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Psalm 36

 

Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in his heart; there is no fear of God before his eyes. For he flatters himself in his own eyes that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated. The words of his mouth are trouble and deceit; he has ceased to act wisely and do good. He plots trouble while on his bed; he sets himself in a way that is not good; he does not reject evil. Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O LORD.


 

How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light. Oh, continue your steadfast love to those who know you, and your righteousness to the upright of heart! Let not the foot of arrogance come upon me, nor the hand of the wicked drive me away. There the evildoers lie fallen; they are thrust down, unable to rise. 
(ESV)

 

The Maximum

Tuesday of Holy Trinity

2 June 2015

Have you ever noticed that teen age children tend to do the minimum they can possibly do to satisfy the requests of their parents? They are always seeking an angle to do the least possible work. I know this because I am the father of former teenagers, but most of all because I was one, even if a long time ago. God is no teenager. The minimum is never God's modus operandi. No, our Lord Jesus Christ gave the absolute effort both to win us from sin and death and then to convince us that He had provided the absolute effort winning us back to Himself. This is why the Bible is so full of elaborate descriptions of Christ's work and its benefits for us sinners. No effort was left unexpended. No stone left unturned. No indignity avoided. No humiliation fled. No burden cast off. All was taken on for our sakes, even to the point of death, even the death of the cross (Phil 2:8). And that work of dying and rising would have been sufficient without any other effort being expended by Christ for us, to merit our salvation forever.

 

He will not leave it there. He will not stop laboring for us. The One who died and rose is now seated at God's right hand for the express purpose of pleading for us there. He not only did all the work in time that results in our salvation, but He is constantly telling His Father of our desperate need. How would such an explanation from the Son to the Father, benefit the Father? What does He, who sent His Son to die for us, not know about our need? Such intercession is not for the Father, but for us. Christ is doing the maximum for our sakes. Again, what He does, He does not because He must, but because His love for us so great that He will do anything to convince us of our exalted status in His kingdom. He will continually petition His Father for our sakes, pleading our need and His sacrifice for it on our behalf. What a lavish, overflowing well-spring of grace comes forth from Him.

 

And to advocate for such as we are! Sometimes those who continually practice criminal law are psychologically burdened by the poor character and patent wickedness of those whom they defend. They will feel that defending common criminals diminishes their honor as lawyers. Yet, the Son stands pleading for the worst sinners. What a great burden this is for Him, who knew no sin (2Co 5:21). Yet still He does it. Nor is it dishonorable for Him to plead for those whom He loves so tenaciously. If the father of a murderer were also a lawyer, would he not importune the court continually for the freedom of his child? So is the love of the Son who intercedes before the Father's kingly throne. Yet, this is not a diminishment of His glory, for the Father Himself has always pleaded with us to be reconciled with Him, and yet remains our Father with full honor and glory. So the Son does what He sees the Father doing (Jn 5:19). The maximum has been done and is being done for us by God's Son.

 

John Chrysostom

 

"What does Paul mean when he says, 'Christ Jesus is the one who died- more than that, who was raised- who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us' (Rm 8:34)? For though Christ is seen now in His own dignity [seated at the right hand of God], He has not ceased caring for us, but 'is interceding for us,' and still keeps up the same love. He was not content only to be put to death. This is a sign of great love, to be doing not only what falls to His lot, but also to address the Father on our behalf. For this is all Paul meant to signify by the interceding, using a way of speaking better suited to humans, and more condescending, that he might point out Christ's love.

 

"That you may see that such is the point Paul is aiming at, after saying, that He 'is at the right hand of God,'  to show an equality of honor and rank, he says, that He 'is interceding for us,' so that it may appear that His intercession is not a sign of inferiority, but only of love. Since He is life itself (Ps 36:9; Jn 11:25), a well of good things of every kind, with the same power as the Father both to raise the dead and to give them life, and do all everything the Father does, how could He need to be a petitioner in order to help us (Jn 5:19, 21, 36)? He of His own power set free from their condemnation those who were caught in their sin and condemned. He made them righteous and sons. He led them to the highest honor causing things which had never been hoped for. How should He, after having achieved all this, and having shown our nature on the King's throne, be required to be a petitioner to do the easier things? See how there is no other reason for Paul's mention of intercession, save to show the warmth and vigor of Christ's love for us. The Father is presented to us as beseeching men to be reconciled to Him: 'We are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us' (2Co 5:20). Still, although God is appealing, and men are 'ambassadors for Christ,' we do not understand on that account anything done unworthy of that dignity. We conclude the intensity of the love, from all that is told us.

 

"If then 'the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words' (Rm 8:26), and Christ died and intercedes for us, and the Father 'spared not His own Son' for you, and elected you, and justified you, why be afraid anymore? Why tremble when enjoying such great love and having such great interest taken in you?"

 

John Chrysostom,
Homilies on Romans, 15
 
Prayer

Lord Jesus, You intercede for us before the Father's throne. Comfort us with Your advocacy. Let us be open to Your powerful love for us poor sinners. Amen.

 

For those who are struggling with their own spiritual lethargy, that they would receive Your Spirit and be built up in the holy faith

 

For Clare and Michael Staub, who have received from God a newborn child, Mary, that they might rejoice in this gift and look forward to Mary's new life given in the sacrament of holy baptism

 

For those who are experiencing conflict with family, that the Prince of peace would make those who are at enmity peacemakers to his glory and their blessedness 
Art: Dürer, Albrecht  The Adoration of the Trinity (1515) 

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