Reflections: October 31, 2020
By Mark Buetow
Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. (John 8:36)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The Pharisees of Jesus' day thought they were free, but they were actually slaves of sin. That's because they thought they could overcome their sins on their own by living a good life. In the Middle Ages the Church got sidetracked and taught much of that as well: that we have to save ourselves by being good enough. The Lutheran Reformation reminded the Church and the world that we are indeed free from sin but only because of Christ. That's true freedom from sin!
It's not just about particular times and places. Under the curse of sin, we always think that we can just work our way out of our sins by being good. We can always try to please God and He will accept our works as at least a good faith effort that He should reward. But the Gospel rescues us from that false religion!
The Good News that delivers Jesus declares that Jesus saves sinners by His death on the Cross and His resurrection on Easter. The true religion is that we don't deny or shy away from just how sinful we are: We are doomed! But that just means we have an even greater Savior: Jesus!
The Lutheran Reformation (and the Lutherans who were named for what Luther taught) was always about cutting the strings and removing the conditions men had placed upon God's grace and mercy. Jesus saves us with no strings attached. No conditions. No requirements. Everything God has for you is a gift. Jesus? Gift! Your Baptism? Gift! Absolution? Gift! Lord's Supper? Gift! Gifts are free. Gifts are given without your deserving them and without God's expecting anything in return. They are just given because, well, they're gifts.
We are always in danger of slipping back into the way of thinking which says, "I can earn God's forgiveness and love." The Reformation preaching is the Lord's way of rescuing us from that by saying, "You already have my forgiveness and love. It's my gift to you in Jesus Christ. No strings attached." In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Preserve Your Word and preaching, The truth that makes us whole, The mirror of Your glory, The pow'r that saves the soul. Oh, may this living water, This dew of heav'nly grace, Sustain us while here living Until we see Your face. ("Preserve Your Word, O Savior" LSB 658, st.4)
-Rev. Mark Buetow is the pastor of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church and School in McHenry, Illinois.
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