Lay down now, put me in a surety with thee; who is he that will strike hands with me? (Job 17:3 KJV)
Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. (Rom 8:34 KJV)
Another teacher of mine has passed away. Saturday Pastor Horst Nickisch was called home by our Lord and maker, the Lord over life and death. He was 76 years old and led the “Praktisch-Theologische Seminar” in Bleckmar whilst I was busy doing vicarage in Gr.Oesingen under my mentor Pastor Manfred Griesheimer. It is as we sing nearly every Saturday evening; “Mein Leben ist ein Wandern zur grossen Ewigkeit...” (My life is a pilgrimage towards the great eternity). And as we go along one after the other of the strong pillars falters and falls, one teacher after the other fades and dies. Finally we are alone when we too are called to die. This end brings us face to face with our maker – no intermediaries anymore, no other advocates or soothsayers. It’s just me and Him + Kyrie eleison + Christe eleison + Kyrie eleison +
That’s why Job in dire straits calls on the Lord himself to be his surety. He calls on the Lord to stand in for him in his frailty and weakness, in his affliction and hardship. For in the final analysis there’s nobody else. We can’t build on lords and princes, for they too are but men – passing away like shadows, not in control by a long shot, rather prone to failure and dismal disappointment themselves. If one blind man leads the other, they both fall into the pit! Whoever trusts in men will stand ashamed for they are but mortal too and can’t stand up to the final challenge of facing the living God and judge of all.
Yet there is one, who is absolutely dependable and has offered himself as true and unfailing advocate of those, who trust in him: Our Lord Jesus Christ + He went through trials and temptations, torture and death victoriously. Even the grave, hell and the devil couldn’t hold him. He overcame them once and for all. He lives, reigns and rules now and forever. And he did that for us – vicariously, so that we united with him through the divine floods of holy Baptism would pass through these very depths of death victoriously too. No longer bound with sinful fetters of evil and caught up by the countless accusations of the ongoing accuser, but rather free as God’s children and heirs of the kingdom of heaven. The accusations aimed at us come to naught against Christ. He reigns gloriously at the right hand of the Father making intercession for us without fail. That’s why we are in God’s favour and good books. Nobody and nothing can be against us effectively for Christ Jesus himself is for us – and with that all is sorted. We have surety and therefore we are at peace and can go our path joyfully and gratefully – doing our daily business until he comes to call us home – and even singing glad songs of victory and praise at graves like that of Pastor Nickisch. Our God and Lord Jesus Christ lives and we shall live too – world without end. Amen.
“Come, Thou Bright and Morning Star” by Christian K. von Rosenroth, 1636-1689
Translated by Richard Massie, 1800-1887
1. Come, Thou Bright and Morning Star,
Light of light, without beginning!
Shine upon us from afar
That we may be kept from sinning.
Drive away by Thy clear light
Our dark night.
2. Let Thy grace, like morning dew
Falling soft on barren places,
Comfort, quicken, and renew
Our dry souls and dying graces;
Bless Thy flock from Thy rich store
3. May Thy fervent love destroy
Our cold works, in us awaking
Ardent zeal and holy joy
At the purple morn’s first breaking.
Let us truly rise ere yet
Life has set.
4. Ah! thou Dayspring from on high,
Grant that at Thy next appearing
We who in the graves do lie
May arise, Thy summons hearing,
And rejoice in our new life,
Far from strife.
5. Light us to those heavenly spheres,
Sun of grace, in glory shrouded;
Lead us through this vale of tears
To the land where days unclouded,
Purest joy, and perfect peace
Hymn #539 The Lutheran Hymnal Text: Ps. 88: 13
Author: Christian K. von Rosenroth, 1684, Translated by: Richard Massie, 1857
Titled: “Morgenglanz der Ewigkeit”