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The Memorial Moment is a devotion written every weekday by Pastor Scott Murray of Memorial Lutheran Church and School, Houston Texas. It includes a quotation from a church father, Pastor Murray’s ruminations on that text, a related Bible text, and a prayer. It is read all over the world by more than a thousand subscribers. It will arrive in your email every morning to start your day off right. Click here to subscribe.
Below is Friday’s Memorial Moment:
The Bible often names judgment day with the simple designation: “the day.” The simplicity of the term, including no modifier, gives a hint as the significance of that day. Even the day of the greatest military invasion history ever witnessed was “D-day,” needing the tiny alphabetic modifier alluding to the medieval term, “doomsday,” which means a day of reckoning. Like the old saw about the man so famous that he needs no introduction, so the last day, the final day of reckoning, needs no name other than “the day.” This is in part because every heart has encoded in its depths the certainty of a divine reckoning. No matter how we try to delude ourselves, we are all quite clear on the approach of that day with all the threat that it implies against our sins. It is also because “the day” is the day of Jesus Christ. Christ Himself promises its coming. There is a divine guarantee, the certainty of which leads us to name the day “the day.”
The day brings tension to life lived in the meantime. For the believer there is the tension of hope that remains hope, that is, the Christian looks forward to the end of the age, so that he might see and possess, what he now believes and only hopes for. He must hope for a thing unseen. Yet, a thing unseen remains a thing possessed. Paul encourages the Christians of Corinth by pointing them to the testimony of Christ among them. Christ is possessed by faith, although now He remains unseen. I am not sure why in our time we have difficulty conceiving of how we possess that unseen Christ. We do it all the time in our economic lives. People who own mutual funds are quite confident that they own a set of financial securities that make them part owner of any number of publicly traded companies. Who has ever “seen” their ownership in those companies? Few people ever reach the board of directors of such companies. Yet, no one doubts their ownership of companies through ownership of mutual fund shares. John Chrysostom reminds his hearers that Christ has come and is among us, so that judgment day is merely an unveiling of what is presently hidden. The day is a “revealing” of what already is.
We Christians know who is coming to greet us and bring us salvation on that last great day and this greatly comforts us. Christ, who enriched us in every way and who gave us every spiritual gift is returning to reveal Himself to us. The One who is our justice metes out ultimate justice. Yet there is a serrated edge to all talk of final judgment. It implies the frightening disclosure of our works to be weighed in the impartial balance of divine righteousness. How can the one coming bring both threat and joy, condemnation and salvation? The human situation in the presence of God is completely conditioned on our standing with Christ. Judgment is completely different for those who are “in Christ” and those who are not. We live now without seeing our gracious Lord Christ. The hidden God is hidden under the weakness of the incarnation and cross. We “see” God only in the face of the suffering Christ, who looks upon us in grace. On the day, what has only been seen by faith will be revealed to us. As Jesus says, “For nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known” (Mt 10:26). Those who have not known God in the hiddenness of Christ’s humility will see only the hidden God on the last day, when the wrath of God will be all they know of God. We will see what is now hidden. The gracious God will be seen. What the unbelievers have known will become the hidden God coming in wrath. Same God. Just different standpoints over against Him. The day will reveal and hide all over again.
“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.
“So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”(ESV)
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge- even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you- so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1Co 1:4-8).
“Why do you make such a fuss,’ says Paul, ‘why are you troubled as though Christ has not come? He has come. And the Day is from now on at the doors.’ Consider his wisdom, how withdrawing them from human considerations he terrifies them by mention of the fearful judgment-seat. He is implying that not only the beginnings must be good, but the end also. For with all these gifts, and with all else that is good, we must be mindful of that Day. There is need of many labors to be able to come unto the end. ‘Revealing’ is his word, implying that although He is not now seen, yet He is, and is present even now, and then shall appear. Therefore, there is need of patience. For to this end you received the wonders, that you might remain firm.
John Chrysostom, Homilies on 1 Corinthians 2:6
O King of Glory, You come into your exalted kingdom that You might draw me into your glory. Grant that I might live in that inheritance through faith. Amen.
For the success of the mission trip of Memorial Lutheran Church to serve in Nicaragua
For a life of repentance for all Christians
For those who give offerings to the church, that they would be led by heartfelt thanksgiving to offer generously so that the gospel may be proclaimed in all the world
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