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Last Sunday of the Church Year

Today’s devotion focuses on the reading from Jude and comes from Concordia Commentary: 2 Peter and Jude.

Scripture Readings

Daniel 7:9–10, 13–14 or Isaiah 51:4–6
Psalm 93
Revelation 1:4b–8 or Jude 20–25
John 18:33–37 or Mark 13:24–37

Read the propers for today in Lutheran Service Builder.

Devotional Reading

Jude 24 is filled with words of comfort and jubilant exultation for the Christian readers. In the midst of concern among the beloved, Jude joyfully confesses the one who alone is able to meet their ultimate needs both now and at the end of time (“to him who is able”). The omnipotent God wields all power in heaven and on earth. Nothing can hinder his ability to rescue his beloved. Other doxologies begin with a similar confession about “him who is able.”

Although Jude’s reference to God’s ability pertains to his omnipotence, it is his power pressed into service of his mercy. Therefore, Jude 24 continues with two descriptions of his ability to save for eternity. First, he is able “to preserve you as unstumbling.” Jude has already declared that the beloved are “kept for Jesus Christ” (Jude 1), that is, they are being kept in grace by God for the day when Christ returns for them. Now Jude specifies that under the Lord’s care, they will not fall away from Christ and into the trap set by the intruders, and so suffer condemnation with them. The image of stumbling to indicate mortal danger for God’s people arises from the Psalms. Thus, also the Lord will preserve the recipients from stumbling as he did his people of old. This ancient image comforts the beloved, as they know they are in the company of the psalmists and other OT saints who have been graciously preserved from stumbling.

Second, God is able “to present (you) in the presence of his glory as blameless with great exultation.” The expression “in the presence of his glory” is a respectful Semitic circumlocution for God. Being in the Lord’s glorious presence is a distinct tenet of the Christian hope for the Last Day, when the Son of Man will come in glory. Moreover, God will present his beloved as “blameless.” His church, the bride of Christ, has been rendered a pure virgin through the Sacrament of Baptism, “the washing of water with the Word” (Eph 5:26), so Christ may present the church to himself as “glorious,” “not having a spot or stain or any of such things, but that she may be holy and blameless” (Eph 5:27). Through the imputation of the forgiveness of sins for Christ’s sake, the church is deemed righteous and holy, fit for her Lord.

The word “blameless/without blemish” has distinct liturgical connotations of an acceptable sacrificial offering free of defect. Because of the atoning sacrifice of the perfect, unblemished Christ, baptized believers stand blameless before God.

“Blameless/without blemish” is another indication of the eschatological quality of the “already now” and the “not yet” of the Christian hope. Although Christians are still encumbered by their sinful human nature and their lives are filled with impurities, nevertheless, already now, on account of Christ, the sins of the beloved are not counted against them. Upon the return of Christ, they will be raised bodily to be incorruptible, and so, at the cusp of the eschaton, they will finally be freed from original sin and all its effects. They will stand blameless before God’s glorious presence, unlike the heretical intruders, who will be raised to everlasting shame and torment.

Finally, this blameless presentation of the beloved at the parousia will result in “great exultation.” Although we already have joy now in Christ, a yet greater joy awaits us.

Devotional reading is adapted from Concordia Commentary: 2 Peter and Jude, pages 360–61 © 2012 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Hymn

Video is of “Lo! He Comes with Clouds Descending” from How Shall I Meet You: Seven Organ Preludes for Advent © 2016 Concordia Publishing House.

 

Written by

Anna Johnson

Deaconess Anna Johnson is a marketing manager at Concordia Publishing House. After graduating from the deaconess program at Concordia University Chicago, she continued her studies at the University of Colorado—Denver in education and human development. She has worked as a church youth director and served a variety of other nonprofit organizations, such as the Lutheran Mission Society of Maryland. Anna loves playing video games and drinking a hot cup of tea almost as much as she loves her cat and her husband.

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