“Higher Things” Reflection for July 22

 

Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her. John 20:18

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Mary was the first person to see Jesus alive after He had died. She had seen Him on the cross, bleeding, dying, dead. She had seen the tomb where He was laid. She had gone to give His body a proper anointing once the Sabbath was over. Can you imagine her grief? Her surprise? Her joy?

St. Mark records that after His resurrection Jesus first appeared to Mary, out of whom He had driven seven demons. Mary had once been under the awful influence and control of Satan and Jesus had rescued her. By showing Himself to her on the day He rose from the dead, Mary learns that her rescue from the devil and death are really true!

Mary is the reminder that Jesus conquers all our enemies. She, like us, was in bondage to sin and death and Jesus set her free. He set her free, not only because He speaks His Word, but also because His is the Word of the One who died and rose, defeating the devil and conquering death. Mary Magdalene on Easter is the picture of Christ’s promise and the example of our hope that Jesus truly has defeated all of our enemies.

Many silly legends and false stories have arisen about Mary Magdalene. But the truth is the Lord granted to her the wonderful gift of seeing Him alive after He had been dead. She was the first witness of the resurrection. That a woman should see such a detail would seem a preposterous idea in that day and culture and so her witness of Christ’s being alive is all the more sure because it isn’t the sort of detail you can make up. And Mary thus serves as a picture of all Christians, part of the church, the Bride of Christ who, by the witness and testimony of Mary and others who saw Jesus, believe that He lives and the victory is won.

Now Mary is to find Christ in the church, just as we are. No hanging on to Jesus at the tomb but now, in His church, we cling to Jesus in the waters of our baptism, His Word and body and blood. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

Almighty God, Your Son, Jesus Christ, restored Mary Magdalene to health and called her to be the first witness of His resurrection. Heal us from all infirmities, and call us to know You in the power of Your Son’s unending life; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen. (Collect for the Festival of St. Mary Magdalene)

via Higher Things : July 22, 2012 – St. Mary Magdalene.

 

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“Higher Things” Reflection for July 21

 

For the LORD Most High is awesome; He is a great King over all the earth. Psalm 47:2 from the Introit for Trinity 7

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Just who is in charge of this crazy world? There are presidents and kings and queens and dictators and mobs. But who is really in charge? The Bible says the Lord is the true King of all the earth. How can that be? Most people don’t even believe in God and so many believe in some other god than Jesus Christ. How can Jesus claim to be King of this world?

Jesus is King of the world — not through an earthly, political kingdom, but because all things were made through Him and He gave His life for the world, for every sinner ever born. Jesus is King, crowned with thorns and whose hands and feet bear the marks that He has earned His title. Jesus is King because He has done what no earthly king could ever do: defeat death. No matter how rich or powerful the kings of this world are, they can’t escape death. But Jesus triumphed over death and so the Father has given to Him all authority and dominion.

And you are a citizen in this kingdom. In the divine service tomorrow, There will be proclamations and proclamations made on the King’s behalf. His herald, the pastor, will declare once again the King’s amnesty: criminals and sinners are forgiven. There will be no death penalty, no dungeon imprisonment. Behold, the King declares you are set free.

And not only that, like any good king, He’s providing for His people a great feast for them to enjoy. It’s a feast of His body and blood. Tomorrow is the King’s day for Him to take care of you, His subject. Here He promises protection against your enemies and life in His kingdom which never ends — His holy church now and forever.

Indeed Jesus, who was crucified and is risen is the great King over all the earth! In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

Glory to the Father sing, Glory to the Son, our king, Glory to the Spirit be Now and through eternity. LSB 332:8

Source: Higher Things : July 21, 2012 – Saturday of the Sixth Week after Trinity.

 

“Higher Things” Reflection for July 20

 

Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and it shall be, if He calls you, that you must say, ‘Speak, LORD, for Your servant hears.’ ” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 1 Samuel 3:9

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. You can’t get around the fact that the Lord speaks to us through men. In the Old Testament, He spoke through the preaching of the prophets and the Scriptures written by Moses and preached by the Levites. These words pointed to the fulfillment of the promise when the Savior would come.

When the Son became man in the womb of Mary, the Lord spoke to the world through Him. Jesus, whose words are written down for us in the Gospels, told us the love of God, that by His death, our sins are forgiven, and that by His resurrection, we have conquered death.

Now the Lord still speaks to us through the witness of the prophets and the apostles in the Holy Scriptures and through the preaching and teaching of that Word by the pastors He calls.

The Lord called Samuel because He hadn’t said much to His people in a while. When the Lord is quiet, people get worried. Where did God go? What are we going to do? How can we survive on our own? Samuel was given as a prophet to Israel to comfort them with God’s Word.

Your pastor is given for the same reason. When the world troubles you, when your sins bother you, when it seems like everything declares God has left you; then your pastor is there from God Himself to tell you what is really true: Christ died for you. He rose for you. He baptized you. He forgives you. He has His body and blood for you. We need to hear those things from someone outside of ourselves. We can convince ourselves that we’re doing all right until we can’t fool ourselves any more.

But the pastors whom Jesus calls to declare His Word to us are given that by their preaching of His Word, the Holy Spirit would comfort us against all temptations to unbelief and keep us in the faith of Jesus forever. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

For deep in prophets’ sacred page, And grand in poets’ winged word, Slowly in type, from age to age The nations saw their coming Lord; Till through the deep Judean night Rang out the son, “Goodwill to men!” Sung once by firstborn sons of light, It echoes now, “Goodwill!” Amen. LSB 810:2

via Higher Things : July 20, 2012 – Friday of the Sixth Week after Trinity.

 

“Higher Things” Reflection for July 19

 

Then I will raise up for Myself a faithful priest who shall do according to what is in My heart and in My mind. I will build him a sure house, and he shall walk before My anointed forever. 1 Samuel 2:35

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. It’s bad enough that the people kept breaking God’s commandments, but so did the priests! Hophni and Phineas, the sons of Eli, corrupted the worship and worshipers in Israel.

What they needed was to be put down by the Lord, which He did. And He raised up a replacement, a faithful priest. It took awhile but the Lord kept His promise. That faithful priest is Jesus. As true God and true man He both comes to us as God and He stands before the Father as one of us. He is the perfect “go between” for the Creator and the creatures.

On the God side, He stills the Lord’s wrath against our sins by His sacrificial death on the cross. On the man side, He rescues our human nature from the poison and stain of sin by being perfect and sinless.

Some people like to say we don’t need pastors or priests because now we can go straight to God. That misses the point. Our pastors aren’t there to come between us and God. They are there to remind us that our Great High Priest is Jesus. Our pastors preach that Jesus’ death is what saves us from our sins and His resurrection is what guarantees our being raised on the Last Day.

But the pastors Christ calls do stand before us as the hands and mouth of Jesus: His voice to speak forgiveness for our sins;.His hands to wash us and to give us His body and blood. We need pastors, not to get to God but because it is through them that Jesus comes to us with His gifts. And those gifts are certain so that we know all of our wickedness has been dealt with by our Savior. And you, being in Christ, are a part of the house the Father has built for this ever-faithful and eternal priest, Jesus. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

Since we have a priest who suffered, Knowing weakness, tears, and pain, Who like us was tried and tempted, Unlike us, without a stain — Since He shared our lowly place, Let us boldly seek His grace. LSB 529:2

Source: Higher Things : July 19, 2012 – Thursday of the Sixth Week after Trinity.