Daily Word of Grace # 30 (April 27, 2020)
Many years ago as a seminarian the homiletics (preaching) professor told us something I dutifully scribbled down in my notebook, “Good preaching comforts the afflicted, and afflicts the comfortable.” I remember thinking how insightful that was. For several years I tried to do just that every time I preached, only eventually to learn the hard way something you probably already know—no one is comfortable. Are you? You may live in a comfortable home, drive a comfortable car, have a favorite comfortable couch or chair—you may even have moments when you are comfortable, but those moments are often fleeting and ephemeral. You may be physically comfortable but how about emotionally, or mentally, or relationally, or financially? The gospel is always a word of comfort for the afflicted, always. The first verse of one of my favorite chapters of the whole Bible, the fortieth chapter of Isaiah, states this beautifully: “Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry unto her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins” (Isaiah 40:1). In his Sermon on the Mount Jesus similarly proclaimed, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4)—Jesus did not preach, “Blessed are the comfortable, for they shall be afflicted.” The reason the gospel is always a word of comfort for the afflicted is that on Good Friday Jesus was afflicted in your place, served your term in your place, paid your penalty in your place, and took upon his own pierced hands double for all your sins in your place. And as if that were not enough, the Holy Spirit, your Holy Comforter, has also been sent to remind you again and again of just that (John 14:26, King James Version).
Love and Prayers,