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God’s Word for You

Luke 9:25-26 When he comes in his glory

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Monday, May 7, 2018

25 “What good does it do a man if he gains the whole world, but loses himself or is lost? 26 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory, and the glory of the Father, and that of the holy angels.”

Jesus is asking: What could ever be so valuable in this world that anyone would ever give up their soul for the sake of a thing? Even if you could “gain the whole world,” what good would it do you in eternity? What temporary power, glory, knowledge, ability, success, or victory would be worth suffering for all eternity in hell?

The phrase I’ve translated “but loses himself or is lost” shows the same eternal damnation from two points of view. First, heauton apolesas (ἑαυτὸν ἀπολέσας) “loses himself” is the picture of a man who loses sight of his faith or who gives up his faith along the way, because he thinks that the novel ideas he comes across during his life are more valuable than the word of God. He becomes convinced that a passing fad or theory sounds better to his ears or feels gentler to his reason than the story of Jesus’ compassion and love, and even though the passing fad or theory will certainly be discounted or disproven or even laughed at in a hundred years, he throws away his saving faith. He loses himself.

Second, to “be lost” is zemiotheis (ζημιωθείς), which really means to “forfeit oneself.” We often use “forfeit” in terms of a game, when someone stops playing chess or some other contest, accepting an inevitable loss, or when a baseball team cannot field enough players to play, and must accept defeat (this, too, is to accept an inevitable loss). In terms of one’s soul, to “be lost” or to forfeit the soul is to be declared condemned. But unlike a chess player who resets the board to play again, or the baseball team who will have enough players next time, there is no next time for the soul. This life is our time of grace, our time in which to seek God (Acts 17:27) and be found by God (Philippians 3:8-9). And so Jesus adds: “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him.” Jesus will be more than disappointed. He will be ashamed of anyone who has turned away from him. To turn on Jesus is to turn on your rescuer, the one who bailed you out or saved you from drowning. To turn on Jesus is to reject him, to say, “I don’t need you.” It means taking all of your sins back onto your record. It means saying, “I’m more proud of my sin and my transgressions than I am of anything God has given to me.” It means embracing eternity in hell. And there is no resetting the board. There is no opting out; no quick end. It means real, painful suffering, without end, forever.

Jesus reminds us of what awaits those who trust in him in heaven by saying “the Son of Man… when he comes in his glory, and the glory of the Father, and that of the holy angels.” The glory of God is his radiance, the brightness by which he displays his gracious presence—the Glory of the Lord. This was about to be displayed to his disciples in the transfiguration (just two verses away in Luke’s Gospel). We could also think of the glory of God as being the glory that we give him. This is the honor we pay God when we pray, praise, and give thanks. I know a woman who truly struggles with giving thanks to God in something as simple as a table prayer. When I’ve been at a funeral meal where she is also in attendance, for instance, or some other setting, and I lead a table prayer, she insists on blurting out in a loud voice, “And thank you to our wonderful cooks (she might even name them), who made this meal for us!” It’s good to thank a cook for his or her efforts, but to do so on the heels of a prayer of thanks to God takes glory away from God, as if to say, “God didn’t really give us this gift.” It’s like praising the disciples for their work at the Feeding of the Five Thousand.

Give God glory for what he has accomplished through Jesus. In his great mercy, God has enabled us to be born all over again through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. We are born into God’s own family, with a place at his table and in his eternal house forever, sons and daughters of the King of Heaven for all eternity.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

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.

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