Today's Reading: Luke 16:19-31
"But he said to him, 'If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.' "(Luke 16:31)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. We’d like to think that our faith would be stronger if we had seen Jesus alive with our eyes like the disciples did. We’d like to suppose that if our unbelieving friends and relatives could just see Jesus alive and risen from the dead, they'd believe. But the resurrection doesn't mean people will believe! This is what Abraham told the rich man in Jesus' story. If they don't believe what's in the Bible, they won't believe it even if someone rises from the dead.
It is the Word of God that turns us from our sins in repentance and to trust in Jesus — the Word written in the Scriptures but delivered to us by the preaching of that Word, by that Word along with the water of Holy Baptism. That is how the Holy Spirit turns our hearts, convicting us of our sins, crushing us with God's Law, killing us with the condemnation and curse. But then, making us alive again through the Good News of the forgiveness of sins, the Holy Spirit creates in us that new man that turns from sin and believes that for Jesus' sake God is happy with us.
This is how the Lord works: through His Word and only through His Word. Jesus indeed dies for our sins and rises from the dead but it is the Scriptures that teach us how what He did matters for us. This is why you cannot be a Christian and never hear God's Word. There's no “just me and Jesus and I don't need the Bible” religion that will save us. For it is the Word by which the Holy Spirit converts us, gives us new birth from above, and sustains and preserves us in the church as God's people.
Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection mean we have the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. But it is the Word that delivers those gifts to us. Without the Holy Spirit working through that Word, Jesus rising from the dead wouldn't make a bit of difference. But with the Word by which the resurrection is preached, Jesus being alive means everything. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
God, the Strength of all those who put their trust in You, mercifully accept our prayers; and because through the weakness of our mortal nature we can do no good thing, grant us the help of Your grace that in keeping Your commandments we may please You both in will and deed; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen (Collect for Trinity 1)
Registration for the 2013 Higher Things Conferences, From Above, is now open! Register today at fromabove2013.org.
Questions or comments regarding the Reflections may be sent to the Rev. Mark Buetow, Reflections Editor, email@example.com.