Herrenhuter readings for Thursday, the 16th April 2015

LIONELLO SPADA-XX-The return of the prodigal son

“The LORD is righteous, yet I rebelled against his command.” (Lam 1:18 NIV) and “I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.” (Luk 15:18 NIV)

The fact that God is God – and no-one else – makes his will absolute and sets it uncompromisingly first and foremost. Being righteous, correct, unerring and entirely perfect it synonymous and equal with being God.  What he ordains is always right, best and absolutely good – for he alone is always God and therefore right, just and righteous without fail or flaws. Kings and sovereigns of old often thought they were as absolute and divine too, although their final fate always made an end to these fallacious fantasies if it had not become evident long beforehand to themselves and to others anyway. Yet God is alive and rules forever and ever and finally we’ll see this absolute perfection and positive righteousness in all its glory, when he will come visibly to judge the living and the dead at the final Judgement Day. God alone is the absolute standard and measure of truth, righteousness and good. All else needs to be measured up to this benchmark and divine absolute.

The corollary of this divine truth is the logical conclusion that any opposition and rebellion against this godly will or attempt at finding fault with this highest good and absolute perfection is per se already condemned to be sinful, wrong and evil. That’s the fundamental negativity of the devil and disqualifies all his queries, question marks and innuendos by which he wants to cast a shadow on the absolute goodness of God from the very outset. It’s in line with his character as father of all lies to be against the absolute and perfect truth, which is found in the source of all good, light and life – and through it he tries to spread darkness, damage and death to those, who give ear to him despite the dire warnings against his wicked temptation from the very beginning.

Off course this is not some kind of ideology or human invention. Rather God himself has revealed himself as the one and only truth, goodness and the true life from the very beginning. Not only has he in his divine Word through apostles and prophets proclaimed what is good and salutary in his sight and from his perspective, but finally he has spoken to us through his very own Son Jesus Christ. It is he, who says of himself: “I am the truth, the way and the life. Nobody comes to the Father than through me!” (John 14:6) He – this very man born of the Virgin Mary, who suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried for our iniquities only to rise again gloriously on the 3rd Day after victoriously harrowing hell, conquering death and the devil and liberating all captives for us and our salvation – he is the one, we are to listen to. Him we are to obey. That’s the binding decree of our Father in heaven. It is he, who  in his final ordinance declares: “Teach them everything I have taught you!”

That’s why it holds true in the Church and all the world what the church father Augustine wrote for clarification and careful observance: Valid is what he says – and relative all else i.e. what you say, he/she says or I myself declare.

In remembrance of our holy Baptism we daily recall and relive the fact that we have died to our old sinful being, that consists in rebellion and opposition to God’s most holy, perfect and pure will, but also the other that now no longer we are alive, but Christ lives in us as new creation in purity, holiness and godly righteousness – pleasing to God and in accordance with his most holy will. Thus every day of the Christian is a living confession of our sinful state, existence and being, but also the joyful trust and faith that we have been justified in God’s sight for Christ’s sake – once and for all. Therefore let us get up from sinful sleep and go home to the Father once again. This homecoming is the very gift of our Baptism + We thank our God and Lord Jesus Christ for it.  He lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit – one God now and forever. Amen.

1 Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
let me hide myself in thee;
let the water and the blood,
from thy wounded side which flowed,
be of sin the double cure;
save from wrath and make me pure.

2 Not the labors of my hands
can fulfill thy law’s demands;
could my zeal no respite know,
could my tears forever flow,
all for sin could not atone;
thou must save, and thou alone.

3 Nothing in my hand I bring,
simply to the cross I cling;
naked, come to thee for dress;
helpless, look to thee for grace;
foul, I to the fountain fly;
wash me, Savior, or I die.

4 While I draw this fleeting breath,
when mine eyes shall close in death,
when I soar to worlds unknown,
see thee on thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
let me hide myself in thee.

United Methodist Hymnal, 1989

About Wilhelm Weber jr

Rector of the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Tshwane
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