LAST OF FIVE PARTS OF A SERIES ON THE SECOND ARTICLE
“This is most certainly true!”
THE APOSTLES’ CREED
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.
And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven and sitteth on the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen. (TLH, p. 12)
The life-debt. We’ve all probably seen a movie with this type of plot. One character, usually the protagonist, saves another character’s life. This second character-— usually dimwitted, unlikeable, or terribly obnoxious— can’t seem to do enough for his savior and most likely is going to be in the way or in some other way disrupt the best-laid plans.
The Five SECOND ARTICLE Installments:
1) Jesus is true God
2) Jesus is true Man
3) Jesus has redeemed me
4) Jesus has made me His own
5) Jesus calls me to serve Him
Jesus, the Anointed One of God, came into this world in order to save us. He was, and is, the perfect Hero. Sinless, unstainable, and unswerving, dedicated to His duty with an actual martyr’s zeal–He sacrificed Himself for mankind. And what of you and me—the ones for whom He sacrificed Himself? We were not just dimwitted or socially awkward, but downright belligerent, hateful, spiteful, and stiff-necked enemies of God. His life-blood was poured out to redeem us from sin, eternal death, and the devil.
How could we ever pay back such a debt? What “payback” does the Lord expect of us? Simply faith and trust in Him and His Word—and our service. The Scriptures encourage us to “serve the Lord with gladness” (Psalm 100:2). He has directed us to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them…” and “teaching them to observe all things…” (Matthew 28:19-20). He asks us to serve Him by being a light in this dark and evil world, by letting our good works lead to the glorification of our heavenly Father (see Matthew 5:16).
Like the “saved” individual in the scenario above, we are often inept in our service to the Lord. So often we seem to be working against Him and His will rather than furthering His kingdom. Yet Jesus does not reject our feeble efforts to perform His tasks but rather equips us for the duties He has planned for us. Earthen vessels that we are, He makes up for our inefficiencies, compensates for our weaknesses, giving us the courage and strength to carry out His will.
THE SECOND ARTICLE
[We print Luther’s Explanation only.]
I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the virgin Mary, is my Lord. He has redeemed me, a lost and condemned person, purchased and won me from all sin, from death, and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and His innocent suffering and death. He did this that I should be His very own, live under Him in His kingdom, and serve Him in eternal righteousness, innocence, and joy; just as He is risen from death, lives and reigns in eternity.
This is most certainly true.
(Martin Luther’s SMALL CATECHISM, Sydow edition, 2000)
Yet the gratitude and desire for service is a natural outgrowth of focusing on what has been done for us. Thinking of this joyous service to the Lord, Dr. David Livingstone of African medical-missionary fame once stated that “if a commission by an earthly king is considered an honor, how can a commission by a Heavenly King be considered a sacrifice?”
But this isn’t the whole story. Although Christ’s salvation was a ‘one and done’ event, yet He continues to serve us! (Hebrews 7:27) Ever since His ascension into heaven, our Lord has been serving us at the right hand of His Father. He is ruling all the universe for the good of His Church. He blesses us with His presence daily, especially when we gather around His Word. He sends His angels to watch over us. He supplies us with food and shelter so we can set our minds on “things above” (Colossians 3:2).
He continues to serve as our ultimate Prophet, Priest, and King, and He is preparing a place for each of us to live with Him in His world to come. We have the privilege and honor of serving this servants’ Servant!
When Jesus gathered with His disciples to celebrate the Passover, no one was of lowly enough position to wash their feet. This was, after all, a servant’s job! So, as eternal God and sinless Man, Jesus stooped to perform this humble task.
When presented with opportunities to serve our Lord and fellow man, may God grant that we take up His example of loving and humble service.