Victory in Christ
The Visitation
31 May 2017
How different things will be at the resurrection of the flesh. We will be deathless. Faith sees this so clearly. Faith sees what is unseen and knows what is unknowable. Faith grasps the God who calls into existence the things that do not exist (Rm 4:17). Faith is the receiving hand that possesses so firmly all that God has said. It does nothing. It gets everything, because God gives everything, not because faith is valuable in God's sight. The receipt of a gift is never considered meritorious. The merit is in the gift, not in its acceptance. Christ's life is ours as a gift. This is what we mean when we say it is received by faith. It is not by works. God gives the gift graciously, that is, without our having earned it. A gift earned is neither gracious, nor a gift.
Eternal life, then, is the possession of those who will return to the dust from whence we came. Thus we leave behind all that weighs down this body and life. We cast it aside as a fashion model flings aside this dress for the next to wear down the runway. The old is of no value before the power of new. What value does the chrysalis have for the butterfly spreading her wings and floating upon the sunny breeze? Our experience of the suffering of this life and the attending certainty of death is not able to undo the gratuitous promise of Christ that we shall live forever with Him in our bodies resurrected like His.
However, the suffering of this life is ambiguous in meaning. On the one hand, it is the devil's penalty on temporal life (2Co 12:7), but on the other hand, it does the salutary work of destroying our love for the carnal life of this world and flesh. As Christians grow older their bodily devolution leads them to despise this life all the more and to long with greater desire for the life to come where these bodily infirmities will no longer burden us. So while the devil thinks he is plaguing us to death, he has inadvertently made us heavenly minded.  Only faith can see this. Only Christ can reinterpret this suffering. The world can only feel the weight of suffering and seek to flee it. Faith sees beyond the suffering to believe that there is an immortal existence awaiting us in Christ. All of this is the result of the victory we have in Christ. Thanks be to God.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Martin Luther
"The faith that clings to Christ...can visualize a new existence. It can form an image and gain sight of a condition where this perishable, wretched form is erased entirely and replaced by a pure and celestial essence. Since faith is certain of this doctrine that Christ's resurrection is our resurrection, it must follow that this resurrection is just as effective in us as it was for Him, except that He is a different person, namely, true God. And faith must bring it about that this body's frail and mortal being is discarded and removed and a different, immortal being is put on, with a body that can no longer be touched by filth, sickness, misfortune, misery, or death but is perfectly pure, healthy, strong, and beautiful, so that not even the point of a needle can injure it. That will be the power and the effect, or, as St. Paul says here, the victory gained by Christ, which will completely do away with and purge our sin and death with its attendant frailties, perils, and sufferings of the body.
"Note how St. Paul speaks about this life and existence (1Co 15:54-55). He views it not as man himself but as a dress that he must wear now but discards later and replaces with another. He makes no more of death and grave than he does of taking off an old torn garment and casting it away. To him the resurrection is like putting on a beautiful new garment called immortalitas, incorruptibility or immortality. It is spun and woven by Christ's victory. For the victory of Christ, who overcame all in Himself, was wrought for the purpose of clothing you with it and of cleansing you from your sin and death, so that nothing of your corruptible body remains or of anything that the devil infused in you or that derives from him, all sorts of misfortunes and frailties, error and folly, everything except your natural and true body as created by God.
For God did not create man that he should sin and die, but that he should live. But the devil inflicted so much shameful filth and so many blemishes on nature that man must bear so much sickness, stench, and misfortune about his neck because he sinned. But now that sin is removed through Christ, we shall be rid of all of that too. All will be pure, and nothing that is evil or disgusting will be felt any longer on earth. However, this is not brought about in any other way than that we first shed this old, evil garment through death. We must be divested of it entirely, and it must turn into dust." 

Martin Luther, Commentary on 1 Corinthians 15, 54-55
Luke 1:39-45

In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord. (ESV)
Almighty God, You chose the virgin Mary to be the mother of Your Son and made known through her Your gracious regard for the poor and lowly and despised. Grant that we may receive Your Word in humility and faith, and so be made one with Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord. Amen.

For President Thomas Winger and the faculty of Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary, St. Catharines, Ontario, that God the Lord would grant faithful instruction in the deep things of God to be given to future pastors and theologians
For seasonable weather, that we might enjoy the fruits of the earth from God's gracious sustaining hand
For all who were confirmed in the Christian faith at Memorial Lutheran Church, that they might continue to feed on the life-giving body and blood of their Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life
Art: GAROFALO,  Ascension of Christ (1510-1520)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2017
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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