Reflections: December 2, 2020
Wednesday of the First Week of Advent
By Bradley Drew
Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ. (Ephesians 6:5)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Wednesday brings us back to the catechism and the Table of Duties. But how do we today make sense of Paul's encouragement for "bondservants," or "slaves," to obey their masters? By remembering the advent of our God and King. Having arrived in flesh and blood, Jesus is now at the Father's right hand in flesh and blood. And that's not geography. That's theology. It means God is ruling everything for us, all people, times, and circumstances by our flesh and blood Brother, Jesus.
Why would such a king allow slavery? We shouldn't blame Jesus for slavery any more than we should blame Him for war, poverty, or cancer. Jesus didn't create these. We did. Our sin is why the world is in the shape it is. But here's the thing. Two things, really.
First, Jesus uses what already exists to accomplish His purposes. He doesn't wait on us. He uses us. That includes us not just in our strengths and smarts, but even in our sins and weaknesses. Even in trials and crosses. Yes, sometimes, even in slavery. It doesn't ever make slavery right for us. But it does encourage every slave to be faithful in his service. He's actually serving Jesus, now.
That's the second thing: "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:9). We will never comprehend in this life how Jesus uses "all things," let alone slavery, to accomplish the good that is His will for us. But remember Joseph's words to his brothers: "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good" (Genesis 50:20).
We don't have to know the "how" of it all, just the "Who" of it all: Jesus, our God and King. The Coming One. The Crucified One. The Risen One. The One who is here with forgiveness, life and salvation now in His Word, in His water, and at His Supper. For all. Who is even at the Father's right hand for all. For slaves and for slave owners. Go figure.
Whatever it is, Jesus is the One who is in control, behind all of it. No, that doesn't always make all it feel right. But it does remind us who is in control. And that is what sets us free to love and to serve anyone and everyone--in the glad confidence it is Jesus, really, whom we are serving. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Forth in Thy name, O Lord, I go, My daily labor to pursue, Thee, only Thee, resolved to know In all I think or speak or do. ("Forth in Thy Name, O Lord, I Go" LSB 854, st.1)
-Rev. Bradley Drew is the pastor of Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Metairie, LA.
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