Fortunate Exchange
Monday of Pentecost 19
26 September 2016
In what Luther calls the "fortunate exchange" Christ our Lord takes our sin and death and gives us His righteousness, victory, and life. Thus living the victorious Christian life is merely to live by faith. For faith grasps His victory. Unfortunately, a great deal of Christian preaching maintains that the victorious life is something accomplished by the Christian. By the faith becoming our accomplishment again the burden of the law is placed squarely on the shoulders of the believer and takes the doing of Christ away from the Christian life. Thus Christian life becomes my own, rather than His. The spiritual heroism necessary for this kind of "Christian life" is ultimately impossible, for only Christ Himself is capable of bearing this burden. This kind of re-possession of the burden is a transgression of the first commandment for it takes what Christ claims for Himself and snatches it back from Him. We have made ourselves that other god. The golden calf is always us. Pitiful gods, we.
How fortunate for us little gods, that the great God, our Lord Jesus Christ takes even the burden of self-deification from us in the great exchange. False gods like us are assumed into His person and slain at Calvary. Gregory Nazianzus is right in saying, "What He did not assume He could not heal." What He did not take up in the fortunate exchange He did not take away from us. So Christ snatched up from us sin, death, and damnation and taking it into His person takes it away from us. He freely assumes our nature of the Virgin, that He, emptying Himself of the exercise of His divine power, might take from us our sin, by filling Himself with our human weakness.
No wonder the satanic gang is a howling horde seething with rage against the Lamb who goes uncomplaining forth the sin of the world bearing. Every high and haughty pretension to divine authority is slain with Christ who defeats the mob arrayed against us at the cross. Christ has died. Christ lives. About that Satan can do nothing. Thus he attacks the fortunate exchange, by calling into doubt the means of grace; "did God really say...?" and causing doubt to fall on faith by turning faith into our work and victory. He is holding out the temptation once again, "you shall be like God," if you just live the victorious life. Every victorious life that is not Christ's has long ago been put to death with every other golden calf at Calvary. The only victorious life is His and it is received by faith in the fortunate exchange.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

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." 

Martin Luther, Lectures on Galatians, 3.13
Philippians 2:1-10

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)
O Christ, You have made me truly fortunate in You. You have taken my sin and filth into Yourself at the cross. You were compelled by Your love for me to do this and for no other reason. How I marvel at Your unaccountable grace to me! Burn the image of Your death upon my heart, that I might die every day to sin and live to the newness of life which You have given me in the means of grace. Amen.
For Cantor Janet Muth, who is considering a call to Salem Lutheran Church, Blackjack, MO, that the Lord of the church would direct her deliberations

For Gerald Tackett, who has been diagnosed with liver cancer, that the Lord Christ, the good Physician, would give him strength of body and spirit and confidence in Christ's care
For President David Randrianasolo of the Malagasy Lutheran Church in Madagascar, that Christ would strengthen him in his office as a preacher of the Word of God
For Christian families that children might be brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord Jesus, who gives families the stewardship of children
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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