10th Day of Christmas
In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The entire Christmas story, the journey to Bethlehem, the manger, the angels, the circumcision and Simeon’s song, wicked Herod and the wisemen, the flight to Egypt and back, it is all so outrageous. To think: God took up our Flesh and allowed us to do those things to Him! That He would be born out of doors, without a bed, suffer the knife to mark Him as God’s own, be made a refugee – our hearts scarcely know whether to break with sorrow or leap for joy. It is horrible that these things, and far worse, should befall Him who did no wrong, who had every right to much more than Satan vainly tempted Him with in the desert. And yet, it is so wonderful that He did them all with perfect, selfless love that we would be His own!
And still, despite the wonder and glory of Christ born to Mary, despite the quiet nobility of the Lamb led to the slaughter, how cheaply we would sell our souls! We lust and covet all that He went without: honor, prestige, fame, fortune, power. How we long to take control of our lives and the world around us! How madly we desire every form pleasure: gluttony, sexual deviancy, mindless, shallow entertainment! And how low we will stoop, what preposterous lies we will tell, what disgusting perversions we will indulge, behind closed doors, when we think that no one sees! And then, the mother of it all, pride rears up its bloated head, it seeks to justify itself, to turn the blame to others, to pretend as though we’ve tried hard enough, been sincere enough. Repent. Our resistance to temptation has been weak and half-hearted. Our conviction has been measured against our possibility of success. Repent. No flesh, no man, woman, or child, will be justified by deeds of the law. The law is knowledge of sin, not of righteousness. It makes us guilty before God.
And so rejoice. For our righteousness is apart from the Law. It is not our deeds, but Christ’s deeds that justify us. It is His life and death that stand in our place, that remove our guilt, take away our sin, declare us righteous – for His sake. There is nothing in which to boast. For we have done nothing. We are not smarter than other people, more pious or faithful. Pure Doctrine is nothing to be proud of, for it is not of your intellect or will, but it is a gift of Grace, a bestowal of God’s undeserved and perfect love. The only response is awe and gratitude.
None of this makes any sense to the fallen flesh. This is not the way the world works. But it is the way God works: in lowliness, weakness, and poverty; in humility, suffering, and dying. Thus you have been purchased and won for Christ became Man, was born out of doors, felt the steely knife of circumcision, became a refugee, was baptized, despised, rejected, crucified! All to make you His, to spare you His Father’s wrath, to be gracious and kind to you, to love you, as though there were only you. You, O Christian, are not insignificant or small in this Kingdom. You are precious, favored, invaluable to your Father, for you have been bought at great price.
In +Jesus Name. Amen.
Pastor David Petersen