Today’s Reading: Small Catechism: Fifth Commandment
You shall not murder. What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not hurt or harm our neighbor in his body, but help and support him in every physical need. (Small Catechism: Fifth Commandment)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Last week when we read about the Fourth Commandment, we reflected upon three questions: What does this commandment mean? What gift of God is He protecting and providing for us in this commandment? And, how does Jesus keep this commandment for us? The meaning of the Fifth Commandment goes deeper than we might expect. At first, we might think, “I’ve never murdered anyone! I’m good to go. Kept that commandment; now onto the next.” Not so fast. The catechism helps us unpack the meaning of this commandment. It is not enough that we have refrained from murdering our neighbor.
Jesus also teaches us that whoever hates his brother in his heart has broken this commandment as well. That is to say, there’s an inward spiritual dimension to this commandment, not only an outward action. We easily break the Fifth Commandment without ever picking up a weapon to murder someone. Not only that, we fail to keep this commandment when we do not help and support our neighbor in their physical need. And that’s the answer to our second question. God gives the Fifth Commandment to protect and preserve His gift of our physical body and our bodily needs. This is what we pray for in the Fourth Petition of the Lord’s Prayer when we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.”
This is also why we pray, “Forgive us our trespasses.” For we have failed to keep this commandment as well. In thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and what we have left undone, we have broken the Fifth Commandment. What we deserve is the death sentence for our sins. Only that’s not what we receive. Remember that important third question: How does Jesus keep this commandment for me? Jesus keeps both sides of this commandment, the inward and the outward parts. By His every thought, word, and deed, Jesus kept the Fifth Commandment for you. And on the Cross, He left nothing undone to save you, body and soul. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Almighty God, you know that we have no power to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
-Rev. Samuel Schuldheisz is pastor of Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church in Milton, WA.
Audio Reflections Speaker: Rev. Duane Bamsch
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