Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the LORD, saying, "I will sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea. The LORD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father's God, and I will exalt him. The LORD is a man of war; the LORD is his name.
"Pharaoh's chariots and his host he cast into the sea, and his chosen officers were sunk in the Red Sea. The floods covered them; they went down into the depths like a stone. Your right hand, O LORD, glorious in power, your right hand, O LORD, shatters the enemy. In the greatness of your majesty you overthrow your adversaries; you send out your fury; it consumes them like stubble. At the blast of your nostrils the waters piled up; the floods stood up in a heap; the deeps congealed in the heart of the sea. The enemy said, 'I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil, my desire shall have its fill of them. I will draw my sword; my hand shall destroy them.' You blew with your wind; the sea covered them; they sank like lead in the mighty waters.
"Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders? You stretched out your right hand; the earth swallowed them.
"You have led in your steadfast love the people whom you have redeemed; you have guided them by your strength to your holy abode. The peoples have heard; they tremble; pangs have seized the inhabitants of Philistia. Now are the chiefs of Edom dismayed; trembling seizes the leaders of Moab; all the inhabitants of Canaan have melted away. Terror and dread fall upon them; because of the greatness of your arm, they are still as a stone, till your people, O LORD, pass by, till the people pass by whom you have purchased. You will bring them in and plant them on your own mountain, the place, O LORD, which you have made for your abode, the sanctuary, O Lord, which your hands have established. The LORD will reign forever and ever." (ESV)
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Ocean of Grace
Monday of Easter 3
20 April 2015
The late sixteenth century saw a brutal war break out in what is now Holland and Belgium, when the people of that region declined to be ruled by King Philip II of Spain. One of the tactics employed in the lowlands against the Spanish troops by the Dutch was to break the dikes, flooding the areas in which the Spanish troops were advancing. The power of water rushing across the landscape was a devastating weapon against these unwanted overlords. The Dutch defeated or crippled their enemies without firing a shot, swallowing them up by a powerful flood. A wall of water does incredible damage as we have seen in tsunami-ravaged Japan or as Pharaoh found out when he pursued Israel into the Red Sea. Water is a powerful solvent, washing away filth.
Water has dissolved our sin and washed away death in the font of life through our baptisms. Like a drop of strychnine dropped in the Pacific Ocean becomes harmless, so our sin dropped into the sea of Christ's righteousness becomes harmless; dissolved by the water's power. The poison taken undiluted would kill, but in the ocean it is an insignificant amount. This is the power of God's grace; it is so powerful that it makes all human ills insignificant. The water rushes in, overwhelming our filth, taking away death, sweeping before it all our enemies.
One sin made us all liable to death. One act of righteousness then is the more able to make us all heirs of life; for the righteousness is not our own, but Christ's. Isn't the righteousness of Christ far more powerful than the fall of Adam and our inherited liability? What kind of God is not capable of overcoming in Himself the results of the fall? One hardly worth the name. This alerts us to the boundary of exclusivity which the Christian teaching demands. Christ saved all persons and saved them totally. He not only provides a ransom for all persons, washing away the world's sin. But he also completely washes away every sin from those who are saved. The righteousness of Christ is both intensively and extensively complete. He saves the world completely and completely takes away every sin. All sin and every sin is drowned in an ocean of grace.
"'If, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ' (Rm 5:17). What armed death against the world? The one man's eating of the tree. If then death attained such great power from one offence, when it is found that some received a grace and righteousness out of all proportion to that sin, how shall they still be liable to death? Therefore, Paul does not just say "grace," but "the abundance of grace." That abundance did not merely do away with the sin, but we received of His grace, and even far more. For we were at once freed from punishment, and put off all iniquity, were also regenerated (Jn 3:3) and raised again with the burial of the old man, redeemed, sanctified , brought to adoption, justified, made brothers of the Only-begotten, co-heirs and of one body with Him, and partners in His flesh. Even as a body with the head, so we were joined to Him! All these things then Paul calls an "abundance of grace," showing that what we received was not a medicine only to counteract the wound, but also a conferral of health, beauty, honor, glory, and dignities far transcending our natural state. Each of these in itself was enough to do away with death, but when all manifestly run together in one, there is not the least vestige of it left, nor can a shadow of it be seen, so entirely is death done away with.
"If anyone were to cast a person who owed ten cents into prison, and not just the man himself, but his wife and children and servants because of him and another were to come and not to pay the ten mites only, but to give also ten thousand talents of gold, lead the prisoner into the king's courts, to the throne of the highest power, and were to make him partaker of the highest honor and every kind of magnificence, the creditor would not even think about the ten mites. This is our case. For Christ paid far more than we owe, as much more than the limitless ocean is to a little drop.
Do not hesitate when you see so great a store of blessings. Do not inquire how that mere spark of death and sin was done away with, when such a sea of gifts was brought in upon it. For this is what Paul intimated by saying that 'those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life' (Rm 5:17). Having now clearly demonstrated this, he returned to his original argument by confirming it through repetition, saying that if for that [original] offence all were punished, then they may likewise all be justified."
John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans, 10
Lord Jesus Christ, You are the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. Grant us Your peace. Amen.
For Ruth Young, that the Lord Jesus would restore her
For Carol Crump, that she would be kept safe and that the Lord Christ would grant her healing
For President Robert Newton, who was re-elected this past weekend at the convention of the California-Nevada-Hawaii District of the LCMS, that the Lord would keep steadfast in His Word and faith
Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias Resurrection (1515)
© Scott R. Murray, 2015