Reflections: Thursday of the 17th Week after Trinity

Daily Lectionary: Deuteronomy 11:26-12:12; Matthew 12:22-37

“See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse.” (Deuteronomy 11:26)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Boy, that sounds familiar. Blessing and curse are important words in the book of Genesis. In the beginning, God created man and woman, and then, “God blessed them” (Genesis 1:28). Later, we learn about the Tree of Life, which represents what God wants for humanity—eternal life with God.

There is another tree, however. In the beginning, God alone determines what is good, such as His creation (Genesis 1:31), and what is not good, such as man’s being alone (Genesis 2:18). The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil presents the man and woman with another path. Instead of trusting God to decide what is good for them, they can decide for themselves what is good and then seize it. The man and woman decide to take this path—the foolish way of sin. The result of this decision was a curse.

Moses sets before Israel a blessing and a curse. Indeed, the Law set these two words of the Lord before every generation of Israelites. Like Adam and Eve, each generation chooses sin and the curse.

This is precisely why we need Jesus, the New Adam. He’s the Man who chose the path of blessing. He loved and trusted God above all things. He loved His neighbors, putting them even before Himself. Jesus rightly possesses the Father’s blessing. Nevertheless, He was cursed—forsaken by His Father on the Cross; suffering the penalty that we deserve.

Having exhausted the curse, He reversed it on Easter morning. The New Adam was granted immortality and a seat at God’s right hand—everything that the Tree of Life promised. And Jesus shares that blessing with us—with every sinner who has been given faith in Him.

Moses set before the people of Israel a blessing and curse—a blessing for those who obey the Law; a curse for those who disobey. Now, Jesus puts forth a blessing and a curse—a free, undeserved blessing for those who seek mercy in Him; a curse for those who want no intercessor, but would rather get what they deserve. May we all come to the Cross—the new Tree of Life—and find in the crucified Christ the free blessing of God. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

As by one man all mankind fell And, born in sin, was doomed to hell, So by one Man, who took our place, We all were justified by grace. (“All Mankind Fell in Adam’s Fall” LSB 562, st.5)

-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.