Kruiz edited
Speak for the King
Wednesday of Lent 2
28 February 2018
On 29 December 1170, Thomas Beckett, Archbishop of Canterbury, was murdered before the altar of Canterbury Cathedral by knights currying favor with King Henry II, who had appointed Beckett to his ecclesiastical post eight years before. Beckett was a political appointment pure and simple. He had been subject to the suspicion that he had no business being the Archbishop of Canterbury, because it was known that his only credential was that the King was his buddy. Everyone knew King Henry expected Beckett to be his tame Archbishop. Beckett, upon his accession, however, was not about to remain the lapdog of the temporal ruler. He had a higher allegiance. He was not Henry's ambassador in the church, but the ambassador of the King of kings to the world. Though he was unworthy of his rank, Beckett showed enormous courage in facing down his old boss, so much so that Henry yearned for Beckett's demise. The Lord takes the ordinary and the unworthy and uses them for His much more exalted purposes.
It is easy to mock those who hold ambassadorial rank, because they are unworthy of the honor they bear in the name of their nation. Often, like Beckett, ambassadors of national governments are named for merely political and other unworthy reasons. Those who give great sums of money to support the political party in power are sometimes rewarded by ambassadorships. They themselves have no recognizable skill that commends them to the office. Yet, the honor is still theirs and may not be usurped by anyone else. They have the authority of ambassadorial rank, which is the authority of their government. So, despite their personal ineptitude when they speak they speak for their country and its government.
In 1941, the Japanese ambassador, Kichisaburō Nomura, presented U.S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull the formal declaration of war almost an hour after the attack of the Imperial Japanese Navy on Pearl Harbor had already commenced on December 7. Nomura, himself a man of honor, was deeply chagrined at having to offer this declaration only after the attack had already begun. But he carried out the duty required by his government. The ambassador's personal predilections are hardly germane to his carrying out his duty.
This is all the more the case for the ambassadors of the great King who rules over earth and sky. My personal predilections are hardly significant when I speak for Him. He has sent me to represent Him by delivering His will and Word to the people of the world He created. Therefore, I have no right to adjust His speech, or fix what He wants His people to hear. Our pastors come, not to tell us of an impending attack like Nomura, but only with declarations of peace created between humans and God through the sacrificial death of Christ, our Savior (Rm 5:1). We proclaim not death and disaster (Rev 6:8), but tell the world's people that their warfare is accomplished and that God has given them double forgiveness for their sins (Is 40:2). He speaks not of stinging punishment, but he speaks comfort, he cries out with tenderness to her in her mourning, that gladness is hers through Christ. Even if we think God ought to condemn the people (Rev 14:6), we dare not proclaim only this, but we must speak the eternal gospel that proclaims an end to condemnation (Rm 8:1). Because they are unworthy of their exalted office as ambassadors for the King, they must never let their own opinions crowd in against the King's gracious will.
Our pastors, like many ambassadors, have no particular skill that recommend them for their office. Perhaps they themselves are called scoundrels, as Hull said of Nomura on that infamous day of 7 December 1941, yet that does not absolve them of the responsibility of speaking for the great King. Nor does it reduce their honor when they do, for their honor accrues from the King for whom they speak (Ps 68:11). Our pastors must speak for the King.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   John Chrysostom
"'All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation' (2Co 5:18). For from Him are all the good things. For He that made us friends is Himself also the cause of the other things which God has given to His friends. For He rendered not these things unto us, allowing us to continue enemies, but having made us His friends. But when I say that Christ is the cause of our reconciliation, I say the Father is so also. When I say that the Father gave, I say the Son gave also. 'For all things were made by Him' (Jn 1:3) and of this too He is the author. For we ran not to Him, but He Himself called us. How did He call us? By the sacrifice of Christ.
"'And gave us the ministry of reconciliation' (2Co 5:18). Here again Paul sets forth the dignity of the Apostles; showing how great a thing was committed to their hands and the super abundant love of God. For even when humans would not hear the Ambassador that came, He was not exasperated nor did He leave them to themselves, but continued to exhort them both in His own person and by others. Who can be sufficiently amazed at this kindness? The Son who came to reconcile, His true and only begotten, was slain. But not even then did the Father turn away from His murderers and say, 'I sent My Son as an ambassador, but they not only would not hear Him, but even slew and crucified Him, it is right from now on to leave them to themselves.' But quite the contrary, when the Son departed, He entrusted the business to us. For he says, 'gave unto us the ministry of reconciliation.'"

 John Chrysostom,
Homilies on 2 Corinthians, 11.4

Romans 8:1-11

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. (ESV)
Lord Jesus Christ, You have called those whose worthiness can only consist in Your call to the office of proclaiming the gospel to the world. Grant that they would never proclaim only their own opinion, but preach Your unalterable Word. Keep them from fearing Your enemies and give them the courage to confess Your name to all nations, that all people might know Your sacrifice for the sins of the world. Amen.
For all the conventioneers of the LCMS, that they might return home refreshed and encouraged in God's Word and live as people who have been baptized for this moment
For all Christians, that they might heed the voice of the Lord Christ and gather for services to her His Word on the lips of His rightly called ambassadors
For all who travel, that the Lord might give them a safe sojourn as He did for Abraham and Sarah of old
For Lou Ann Weber, as she undergoes further medical testing, that the Lord Jesus would be with her
Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias  Isenheim Altarpiece (c. 1515)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2018
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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