Killing Christ Again
Wednesday of Pentecost 11
23 August 2017
Moses' regime has its place. The world requires the discipline handed down in the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai. The kingdoms of the world work with law, commands, punishment, and wrath. This is the ministry of Moses. Until the world ends, this coercion of wicked humans is required. However, even before the regime of Moses was established the Lord Himself had told of an order to come, in which the law would play no part. The Messiah was long promised on the lips of Moses and all the prophets. As Luther says, they opened the doors and windows through which Christ came among His people of old.
One such window was the promise to Moses: " The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers -- it is to him you shall listen" (Dt 18:15). Here the Lord promised a Savior born of the people of Israel. The Mosaic law already had been superseded by the promise of the Savior, born of Eve. This was the spiritual kingdom that Christ would build by His suffering, death, and resurrection. The Church, although standing alongside the house of Moses in the kingdom of this world, has an independent existence and is ruled by a man after God's own heart, His own beloved Son. Moses died in the wilderness within agonizing sight of the Promised Land. Only God's Son, the true Savior, could lead the people into the land promised by God to the people forever.
Where these two kingdoms conflict, Christ must triumph. Each must take care of its own business. The church preaches forgiveness of sins, the merits of Christ, and freedom from the fear of death. The kingdom of the world has nothing to fear from this preaching. The kingdom of the world must proclaim external righteousness, obedience, compliance with the divine order, and must back up these requirements with law, commands, punishment, and wrath. When the church preaches the latter she becomes the world. When the world preaches the former it risks blasphemy.
A large religious emporium here in Houston (I hesitate to use the term "church") advertised a preaching series on how to be a better and more successful business person. This emporium has returned to the kingdom of Moses from the fold of Christ. Moses has his place, just not in leading the Church. Moses needs to be in our homes, families, schools, businesses, and civil institutions. However, there is a new regime in the Church. It is Christ's. All the other human structures will see to Moses. The Church must see to Christ. The Church must not let Caiaphas and the law kill Christ again.
While I was living in New Orleans there was an election for judge between two Christian lawyers, neither of whom were incumbents. One of them, a Pentecostal Christian, claimed that if elected he would make judgments in his courtroom using "Christian principles." The other judge said that he would administer justice in his courtroom according to the law of the land. The attorneys in my congregation wanted to know how I would vote on this judgeship and were surprised when I said I would vote for the second judge. Christian theology gives space to the workings of law and society, a realm over which God also rules, but which He rules by law. Civil society is the realm of the law. The gospel has its place too. Forgiveness rules in the realm of conscience and the church, which is the kingdom of heaven. Those two kingdoms must be kept separate, so that God can do the work proper to each with the weapons that suit each kingdom.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Martin Luther

"In society obedience to the law must be strictly required. There let nothing be known about the gospel, conscience, grace, the forgiveness of sins, heavenly righteousness, or Christ Himself; but let there be knowledge only of Moses, of the law and its works. When these two topics, the law and the gospel, are separated this way, both will remain within their limits. The law will remain outside heaven, that is, outside the heart and the conscience. On the other hand, the freedom of the gospel will remain outside the earth, that is, outside the body and its members. And just as soon as the law and sin come into heaven, that is, into the conscience, they should be promptly ejected. For then the conscience should know nothing about the law and sin but should know only about Christ. On the other hand, when grace and freedom come into the earth, that is, into the body, you must say: 'You have no business here among the dirt and filth of this physical life. You belong in heaven!'" 

Martin Luther, Lectures on Galatians, 2.14
2 Chronicles

And many people came together in Jerusalem to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread in the second month, a very great assembly. They set to work and removed the altars that were in Jerusalem, and all the altars for burning incense they took away and threw into the Kidron valley. And they slaughtered the Passover lamb on the fourteenth day of the second month. And the priests and the Levites were ashamed, so that they consecrated themselves and brought burnt offerings into the house of the LORD. They took their accustomed posts according to the Law of Moses the man of God. The priests threw the blood that they received from the hand of the Levites. For there were many in the assembly who had not consecrated themselves. Therefore the Levites had to slaughter the Passover lamb for everyone who was not clean, to consecrate it to the LORD. For a majority of the people, many of them from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet they ate the Passover otherwise than as prescribed. For Hezekiah had prayed for them, saying, "May the good LORD pardon everyone who sets his heart to seek God, the LORD, the God of his fathers, even though not according to the sanctuary's rules of cleanness." And the LORD heard Hezekiah and healed the people. And the people of Israel who were present at Jerusalem kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with great gladness, and the Levites and the priests praised the LORD day by day, singing with all their might to the LORD. And Hezekiah spoke encouragingly to all the Levites who showed good skill in the service of the LORD. So they ate the food of the festival for seven days, sacrificing peace offerings and giving thanks to the LORD, the God of their fathers.   (ESV)
Lord, help me to honor the workings of Your law in the civil realm by being obedient to the structures of society, parents, community, and government given by You for my good. Amen.
For Susan Narr, who is suffering from cancer, that the Lord would grant strength according to His gracious will
For Barbara Dube, who is waiting on a lung transplant, that the Lord of life would grant her the breath of life
For the people of Messiah Lutheran Church of Marysville, WA as they celebrate the 6oth anniversary of the congregation's founding, that they might find great joy in the abundant gifts of God
Art: Albrecht DURER,  The Adoration of the Trinity (1511)
Memorial Lutheran Church
©  Scott Murray 2017