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Psalm 75
 
We give thanks to you, O God; we give thanks, for your name is near. We recount your wondrous deeds. "At the set time that I appoint I will judge with equity. When the earth totters, and all its inhabitants, it is I who keep steady its pillars. I say to the boastful, 'Do not boast,' and to the wicked, 'Do not lift up your horn; do not lift up your horn on high, or speak with haughty neck.'" For not from the east or from the west and not from the wilderness comes lifting up, but it is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another. For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup with foaming wine, well mixed, and he pours out from it, and all the wicked of the earth shall drain it down to the dregs. But I will declare it forever; I will sing praises to the God of Jacob. All the horns of the wicked I will cut off, but the horns of the righteous shall be lifted up. (ESV)

The Truth

Friday After the Epiphany of our Lord

8 January 2016

What an enormous effort people often invest in wicked schemes! An intellectually brilliant friend of mine once remarked that he was not smart enough to commit adultery, because he could never keep straight all the lies that would be necessary to conceal such wickedness from his wife (an event he described as being fatal). My friend was recognizing what an extraordinary effort is involved when we commit ourselves to wickedness. One moral evil brings with it a panoply of the same.
 
King Herod's fear that a rival for his throne had been born drove him to disturbing rage, devious deception, a blasphemous claim of worship, a perverted use of the divine word, the enlistment of others in his wicked schemes, and the slaughter of innocents (Mt 2). To what extraordinary lengths Herod, the tyrant, was driven by his idolatrous grasping for power, which the ultimate tyrant, death would soon rip from his hands.
 
How much easier it is to accept the truth than to create the lie. The truth comes from God. It is a gift from Him. The lie is our own laborious invention. What a waste of effort! If Herod had simply offered to worship with the wise men before the Child held on the lap of his mother, how much easier it all would have been for Herod. To the decrepit old tyrant, all could have been given and forgiven by the Child.
 
No matter how much effort Herod expended, God would not permit his schemes to succeed. For the time of the Messiah had not yet been brought to its fullness. There was a time established for Him to die in the manner of death he chose. He would give Himself up not because a tyrant caught Him, but because He planned to give Himself up as a ransom for many to swallow up the ultimate tyrant, death. No one would take His life from Him, not even the master slaughterer, Herod. This is the One the wise men adored.

 

Leo the Great

"The three wise men follow the leading of the light above, and with steadfast gaze obeying the indications of the guiding splendor, are led to the recognition of the Truth by the brilliance of grace, for they supposed that a king's birth was notified in a human way, and that it must be sought in a royal city. Yet He who had taken a slave's form, and had come not to judge, but to be judged, chose Bethlehem for His nativity, Jerusalem for His passion.
 
"But Herod, hearing that a prince of the Jews was born, suspected a successor, and was in great terror: and to achieve the death of the author of salvation, pledged himself to a false homage. How happy had he been, if he had imitated the wise men's faith, and turned to a pious use what he designed for deceit. What blind wickedness of foolish jealousy, to think you, Herod, can overthrow the divine plan by your frenzy. The Lord of the worlds, who offers an eternal kingdom, seeks not a temporal. Why do you attempt to change the unchangeable order of things ordained, and to forestall others in their time? The death of Christ belongs not to your time. The Gospel must be first set on foot, the kingdom of God first preached, healings first given to the sick, wondrous acts first performed. Why do you wish yourself to have the blame of what will belong to another's work? Why, without being able to effect your wicked design, do you bring on yourself alone the charge of wishing evil? You gain nothing and carry out nothing by this intriguing. He that was born voluntarily shall die of His own free will.
 
"The wise men, therefore, fulfill their desire, and come to the child, the Lord Jesus Christ, the same star going before them. They adore the Word in flesh, the Wisdom in infancy, the Power in weakness, the Lord of majesty in the reality of man: and by their gifts make open acknowledgment of what they believe in their hearts, that they may show forth the mystery of their faith and understanding. The incense they offer to God, the myrrh to Man, the gold to the King, consciously paying honor to the divine and human nature in union: because while each substance had its own properties, there was no difference in the power of either."

Leo the Great, Sermons
 
Prayer
O Lord, give me the faith to repose quietly in Your Truth. Help me to flee the lie that is the ultimate labor and work unto death. Amen.
 
For all who struggle with the radical character of the gospel of free forgiveness, that they might never be offended at Christ and His mercy
 
For police officers and others who serve the needs of public safety, that they would be kept safe in the performance of their duties and that the holy angels would watch over them guarding their ways
 
For President Matthew Harrison of the LCMS, that he would have the peace of God that surpasses human understanding
Art: AERTSEN, Pieter  Adoration of the Magi (c. 1560)

 

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