The theme running through our Lutheran Sentinel articles this year is that of vocation. A vocation is defined in the dictionary as: “(1) a call, summons, or impulsion to perform a certain function or enter a certain career, esp. a religious one. (2) any trade, profession, or occupation.” Vocation for the Christian is really God’s work and how God works through us to do His will. It is living our lives for Him in accord with God’s will and to His glory. This month “vocation” is connected with “righteousness.” Righteousness is the perfect life God demands of all sinners, which is impossible for humans to accomplish; thus the need for a Savior. Jesus is that Savior. His vocation was to earn and to win salvation for the world.
Think back to the time when the boy Jesus was at the Temple in Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. He was only twelve years old. The King James Version of the Bible translates the reply of Jesus to his parents, “Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49). Although the Greek could rightly be translated “in my Father’s House” it is far richer and deeper to translate the phrase “the things pertaining to His Father.” What Jesus says with all respect to His parents is that He cannot understand why they would be searching for Him. It should be assumed that Jesus would be involved with the “things,” or affairs, pertaining to His Father. He was in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. He amazed everyone with His understanding and His answers.
Jesus’ vocation was to do the will of His heavenly Father (John 4:34; 17:4). He came to serve, not to be served (Matthew 20:28). His mission was to win salvation for the whole world. In order to do this, Jesus was born of the Virgin to live a perfect life under the Law of God. He had to take the sinner’s place in hell, suffering the eternal punishment deserved for all lawbreakers. This He accomplished while suffering and dying on the cross. He came back to life again, overcoming sin, death, and the devil.
The practical application of this vocation of Jesus is that through His life, death, and resurrection, forgiveness of sins has been won for everyone. No one is excluded. As the Small Catechism teaches, “For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is life and salvation!” Rejoice that salvation is complete! Jesus paid the world’s debt of sin in full! His spoken Word from the cross, “It is finished!” establishes this reality. Jesus’ righteousness (perfection) becomes personally mine through faith, by the power of the Holy Spirit working through the means of grace. “Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness My beauty are, my glorious dress” (TLH 371:1).
Thank God that Jesus carried out His vocation, even in the midst of adversity. Jesus’ vocation while living on this sinful earth brought Him rejection, discomfort, disappointment, and at times anger. But He remained determined. The inspired prophet Isaiah describes this Servant (Christ) resolutely facing His suffering, “I set my face like flint” (Isaiah 50:7). The Book of Hebrews describes Jesus as “the Author and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:2). Although the term “joy” in this passage can certainly refer to future thoughts of heaven, it also can rightly be understood as the willingness of Jesus to fulfill His earthly vocation, yes, willingly, lovingly and joyfully. “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus,” rejoicing that Jesus’ vocation won righteousness for all people.
Reverend Paul Schneider
Holy Scripture Lutheran Church