My favorite TV character is Sheldon Cooper who received an invitation to play Dungeons and Dragons on a scroll.  He says, ” I like scrolls. They’re my third favorite system of transmitting the written word. After stone tablets and skywriting.”

I have been thinking about scrolls a lot lately.  I have thought about putting my stuff on scrolls and handing it out and seeing how folks handle it. That is the trick you see – unrolling it to the place where you want to be and then keeping it from rolling back up like a bunch of wrapping paper.

I have the memory of the Gospel lesson from last Sunday in my mind.  You know the drill – Jesus goes to  His hometown synagogue to worship and He is given, it is handed to Him, the scroll of the Prophet Isaiah.  He opens it and reads this –

“The Spirit of the LORD is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, 19to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor.” 20Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” In other words this prophecy is fulfilled in your ears and I am God’s prophet, priest, and King.

He is basically saying the Kingdom of God is here.  Jesus goes on from there and says that same thing over and over – the Kingdom of God is here, among you, at hand, within you – evidently the Kingdom is pretty much everywhere that Jesus is or where His word is preached. Kingdom is that enfleshment, that incarnation of God’s King, that manifestation of God’s kindness which invites men to turn to Him and by its very presence demands that man turn to Him; it is a kindness which “is meant to lead … to repentance” (Rom. 2: 4).

This is God’s rule – this is God’s Government – This will be how God runs the world.

In 1962 President Kennedy made a speech in front of all the Governors of the States and talked about the politics of the time.  We are sometimes led to believe that our time is the worst, our politics have never been as contentious as they are now.  It is depressing I admit that in all politics there have always been demagogues.  The old demagogues were desperate in their wish to make people understand.  The new demagogues want to make people painfully conscious of not understanding.  Our contentiousness comes from never being able to understand what is going on because the truth might set us free.  We are contentious because we are led to believe that our system is meant to be contentious.  Our system and our freedom permit the legislative to be pitted against the executive, the State against the Federal Government, the city against the countryside, party against party, interest against interest, all in competition or in contention one with another. Our task, said Kennedy–your task in the State House and my task in the White House, he said –is to weave from all these tangled threads a fabric of law and progress. We are not permitted the luxury of irresolution. Others  may confine themselves to debate, discussion, and that ultimate luxury–free advice. Our responsibility is one of decision–for to govern is to choose.

To govern is to choose.  He might as well have said to rule is to choose.  One of our old theologians said that to “rule is to have the last word”.  Jesus sets about in that home church of His to set God’s rule and He choices are very interesting.  If you compare the words from the scroll of Isaiah with the words that Jesus read something is missing and that is the day of vengeance  what is “the day of vengeance of our God”? When Jesus read this passage at that service in Nazareth, he didn’t read these words. He stopped reading at the end of the first line of verse 2. He omitted any reference to the day of the vengeance of our God. Why?  The day of vengeance was the great and dreadful day., the day of wrath and mourning.

The trumpet’s wondrous call resounding
In tombs throughout the world
Gathering everyone toward the throne.
Death and nature shall stand amazed
When creation rises from the dead again
To give an answer to its Judge.
The written book will be brought forth
In which everything is contained
From which the world shall be judged.
What shall I, a wretch, say at that time
What advocate shall I ask (to plead for me)
When even the righteous are not carefree.
To rule is to choose.  Jesus chooses his reign to be the Reign of Absolution of all sins for Christ’s sake through His Word and Sacraments.  For to rule or to reign means to have the last word.  The Last Word in the Church after confessing our sins is not condemnation but Absolution.  Francis Pieper:  “It is therefore a part of the proper distinction between Law and Gospel that the Gospel be recognized as the ‘higher Word’, which is to be God’s final Word for the terrified sinner.  Luther adds:  ‘For as the lesser Word it [the Law] should and must give way
and place to the Gospel.  Both are God’s Word, the Law and the Gospel, but the two are not equal.  One is lower, the other higher; one is lesser the other greater.’”
Jesus chooses to preach good news – Christ “came not into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved” (Joh. 3: 17). The angels who announced his birth proclaimed  that it was a subject for joy and rejoicing—” Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke. 2: 14). His forerunner declared it to be the object of his coming, “that all flesh should see
the salvation of God” (Luke. 3: 6). He himself came with “gracious words” (Luke. 4: 22), and called men into his kingdom. What could be better tidings than the announcement of free pardon on repentance, of salvation, of atonement, of deliverance from sin, of a Comforter to support, and sustain, and cleanse the heart, and give men peace and joy in believing? Man, lost without him, was by him sought
and saved, and brought out of darkness and misery into light and happiness.
Jesus chooses to  give liberty to the captive s.  “The captives” are the servants of sin—those whom Satan has made his prisoners, and forces to slave in his service. Christ came to “proclaim” to them “liberty,” to make them an offer of release. “Christ Jesus,” St. Paul tells us, “came into the world to save sinners” (1Ti. 1: 15). He himself declared, “I came not to call ,he righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Mat. 9: 18). It is one of his greatest glories that he delivers men “from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Rom. 8: 21).
To rule is to choose and Jesus chooses to  recover the sight of the blind Our Lord, when-on earth, gave recovery of sight, in the most literal sense, to several persons who were literally blind. But this is scarcely the “giving of sight” which was one of the main purposes of his coming. He came to open the eyes of men’s understandings, to give them spiritual intelligence and spiritual insight, to enable them to discern
between right and wrong, between good and evil. Men at the time were so far gone from original righteousness, that they put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter, darkness for light, and light for darkness’ (Isa. 5: 20), were “vain in their imaginations, and had “their
foolish hearts darkened (Rom. 1: 21). Christ dispelled this spiritual darkness.
Our King chooses to heal “the broken-hearted.   Not so much those whom misfortune and calamity have afflicted and reduced to despondency, as those who are deeply grieved on account of their sins. Among the objects of Christ’s coming was the healing, or restoring to health, of such persons. He “healed the broken in heart, and bound up their wounds” (Psa. 147: 3). He made atonement for
their sins, and thus secured them forgiveness; he assured them of God’s mercy and readiness to pardon; he bade them “come to him,” and promised to “give them rest Christ chooses and proclaimed a “time of acceptance”, a time of favor in various ways. It is the time of salvation and it is now.  Our King chooses the good word of love and mercy and peace.
I like scrolls and we need to jump ahead to Johns vision of heaven.  The are scrolls all over the book of Revelation but there is one I am intrigued by above all others.  In chapter five John sees in the right hand of God’s power a scroll written on the inside and out sealed with 7 seals and a strong angel calls out for someone to open it and no can and John cries like a baby.  It is bad enough that no one can open it but no one can even look on it.  But Jesus can because He is worthy.  No man is worthy because all men are sinners.  “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:  Jesus completed God’s will perfectly in thought, word, and deed.  Hence, God is well-pleased in the Man Jesus Christ.  Christ alone is worthy to look upon these book of human history because He is the only man to have atoned for all the sins in human
history, backward and forward.  The Rev. Dr. George Stoeckhardt writes:  “… the New Testament is a ‘mercy built up for ever’, Ps. 89, 2, which is efficacious backwards and forwards, covers up and blots out the sins of all times.”  Only Christ is worthy to look upon the book because He alone redeemed mankind and human history. Christ, therefore, is worthy to open and to look upon the book because of His obedience to God; and He is able to open the book and look upon it because of His Deity, i.e. because He is God.
Remember back in Nazareth they brought the scroll over to him and he took.  In Revelations 5 he walls over and takes it.  Amazing.  And he could take it because he earned it.  Christ is Worthy, namely, unlike any other man, He earned everything He has – and He earned it in order to give it to us.  He earned  it because he redeemed us to God by thy blood and not just us but folks from out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nations:

 

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