Repetitive Worship and a Real Resurrection

 

Resurrection2Our familiarity with Christ’s birth, death and resurrection as our substitute tend to mute the true significance for many. But instead of changing the message it is better to ask the Holy Spirit that we be changed towards an attitude of repentance lest we miss what Jesus truly does for us. Every year we come to Holy Week and Easter Sunday. At times this repetition may seem boring to those who do not know the true nature of their sins. Asking Jesus for a Spirit of repentance is the antidote.

Imagine an individual on kidney dialysis. Twice or even three times a week she needs to be connected to machines to cleanse her blood. Repetitive yes. Boring, understandably so. Necessary? Most certainly. This procedure gives life and without it her life would quickly come to an end.

The miracle of Christ’s birth and death on our behalf may seem hum-drum to people raised in the church and living within a Christian world-view. But outside the Christian world-view such teaching is revolutionary as it is heretical to the prevailing culture.

In the understanding of the educated intellectuals of John’s day, “a divine figure would have to be incapable of suffering and immortal.” … many would have held that “a divine being could certainly for a time take human form and even enter into a man, but could never become truly man, participate in human weakness, suffer and die.” Today, Jesus’ humanity is likely one of the easiest parts of the Gospel for most to believe. Such, however, would not have been the case in the first century.[1]

In the New Testament we see this pagan view of god evidenced by non-Christians. In the eighth chapter of Acts the people, amazed at the magical power of Simon the Magician, thought the gods had come down to dwell within Simon for a season:

 They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great” (Act 8:10).

And then, even more clearly this pagan understanding of the incarnation is seen in the fourteenth chapter of Acts when Paul healed a crippled man who got up and walked. Seeing this miracle the native people thought the gods had come down from Mount Olympus to indwell Paul and Barnabas.

 Now at Lystra there was a man sitting who could not use his feet. He was crippled from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul speaking. And Paul, looking intently at him and seeing that he had faith to be made well, said in a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And he sprang up and began walking. And when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in Lycaonian, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!” Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds. But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their garments and rushed out into the crowd, crying out, “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. … Even with these words they scarcely restrained the people from offering sacrifice to them (Acts 14:8-15, 18).

Our Lord Jesus fully and completely took on our human form. “Today, Jesus’ humanity is likely one of the easiest parts of the Gospel for most to believe. Such, however, would not have been the case in the first century.”[2] Additionally, as we come to Holy Week and Good Friday our Lord Jesus truly, really, in space and time did take our sins upon himself and died in our place receiving our just punishment.

On Good Friday the goat was used in the sin offering (Lev 16:9) and his blood was sprinkled upon the nations (Is 52:15) forgiving our sins. Earlier, at his Baptism, the sins of the world where placed upon Jesus’ head for The scapegoat has made atonement for our sins (Lev 16:10). Then Azazel—Jesus—was led into the wilderness (Lev 16:10) and did battle with the evil spirits for forty days and nights (Lk 4:1-13).

Jesus became true man. In so doing he participated in human weakness, suffered and died for our sins. Imagine and ponder the mystery of love: God died for the world while we were still his enemies.

 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life” (Rom 5:6-10).

No human mind has conceived of a god who would die for his enemies. All other gods shed the blood of their enemies. But Jesus shed his blood for his enemies—not ours! Christ allowed himself to be slashed, cut, and then he willingly give up his Spirit (Jn 19:30) for our justification.

But there is more. Our Lord truly and really did rise from the dead for you, me, and the world. Jesus defeated sin, death, and the power of the devil through the shedding of his blood on Good Friday. Because of what Jesus did on Good Friday sin, death, and the power of the devil were powerless to hold him down—and he rose—truly and really. You are forgiven, the world is forgiven. Pray, witness, and work that more may come to trust this gift personally that they be with Christ for eternity.

Our sinful nature may at times find this news of the resurrection repetitive and even boring. Spiritually we need to hear this glorious truth more repetitively and attentively then a patient who needs to have her blood cleansed through weekly kidney dialysis. Though the proclamation of this truth the shed blood of Jesus becomes ours by faith cleansing us of the guilt of our sin, and Jesus’ resurrected life is ours—right now!

Blessed Easter!

Pastor Weber


[1] Bruce G. Schuchard, “1-3 John,” in Concordia Commentary: A Theological Exposition of Sacred Scripture (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2012): 14-15.

[2] Bruce G. Schuchard, “1-3 John,” in Concordia Commentary: A Theological Exposition of Sacred Scripture (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2012): 14-15.

About Pastor Karl Weber

Karl has been serving St. Paul’s Richville LC and St. John’s, Ottertail, MN since Labor Day, 2004. He was raised in the Roman Church receiving his BA from Fordham University. Before going to seminary he was a computer programmer in Minneapolis. He served as a short term missionary in Guatemala and Kenya, East Africa. He spent time as a member of the ELCA and studied two years at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN pursing his M. Div. before transferring to the LCMS for theological reasons and continuing his studies at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne. He was ordained in 1991 and earned his D. Min. in May 2002 from the same institution. He has contributed study notes to The Lutheran Study Bible. He enjoys deer hunting, going to the gym, swimming, and reading. He is married to Mary and has five wonderful children.

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