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So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (ESV)

Divine Transaction

Thursday of Epiphany 4

4 February 2016

Some years ago when I was a seminary student, I witnessed the sale of a seminary textbook by one student to another. The seller proposed that the book was worth eight dollars while the buyer suggested that he would be willing to pay twelve dollars for the book. I found these negotiations quite odd and intruded into this inept haggling over a price. I pointed out that according to the basic rules of a free market economy the seller should be trying to get more for the book and that the buyer should be trying to pay less for it. Their negotiation ran opposite against the most basic economic principles. The transaction they were executing was beneficial for the buyer, because the seller was willing to cut the price for the buyer, even though the buyer was willing to pay more for the merchandise (you can see why these men went into the ministry, rather than business).
Perhaps these seminary students were guided in their transaction by the "blessed exchange" between the believer and his Lord Jesus. That exchange, while not financial, does bring a great benefit to us who participate in the exchange. Our Lord Jesus traded Himself and all He has to us, including His righteousness, holiness, and sanctification. In return, we give to him our sin, death, suffering, sorrow, and trouble. Not a bad exchange from our perspective! He gives us all His riches; we return to Him all our poverty. Adam Smith's theory of free market economics would not recognize this exchange in which worse-than-nothing is given for unspeakably great eternal riches. But human wisdom is always stymied by the divine foolishness of the cross. No haggling is necessary. The price is paid. Christ has done everything for us.


Martin Luther

"By this fortunate exchange with us Christ took upon Himself our sinful person and granted us His innocent and victorious person. Clothed and dressed in this, we are freed from the curse of the law, because Christ Himself voluntarily became a curse for us, saying: 'For My own person of humanity and divinity I am blessed, and I am in need of nothing whatever. But I shall empty Myself (Phil 2:7); I shall assume your clothing and mask; and in this I shall walk about and suffer death, in order to set you free from death.' Therefore when, inside our mask, He was carrying the sin of the whole world, He was captured, He suffered, He was crucified, He died; and for us He became a curse. But because He was a divine and eternal person, it was impossible for death to hold Him. Therefore He rose from death on the third day, and now He lives eternally; nor can sin, death, and our mask be found in Him any longer; but there is sheer righteousness, life, and eternal blessing.
"We must look at this image and take hold of it with a firm faith. He who does this has the innocence and the victory of Christ, no matter how great a sinner he is. But this cannot be grasped by a loving will; it can be grasped only by reason illumined by faith. Therefore we are justified by faith alone, because faith alone grasps this victory of Christ. To the extent that you believe this, to that extent you have it. If you believe that sin, death, and the curse have been abolished, they have been abolished, because Christ conquered and overcame them in Himself; and He wants us to believe that just as in His person there is no longer the mask of the sinner or any vestige of death, so this is no longer in our person, since He has done everything for us."
O Christ, You justify us by faith alone, giving us Your victory over all our enemies, abolishing sin, death, and the curse in Your own person. Grant that we might live always under the power of Your indestructible life. Amen.
For John Hatteberg, who is suffering from Parkinson's disease, that the Lord Jesus would be with him giving him strength and confidence in His mercy
For all those who travel, that they might have a safe journey and a joyous homecoming
For President Obama, the Congress, Supreme Court, and all those who make, administer and judge our laws, that they might support our quiet and peaceable lives 
Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias  The Crucifixion (c. 1515)

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