Epaphras Prayer Letter

Seventh Sunday After Pentecost

Week of July 5, 2021 | Sunday, July 11, 2021

Herod and Herodia, husband and wife however illegitimate the marriage was, had a problem with the Law. The Law continued to accuse them. John the Baptist, even from prison, held that accusation of the Law before them. The Law not only accused them, but it also convicted them, and exposed their guilt. That is what the Law does: it reveals our guilt to ourselves and the others around us. The Law does even more than reveal our guilt. It shames us for who we are: we are sinners. The Law shames us because we are not—and have no capacity to be—the person we ought to be. We are shamed because we cannot be the sort of person who “fears, loves, and trusts God above all things.” Herodia wanted desperately to silence John, and in so doing, to silence the accusation of the Law which both revealed her guilt and shamed her by it. This is typical of sinners exposed by the Law. 


Sinners have three strategies for dealing with the accusation of the Law and its guilt and shame. The first strategy is to run away from it; but there is no hiding—just look at Eve and Adam trying to hide behind the things of nature when their sin was revealed to them (Ge. 3:8) and they came to know the truth of God’s prophesy: “In the day you eat of it, you shall surely die” (Ge. 2:17). 


Secondly, sinners attempt to silence the Law. They remove the voice of the Law—that is, they get rid of their preacher. They silence the voice of the Law by killing the owner of the voice. In the third strategy, they change the law in some way, either altering it legislatively or reducing its temporal consequences. None of these strategies succeed in silencing the Law’s accusation. The accusation of the Law receives its end only in Jesus Christ, him crucified, and him alone. “Christ is the end of the Law for all who believe” (cf. Ro. 10:4).


Prayers from those who have failed to end the Law’s accusation on their own…


Heavenly Father, give me Jesus Christ so I can cease my futile flight away from the Law’s accusation. Lord in your mercy, hear my prayer.


Heavenly Father, give me Jesus Christ so I can cease my futile efforts to silence the Law’s accusation by silencing its messenger. Lord in your mercy, hear my prayer.


Heavenly Father, give me Jesus Christ so I can cease my futile efforts at reducing the Law’s severity by manipulating it legislatively or culturally. Lord in your mercy, hear my prayer.


Heavenly Father, give me Jesus Christ so I can cease my manipulation of my neighbors when I use them as an excuse to prove my obedience to the Law. Lord in your mercy, hear my prayer.


Heavenly Father, give me Jesus Christ so I can cease to treat my neighbors as the means to the end of demonstrating my righteousness and instead consider them as ends in themselves. Lord in your mercy, hear my prayer.


Heavenly Father, give me Jesus Christ so I can see those places that hand him over to be the life of dead sinners; keep the Institute of Lutheran Theology secure in the preaching of Jesus Christ, him crucified, and him alone so that it remains one of those places. Lord in your mercy, hear my prayer.


Heavenly Father, give me Jesus Christ so I can wait in patience during these the Days of my Baptism until I go down to the dust or Christ comes in his glory. I commend all these things into your hands. Amen

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