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The Institute of Lutheran theology not only provides programs to train pastors and teachers, but it also provides educational and devotional resources for individuals and congregations. These resources are provided free of charge and made available through our web page. Please subscribe to and use any of these resources.

The Institute of Lutheran theology not only provides programs to train pastors and teachers, but it also provides educational and devotional resources for individuals and congregations. These resources are provided free of charge and made available through our web page. Please subscribe to and use any of these resources.

The Third Sunday of Advent

The Third Sunday of Advent

Jesus uses the Greek word from which we draw our English word “scandal.”  To say it as such, “Blessed is the one who is not scandalized by me.”  Jesus frequently uses this word when he warns the disciples of the persecution that is coming not only his way, but their way as well.  He wants them to anticipate the opposition so that they are not scandalized by Jesus and fall away.  This is especially true in the gospel of Joh, e.g., “I have told you all these things so that you will not fall away” (Jn. 16:1).  Jesus was simply not the Messiah that the people expected, both the common people and the religious elite.  As he came in his humility, he simply wasn’t triumphal enough… religious enough… elite enough… and the religious elite manipulated his crucifixion and people in the crowd endorsed it.  Jesus ‘the disappointment’ rather than Jesus ‘the Messiah.’   Jesus wants you to be forewarned as well.  He does not want you to fall away from the truth simply because Jesus will not be the Messiah you want him to be.  When Jesus appears insufficiently triumphal to you and glory is a long time coming, offense comes easy.  Scandal abounds and drives you to manufacture a Messiah more to your liking… a Messiah from your own imagination but definitely more suited to your desires.  Most likely, thought that manufactured Messiah will have little in common with the offensiveness of the Jesus who died on the cross… his death a scandal and not a blessing.

Prayers from those tempted always to conform Jesus to the image of the Messiah they’d rather have . . .

Heavenly Father, your Son died a shameful death at the hands of sinners.  So number me among the sinners that I confess my guilt and receive his forgiveness as the scandal it is.  For Jesus’ sake, hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, your Son died a shameful death at the hands of sinners.  As I receive his forgiveness of my sins, grant that I trust you, Father, to tell me the truth and your Son, Jesus Christ, to be the truth he has declared himself to be.  For Jesus’ sake, hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, your Son died a shameful death at the hands of sinners.  Living out of your trustworthy Word, turn me back to the creation… back to the world… so that it is not only a gift to me but that I am a gift to it.  For Jesus’ sake, hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, your Son died a shameful death at the hands of sinners.  I have work to do, responsibilities to fulfill, and duties to keep in the family and community to which I belong.  Keep those tasks as ends in themselves and keep me from using them as the means to the end of my righteousness before you.  For Jesus’ sake, hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, your Son died a shameful death at the hands of sinners.  Even as I do not obtain my righteousness through my labors in this world, nonetheless, grant that my work is useful in making this sin broken creation more trustworthy.  For Jesus’ sake, hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, your Son died a shameful death at the hands of sinners.  Grant to the Institute of Lutheran Theology a deep appreciation for the trustworthiness of your Word and for the discernment of fallibility in all human words.  For Jesus’ sake, hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, your Son died a shameful death at the hands of sinners.  As I live out the days of my baptism sharing the humility of Jesus Christ, and taking no offense at him, grant that his day of glory soon arrives so that my patience is not exhausted.  For Jesus’ sake, hear my prayer.

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