Daily Devotions
 

We are thrilled to once again be sharing a daily devotion with you for the season of Advent. These inspiring devotions have been written by YOU the members of Good Shepherd.  A sincere “thank you” to everyone who opened their hearts to share a small piece of their faith journey with us.   As we journey toward Bethlehem in this season, take time each day to walk with God and experience the stirrings of the deep love that took on flesh to walk with us.  

During the four week Advent season, each Wednesday our devotion will be a video reflection by Dr. Kevin Seal, Director of Worship and Music at Good Shepherd, as he shares a teaching about the Words and Music of Advent.

Each new day’s devotion will go live directly on our webpage, goodshepherd.com at 6am, (look under the worship tab at the top right of the front page) or you can follow the link that will be sent out later each morning in an email from Good Shepherd.  


Daily Devotion
Pastor Heidi Johns

Daily Devotion

The Second Article of the Apostles’ Creed—On Redemption (part 2)

….He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended into hell.  On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father.  He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

Just like we can never fully understand the mystery of how Jesus was fully human and fully divine in the incarnation, we will also never fully understand the mystery of what exactly happened when Jesus was “crucified, died and was buried.”  The death and resurrection of Jesus can never fully fit into any human container our minds can comprehend.  It is simply bigger than us.  I guess that’s why theologians over the centuries have spent so much time debating the “why” of the cross.  

Here is how Martin Luther describes it in his explanation to the second article of the creed in the Small Catechism, “At great cost Christ has saved and redeemed me, a lost and condemned person.  He has freed me from sin, death and the power of the devil—not with silver or gold, but with his holy and precious blood and his innocent suffering and death.”

Redemption is an important word in understanding the Cross.  To redeem something is to let it out of captivity.  For Luther we are held captive by sin, death and the power of the devil, and we are powerless to free ourselves.  To be redeemed—set free—God would need to intervene on our behalf.   God chose to do so at the cross.

The first step in a 12-step recovery program is to admit we are powerless and that our lives have become unmanageable.  The second step is the awareness that a Higher Power can restore us to sanity.   The third step is turning our lives over to that Higher Power.

We are powerless to free ourselves from sin, death and the power of the devil, according to Luther (and scripture), but there is a Higher Power (God) who intervenes for us and can restore (redeem) us.  We can’t do it on our own, just like those in 12-step programs know they can’t be freed from an addiction through their own power.  Through the Cross God intervened and gave us a new future.

One way Luther talked about Christ’s saving work on the cross was to call it the “joyous exchange.”  In this exchange Christ takes on our sin, brokenness, utter lostness and death and gives us his blessedness, joy, holiness and life.  This exchange can only be initiated and completed by God.  Only God fully understands how the violence and ugliness of the Cross was transformed into the beauty of our salvation and freedom.

The best part is, we live in Christ’s freedom now, we don’t have to wait until we get to heaven.  Living as God’s redeemed people, we are free to serve our neighbor, not in order to gain God’s favor and love, but in response to all that God has done for us.  This is the good news.

Reflection: how has your understanding of the Cross changed or grown over the years.  What has helped you gain new insights?  How would you describe God’s saving work through the cross to someone who doesn’t not know the story of Jesus?

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