Last week our city and county experienced great tragedy. Somebody killed nearly a dozen people at a synagogue in Squirrel Hill. Our people did not go unaffected. Some of them were called to duty there or elsewhere to care for the victims, both living and dead. Others knew the victims. So we prayed for the victims and the survivors at Redeemer on Sunday.
Today the order of daily lessons of the Common Service has us read Romans 10. Here St. Paul talks about the Jews. Their leaders at the time of our Lord rejected Christ, and they reject Him to this day. They decided to become righteous by keeping the Law. But God says, “Be perfect, because I, the LORD, thy God, am perfect,” and they never were perfect. St. Peter once preached that they were never able to live up to the dictates of the Law.
So how can one be saved? Salvation has nothing to do with what we do. It has nothing to do with our bloodline. The Jews had no claim on salvation because Abraham is their father. We have no claim to salvation because our distant ancestors were taught the Small Catechism auf Deutsch by men trained by Dr. Luther himself.
How can we be saved? Verses 8-18 serve as the Epistle for the Feast of St. Andrew. He was the first man called by Christ to be His disciple, so his feast, November 30, is the first feast of the Church Year. He quickly brought his brother Simon to Christ. He preached Him faithfully in eastern Europe, and we are told he was bound to a cross, perhaps shaped like an X, in Greece because he dared to preach Christ.
He taught people to believe that Jesus is Lord, Yahveh, the God of Israel Who spoke to Moses from the burning bush and led His people Israel out of Egypt, “Abram’s promised great Reward, Zion’s Helper, Jacob’s Lord.” He taught them that this Christ died for us and rose again to justify us, to put us back into a right relationship with God. Our sins destroy a proper relationship with our heavenly Father. All the king’s soldiers and all the king’s men could not put Humpty Dumpty together again – and that’s a fitting image of what sin does to us. But what mortal princes could not do, Christ has done. He promised Abraham that all the nations of the world would be blessed through Him, for He kept His promise to Adam to crush the serpent’s head.
Believe in Him. Trust Him. Believe His Blood has washed away your sin. Believe His Death has killed death for you. Believe His Tomb has made your tomb a slumber, a bed you will get up out of someday. Believe His Resurrection ensures that you will live again. This is the report of the Apostles. This is what we preach. This is what we send missionaries out to proclaim with our offerings.
Tragedies happen. This world is very evil. In response we confess Christ. He paid for the sins of the world, for all people. Their guilt is the same guilt we have, the guilt of sin. They may be saved the same way we may be saved, by trusting in Christ for salvation.