Behold, O Lord; for I am in distress: my bowels are troubled; mine heart is turned within me; for I have grievously rebelled. (Lamentations 1:20 KJV) And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying: “God be merciful to me a sinner.” (Luke 18:13 KJV)
There is no way around it. We are poor, miserable sinners and therefore have merited God’s wrath and eternal damnation. Through our rebellious ways and godless being we have turned from the God’s wholesome presence and have gotten lost in the barren waste lands of our wanton desires. Distress is the result. Our inmost being is in turmoil and upheaval. Things are rotten deep inside and sometimes it even shows outside even if the lid normally shuts off the can of worms.
God has seen our misery and has had mercy on us and his people on earth. That is why he sent his only begotten son Jesus Christ into our midst, to become one of us, share our lot and lead us out of this most serious calamity. That’s why he became man, conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary – in every regard our brother, yet without sin. Still he took upon himself all our sins and iniquity, our distress and diseases, our rebellious and godless ways and bore them upon the cross. He the vicarious sacrifice to placate and sooth the wrath of the Father. He was successful. He completed his divine mission perfectly and to the complete satisfaction of the Father. He left nothing undone, but conquered all sin, evil, death and devil to free us from the coming judgement. He has forgiven all our sins and granted us God’s unremitting favour: Peace and goodwill rule in heaven and on earth + thanks be to God on high now and forever. He lives and reigns at the right hand of the Father with all authority in heaven and earth his own – and he uses it in your favour and for us and our salvation.
Due to this most fortunate chain of events, all our lives have changed forever. There is no reason to despair. No cause for giving up. Nothing that can put us down before the eternal judgment throne of God anymore. He himself has overcome it all. He has ruled triumphantly against all rightful accusations that come up against us by the eternal accuser and even if we ourselves find ourselves guilty and our own hearts accuse us, God himself judges in our favour. He forgives our iniquities and heals all our diseases. So don’t be afraid. Your Lord and saviour has your life in his hands. Nothing can separate you from his loving care and goodwill. You are his and he is yours forever. Depart in peace and serve the Lord joyfully – today and always + Amen.
Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s. The Lord executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed. He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel. The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him. (Psalm 103:1-13)
“Jesus, Thy Blood and Righteousness”
by Ludwig von Zinzendorf, 1700-1760
Translated by John Wesley, 1703-1791
1. Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness My beauty are, my glorious dress; Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed, With joy shall I lift up my head.
2. Bold shall I stand in that great Day, For who aught to my charge shall lay? Fully through these absolved I am From sin and fear, from guilt and shame.
3. The holy, meek, unspotted Lamb, Who from the Father’s bosom came, Who died for me, e’en me t’atone, Now for my Lord and God I own.
4. Lord, I believe Thy precious blood, Which at the mercy-seat of God Forever doth for sinners plead, For me–e’en for my soul–was shed.
5. Lord, I believe were sinners more Than sands upon the ocean shore, Thou hast for all a ransom paid, For all a full atonement made.
6. When from the dust of death I rise To claim my mansion in the skies, E’en then, this shall be all my plea: Jesus hath lived and died for me.
7. Jesus, be endless praise to Thee, Whose boundless mercy hath for me, For me, and all Thy hands have made, An everlasting ransom paid.
Hymn #371 The Lutheran Hymnal
Text: 1 John 1:7 Author: Ludwig von Zinzendorf, 1739, Translated by: John Wesley, 1740
Titled: “Christi Blut und Gerechtigkeit”
Composer: George J. Elvey, 1862
Tune: “St. Crispin”