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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
The Small Catechism – part 129

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From the Word: Then, when Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is accomplished,” and he bowed his head, and gave up his spirit. (John 19:30)

From the Confessions: The Small Catechism

The Second Article

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

What does this mean?

I believe that Jesus Christ — true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary — is my Lord. He has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, and has freed me from sin, death, and the power of the devil, not with silver and gold, but with his holy and precious blood and his innocent suffering and death. He has done all this in order that I might be his own, live under him in his kingdom, and serve him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, even as he is risen from the dead and lives and reigns for all eternity. This is most certainly true!

Pulling It Together: Did Jesus really die? If he is God, can God die? Some say that he did not actually die. It is called the “swoon theory,” meaning Jesus only fainted on the cross, was presumed dead, then carried off to his grave. Yet Scripture tells us that the Roman soldier verified his death with a spear in Jesus’ side. Others say that Jesus is a spirit, and that spirits do not die. It was, in other words, a kind of stage play that dramatized the necessary sacrifice for the sins of the world.

The King James version says that Jesus “gave up the ghost,” a colloquialism for death we readily understand. This was not an act, a sham, or a misunderstanding. Jesus died. In fact, his death was necessary. In the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, God conclusively demonstrated his sovereignty over sin and death. And because we are baptized into Jesus’ death, we too will be raised just as he was raised from the dead (Rom 6:3–4).

Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, for suffering and dying for me. Amen.

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