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Second Sunday in Lent

February 22, 2024
By Rev. Joshua Reinke

Text: Genesis 17”1-6,15-17

 

Outline
2. Abram’s shortcut
1. God’s response to Abram and Us

 

Introduction: Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.


My dear beloved flock, the text for our meditation today is the Old Testament lesson of Genesis Chapter seventeen verses one through seven, fifteen through sixteen. 


Boys and girls, have you ever been with mom or dad when they have taken a shortcut on a trip thinking that it will save time? Has it ever worked in cutting time off of the trip? Usually more time is added. Too often, shortcuts end in bad ways. There is the dead-end road or the two-lane road with heavy traffic so it is no shortcut at all and takes you longer to travel. What about a shortcut when mom or dad is trying to fix something at home or on the car? They think they have an “aha” experience, and then it breaks again and costs more to fix the second time! Shortcuts do not usually work.  We see Abram try to take a short cut in our text for today. How does God respond to it? Ponder this question as you hear the rest of the sermon. You may go back to your seats and those who love you.


2. Abram’s shortcut


        What we see in Abram today is a desire to take a manmade shortcut. He wants to do things his way under his own terms and power. He has figured out a way to have an heir using Hagar, Sarai’s slave woman. After all, he is ninety-nine years old. He and Sarai are not going to be having children. It is just too late. So, Abram has a plan for an heir that is done in such a way that God can save face. Abram wants Ishmael to be his heir. Ishmael is already born. Abram loves Ishmael. He practically begs for Ishmael to inherit everything, praying to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before you!” He knows he and Sarai are too old to have a son, so just make Ishmael heir of the promises, make him the one through whom the Messiah will come. This is Abram’s fervent wish and his answer to his problem.


        We see here the weak faith in Abram and Sarai. Abram doubts that God can keep his promise and provide him an heir. This would be impossible—too much to ask! Abram takes matters into his own hands. He wants to fix the problem. He thinks he has the perfect solution: “God, let’s do things my way this time.”


        How often do we find ourselves operating the same way? We have problems in life. Everyone does. We, as the people of God, go to Him in prayer. You pour out your heart to Him. You tell Him you believe in His promises. As soon as you pray “Amen,” you start looking for your own solutions, your own answers, the way you think the problem should be solved. Just like that, there’s worry, fear, anxiety. Give it to God and then take it right back just as fast as you can. The real problem here is that you don’t trust God and His ability to answer as is best for you. You want to do it. After all, you might not like God’s answer and his solution. Just like Abram!


1. God’s response to Abram


        So God comes to Abram face-to-face. God does not come to chastise or to condemn. God comes to Abram to strengthen his faith by speaking to him the promises of the covenant. If Abram thought it was impossible, unbelievable, that he and his wife could have a child in their old age, he must have been astonished at the unbelievable promises that God made to him.


        He changed Abram’s name to Abraham. Why? To signal to Abram the assuredness of the promises. The “Exalted Father” would become the “father of a multitude of nations.” Sarai was changed to Sarah because she would be the mother of many nations. God would not work this promise through Ishmael, but He would keep His original promise by giving Abraham and Sarah a son of their very own even in their old age. God was going to work two miracles. First, Abraham would have his own son. Second, he would make him very fruitful and make him literally into many nations.


        God was going to bless Abraham with descendants, generation after generation. In fact, God would bless him so that this would be an everlasting covenant. The covenant would be everlasting because of one of those descendants. Human beings each have their own life expectancy, beginning and ending. To be an everlasting covenant would take a special descendant who would be like Abraham, a human descendant, but also like God, who has no end, everlasting. One of Abraham’s descendants would be the Savior, Jesus Christ. 


        Finally, God would give to Abraham the land of Canaan, literally the Promised Land for his future descendants. This Promised Land would be an everlasting possession. Again, it would be everlasting because there would be a land far beyond anything on earth. There would be a Promised Land that would last forever.


        God fulfilled his promises to Abraham and Sarah, and, in doing so, he has kept his promises to you and to me. Jesus Christ, the descendant of Abraham, has come. He has come for all people, all nations, all generations. He came to bring the promises of God to ultimate fulfillment. He did so to remove the sins of our weak faith, our doubts, our constant desire to do things our way, to solve problems without regard to God’s will. He did so by his own suffering, his own shed blood to cover our sins, his own death to pay our wage of sin, and his glorious resurrection to conquer death itself. Through Jesus Christ, the promises of God to Abraham and to us are fulfilled. By faith in Jesus, we, too, are now descendants of Abraham.


        He has changed your name too. At the day of your Baptism, the day you received the Holy Spirit, the day your sins were forgiven, the day you became an heir of eternal life, God gave you a new name: Christian. God applied His very name to you. He keeps his promises to you. He gives you “a new covenant in his blood, given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” His covenant, sealed in his holy, precious blood, strengthens your faith and keeps you in faith to life everlasting in the everlasting Promised Land.


        Conclusion: God made promises to Abraham. The promises seemed impossible, unbelievable, to an old man and his wife. But God Kept His Unbelievable Promises
to Abraham and to Us!
All the promises were fulfilled in Jesus Christ when he came for you and me. Now we have new names, forgiveness of sins, an everlasting covenant, and a promised land. These are indeed unbelievable promises. 


The peace of God which surpasses all understanding, guard and keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

 

First Sunday in Lent Midweek

February 22, 2024
By Rev. Joshua Reinke

When Satan tempts us, Lord provide
Your sword and shield to help survive 
That with your Word we can defend
Ourselves through life until the even.

 

O Lord may the Words of my Mouth, and the meditation of our hearts, be acceptable in your sight, O Lord our Rock, and our Redeemer.

 

In the movie 300, a spartan warrior by the name of Dienekes is informed that the Persians are so numerous that when they discharged their arrows they obscured the light of the sun by the multitude of the arrows. Dienekes was not dismayed by this, but making small account of the number of the Medes, he said that their guest brought them very good news, for if the Medes obscured the light of the sun, the battle against them would be in the shade and not in the sun.


At times, that is what the arrows hurled at us by Satan feel like. He attacks us relentlessly, in a wide variety of ways. He never relents. For some he uses guile, making it seem as though it is not really a large deal. ‘One little bit will not hurt.’ For some he uses persistence, attacking the same place again and again until it weakens. ‘Go ahead, what is the worst that can happen? You are a failure. You failed to live up to the Law or do this or that.’ For some, he attacks with deception, as with Adam and Eve, ‘Did God really say that? Surely, He did not mean it.’ The attacks are so many in number. Satan has numerous tools at his disposal, how can we ever hope to fend off even one of them? Indeed, Luther writes, “If you even knew one of the arrows that Satan flings at you, you would run to the Sacrament for refuge.” We do not know all the plots that Satan has arrayed against us. We do not know when and where he will attack. Thanks be to God, as if we did know, we might fall into abject despair and hopelessness! All we know is Satan’s end goal, to cause us to lose our faith and be condemned with him in Hell forever.


If it was not enough to have such a seemingly powerful enemy against us, we know well our own weakness of our sinful flesh. It is not on the side of God, but on the side of our deadly foe every single time. On our own we will fail again and again. We have no hope of victory under our own power.


Thanks be to God that He does not leave us to fight such a foe under our own power. Rather, He sends Jesus to fight on our behalf. Jesus is tempted just as we are, yet uses the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God to fight Satan off. Jesus bears all of your sins. Upon the cross He suffers, bleeds, and dies for you. By His death, He destroys the power of death. By bearing the punishment of your sins, Jesus destroys all the assaults of Satan. Of what can he accuse you that Jesus has not already borne the punishment for? Nothing.


Our heavenly Father gives us a constant shield against the attacks of Satan, found in Jesus Christ, and what He has done for us,. When Satan attacks us, we run to the Father’s mercy and grace, shown to us in Jesus, for help and support. We comfort ourselves with His holy Word that every single one of our sins has been covered by Jesus’ death and resurrection. 


The same as our Lord used His own holy Word to defeat the temptations of Satan, so too do we. We defend ourselves, steadfast in the faith He has given to us through His Holy Spirit, until that day when He calls us out of this vale of tears to His nearer presence to await the resurrection of the dead and life everlasting with Him.


Until that day, stand steadfast dear flock, Fight in the shade against all the temptations of Satan, knowing that Jesus has fully defeated all of your foes, Satan included, and He holds the field victorious forever on your behalf. Satan can do no harm to you, one little word can fell him.


In Jesus’ name. Amen.
 

First Sunday in Lent

February 15, 2024
By Rev. Joshua Reinke

Video: Click to view

 

 

Text: Genesis 22:1-18
Theme: The Lord will provide


Outline:
1.    The Lord provides Isaac, Abraham’s beloved
2.    The Lord provides Jesus, His Beloved

 

Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.


My dear beloved flock, the text for our meditation today is the Old Testament lesson of Genesis chapter twent-two verses one through eighteen.
Boys and girls, I pray that you are doing well today. What do I have here? I have a lamb. Lambs are used throughout the Bible, usually a person kept lambs as a sacrifice. During Lent, we normally give up or sacrifice small things. We sacrifice our love of chocolate, or Television, or coffee, or soda. Abraham is called by God to offer a sacrifice. Who is Abraham called to sacrifice? What does the Lord provide in Isaac’s place? What does He provide in our place? Ponder those questions as you hear the rest of the sermon. You may go back to your seats and those who love you.


1.    The Lord provides Isaac, Abraham’s beloved
 

It has been around twenty-seven years since the Lord blessed Abraham and Sarah with a son in their old age. Isaac has grown into a strong and handsome man. The Lord comes to Abraham, tests him, and says, God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 2 He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.  Imagine the pain of Abraham’s heart. He is commanded to take his only beloved son, the son of the promise though which kings of nations will come, and give him to the Lord as a burnt offering. Isaac is not only the one promised to Abraham and Sarah in their old age, and thus very beloved of them. He is also the one that the Lord has promised the Messiah will come from. If he dies, what becomes of Abraham’s salvation? Luther accurately described Abraham’s predicament in these words: “To human reason it must have seemed either that God’s promise would fail, or else this command must be of the devil and not of God.” To Abraham it must have seemed that God’s command was destroying God’s promise.
 

And what further complicated the situation for Abraham was that God’s command seemed not only to violate a father’s love for his son but to cut off his hope of ever being saved. If Isaac was the link between Abraham and the only Savior he would ever have, how could Abraham cut off that link and hope to be right with God? And how could he ever hope to live with God forever? 
 

After a sleepless night, Abraham gets up in the morning and gets everything ready. He cuts the wood, saddles his donkey, and takes Isaac as well as two servants with them. This is no spur of the moment decision either. Moriah is about a three days journey from where they are. Three days to ruminate over what action he is about to do. Abraham bears it all in silence. When they reach the site, Abraham tells his servants to wait there. Isaac and him will go worship, “And then we will come back to you.” The Hebrew word translated “we will come back” is an emphatic verb form expressing the speaker’s determination. It hints at the answer Abraham had reached to this awful question that was torturing him: “How can a merciful God cut off the  messianic line?” Abraham’s faith answered, “If God commands me to kill Isaac and I obey him, then God is simply going to have to bring Isaac’s ashes back to life, and the two of us are going to come back down this mountain.”  God’s promise must prevail, somehow some way.
 

As he bears the wood for his own sacrifice, Isaac realizes the strangeness of what they are doing. He said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” 8 Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.  We have everything, wood, fire, knife, but the most important thing is missing. Father, where is the lamb? Abraham could have told Isaac the harsh truth, spilled everything from his hurting heart. Yet, in fatherly love, he does not. He simple says, The Lord will provide. Abrahm holds to this, even as he builds the altar, binds his beloved son, lifts him onto the altar, and raises the knife to slay his beloved. 
 

Graciously his hand is stayed. The Lord says, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son.  The Lord stops Abraham’s hand and provides a ram as a substitute in place of Isaac.
 

3.    The Lord provides Jesus, His Beloved
 

A Ram in place of Isaac, what does this mean for us today? Every single one of us are akin to Isaac. We lie bound upon the altar, not by ropes, but in the bondage of our sins. We are born under the power of Satan, under his control. We deserve for the knife to be plunged into us. We deserve physical death, as well as spiritual death in the fires of hell forever.
 

For our salvation, “The Lord provides.” God sends to us His own beloved Son, Jesus Christ. One beloved even more than Isaac. One beloved by all the host of heaven. Jesus lives a perfect life in our place. He perfectly keeps the Law. As Isaac obeyed Abraham to the point of being bound and placed upon the altar, Jesus perfectly obeys the will of the Father to be abused, bound, and nailed. He asks that the cup be taken from Him if possible. While God provides a ram in place of Isaac, He does not provide a substitute for His own beloved Son. Jesus dies a horrible, agonizing death upon the cross. He is not given a substitute, rather He is the substitute for us. Jesus sheds His holy and precious blood as our substitute bearing the punishment for every single one of our sins.
 

The Lord will provide indeed. A substitute ram for Isaac. Jesus Christ, His own beloved Son, for us and for our salvation. Can we make similar sacrifices for others in our lives? The one supreme sacrifice for us all has already been made by Christ. Thus the only “supreme sacrifice” we can make to God is to offer ourselves, the entire self (body, mind, and soul; Deut 10:12–13; Ps 51:6, 10, 17; Micah 6:8) and all possessions in full devotion and obedience to God (Dent 6:5; Mt 16:24–26).
 

Recently in China, the police drove up to the worship service of 600 Christians in a house church, led by evangelist Li Dexian. When they destroyed all furniture and furnishings, the Christians blessed them. When Mr. Li was arrested, he asked them to pray for him. They all dropped to their knees and prayed. The police were amazed that he could have such power over so many people by only saying a word (The Voice of the Martyrs, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, Feb. 1999). Such is the power given Christians who are willing to sacrifice themselves for his sake. 

 

Whole-life sacrifice can be shown in a wide variety of ways. It could be being a faithful wife or husband, a faithful mother or father bringing your children to church even when the world does everything in its power to stop that action. A faithful student learning in spite of bullying and abuse from peers.  In some whole-life sacrifice leads some to full-time church or missionary service or allowing a child so to serve. Or this may mean devotion to the service of others beyond the normal call of one’s duties through sacrificial service in one’s occupation, in one’s spare time (e.g., service clubs, church or missionary organizations), in one’s family, in one’s circle of friends, and neighbors, or in the nation or world.
 

The Lord grant us the strength and faith to sacrifice our very selves in service to others, just as He sacrificed a ram in place of beloved Isaac, and His own beloved Son in our place.

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard and keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
 

Ash Wednesday

February 14, 2024
By Rev. Joshua Reinke

Let now these ashes make their mark, upon our foreheads and our hearts; from dust to dust we see decay that only God can take away.

 

O Lord may the words of my mouth and the meditation of our hearts be acceptable in Your sight O Lord our Rock and our Redeemer.

 

As I look our today, I see a lot of crosses. Crosses made with Ash. Why? How does this remind us not only of our mortality, but also of what Jesus Christ has done for us? 


Black of ash made their mark upon our foreheads. Why? As a reminder of what we are made from. All the way back in Genesis, when God creates Adam and Eve, He forms Adam from the dust of the earth. He forms Eve from Adam’s rib as a helpmate fit for him. When they sin against God. When they violate the one command that God gives. That command is to not eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of Good and Evil, they are rightfully punished. Eve is cursed with pain in childbearing. Adam bears the greatest of the curses, because he did not speak up, rebuke the snake, and tell Eve to stop talking to him. Because of Adam, the entirety of creation is doomed for death and decay. For dust you are and to dust you shall return.


A death and decay that extends to us still today. The ashes are not only on our foreheads, but also to mark the darkness within our own hearts. Every single one of us have what we call original sin. The desire to break every single one of the commands of God. Sin that we have inherit ate by the fact that we are humans born of humans. We are sinners. We lie, cheat, steal, and covet.  We put other things and people in the rightful place of God in our lives. We are deserving of present and eternal punishment.  We are dust and to dust we shall return. Eventually, we will die. We will die because every single one of us has violated the Law of God in thought, word, and deed.


Black, dusty ash to remind us of our mortality. Yet where do these ashes come from? They are made from the palms of last year’s Palm Sunday. This is done to remind us that our King has come, not in the terrors of judgement, but to redeem us. A King who answers our cries of Hosanna, save us! In the most unlikely of ways. While we are deserving of eternal punishment, astray from God, violating His commands. The Creator of the universe enters His creation to save us. The seed of the woman through the womb of the blessed Virgin, Jesus lays aside His divine power, glory, and authority. He assumes the form of a servant. He assumes our sinful dust, yet was without sim, that our sinful black ashy self may be reconciled to God once again.


How is this reconciliation done? Look at how the ashes have been applied to you. They are applied in the shape of a cross. Why a cross? That is how Jesus reconciled us to God forever. By the wood of the cross, we are saved. Jesus saves us by living the Law perfect on our behalf. He bears our punishment when He dies a brutal death upon the cross. He covers our sinful, black dust, with His innocent blood. By dying He destroys death forever. By rising again from the dead, Jesus gives to us newness of life with Him forever. 


Black ash to remind us of our dustiness, our sinfulness, and mortality, yet in the shape of the cross to remind us that we are redeemed dust because of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection.


In Jesus’ name. Amen.
 

The Transfiguration of our Lord

February 10, 2024
By Rev. Joshua Reinke

Sermon Outline
    3.    Exit Elijah but not finally.
    2.    Enter Elijah to herald Christ.
    1.    Enter Christ into our world and lives.


JESUS’ ENTRANCE BRINGS ONSTAGE ALL THAT THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS ANTICIPATED.
 

Sermon
Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. 


My dear beloved flock, the text for our meditation today is the Old Testament Lesson of Second Kings, chapter two, verses one through fourteen.
 

Boys and girls, I pray that you are doing well today. Have you ever been annoyed by constantly being asked a question? I know I have. You ask a lot of questions, many times without waiting for an answer. In our text for today, we see Elisha being annoyed with the constant reminder by the Sons of the Prophets that Elijah was about to being taking from him. He says to remain quiet about it. He does not want to be reminded about that fact. Yet, Elijah is taken from him in a whirlwind. How does Elijah’s departure help us today? How does that point us to Jesus? Ponder those questions as you hear the rest of the sermon. You may go back to your seats and those who love you.

 

3. Exit Elijah but not finally.
 

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts. (II VII)
 

So says Shakespeare in As You Like It. But one player on this world stage made his exit and then waited for his entrance while many acts were completed. Elijah’s “exit stage left” was well cued. Poor Elisha was harangued with it. The sons of the prophets who were in Bethel came out to Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that today the LORD will take away your master from over you?” “Yes, I know it; keep quiet.” The sons of the prophets who were at Jericho drew near to Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that today the LORD will take away your master from over you?” “Yes, I know it; keep quiet.” Elisha knew too well that his master and mentor, the prophet Elijah, must be taken from him, but he was in no mood to hear it. “Yes, I know it; keep quiet” (vv 3, 5).


Even more remarkable than the way his departure was heralded was the nature of his leaving. For perhaps only one man had previously left the world’s stage in a similar way before him, and only one since. Back in history, before history as we know it, there was a man named Enoch. Now while Genesis tells us of all his ancestors and descendants that so and so’s days were so many years and then he died, it does not say this of Enoch; rather, it says, “Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him” (Gen 5:24). But all others died. That was the nature of their exit from the world’s stage. That will be our exit too, if the play still runs at the end of our days. But Elijah took his bow in a different way. “And as [he and Elisha] still went on and talked, behold, chariots of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it and he cried, ‘My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!’ And he saw him no more” (vv 11–12a).
 

Elijah did not die, and his part on this stage was not yet finished. So while he was poised in the wings and dozens of generations came on to perform their own parts—while the monarchy of Israel rose and fell; while the kingdom divided and the people were scattered; while the Assyrians and Babylonians came and went; while Greece encroached and Rome overcame; while one prophet after another (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and a full supporting cast) took center stage to deliver the lines prepared for them—Elijah was not forgotten. Although his leaving is recorded early in 2 Kings, still, even in Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament canon, in the last chapter, in the second to last verse, we are left with this reminder: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes” (Mal 4:5).
 

2. Enter Elijah to herald Christ.
 

History continues to unfold upon the stage. There chaos, wars, still waiting for Elijah to come. We cannot see the plot advancing. We cannot hear the author’s words. The director’s hand is obscure. Until, way backstage, a player enters, a figurative Elijah. A player we know as John the Baptist. He enters in the ordinary way, being born of a woman. This woman was uncommonly old when she bore him, it is true, and even before his birth, he made his first contribution. For while he was still growing in his mother’s womb, he suddenly perceived that the coming of the great Day of the Lord was very near, as near as his mother was to her cousin, Mary. And he leaped for joy as they conversed. 


Later, John was driven to speak the divine lines which spoke of repentance and the kingdom of God. And it happened again: that same presence that had made him leap in the womb passed near him, and he called out, “The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn 1:29). He dressed for his part, in camel’s hair and leather girdle, unmistakably the costume of Elijah. So people asked him, “Are you Elijah?” He said no and continued to speak as only a prophet can, to take his exit as prophets tend to do, prematurely and by violent hand.


What John felt from his mother’s womb, what he shouted about as the Lamb of God, what everything he ever said and did was getting ready for, was this: the author himself was taking the stage. From the beginning, the production had been ruined by the scandalous improvisations of every actor, their senseless and arrogant departures from the directions in the script. What was so beautifully conceived and written was unfolding as a shambles at the hands of its incompetent performers. “Get this sorted!” was the forerunner’s message. “Straighten it out, because the one who is ‘the Author of life’ is visiting.”


1. Enter Christ into our world and lives.


Enter the Author of life, even though He is the Author, he did not simply take the role of a fellow player; he emptied himself to become one, and did so in every way—except he did not share their aberrant disregard of the directions scripted for them. Now he knows the plot better than any, he who responded at length to the one who came before him—the one who leaped for joy to feel his presence, who declared him to be the Lamb of God, and who prepared his way and died at the hand of a weak and incontinent wretch taking the part of a king. 


That one, the one who came before, whom they knew as John the Baptist, “That one,” said the Author of life, “if you are prepared to accept it, that one is Elijah who is to come.” Not, I think, Elijah called in from the wings; no, that must wait just a few more months. But John’s role was clear: he came on to begin the final act, to announce the arrival of the King and Lord and Savior in the costume of humanity and humility.
And finally, the wait was over. On a mountain. Peter, James, and John with Jesus. Enter Moses—the Lawgiver of old, the character who led his people from slavery, their guide and mediator with God. Enter Elijah. At last the prophet of old, the one who will be sent, before the final act. And Jesus for a moment de-masked, seen without the costume of his humility, outshining the sun, and overshadowed by the cloud of divine presence and the voice of his Father, “This is my beloved son, listen to him.”


And then, the most important thing of all: “And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only” (Mk 9:8). If the entrance of Moses and Elijah was important, their exit was more so. For their departure means that Law is over and prophecy is past, and truly God is doing a new thing. These were only temporary. “As for prophecies,” said St. Paul, “they will pass away” (1 Cor 13:8), and with Elijah we see their passing. As for the Law, “the law,” he says, “was our guardian until Christ came, that we might be justified by faith” (Gal 3:24). The Law was never going to be the decisive thing on this great stage. So the guardian went, and with Moses we see its passing. Neither the prophetic words of the script, nor the directions of the Law instructing our performance, are the decisive twist. But the new thing is announced on the mountain of the transfiguration. As Law and prophet depart, One remains “This is my beloved Son.”


And from there, the beloved Son, the Author of life, continues His divine action at a place called the Place of a Skull, where he took his exit in grotesque suffering and abject humiliation, made all the more bitter because he carried no deficiency in his own performance, but shouldered the deficiency of every other twisted soul, right down to mine.


But the transfiguration hints at something more. There we saw Jesus in his glory; at least Peter, James, and John did, just for a moment. But it was a glimpse of what was to come. I mentioned earlier that we know only of the enigmatic character of Enoch leaving the world apparently without death before Elijah, but that there was one after him. Elijah waited for centuries before he was called back onstage; Jesus, only days. And before long, Peter, James, and John, as well as the rest of the disciples, saw Jesus again, having been killed in agony and shame, rising in triumph and in glory. And so he remains, never to die again, and although he had to leave this stage again, as did Elijah, ascending to his Father, Jesus, as He has promised, will return for us.


And if it is so that “all the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players,” as we have made our entrance on the same stage after all these things, what is our part? We have a role and a purpose, and it is this: In the words of Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians: “In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Eph 1:11). There is a script. We are the players in it. Our role? To live for the praise of his glory. “[He has made] known to us the mystery of his will,” it says, “according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Eph 1:9–10).


JESUS’ ENTRANCE BRINGS ONSTAGE
ALL THAT THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS ANTICIPATED.


And when our exit shall come, there will be a place for us in his purpose and his will. It will not be, like Elijah, to walk again on this world and in this life, but to live for the praise of his glory, where he is forever. 
 

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard, and keep, your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

 

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