October 25, 2020
Primary Scripture Reading: John 8:31-36
Supplemental Scripture Readings: Romans 3:19-28; Revelation 14:6-7; Psalm 42; Psalm 46
Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus!
Except for the youngest among us, we probably all remember playing the board game “Monopoly.” In the center of the board were orange “Chance” cards and yellow “Community Chest” cards. When you landed on certain spaces you got the opportunity to pick up one of those cards. Sometimes it was good news. Sometimes it was bad news. The only card in common to both piles (from my memory) was the “Get out of Jail Free” card.
Until March, 2020, probably few of us ever experienced what it was like to be in jail. That’s actually how I have heard many people refer to the Covid-19 Coronavirus pandemic restrictions. Jail. Since March we’ve been told what we can’t do and where we can’t go (church, restaurants, beauty salons, public parks, work and even gatherings with family and friends). And we’ve been told what we must do (wear masks, socially distance, quarantine and isolate). I honestly can’t say I know anyone who isn’t tired of the restrictions, tired of the loss of our personal freedoms.
If we make the jump into the spiritual realm, perhaps we now have a much better idea of the feelings and emotions that laid the foundation for the Reformation of the Church. It was a pretty frustrating spiritual time. It had honestly been going on so long and had been so gradual that many people had actually forgotten their inalienable freedoms in Christ and had settled for a joyless faith. They had fallen into a routine of doing what they were told to do and not doing what they were ordered not to do.
One day, just over 500 years ago, Martin Luther was climbing a set of stairs in Rome. On his knees. Kissing every dirty step as he went. Why? Simply because he had been told to do that. Because it would supposedly bring him forgiveness of his sin. Because it would supposedly earn him God’s favor. Because it would supposedly bring him peace and confidence. And, don’t forget, people had been doing it for hundreds of years.
That particular day, a ray of light broke into the darkness (John 1:5). Scripture began to assault Luther’s thoughts.
“The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17).
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this is not of yourself. It is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
“If the Son sets you free, you are free indeed” (John 8:36).
“What in the world am I doing here, kissing these stairs?”
That ray of light that day sparked years of intense study of God’s Word. The darkness lost the battle (Genesis 1:3). The monk came to know the God Whom he was supposedly serving. The university professor with a doctorate in theology finally learned what he was supposed to be teaching. That day, Martin Luther got out of jail (Romans 8:36). That day, the joy of his salvation was restored to him (Psalm 51:12).
Today is your day!
Jesus Christ was born for you! Jesus Christ died for you! Jesus Christ rose from the grave for you! Jesus Christ has freed you from sin, from death, and from every power of the devil. As Luther would say, “Not with silver or gold, but with His holy, precious Blood.”
Nothing more is required. Nothing!
Maybe you’ve never heard that before. Maybe you’ve never understood that before. Maybe you’ve never believed that before. Or maybe you’ve just allowed the devil to take away the freedom of living in that knowledge and what it means (the devil is actually quite accomplished at that).
Today again – even if it is for the millionth time in your life – Jesus Christ reaches out for you (Matthew 11:28-30). He lifts you off your knees and lets you look into His eyes (John 8:3-11). He cleans out your ears and calls you His child (Mark 7:33-35). He stands next to you and assures you that all His promises are real and true and yours today (John 11:17-44). He invites you to let out the biggest celebratory “Whoop! Whoop!” of your spiritual life (John 20:28) as you celebrate what He has done for you and the freedom He gives you.
Grace and peace to you!
Pastor Christopher Schaar