But Scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe. (Gal 3:22 NIV)
At Sinai God through his legislation had the very clear intention of damning sin in a clear and impressive way. He condemned sin and the sinner too and everything that got into contact with sin in some or other way. That’s what is meant when St. Paul acknowledges: “Scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin.” Everything – not just people or mankind. Just as the lightning at Sinai illuminated the desert, so the word uttered on Sinai illuminates our hearts and lives with regards to sin. Just as the thunder roared over the wilderness at Sinai so too God’s curse thunders over all who transgress the law. The law clearly reveals the condemning consequences of disobedience and contravention against God’s will. Yet that is not the final goal of God’s revelation of the law. Rather the apostle clarifies that God gave the law with the intention “so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.” So the locking up of all under the control of sin was not final nor conclusive, but rather to prevent anybody of trusting in the law to help and save on the one side and to encourage everybody to look for help and salvation only in grace. This promise does not point to an earned compensation, but rather a free gift of the almighty God to those poor and miserable sinners seeking help and salvation with Jesus Christ alone.
We are a people swallowed up in a tide of guilt. Yet our pilot has patiently wrested us free from death’s grip. His mission saved us from the stormy sees in which now stands tall and strong the saving cross of Golgotha.
We are a people tired from our toils and struggles. Yet our Lord is strong and stands tall above all else. His pastoral staff comforts me and all still tired and strained. The comfort in death’s grip is the cross of Golgotha.
We are your people even in passing ages. You remain the master of all time. We are yours in eternity – you the Alpha and Omega. The zenith of all ages, periods and epochs remains your saving cross of Golgotha.
(Hugo Reich, 1854* tr Wilhelm Weber)
This is a rather free translation of Wilhelm Löhe’s devotion for Friday after the thirteenth Sunday after the high holiday and festival of the Holy Trinity. It is found on Pg. 311 in Lob sei Dir ewig, o Jesu! (Eternal Praise to you o Jesus!) edited by A. Schuster and published in the Freimund Verlag, Neuendettelsau 1949.