This Week's Message

Charlie Brown complained to Linus.  “Life is just too much for me.  I’ve been confused right from the day I was born.  I think the whole trouble is that we’re thrown into life too fast.  We’re not really prepared.”  Linus says, “What did you want, a chance to warm up first?” 
It would be nice to be prepared for many of life’s “curve balls” that come our way, to be warmed up and ready for the difficulties we often need to face.  In our frustration comes the good news of Christ’s abiding grace and mercy.  He is the author and giver of life.  He has come to prepare us, to warm us up to face life’s challenges with His living presence.  He would not leave us alone, to wallow in our guilt and shame.  Nor should we ever feel so confident in our own prowess to forget the nourishment we sorely need to sustain our faith and life in His name.  Trouble is sure to find us, as sparks fly upward (Job 5:7).  To our little corner of the world, Jesus comes, and assures us of His power to redeem, restore, and resurrect us, today and every day.
Our Maker and Redeemer has come to live on earth.  This was a startling truth which Christ revealed to His hometown synagogue worshipers (Luke 4:16-21).  He read the prophet Isaiah, who spoke of his commissioning by God to be His representative to people in need (Isaiah 61:1,2).  This Word of God was welcome good news indeed, which sustained believing hearts in God’s promises.  But when Jesus sat down and commented on the text, something extraordinary occurred.  A revelation of enormous magnitude suddenly appeared in the words Jesus spoke: “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21). 
What joy should have filled the hearts of all who heard Christ’s sermon that day!  Instead, they marveled at His gracious words, recollected His being raised by the carpenter Joseph.  But they were scandalized because all they could see was a 30 year old Jewish man.  That day the Gospel of God’s grace was in their midst, and they couldn’t fathom any of it.  Because of their unbelief, relying on their own goodness and covenant privileges and heritage, Jesus began to expose their hypocrisy and spiritual poverty.  They wanted Jesus to perform miraculous deeds, the same they had heard Him perform in Capernaum (Luke 4:23).  Yet none would be performed by Him.  The sign of God’s judgment rested upon them, even as the prophets Elijah and Elisha were sent to foreigners outside Israel, who would believe in God’s promises (Luke 4:25-27). 
That day, the Law of God’s judgment exposed their hypocrisy.  They should have acknowledged their guilt, their need of forgiveness, and in repentance, receive the Gospel message of God’s grace, revealed in their midst by God’s anointed Servant, Jesus Himself.  Instead, they rejected Him and turned away from God’s gift.  They sought to kill Him but He went His way. 
Today He comes again to assure us of His living presence among us.  The God-man abides with us still.  His Law exposes our guilt, and His Gospel offers His forgiveness.  We receive His gift of life through the means He has prepared for us.  His Word and Sacraments call us to faith and nurture us throughout life.
Like Charlie Brown, we may at times fret and worry and doubt.  On our own, we are helpless.  But today, Jesus assures us of His ability to help us face life’s difficulties with confidence and courage.  We are warmed up, so to speak, and prepared for life’s uncertainties with the certainty that Jesus has fulfilled the Scriptures for our salvation, today and always.