Rescued from Something
Silas, Fellow Worker of St. Peter and St. Paul
10 February 2017
Martin Luther often waxes eloquent about the "remarkable duel" between Christ and His creature, the law. Christ was the law's master, yet He became subject to it for our sakes. By taking our sin into His own holy person He defied the law and challenged it to do its worst to Him. And so it did when he was accounted guilty in our stead. The justice of the law was carried out against all our sin, which was plastered upon Him by imputation. He was counted among the sinners (Is 53:12); because He bore our iniquity.
The law counts guilty. It counts us guilty. It counts Christ guilty. But in Christ's being taken by the law He has turned its attention away from us. The law no longer seeks us, nor our death. It has sought Christ out and brought Him our death. Because we were in Him when He triumphed over our death, it becomes our triumph. This is why Luther calls Christ's victory over the law a "double" conquering. Christ defeats it and in Him we defeat it too. What counts against Him now counts for us.
Many modern theologians accuse Luther's associate, Philipp Melanchthon, with defining the gospel by that from which it rescues: the law. First, when rescued from a vicious enemy people talk a great deal about that enemy, its viciousness, and their experience of rescue from it. Take as an example the infantryman who, after coming off the battlefield, finds a slug lodged in the thick wallet that he kept in the pocket over his heart. The story of his rescue will be told in terms of the closeness to death that he experienced as the bullets whizzed all around. So it is for the Christian gospel, the story of our rescue is often told in terms borrowed from the fearsome enemy from which we have been rescued: the law. Second, Luther certainly tells the glorious gospel story in precisely those terms here. So poor despised Philipp is not alone in telling the story of our rescue as a rescue from something; namely, the law.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Martin Luther
"In what manner or way has Christ redeemed us? The manner was as follows: He was born under the law. When Christ came, He found us all captive under guardians and trustees, that is, confined and constrained under the law. What did He do? He Himself is Lord of the law; therefore the law has no jurisdiction over Him and cannot accuse Him, because He is the Son of God. He who was not under the law subjected Himself voluntarily to the law. The law did everything to Him that it did to us. It accused us and terrified us. It subjected us to sin, death, and the wrath of God; and it condemned us with its judgment. And it had a right to do all this, for we have all sinned.
"But Christ 'committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth' (1Pt 2:22). Therefore, he owed nothing to the law. And yet against Him, who is so holy, righteous, and blessed, the law raged as much as it does against us accursed and condemned sinners, and even more fiercely. It accused Him of blasphemy and sedition; it found Him guilty in the sight of God of all the sins of the entire world; finally, it so saddened and frightened Him that He sweat blood (Lk 22:44); and eventually it sentenced Him to death, even death on a cross (Phil 2:8).
"This was truly a remarkable duel, when the law, a creature, came into conflict with the Creator, exceeding its every jurisdiction to vex the Son of God with the same tyranny with which it vexed us, the sons of wrath (Eph 2:3). Because the law has sinned so horribly and wickedly against its God, it is summoned to court and accused. Here Christ says: 'Lady Law, you empress, you cruel and powerful tyrant over the whole human race, what did I commit that you accused, intimidated, and condemned Me in My innocence?' Here the law, which once condemned and killed all people, has nothing with which to defend or purify itself. Therefore, it is condemned and killed in turn, so that it loses its jurisdiction not only over Christ, whom it attacked and killed without any right anyway, but also over all who believe in Him."

Martin Luther, Lectures on Galatians, 4.5
Isaiah 53:1-9

Who has believed what they heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?  For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.  He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.  But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.  He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. (ESV)
Almighty and everlasting God, Your servant Silas preached the Gospel alongside the apostles Peter and Paul to the people of Asia Minor, Greece, and Macedonia. We give You thanks for raising up in this and every land evangelists and heralds of Your kingdom, that the Church may continue to proclaim the unsearchable riches of our Savior, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
For Chaplain Donald Ehrke (Major, US Army), that God the Lord would keep him in His hand
For all missionaries, that they would proclaim the Christ to those who are in need
For parents, that they might be a bulwark against the onslaughts of our decaying culture for their children
Art: MANETTI, Rutilio  Wedding Feast at Cana  (c. 1620)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2017
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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