Reflections: Thursday the Seventh Week of Easter

May 25, 2023

Today’s Reading: Luke 20:1-18

Daily Lectionary: Numbers 16:41-17:13, Luke 20:1-18

Luke 20:4: “was the baptism of John from heaven or from man?””

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Who is running the verbs?  Who is doing the thing? It changes baptism. Not just because the Pharisees were afraid of upsetting the crowds, but because if all we have is a bath of good intentions, the waters never get less muddy. 

Pledge yourself to Jesus all you want.  But take an honest look at yourself and what you’re pledging each time you have to redo it because you screwed the last one up.  Do you think God really wants you to pledge Him that? Do you think God really wants your best intentions and the excuses for all the sins that lead you to having to do it in the first place? 

But if John’s Baptism comes from heaven, maybe it means something that Jesus climbed down in those muddy waters too.  God works something in your Baptism. Forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation.  He climbs down from heaven to collect not your good intentions but your sins.  He gathers up not your promises to do better, but your past and all your excuses, carries it with your future ones too each step to a cross to bleed and die for you to save you.  Baptism is what God would do for you.  It now saves you. 

The Pharisees didn’t understand this.  So Jesus won’t tell them why He preaches either.  It isn’t just whether or not Jesus should be allowed to speak in the house built upon His name and promises.  It’s what He would say there.  Does the Gospel Jesus preached actually forgive sins, or is it just a call to try harder and come up with a new life plan?  Who is running the verbs? Who is doing the thing?  If all you want from Jesus is a chance to prove you can do better, you’ll miss out because the answer isn’t so tricky.  God has authority in His creation.  And God wishes to save sinners.  So when God works in His church, it isn’t actually about you. It’s for you. It isn’t about your works or your gifts or your intentions or your life changes.  It’s about salvation given freely to sinners. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

This miracle of life reborn Comes from the Lord of breath; The perfect Man from life was torn; Our life comes through Christ’s death. (This Is the Spirit’s Entry Now, LSB 591:2)

-Pastor Harrison Goodman is Content Executive for Higher Things.

Audio Reflections Speaker: Jonathan Lackey is an LCMS seminarian.

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.