Judgment and Truth
Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
The devil is a liar, and he lies in order to murder. Jesus is the truth, and His Word is truth in order to save you from death. There is no middle ground. There is no gray area. You can have lies, sin, and death, or you can have truth, forgiveness, and life; devil or Jesus. But it's not for you to decide. Corpses don't get up on their own. They need to be raised from the dead. Sinners don't save themselves. They need to be saved. This is how the devil does his lying and murdering. He lied to Adam and Eve. His lies led to their unbelief. They stopped trusting in God's Word and they died. Jesus went toe to toe with the devil; but where we fail, He trusted in the Word for you. The devil seeks to possess you, corrupt you, destroy you. He seeks to bring you misery and sadness. Jesus comes to throw Satan down and save sinners. The devil seeks to hold sinners in slavery to sin. Jesus comes and sets you free. The devil wants you to believe God doesn't care about you and will abandon you when you need Him.
There's a war between the devil and God. You are the prize. Either the devil wins and keeps you in slavery and brings you to everlasting death, or else Jesus wins and saves us for everlasting life. There is no gray area, no middle ground. Those who hate Jesus are the sons of the devil. The devil is their Father of Lies. Jesus says simply that His Word is life. He was before Abraham. He is about the living, not the dead. That's enough to drive His enemies to stone Him...but not yet! He has to stand before the high priest and the governor. And He won't die by stoning but by crucifixion. We would have killed Jesus, too—not even so much because we want to do sins, though we do. Rather, it's our religion that will kill him. “I’m going to save myself. I’m going to be righteous and holy because I’m a good person! You can't tell me that I’m not a son of Abraham! Don't tell me I'm not a good Christian. By all that’s holy, I'm a lifelong Missouri Synod Lutheran! I’m much better than those other people all around who do those horrible things.” …That's what kills Jesus. But He dies because the Father of Lies has us trapped. He's captured and enslaved us. He's brought death to us. We're in serious trouble if Jesus doesn't save us. So that's what He does. His suffering and death at the hands of sinners is to do exactly that. The truth that gives life is that the Lord who is Truth dies. He dies. You live. He suffers lies so that you know the Truth that sets you free.
And it is His Word that means you will never taste death. Baptism means you will never taste death. Absolution means you will never taste death. The Good News of Jesus died and risen means you will never taste death. And the body and blood of Jesus means you will never taste death. "No," you say. “We're still going to die.” No. You're not. You will fall asleep. But you fall asleep in Jesus. That's not the same as death. Baptized into Christ, you fall asleep. And then, on the Last Day, He wakes you up. Death is forever: forever cut off from God, forever stuck forever with the Father of lies. His lie is that you die. The truth is you fall asleep. His lie is that you are a sinner doomed to die. The truth is that Christ has set you free. The same Lord who is before Abraham is the same Lord today: the same Jesus, the same Savior, the same Word that rescues you from death. Here you are, today, hearing Christ's Word. There will be no death for you! All you have is forgiveness and eternal life. When it's Jesus versus the devil, and you are the prize, Jesus won't let him win. His cross and empty tomb, His Water, Word and Supper—they are the weapons He wields, and He uses them to set you free. “And if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The peace which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.