Today’s Reading: Romans 3:19-29
“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it” (Rom. 3:21).
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. A young Martin Luther trembled at the fear that the all-knowing, wrathful Judge was watching his every move and weighing it on the cosmic scale of right and wrong. It was not the first time Luther trembled at the thought of being judged by Jesus. As a boy, the wrathful image of Jesus in the stained glass windows of his church in Mansfield brought him terrors. Every funeral he attended and every death he heard of drove home the fact that one day he would have to give an account of his own life before the all-righteous God. And Luther knew he couldn’t do it.
Frankly, you can’t either. There is blood on your hands and sin on your account. God’s Law makes His perfect righteousness known – the impossible-to-keep Law that yet demands perfection from you in all things. That time you lied to your parents about where you had gone? Or the lustful desires for beautiful flesh? Or the fact that you think your life isn’t fair when you should be content with what God has given you? All of that stands against you, and the righteous God has more than enough to strike you down.
But there is a righteousness of God not connected with His Law. There is a being right-with-God aspect that is all a gift for you who cannot do it. The innocent Son lives perfectly in your place. Jesus the perfect sacrifice on the cross is made a substitute for your faulty works. Now, His perfect righteousness of His life and won by His death is credited to you. Your debt is paid. Your account is clean. Not because of what you have done, but because of what Jesus has done for you. This is the righteousness of the Gospel that Martin Luther rediscovered. This is made known not by judgment against you, but the imparting of Jesus’ righteousness won for you. All Scripture bears witness to this Gospel for you.
Your judge is merciful. You will have to give an account of your life after you die, sure. But for believers in Christ, this is a merciful thing! It’s an accounting where all your sins are covered and nothing stands against you. Believers are judged mercifully, for the death of Jesus is their judgment. Christ for you. This alone comforts your trembling heart, just as it comforted Luther’s. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
“Lord, help us ever to retain The Catechism’s doctrine plain As Luther taught the Word of truth In simple style to tender youth.” (LSB 865:1; public domain).
-Pastor Robert Mayes is Pastor at Immanuel Lutheran Church and Zion St. John Lutheran Church in Beemer and Wisner, NE.
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.