Then the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings.”Exodus 3:7
The leaves crunched beneath his feet, and the aroma of Autumn filled his nostrils. He remembered that it was a day much like this years ago when he found what he was looking for.
Martin Luther grew up at the end of the 15th Century in Germany. He came of age at the beginning of the 16th Century after a childhood that he was not especially happy with.
He really didn’t like elementary school – much like many children today. But as he got older, he came to love learning.
After briefly following his father’s wishes to study law, he chose instead to follow another path. He had spent most of his school years, especially his university years, searching for meaning and purpose to life in general and his own in particular.
12 Year Search
After a traumatic experience during a thunderstorm, he felt that his path of discovery should wind through the Church and a monastery.
There he studied. He fasted. Luther spent long hours in prayer. He spent even longer hours confessing his sins. Luther even made a pilgrimage to Rome.
Doctorate in Theology
His years of study were rewarded with a doctorate in theology and a teaching position in the University of Wittenberg. But he still hadn’t found what he was looking for. Specifically, Luther was searching for a God who loved him and whom he could love in return.
He finally found this God while reading and studying the Epistle to the Romans.
What We are All Looking For
In the Epistle to the Romans, Luther saw this verse:
For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”Romans 1:17
Being righteous was something all Christians were seeking. But how to get there is what gave Luther trouble. Left to our own devices and strength, we can never get there – as Luther well knew. That was Luther’s problem. He couldn’t figure out how to get there.
But he kept reading and when he got to chapter 3, he found this:
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ JesusRomans 3:23-24
The Reason We Search
We all search for the God who loves us and we can love back. But because of our sins, we cannot find Him! On our own we search in vain. Because on our own we are lost in our sins.
This leads us to suffering and despair, again, as Luther well knew. But when Luther read about “grace as a gift” he realized that he had been searching in all the wrong places.
God’s love and salvation are found only God!
What We Are Looking For Is Found Exactly Where Luther Found It
We find God’s love and salvation in God’s Word. God makes it real and tangible – grab-able – in the Means of Grace. God’s Word, with water, bread and wine, gives us His precious promises of love and forgiveness.
Gathering together around the Means of Grace, we help each other in our search for God’s Love and Salvation.
Once we have found it, we need to keep learning about it. We also need to keep living it! Inside and outside the church building!
Once We Have Found It
And we need to share it – with others and the next generation.
For each generation grows up searching for the salvation that eludes them. All people are conceived and born sinful, lost and condemned creatures until God makes us His own in Holy Baptism!
We have this promise of God that He has “surely seen the affliction of my people.” We who have found our loving God in the Gospel need to bring the same Gospel to an afflicting and crying people!
Heavenly Father, I cry out to You and You have answered me in my search and distress! You save me from my sins, from death, and from the devil by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ! Thank you for revealing my salvation in the Gospel and help me to share this same Gospel with others. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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