes, stripped naked, transfixed, nailed to the cross, spit upon, mocked, fed with vinegar, upbraided by thieves, pierced with a spear; (for all this is implied in the words, 'publicly portrayed as crucified,') Him they had abandoned, and betaken themselves to the Law, unshamed by any of those sufferings of Christ. Observe how Paul, leaving all mention of heaven, earth, and sea, everywhere preaches the power of Christ, bearing about as he did, and holding up Christ's cross. For this is the sum of the divine love toward us." 


John Chrysostom, Commentary on Galatians, 3.1


Almighty God, You know we live in the midst of so many dangers that in our frailty we cannot stand upright. Grant strength and protection to support us in all dangers and carry us through all trials; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord. Amen.


For the Boards of Regents of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis and Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, as they meet together, that the Lord's work would be accomplished


For Hilary Murray, who is seeking work, that the Lord would grant her work in her vocation


For Cantor Janet Muth, as she consider a call to Mt. Olive Lutheran Church, Milwaukee, that the holy church's needs would be paramount in her considerations

Art: MEMLING, Hans  Adoration of the Magi (c. 1470)

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