March 3, 2005 - Thursday in the Third Week of Lent

"And so, be imitators of God as beloved children and walk in love, as Christ also loved us and gave Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma." (Ephesians 5:1-9)

In the name of Jesus. Amen. When you get mad, does your face turn red? Does your face maybe get a little hot? When the Lord grew angry in the Old Testament, the Hebrew literally says that "His nose burned."

The sacrifices commanded by the Lord in the Old Testament soothed His anger. He would smell the fragrant aroma of the sacrifices and His anger, His nose, would no longer burn and the children of Israel were saved from His wrath.

Today we learn that the whole sacrificial system was given to point us to Christ, who was the offering and sacrifice that was acceptable to God. The Lord Jesus provided the sacrifice once for all to save you and me from all our sins. God raising Jesus from the dead shows us that His offering was acceptable to our Heavenly Father.

All the offerings of the past, all the sacrifices of the past, pointed to and were but a shadow of Christ's sacrifice for us on the Cross. Jesus' offering, once for all, atones not just for our sins, but for the sins of the whole world. Jesus is the sweetsmelling aroma that forever soothes the anger of Almighty God.

Jesus loves us that much that He would give up His life as a sacrifice for us. It is that love, which Jesus has for us, with which we love one another. Our love flows from His love, won for us on the Cross and delivered to us in Holy Baptism.

St. Paul tells us to live in our Baptism, which is to imitate Jesus. In Baptism we were buried with Jesus into death so that just as He was raised from the dead, we too walk in newness of life. We also put others before ourselves, considering them as more important, and being ready to give our lives for them.

"This is love: not that we love God, but that He loved us and gave His Son as an atoning sacrifice for all our sins" (1 John 4:10). His life was given to save us from all the hell that we have earned with our lives. We don't work love up inside our selves! Our love for one another flows from Jesus' Cross-won love for us.

Keep your eyes ever on the Lord. From Him flows your salvation and your love! In the name of Jesus. Amen.

"Lamb of God, pure and holy, Who on the cross didst suffer, Ever patient and lowly, Thyself to scorn didst offer. All sins Thou borest for us, Else had despair reigned o'er us: Have mercy on us, O Jesus!" (TLH 146, v. 1)

Higher Things Reflections are written by Rev. George F. Borghardt III, Assistant Pastor at St. Mark Lutheran Church, Conroe, TX