This coming Sunday, the Good Shepherd saints will give thanks for the faithfulness of one of the Sons of Thunder, St. James the Elder. You remember James, in one gospel we see his mother asking for her sons glory in the coming kingdom, in another gospel we see James and John asking for glory in the coming kingdom. Again, we see these sons of Zebedee seeking glory rather than suffering when they ask to call down punishment on the inhabitants of Samaria.
In the midst of all this glory seeking we are interupted by the epistle from Romans 8:28-39.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, "For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered."
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
And then, as so often happens, I am reading along for fun, not even thinking about sermon preparation, and God hands me a jewel to adorn His Gospel. This quote from The Hammer of God we see the beauty of the theology of the cross:
“You see, atonement comes only through suffering. Through suffering our Savior opened the gates of Heaven, through suffering his apostles carried the Gospel out in the world--rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer. It is a great favor to bear testimony to Christ by suffering in His fellowship. I believe Scripture calls it bearing in the body the marks of the Lord Jesus. Usually we suffer only for our own sins. But sometimes we are given the favor of suffering for the sins of others. That is part of the mystery of the Atonement: when one is joined to Christ, one is given the task of lifting a portion from a certain sinner and suffering in his stead, so that he does not have to carry alone all the bitterness of his deeds.”
The Hammer of God, pg. 312