Friday, January 15, 2021

Saturday prior to Epiphany 2


Matthew 16:24—The hymn of the day is, “Come Follow Me, the Savior Spake” (LSB 688).  Nathanael is asked to follow as the Savior has directed him.  Some decisions we make are life altering. Where do we go for direction in life? We seek the Lord. As He has promised to guide us, we too must follow. It would do us little good if we decide to head in the opposite direction from whence we should go. This much loved hymn speaks of the Lord guiding His own.

 Healed and forgiven by His wounds, we take up the cross and follow. In many places around the world, cross-bearers suffer the loss of homes and employment, imprisonment or death. In other places those who follow Jesus may only endure the ridicule or disdain of others. But in every place, taking up the cross calls for self-denial and the forsaking of the world's temptations. Our sinful and self-centered demands are to be laid aside so that we might better love our neighbor as ourselves. In this, too, we follow Jesus: "Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please Himself, but as it is written, 'The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me'" (Romans 15:2-3).

In the strength of the Spirit, we take up the cross and follow Jesus, bearing up under the strain of battle against the temptations of the devil, the world, and our own sinful self-centeredness. By faith we cling firmly to the Word—to Jesus, the Word made flesh, and to the written Word of Scripture. Undaunted in suffering and in service, one day we will bear, not a cross, but a crown. "Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life" (Revelation 2:10b).

THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, help us to deny ourselves and forsake the things of the world, so that we might more closely follow You.[1]

God and men proceed in contrary ways. People settle first on whatever is best, and afterward they deal with what is worse. God first gives the cross and affliction, then honor and blessedness. He does this is because we seek to preserve the sinful flesh, which urges us to keep the Law by works and offer promises great and sweet. But the result has a stale taste. And although the flesh is intoxicated with great promises, it does not feel its wretchedness. Yet when the wine is digested and the false promises gone, the wretchedness appears. God, however, terrifies the conscience, sets on miserable wine, in fact nothing but water. Then He consoles us with the promises of the Gospel which endure forever. (Martin Luther)[2]

[2] Luther’s Works: American Edit Edition.55 volumes. (Volumes 1-30, Concordia Publishing House; volumes 31 31-55, Fortress Press)
  Schnorr von Carolsfeld, woodcuts “The calling of Philip and Nathanael” © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use.

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