O Sinner, come thy sin to mourn
So vast and vile that it has borne
Christ to this vale of anguish.
Son of a Virgin, sweet and mild
In poverty the Holy Child
Thy substitute did languish.
Behold with faith God’s only Son.
Come nigh and see what love has done
To save thee from damnation.
The Father cast on Him thy guilt.
For thee His precious blood was spilt
To bless thee with salvation.
“Seek and you will find…” (Matt 7:7) “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness…” (Matt 6:33) “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is here…” (Matt 3:2) “You have said, ‘Seek my face.’ My heart says to you, ‘Your face, Lord, do I seek.’” (Psalm 27:8)
Jesus tells us to seek Him. He tells us to seek His Kingdom and His righteousness. And faith seeks. St. Augustine writes:
[What faith] lacks in love it asks that it may receive, it seeks that it may find, and knocks that it may be opened unto it. For faith achieves what the law commands.” (Taken from Treasury of Daily Prayer, CPH, 2008 from Augustine of Hippo, Handbook on Faith, Hope, and Love II.8, XXXI.117.)
Faith seeks the righteousness of Jesus, claiming it as its own. It achieves what the law commands by receiving from Jesus His perfect obedience. But it cannot seek what is not revealed to it first. So faith comes by the Word of Christ (Rom 10:17), in which is revealed the righteousness of God in Christ that is received by faith (Rom 1:17; 3:24-25; Phil 3:9). So faith comes with the promise which is given for all (Acts 2:39 ;17:31).
When Jesus said to seek His Kingdom and His righteousness, He didn’t leave it to us to find it. He declared that it was at hand. He was not telling natural man to go on some kind of faith-journey as if the seeking is an attribute of natural man (1 Cor 2:14). Man does not have a desire for the one true God, as Rome falsely imagines (CCC 27); carnal knowledge does not have such an attribute or function. No one seeks God (Psalm 14:2; Rom 4:11). Rather, Jesus creates the seeking faith with His voice (again, Rom 10:17), the voice of the Spirit who only speaks what Jesus has given Him to speak (John 16:13), and He sustains it in the same way (1 Cor 15:1-2; Gal 3:2-5). With the heart one believes (Rom 10:10), and thus the believing heart heeds the Lord’s invitation (again, Psalm 27:8). It is as Paul Speratus writes:
Let me not doubt, but trust in Thee,
Thy Word cannot be broken;
Thy call rings out, “Come unto Me!”
No falsehood hast Thou spoken.
The seekers are not those unbelievers who politely smile at us and aren’t rude to us when we invite them to church. The seekers are those who have heard the Word of Christ and by His voice are given faith that seeks His Kingdom and His Righteousness. The criminal being crucified with Jesus to His right sought such a Kingdom, and his only request was that the ruler of that Kingdom would remember Him. He only sought it because of the Word of Christ which He heard proceed from Jesus’ despised and condemned mouth, “Father forgive them.” These words created faith in the heart of that condemned criminal. Faith is created by Jesus’ voice and continues to seek it (John 10:27). So having been given such a faith by the Voice of the Good Shepherd, the criminal sought Christ’s Kingdom. He sought the righteousness of the Good Shepherd in His crucified body being laid down to death for his sins. And as Jesus had promised, he found it. By faith the condemned criminal sought and found in the stricken body of Jesus the God who justifies the ungodly. He knocked at the portal of heaven, and the door was opened to Him. By faith the condemned criminal hungered and thirsted for righteousness, and as Jesus drank the cup of God’s wrath to its last bitter drop, like the Good Shepherd that He is, He made the criminal’s cup overflow with His perfect righteousness (Psalm 23:3b,5b).
And so being crucified with Jesus through baptism, being killed all the day long to all sinful passions and wicked desires, we find in our Lord again and again His mercy that never saw decay. We behold by faith the crucified and risen Lord Jesus whose stripes have made us whole.
As you meditate on the passion of our Lord Jesus, may you continue to lose your sin-stained life and find your righteousness and life in Jesus.
O meditate how painfully
The Lamb of God on Calvary
Has died for thy transgressions.
How dreary was that awful night
Of Agony, how great the fight
Of His most wondrous passion.
O Son of God eternal Word,
Divine Redeemer, dearest Lord,
We marvel at Thy suff’ring.
For Thy disgrace and pain and shame
We’ll ever magnify Thy Name
And praise Thy glorious offering.