Reflections: Thursday of the 13th Week after Trinity

Today’s Reading: Galatians 3:15-22
Daily Lectionary: 1 Kings 18:20-40; Ephesians 2:1-22

But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. (Galatians 3:22)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. You’re imprisoned under sin. That’s you in yourself. That’s every single man, woman, and child who’s ever lived, is living, or will live. That’s just who we are, in ourselves, without faith in Jesus.

What imprisons you under sin? The Scripture does, God’s Word of Law does. He condemns what you do: how you bug your sister, make your teacher, coach, or your parents mad, fail your friends, or continue to mistreat the people you don’t like or who’ve wronged you, even though Jesus says to love them. (God hates all this stuff.)

All those actions would be bad enough! But it’s not just what we do. It’s who we are! Conceived sinful. Born sinful. We live sinful lives. And we die sinful deaths. It’s what sinners do. And to sinners, sinners who act out their sinner-ness against those around us, well, the Lord God, the Creator of the universe, says, “Guilty! The sentence is ‘physical death and eternal damnation.'”

That’s God’s Law against every single person ever. His Law does this because God is holy, righteous, true, and just. But He’s not just speaking it to make you feel bad about yourself, so that you’ll finally get your act together and be a good person to be saved. No, that won’t work. (It hasn’t worked yet, has it?)

He says you’re guilty in yourself and your actions, “so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.” He makes that promise. You’re saved because of Jesus. In Jesus there’s mercy. Mercy not because of you. Mercy in Jesus. Jesus alone. Jesus alone for you.
Jesus took your guilty sentence. (See, God’s Law was against every single person ever.) All your yucky sins and sinfulness became His. He claimed it all as His own. You get all that He is–perfect and eternal righteousness. All yours in Holy Baptism, received by faith, trusting in Jesus.
The Law is true towards our sinner-ness, apart from Jesus. But you believe in Jesus, you’re baptized in Him. So you have to be innocent, forgiven! Jesus died your death and rose again for your justification, your “innocent verdict.” And that’s what you are in the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

The Law reveals the guilt of sin And makes us conscience-stricken; But then the Gospel enters in The sinful soul to quicken. Come to the cross, trust Christ, and live; The Law no peace can ever give, No comfort and no blessing. (“Salvation unto Us Has Come” LSB 555, st.8)