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Isaiah 53

 

Who has believed what they heard from us?And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

 

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors. (ESV)

Don't Kill the Wounded

Wednesday of Lent 4

18 March 2015

The United States Marine Corps has a tradition of never leaving a fallen Marine on the field of battle: Nemo Residio, "No One Left Behind." The history of the Marine action is replete with stories of courageous Marines ignoring a rain of bullets to help a wounded comrade felled by enemy fire. There is nothing so noble as to risk life itself to rescue a fallen comrade. To service that Marine, the one who is bearing him off the field of battle, must himself stay alive. A wounded helper is simply a double burden. He is no good to the one he is trying to help and will join him prone upon the field of fire. A fallen rescuer cannot bring rescue.

 

We Christians are called to prop up the fallen and help them from the field of battle. Our enemy the devil would love for us to fall with them or even upon them. If our brother has been wounded by rage and begins to rail against us; we are not benefited in the least by returning fire. Killing a grievously wounded brother is not particularly productive. Reviling when reviled is something like being angry at child who is having a temper tantrum. It merely feeds the rage and no one is helped by it. We are far better off to pray for those who are angry with us. We should grieve that they find it necessary to attack and insult us. Christ our Lord wept for those who hated Him and even pleaded in prayer for those who nailed Him to the accursed tree. "For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly" (1Pt 2:21-23).

 

We have the shield of the faith which will hold back all the flaming arrows of our enemy the devil. If we stand fast over the body of the fallen comrade, not reviling, but generously defending Him, we shall save him and keep ourselves from joining him. If we forget who we are and who has redeemed us, then we will quickly throw down that shield in rage and anger, reviling the very brother who, as part of our own body, we ought to have been defending. Our Lord declines to rage against those who revile Him that He might focus upon saving them. He overshadows with His cross the pits where we have been prostrated by our enemy. He gives us life by being the propitiation for our sins, and indeed for the sins of the whole world (1Jn 2:2). Why wound those for whom Christ has been wounded? Why kill those for whom He has died? Why grit your teeth against those for whom He weeps? Bear up the wounded and gently restore them by binding up their wounds, rather than ripping them open again. Don't kill the wounded, because the Wounded has not killed us.

 

John Chrysostom

 

"Did someone wrong you or injure you? Groan at it, and do not rage. Weep, not because of the wrong done you, but for his destruction, as your Master also wept over Judas. He wept not because He was to be crucified, but because Judas was a traitor. Has someone insulted you and abused you? Pray to God that He may speedily become appeased toward him. He is your brother, he is a member of you, the fruit of the same birth as you. He has been invited to the same table as you.

 

"But you may say, 'He only insults me.' Then is your reward all the greater. This increasing rage is the best reason for setting aside one's own anger, since it is a lethal slash that he has received, because the devil has wounded him. Do not then give a further blow. Do not cast yourself down with him. As long as you stand you still have the means of saving him also. But if you dash thyself down by doing insulting things in return, who then is to lift you both up? Will the one that is wounded? No, for he cannot, now that he is down. If you fall with him, could you lift him up? How could you lift him, if you could not support yourself? How could you lend a hand to another?

 

"Stand fast therefore in your generosity, setting your shield before you, and now that he is dead, draw him away from the battle by your long-suffering. Rage has wounded him. You should not also wound him, but even pull out that first arrow. If we associate with each other on these terms, we will all become more honorable."

 

John Chrysostom,  Homilies on Romans, 8.8-9

 

Prayer

Gracious God and Father, though Your Son, Jesus Christ, came to bring us Your heavenly peace, violence and conflict still rage among Your children on earth. Restore calm and heal the wounds that have been inflicted. Preserve peace so that what has been laid waste and made desolate can again be planted and built up. Grant that we all may live together in unity and peace, and let all hatred and ill be remembered no more. Give us that peace which the world cannot give, and grant us grace that, delivered from all conflict and strife, we may live in unity and harmony, and finally, having gained the eternal rest of the saints in glory, may praise and bless, worship and glorify You forever, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

 

For Craig and Alyson Hyslop, who have received the gift of a healthy baby girl, Collette Eileen, that the Lord would grant health and protection to mother and child, until the day when Collette is brought into the kingdom of Christ through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit

 

For Pastor J. Bart Day, that the Lord would send the Holy Spirit to him as he serves the LCMS as Executive Director of the Office of National Mission

 

For President Brian Friedrich, the faculty, staff, and students of Concordia University Nebraska, that the Lord Jesus would grant them every blessing of body and soul

Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias Isenheim Altarpiece (1515)

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