Time for Renewal
“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know—this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.” Acts 2:22-24
Jesus lives! The Son of God in human flesh walked on this earth as one of us. He did mighty works and wonders such as healing the sick, giving sight to the blind and making the lame walk, the deaf hear and the dead come back to life. He did something even greater. Jesus forgave the sins of the repentant who sought His gracious intervention in their lives.
For all these good works, Jesus was crucified and killed at the hands of lawless men. The enemies of Jesus thought they prevailed. So did the devil and his evil angels when Jesus was crucified, dead and buried. As C.F.W. Walther reminds us:
But short was their triumph; the Savior arose, And death, hell and Satan He vanquished, His foes. The conquering Lord lifts His banner on high; He lives, yes, He lives and will nevermore die. — LSB 480:3
Jesus lives! God the Father raised Him up. Death could not contain Him. He says:
“Fear not, I am the first and the last, the living One. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I hold have the keys of Death and Hades.” — Rev. 1:17-18
The prophet Malachi raises a profound question that challenges the church today.
“Great is the Lord beyond the borders of Israel! A son honors his father and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is My honor? And if I am a master, where is My fear?” says the Lord of hosts to you, O priests, who despise My name? — Mal. 1:5-6
While the context is specifically the Old Testament priests who permitted injured, diseased and blemished offerings, the New Testament reminds us that we are all a royal priesthood, a people belonging to God (1 Peter 2:9).
Where is the honor due the name of the Lord? Is there fear of God? We’ve grown sloppy and complacent in the church. The Divine Service is despised by people who are too busy with anything but worship. We baptize our children and want them confirmed, but we value their athletic and artistic endeavors more. We want them brought up in the faith but find no time to teach it at home or to attend adult Bible class while they go to Sunday school. Then we wonder why there is such lukewarm, tepid faith today. It is time for renewal.
Rev. Timothy Scharr