Reflections: The Twelfth Day of Christmas

Today’s Reading: Small Catechism: Table of Duties, to Employers and Supervisors

Daily Lectionary: Isaiah 65:8-25; Luke 3:1-20

Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him. (Ephesians 6:9)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. “Absolute power corrupts absolutely,” wrote Lord Acton at the end of the 19th century. Lords know about power. In fact, the definition of lord is “one who wields power, authority, or influence.” It can also be a verb that means to wield power in a domineering way. Lord Acton recognized the problem that comes with lordship–you tend to lord it over people. It’s a common human trait. Power tends to go to your head. Once you get a little taste of it, you want more and more. 

Jesus once said to His disciples, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them” (Matthew 20:25). The way of the world is to exercise lordship in a domineering way. “It shall not be so among you,” Jesus continues. “But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:26–28).

In the upside-down, topsy-turvy kingdom of God, lordship means becoming a servant, a slave, and to give your life for the sake of another. The nature of God’s kingdom, then, impacts the way that Christians act as masters or lords. Masters and lords must not threaten—that’s wielding power. Instead, they should serve. Masters and lords are not authorized to take from those they manage; they are placed in a position of authority to give. 

Even the most powerful masters and lords on this earth must admit that they are at best middle management in light of the lordship of Jesus. He is the Lord of lords and every lord on earth derives his name and office from Christ. Servant, slave, and master alike all benefit from our Master in heaven, who shows no partiality, but gives His life for the benefit of all. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Dear Father in heaven, You are the Lord of lords and Master of all, and You show no partiality. Thank You for removing the threat of punishment by the grace given us in Your Son. We confess that we love to lord our power over others, and for that we need Your forgiveness. Give us hearts willing to serve, even as we have received from Your Divine Service. For the sake of Jesus. Amen.

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

Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch