On the Feast of All Saints today, we take our devotion from one of the sermons in Selected Sermons of Norman Nagel: From Valparaiso to St. Louis.
1 John 3:1–3
Calvary is for you, from Him, a gift. Blessed are those who are given to. They are “the poor in spirit” of the first Beatitude. If there is any hope of deliverance, it can only come from God. The poor in spirit wait on the Lord. As He gives, they are given to. His giving to them is not blocked or hindered by what they have crammed together and would use for bargaining. “God gives into empty hands,” says Augustine, not into hands full of what we would boast of before God. There is no room for the gifts to be given into. Sometimes, with drastic mercy, our Father empties our hands so there may be room for His gifts. Blessed are those who are given to by God. Blessed are they who receive their death as a gift from His hands. Nothing is outside His hands. Despite the pain and perplexity of any way of dying, we are never outside His hands, and within His hands and from His hands our deaths are a gift by way of which He brings us to the fullness of His promises. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).
In the Gospel this word blessed is always in relation to Jesus. It rings with gladness. . . . But happiness is often something so fleeting or shallow, and here is something from our Lord, a lively, joyful gift for all our living and all our dying. Not spoonfuls, not bucketfuls, but the “river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Revelation 22:1). “For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace” (John 1:16). You were “buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead” (Colossians 2:12). You who were dead in sin God made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our sins, having blotted out the charges of the Law against us. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross. “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Colossians 3:3–4).
Happy All Saints’ Day. “Rejoice and be glad” (Matthew 5:12). “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). “The throne of God and of the Lamb” (Revelation 22:1). “The Lamb’s book of life” (Revelation 21:27).
Devotional reading is adapted from Selected Sermons of Norman Nagel: From Valparaiso to St. Louis, page 317 © 2004 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations are from the ESV Bible® (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.