Matthew 2:1-12

Most of us were not invited to the first Christmas. It was a Jewish event. Jewish parents, a Jewish child, and Jewish shepherds witnessing the incarnation. If you are not Jewish, it was not for you…not yet anyway. Then there came wise men from the East. Gentiles. And they made quite a stir when they arrived. All of Jerusalem was restless when this entourage got there. Who were these foreign dignitaries? What did they want? Continue reading “Epiphany”

Born of God

John 1:10-13

Jesus is God. John is saying it as clear as day. There was nothing created that wasn’t created through Him. There is still nothing created that isn’t created through Him. You are God’s creature. Any children you might have, they are, too, even if you spent the time in labor. God created and God creates and for anything not yet that yet will be, well, God will be creating. Continue reading “Born of God”

Holy, Holy, Holy!

Isaiah 6:1-8 (John 3:1-15)

You hear a lot about God’s presence. Sometimes people will talk about feeling God’s presence in some event or service. In some sense, that can be understood correctly. For instance, if someone almost dies in a car crash, surely that person, if he or she is a Christian, will recognize God’s mercy in sparing him or her. The fact is, though, that outside of God’s Word and Sacraments (and the Christian and his or her experience shaped by and through them), God is present with sinners in only a way that terrifies. Isaiah experienced that in our first lesson. Continue reading “Holy, Holy, Holy!”

Lamps Uncovered

Luke 8:16-18

The writer to the Hebrews tells us, For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:12-13). Isaiah makes clear, …so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11). Continue reading “Lamps Uncovered”

Wisdom from Above

James 3:13-18 

The world is full of wisdom. There are offers of wisdom from about everywhere you turn, and devices and methods to help in your pursuit. For all of that, though, we are perhaps awash in information like never before but witnessing a famine of wisdom—both temporal and spiritual. For all that technology has delivered, wisdom is beyond its promises and, indeed, its reach.

Wisdom is more than knowing things. Wisdom goes beyond having a take or taking a side. Wisdom deals in the application of knowledge—information put to good use. From a biblical perspective, wisdom is what the Scriptures works in us and through us. Scripture does wisdom to us. As Paul told Timothy, “…from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15).

With wisdom comes peace, and wisdom deals in peace, because peace is the forgiveness of sins, and wisdom is God’s gift to the forgiven. Forgiveness, after all, turns everything on its head, including human reason, and for this reason wisdom is often considered folly. Jesus parables and Paul’s letters remind us of this again and again. Wisdom for the Christian, however, begins at and flows from the cross. We are children of mercy and we are, through God’s declaration, good trees through whom He brings good fruit, including wisdom.

Why does wisdom deal in peace? Because Christ came to bring peace, forgiveness is peace, and forgiveness is for all, which drastically changes how we see each other and whoever we might consider the other. Even when we must speak hard truths, we speak them to people for whom Christ has died, including ourselves.

Do you want wisdom? It comes from above, even as theology starts from below. It comes from the Spirit who directs us to the manger, to God was made Man for us and our salvation. This puts to death the old man, so full of jealousy and ambition, even very religious ambition. This starts with the heart, from which sin flows. This is the starting point of wisdom and the place to which it returns again and again, so that we never grow out of Christ and the Scriptures, or beyond them, but deeper and deeper into them. And this is why our wisdom is meek, like our Savior, not for flaunting or self-congratulation, but rooted in the cross—His cross, our cross, and our neighbors. God grant us this wisdom. God drive us ever deeper into Christ and the Scriptures, even through the cross.

Wade Johnston

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The Name of Jesus

Name of Jesus
January 1st
Philippians 2:5-11

At the name of Jesus every knee will bow and every tongue confess. This is terrifying. Sometimes we forget that all judgement has been handed over to the Son (John 5:22). Your sweet Jesus is also the one who condemns. On the last day the question will not be whether or not you will bow before the Lord. The only question will be whether you will bow in terror or in comfort. All will bow. We should make this very clear: God is terrifying. We should shrink when we hear his Name. Continue reading “The Name of Jesus”

Circumcised to Set Us Free

Circumcision of Our Lord
December 31st 2018
Luke 2:21

The first drop of blood shed for your salvation was on the eighth day of the incarnation. Jesus, son of Jewish parents, was circumcised according to the Law of Moses. God put himself under the knife to fulfill a law he himself wrote. Even as an infant, he was living for you. He would grow in stature and wisdom fulfilling law for you. Turning the other cheek, showing generosity, and speaking kind words. Honoring his parents, obeying the government, and going to temple. Continue reading “Circumcised to Set Us Free”

Dressed, Named, Worn

Isaiah 61:10-62:3

Did you unwrap all your presents? Did you get what you wanted? What was your favorite present? Did you get the one from the LORD? Yes, you did. In fact, you’re wearing it today. It looks good on you. It definitely looks better than what you had on before. He must be planning something big, to want you to wear something so fantastic. Isaiah writes, I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” Continue reading “Dressed, Named, Worn”

An Ugly Baby?

Hebrews 1:1-4

What I’m going to say may shock, maybe even scandalize you: There is such a thing as an ugly baby. Trust me, I’ve seen one. Whose baby was it? I’ll tell you; It was…. no, I am just kidding, none of you have had ugly babies; of course, I am talking about other people who read different blogs. But there are ugly babies. Fortunately, it is not just a baby’s appearance that makes it beautiful in a family’s eyes. It is also who that baby is, where it came from, and how it is related to them. Today, we set the most beautiful baby in the entire world before our eyes. I do not know that His appearance was particularly beautiful, in fact, Isaiah says there was nothing too attractive about His appearance, but I do know that who He is, where He came from, and how He is related to us makes Him the most beautiful baby of all. Continue reading “An Ugly Baby?”

Holy Innocents and the Innocent One

Holy Innocents
December 28th
Matthew 2:13-18

There are plenty of sad portions of Scripture to pick from, but this might be one of the saddest of them all. In a fit of jealous rage, King Herod ordered all baby boys in Bethlehem, two years and younger, slaughtered. Herod was deemed “King of the Jews” by Rome years earlier. Not Prefect, not Governor, but King. So when wise men from the east came looking for the King of the Jews, Herod was insulted. He was the King of the Jews. So he plotted. He gave directions to the oriental sages and instructed them to come back to Jerusalem and tell him the exact location of the newborn King of the Jews. The Magi were warned of Herod’s plot, so they slipped out of Palestine without reporting to Herod. This is when Herod ordered the murder of all the boys of Bethlehem. Just to make sure his title “King” would be secure he enacted infanticide. Thus the slaughter of the Holy Innocents, an event the church forces herself to remember in the middle of the twelve days of Christmas on December 28th. Continue reading “Holy Innocents and the Innocent One”