January 3, 2007 - Thursday in the Week after Christmas

Daily Lectionary: Isaiah 63:1-14; Luke 2:21-40

"But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons." (Galatians 4:4-5)

Remember what it's like when it comes time to take a test? As your teacher is handing out the exam, you wonder, "Am I ready? Did I study enough? Do I know all the material?" Well, time will tell, won't it?

But then, imagine this: Your teacher takes your seat, your spot in the classroom, your pen, and proceeds to take the test for you. Even better, your teacher aces the test for you! Wouldn't that be great? You're an "A+" student. Why, you even have the grade to prove it now!

When it comes to Christmas and God's Son being born of a woman, don't imagine it — believe it. The Law Giver Himself enters the classroom, enters your flesh, takes your spot and places Himself under the Law. Why? To take that test for you. Even better, to ace that test for you! You're an "A+" student, now. Why, you even have the grade to prove it!

How? Well, learn to think of forgiveness in two ways: first, how Jesus earned it for you; second, how Jesus bestows it on you. Jesus earned it for you on the Cross — but He didn't give it to you there. That's why there's no mention of forgiveness in the Second Article of the Creed. You don't get that until the Third Article — where you hear of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Christian church. That's where Jesus bestows on you the forgiveness He won for you on the Cross: in Word, Washing and Supper.

St. Paul, in Sunday's epistle (Galatians 4:1-7), has your Baptism in mind. Christ placed Himself under the law for you, took the exam in your place, so that on the Cross He could offer His holy life for your sinful one — His flesh and blood earned an "A+" to replace your flesh and blood’s failing grade. That's forgiveness earned for you. And because Jesus earned that for you on the Cross, He now makes sure you receive that in Holy Baptism. Won for you on the Cross, you now receive in Baptism "the adoption as sons." You receive in Baptism Christ's own "A+"! Didn't St. Paul write, a few verses earlier, "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ" (Galatians 3:27)? There you have it: forgiveness earned, and forgiveness delivered in Living Water.

Communion takes the Cross and brings it forward. The Word of God does much the same. Your Baptism, though, takes you back in time to the Cross. It washes you there; it clothes you there, it covers you there. It says: the Teacher took the test for you, so you're an "A+" student, now. Why, you even have the grade now to prove it: His "A+" washed all over you!