“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 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 15

“But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. Matthew 5:22

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The hardest thing to get about the Ten Commandments is that they all apply to everyone. Everyone has broken all of them. You are a murderer. How’s that? You haven’t killed anyone? Oh, really? You haven’t been angry at someone? Your brother or sister or parents or friends? Called them names. Cussed at them. Wished they were dead. Told them they’re stupid. Wanted to never speak with them again. Jesus says when you get angry like that, you’re a murderer even if you didn’t pull a trigger.

That’s our problem with the Law of God. It always shows that we’re worse than we think we are. It always exposes, deep down, inside and out, the fact that we’re sinners who deserve nothing but punishment. Oh, you had a good reason to be angry? So does the Lord! And if He treated you in His anger the way you want to treat others when you’re mad at them, you’d be doomed.

But here’s what Jesus teaches us. God is not angry at you. He’s angry at His Son. Why? What did Jesus do? He did what you did. You’re not a murderer. Jesus is! After all, didn’t He take the place of a murderer when they sent Him to the cross? He took your place there, too—murderer and every other kind of sinner that you are.

According to the Law, the Fifth Commandment, you are a murderer. According to Jesus, you are a child of God because He took your murdering and made it His own and washed away all your sins when you were baptized. The Law says you’re a murderer. Jesus says, “No, you’re not! I will be the murderer. Condemn Me.” So He dies for your sin and rises again. No more murdering for you. Jesus has kept the Law for you and paid the price for your breaking it. Every dotted “i” and crossed “t” of the Law has been taken care of for you by Him. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

Lord of all power and might, the Author and Giver of all good things, graft into our hearts the love of Your name, increase in us true religion, nourish us with all goodness, and of Your great mercy keep us in the same; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. Collect for Trinity 6

Source: Higher Things : July 15, 2012 – The Sixth Sunday after Trinity.

“Higher Things” Reflection for July 12

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Ever wonder why you believe Jesus died on the cross for your sins but other people don’t seem to care or get it? St. Paul says why. To the world, the cross is stupid. Foolish. Nonsense. Dumb. Lame. But to us, who have been turned from our sins by the Gospel, by the working of the Holy Spirit, this cross stuff is Good News. It’s our life. It’s our salvation.

The world can’t understand how a guy getting nailed to a cross does anything. But the Word of that Guy who was nailed there tells us: It is to suffer and die for sinners. It’s so that everything we’ve ever done against the God who made us is wiped out forever.

Your sins, nailed there with Jesus are forgotten by God forever.People don’t believe that Jesus is God and man. People don’t believe in God at all. People don’t think they’re sinful or that their sins really are so bad they deserve eternal death. There are lots of reasons the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. Our prayer is that the Holy Spirit would turn their hearts from death and unbelief to faith and life in Christ, whose cross-worked salvation is for all people.

The message, the preaching of the cross for you is hope. Life. Forgiveness. Salvation. The water that poured out of Jesus when He was on that cross was splashed upon you at the font. The blood that gushed out is given to you in the cup of His Supper. The preaching and teaching you hear are this Jesus crucified for you and risen from the dead. This cross stuff for you is God’s very power, the power by which He saves you from your sins and gives you eternal life.

To those perishing the cross is foolish. To you who are saved it is the power of God unto salvation. And that is always a gift. It’s not yours because you’re smarter than others or figured something out for yourself. It’s yours because the Holy Spirit has given it to you as a gift. And we pray He grants it to others, too. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

Faithful cross, true sign of triumph, Be for all the noblest tree; None in foliage, none in blossom, None in fruit thine equal be; Symbol of the world’s redemption, For the weight that hung on thee! LSB 454:4

Source: Higher Things : July 12, 2012 – Thursday of the Fifth Week after Trinity.