The Third Sunday in Lent (3/20/2022)



Ezek. 33:7-20; 1 Cor. 10:1-13; Luke (12:58, 59)—13:9.


Accuser, As you go with your accuser before the magistrate, make an effort to settle with him on the way, lest he drag you to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer and the officer put you in prison. I tell you; you will never get out till you have paid the very last copper” (Lk. 12:58, 59).


Every student worth his salt develops a talent for distracting the class from the lesson at hand. Jesus, on his way to Jerusalem, was teaching the practical need for settling with your Accuser before arriving at court. At this point some following Jesus, interrupted his lesson with sensational news of Pilate’s temple slaughter of Galilean worshippers.


All, no doubt, expected Jesus to condemn the Roman sacrilege; instead, he employs the disruption to advance his teaching of, “settling on the way”; turning the interruption back on the class, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were sinners, more than all the other Galileans, because they have suffered these things?” (Lk. 13:2).


It was as if Jesus were saying, “bad stuff happens in this world—get over it. What is of eminently greater import is that you come to terms with the One to whom you owe a righteous debt.”


If it hasn’t yet occurred to you, “settlement on the way” is Jesus’ destination, his passion and cross, the place of God’s judgment on the world. Unless and until you come to terms with Jesus, as crucified Lord, he is your implacable Accuser of sin; and God, the Magistrate consigns into hell until the last penny owed is paid. There will be no purgatorial work-release program, only an un-payable eternal debt.


And don’t wag your finger at Pilate or any other evil in this sin-marred world. Look first to yourself, at the “log in your own eye” (Mt. 7:5) before sudden catastrophe and death overtakes, as it did the unsuspecting Galileans and the Jews killed at the Siloam tower.


Quickly settle with the One whom God sent to bear the sin of the world and into whose hand all judgment is delivered. While there is time in these last days, confess and repent of your sins and accept God’s gracious offer of settlement in Christ, who on the cross paid the last penny of your debt; these are the terms your Accuser offers on the way. On Mt. Transfiguration the Magistrate, counseled Peter, James, and John, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him! (Lk. 9:35).


By Baptism the NT church is New Jerusalem in union with Jesus’ word and sacrificial flesh. Old Jerusalem had rejected God’s gracious offer; Ezekiel reports, “[Y]our people say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just,’ (Ezek. 33:17).


To be sure, man’s ways are not God’s way. Sinful men prefer group judgment, what today we call “identity politics”; it is easier to condemn others perceiving our associations as superior. Thus, the murdered Galileans and the Jews killed by faulty tower construction implied, in Jewish thought, that God had passed judgment through these gruesome deaths, “serving each group right for something they did or failed to do.”


But God does not judge innocence or guilt by group, such as; Jew vs. Gentile; Galilean vs. Judean; Pharisees (ancient and modern) vs. everybody; Christian vs. Protestant or Romanist.


God judges individuals, solely at and by his Son on the cross, the place of all judgment. One either accepts, by faith apart from human effort (Rom. 3:28) the terms of Jesus’ all sufficient sacrifice; or one rejects the settlement offer, in which case Jesus is your Accuser.


God warns, “O house of Israel, I will judge each of you according to his ways” (Ezek. 33:20). God’s way of salvation consists in our appropriating by faith the righteousness of Christ and God’s judgment on him in our place.


Some “Christians”, distrust God’s word for their salvation, inventing doctrines of group think. Examples of this mentality is found in labeling some damned from eternity and others elected, so called “double predestination” in complicity with the equally unscriptural, “once saved always saved”.


These human imaginings distort God’s word and slander his character, repeating the charge, “God’s way is not just”. Such accusations only serve to lead many into despair and away from God’s intention that all men come to repentant faith in Christ crucified for the sin of the entire world.


St. Paul points out the ancient Israelites were baptized through the Red Sea into Moses and yet many, in group mentality, despised God’s way, the present pre-incarnate sacramental Rock, Christ; and so were overthrown in the desert (1 Cor. 10:1-5).


Worldly ways and temptations continue and are common to all men and women, baptized, or not. Faith is not simply a bald statement of “belief”, for even the demons believe Jesus is Lord (James 2:19). Faith is inherently a relation of penitential trust that gives rise to constant choices of turning from sin.


Confronted by the HS’ working faith among men, God is merciful to relent of his wrath over sin for Christ’s sake. We pray, “Lead us not into temptation” (Mt. 6:13) and “God is faithful and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability but … provide a way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Cor. 10:13).


When human fidelity fails, God’s does not. Baptism into Jesus is the surety of your divine settlement by which you always have access and return in word and sacrament. From time to time you will sin, but as you behold Jesus crucified for you, you will never take the same delight sin once afforded. Amen.


pem.