Revealed Later
Wednesday of Easter 5
17 May 2017
How can something God the Father already possesses be delivered to Him by the Son? The Son will "deliver the Kingdom to God the Father." Doesn't the Father already have and possess the kingdom? Is not the church His own precious possession and creation? How could He be given what He already has? This public delivery of the kingdom to the Father is for our benefit. It is a solemn disclosure on the last day of what we had by faith and which then we shall possess by sight. What the Lord knows we only believe now, and will see later when the Lord reveals it to us. What a deep mystery there is here in the handing over of the kingdom to the Father by the Son; it is done as the final revelation of God's gracious love, making clear at the end what has remained hidden in time. He has seen this all along. It is revealed to us to make our joy complete at the last.
 
Until that final revelation we remain tied down to the signs of the God hidden among us: Word and Sacraments. We now live by faith because we only see God under the things that He uses to conceal Himself among us. By not seeing we see. God has offered Himself and His grace to us in the humble preaching of the Word of God, in the expression of holy absolution, in the bread and wine which are the body and blood of the Lord Jesus, "given and shed for the forgiveness of sins." Thus when evil, suffering, sin, and death crowd around us we can repair nowhere but to the Word of God, to water connected with the name of the triune God, and to His holy table. What we see in this age is not ultimate, it is all passing away with the finality of divine judgment. What is ultimate is what is not seen in this age, but will be seen in the age to come.
 
Thus we should not despair when confronted by the trouble in this world. When we are confronted with a messy divorce we do not want, we must return to the Bridegroom who promises never to leave, nor forsake us. When confronted with marriage-ending wickedness on our parts, He chose to give Himself up for us rather than cast us off into oblivion. When the choice is Him or us, He chooses to give Himself up for us. Only faith can believe this because we see no evidence that we are worthy of this choice on the part of the Son of God. Yet God is continuously reassuring us to that effect under the means of grace. We expect God to come out swinging against our enemies, decking one, cold-cocking another, but instead He takes into Himself all our enemies and swallows them down, dying for us. His triumph over sin and His handing of the kingdom over to His Father is all hidden now, revealed later.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Martin Luther
 
"St. Paul says, Christ will 'deliver the Kingdom to God the Father, etc.' (1Co 15:24). How is that? Does not Scripture declare everywhere that Christ will remain King forever and that His kingdom will have no end? How does that agree with the statement made here that He will deliver the Kingdom to the Father and subject Himself to Him, laying His crown, scepter, and everything in His lap? Answer: St. Paul is here speaking of Christ's present kingdom on earth. This is a kingdom of faith, in which He rules through the Word, and not in a visible and public manner. It is like beholding the sun through a cloud. To be sure, one sees the light but not the sun itself. But after the clouds have passed, both light and sun are viewed simultaneously in one and the same object. In that way Christ now rules undivided with the Father. It is one and the same Kingdom. The only difference is that it is dark and hidden at present, or concealed and covered, comprehended entirely in faith and in the Word. All that is seen of this is Baptism and the Sacrament, and all that is heard is the external Word. These are the only power and might with which He rules and accomplishes everything.
 
"I suppose that we would like to see Him reign like emperors and kings, surrounded by external splendor and power, and see Him strike with fists against the evildoers. He does not want to do that now. He wants to reign quietly and invisibly in our hearts, solely through the Word. Through this Word He wants to protect and preserve us amid our weakness over against the world's might and power. And this Kingdom on earth is identical with the one which will later be in heaven, only that it is hidden now and not open to view. A coin in a purse or pocket is a genuine coin and also remains genuine when I take it out and hold it in my hand. The only difference is that it is no longer concealed. Similarly, Christ will take the treasure which is now veiled to us, who know nothing of it but what we hear and believe, and reveal it openly and before the eyes of the whole world. But nonetheless we surely possess this treasure. A merchant who holds a sealed promissory note is just as sure of his money as if he had the cash in his pocket.
 
"Here all happens alone in faith, through Word and Sacrament. Here I believe and do not doubt that we are God's children and the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, that He is our King who reigns over us and protects us against all enemies and frees us from every need, even though we do not see this but rather feel the reverse, namely, that sin weighs us down, the devil terrifies and harasses us, death kills us, the world persecutes us, and everything overwhelms and oppresses us. But today the order reads not to see but to believe, not to comprehend it with our five senses but to disregard these and give ear solely to what God's Word tells you, until the hour comes when Christ will put an end to this and present Himself publicly in His majesty and power. Then you will see and feel what you now believe. Sin will be erased and drowned, death will be abolished and removed from view, the devil and the world will lie at your feet. Life with God will be manifest, and all will be clear before our view, as an uncovered treasure, such as we now yearn for and look forward to." 

Martin Luther, Commentary on 1 Corinthians 15, 24
Hebrews 10:11-25

And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
 
 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,"
 
Then he adds, "I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more."

Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.
 
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
(ESV)
Prayer
Lord Jesus, You will hand over the kingdom to God Your Father, that we might see what we now only believe. Send us Your Holy Spirit that we may the more confidently trust You and with long lasting hope believe that we shall behold Your kingdom come in its fullness at last. Set us more firmly upon the humble signs of Your presence among us that we might seek You ever where You are to be found: in Word and Sacraments. Amen.
 
For Jill Stoneburner as she undergoes therapy for cancer, that she would be strengthened in body and soul by the God who hides Himself under suffering
 
For all those who are grieving the loss of loved ones, that they might receive from their heavenly Father courage to face the days ahead with hope
 
For all those who have been deluded into thinking that their own happiness is more important than the gifts of a gracious God, that they might be converted and be turned from their self-worship to seek their God
Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias  Resurrection (c. 1515)
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
© Scott Murray 2017
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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