In These Last Days
St. John, Apostle and Evangelist
27 December 2017
"In many and various ways God spoke to the people of old by the prophets. But now in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son" (Heb 1:1-2). All that was promised was to be fulfilled by Christ in the fruitfulness of Mary. All the promises in the world are of no value if not brought to fulfillment. A promise unfulfilled is just a lie. So, in the fullness of time God sent forth His Son, that all the promises into which the prophets peered were brought to complete in the birth of the one Child. How blessed we are in these last days, that the Lord has allowed us to see what the prophets only believed, what they studied has become a fulfillment, what they puzzled over has become crystal clear at the birth of Jesus. Our hope is not merely hope but is fulfilled in these last days.
 
The shadows, in which God hid Himself to previous peoples, have now been enlightened by the birth of this Child who is Himself the Light of world. Like the blinding fog that rolls in off the water, as the day dawned the Son burned through these obscuring vapors and beamed brightly on those who have been blinded by their spiritual ignorance and kept in the dark by God's hiddenness. We who lived in darkness have seen a great light. God's Son has dawned upon us. These days in which God's Son has dawned upon us are the last, not because some disastrous cataclysm is stalking our world to bring it to a crashing end, but because the final, decisive act of God to save the world has brought the world's purposes to their end. The finality of God's gracious speech that delivers all His gifts have come to us in the incarnation of Jesus of Mary and that finality speaks an end to the world. There is nothing left to say, but "Amen!" This is why we Christians do not fear the end; we're living in it! The new song is the last song. The new life in Christ is the last life. The new life of baptism is the last life and the only life, because it is Christ's. The new testament is the last testament. It is our testament because it is Christ's testament given to us.
 
How exalted this Christ is! The writer to the Hebrews calls Him the Son of the Father, heir of all things, Creator of all, and the exact representation of God's nature. There is no doubt who the Child born of Mary is; He is God of God. This is central to what the writer to the Hebrews is exposing to his readers. God is doing all the acting in this prologue to the letter. The verbs are all ruled by God. The subject is none other than God. He is doing the doing. And for whom is He doing? Why was He incarnate? Why does God become man? For us. We are dative. We are the one who are done for; we are not doing. We are receiving what God has done in His Son, Christ. The certainty of that work is clearly portrayed by the writer here in the exalted titles He gives to this Son born for us. There is nothing more than this Son. There is no further divine revelation possible once the Son has revealed Himself to us in these last days.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Leo the Great
"The divine goodness has indeed always taken thought for mankind in many and various ways, and of His mercy has imparted many gifts of His providence to the ages of old. But in these last times He has exceeded all the abundance of His usual kindness, when in Christ the very mercy has descended to sinners, the very truth to those that are astray, and the very life to those that are dead, so that Word, which is co-eternal and co-equal with the Father, might take our humble nature into union with His Godhead, and, being born God of God, might also be born Man of man. This was indeed promised from the foundation of the world and had always been prophesied by many intimations of facts and words. But how small a portion of mankind would these types and fore-shadowed mysteries have saved, had not the coming of Christ fulfilled those long and hidden promises. That which once benefited but a few believers in the prospect, now benefited myriads of the faithful in its accomplishment.
 
"Now no longer then are we led to believe by signs and types, but being confirmed by the gospel story, we worship that which we believe to have been done. The prophetic materials assist our knowledge, so that we have no manner of doubt about that which we know to have been predicted by such sure oracles. For this reason the Lord says to Abraham: 'In your seed shall all nations be blessed' (Gn 22:18)....The Lord again says through Isaiah: 'Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and His Name shall be called Immanuel, which is interpreted, God with us' (Is 7:14) and again, 'A rod shall come forth from the root of Jesse, and a flower shall arise from his root' (Is 11:1). In which rod, no doubt the blessed Virgin Mary is predicted, who sprang from the stock of Jesse and David and fecundated by the Holy Spirit, brought forth a new flower of human flesh, becoming a virgin-mother."

 Leo the Great,
Sermon for the Feast of the Nativity
1 John 1:1-4

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life-the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us-that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.
(ESV)
Prayer
Merciful Lord, cast the bright beams of Your light upon your Church that, being instructed in the doctrine of Your blessed apostle and evangelist St. John, we may come to the light of everlasting life; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
 
For President Dale Meyer and the faculty and staff of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, that under the light given through the blessed apostles they might be faithful in their calling to train pastors to proclaim the light
 
For President Trump, the Congress, and the Judiciary of the United States, that they might govern in truth and equity
 
For all church musicians, that they would be strengthened to sing the Lord's new song in these last days
Art: MARATTI, Carlo  The Holy Night (1650s)
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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