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Luke 1:67-80


And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying, "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; or you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace."


And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel. (ESV)

Hearing Him Is Hearing Him

The Nativity of St. John the Baptist 

24 June 2015

How do we expect God to speak to us? Many people are waiting for God to descend from heaven in Technicolor with a clap of thunder to express His will to them. And He will do that on the last day. In the meantime, he has sent us messengers to deliver His will to us. Many refuse to listen to the messengers that our gracious God sends us. What would you say of a Marine Corps private who refused to step out of the battle line for a period of rest and relaxation when his sergeant ordered him to do so, arguing, "Unless the Commandant of the Marines himself comes here and personally orders me out of the battle line and back to the rear echelon, I will not do it, sergeant!" You would think him a lot arrogant and a little bit mad. So it is for those who refuse to listen to the messengers whom God sends to tell them that their warfare is accomplished and the divinely assured rest has come to them through the work of Jesus. "I need God to show up in person, or I won't believe it." But He has shown up in person! Jesus is God's Son in the flesh. The Christ is the One who says to the preachers: "The one who hears you hears me" (Lk 10:16).


While visiting in Wittenberg, Germany where Martin Luther lived during the Reformation, I was told that only 15% of the population of Luther's town claimed to be Christian. Of those, only 11% claimed to be Evangelical. Only 10 people were counted members of the Independent Lutheran Church (SELK). Luther himself predicted that the gospel would pass away because of ungratefulness for the gospel. It is depressing to think that Luther's prediction has turned out to be true. I am sure he would have preferred to have been wrong. Elsewhere Luther lamented: "You should know that God's word and grace is like a passing shower of rain which does not return where it has once been." This is a serious warning to us, who so easily despise the proclamation of the holy gospel on the lips of the messengers that God sends, "Oh, he's just that crazy pastor, into whose mind the seminary has crammed all those ideas about God speaking in His Son. He just doesn't understand what life is really all about. That Jesus stuff is all well and good, but in a pinch Jesus won't be there to get you out of trouble." We want a more spectacular God, who makes a good show and will always get us out of trouble by arriving on the battle line to escort us to our well-deserved R&R. We are dissatisfied because He merely sends preachers to call us to enjoy His hard-earned rest, which we have in no way deserved.


Our God has used messengers to speak to His people at all times. Luther thought that Abraham had heard the command to leave Ur and go to Canaan from the Patriarch Shem (Gn 11:10-32). That human mouth was formed around the divinely-given words. The God who speaks sends His preachers to deliver His Word. We're looking for something more spectacular when we should be in church where our pastor is preaching. Our Lord promises that when we hear him we are hearing Him.


Martin Luther


"How did God speak to Abraham? From heaven, as Christ converses with Paul near Damascus? My own opinion is this: He did so through the patriarch Shem and through the human ministry. Paul, too, similarly states: 'When you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers' (1Th 2:13).  Similarly, Christ says: 'The one who hears you hears me' (Lk 10:16).


Thus we have been overwhelmed with the riches of divine mercy by having this light so abundantly, because God presents Himself to us everywhere through the ministry of men and converses with us. For this blessing we ought to thank God and rejoice sincerely. It proves that we are the friends of God and that God cares for us, whether we live or die. If Cicero, Plato, and others could have attained this great good, do you think that they would have sat still? Don't you think they would rather have gone to the remotest parts of the earth? Therefore our danger is so much the greater if we have been ungrateful for this great gift. For the wrath of God will not cease. Even now it is threatening us through the Turk and the popes, men who are well-nigh demons so far as their hatred and cruelty are concerned.


At the outset, therefore, one must take note of this saying: 'The Lord said.' To hear Him is the greatest glory and the utmost blessing. 

Martin Luther, Lectures on Genesis13.15 

Almighty God, through John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, You once proclaimed salvation.  Now grant that we may know this salvation and serve You in holiness and righteousness all the days of our life; through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.


For Charlene Karner Johnson, who is suffering from cancer, that the Lord Jesus would grant her strength and healing


For Anssi Simojoki, that he would recover from a heart attack and surgery and experience the peace that surpasses human understanding


For the family of Jackie Rayburn, who are mourning her death, that they would confess the power of Christ and His indestructible life
Art: Dürer, Albrecht  The Adoration of the Trinity (1515) 

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