Reflections: Saturday of the Fourth Week of Easter

April 27, 2024

Today’s Reading: Psalm 145:1-2, 8, 10, 21; antiphon: John 16:16

Daily Lectionary: Leviticus 19:9-18, 26-37; Luke 11:14-36

The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. (From the Introit for Easter 5)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Unfortunately, the Old Testament picture of God most often seen in our world is that of a grumpy, angry, and spiteful old man. There is even the idea that there is an “Old Testament God” and a “New Testament God,” that they are completely different gods.

You, of course, know this is foolish and untrue. But the picture is still so common that it isn’t strange to hear someone say that they “will go all Old Testament” on a problem they have.

Yet, King David, himself an Old Testament king, says the opposite about his and our God. He says that He is gracious and merciful. And he’s right. For every example of God unleashing great wrath and vengeance, there are multiple examples of God withholding that punishment as long as possible, giving the sinners every opportunity to repent and turn to Him.

That is exactly who God is for you. He could have blasted Adam and Eve back to dust when they fell. He could have drowned Noah and his family, too, during the Flood. He could have killed all children in the Tenth Plague in Egypt, and not just the oldest of those not protected by the Lamb’s blood.

Even in those cases, Almighty God withheld His wrath as long as He could. Noah preached for 120 years while he built the ark, Moses had already pleaded with Pharaoh nine times, and while Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden, they were given a promise, the greatest promise anyone could get. A savior was coming.

While the God of the Old Testament is indeed just and pours out His wrath when needed, so did the God of the New Testament. Only, in the New Testament, that same God poured out all of His wrath at one time and in one place: upon Jesus.

Yes, God is merciful and abounding in steadfast love. He took all of the wrath and suffering and punishment and darkness and abandonment that was coming for everyone on earth and poured it out on His Son.

He took all of that wrath and punishment from you and redirected it to one who was willing to die in your place. It is hard to grasp, but it is also true. Someone loves you enough to suffer in your place. Because Jesus does this, mercy and grace are yours, for you, too are covered in the Lamb’s precious and saving blood. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Almighty and everlasting God, You desire not the death of a sinner but that all would repent and live. Hear our prayers for those outside the Church. Take away their iniquity, and turn them from their false gods to You, the living and true God. Gather them into Your holy Church to the glory of Your name; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen. (Collect for those outside the Church)

– Pastor Duane Bamsch is the pastor at Grace Lutheran Church in Grass Valley, CA.

Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Jonathan Lackey is the pastor at Grace Lutheran Church, Vine Grove, Ky.

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