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Sțckhardt on Advent 3 РMatthew 11:2-10

by pastorjuhl ~ December 7th, 2010

Now, is He really the Savior of the world? Yes, his very lowliness, that he descends into the misery of the miserable, into the poverty of the poor, proves this. It’s obvious no scepter, no crown, no glory, no personal advantage and self-gratification is he seeking in this world. He did not come to be served; he engaged in no self-indulgence. He came in order to serve, in order to take care of us. Yes, he had his eyes on us. He is the Friend and Savior of mankind. He is the wonderful Physician. A good physician strikes at the source of the ailment, discovers the cause of the illness, the sore spot. And Jesus knew well what men were lacking. He has an eye for the misery, for the distress of the fallen human race. Fake helpers and saviors, who show interest in your pressing needs, don’t take enough pains, they cover up the sore spots. Jesus has painstakingly examined the injuries of mortally wounded mankind. He has focused his attention upon the various miseries of earth, blindness, poverty, leprosy. He knows them all – those who suffer within the kingdom, who suffer in body and soul, the distressed, the despairing. Nor does he hide his face from final misery and terror, from death. He comes also to the dying and makes it his business to help them. And he examines and explores the ultimate cause and source of all misery and death, namely, sin. Yes, it is poor, lost sinners whom he has taken under his wing. Indeed, when the pain of this present time once cuts into the flesh and into the soul, when want, sorrow, pain torment us, when death frightens us, when sin tortures us, then does it become apparent to us: Jesus is indeed the Savior, who should come into the world; he is the real Physician and Helper.
Let John lead you to Jesus, the Savior. Once more look at John’s example. He preached the word of repentance and did not relent. He rebuked kings and beggars. He confessed the truth and did not lie. He was, as Jesus said, not a reed that is blown to and fro by the wind. He was an indefatigable character, a true servant of his God. Uncompromisingly he held fast to the Word with which he was entrusted. To the aristocratic sinner Herod he announced his sin. He did not permit himself to be moved by princely favor or anger. He placed his life, his person, on the line for his preaching, confirmed God’s truth with prison and death.

Christians who still listen to man’s opinion permit themselves to be influenced by pleasure and displeasure, by the world’s anger and favor, who still hesitate to give up life, liberty, possessions, blood, honor, and respect, position and influence in the world for sake of the truth, who permit themselves to be blown to and fro by the wind, these inferior, unstable, timid characters will never become sure of their faith and their Savior. In a moment the wind is able easily to blow away the last vestige of faith. Resolutely, firmly, with unyielding tenacity must you oppose the world and mankind and with whole heart and mind take hold of the Savior and his Gospel. Thus will you become sure that Jesus is the One. Then the Savior is able to establish, sanctify, prepare you fully. On reeds shaken by the wind he can accomplish nothing.
If Jesus is the Savior, why doesn’t he eliminate all misery from the world? Why does he permit us to languish so long in the prison of this evil world, to groan while held in the chains and bonds of this sinful flesh? Why doesn’t he more vigorously alleviate our  need, our weakness and sin?

Yes, Jesus is the Savior of the poor and the sinner. Want, misery, death, and sin are so deeply entwined into human existence that sinners are able only by degrees to recover and to be freed from their bonds. Indeed, Christ could instantly and completely help and all of a sudden cure the world from sin and death. He could in an instant destroy this corrupt nature and create a new, godly generation. But the one who recognizes that Jesus is the Savior, who wants to save sinners, who seeks the lost and wants to set them right, knows that this requires long, patient labor. Should Jesus all at once eliminate sin and evil, he would have to destroy the wicked along with their wickedness. And just take a good look at what he is doing: little by little he is succeeding; beneath his footprints things are germinating and sprouting. There still will be a lovely spring upon this accursed earth.

Just look at the results brought about by his Word! Yes, God be praised, one hears and sees at all times, even in our day, that poor sinners, who for so long have been groaning under the weight of their guilt and have nowhere found relief and comfort, finally find their peace in the Gospel; that poor, blind heathen come to know Christ through the Gospel; that the spiritually halt briskly and nimbly pursue God’s Word, the Word which they at first had despised; that leprous sinners and publicans forsake their wickedness and are cleansed; that the spiritually dead become alive, yes, become God’s zealous, blessed children. Indeed, every sincere Christian concludes from his own experience, from the workings of the Word in his heart, that Jesus is the Savior who heals him and restores him after the fall.

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