Reflections: Friday of the 16th Week after Trinity

Daily Lectionary: Deuteronomy 6:10-25; Matthew 9:18-38

“And when the Lord your God brings you into the land that he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you—with great and good cities that you did not build, and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant….” (Deuteronomy 6:10-11)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The Lord gave Israel a home. He gave them land. However, He gave them so much more than that. He gave them a land full of plunder! They won’t build their own cities, but will take the cities built by the Canaanites. They won’t have to fill their houses with furniture, but will move into houses already furnished by their previous owners. They won’t have to dig cisterns or plant orchards. The Canaanites already did all that hard work.

On the one hand, this is the reality of military conquest. Israel will conquer a land and this means inheriting whatever their enemies leave behind. On the other hand, this is an example of God’s gracious ways. God loves giving gifts to His people. And you don’t earn a gift, or work for it, or make it for yourself. You simply receive and enjoy it!

Whenever sinners interact with God, they expect no gift—only a wage, something for which you must labor. This is the point of the Divine Service. We draw near to God week after week to be surprised by grace—to receive anew His Gifts. The baptized receive a kingdom that they did not build. They receive an eternal reward that they did not earn. They don’t work as servants, but rather sit at the King’s table as His family.

As we experience God’s grace in the Divine Service, we learn to see His grace throughout our lives. We come to see everything as a good gift! We do not deserve food, clothes, house, family, friends, or the like. We deserve nothing but hell. Since Jesus died for all, God gives to all men these good things.

And, of course, as we experience God’s goodness in this life, we wait to enter at last our Promised Land—the new creation—where we will experience the fullness of God’s goodness. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Heavenly Father, God of all grace, govern our hearts that we may never forget Your blessings but steadfastly thank and praise You for all Your goodness in this life until, with all Your saints, we praise You eternally in Your heavenly kingdom; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen. (Prayer for Thanksgiving to God, LSB p.310)

-Pastor Alexander Lange is pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Albany, Oregon.

Audio Reflections Speaker: Rev. Duane Bamsch

Study Christ’s words on the cross to see how you can show more Christlike grace in your life. Perfect for group or individual study, each chapter has a Q&A at the end, and the back of the book includes a leader guide. Available now from Concordia Publishing House.