Kruiz edited
God Never Gives Up
Perpetua and Felicitas, Martrys
7 March 2018
God never gives up. His compassionate love for the world is nothing if not tenacious. While we were still His enemies, He besought us. Since the time of the Fall, God Himself was in the business of preaching the good news of His salvation through the Seed of the woman (Gn 3:15). He then commissioned the prophets and patriarchs to repeat the message that He had begun with Adam and Eve, which He continued to clarify, and to which He added over the centuries. In the person of His incarnate Son, He sent out the apostles to proclaim the gospel in all the world (Mk 16:15). He commissioned them to proclaim that God has been reconciled to us through Christ.
 
We are so used to hearing this proclamation of the reconciliation effected by God for us, that we are no longer amazed by the tenacity of this God. He is like a husband whose wife has been sleeping around with other men. He refuses to cast her out. And yet her sin becomes ever more egregious and offensive. She actually begins to flaunt in his face her liaisons with other men. She is seeking to have her husband cast her out. She knows she doesn't deserve him. Yet, still he seeks her and calls her to return to him. She can't understand why he still bothers to try. He still loves her and is committed to her alone. He wants no other woman. So deeply does he desire reconciliation with her, he will do anything, go to any lengths, and suffer any deprivation to win her back. He will even die for her, even though she does not love him. This only begins to explain the passion of God for us. He has besought us, because He is besotted by us.
 
Why would He do this? Why will He not cast us out, though we have a thousand times over deserved it? Look at the price He pays. What price has He paid? He offered the life of Christ. How amazing that He pays the price to satisfy His wrath against our sin, for He is the one who is offended. Usually, the offender offers satisfaction to the offended one. Not here. The offender has no resources from which we might offer anything to satisfy God's wrath. Only Christ the true Son of God has what could be offered for our salvation. "Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God" (Rm 5:9).
 
This is the message that God proclaimed to Adam and Eve and which He sent the prophets, apostles, and evangelists to preach. So desperate is He to proclaim to us that He still sends preachers to us. Through them, as ambassadors, we hear the tremendous message that God in Christ has become reconciled to us. Even though people have ignored His own proclamation, He has not refused to send the message of harmony that He has established in Christ. He sends mere humans with the same message into the high office of proclamation. Through them, He will never give up.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   John Chrysostom
"'In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation''(2Co 5:19). See a love surpassing all expression, all conception. Who was the offended one? Himself. Who first sought the reconciliation? Himself. And yet some object, 'He sent the Son, He did not come Himself.' The Son indeed He sent; but He alone did not seek us, but both with Him and by Him the Father. Therefore he said, 'God was reconciling the world unto Himself in Christ:' that is, by Christ. He had already said, 'He gave unto us the ministry of reconciliation.' But he here used a corrective, saying, 'We do not act of our own authority in this activity: we are ministers; and He that does everything is God, who reconciled the world by the Only-begotten.' How did He reconcile it unto Himself? This is the wonder, not just that the reconciliation made friends, but also how friends were made. How? By forgiving them their sins; for in no other way was it possible. Therefore also he added, 'not counting their trespasses against them.' For it had been His pleasure to require an account of the things we had transgressed in, by which we should all have perished, for 'all died.' Though our sins were so great, He not only did not require satisfaction of us, but even became reconciled; He not only forgave, but He did not even 'count.' So ought we also to forgive our enemies, that ourselves too may obtain the like forgiveness.
 
"Neither have we come now on any hateful office; but to make all men friends with God. God is saying, 'Since they were not persuaded by Me, continue beseeching until you have persuaded them.' 'Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God (2Co 5:20). See how he has extolled the thing by introducing Christ in the form of a beggar; and not just Christ only, but also the Father. For what he says is this: 'The Father sent the Son to beseech, and to be His Ambassador unto mankind. When then He was slain and gone, we succeeded to the embassy; and in His stead and the Father's we beseech you. So greatly He prizes mankind that He gave up even His Son, and that knowing He would be slain made us Apostles for your sakes; so that he said with reason, 'It is all for your sake' (2Co 4:15). 'Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ,' that is, in Christ's stead; for we have succeeded to His functions.'
 
"But if this appears to you a great thing, hear also what follows through which he shows that they do this not in Christ's stead only, but also in the stead of the Father. Therefore he also added, 'God making his appeal through us.' 'He does not beseech only by the Son Himself, but also by us who have succeeded to the office of the Son. Do not think that we alone entreat you. Christ Himself and the Father Himself through Christ beseeches you by us. What could compare to this excess goodness? He was outraged who had conferred innumerable benefits; and though having been outraged, He not only exacted not justice, but even gave His Son that we might be reconciled. Those who received Him were not reconciled, but even slew Him. Again, He sent other ambassadors to beseech, and though these are sent, it is Himself that entreats. And what does He entreat? 'Be reconciled unto God.' And he said not, 'Reconcile God to yourselves;' for it is not He that bears enmity, but you; for God never bears enmity." 

 John Chrysostom,
Homilies on 2 Corinthians, 11.5
2 Corinthians
5:14-21

For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.  (ESV)
Prayer
Dear Father, You have sought us in Christ. Send us faithful ambassadors from You, that we might hear that You have been reconciled to us for Christ's sake. Amen.
 
For all Christian preachers, that they might proclaim the reconciliation which God has accomplished through Christ
 
For Laurie Fontana, who has cancer, that the Jesus the good Physician would grant her strength of body and soul
 
For LouAnn Weber, who is awaiting further medical testing, that she might be patient as she waits, casting all her cares on the Lord who loves her
Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias  Isenheim Altarpiece (c. 1515)
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
© Scott Murray 2018
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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