Wednesday of the Seventh Week after Easter

Daily Lectionary: Numbers 16:23-40; Luke 19:29-48

You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about our neighbor, betray him, slander him, or hurt his reputation, but defend him, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest way. (The Small Catechism: Eighth Commandment)

He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." Yeah, that's not true, is it? Words hurt. You know that. You know what people have said about you. They could've said it to you, but they didn't. Instead they said it behind your back, or on social media, or in texts to your friends. And it hurt.

You know what you've said about others, too. You know what you've said wasn't true, or maybe not as true as you made it out to be. But what's worse is when it is true! You use the truth--your neighbor's sin and shame--and you used it against them, and then you defended yourself and said, "But it was true!"

We'll defend our reputation to the death, but we won't defend our neighbor's reputation. Maybe we won't say anything bad about our neighbor, but we sure won't speak up to defend him.

For your slander and betrayal, Jesus was made fun of, slandered, gossiped about, and condemned to death. Words hurt. They kill. They killed Jesus. For the words of death you pass around for others, the eternal God died.

Now, you're set free from words of death and given the Word of life. Jesus rose from the dead, and He's brought you along for the ride. He raised you up in His resurrection, and now you walk in the newness of life. He fills you with the Word of life: He covers your sin and absolves you.

Your words of death are swapped out for Jesus' Word of life. It's a Word that forgives your neighbor, and speaks good about them. All they are is what Jesus says about them: redeemed, baptized, forgiven. That's you, too, in Jesus. He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

He brings me to the portal That leads to bliss untold, Whereon this rhyme immortal Is found in script of gold: "Who there My cross has shared Finds here a crown prepared; Who there with Me has died Shall here be glorified." (Awake, My Heart, with Gladness, LSB 467:7)

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