The First Reading is recorded in Ezekiel 33:7-9. This is a stark passage of the mission call of Ezekiel: he is to warn the sinner to repent, and if he does not, then Ezekiel will be responsible for the sinner’s death, but if he warns the sinner, then the sinner is responsible for his/her own sin. In Luther’s Small Catechism we find a section called the Office of the Keys, which is the authority Jesus gave to the Church to warn the unrepentant sinner, but also to announce forgiveness to the repentant sinner. We see that God is serious about sin, and also in forgiving the repentant sinner. One of the primary reasons Jesus willingly went to the cross was so that through Him we could be forgiven and reconciled to God. Let us turn from sin each day, and also lead others who sin to Jesus so that they can be forgiven through Him.
Holy Spirit, continue to point out our need of a Savior, and continue to point us to Jesus, the One through Whom our sins are forgiven. Work through us to bring others to Jesus so that they can receive forgiveness and life in Him. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.
Psalm 32:1-7 is a powerful psalm that proclaims the blessedness of being forgiven by God. Notice what happened when the author of the psalm, David, did not confess his sin, how God’s hand was heavy on him (have you experienced that?), but also notice what joy there is in the release of forgiveness. In Christ we can confess our sins to the Lord and know the joy of forgiveness. Let us be open to God (He knows our sin anyway), let us confess our sins, and be released from them through Jesus.
Forgiving Lord, we know the weight of our sin, and we are crushed by sin, but we also see that in Jesus we have forgiveness and renewal. By Your grace, turn us from sin and to Jesus each day so that we are forgiven. Let us to rejoice in daily repentance and forgiveness. Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior we pray. Amen.
The Second Reading, Romans 13:1-10, is set within the context of Christians living within the Roman Empire, an empire that at times persecuted Christians. Notice what Paul says the Christian obligation toward the governing authorities is to be: respect, pay taxes, to be subject to the government.
This passage has been one that Christians have struggled with ever since the apostle Paul wrote it – what is the Christian to do when living within a governmental order that is clearly evil, e.g. Nazi Germany? Paul gives some insight in the second paragraph where he reminds us, as Jesus did, to love one another, to do no wrong to the neighbor. In our country we have the opportunity to become aware of the issues, speak out about things that concern us, and vote.
Lord, remind us that even though we are in the world, we are not to be of the world. In the face of governments, laws, and ideas that are contrary to Your will, enable us to take a bold stand for the truth in You, and enable us to love as Jesus loves. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
The Gospel for today, Matthew 18:1-20, seems to be a collection of unrelated sayings of Jesus, but there is a theme that runs through them all, and that is the theme of sin: Jesus warns us not to cause others to sin, He tells us not to allow sin to control us, and He concludes with a passage on how to reconcile with a Christian brother or sister who has sinned against us. Jesus is dealing with the seriousness of sin, and how not to let it gain mastery. In His death and resurrection, we are set free from the power and consequences of sin, and one day we will finally and completely be freed from sin. A day to look forward to.
Lord Jesus, keep us from becoming complacent about sin, keep before us the seriousness of sin, and keep before us the forgiveness we have in You as You shed Your blood for our redemption on the cross. Sin is deadly serious, and it cost You Your life for us. Lead us to repentance and new life each day in You. In Your Name we pray. Amen.