Monday, May 24, 2010

Whit-Monday: A Devotional Commentary

Isaiah 57:15-21 For thus says the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also who is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite. For I will not contend forever, neither will I be always angry; for the spirit would faint before me, and the souls who I have made. For the iniquity of his covetousness was I angry, and struck him; I hid myself and was angry; and he went on backsliding in the way of his heart. I have seen his ways, and will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts to him and to his mourners. I create the fruit of the lips: Peace, peace, to him who is far off and to him who is near,” says Yahweh; “and I will heal them.” But the wicked are like the troubled sea; for it can’t rest, and its waters cast up mire and dirt. “There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.”

Acts 10:42-48 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that this is he who is appointed by God as the Judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him, that through his name everyone who believes in him will receive remission of sins.” While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all those who heard the word. They of the circumcision who believed were amazed, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was also poured out on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in other languages and magnifying God. Then Peter answered, “Can any man forbid the water, that these who have received the Holy Spirit as well as we should not be baptized?” He commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay some days.

John 3:16-21 For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God didn’t send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through him. He who believes in him is not judged. He who doesn’t believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God. This is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their works were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and doesn’t come to the light, lest his works would be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his works may be revealed, that they have been done in God.”

In the darkness, we cannot tell what people look like. But the light exposes us for what we really look like. In the darkness, we cannot see who is stealing or even if something is being stolen but the light makes both the crook and his deed apparent to everyone. In the sea of humanity, when our own sins don't seem as bad as the next guy's, it's easy to walk around in the darkness and deny that we are sinners. It's easy to think that we truly are holy. But Jesus is the light. He exposes us for who we really are. He alone is God-incarnate, He alone is holy. As we stand before Him we see what horrible sinners we really are.

Our sinful nature does not appreciate this revelation of who we really are. We close or eyes or hide behind some fig leaves and explain why these things that we are doing are not really sins. We blame somebody else for our actions and we talk about how our good deeds offset these bad deeds. But the revelation of God in Christ makes all of this impossible. The only sane response is, "Lord have mercy." We cannot hide what we have done from the light, we are only hiding what we have done from ourselves. God knows exactly who we are. God knows how utterly unholy we are. But God loves us. God showed His love for us by sending His only-begotten Son to die for. Christ crucified for us is proof that we are sinful and unclean. Christ crucified is proof that God loves us. Christ crucified is proof that our sins have been paid for. Christ washes away our sins in the waters of holy baptism. Christ makes us clean. Christ heals us. Christ gives us eternal life.

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