Sunday, December 12, 2010

Gaudete: A Devotional Commentary

Isaiah 40:1-11 “Comfort, comfort my people,” says your God. “Speak comfortably to Jerusalem; and call out to her that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received of Yahweh’s hand double for all her sins.” The voice of one who calls out, “Prepare the way of Yahweh in the wilderness! Make a level highway in the desert for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The uneven shall be made level, and the rough places a plain. The glory of Yahweh shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of Yahweh has spoken it.” The voice of one saying, “Cry!” One said, “What shall I cry?” “All flesh is like grass, and all its glory is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, because Yahweh’s breath blows on it. Surely the people are like grass. The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God stands forever.” You who tell good news to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who tell good news to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with strength. Lift it up. Don’t be afraid. Say to the cities of Judah, “Behold, your God!” Behold, the Lord Yahweh will come as a mighty one, and his arm will rule for him. Behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will gather the lambs in his arm, and carry them in his bosom. He will gently lead those who have their young.

1 Corinthians 4:1-5 So let a man think of us as Christ’s servants, and stewards of God’s mysteries. Here, moreover, it is required of stewards, that they be found faithful. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you, or by man’s judgment. Yes, I don’t judge my own self. For I know nothing against myself. Yet I am not justified by this, but he who judges me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each man will get his praise from God.

Matthew 11:2-10 Now when John heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples and said to him, “Are you he who comes, or should we look for another?” Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. Blessed is he who finds no occasion for stumbling in me.” As these went their way, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John, “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? But what did you go out to see? A man in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in king’s houses. But why did you go out? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and much more than a prophet. For this is he, of whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.’

You king comes to you! He gives the blind sight, makes the lame to walk, cleanses the lepers, makes the deaf hear, raises the dead brings Good News to the poor. He comes to heal you of your blindness, your lameness, your leprosy, your deafness, your death, and your poverty. Do not deny that you are all of these things. Don't try to pretend you're just fine because you think you're a little better off than the other guy. You are dead! Christ sends forth His ministers to prepare the way. Christ sends forth ministers to raise dead people like you. Christ does not work these things through military might or even great showmanship but through the preaching of the Gospel, baptism, and the Lord's Supper administered through the instrument of humble ministers. If ministers abandon the preaching of the Gospel and administration of the sacraments for fads or interesting factoids or a display of their knowledge of the original languages or lectures on theology or just whatever happens to be bugging them that week they will gain worldly success, they will dine in king's houses. But they will not be true prophets of God. A true prophet brings the same Gospel week after week. He brings the Lord's Supper week after week. A true prophet faithfully administers baptism.

None of these things are flashy. None of these things demand the world's attention. In the case of John the Baptizer, he landed himself in prison for being a faithful minister and was eventually killed. But the true prophet knows that even if he is thrown into prison, he has been set free by the Gospel of Christ. Even if they kill him, he has received true life from Christ. The true prophet knows that those who adhere to something other than the Gospel, even though they appear to be living it up, are bringing a message of death. They are only fooling the dead into thinking that they are really alive. Only the true Gospel really brings life. The true Gospel calls us what we are. The true Gospel says you are dead but Christ has died for you and comes to bring you life.

Your king comes to you! Your king resurrects you! Your king gives you life!

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