Reflections: December 16, 2020
Wednesday of the Third Week of Advent
By Bradley Drew
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you. (1 Peter 5:6)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. What you do does not make you holy before God. In Luther's day, as in ours, it was popular to believe the opposite. No one, of course, could be holier than the pope. What he did made him the holiest person on earth. Next to him were cardinals, bishops, priests, monks, and nuns--people like that, whose work was the work of the Church. No other work, it was taught, could really make you holy in God's sight.
Then along came Luther who turned everything upside down. How? Jesus. For God's Word taught Luther that what we do doesn't make us holy at all in God's judgment. Only what Jesus does for us accomplishes that. And Jesus does it all. He is conceived for you. He is born for you. He is baptized for you. He lives for you. He dies for you on the Cross. He rises for you. He arrives even now for you with the promise of forgiveness, life, and salvation, the promise of His Cross, in His Word, in His water, and at His Supper. Jesus. That is what makes, or declares, you holy in God's sight.
You might be tempted to wonder what you could possibly do to make yourself holy to God. Well, good news--you already are holy. In fact, there is nothing you can do to make yourself any holier before God. Your sins are all forgiven. You are clothed with Christ. His Body and Blood have been placed into you. There is nothing for you to do in order to become something you are not. You are already holy to God. All because of Jesus.
No matter where God's mighty hand has placed you, then, walk humbly in the good works He has prepared beforehand for you to walk in (Ephesians 2:10). As you listen to your teachers and follow their instructions, as you honor and love your parents and other authorities, even the elderly, know this is pleasing to God--not because it makes you holy in His sight, but because you, the one doing this, are already holy in His sight.
And when pride gets in the way and causes you to rebel and lash out at those who are over you, remember this: What you do does not make you holy in God's sight, it just shows you're still a sinner. But remember this, too: What Jesus does for you counts. Because that alone, and that always, is what makes and keeps you holy in God's sight. 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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