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God’s Word for You

Luke 9:43b-45 Into your ears

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, May 17, 2018

While everyone was marveling about everything that Jesus did, he said to his disciples, 44 “Let this statement sink into your ears: The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men.” 45 But they did not understand what it meant. It was hidden from them, so that they could not understand it, and they were afraid to ask him about it.

While everybody was amazed by what Jesus had just done, he wanted his disciples to understand what was coming. He uses a startling expression: “Let this statement sink into your ears.” The use of the term “ears” (ota, ὦτα) would have gotten their attention better than just saying, “Listen to this.”

For the second time in Luke’s Gospel (cf. Luke 9:22), Jesus prophesies his suffering and death. There will be three more of these prophecies (Luke 12:50, 17:25, 18:31-33), all during the final year of Jesus’ ministry. The last one (Luke 18:31-33) would be given on the way to Jericho just before Holy Week, but they never understood that these were prophecies until after everything had been fulfilled. Even when Jesus met the two disciples on the way to Emmaus, they did not yet understand. Asked what they were discussing they quoted his own prophecies without realizing the significance: “Jesus of Nazareth,” they said. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:19-21). They simply didn’t realize that “redeem” didn’t mean he would restore the nation to earthly glory, but something much bigger. What Jesus meant by “redeem” was to restore fallen man to the glory of God and to the image of God, which was lost in the fall into sin. So here Jesus tried to teach them once again: His betrayal into the hands of men would mean his atoning sacrifice for the sins of all mankind.

Time after time when Jesus taught this lesson it was misunderstood. But a teacher throws and throws and throws until his students catch the lesson. This time, he wanted them to at least remember the words—to learn the lesson by rote, getting it “into their ears.” Later on, they would understand fully. The memorized lesson would sink in when they saw him risen from the dead after the atoning price was paid in full. Consider:

  1. The justice of God demands of mankind a perfect obedience to his law and pronounces eternal damnation to all who transgress his law. Perfect obedience is taught in passages like Matthew 22: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…” and “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37,39). The wrath of God on the sinner is proclaimed in many places: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law” (Galatians 3:10). The curse is eternal, carried out in hell, “where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:48).
  2. Jesus Christ fulfilled the law in man’s place by his own perfect human obedience. “God sent his son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons” (Galatians 4:4-5). And his crucifixion suffered in man’s place. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree’” (Galatians 3:13). “For Christ died once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God” (1 Peter 3:18).
  3. Through Jesus’ death as our substitute, God’s wrath is appeased. His judgment against us is set aside. “When we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son” (Romans 5:10). “The result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men” (Romans 5:18).

Salvation does not merely mean the end or abolition of death. Jesus demonstrated divine almighty power over death several times. But Jesus Christ ended God’s sentence of eternal damnation for sin; he ended man’s state of guilt. As our Fathers say in the Apology of the Augsburg Confession: “Remission of the punishment is sought for in vain, unless the heart first receives the remission of guilt” (Article III, par, 146). We are God’s “dear children.” Why? “Because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name” (1 John 2:12). As dear children of God, we have been invited to approach God in worship and prayer, which no unbeliever can do. We have been invited to the altar of the Lord’s Supper to receive the assurance of his forgiveness again and again, not that we need anything more than to be cleansed of our sins once for a lifetime in baptism, but because we still live in the world of stumbling sin and need to be reassured by our loving Father in heaven.

Your sins are forgiven in Jesus. You are at peace with God. Get that past your ears and into your heart.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

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Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.