Song of the Drunkards


JESUS FACED A CONSIDERABLE AMOUNT OF OPPOSITION FOR HIS HARD WORDS AND UNFLINCHING DEVOTION TO YAHWEH. NO SURPRISE THEN IF WE FIND OUR NAME FESTOONED IN BARROOM BALLADS (CF. PS 69:12).


Neither a Revolutionary, Nor a Demagogue

June 26, 2022 in Bible - NT - Luke, Meditations

Luke 12:13–15 

13Then one from the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 14But He said to him, “Man, who made Me a judge or an arbitrator over you?” 15And He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” 

Our text today reveals that Jesus was neither a revolutionary leading an uprising nor a demagogue courting popular opinion. “One from the crowd said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.’” This man presented Jesus with an ideal opportunity to rile up the crowd. After all, money always gets people excited. Jesus could have used this request as a springboard to denounce the excessive nature of Roman taxation or the injustice of the inheritance laws. “Let us rise up; let us protest; I’m your man! Follow me!” But Jesus was neither a revolutionary nor a demagogue. The man in the crowd had misjudged Jesus.

Instead Jesus speaks bluntly to this fellow, “Man, who made Me a judge or an arbitrator over you?” Jesus reminds the man that there was a lawful way for him to handle his complaint – and that lawful way was to appeal to the magistrates, to appeal to the courts who would decide in such cases what was good and just. But courts take time and courts have rules – and this man wanted to supercede that process. He wanted to rile up the crowd. He was a revolutionary. But Jesus was not. 

Neither was He a demagogue – for notice what Jesus does next. He addresses Himself to the multitude: “Take heed,” He declares, “and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of things he possesses.” Jesus exposes the sin that was at the root of this man’s request and that is often at the root of our drive to revolutionary action: covetousness, envy, greed, the desire to possess that which lawfully belongs to others. Our politicians regularly use such envy as a tool to propel themselves into power. “Tax the rich; take from those who have more! We’ll make your brother divide that inheritance with you! He shouldn’t have so much! That’s not fair!” But Jesus exposes the origin of all this demagoguery; He exposes the sin at its root: covetousness. Jesus was no demagogue.

So listen to the words of Jesus, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of things he possesses.” He delivers this warning to the crowd precisly because covetousness is not something that afflicts only politicians. The reason that we fall prey to the pleas of revolutionaries and demagogues is that we ourselves are covetous; we desire more than God has given us and would take that which God has given to others. But Jesus rebukes our covetousness and reminds us that our life does not consist in the abundance of things we possess. Instead, a meaningful life consists of loving God and loving one’s neighbor, of being content with what one has received and of laying up treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust destroy. And this is true for rich and poor alike.

And so reminded that we are to be neither revolutionaries nor demagogues, that we are to be content with what God has given us and not let covetousness drive us to take that which rightfully belongs to others, let us kneel as we are able and confess that we are often covetous and fall prey to revolutionaries and demagogues. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in bulletin.

Triune Communion

June 12, 2022 in Bible - NT - John, Meditations, Trinity

John 17:1–6 

1Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, 2as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. 3And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. 4I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. 5And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was. 6I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. 

Today is Trinity Sunday, the Sunday the Church has historically set aside to remind the people of God that the God we worship is Triune – three Persons in one God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Later in our liturgy we will recite the Athanasian Creed together, one creedal attempt to give expression to God’s Triune nature.

In our Scripture today, Jesus prays to the Father and, in so doing, illustrates the interpersonal dynamic that has existed for all eternity among the Persons of the Trinity. First, we note that the Father and the Son – together with the Spirit, we might add – share glory. Jesus asks the Father – the Father who declared through Isaiah, “My glory I will not give to another…” (Is 42:8) – Jesus says to this Father, “Father, glorify Me together with Yourself…” And note that Jesus prays for a particular type of glory, “with the glory which I had with You before the world was.” Prior to Jesus’ incarnation, He existed in the form of God and, though His deity was veiled during His time on earth, now that He has risen from the dead and ascended into heaven, that glory has been restored to Him. Jesus was and is God Himself in human flesh.

Second, our text reveals that in eternity past, before the world was, when the Father and Son shared glory, they also shared communion with one another, they lived in a relationship of love. Jesus alludes to this eternal communion a couple times. Jesus prays, “I have glorified you on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. The Father gave Jesus a task to accomplish, a work to perform. So when did the Father give Him that work? The Scriptures answer: in eternity past, before the world was, when the Father and Son communed together. But there’s more. Not only did the Father give the Son a task to do, He also gave Him a people to be His own. Jesus prays, “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me…” So when did the Father give these people to the Son? Before the world was. The Father “chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world” (Eph 1:4).

This eternal communion between the Father and the Son prior to the foundation of the world is sometimes called the Covenant of Redemption or the pactum salutis, the “pact of salvation. Louis Berkhof explains in his Systematic Theology: “Now we find that in the [plan] of redemption there is, in a sense, a division of labor: the Father is the originator, the Son the executor, and the Holy Spirit the applier. This can only be the result of a voluntary agreement among the persons of the Trinity, so that their internal relations assume the form of…covenant life.” (266) God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit have dwelt in covenantal life, in communion for all eternity. 

So, consider, before the foundation of the world God thought of us, loved us, and gave us to be Christ’s own people – apart from any merit of our own; indeed despite the demerit which He knew we would deserve – ought we not to be humbled and awed that the Creator of all took notice of us and chose us as His own? As Paul writes, “But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thes 2:13-14). Triune salvation.

And so reminded of the great love which the Father has bestowed upon us, and that He loved us before the foundation of the world and loves us despite our unloveliness, let us confess that we are unworthy His love and can only throw ourselves on His mercy in Jesus. And, as you are able, let us kneel as we confess our sins together.

We Believe, and Therefore Speak

May 22, 2022 in Bible - NT - 2 Corinthians, Easter, Meditations, Resurrection

2 Corinthians 4:13–15 

13And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written [in Psalm 116], “I believed and therefore I spoke,” we also believe and therefore speak, 14knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you. 15For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God. 

What is the significance of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead? This is the question we have asked during this time of Eastertide. As we anticipate Ascension Sunday and Pentecost Sunday in the weeks to come, I would like to close our observations on the resurrection today. In our text Paul helps us understand the significance of the resurrection. Why did Jesus rise from the dead? Jesus rose from the dead so that we might be thankful and praise our God.

To make his point, Paul quotes from Psalm 116, a psalm of thanksgiving. In this psalm, the psalmist cried out to God in the face of death: “The pains of death surrounded me, and the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me; I found trouble and sorrow” (116:3). But the psalmist trusted God. He knew that God was capable of delivering him from death and so he cried out to God with the words that Paul quotes: “I believed, therefore I spoke, ‘I am greatly afflicted’” (116:10). The psalmist trusted God and so asked God to deliver him. And glory be to God, the Lord answered his prayer: “For you have delivered my soul from death, My eyes from tears, and my feet from falling. I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living” (116:8-9). God delivered him, so he does the only thing he can rightly do: he praises and thanks the Lord for His mercy: “I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the Lord” (116:18).

The faith and thanksgiving manifested by Psalm 116 are a pattern for us. Just as the psalmist believed and therefore spoke, trusting God to deliver him from death, so we believe and therefore speak, trusting God to deliver us. Why? Because Christ Himself has alreay risen from the dead and guarantees our resurrection. “He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus.” Jesus’ resurrection is the firstfruits, the guarantee of ours. Death is now a defeated foe; Christ is Risen and we too shall rise.

So how ought we to respond to the assurance that God will deliver us from death? Just as the psalmist did: with praise and thanksgiving. You see, the goal of Christ’s resurrection is that thanksgiving and praise might abound in all the world to Yahweh, the living God. Jesus took on human flesh in order to restore rightful worship; Jesus ministered and suffered and died in order to restore rightful worship; Jesus rose from the dead in order to restore rightful worship. In other words, Jesus took on human flesh, ministered, suffered, died, and rose from the dead so that you would be here this morning, joining your voice with the voices of all God’s people and thanking God for his mercies, thanking God that He has delivered you from death.

So, beloved, how eager are you to be here? God raised up Jesus so that you would be here this morning; so that you would lift up your voice in company with the voices of your brothers and sisters; so that you would worship him. So how ought we to approach this morning? With sloth? With mere formality? With mumbling and inattention? May it never be! Let us join our voices week by week in thankful acknowledgement of God’s mercies toward us in Christ – Alleluia! Christ is risen! (Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!) So let us worship the Lord!

Reminded that Jesus rose from the dead in order that we might worship Him together, we are also reminded how we often approach worship with insufficient joy and delight. So let us kneel and confess our sin to the Lord. We will have a time of private confession followed by the public confession found in your bulletin.