Life Is Persistent
Pentecost Tuesday
6 June 2017
Ten years ago, several buildings on our church property were demolished in the first phase of our master campus plan. They were leaking and vermin infested having been kept in service long beyond their normal life expectancy. The staff stood out and watched the buildings being demolished and cheered. And no wonder! One of those buildings was invaded by a family of possums. Along with the possums came an infestation of fleas. Our congregational exterminator gamely attacked the problem with various bug bombs, traps, and repellants. To little avail. The fleas returned with a vengeance. There doesn't seem to be a way to exterminate the problem. Life is persistent.
Life is most persistent in Christ. He cannot be exterminated. Death and sin are taken up by Him into His person that they might not remain upon us. They work their worst in His crucifixion on the cross of Calvary, but to little avail. The victory remains with Life. He, whose heel is bruised, crushed all our enemies, death, hell, and Satan. The reign of death was ended (LSB 458:4). Christ is death's death. Extermination is the threat that stood over all persons. He accepts it into Himself. Death does not exterminate Him, but exhausts itself upon Him, as the waves of the North Sea uselessly batter the dykes reclaiming the Zuider Zee in the Netherlands. Death has exhausted itself on Him. Since death has been exhausted on Him, it holds no power over us. Life is persistent because Christ has crushed death.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Martin Luther
"St. Paul's words (1Co 15:57) point out how [atonement for sin] is accomplished: 'Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!' That sermon is different from that of Moses, for it reveals the Christians' consolation against death's sting and sin's power. It is true and necessary and right that the law reveals your sin and accuses you; and sin, in turn, has the right to kill you and death to devour you. That is beyond dispute and argument. For both your own testimony and God's Word are against you there. However, there is help in the fact that the Man Jesus Christ has come and has assumed and bore our sin and death, which we had justly deserved, and that He now steps forth on our behalf, confronts the law, sin, and death, and says: 'I am of the same flesh and blood; these are My brothers and sisters. What they did I did; and I paid for it. Law, if you want to condemn them, condemn Me. Sin, if you want to bite and kill them, bite Me. Death, if you want to consume and devour, devour Me.' That is what happened when He stood before the judge, Pilate. There He was accused and sentenced to death as a sinner. Therefore, He also calls Himself a sinner in Scripture. In Psalm 41: 'O LORD, be gracious to me; heal me, for I have sinned against you' (Ps 41:4)! Also in Psalm 69: 'The reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me' (Ps 69:9). That is, 'Whatever they did against You to deserve death, that I did.' Therefore, also the law attached itself to Him and condemned Him, sin crucified Him and pierced Him to death, and death carried Him under the sod. They did everything to Him, everything they were capable of. For God 'did not spare his own Son,' St. Paul declares in Romans 8, 'but gave him up for us all' (Rm 8:32). They all tested their might on Him.
"But thereby they failed by far to accomplish what they had intended to do. For through the very event by which they expected to exterminate Him and to win the victory He emerged again and said to the law, sin, and death: 'Do you not know that I am your Lord and God? What right do you have to accuse and to slay your Lord? Therefore, you shall do this no more. Rather, I will accuse and condemn you and dispatch you so thoroughly that you will henceforth have no claim on anyone who believes in Me. For what I did, I did for their sake.' For His own person this would not have been necessary, and they would have been obliged to let Him go unharmed. But now He has stepped into our place, and in our behalf He has let the law, sin, and death pounce on Him. He has not only removed these from us, but He has also vanquished them completely and cast them at His feet. Now they are overcome for us and no longer have any right or power over us. In that way we have a complete victory in Christ, now spiritually by faith but later also physically and visibly." 

Martin Luther,
Commentary on 1 Corinthians 15, 56-57
Psalm 16

Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the LORD, "You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you." As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight. The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply; their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out or take their names on my lips. The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (ESV)
Collect for Pentecost Tuesday
Almighty and ever-living God, You fulfilled Your promise by sending the gift of the Holy Spirit to unite disciples of all nations in the cross and resurrection of Your Son, Jesus Christ. By the preaching of the Gospel spread this gift to the ends of the earth; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

For all those who are suffering from domestic violence, that they would be rescued from this abuse of the gift of holy marriage and would learn of God's love for them in Christ
For a faithful impartation of the biblical gospel, which is the life and death of Jesus for the sins of the world, that the world may know the truth that sets us free
For all those who travel, that the holy angels would attend them
Art: DYCK, Sir Anthony van Pentecost (1618-20)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2017
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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