Today’s Reading: 2 Corinthians 3:4-11
For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (2 Corinthians 3:6b)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The letter kills. What letter? Maybe the letter “t,” because it looks like a sword standing on end? No! The letter of the Law. If you try to justify yourself before God based only on your ability to keep the Law, the Ten Commandments, you won’t be successful. You will die because no one can keep the Law perfectly enough. As a matter of fact, the more you stare at the Law, the more you see that you are a sinner who sins in thought, word, and deed, and deserves nothing but God’s temporal and eternal punishment.
Alright, say it with me: The Holy Spirit “has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith.” The Spirit gives life by the Gospel, the Good News that on account of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, your sin is forgiven and you have life now that lasts into eternity. This is not your work, accomplished by your keeping the letter of the Law, as if you could, but on account of Jesus for you. He kept that holy Law perfectly in your place and gives His obedience as a gift to you.
This is the Good News that Paul and other pastors proclaim to you. It is not because they have kept the Law perfectly on their own. They must rely on Jesus the same as you do for their forgiveness. God is the One who calls them and gives to them the ministry of reconciliation, the ministry of proclaiming Jesus for the forgiveness of sins. This is why, when they stand before you in the Divine Service or private confession, they can say, “In the stead and by the command of Christ Jesus, I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” God has given them this Word. It does not come from them, but from God for you. And this Word is more sure than even the words that were carved into rock for Moses. These words have permanent, eternal glory, for they are Christ’s words of forgiveness and salvation for you account of His death. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
The gifts of grace and peace From absolution flow; The pastor’s words are Christ’s For us to trust and know. Forgiveness that we need Is granted to us there; The Lord of mercy sends Us forth in His blest care. (“The Gifts Christ Freely Gives” LSB 602, st.3)
-Rev. Daniel Voth, pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Grand Forks, ND.
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.