Friday of the Week of Lent V
I am speaking the truth in Christ, I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen by race. They are Israelites, and to them belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ. God who is over all be blessed for ever. Amen. But it is not as though the word of God had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his descendants…This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are reckoned as descendants. (Romans 9:1-7a, 8)
Additional Daily Bible Readings: Exodus 12:1–30; Psalm 78:1–35; Romans 9:1–26
Weekly Reading: http://bit.ly/2Dg9nUZ
As Paul has so masterfully laid out the Gospel of Jesus Christ—that no one will be saved by the law, but only by the grace and mercy of God revealed in his Son, effected for us by his death and resurrection—the apostle now grieves the fact that many in Israel have not seen and confessed Jesus as Lord. Paul was himself a Jew. These were his people, his “race” he calls them. His love for his Jewish brothers and sisters is evident, as he is willing to be “cut off from Christ” for the sake of his brethren! And yet, many would not believe, and this is a cause of great sorrow for Paul.
And does this mean the Word of God which first came to the Jews has failed, Paul asks? If they first had the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship and the promises, and yet they would not confess the Christ, who was of their race, what was the problem? Why were there so many who would not come to believe in Jesus? Paul argues that being a child of God doesn’t come by birth, but by the promise. Being a child of God is not inherited by flesh and blood; it comes through Baptism and the Spirit.
There have always been those Lutherans who think they are faithful followers because they were born into a Lutheran church and had Lutheran parents and grandparents, even though they never lived the faith. Congregations regularly have folks who call asking for a wedding or funeral to be held in the church, based on the faith and involvement of their forebears. There are Lutheran congregations and church bodies who consider themselves Lutheran, even though they no longer hold to the truth and authority of God’s word and would never say, with Luther, “My conscience is captive to the Word of God.” It is for this reason that the Reformation never ends. But God’s Word is ever at work, reforming and renewing faith in the lives of Christians and in the Church at large. We are always being called back to the promise of the Gospel, which makes us children of God and, yes, descendants of Abraham, who live by faith!
Prayer: Lord God, save and redeem me, not because I am Lutheran, but because I cling to Jesus, who is my Savior! Amen.
Lenten Response: Find your baptismal or confirmation certificate, and renew your faith!
Video Devotional: From Ashes to Easter
Today’s devotion was written by the Rev. Dr. David Wendel, Assistant to the Bishop for Ministry and Ecumenism.