Vanquished Monsters
Monday of Pentecost 18
19 September 2016
My children enjoyed the 2001 Disney/Pixar movie, "Monsters, Inc." So did I, if truth be told. In it the good monsters vanquish the bad monsters, so that small children could maintain good relations with the good monsters. "The monster under the bed is not so bad, after all. He is really your friend." There is something to be said for making friends with our monsters. However, there is also something to be said for vanquishing our monsters. A defeated, supine, even dead monster is no threat at all. One needn't make friends with a dead monster.
The monsters of sin and death are not able to be befriended. It is like befriending a terrorist. It just means that you are smiling when you die. Death and sin must be taken out, not befriended. Christ does that by taking sin into Himself, although He was without spot or blemish in Himself. He takes on death by swallowing it down into His invincible person.
The duel over the world was joined on Calvary's hill when dirty death and immaculate Life clashed. Death did its worst. But victory remained with life. Death could not gain mastery over the eternal Son of God who has the Life in Himself. In Christ, Life has swallowed up death. Thus this Christ, who is the Life, is the center of the Christian church's preaching. We can only speak of our monsters being vanquished in Him. He is death's death. It can no longer harm us.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Martin Luther
"Let us see how two such extremely contrary things come together in the person [of Christ.] Not only my sins and yours, but the sins of the entire world, past, present, and future, attack Him, try to damn Him, and do in fact damn Him. But because in the same person, who is the highest, the greatest, and the only sinner, there is also eternal and invincible righteousness, therefore these two converge: the highest, the greatest, and the only sin; and the highest, the greatest, and the only righteousness. Here one of them must yield and be conquered, since they come together and collide with such a powerful impact. Thus the sin of the entire world attacks righteousness with the greatest possible impact and fury. What happens? Righteousness is eternal, immortal, and invincible. Sin, too, is a very powerful and cruel tyrant, dominating and ruling over the whole world, capturing and enslaving all men. In summary, sin is a great and powerful god who devours the whole human race, all the learned, holy, powerful, wise, and unlearned men. He, I say, attacks Christ and wants to devour Him as he has devoured all the rest. But he does not see that He is a person of invincible and eternal righteousness. In this duel, therefore, it is necessary for sin to be conquered and killed, and for righteousness to prevail and live. Thus in Christ all sin is conquered, killed, and buried; and righteousness remains the victor and the ruler eternally.
"Thus also death, which is the almighty empress of the entire world, killing kings, princes, and all men in general, clashes against life with full force and is about to conquer it and swallow it; and what it attempts, it accomplishes. But because Life was immortal, it emerged victorious when it had been conquered, conquering and killing death in turn. About this wondrous duel the church beautifully sings: 'It was a great and dreadful strife when death with life contended' (LSB 458). The Prince of life, who died, is alive and reigns. Through Christ, therefore, death is conquered and abolished in the whole world, so that now it is nothing but a picture of death. Now that its sting is lost, it can no longer harm believers in Christ, who has become the death of death, as Hosea sings: 'O death, I shall be your death' (Hos 13:14)!
"Thus the curse, which is divine wrath against the whole world, has the same conflict with the blessing, that is, with the eternal grace and mercy of God in Christ. Therefore, the curse clashes with the blessing and wants to damn it and annihilate it. But it cannot. For the blessing is divine and eternal, and therefore the curse must yield to it. For if the blessing in Christ could be conquered, then God Himself would be conquered. But this is impossible. Therefore, Christ, who is the divine power, righteousness, blessing, grace, and life, conquers and destroys these monsters-sin, death, and the curse-without weapons or battle, in His own body and in Himself, as Paul enjoys saying: 'He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.' Therefore, they can no longer harm the believers (Col 2:15)." 

Martin Luther, Lectures on Galatians, 3.13
1 Corinthians

I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory." "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. (ESV)
Lord Christ, eternal Victor over death, You have crushed the fearsome monsters that plague us. You defeated death and slew sin. Send Your Holy Spirit that we might always believe Your victory and live our lives as heirs of life. Amen.
For the family of Doug Hewitt, that they might grieve as those who have hope in the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come
For all those who will receive Christ's body and blood in divine services, that they might receive it in faith as the antidote to death
For John Hatteberg, that his Lord Jesus would grant him peace and strength in body
Art: Durer, Albrecht  The Adoration of the Trinity (1515) 
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2016
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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