Lent 5 Midweek 2023 (Mt 27, 32–56; 7th Commandment)

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᛭ INI ᛭

With the Seventh Commandment we return to seeing quite clearly a dead commandment on the side of the road that leads to Calvary. We’re close in now. We’ve reached the exit for our trip with Jesus to His cross. Tonight, we hear how He dies: “With a loud voice and yielding up the Spirit.” (Mt 27) Not yet our final destination—that’s next Wednesday when Jesus is buried.

The Commandments fall fast and furious at the foot of the Cross. The religious leaders ridicule the True God, not only Jesus but His Father! (Though the centurion confesses Christ: **“This man was the Son of God!” (Mt 27)**) The 5th commandment broken with the offer of wine mixed with gall, and the sour wine. (Though Simon of Cyrene keeps it by carrying His cross.) More and more false testimony around Him! **“If you are God’s Son!” (Mt 27)** They even mock Jesus’ prayer to His Father. All swirling around Jesus! In the center there is Jesus, King of the Jews, treated as a common criminal—a thief, even! **“Two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left.” (Mt 27)** 

The Commandments fall fast and furious at the foot of the cross. It’s a swirling mess around Jesus! In the center hangs Jesus, King of the Jews, treated as a common criminal—a thief, even! “Two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left.” (Mt 27) “He was numbered with the transgressors!” (Is 53)

He did hang out with thieves. Judas, His betrayer, “was a thief…he used to help himself to what was put into [the moneybag].” (Jn 12:6) It’s how they arrested Jesus. “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me?” (Mt 26:55) But that’s not all; He wasn’t just treated like a thief. That’s not the only way those who “sat down and kept watch over him” (Mt 27) put the 7th Commandment to death at the foot of His cross.

(2. The way of the cross for you was the loss of Jesus’ possessions.)

See, how they rob Him! “When they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots.” (Mt 27) John tells us more—he was there, after all.

[The soldiers] took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill [Psalm 22] which says, “They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.” (Jn 19:23–24)

Going without was Jesus’ way of life! “In life no house, no home My Lord on earth might have; In death no friendly tomb But what a stranger gave.” (LSB 430:6) “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” (Mt 8:20)

He went to His cross in true warrior fashion, living a spartan existence. The way to His suffering and cross was a “daily taking up [His] cross.” (Lk 8:3) He had nothing of his own, so many women “from Galilee, ministered to him” (Mt 27), doing so “out of their means.” (Lk 8:3)

He didn’t resist. He never “resist[ed] the evil one.” (Mt 5:39) “When He suffered, He did not threaten, but continued entrusting Himself to Him who judges justly.” (1 Pet 2:23) What Jesus taught in Matthew 5 echoes the end of His life:

“If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. If anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two.” (Mt 5:39–41)

Jesus lost everything: His possessions, His prosperity, His dignity, even His very life! But that’s the way it had to be. “It was necessary that the Christ should suffer these things.” (Lk 24:26) Crucified with thieves for thieves! To the thief brought to repentance, Christ said, “Today, you will be with Me in paradise.” (Lk 23) He also swapped places with “Barabbas” (Mt 27:16) who was “a robber” (Jn 18:40), besides being “an insurrectionist” (Lk 23:19) and “murderer” (Lk 23:19)


Jesus giving up of His life, not resisting the evil one, was the way of His Cross. The loss of possessions, being robbed even, is also the way of Jesus’ cross. He suffered “every evil of body and soul, possessions and reputation.” (SC, 7th Pet) Not just for them—He did this for you.


Jesus and His suffering and cross FOR YOU: “numbered with the transgressors,” loosing His tunic and cloak, shedding His blood, giving His life. All of it FOR YOU, to save you. To save you from your sins, and, as far as the 7th Commandment is concerned, even your sins with possessions.

(1. The way of the cross for you is the loss of your possessions.)

“Take up your cross daily and follow me.” (Lk 9:23) The way it goes with our Lord is the way it goes for you, too. The way of the cross is the way of dying to yourself, to your possessions, livelihood, and life! “What good is it if someone gains the whole world but forfeits his soul?” (Mt 16:26) The good news is: you already died at Baptism—to yourself, to the world, to your stuff, but alive to God in Christ.

“You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.” (1 Cor 6:19–20) Your possessions aren’t your own either! So what if someone takes them? “The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.” (Ps 24:1) “[He] gives food to every creature. He provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call.” (SC; Ps 136:25, 147:9) And so, “What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?” (1 Cor 4:7)

But that’s what we do! We boast as if we deserve, as if we earned, as if we did it! My stuff is mine, all mine—for me! From our bank accounts to everything we own. We’re often jealous of our neighbor. Rather than working “to improve and protect his possessions and income,” (SC) we do that for ourselves instead, as if what’s ours is for us rather than to benefit those around us.

“Set no vain hopes on robbery; if riches increase, set not your heart on them.” (Ps 62:10) (Too late!) Stealing and being stolen from—that’s the way of the world. There are many kinds of thieves. Get what you get at the expense of others. Cheat. Cut corners. Laziness. Negligence. Fudge some numbers. Charge too much. Deliver poorer quality. All to have our possessions, our income, our riches increase! Because at the end of the day, we don’t believe God will take care of us.

We think we need to beg, borrow, and steal our way to get ahead. The thought of losing our things, not having our things, our money being taken, lost, or stolen is very stressful for us. We don’t like paying taxes, yet **“Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed.” (Rom 13)**

And if all else fails be in debt to have. ****“The borrower is the slave of the lender.” (Prov 22:7)** **“Owe no one anything, except to love each other.” (Rom 13:8)** Since we owe, we do not love. We’re slaves to our jobs, our money, our things. 

But, again, THE LOSS OF POSSESSIONS IS THE WAY OF THE CROSS FOR YOU. Your possessions used for the sake of others—that’s the way of dying to self, the cross you carry for others. That’s Christ in you for others. In Holy Baptism, you were “crucified with Christ. [You] no longer live but Christ lives in [you], and the life [you] now live in the flesh, [you] live by faith in the Son of God, who loved [you] and gave Himself,” lost His possessions, “for [you].” (Gal 2)

When someone asks for monetary help, we’re more than reluctant to help, doubting their intentions and need. So we don’t, but “Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?” (1 Cor 6:7) “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: … thieves … the greedy … swindlers will [not] inherit the kingdom of God. … But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Cor 6:9–11) Here again—you are baptized to “no longer steal, but rather labor … [to] have something to share with anyone in need.” (Eph 4:28)



“Take up your cross daily and follow Me,” Jesus says. Your stuff isn’t yours. Your possessions are a gift for you, but what if you used them not for you but for others? You have something more valuable than any trinket or toy or treasure you think’s yours. For, “you are not your own,” (1 Cor 6:19), for “you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ.” (1 Pet 1:18–19)

(No wonder the earliest Christians were selling all they had and giving the proceeds to any that had need!) (Acts 2) No law there. “The Lord loves a cheerful giver.” (1 Cor 9) Even “the widow, giving all that she had, her very life.” (Lk 21) Humanly speaking that’s crazy! But that’s Christ bringing out His own cross in your life. Because, well, that’s what He did for you.


“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” (2 Cor 8:9)

You are rich in Him. Wealthy beyond measure! Baptized heir of eternal life. Precious blood of Christ is yours. So wealthy that one day, in eternal life “around the throne of glory the Lamb [you] shall behold; in triumph cast before Him [your] diadem of gold.” (LSB 515:3)

In the meantime: 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? (Rom 8:32) Daily He does. No reason to take from others, then, but maybe, just maybe, use your stuff for them. (Even if they just want to take it…)

Like in Les Misérables, when Bishop Myriel chastises Jean Valjean for not also taking the silver candlesticks when he’d stolen the other silver. 

After all, see how they robbed Him! (He freely gave.)


Jesus’ cross, Jesus’ death, for you.

᛭ INI ᛭

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