Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s verses are Mark 9:30-32, where the Bible tells us,   

30 From there they went out and began to go through Galilee, and [Jesus] did not want anyone to know about it. 31 For He was teaching His disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him; and when He has been killed, He will rise three days later.” 32 But they] did not understand this statement, and they were afraid to ask Him.



A few years ago, I was privileged to study at the Army War College in Carlisle, PA. Thanks again to National Guard Officer Ross Davis, a wonderful member of our Lutheran Church, who invited me to be involved in lectures and discussions about national security with the next generation of leaders of our Armed Forces. It was a humbling learning experience. It was at the end of their formal training, so I also got to celebrate with the whole group before their formal graduation.

There is a tradition in the graduation ceremonies there. It involves the unveiling of a painting commemorating the students time at the college. Each class places a painting in one of the college’s corridors that expresses and defines the character and the commitment of their group in order to encourage future classes to follow their lead. This group’s painting was about the “Lost Battalion” of World War I, who, though surrounded on all sides by German soldiers, persevered through the gravest of conditions. They even helped the Allies break through the German lines in the end. The Lost Battalion was known for perseverance, and that’s what the graduating class of 2018 wanted to be known for as well. In other words, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” The “tough” ones engage fully in the mission until the job is done. I have a copy of that painting hanging in my LCRL offices to this day because it inspires me to keep at my work in D.C., no matter the obstacles, because the mission and ministries of the church are always worth the effort!

In today’s lesson, Jesus talks about some “tough going” that was above and beyond anything we can handle. Every man, woman, and child in this world is on the path that leads to judgment due to our common sin and rebellion against our Creator. It’s a path that even the toughest among us can’t avoid, period. But then here comes Jesus the Christ. Though He was without sin, He chooses to take up our path. And, when the going gets eternally tough, the Savior of the world gets going! When Jesus tells the disciples that this path of suffering must be the way, they can’t believe it; they don’t realize how terrible a predicament all of us are in. But Jesus does. He tells them about the necessity of His path to the cross so that when it happens, they won’t be overcome with grief and despair. Even when all looks lost, they need to know that a persevering Savior is on the job, and He, like only He can, will get the job done.

Whatever you and I are facing today, and there’s plenty that’s overwhelming, faith in Jesus is something that gives us confidence and peace even then. As with the soldiers of the Lost Battalion of World War I, there are times that seem completely overwhelming, with no way out. Can you imagine what it was like to be surrounded by enemies on every side? The title of the painting described above gives us a glimpse of just such a struggle. Its caption states: “We weren’t lost, the Germans knew where we were all the time.” They must have hoped against hope that the Allies would soon find them.

But let me say this: While I treasure the painting from the War College hanging in my office, I believe an even more amazing picture should hang in every Christian home today. That painting should reflect the greater battle that Jesus engages in for us. It isn’t one where are enemies are close and our Savior far off.  No, it paints a different picture. It’s one where Jesus surrounds us and is closer to us than whatever is against us. It’s a picture where He is on the case all the time. As the enemy struggles to break through His line of protection, we are protected on every side by His Word, His Spirit, His gifts of Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and even His body, the church. If you are saying in your daily battles today, “We weren’t lost,” I pray that the rest of the title is, “because Jesus, my Savior, knew where I was the whole time.” With that in mind, keep fighting, keep serving, keep forgiving, and keep loving one another in His Name until He calls you to Himself. Then you and I can also reflect a spirit which knows that when the going gets really tough, IN HIM, we can get going and keep going until the job is done!

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, now is a time for courageous and committed faith. May we see the commitment that You displayed so that we might be saved by grace through faith. May it then encourage and empower our lives right now as we seek to follow You wherever You lead. AMEN.

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