What's Not to Confess?
Irenaeus of Lyons, Pastor
28 June 2018
Good news travels fast. After the battle of Marathon in 490 B.C. when the Greeks defeated a much larger Persian army, Pheidippides, ran the 26 miles to Athens to announce the stunning victory to the city. That historic run was repeated at the 1896 Olympic Games and has been an Olympic event ever since. If the Greeks had been defeated, no one would have been in a hurry to announce that to the Athenians. We humans have always been reluctant to express bad news. No one comes into work on Monday, and says about the home town team: "Hey, did you see that big loss yesterday?"
 
This is especially the case when it comes to expressing our sin and shame. No one wants to express the bad news of his willfulness of spirit and the wreckage that his sin causes in the world. And yet it is good policy to be the one who bears the bad news as well as the good. When I was a child, I learned that if I had done something I shouldn't have, I was far better off if I went to my parents and confessed rather than have them discover my transgression for themselves or, worse yet, have my younger brother announce it to them. If I took responsibility for my sin, healing could begin. Although there were always temporal penalties for my acts, I still relished the gift of forgiveness my parents inevitably imparted to me; acting in God's place. Sin that was hidden in the heart had all kinds of negative consequences, not least being the burden to the conscience that accrued with interest over time.
 
We should never keep our sin to ourselves. The cost to the conscience is too great. This is especially true because our Lord Jesus is the one inviting our confession. He desires nothing better than that the wicked person would pour out his heart to the lover of sinners Himself. He will not break off a bruised reed or snuff out a smoldering wick. He is anxious to hear our confession and to clear our hearts and minds of our moral filth with the broom of forgiveness, sweeping away those things that plague and trouble us. He comes like a parent who knows a child has done some wicked thing and asks, "Don't you have something you want to tell me?" He knows very well what we have done. Yet for our good He asks, "What have you done?" (Gn 3:13), that we might express what He would pardon.
 
The whole church is involved in the life of forgiveness. Mary and Martha wept for their brother, Lazarus, and entreated Jesus so that He was compelled to bring new life to the man dead four days. He who raises the dead can eradicate our sin, can He not? The burdening stone of our sin is rolled aside and new life is said into the tomb of transgression and we are raised to newness of life. We are set free from the burden at the command of the Lord and spoken into righteousness. So what's not to confess?

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Ambrose of Milan
"Why do you fear to confess your sins to our good Lord? He says, 'Set them forth, that you may be justified.' The rewards of justification are set before him who is still guilty of sin, for he is justified who voluntarily confesses his own sin; and lastly, 'the one who states his case first seems right' (Pro 18:17). The Lord knows all things, but He waits for your words, not that He may punish, but that He may pardon you. It is not His will that the devil should triumph over you and accuse you when you conceal your sins. Be ahead of your accuser: if you accuse yourself, you will fear no accuser. If you report yourself, though you were dead, you shall live.
 
"Christ will come to your grave, and if He finds there weeping for you Martha the woman of good service, and Mary who carefully heard the Word of God, like the holy church which has chosen the best part, He will be moved with compassion. Then at your death He will see the tears of many and will say: 'Where have you laid him?' (Jn 11:34), that is to say, in what condition of guilt is he? In which rank of penitents does he stand? I want to see the one for whom you weep, that he himself may move Me with his tears. I will see if he is already dead to that sin for which forgiveness is entreated.
 
"The people will say to Him, 'Come and see' (Jn 11:34). What is the meaning of 'Come'? It means, let forgiveness of sins come, let the life of the departed come, the resurrection of the dead, let Your kingdom come to this sinner also."

Ambrose of Milan, Two Books Concerning Repentance, 2.7
John 11:38-46
  
Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, "Take away the stone." Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, "Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days." Jesus said to her, "Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?" So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me." When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out." The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Unbind him, and let him go." Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. (ESV)
Prayer
Lord Christ, come and see us in our grave of sin and speak us alive by Your Word. Keep us from impenitence. Free us from the burdens that so easily keep us from living for You. Amen.
 
For the delegation and guests at the Pacific Southwest District, that they would be built up in the holy faith once delivered to the saints
 
For the students, faculty, and staff of Concordia University Portland, that they would be kept steadfast in the Word of God confessing the truth against all comers
 
For family, that all parents would practice forgiveness with their children, that parents might always be models of Christ to them
Art: Albrecht DURER, The Adoration of the Trinity (1511)
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
© Scott Murray 2018
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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