Reflections: December 3, 2020
Thursday of the First Week of Advent
By Bradley Drew
Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. (Romans 13:11)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. "Besides this," writes Paul. Besides what? Paul had just written, "Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law" (Romans 13:10). "Besides this…the hour has come for you to wake from sleep." The old Adam within always thinks the Law is about himself, his own goodness and righteousness, making his own way to God, who is so undecided about any of us. Such sleepiness! No, the Law is about our neighbor. And "Don't hurt him!" is its fulfilling.
Paul knows what we are really like on the inside. Earlier he wrote our "feet are swift to shed blood," "ruin and misery" are "in their paths," that no one knows "the way of peace" (Romans 5:15-17). Guilty as charged. I don't want to give, I want to take. I don't want to sacrifice, I want others to sacrifice. I don't want to yield, I want to control. I'd rather you serve me than I serve you. Everyone's that way (Romans 3:19-20).
See yourself on the Cross, then, because having been born for you, that is what Jesus became when He suffered and died for you on the Cross. He became you. Every one of you. No sinner, no sin left out. And by Jesus' death for you on the Cross, God has forever redeemed you, has forever declared you holy in His sight. You carry that promise with you now every day in your Baptism.
In fact, Baptism promises that as the Last Day approaches, the fulfillment of our salvation also approaches. For we have a heavenly Father now who spends every day with us, calling us His own, loading us with benefits (Psalm 68:19). Why, He even has us engraved on the palms of His hands (Isaiah 49:10). What more do we need?
So, instead of seeing yourself, see your neighbor as the subject of the Law. Learn to love him according to the works that are given you to do for him. "But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires" (Romans 13:14) is simply to say, live every day now in the power and promise of your Baptism. You don't need to take, be in control, or be served all the time. You have Jesus serving you all the time, now, which means your salvation is even a little closer to you now than when this devotion first began. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
The night will soon be ending; The dawn cannot be far. Let songs of praise ascending Now greet the Morning Star! All you whom darkness frightens With guilt or grief or pain, God's Radiant Star brightens and bids you sing again. ("The Night Will Soon Be Ending" LSB 337, st.1)
-Rev. Bradley Drew is the pastor of Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Metairie, LA.
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