Reflections: Friday of the Second Week after the Epiphany

Daily Lectionary:Ezekiel 47:1-14, 21-23; Romans 9:19-33

As I went back, I saw on the bank of the river very many trees on the one side and on the other.  And he said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, and enters the sea; when the water flows into the sea, the water will become fresh.  And wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish. For this water goes there, that the waters of the sea may become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes. (Ezekiel 47:7-9)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The prophet Ezekiel had a vision, but many things in Ezekiel’s visions can be difficult for us.  A river flowing from the Lord’s temple in Jerusalem downhill into a lake seems a little odd, but not too difficult to understand.  Around that lake there are trees and animals and fish.  In fact, where the river goes, everything will live.  The wrinkle is that the lake where the river flows is called “the Arabah” – what we know as “The Dead Sea.”  The Dead Sea is so salty that nothing can live there.  There aren’t any trees alongside it, there aren’t fish in it, and nothing really lives there.  Common sense says that if fresh water flows into saltwater, the fresh water becomes salty.  

But Ezekiel’s vision stands everything on its head.  This fresh water flows from the Lord’s temple in Jerusalem and it transforms the salty Dead Sea into the Sea of Life.  That’s backwards!  There will be trees and fish and life around the sea because what comes from the temple transforms everything.  So it is with the work of Jesus.  When Jesus takes on flesh, His divinity is not corrupted by humanity.  Instead, when He takes on flesh, His divinity transforms His humanity.  The Athanasian Creed confesses, “Although He is God and man, He is not two, but one Christ: one, however, not by the conversion of the divinity into flesh, but by the assumption of the humanity into God.”  In other words, Jesus being God in the flesh pulls His humanity into righteous perfection.  The fact that humanity is pulled into the Godhead is good news for you.  The same Jesus who is God and man also calls you His brother.  He has formed you in His own image because of His great love for you.  This isn’t like human relationships, where people can be criticized for their friends.  Instead, He transforms you because of His loving and gracious relationship with you.  The Lord who led Ezekiel to see a salt sea transformed to a place of life sees poor, miserable sinners transformed into forgiven, righteous children of God. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

He lives and grants me daily breath;  He lives, and I shall conquer death; He lives my mansion to prepare; He lives to bring me safely there. (Lutheran Service Book 461, stanza 7)

-Pastor Peter W. Ill is Pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church, Millstadt, Illinois.

Audio Reflections Speaker: Patrick Sturdivant, Development and Marketing Executive at Higher Things.

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.