Crucial Representation
Friday of Pentecost 17
16 September 2016
Despite our legal familiarity with representative persons, we struggle with the idea that anyone could properly take our place by representing us. Even though our system of government is based on our elected representation, Westerners doubt the significance and value of representative persons. We are certainly suspicious especially of claims of divine representation. How can anyone claim the authority of speaking for God? We no longer afford our clergy the right to speak for God. Often, our standard of authority is that we agree to listen to our pastor only when he agrees to tell us what we want to hear.
                                               
In the political arena, we reject the ability of President Bush or President Obama to represent us, "He's not my president." We no longer see ourselves as part of a larger cohesive whole, be it the church or the nation, in which rightly placed persons represent us or our heavenly Father. Everyone is becoming not only his own pope, but also her own president.
 
And yet proper representation is often crucial. "Does the accused have representation?" the judge asks before the accused enters a plea before the court. Everyone ought to have adequate representation before a court of law. The lawyer knows the arcane rules of the legal system. The lawyer knows what to say and what not to say before the court. The lawyer understands how to move the court with certain forms of speech. The lawyer works to have the court acquit the accused, his client. He is the accused person's representative before the court. He is an advocate in that he "speaks for" the accused. Occasionally an accused person insists on representing themselves. But, as the old lawyer joke goes, such a person represents a fool. It is clear to most people that everyone needs good representation, even fools.
 
Our heavenly Father knows our need for good representation. It is crucial that we have His divinely appointed Advocate represent us before the bar of His justice. This Advocate is not merely able to speak for us or to us, but He is also able to represent us under the burden of our sins. He takes away the sin of the world and in so doing He takes my sin away from me. No more powerful representation can be experienced by a human being. We are rightly shocked, even boggled, by God's condescension in the flesh of Christ to take our place under the world's sin. God thought that it was so crucial that the only way that representation could be made complete was on the cross. Christ, as our representative, becomes guilty, and we become innocent.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Martin Luther
 
"This is the most joyous of all doctrines and the one that contains the most comfort. It teaches that we have the indescribable and inestimable mercy and love of God. When the merciful Father saw that we were being oppressed through the Law, that we were being held under a curse, and that we could not be liberated from it by anything, He sent His Son into the world, heaped all the sins of all men upon Him, and said to Him: 'Be Peter the denier; Paul the persecutor, blasphemer, and assaulter; David the adulterer; the sinner who ate the apple in Paradise; the thief on the cross. In short, be the person of all men, the one who has committed the sins of all men. And see to it that You pay and make satisfaction for them.' Now the Law comes and says: 'I find Him a sinner, who takes upon Himself the sins of all men. I do not see any other sins than those in Him. Therefore let Him die on the cross!' And so it attacks Him and kills Him. By this deed the whole world is purged and expiated from all sins, and thus it is set free from death and from every evil. But when sin and death have been abolished by this one man, God does not want to see anything else in the whole world, especially if it were to believe, except sheer cleansing and righteousness. And if any remnants of sin were to remain, still for the sake of Christ, the shining Sun, God would not notice them.
 
"This is how we must magnify the doctrine of Christian righteousness in opposition to the righteousness of the Law and of works, even though there is no voice or eloquence that can properly understand, much less express, its greatness. Therefore the argument that Paul presents here is the most powerful and the highest of all against all the righteousness of the flesh; for it contains this invincible and irrefutable antithesis: If the sins of the entire world are on that one man, Jesus Christ, then they are not on the world. But if they are not on Him, then they are still on the world. Again, if Christ Himself is made guilty of all the sins that we have all committed, then we are absolved from all sins, not through ourselves or through our own works or merits but through Him. But if He is innocent and does not carry our sins, then we carry them and shall die and be damned in them. 'But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen'" (1Co 15:57).

Martin Luther, Lectures on Galatians, 3.13
Romans 5:1-11

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
 
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person - though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die - but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.  (ESV)
Prayer
Lord Christ, You have taken my sin by being my representative under the justice of God. Grant that I might attend to my salvation by standing under Your cross to see You as my Lamb of God, who takes away my sin. Amen.
 
For Tim Scharr, who is recovering from foot surgery, that her Lord Jesus Christ would grant him healing and strength
 
For those who are suffering from chronic pain that they might know that the Lord Jesus, who suffered for them, will bring healing.
 
For the Faculty and Staff of Concordia Seminary, that Christ the teacher would be with them as they properly distinguish between law and gospel in their classrooms this year, speaking both peace and judgment when each is necessary
Art: Durer, Albrecht   The Adoration of the Trinity (1515) 
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
©  Scott Murray 2016