Daily Lectionary: Deuteronomy 24:10-25:10; St. Matthew 16:13-28
“Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, ‘Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.’ And he was afraid and said, ‘How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!’” (Genesis 28:16-17)
In the Name of Jesus. Amen. When Jacob dreamed, he saw a ladder stretching from heaven to earth upon which angels were ascending and descending. Most religions teach that we must find a way to climb up to heaven or God. By living a good life, following certain rules, fulfilling certain conditions – all of these things are ways to “climb” to heaven and be with God. Many other religions teach that, somehow, we must bring God down to us. We must figure things out with our hearts and minds in such a way as to understand that really we are gods and that whatever “God” is, it is inside of us. How wrong and worthless these efforts are to go up to God or bring God down!
The Ladder that Jacob sees is not some dreamed-up symbol which shows us how we can save ourselves. No, this Ladder is Jesus Christ Himself. In his dream, Jacob sees Christ, the Ladder who connects heaven and earth. Jesus Himself testifies that He is the Ladder, for He tells His disciples that they will see “heaven open, and the angels ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” Jesus, because He is true God and true Man, brings heaven to earth and earth to heaven. Just as the ladder Jacob saw hung between earth and heaven, Jesus hung on the Cross, suspended between earth and heaven for our salvation. In Jesus, God has come down to us and brought us up to heaven. It is not for us to accomplish this; we never could! But Jesus, true God in the flesh, has done this work for us.
The angels ascend and descend upon the ladder. The angels are “messengers.” So then, we are reminded of the earthly “angels,” or messengers, that the Lord sends: our pastors, who minister to us between heaven and earth. They supply us with the gifts of Water, Word, and Supper by which Christ descends to us, and we are promised to ascend with Him to heaven on the last Day. With such gifts in the Divine Service, we say with Jacob, “Surely this is the house of God and the gate of heaven!” In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
“O King of Glory, come And with Thy favor crown This temple as Thy home, This people as Thine own. Beneath this roof vouchsafe to show How God can dwell with men below.” (TLH #638, v.2)
Pastor Mark Buetow (Buetowmt@gmail.com
) served Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in New Orleans for almost 6 years until Hurricane Katrina forced the congregation to release him. He currently resides in Louisville, Kentucky and is awaiting another Call.
Questions or comments regarding the Reflections may be sent to the Rev. Mark Buetow, Reflections Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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