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For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, "Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them." Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for "The righteous shall live by faith." But the law is not of faith, rather "The one who does them shall live by them." Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us-for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree"- so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith. (ESV)
Comfort for Us
Philip Melanchthon, Confessor
16 February 2016
We always think of St. Paul as a great orator and author, even a wily writer (see Philemon). His words ring in our ears because his letters are the steady diet of the church's dining in public worship. He seems so eloquent. Yet perhaps English translations have smoothed out Paul's writing somewhat. If you read Paul in the Greek sometimes he dashes through the words as though he is completely captured by what he has to say (is it any wonder?!).
Sometimes, he seems jolting and shuddering in his constructions, almost tongue-tied by the sublime depth of the grace of God in Christ. And again at other times his words pour forth as an unstoppable flood of enthusiasm, rolling on to wipe out our pretensions to our own righteousness by presenting to us the justification of the sinner through Christ.
In Galatians 3:14 Paul writes of the blessing that we experience because Christ has become a curse. We receive the Gentiles receive the blessing of Abraham through Christ and the promised Spirit through faith. What greater things could be said of us poor sinners? We are the blessed ones because He is the cursed one. How unfathomably deep these things are to us. These few words pouring out of the great Apostle bring with them a deep consolation and comfort which will endure in the face of all trouble, and even death itself. We need to learn that that comfort is for us.


Martin Luther

"This is a very powerful passage, one that is filled with comfort...that satisfies us, who are Christians, who have been baptized, and who have accepted this doctrine. It draws the powerful conclusion that through the curse, sin, and death of Christ we are blessed, that is, justified and made alive. So long as sin, death, and the curse remain in us, sin damns us, death kills us, and the curse curses us; but when these things are transferred to Christ, what is ours becomes His and what is His becomes ours. Let us learn, therefore, in every temptation to transfer sin, death, the curse, and all the evils that oppress us from ourselves to Christ, and, on the other hand, to transfer righteousness, life, and blessing from Him to us. For He does in fact bear all our evils, because God the Father, as Isaiah says, 'has laid the iniquity of us all on Him' (Is 53:6). And He willingly took them upon Himself. For He was not guilty; but He did this in order to do the Father's will, by which we would be sanctified eternally.
"This is the indescribable and infinite mercy of God which Paul would like to spread abroad with an enthusiastic and generous flow of words; but the human heart is too limited to comprehend, much less to describe, the great depths and burning passion of divine love toward us. Indeed, the very greatness of divine mercy produces not only difficulty in believing but incredulity. Not only do I hear that God Almighty, the Creator of all, is good and merciful; but I hear that the Supreme Majesty cared so much for me, a condemned sinner and a child of wrath (Eph 2:3) and of eternal death, that He did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up into a most shameful death (Rm 8:32), in order that He might hang among thieves and become sin and a curse for me, the sinner and accursed one, and in order that I might be made righteous, blessed, and a son and heir of God. Who can adequately proclaim this goodness of God? Not even all the angels. Therefore Holy Scripture speaks about other things than a political, philosophical, or even a Mosaic book; it speaks about the indescribable and utterly divine gifts that surpass not only all human and angelic understanding (Phil 4:7) but everything else as well." 
Martin Luther, Lectures on Galatians, 3.14
Lord Christ, You inspired the Apostle Paul to pour forth the gospel from his pen. Let us read and learn these words, that in them we might have the comfort of knowing you as our Savior. Amen.
For the family of Antonin Scalia, that they would be comforted and strengthened in their loss by the power of the cross and resurrection Christ
For all those who travel in inclement weather, that they would be kept safe from every calamity
For Dr. Lawrence of Rast of Concordia Theological Seminary, who will be preaching at MLC on Sunday

Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias Isenheim Altarpiece (1515)

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