Daily Lectionary: Proverbs 13:1-25; John 14:18-31
What does God say about all these commandments? He says, “I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commandments.” (Small Catechism: Close of the Commandments)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Do good and God will bless you. Do bad and God will punish you. If you really do good things, God will bless you with eternal life in heaven. If you really do bad things, God will punish you forever in hell. We struggle with this sort of thinking all our lives because this way of thinking comes naturally to us.
As Christians, we don’t always struggle with eternal life: that’s a free gift won by the death and resurrection of Jesus and delivered to us in His preaching, His Word, and His Gifts of Baptism, Absolution, and the Supper of His Body and Blood. What causes us to doubt is our sins, because we can’t shake the idea that our bad deeds keep us out.
Just think about it: is there something that you could that would be so bad that could keep you out of heaven? Murder someone? Have an abortion? Lie? Cheat? Steal? Be gay? Have sex outside of marriage? How much do you have to do that thing? One time? But lots of people think that someone could be so bad that they don’t get heaven.
We need to repent of all that. That’s a lie from the pit of hell, from the mouth of the devil himself. He’s spread it through all the world, and our flesh just naturally believes it. There’s nothing you do to either loose or get (earn) heaven. Your good works don’t get you in, and your bad works, your sins, don’t keep you out.
The Lord does things differently. He takes care of the salvation problem Himself. He becomes a human being. He claims all sins as His own. No matter how bad, how icky, how many times they’ve been done—each and every sin from each and every person (that includes you) was taken by Him. He bore them until He was left hanging dead on a cross. He loves you, His faithfulness, along with His good works, and His righteousness are all yours.
We love Him for what He’s done (cross and empty tomb) and delivered (font, altar, pulpit). To hate Him is to look at you, your works, and forget His. To do that is to lose Him forever. But He won’t lose you. You’re His. Jesus loves you. You love Him, too. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.