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Matthew 10:26-39

 

"So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.

 

"Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person's enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (ESV)

 

Satan's Sibilant Song

Wednesday of Pentecost 17

8 October 2014

Either Christ is in charge of His church through the gospel preaching or we are in charge of the church through the law. There is no middle ground. There must be a King. The only question is, "Is it Him or me?" Luther makes the dichotomy between Christ and the pope, but as easy as it is to reject the pope, what we should remember is that the little pope in every heart is the problem of every human. The legalistic dictator within us is the real way in which the Roman papacy does actually rule. We are very easily convinced that we need to keep a set of externally imposed rules and that those rules are the way of eternal life. After a tragic or painful episode in our personal lives, we easily say, "if I hadn't done...whatever it is, I would not have had all these problems." And so we think that controlling our actions is the source of real peace and contentment. No such thing is the case. Our lack of peace has a much deeper root in the depravity of our heart, perverted as it is by sin. Our peace and contentment can only come from the Prince of Peace. We have either the King of Peace or the pope of our own hearts ruling our life and faith; Christ with the life-giving gospel and the little pope with death-dealing law.

                       

While we have peace and contentment of spirit because Christ confers upon us  these things earned by His blood by faith, we still find that the gospel of Christ does not cause the world to be content and at peace with us, but rather it stirs up anger and outrage against us and our preaching. This should never surprise us or destroy our confidence in Christ, the Head of the church. Such disturbances are indicative of God's merciful care for us in the things that are not of this world: His Word and life-giving sacraments. There can be no other prop or stay, no other human institution or earthly authority that will support us in the midst of worldly strife. We have Christ alone and none other. He is quite enough and all that we need.

 

The trouble is that in the weakness of our own hearts the world still lives and is alive and well. This is why we are tempted to compromise because our own quailing hearts drive us to seek some accommodation with the world: "You must be more practical, less certain." "Look at all the grey areas." "See, the great men of the world honor only the law." "What is wrong with you?" "Why can't you be more loving?" "Compromise a little for the sake of earthly peace." "No one else agrees with you." The sibilant song of Satan is sung this way. No one likes to be hated or despised. Sometimes we are tempted to take the easier way out. I know that I am. We pray that the Lord Jesus would keep us steadfast in His Word so that we might confess only Him, even in the face all the rage and spite of His enemies and ours.

 

Martin Luther

"Anyone who wants to teach Christ and to confess Him as our righteousness will immediately be forced to hear that he is a 'plague' (Acts 24:5) who is stirring up everything. 'These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also,' the Jews said about Paul and Silas, 'and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar' (Acts 17:6-7). And in Acts 24:5: 'For we have found this man a plague, one who stirs up riots among all the Jews throughout the world and is a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.' In a similar way the Gentiles complain in Acts 16:20: 'These men are disturbing our city, etc.'

 

"Today they are accusing Luther of creating a disturbance in the papacy and the Roman Empire. If I kept silence, all things would be left in peace, which strong armed man possesses (Lk 11:21); and the pope would not persecute me anymore. But then the gospel of Christ would be obscured. However, if I speak out, the pope will be disturbed and ruined. One must choose of the two, either lose the mortal pope or the eternal Christ, and with Him eternal life. One must choose of the two the lesser evil. Let the earthly and mortal pope be ruined rather than the One who is heavenly and eternal!

 

"When Christ Himself foresaw in the Spirit that a great disturbance and collision in the world would follow His preaching, He comforted Himself this way: 'I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled' (Lk 12:49)! Today we see that because of the persecution and blasphemy of our opponents and the contempt and ingratitude of the world many evils follow upon the preaching of the gospel. This gives us so much anxiety that we often think, according to the flesh, that it would have been better if the teaching of godliness had never been circulated and peace had been preserved than that the public peace should be disturbed as it has now been. But according to the Spirit, we intrepidly say with Christ: 'I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled' (Lk 12:49)!"

 

Martin Luther, Lectures on Galatians, 4.29
 
Prayer

Lord, keep us steadfast in Thy Word, Curb those who fain by craft or sword, would wrest the kingdom from Thy Son, and set at naught all He hath done. A mighty weapon is Thy Word, the church's buckler, shield, and sword. O let us in its power confide, that we may seek no other guide. Amen.

 

For all the students being instructed in our faith in the Lutheran Church of Nigeria, that they might continue to proclaim Christ

 

For Pastor Charles Wokoma, who is teaching seminary students in the Lutheran Church of Nigeria, that the Lord Jesus would keep him safe and faithful to the Word of the Lord

 

For all those who labor to protect our borders from foreign incursion, that they might be kept safe in dangerous times
Art: Crucifixes  Uppsala Cathedral (medieval)

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