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Isaiah 6:1-10


In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!" And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: "Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!"


Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: "Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.


And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" Then I said, "Here am I! Send me." And he said, "Go, and say to this people: "' Keep on hearing,but do not understand; keep on seeing,but do not perceive.' Make the heart of this people dull,and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed." (ESV)

Glory in Glory

Friday after Easter

10 April 2015

I love to play with words. If you read this devotion with any kind of regularity you are aware of this. I had a friend tell me that he shared these devotions with the faculty of his parochial school every day for a year. The faculty very soon joked about reading them with a dictionary close to hand. I can't help it. I just love words. One of the interesting complicating factors about language is the issue of translation among languages. What complicates this is that terms do not have a one to one correspondence from language to language. There aren't many exact equivalents once we start translating accurately and colloquially any language. While discussing the words of institution in the Lord's Supper with a member of my congregation, he asked me if the phrase used by Paul in 1Co 11:24: "This is my body which is for you," was awkward in Greek (the word "awkward" even looks awkward!)? All I could say was that I had no basis for an answer to his question (which had to do with the textual variants for the passage), since I am not "fluent" in Koine Greek. I don't have a born and bred "feel for the language," what the Germans call "Sprachgefühl." I am not sure what sounds stilted or inappropriate in Koine Greek, I only know what it says. This is why non-native speakers of a foreign language occasionally say things that native speakers find opaque or downright hilarious, such as ordering a "chien chaud" at a Montreal Expos baseball game in Montreal, when the right word in French is "hot dog." The concessionaires thought this was humorous. Oh, well.


"Lost In Translation" is a movie about two Americans stranded in Tokyo in a sea of Japanese speakers. Lots of things get lost in translation even when people actually speak the same language. Language is especially incapable of speaking the thoughts of the heart. This is why so much conversation must go back and forth between lovers, if they are ever to have any idea what is trying to burst out the heart of their beloved. In the divine revelation there must be much speaking by God if we are to know His heart.


John Chrysostom certainly had "Sprachgefühl" for Greek. It was his native language. He preached in it. He saw things in the text of the Bible the English speaker would struggle to see. He perceived an interesting relationship among the biblical words that get translated "glory," "boasting," "joy," and "rejoicing." In Romans 5 Paul says "we rejoice in hope of the glory of God" (Rm 5:2). The verb "rejoice" could also be translated "to boast" and "to glory" in English. Paul uses an entirely different Greek word in the phrase "the glory of God." Nonetheless, Chrysostom "hears" Paul saying that we should glory in the glory of God; that our glory and joy are in the glory of God. I might not hear this, because "rejoice" and "glory" are different terms in both English and Greek. But Chrysostom hears words in the same "semantic domain," in an overlapping region of shared meaning.


The result of this clarity is that for Chrysostom our glory is in God's glory. Our glory is in another and in His work for us. We who have merited not God's glory, but His wrath have now been counted His friends by Him for Christ's sake through the blood shed for us. Our wickedness, for which we should be ashamed, was what motivated God to place the power of His glory, which is Christ Himself, into the balance to tip the scales in our favor. His glory then becomes a continuous sign of our joy because it is offered by God as a sign of His love for us. How we ought to glory in His glory!


John Chrysostom


"'More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation' (Rm 5:11). What does Paul mean by 'more than that'? Not only were we saved, but we even rejoice for this very reason, for which some suppose we ought to hide our faces in shame. That we who lived in such great wickedness are saved, is a very great mark of our being exceedingly beloved by Him who saved us. For it was not by angels or archangels (Heb 1:5-6), but by His Only-begotten Son Himself, that He saved us. The fact of His saving us, and saving us too when we were in such difficulty, and doing it by means of His Only-begotten, and not merely by His Only-begotten, but by His blood, weaves for us endless crowns to rejoice in. There is nothing that counts so much in the way of glory and confidence, as being treated as friends by God, and in Him finding a friend who loves us. This is what makes the angels glorious, and the principalities and powers. This is greater than the kingdom, and so Paul placed it above the kingdom. For this also I count the spiritual powers blessed, because they love Him, and in all things obey Him. On this point, the Prophet also expressed his admiration at them. 'Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word' (Ps 103:20)! Isaiah too extolled the Seraphim, setting forth their great excellence because they stand near God's glory (Is 6:2-6), which is a sign of the greatest love."


John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans, 9

Lord God, heavenly Father, You placed the glory of Your Son against my sin and outweighed my wickedness. You have called me friend. Help me to glory in Your glory and never boast in my own works in Your presence. Amen.


For Gladys Edwards, who is suffering from high blood pressure, that the right therapies might be applied and healing given


For Yvonne and Art Narr, that the Lord would be with them as they move to Houston and establish a new home


For Robert Newton of the California-Nevada-Hawaii District of the LCMS, as he prepares for the convention of his district, that the Lord's glory would be extolled by the conventioneers

Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias Resurrection (1515)

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Memorial Lutheran Church | 5800 Westheimer Rd. | Houston | TX | 77057