Sermons, Uncategorized

Out of Egypt

“Flight into Egypt” by Jean-Francois Millet

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Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and His mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy Him.” And he rose and took the Child and His mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:

“A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.” (Matthew 3:13-18).

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!

Joseph. It’s a good old-fashioned name. “Yahweh has added.” It’s the name that Rachel gave to her son when, finally after so many years of waiting, she gave birth to a child. Joseph, son of his famous father Jacob, was now in the world. And Joseph would act with such trust and valor throughout his life that he would be well remembered, and his name would be often given to little baby boys.

You know the story of Joseph, son of Jacob. Jacob loved his boy and gave him a coat of many colors. His older brothers hated him so much that they faked his death and sold him into slavery. Carted off to Egypt, Joseph became a slave in Potiphar’s household. In fact, he became master of the house until Potiphar’s wife falsely accused him because he refused to share in her sin. Though innocent, Joseph was sent to jail, and he languished in that Egyptian prison for years.

Eventually, his ability to interpret dreams came to the attention of Pharaoh. And because Joseph was able to interpret Pharaoh’s troubling dreams, Pharaoh released him from prison and made him second-in-command of all of Egypt. In that post, Joseph saved the Egyptians from famine. He saved many others, too.

For instance, his brothers. The same brothers, who had so cruelly sold him into slavery years before, now came to Egypt looking for food. Joseph toyed with them for a while, but only to test the sincerity of their repentance. And when he was assured of their change of heart, he revealed who he was.

His brothers feared for the worst—that it was now payback time. But Joseph spoke words that have echoed through the centuries:  “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:20). Rather than seek revenge, Joseph provided for his brothers and his families. This was all part of God’s plan to save—to deliver Israel, His chosen people. In fact, this was even a part of God’s plan to save the world from their sins.

His providence would not always be that apparent. After Joseph died, they would be slaves in Egypt for 400 years. But then the Lord would send Moses and lead them back out of Egypt.

Back out of Egypt—you know the story of the Exodus well, too. After ten plagues, the Lord finally convinced Pharaoh to let His people go. The Israelites were delighted to leave Egypt and slavery, they were ready to trust in the Lord’s promises and to let Him lead them to the Promised Land.

At least, until they got to the Red Sea (not very far), at which time they said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt?” (Exodus 14:11). So much for delight and trust!

And of course, there was that little incident out at Mt. Sinai on the way to the Promised Land. The same people who had seen the Red Sea part, lasted just about two seconds at the foot of the mountain as they waited for Moses to speak with the Lord, and then they asked Aaron to make a golden calf to worship instead. It’s a testament to God’s patience that He didn’t wipe them out then.

We could speak of their grumblings about the food in the wilderness as they resented the manna that God gave them each morning. We could spend some time repeating their statements of how they’d like to go back to Egypt and slavery just for a few cucumbers, leeks, and melons. We could mention that the Lord led them right up to the Promised Land, but that they had to spend an extra forty years in the wilderness because they didn’t believe that God was a match for tall people.

But rather than dwell on their disobedience in the desert, let’s fast-forward to their life after conquering the Promised Land by the Lord’s strength and power. Let’s see how carefully they kept God’s Word and lived according to His commands.

Take, for instance, the time of the Judges, when…well, when every man went and did what was right in his own eyes, when time and time again the people had to be punished for their disobedience, and God had to raise up a judge to deliver them. Okay. Never mind. Perhaps we’d better move on. Take the reign of Rehoboam, when…well, when the country divided and the ten tribes began to worship golden calves. Or later on, when the people are either killed or taken into captivity because of their persistent rejection of God’s Law and Gospel.

In such a sordid history, a stand-up guy like Joseph really stands out. Although he suffers dearly, he brings his family down to Egypt to save them from certain death. Because he saves them, they can later return from Egypt and go back to the Promised Land—and be disobedient some more.

One wonders what Joseph would think of all that happened after his death, for the nation whom he saved from starvation by God’s grace certainly rejected the faith that sustained him.

At any rate, “Joseph, son of Jacob” was a well-known hero. And so it was a popular name. In fact, centuries later, there was another Jacob who had a son. And this Jacob named his son Joseph. And this Joseph was betrothed to a virgin named Mary, who was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit.

After the Child was born, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, “Get up,” he said, “Take the Child and His mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the Child to kill Him.”

Here we go again. Another Joseph-son-of-Jacob heading down to Egypt. This time, the purpose is far more specific than the salvation of God’s chosen people, Israel. This Joseph is going to Egypt to save God’s chosen Savior, Jesus.

Like his namesake of old, this Joseph is also obedient and faithful. When he got up, he took the Child and His mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord has said through the prophet:  “Out of Egypt I called My Son” (Matthew 2:14-15).

Joseph takes Mary and her Baby to Egypt, and there they stay until Herod dies.  Then, when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Get up, take the Child and His mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the Child’s life are dead.”

So he got up, took the Child and His mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, “He will be called a Nazarene.”

So Joseph-son-of-Jacob, having taken Mary and Jesus to Egypt, now brings them back to the Promised Land, and they find a home in Nazareth, just like the prophets said it would be. That’s what our text tells us today.

But the big question is this: So what? Why does it matter to me that the family went to Egypt and back? The story seems to have little significance. Ah, but there is much Good News here for us in the stories of Josephs, sons of Jacobs.

For one thing, Matthew insistently points out that this trip takes place to fulfill what the prophets had said about the Messiah. Even as a toddler, Jesus is proving Himself to be the Savior—even as He will by fulfilling prophecies about healings and other miracles. The trip to Egypt adds to His credentials as the Christ. But there is more for us to rejoice in here.

Remember the story of the original Joseph. And especially remember the original Israelites’ trip to Egypt. The Israelites who go down to Egypt and Joseph’s care are his brothers—the brothers who gave into jealousy, faked his death, deceived his father, stole his coat, sold him into slavery, and dismissed him as gone. This is hardly a righteous group of characters, these Israelites who make their way to Egypt and Joseph’s care.

Furthermore, consider the Israelites who leave Egypt 400 years later, who survived because of Joseph’s invitation. They constantly doubt God’s promises, bow down to false gods, challenge Moses, and complain about the Lord’s deliverance, and gripe about the Lord’s provision. They do so all the way to the Promised Land. And after that, they get even worse about it.

The point is this. All the way down to Egypt and all the way back to the Promised Land, the Israelites are a bunch of thankless and unrighteous sinners.

Now, remember the story of Joseph, husband of Mary. More specifically, look at the Child whom he delivers to Egypt and back. This Toddler—likely about 2 years old—makes the arduous journey to Egypt without a single sin. He arrives at His exile completely righteous and holy. Later on, He makes the journey back from Egypt to Nazareth in the Promised Land. And as He does so, He is still wholly righteous and without sin.

The point of this remembrance is this. The Toddler Jesus makes the same trip that Old Testament Israel did. And He makes it while perfectly trusting God and perfectly obeying His parents. He makes the trip without a single sin.

If this seems like nothing worth remarking on, then you’ve never gone on a long car ride with a two-year-old.

The Son of God makes this rough journey in part because He has taken on human flesh to be the Savior. And since life is rough for man, man’s Savior gets no special favors. But more importantly, the Son of God makes the trip because He is the Savior of all who believe in Him, even those Israelites of the Exodus. And in His trip to Egypt, He is hard at work to save.

You see, in preparation for Judgment Day, the Savior Jesus now makes this declaration to those long-gone Israelites of the Old Testament. He says, “When you went down to Egypt, you were full of all sorts of sin—just from the way you treated your brother Joseph. And when you left Egypt for the Promised Land, you were an unrighteous lot of grumbling, unfaithful idolaters. These sins merit the punishment of eternal death. That is what you deserve.

“But I am your Savior, and I save you from death. Therefore, I went to Egypt, too. I made the trip down to Pharaoh’s land, but I did it perfectly, without sin. I stayed in exile there for a while, and I stayed perfectly righteous in doing so. Then I made the trip out of Egypt—and I did so without a single sin. And, back in the Promised Land, I didn’t turn to false gods and idols. I stayed obedient to My Father’s will, even went to the cross at His bidding.

“I did this for you, so that you might be forgiven. I’ve lived to give you credit for my righteousness. And I’ve died to take away your sin. You see, when My Father looks upon you, He says, ‘When I look upon you, I don’t see your sins, your shabby treatment of Joseph, or your grumblings in the wilderness and idolatry in Canaan. My Son has taken all of that away. Instead, when I look at you, I see My Son’s perfect sinlessness as He travels down to Egypt. I see His perfect holiness as He lives there. I see His righteousness and obedience as He travels back to Nazareth and submits to His parents. I see these things because Jesus did them for you and gives you the credit for them. That’s why you’re saved from your sin. That’s why heaven is yours.’”

Therefore, this Gospel lesson does much to teach us of the Gospel itself. Jesus has lived and died for you. He has lived a perfect life so that He can give you credit for His perfect life. He has died the sinner’s death so that you don’t have to die for your sin.

Therefore, consider some of those sins that may well be prevalent as the holiday season begins to fade. It may be the anger of toddlers who are screaming because of a broken toy or just because they want to assert their will.

It may be the covetousness of children who wish they had the toys that a friend received. It may be the contempt of teenagers, who doesn’t want to listen to the parents and may grow angry at them for a bad day at school. It may be the sins that afflict adults, that rush into the vacuum left by the disappearing holiday cheer: lust, anxiety, selfishness, abrasiveness, a whole host of sins. Sins that don’t really shock us anymore because they’re just a part of who we are. And frankly, these are the dangerous sins. When sins trouble us, we repent of them. When they don’t trouble us, we dismiss them and do not seek forgiveness. But the Lord still calls them sin and calls us to repentance. For the wages of these sins, too, is death.

And the Lord also bids you to remember His trip to Egypt; because, you see, He is not just living a perfect and sinless life for the Israelites of old. He is doing that for you, too.

So that toddlers may be forgiven of their angry power-plays, Jesus perfectly and serenely submits to His parents. He then takes the punishment for angry power plays by submitting Himself to death on the cross. So that children can be forgiven for their covetousness, Jesus lives a perfect life of contentment. He then takes the judgment for their sin by giving up even His life at Calvary. So that teenagers can be forgiven for contempt and disrespect, He remains perfectly subservient to His parents through His adolescent years. Then He goes to the cross and accepts the blame for all the sins of the world.

For all of those grown-up sins that are so commonplace, He lives an adult life of perfect purity, trust, service, kindness, and holiness. Then He accepts the wrath of God and pays the price for all vice, wretchedness, unholiness, and iniquity. He doesn’t do this to set an example—we already have God’s Law to tell us what to do, and we cannot do it. He does not do this to set you up, to say, “Ha! It can be done, so you’d better get on the ball!” He lives that perfect life for you!

And He declares to you today, “Repent and remember my perfect life and my terrible death. I’ve lived that perfect life to give you the credit for it. I’ve died that death to save you the punishment. Therefore, I do not see your sin and shame —I’ve taken it away! Instead I see only perfect holiness, because I lived and died to give it to you.”

So hear the story of the Toddler Jesus, on His way to Egypt and back. Hear and marvel, because that 2-year-old is doing what you cannot do, and He’s doing it for your salvation. He fulfills prophecies at that young age, proving even then that He is the Savior that the prophets foretold.

And as He does so, He is living for you. So that He might die for you … And rise for you … And live for you once more, so He can declare that you are forgiven for all of your sins.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Sermons, Uncategorized

Blessings and Woes

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And [Jesus] lifted up His eyes on His disciples, and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.

“Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.

“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.

“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.

“Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry.

“Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.

“Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.”  (Luke 6:20-26).

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!

So, is it better to be dirt poor or filthy rich? Horribly hungry or completely satisfied? Racked with grief or bubbling with laughter? Hated by all or liked by all? The answer seems simple enough: You don’t find a whole lot of self-help books on how to ruin your portfolio, devote yourself to starvation, make your life more tragic, or how to make an enemy out of everyone. These are mostly things that happen quite naturally if you don’t help yourself.

Yet, when Jesus preaches to His disciples in our Gospel lesson, He declares that it is a blessing to be poor, hungry, weeping, and hated. Even more startling, He declares that it is a woe to be rich, satisfied, laughing, and of good reputation.

What is He saying? After all, He poses the same words to you. So, is it better to be poor or rich? Hungry or satisfied? Grief-stricken or joyful? Hated or loved? The purpose of this sermon is to answer these questions, and we must answer them in two ways—the way of the Law and the way of the Gospel.

First, the Law. There’s no doubt about it: Jesus declares blessing to the poor, hungry, weeping, and reviled; and woe to the wealthy, satisfied, happy, and popular. Part of this is because Jesus is declaring to the people that things are not as they appear. Those who are successful in the world aren’t necessarily blessed by God; and those who suffer all sorts of misfortune may still have His eternal favor.

For instance, He says, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God”; and on the other hand, “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.”

Wealth has its share of temptations, to be sure. In order to gain riches, one might have to resort to all sorts of sinful practices: Ignore wife and children, worship the job, take the credit for the work of others, and work for the ruin of your competitor, just to name a few. The road to wealth is littered with all sorts of ways that make it necessary to ignore the Lord’s commandments.

Once wealth is achieved, the road is hardly any more sanctified. Those who have riches may well put their trust in them and reject the Lord’s grace. Or they may spend so much time with their luxuries that they have no time for the Lord and His Word. Those who fall prey to the temptations of riches will certainly face God’s wrath and woe. The poor will not be so tempted if they have no wealth.

Likewise, Jesus says, “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied”; and, in contrast, “Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry.” A full stomach was hard to come by in Jesus’ time; and although we take it for granted, a full stomach on an ongoing basis is still a sign of wealth in this world. In a nation where news broadcasts spend far more time dwelling on diet plans and the dangers of gluttony than hunger and famine, this is a woe to take seriously.

With this blessing and woe, Jesus again warns against the peril of placing worldly luxuries—in this case, food—over and above obedience to Him. The hungry are not tempted to dwell on a full belly if they have no food to fill it with.

And again, “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh”; and “Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.” Ours is certainly an age where people seek out entertainment and pleasure, where mourning and weeping are to be kept in a closed room because death is too much of a downer. Jesus issues the warning that those who devote themselves to a pursuit of worldly pleasure, and in doing so ignore repentance and confession, will face God’s wrath and woe.

And once again, “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.” And on the other hand, “Woe to you, when all men speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.”

The Lord says, time and time again, that His message of sin and grace will be rejected by the world; so it panned out for the prophets. Therefore, one who enjoys immense popularity with the world probably isn’t being faithful to Christ and His Word. The one who is rejected is far more likely to be the faithful one.

So, with these four blessings and four woes, the Lord warns against the dangers of wealth, a full stomach, laughing, and popularity. He explains why the one who is poor, hungry, grieving, and rejected is blessed.

But we know that it’s not that easy. Some people are poor because they’re just too lazy to hold down a job, or because they’ve done some incredibly foolish things that have cost them their livelihood. Furthermore, while those who are poor don’t suffer from trust in wealth, they may certainly be afflicted with covetousness and envy for what others have—and perhaps resentment toward the Lord. The Lord doesn’t bless foolish choice, felonious behavior, or slothfulness, does He?

Some will mourn and be sad because by their sinful choices, they’ve completely ruined their lives. They may be saddened out of guilt for harm brought to others. Is this what the Lord chooses to bless? I don’t think so. And, frankly, some people are unpopular because they’re rude, boorish, and/or irritating. When people supposedly speak ill of them, they are only saying what is honestly true.

Clearly, then, Jesus is not saying that those who are poor are more righteous in God’s sight than those who are wealthy. Both have their sins and vices to deal with. The idea that all poor people are noble and all rich people are evil is in keeping with the writings of Marx, Lenin, and Mao—not God’s Holy Word. Scripture clearly indicates that all people are born with the same sinful nature.

Well, then, perhaps the Lord is telling us that we need to make sure that we don’t become too rich, too satisfied, too obsessed with pleasure, or too popular. Look for moderation, in all things as Benjamin Franklin suggested. This is closer to the truth, but this is still Law. And in the end, you will find no comfort there.

Let me try to illustrate where this line of thinking leads: It says, in effect, that Jesus warns against the perils of wealth, and so we’d better be careful about wealth and accumulating wealth; and isn’t it a good thing that we’re not filthy rich? But please note: Jesus never stipulates how rich “rich” means. I daresay that we’re not exactly a wealthy bunch. But compared to the slums of Calcutta or the shantytowns of Central America, we’re doing quite well. Are you sure that you’re poor enough to be blessed with the kingdom of heaven? Are you sure you’re not rich enough that you haven’t already received your consolation?

Jesus warns against the perils of a full belly, and these are words to take seriously in a land where throw out as much food as we consume. So we may well respond that it’s a good thing we’re not gluttons who live only for the next meal; but are you sure you’re hungry enough to be blessed? Are you sure you’re hungry enough, and not too satisfied now?

Likewise, Jesus warns against those who laugh now, who pursue pleasure and ignore the fact that this world is under the curse of sin. We may well respond that unlike those unbelievers, we certainly realize our need for forgiveness. But, be honest. Don’t you still delight in some of the worldly entertainment and luxuries? Are you sure you mourn the state of this world enough to be blessed?

And as we’ve spoken of just recently, we can expect that, as a congregation and as individuals, some will be offended at us for the Gospel that we proclaim. On the other hand, there are no picketers outside calling for the dissolution of St. John’s/Our Saviour’s/Trinity Lutheran Church. We’ve certainly not faced the threat of imprisonment or martyrdom for the faith. Are you sure that we’re proclaiming the Word purely enough to invite the rejection that the prophets faced? Are we excluded enough by the world to be included by Christ and His blessing?

No, you won’t find much comfort in the Law of God. The Law declares that you are to be poor, hungry, sad, and rejected to be blessed by God. But it doesn’t stipulate a level. Just how poor, hungry, sad, and rejected do you have to be? You never can tell, can you? That’s the purpose of the Law, to accuse you, to leave you in despair—to make sure that you know you can’t trust in you, to realize that your salvation must come from outside of you.

“Pastor, we’re well aware that we’re not saved by our works—we’re not saved by being poor or rich, but by Jesus. It’s Him that we need.” And in saying that, you are absolutely right. In fact, that is exactly what Jesus is saying with this Gospel lesson, when we answer the questions according to the Gospel. Who has been perfect in all that He does? Only the Lord Jesus, of course. He has been perfectly poor, perfectly hungry, perfectly mournful, and perfectly hated.

As far as poverty hear this Good News from St. Paul in 2 Corinthians 8: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.”

Taking on human flesh is enough of a step down for the Son of God; yet He stepped even lower in that He was born to poor parents and grew up to be a Man with less of a home than foxes or birds. He became even more poverty-stricken, for He exchanged His perfect righteousness and holiness for our sin at the cross, and suffered God’s judgment for us there. Jesus became perfectly poor for you.

As far as hunger, remember Christ’s wilderness temptation. Not only did Jesus go hungry, but He did so while constantly tempted by the devil; and throughout those forty days, Jesus remained perfectly sinless. Why? So that He might remain the perfect sacrifice for your sin. Jesus was perfectly hungry for you.

As far as mourning, Jesus wept at the death of Lazarus, for He knew the wages of sin. Likewise, He lamented for Jerusalem (Matthew 23:37) because they had rejected God’s Word and stoned His prophets. The Lord Jesus grieved the sinfulness of man and mourned death—so much so that He died in our place so that He might raise us up from the dead. In other words, Jesus’ weeping was perfect, for He wept over sin even as He delighted in doing His Father’s will.

And reviled? Spoken ill of? “Here is a glutton and drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and ‘sinners,’” His enemies charged. “He deceives the people,” they said. “You are demon-possessed,” they shouted. “Let Him be crucified!” the crowd cried to Pilate. So reviled was Jesus that the crowd demanded that a insurrectionist be spared and the holy Son of God be put to death. Oh, yes: At the cross He was despised and rejected by man—and forsaken by God for our sin. Yet perfect in His love, He prays that His Father would forgive them.

Do you see? Throughout His life and journey to the cross, Jesus is perfectly poor, hungry, mournful, and reviled—and perfectly sinless. And, therefore, perfectly blessed. And at the same time, at the cross, He suffered all of God’s woe for all the sin of the world. Now, if only He’d take away your woe and give you His blessings. Oh… but that’s exactly what He does, isn’t it?

Hear this Good News of woes and blessings: The Savior takes away from you and the Savior gives. The Savior takes away your sin and suffers its woes on the cross. He becomes the perfect Sacrifice whose blood is shed so that you can be forgiven. But even as the Savior takes away your sin and woe, He credits you with His blessed sinlessness. He shares His merit with you, so that you might be holy and blameless in the eyes of God.

How can you be blessedly poor, hungry, mournful and rejected?

You can’t—not by your own works, reason, or strength. But on the cross, the Lord gives you credit for His perfect obedience, and His merit covers up your sins. Thus St. Paul writes in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

If Christ dwells in you with the forgiveness of sins, then He brings with Him all the blessings He has earned for you. And you can be sure Christ dwells with you. When you were baptized, He joined you to His death and His life, sharing both with you. By His Word proclaimed, He continues to dwell among you. And at His Supper, He puts His body and blood into you for the forgiveness of sins. Are you baptized? Do you hear the Word? Do you receive His Supper? Then you can be sure—Christ dwells with you, and so every blessing of His is yours.

If you and I are to seek perfection by being poor enough or sad enough or enough of anything, we will never reach perfection, but face only woe. That is the message of the Law.

But the Gospel declares this: Blessed are you, because your Savior Jesus Christ has been perfectly obedient in your place, and covers you with His merit now and forever. He takes on your woes and gives you His blessings.

In other words, blessed are you: Because you are forgiven for all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.