We beseech Thee, Almighty God, mercifully to look upon Thy people, that by Thy great goodness they may be governed and preserved evermore, both in body and soul; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
--Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church
[Jesus said,] "Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God.”
Then the Jews answered and said to Him, “Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?”
Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon; but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me. And I do not seek My own glory; there is One who seeks and judges. Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.”
Then the Jews said to Him, “Now we know that You have a demon! Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and You say, ‘If anyone keeps My word he shall never taste death.’ Are You greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? And the prophets are dead. Who do You make Yourself out to be?”
Jesus answered, “If I honor Myself, My honor is nothing. It is My Father who honors Me, of whom you say that He is your God. Yet you have not known Him, but I know Him. And if I say, ‘I do not know Him,’ I shall be a liar like you; but I do know Him and keep His word. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.”
Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?”
Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.
--John 8.46-59 (NKJV)
Here Jesus says that anyone who keeps his word will never taste death. That's a tough teaching for us to swallow sometimes. For even though we know that, for the Christian, bodily death is the means by which we come to be forever in the presence of our Triune God, it is not always an easy or pain-free journey. But in view of eternity, it is always finally a blessed journey.
Christ drank the cup of suffering to the very dregs that we might be freed from the shackles of sin,death, and the devil. He is the one who was before Abraham and yet is his promised Seed. He is the fulfillment of the sacrifice of Abraham's son--not bound on the wood of an mountain-top altar but with outstretched arms on the wood of a mountain-top cross. He is the lamb that substituted in our place and was sacrificed from before the foundation of the world. It is by his goodness, as we pray in today's collect, that we are preserved forever in body and soul. Thanks be to God!
Photo by Gabriel Rissi on Unsplash