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1 Corinthians

1:18-25

 

The word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart."

 

Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

(ESV)

 

The Drama of Our Salvation

Friday of Lent 4

20 March 2015

We will begin to experience the drama of our salvation in our holy week observances in about ten days. The story is about Jesus, yes. He is the One who is betrayed, scourged, judged, condemned, and crucified. He dies and rises again. Yet the drama is not for His benefit. The story is not told only to His glory. And while we Christians (supposedly) abhor self-centeredness, the divine mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus is really all about us. He undergoes what He suffers entirely for us. No one chooses, as He certainly did (Jn 10:18), such suffering and degradation for His own benefit. No one takes up the cross for His own pleasure, a la Monte Python's spoof on liberal theology, "The Life of Brian:" "One cross each; line on the left." No, Jesus has us and our sins in His heart when He plunges Himself into the affliction of the afflicted (Ps 22:24). He Himself is not afflicted for any other reason than that He bears our affliction.

 

Participating in holy week observances then is not like watching a movie or hearing a moving story about the trouble suffered by someone else. It is not like watching the scenes of disaster from tornadoes in the central USA on Fox News. Such things are moving and dramatic. They may even evoke a tear of concern from us, but they don't touch us because the funnel clouds did not pass over our heads. Holy week concerns us because the whirlwind of God's judgment does impend over us and our Savior drew upon His own head its destructive force that it might be spent upon Him and not upon us, who so richly deserve its wrath to fall upon us.

 

Every holy week, then, we are woven into the story; it is all about us. We cannot sit in the pew and presume that it does not touch us, that it is a very interesting drama, or merely that the story is powerful. We cannot hold it at arm's length. We become a player in the action by the power of God's Word, which is active in drawing us into the story in both law and gospel. Our sin is its cause. Our depravity is heaped upon Him in the ridicule He suffers from sinful people like us. He is judged a sinner of the gravest kind; guilty of claiming to be God, a crime of which we are guilty and He is not. He takes our place under the condemnation of blasphemy, though He is very God of very God. From this we should not flee, but we should be drawn to the retelling of the story of our salvation in the narratives of the Gospels. By faith we participate in this story of death and life. His death is our death. His life is our life. 

 

John Chrysostom

 

"'[Jesus our Lord] was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification' (Rm 4:25). See how after mentioning the cause of His death, he makes the same cause likewise a demonstration of the resurrection. For why, he means, was Jesus crucified? Not for any sin of His own. This is clear from the resurrection. For if He were a sinner, how would He have risen? But if He rose, it is quite plain that He was not a sinner. If He was not a sinner, why was He crucified? He was crucified for others, and if for others, then surely He rose again. Now to prevent your asking, 'How, when He became liable for such great sins, did we come to be justified?' Paul points out the One who blots out all sins, using both Abraham's faith by which he was justified, and the Savior's suffering and death, by which we were freed from our sins to confirm what he said. And after mentioning His death, he speaks also of His resurrection. For the purpose of His dying was not that He might hold us liable to punishment and under condemnation, but that He might do good to us. For this cause He both died and rose again, that He might accomplish righteousness."

 

John Chrysostom,  Homilies on Romans, 9.1

 

Prayer

Almighty and everlasting God, grant us by Your grace so to pass through this holy time of our Lord's suffering and death that we may obtain the forgiveness of our sins; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

                                                           

For Anastasia and Dorothea Moerbe, born prematurely, that the Lord would grant them health and strength

 

For President Ken Hennings of the Texas District of the LCMS, that he would be strengthened in body and soul

 

For all military chaplains, especially Chaplain Donald Ehrke, that they would be blessed as they serve Christ's children who serve as soldiers

Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias Isenheim Altarpiece (1515)

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