STUDIES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
“Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”
Today, the words “God bless you” have become little more than an automatic response, politely spoken after hearing another person sneeze. But blessings in Scripture are special requests of God to look upon His people with mercy and impart to them a special benefit of His grace. True blessings of God are most undeserved, but at the same time provide us with the most good.
When people react to a sneeze by saying “God bless you,” one can be left wondering which god is meant; but when it comes to the blessings in Scripture, there’s no mystery as to which God is meant. Our text calls Him “the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant.” This God of peace certainly couldn’t be the god of Judaism, or Islam, or any other religion because no other religion teaches that peace with God is obtained in this way.
The God of the Bible is the only “God of peace” because He makes peace with sinners! He does this through the blood of the everlasting covenant and by raising Jesus from the dead. Jesus’ perfect blood atoned for your sins, and when God raised Jesus from the dead He declared to you peace—forever!
Paul told the Ephesians about this God of peace “who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” (Ephesians 1:3) God blesses you, then, in the very same way in which He secured your peace—“in Christ”! The very same power that raised Jesus from the dead is the power God uses to bless you. The very same blood of the everlasting covenant that has secured your forever-peace with God also secures for you every other spiritual blessing. Without Jesus, we are forever cursed. In Him, we are blessed forever with every spiritual blessing.
The writer to the Hebrews wants God to “make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ.” Doing what is according to God’s will is rightfully called a blessing, and yet too often for us it feels like a chore. Romans 12 describes doing God’s will as a “living sacrifice” and our “reasonable service.” And yet, we get hung up on that word sacrifice, focusing on what it costs us: loss of leisure time, physical exertion, and so on.
We need God to work in us
That’s why the blessing of our text is one that we all desperately need. We need God to work in us those good works that agree with His will. And He does! Just as in the Old Testament God faithfully provided the animals His people needed to make the required sacrifice, so too does God provide through the Gospel in Word and sacrament what we need to present ourselves as living sacrifices. Yes, you are truly blessed when God is “working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ.”
By God’s grace and Spirit may we seek every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus in our own lives and in the lives of others. Amen.
Chad Seybt is pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Cheyenne, Wyoming.