Reflections: September 8, 2020
Tuesday of the 13th Week after Trinity
By Mark Buetow
What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator. (Galatians 3:19)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. True or False: God would not have given us the Ten Commandments if we could not keep them. How you answer this question shows whether you believe in a religion of obedience that will be rewarded or a faith that clings to grace that is given to the undeserving. If we could keep the commandments, if it were possible to obey the Law and to love God and our neighbor on our own strength and willpower, then we would not need Jesus. It's as simple as that.
So if we can't keep the Law, why did God give it? Why does He tell us to love Him and others if we can't even do it? Paul tells us: He gives us those commandments to show us that we can't fulfill them, and that if we can't, we're doomed unless God Himself saves us. So the Law was given to increase our trespasses. It was given to show us that we are sinners who need a Savior.
There is a promise in the Law: Do this and you will live. But that promise is made to the Seed of Abraham, Jesus. He keeps the Law and lives. He carries our not doing the Law and dies. He lives because His blood has washed away our sins and because He has kept the Law perfectly.
Do you keep the Law? According to your sinful flesh and your sinful actions, no way. According to your Baptism, Absolution, and the Body and Blood of Jesus, you absolutely do, because He did! In other words, whatever the Law condemns in you, it condemns in Jesus on Good Friday. Whatever the Law promises, it promises to you through Jesus so that His obedience and perfection count for you.
Whenever we take hold of the Law apart from Jesus, we'll wreck things. We'll either despair because we can't do it, or we'll try to justify ourselves. But in Jesus, the Law is handled and does what it is given to do. It gives its curse and promise to Jesus who keeps the curse for Himself and shares its promise with you. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Our works cannot salvation gain; They merit only endless pain. Forgive us, Lord! To Christ we flee, Who pleads for us endlessly. Have mercy, Lord! ("These Are the Holy Ten Commands" LSB 581, st. 12)
-Rev. Mark Buetow is the pastor of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church and School in McHenry, Illinois.
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