Sexagesima Week – Saturday
And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, He said unto His disciples, “Ye know that after two days is the Feast of the Passover, and the Son of Man is betrayed to be crucified.” — Matthew 26:1-2
Tuesday’s sun was setting, and, according to Jewish reckoning, Wednesday began. And Jesus arose from the place on Olivet where He sat with His disciples, and went with them to Bethany. And there, as they went, He said to them: “Ye know that after two days is the Feast of the Passover, and the Son of Man is betrayed to be crucified.” Christian, this is the faith which always must be within your heart: Christ is crucified; Christ is crucified for me; Christ is crucified to atone for my sin; Christ is crucified to reconcile me unto God, to make me righteous before God. In this faith, you are not to fear nor faint: not though the power of death overtake you; not when the last trumpet shall resound; not when heaven and earth shall pass away; not when the Judge of all the earth, appearing in divine splendor, shall assemble all the nations before Him. This faith holds out always and against everything. This is the one, true, Christian faith. There is no other saving faith. There has never been any other saving faith; there never will be any other saving faith. Keep this faith. Deep within your heart, let the name and cross of Christ glow ever and always. Not with hands merely, but through the Holy Ghost, working mightily through His Word, in faith, you may make the sign of Christ’s cross, as it were, upon yourself. Because of our sinful flesh, the strength of this faith may seem greater or stronger one day, and lesser or weaker the next. Even if you find your faith to be weak, small, only just a spark kept alive by the hope of the Gospel, be glad and do not despair; you are still a Christian! Your salvation does not depend upon the strength of your faith, but simply that you have faith in “the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 16:31); it depends upon the merit of Christ, which those of little faith apprehend as truly as those who have strong faith (Mark 9:24). Now, if your faith is weak, then grow and increase it by diligent use of God’s Word and Sacrament. He has given us these means of grace, not only to make us Christians, but to keep us Christians through the work of the Holy Spirit, working through His Word. While the preaching of the cross is foolishness to the unbelieving, to us who are the called, it is “the power of God” (I Corinthians 1:24); it is the power to keep and to strengthen our faith in our crucified Savior. May the blood of the Passover Lamb, Christ the crucified, continue to be painted on the doorposts of our hearts by a true faith, kept and preserved by His Word and Sacrament!
PRAYER. Lord Jesus, continue to write, draw, engrave Thy cross, whereby I am saved, deep within my inmost heart. Continue to do it, O Lord, through Thy priceless Gospel and through Thy Holy Spirit, who works effectually upon sinful hearts through that Gospel. Through Thy cross, Thou hast overcome all things that can terrify me. Grant that, through faith in Thy cross, I may continue to overcome all adversity and all fear, and to enter heaven joyfully and thankfully. Amen.
Hail, Thou once despised Jesus! Hail, Thou Galilean King!
Thou didst suffer to release us; Thou didst free salvation bring.
Hail, Thou universal Savior, who hast borne our sin and shame;
by whose merits we find favor; life is given through Thy name.
Paschal Lamb, by God appointed, all our sins on Thee were laid;
by almighty love anointed, Thou hast full atonement made.
Every sin may be forgiven, through the virtue of Thy blood;
open is the gate of heaven, peace is made ‘twist man and God.
(Hymn 367, st. 1-2; TLH)