Rev. Eric Brown
"And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death." – Revelation 12:11
You don't have to look very hard to find Lutherans debating. I think it's almost a Lutheran hobby. Get a couple of pastors together, toss out an idea, and you might very well have a perpetual motion machine. What can really get folks going is a debate that doesn't have a clear answer. One of those debates is centered on this part of the year: Who is Saint Michael??? Now, you have some who will say that Michael is the highest archangel and those who will say that Michael is actually Jesus (as Michael means "One who is like God"). And if you sit back you can watch folks go at it, back and forth. What's the answer? Well, beats the tar out of me. I simply don't know.
Now, this isn't me dodging debate—it's just that this is one of those debates where I don't have a strong position, so I don't get mixed up in it. However, not having a strong position does let one step back a bit and see other things—things that might even be more important. Take, for example, this beautiful and clear verse from Revelation.
In the second lesson for St. Michael's, we hear the defeat of Satan; Satan is cast out of heaven. And Satan is described as our accuser—the one who accuses us before God—who points out our sin before God. And yet in verse 11, Satan is conquered. Indeed, we are included in those who have defeated Satan. Yet how? Certainly not by our own strength. And definitely not by how wonderful we think we are. Not even by how skillfully we debate.??"And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb." It's all about Jesus, who shed His blood for you and for me. All together we are covered by His blood which He shed to atone for our sin—which He shed to cover us and protect us from the accusations Satan hurls against us.
Christ's death is more important than our lives. His death covers the entirety of this life, and we are viewed by God, not on the basis of who we are or what we've done, but by what Christ Jesus the Righteous One has done for us. In Him, we conquer. Christ's victory is our victory, because in Holy Baptism He clothed you in the robes of His own righteousness, and all that is His is now yours.
When God sees you, He sees Christ; He sees you righteous and holy and perfect and wondrous. While still in this life, we struggle against sin, and the accusations that are leveled against us often do hit home, but we are righteous in Christ, and come the Last Day, when He returns and we are raised to new life in Him, we will be fully like Him, and you, too, will be one who is like Christ our Lord forever and all eternity. Hence we pray, come quickly, Lord Jesus! Amen.
Rev. Eric Brown is pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Herscher, Illinois.
Created: September 29th, 2016