Kruiz edited
Turning Things Over
Thursday in Lent 1
9 March 2017
I often remark to the people of my parish that God is always "turning things over" on them; making weakness strength, darkness light, and death life. He takes our mundane and reasonable expectations and makes them foolish by leading us to the divine truth through humiliation. Our Lord Himself has undergone that same humiliation for our sakes. How shall we know and believe what He has done for us if we do not likewise find ourselves humbled. Only those who are humbled can know the meaning of the humiliation of the Son of God. He often allows us to suffer humiliation that being brought down where He is He might lift us up from the ash heap. He turns humiliation over into exaltation.
Jesus accepts His own humiliation and walks resolutely toward it. In John 3 he tells us that He will be like the snake that Moses lifted up in the desert. Of course, the healing property of the form lifted up on the pole in Numbers 21 is the point being made by Jesus. He comes to heal the sickness unto death. But there is more; He identifies Himself with the snake. The snake eats dust all its days and bears the curse of Genesis 3. Jesus too becomes the accursed One, who having lived in the dust of death on His earthly sojourn, was lifted up on the pole to be looked upon with disgust and revulsion (Isaiah 53). He is reviled as a demon (Mt 12:24), a veritable snake, who is a disturber of Israel and not her Savior. Men still revile Him as a snake in the grass, who divides rather than unites, because of the centrality of His cross and His resolute unwillingness to share His divine honor and glory with another (First Commandment).
The Son of God is willing to have His honor and glory turned over into humiliation for our sakes, that He might rescue us from our sin and death. All this happens under the shadow of the cross for us Christians. There is no way around being turned over into suffering with Christ. This man who was bloodied and beaten by Gentiles becomes only a worm of a man and no man (Ps 22:6) when hung up on the cross to die. He was mocked for His powerlessness, "If you are the Son of God, come down and save Yourself!" How much more deeply could He slither among the filth of humanity than to be spat by His creatures, His beloved creatures, while hung upon the cross as an object of their derision and scorn? Oh, dearest Jesus, all this You suffered for me! You turned over my filth into Your righteousness.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Martin Luther
"We know that Christ grants us salvation, that He is given to us by God as our King and Lord or Savior, and that God made Him wisdom for Jews and Gentiles, which no reason can fathom. He is also our resurrection, as He Himself declares: 'I shall rise again, and all who accept Me and believe in Me will rise from the dead and ascend into heaven.'
"It is not an easy matter to believe this. To believe that Christ was crucified for us, that He died and was damned for us, requires the power of God. Thus St. Paul says to the Corinthians: 'We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles ' (1Co 1:23). Yet this proclamation penetrates the heart; for ' it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, ' (Rm 1:16). If I were to consult reason about this, it would say: 'Let the devil believe in this sort of wretched person who was nailed to a cross!' Yet the holy martyrs let themselves be burned at the stake and slain for such a faith! Despite His horrible appearance they believed that this condemned man was the Savior of the world."

Martin Luther, Sermons on John's Gospel, 3.14
Psalm 22:1-11

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest. Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them. To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame. But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads; "He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!" Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother's breasts. On you was I cast from my birth, and from my mother's womb you have been my God. Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help.  (ESV)
Dearest Jesus, You accepted into Your holy and pristine person the filth of the world's sin and allowed Yourself to be held up to derision and ridicule by us humans while splayed upon the cross of crucifixion. In Your humiliation You have overturned our wisdom making it foolish. We repent of our foolish wisdom and pray that You would grant us Your wise folly, that shaped by Your humble life we might be lifted up by You at the judgment to be exalted together with You, the Crucified Christ. Amen.
For Chaplain Donald Ehrke (Maj., US Army), that the Lord would bless him in his service to our military personnel
For the work and ministry of Bob Bennett, the Director the Luther Academy, that the work of the Luther Academy to spread confessional Lutheranism around the world would grow and flourish
For Maren Tejeda, who will be undergoing ear surgery, that the Lord who gives hearing would grant her a successful surgery and a full recovery of her gift of healing
Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias   Isenheim Altarpiece (c. 1515)
Memorial Lutheran Church
©  Scott Murray 2017