Reflections: Monday of the 18th Week after Trinity

Today’s Reading: Deuteronomy 10:12-21

Daily Lectionary: Deuteronomy 15:19-16:22; Matthew 13:44-58

“Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn.” (Deuteronomy 10:16)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. God commanded the sons of Abraham to get circumcised. Circumcision was a sign attached to the covenant promise that God would bless the offspring of Abraham and also bless the nations through Abraham’s offspring.

The Law told Israel, “If you, the offspring of Abraham, wish to receive God’s blessing and pass it along to the nations, you must obey my statutes.” Of course, genuine obedience is not merely external. Genuine obedience begins in the heart. It includes fearing God and loving Him (Deuteronomy 10:12), as well as loving your neighbor (Deuteronomy 10:19). So, Moses calls the Israelites to deal with their sinful hearts. “Don’t merely cut off your foreskin. Cut off the stubborn attitude that clings to your heart!” Here circumcision is a metaphor for repentance. Cut off the Old Adam and let him die!

Moses admits that they won’t circumcise their hearts, and so the Law must curse them (Deuteronomy 28:15-29:29). Then, Moses predicts that God would have compassion on them. He will circumcise the hearts of His people, so that they truly love Him and obey Him gladly (Deuteronomy 30:1-6).

In His mercy, God sent Jesus, the true Offspring of Abraham (Galatians 3:16). He obeyed the Law with a pure heart. He had no need to cut away sin from His heart, because there was no sin found there. Nevertheless, He was cut off and left to die on the cross. Why? He suffered the curse of the Law in our place, so that we disobedient sinners can live forever.

Then, the risen Christ sent His Spirit. The Holy Spirit comes to us through the Gospel and He enters our hearts. He circumcises our hearts. He causes us to repent of our sins and love the One who loved us first. Indeed, Paul says that we were circumcised in Holy Baptism, where the Old Adam was put to death, so that we might rise with Christ (Colossians. 2:11-15). 

Since you were baptized and have heard the Gospel, the Spirit has circumcised your heart. Therefore, you love the Lord and your neighbor, albeit imperfectly, until the Day of Resurrection when sin is cut away and removed entirely. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Almighty God, You gave Your only-begotten Son to take our nature upon Himself. Grant that we, Your adopted children by grace, may daily be renewed by Your Holy Spirit; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen. (Prayer for Spiritual Renewal, LSB p.312)

-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.