Wed, 4 October 2017
(Neh.8:1-12; Ps.19:8-11; Lk.10:1-12)
“They understood the words that had been expounded to them.”
What a blessed day we hear of in our first reading. And what a blessed reception the Word of God finds in the hearing of the people! For “the whole people gathered as one man” and “listened attentively to the book of the law” of Moses as “Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden platform that had been made for the occasion” and “read out of the book from daybreak until midday.” And we know that all the people indeed understood the wonder of what was read to their humble, obedient hearts, “for all the people were weeping as they heard the words of the law.” They wept for the truth of these words, and for the fact that they as a people were so long without their instruction. The truth of God’s Word brought repentance to their hearts, as it should to all.
But ultimately the Word of God caused them, as all, “to celebrate with great joy.” Certainly this is its ultimate goal. For as David sings so well of in our psalm today: “The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul; the decree of the Lord is trustworthy, giving wisdom to the simple.” And the rightness of this wisdom brings “rejoicing [to] the heart.” For as rich as the food and sweet the drinks the people were encouraged to consume that day as celebration of the glory of God, none could compare with the commands of the Lord, which “are more precious than gold, than a heap of purest gold; sweeter also than syrup or honey from the comb.” This bread of life is that which sustains us.
And it is this bread of peace and life the Lord sends the disciples to bring to the cities before Him in our gospel today. He tells them that as they declare peace to any house or town along the way, “If there is a peaceable man there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will come back to you.” And woe to those who do not welcome the reign of God these disciples bring in Jesus’ name. Indeed, we hear that “the fate of Sodom will be less severe than that of such a town.” If the Israelites were so open and welcoming to the Word of God read in their midst from the book of the law by Ezra the scribe, how much more welcoming should these people who have the emissaries of Christ Himself, sent to “cure the sick,” be to receive the reign of God at hand. And how much more should we be open to receive His Word, who now know of the Lord’s resurrection to glory and have the Holy Spirit in our midst by the authority given to His Church on earth. Brothers and sisters, we must hear and understand as well as they of Nehemiah’s time, else what hope have we for celebration in Christ’s glory? May His sweet words be in our ears and in our mouths, and so may we bleed with Him unto glory.
O LORD, your Word brings the sweetest tears
of blessed repentance.
YHWH, how sweet your Word should be to our ears, to our hearts – O how we should welcome it! Though it bring knowledge of our sin, that knowledge is sweet, for that knowledge brings us to repentance and refreshes our souls. Though we weep, though we cry for our transgressions, how sweet are our tears! For it is these tears, this turning from our sins, that brings us into your presence, that brings your reign into our midst.
O how we should welcome your Word, LORD! Once it came only through words in a book; once it had to be read aloud and interpreted for our simple hearts to understand. But now it comes in flesh and blood in your only Son and in the apostles He sends out to proclaim your glory among men.
Indeed, your reign, O God, is at hand. Your grace has come to us as a Man. And so let us rejoice this day, for it is thus made most holy.