John 10:17-21 NKJV
17 “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. 18 No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”
19 Therefore there was a division again among the Jews because of these sayings. 20 And many of them said, “He has a demon and is mad. Why do you listen to Him?”
21 Others said, “These are not the words of one who has a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”
The believing/baptized children of God (according to the New Man, born from above) flock to this message of Christ laying down His life. For it is only through His fully atoning merits that true life is offered.
Is this an acceptable message by the world, our sinful flesh & the devil? Of course not. The world, sinful flesh and the devil despise Christ and His works. Thus, division does come about. There will always be those who want to be righteous by works — and, by God’s grace, those who are righteous through faith alone! Thanks be to God, He does not leave us blind to His truth — but creates (and sustains) eyes of faith to behold His glorious scars as marvelous in our sight!
It’s Christ and His fully atoning merits that are delivered through His Word and Sacraments. Through such means of grace He is the author and perfecter of faith — ever calling His own to Him to feed us with Himself and send us out to contend with the world, our flesh and the devil. It’s Christ’s laying down of His life that creates proper faith and love of neighbor — as we rightly pray in the Post-Communion Collect, having just proclaimed the Lord’s death (God’s love for us) by partaking of His Body and Blood in Holy Communion: “Grant, we beseech You that of Your mercy You would strengthen us through the same in faith toward You and in fervent love toward one another…”.
And, go figure, this brings His believing baptized children to rightly pray the Collect for this Week as well.
Let us pray: Almighty, everlasting God, make us always to have a devout will toward You and to serve Your majesty with a pure heart; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen