(Easter – 1999)

“Thou hast crowned Him with glory and honor”

Ps 8:5b

What a magnificent text for Easter! The Father crowned the risen Son with glory and honor. In another Psalm we read: ”Thou settest a crown of pure gold on His head.” The risen

Savior is the Lord’s joy and crown. It is hard to imagine the unspeakable happiness in heaven at the sight of the empty tomb. No more fighting with the devil, no more temptation or pain and agony caused by the sin of others. Jesus Christ emerged the Victor. He came forth the King of kings and Lord of lords. While, after the resurrection, Jesus had the same body with the marks of the crucifixion in His hands and His side, they were marks of honor. As our glorified Lord, He could walk through walls and appear or disappear at the snap of a finger. As the Lord of glory He was and is forever in complete charge!

It is interesting to note that the word, “crown,” is used in only one sense in the four Gospels, not “the crown of glory” but “the crown of thorns.” Throughout the moments of our Savior’s crucifixion, one thought stands out clearly: his enemies were confident that they were in charge! The taunting, the jeering and the crown of thorns were their way of saying: “We have finally won; you are going to die.” What a powerful answer when the Lord of heaven and earth replaced the crown of thorns with a crown of honor and glory. The bitter truth of the resurrection for His enemies was that they had lost and would be lost for all time if they did not recognize the risen Lord as their Savior.

The glorious truth of the resurrection for you and me is that we have won. Jesus’ crown is also our crown. What is our crown like? The divine writers describe it variously as an “incorruptible crown,” “a crown of life,” “a crown of righteousness.” Through the forgiveness of our sins, our victorious King also made us kings and promises us a crown of glory for all eternity.

On the first Easter, Jesus’ battle was over but ours is not. The enemies of our soul are constantly striving to take away the crown that Jesus won for us. St. John encourages: “Let no one deprive you of your crown.” How wonderful it is to know that just because He is our risen Lord, no one can take away our crown. He is ever present with His word to strengthen us and lead us to everlasting life. What better way can we praise our Lord than to honor Him with the song of the hymn writer: “All glory, laud and honor, to Thee, Redeemer-King.”


“For Thou hast made Him a little lower than the angels” Ps 8:5a

What a dramatic description of our Savior’s life on this earth. God the Father made God the Son a little lower than the angels. Do you understand this remarkable verse? Who is in charge of the angels? Well, our Savior, of course. Think of what He said in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” Actually, when you consider the devastation caused by one angel in the land of Egypt, you realize that one angel would have been enough!

What is the job of an angel? Very plainly, he is a messenger; he is a servant who delights in taking orders from God. Since this world was created for man, angels are here to direct the lives of men according to God’s will. We are higher than the angels; they are here to serve us. They are here right now, in this room, watching over you and me, directing us and keeping us.

What a demonstration of humility, for our Savior to be made lower than the angels that were created to do His bidding! In another place we read about Jesus ”He made Himself of no reputation,” and again later on, “He humbled Himself…and became obedient unto death.” The humility of Christ is beyond human comprehension, but its purpose is clear. He not only made up for our sins on the cross, but from the moment of His birth, with unbelievable humility, made up for every moment of pride in our lives.

Are you embarrassed by the humility of Christ? We ought to be. Our pride is dreadful thing, for it gets in the way of everything we do and would rob us of our salvation. It is so easy to answer back and to become touchy when we don’t get our way. It is so easy to do we do what we want to do, no matter what our Lord says. How important it is, then, that our Savior through his humility exposes our pride, and renews in us that spirit of humility that would look to Him for forgiveness and for the strength to fight the good fight of faith.


“For Thou hast made Him a little lower than the angels”

Ps 8:5a

What a seemingly contradictory expression! The Lord God Almighty made His holy Son, the second person in the Trinity, a little lower than angels. This was intentionally part of the Lord God’s wonderful plan to redeem sinful mankind. Instead of effecting the dreadful sentence our first parents brought on themselves, “Thou shalt surely die,” the Lord promised, “Believe on my Son, Jesus Christ, and you shall surely live! “ That was His plan.

To make this plan possible, it was necessary for Jesus Christ to be made lower than angels. He had to take on our humanity so that He could live and die in our place. For us to live He had to die. God’s holy Son took on human form by being born the Son of Man, a helpless infant of a sinful human mother.

St. Paul says it this way: “When the fullness of time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law…” Part of our Savior’s humanity was living under the jurisdiction of law, not only the 10 Commandments, but every law that His people were required to keep. That is why, only 8 days after He was born, our Savior was circumcised. Made lower than angels? Indeed! Circumcision was a bloody rite.

It was a rite that God wanted performed on every male offspring of Abraham and that eventually became a sign of the Jewish nation. What was its purpose? The Lord wanted the males of Israel to have a physical mark that would remind them of His promise to send a Savior. So great was our Lord’s concern for the salvation of His people that He gave them a physical sign in addition to a verbal promise.

Did the Jews understand what circumcision was all about? Like so many Old Testament forms, it became a means to win God’s favor instead of a sign of His goodness. The real significance of this rite, however, was made clear at our Savior’s circumcision where He was circumcised to keep the law in our place. By assuming our humanity, our Savior not only saved us from our sins, but assured us that circumcision is no longer necessary. He that was made a little lower than the angels has translated us from the jurisdiction of any and every law to the perfect freedom of children of God.

Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their children.


“What is man that Thou art mindful of him?”

Ps 8:4a

The Psalmist David here asks a searching question that every one of us must answer: Who are you? What is there about you that would make God take notice?

Many people are quick to come up with answers. They may say things like, “I’ve lived a decent and moral life. Certainly, God must take notice of that.” “I seldom miss church and am generous with my contributions. That has to be pleasing to Him.” “I always do my best and try to be a good example. What more could God ask?” God asks a lot more. He demands perfection. He wrote a divine law in every man’s heart that, since the fall into sin, no man can keep. On the basis of God’s unchanging will, our conscience condemns us as failures.

What is there about us that would make God take notice? The simple answer is nothing. There is not a soul on earth that can claim God’s attention because our lives are constantly marred by sins like selfishness and greed and, most of all, pride. One of the greatest temptations of the devil is to get us to believe that somehow God will recognize our sincere attempts at Christian life and will, therefore, answer our prayers. The Psalmist straightens out our thinking when He tells us in another place: The Lord looked down from heaven, and what did He see? “There is none that doeth good.”

You see, that question, what is there about me that would make God take notice, forcefully brings home what grace is all about. If there is nothing attractive about me and God loves me none the less, what does that tell me about God’s love? Our mortal minds, frankly, cannot understand this. We cannot understand why our Lord would love a worthless world enough to sacrifice His Son for their sins. Can you see why the Apostle Paul speaks of it as a love that surpasses all understanding?

Is it clear to you now why this question, “What is man that Thou art mindful of him,” is one that everyone must answer?

If we feel that God must notice us because of our works, then we are rejecting the very plan by which God would save us. But if, through the Holy Spirit, we, by repentance, recognize our total worthlessness, then we are worth everything to Him. Then the puzzling statements of our Savior begin to have meaning: “So the last shall be first,” and “He that loseth his life for My sake shall find it.” Then the love of God, which exceeds our fondest dreams, will assure us of forgiveness and hope and everlasting salvation.


“O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Thy name in all the earth.”

Ps 8:1

What name is the Psalmist talking about? If each of us were given a slip of paper to write down which name he had in mind, what name would we choose? Would we choose God, or Lord, or the Almighty, or Redeemer or Comforter, or perhaps the Holy Trinity? Actually, the Holy Trinity would cover it all! God the Father. God the Son and God the Holy Ghost. It is interesting to note that while the word, “Trinity,” is not used in the Psalms or even in the Bible for that matter, the truth of the Trinity is simply taken for granted by the Old Testament believer.

There is no doubt that David believed in God the Father: “Ye are blessed of the Lord which made heaven and earth.” There is no doubt that he believed in God, the Son: “Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten Thee.” There is no doubt that he believed in God, the Holy Spirit: “Take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.” What a divine mystery: God, the Father, is one; God, the Son, is one; God, the Holy Spirit, is one; and yet all three are only one. About this, as about all mysteries of faith, the Psalmist said: “How precious also are Thy thoughts unto me, O God.”

Why did our Lord reveal Himself as three persons? Not to challenge our reason, for who can comprehend God, but to help us understand in some small way the glorious things He does for us. He, the Father, is the Creator of all, who blesses and guards and keeps us; He, the Son, lived and died as a sacrifice for our sins; He, the Holy Spirit, creates faith in our hearts through the Bible and keeps us in the faith to our end. ”O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Thy Name in all the earth.”

“All praise to God the Father be,

All praise, eternal Son to Thee,

Whom with the Spirit we adore

Forever and forevermore.”


(By Dr. Martin Luther)

“A Christian must consider that he will live not only on the earth, nor remain forever in this world, If he does not in his thoughts and desires and hopes rise to a life beyond this world, then he degrades himself to the level of dumb animals. Animals pursue no higher aims than to fill their stomachs. They are limited to this life. When they are killed, then both their life and their hope come to an end. But a Christian is to look for a better life when this temporal, perishable and short life comes to an end; for then we shall enter into an everlasting, never-ending, heavenly existence, filled with pure joy and blessedness.”

“To be sure, God has placed us here on earth. Here we must till the ground, plow, sow, plant, reap, spin, stitch, milk cows, work in the kitchen, cook, and keep house, and many other such things. To regulate these matters God has instituted government, arranged family life, and given us our common sense. But it is damnable abuse if we attach our hearts to these things as did the people in Noah’s day, Their life just did not mean a bit more to them than eating and drinking: exactly as with the dumb animals. ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.’”

Christ came down from heaven, and was made man. He died on the cross and rose again from death and ascended into heaven, not for the purpose of leaving us here below in pain and misery, much less to leave us under the earth in death and the grave to decay and to be food for worms, but rather, to redeem us from all this and to redeem us from all this and to receive us into His eternal kingdom of glory.”


“But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law doth he meditate day and night.” Ps 1:2

It is hard to imagine that very many people would find studying the Word of God day and night something that makes them happy. This is especially true of youth. Most young people want fun at the expense of morality and common sense. Yet there comes a time when we begin to question what happiness is all about. We begin to ask, “What is life worth?” “Why did God place me here?” “How important are moral values in my life and in my future?” The more we meditate on these things, the more we look for answers.

It is at this point that this Psalm verse becomes very precious. You want answers? The Psalmist has them. He sums them up in one word, the law of the Lord. There is an apparent problem with this answer, however! Can you imagine anyone finding great joy in meditating on the law? It is a sin to lie, to covet, to deceive, to lust. We know that. Think about these things we must, but it does not make us jump up and down with joy. St. Paul reminds us, “By the law is the knowledge of sin.” All the law does is to tell us how guilty we are before the Almighty God, and to condemn us to death: “The soul that sinneth shall die.”

It is true, there are people, like the New Testament Pharisees, who claim to delight in keeping the law. The law they delight in, however, is not the changeless law of God, but a law they create for themselves and then call it God’s. It is a law that focuses on the deed, not the heart. Keeping their law, they feel, makes them better than anyone else. In actual fact, it makes them worse.

If meditating on the law would make us happy, then the word, “law,” must mean more than the 10 Commandments. Here, as in many places in the Psalms, it means the whole Word of God. It is the Word of God that makes us happy and gives us the answers we have been looking for. Why am I here? God’s Word tells me that I am here to grow in faith in my Lord Jesus and to bring the Word of faith to others. What is my life all about? God’s Word explains that He gives me my life as an opportunity to serve Him and my neighbor with the gifts He has given me. What about the future? God promises me that He will direct and keep me as His child unto eternal life. These are wonderful answers found only in the Word of God; the more we meditate on them the happier we will be.


And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season Psalm 1:3

In this Psalm verse the Psalmist compares the child of God, you and me, to a strong and healthy tree that has its roots well-watered and bears fruit at the appropriate time. We ought to note at once that the Psalmist is not talking about our physical bodies, for every child of God does not have a strong and healthy body! The Psalmist is referring to our inner being, to our happiness, to what we think, to what we love, to how we feel about other people and things. If our inner being is strong and healthy, we will be happy because God through Jesus forgives our sins. We will evaluate our lives and our world in the light of God’s Word, and we will find other people more important than ourselves.

If we are that way on the inside it will show on the outside and that is the fruit! It will show in our cheerful nature because we are God’s forgiven creatures. It will show in the respect we show other people—parents, teachers, associates, strangers. It will show in the fact that we listen to their troubles and do all we can to help them.

Who is up to a Christian life like that? Because of sin, we are innately selfish, filled with self-love and self-pity. The welfare of other people seldom enters our minds. Because of sin our spiritual tree is not very strong!

The text reminds us that our spiritual tree is weak because it lacks nourishment. Strength comes from the roots, but if the roots are dry, the tree will eventually die. How much we need this encouragement to go to the rivers of water, the living water of the Word of God. It is through this water of life that our Father in heaven sends His Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth, and to lead us to be kind, tender hearted and forgiving. This is the transformation that we pray for. This is the kind of people we want to be but have not the strength to be by ourselves. This is what it means to be spiritually alive. What a powerful encouragement to read our Bible, and to pray the Holy Spirit to bless our devotion.


“For Thou, Lord, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield.”

Ps 5:12

When the Christian looks at the wicked world, his comment is, “How can we escape?” In addition to the obvious worldly pleasures of the flesh like sex and drugs and alcohol, there is the creeping influence of feminism and homosexuality. In all honesty, the pious believer wonders how long he can hold out against these devastating evil forces. After all, the believer is human, too, and susceptible to every pleasure the world has to offer. St. Paul aptly describes our evil inner nature when he writes, ”Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” Ephesians 2:3

Our times are truly wicked, but no more wicked than the days of Lot, or of Moses, or of the Greeks or the Romans. The flesh will have its way, and idleness and the little yellow coin simply make it worse. What can we do to fight it? Actually, nothing. Certainly, we would lose all if we tried to attack the devil. He is a spiritual force immensely stronger than the staunchest believer is. The same is true of our flesh. No way are we strong enough to say, “I will go so far and no further.”

What we need to realize is that we are nowhere called to attack temptation, but to flee it. Fight we do and fight we must, but not to attack the devil or eliminate evil from the world. Our battle is to keep from losing our precious faith. Martin Luther said it well when he wrote: We pray that God would guard and keep us so that the devil, the world and our flesh may not deceive us.” The Psalmist says it this way: God encloses us with a large shield, a shield larger and infinitely stronger than the huge shield of Goliath, which the Psalmist was unable to carry.

The shield with which our Lord guards and keeps us is the shield of truth, as the Psalmist wrote in another place, “His truth shall be thy shield.” What is that truth? It is the only truth in the entire world, the truth of God’s word on which our hope of heaven is based, the truth that our Savior destroyed the power of the devil by his holy life and death. That is our shield. When temptations assault us with all kinds of lies about what makes us happy, the shield of God’s word assures us how much we need our heavenly Father every moment of our lives and that there is no happiness without Him. God’s word gives us the amour and the strength to use it in our battle against the Force of Evil. May the Holy Spirit keep our hearts focused on God’s word, the shield that will keep us unto eternal life!


“The ungodly are not so, but are like the

chaff which the wind driveth away.”

Ps 1:4

Regarding the ungodly, the Psalmist says, “Not so!” This verse occurs in that same Psalm which compares the godly to a strong and healthy spiritual tree. But what a powerful comparison. It is not between a healthy tree and a sick one, or a healthy tree and a dead one, but between a healthy tree and nothing. The ungodly are nothing, chaff, dust which blows away. As Solomon says, “Vanities of vanities, all is vanity.”

You see, without our Savior, life does not amount to a hill of beans! The ungodly have no hope; there is no chance of them going to heaven. The ungodly have no inner peace; there is no forgiveness for their sins. The ungodly have no comfort in distress; they have no God to hold them in His hand. The hope and peace and comfort of the ungodly rests only in themselves, their self-esteem, their self-love, their belief that God helps those who help themselves, their feeling that they can buy God’s favor with their good deeds.

When we look at the ungodly world about us, however, we come away with a different idea. They surely don’t look like they are nothing. They are friendly and pleasant. They seem so happy and successful and prominent and in control of their lives that we tend to envy them. Then we need to remember the words of our Savior, “What is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?”

There are two dangers that we need to avoid: one is to envy the world, and the other is to imitate it. Both are serious temptations of the devil, as serious and as devastating as the temptation for Eve to eat the fruit. To succumb is to sell our birthright for a bowl of pottage.

The answer for you and me is that, through the Holy Spirit, our focus is moved from the world to our Lord and His Word, where we find all the good things that the Psalmist suggests. There we find forgiveness, and peace, and strength, and the promise of success and the sure hope of everlasting life.