Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. (Revelation 3:19)
Advent is about wrath and mercy, repentance, and faith so St. John reveals in the book of Revelation… sort of puts things into perspective as we make preparation for the nativity of our Lord.
Advent prepares us and makes us ready; not in the sense of getting our bags packed or checking off the shopping lists for friends and family. In Advent, God reproves and saves, disciplines, and loves us. Advent reveals both the Alien work of God and His Proper work.
So what’s the alien work of God? Alien doesn’t have anything to do with little green men. Hear in Revelation 3, “I reprove and discipline”. In some translations of the Bible, the word chastise is used. Reprove, discipline, and chastise… Yikes! But chastisement isn’t God making fun of us, far from it; Our Triune God loves us in that, He points out where we have faltered, failed, and fallen short; He allows and even sends natural punishments to reprove (turn us/ He repents us). This is the alien work of God, the reproving, the chastisement that causes us to cry out in our sin and desperation for Emmanuel, the Savior of sinners from sin and death. He’s Emmanuel in a very alien (strange or peculiar) way to reprove us, to turn us, to repent us. That’s right. God turns us, opens our eyes, unbinds our shackled tongues, and opens our stopped-up deaf ears in order that we would see the great need for His proper work for us.
His proper work? Becoming sin for us, bleeding and dying to save us, fulfilling all the law for us, facing down the fulness of the Father’s wrath for us. We’d see none of this, see no need at all of His love, mercy made known in His bloody death unless we were first reproved and chastised to see that of ourselves we are lost and condemned. Having seen that we are lost and condemned, Christ comes to bleed and die in order to make us alive in Him.
What this Lord and God of ours does, He does for those He loves. He loves you. Sometimes it seems a bit strange, a little alien, but rest assured that even the pointing out of your sins, your shortcomings, and the many and varying places that you’ve come up short over the last week or year are for reproof; to put the old Adam in each and every one of us to death. Reproof hurts, chastisement and discipline are unpleasant; it’s alien, a foreign concept, but fully part of how God loves you, wholly part of His work for you; to turn you to see Who Jesus is and how He properly comes to you. Your Jesus is Emmanuel (God with us), God as a Man, and a baby man at that! Meek, lowly and humble to save, to buy us back, and to mark us as ones purchased and won from sin, death, and the devil. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
He comes the broken heart to bind, The bleeding soul to cure, and with the treasures of his grace to enrich the humble poor. (LSB 349 Hark the Glad Sound St. 3)
-Pastor Adam DeGroot is Pastor of Calvary Lutheran Church in Rio Rancho, New Mexico.
Audio Reflections Speaker: Rev. Harrison Goodman.
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.