Reflections: The Eleventh Day of Christmas

Today’s Reading: 1 Peter 4:12-19

Daily Lectionary: Isaiah 64:15-65:2; Luke 2:41-52

If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. (1 Peter 4:14)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. It’s not always fun being a Christian. Sometimes it’s embarrassing. Sometimes people make fun of you. Sometimes they insult you. They may even raise their hands in violence against you. 

In the first centuries of the Church, Christians were routinely punished with death. In the ancient world, execution was not by lethal injection, but by sword, by saw, by lion, by cross, and by pyre. Christians today rarely face such inventive executions, thanks be to God. But we behave as if even the slightest insult against our faith is a sign that God has abandoned us. We strike back with bitter words and insults of our own, the spirit of the world resting upon us.

For as long as the Name of Christ has been around, people have insulted those who bear that Name. But in Jesus’ inaugural sermon on the side of the mountain, He inverts the insult. Far from being a curse, Jesus declares insults for His Name to be a blessing. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11–12).

We can bear insults and even injury for the sake of Christ because He bore insults and injury for our sake. No matter how vicious or inventive the insult, it all ends up as blessing because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon us. He is Baptism’s gift, who guarantees that all suffering turns to joy, death turns to resurrection, and insult turns to blessing.

But it’s still not easy to bear insults. It’s not easy to suffer. So we pray. For ourselves. For others. For those who must bear insult and so much more for the sake of the Name of Christ. But we take heart that Jesus acknowledges every insult and every injury as His own. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Comfort, O God, with Your Holy Spirit all who are in trouble, want, sickness, anguish of labor, peril of death, or any other adversity. Grant courage and steadfastness especially to those who suffer for Your name’s sake that they may receive and accept their afflictions in the confidence that You will acknowledge them as Your own. Amen. 

Rev. Jacob Ehrhard is pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church and School in Chicago, IL.

Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch