Discover more from The Mustard Seed by McKay Caston
Are You Wearing Leather or Leaves?
Going to the source of the ripple on this Oct 31.
Our friend Tim Keller says, “The key to spiritual renewal is a continual rediscovery of the gospel.”
Not just a one-time affirmation of grace but an ongoing, moment-by-moment abiding in that affirmation.
Of course, the gospel is nothing less than Jesus substituting himself for sinners on a cross, where he served the rightful sentence sinners deserved for their treasonous treachery against the King.
The King becomes the convict so that convicts may become fully forgiven, perfectly accepted, eternally beloved children of God.
In a word, the gospel is grace. It is a gift. Undeserved and extravagant.
This is mind blowing for those willing to be honest about our true human condition.
It is this rediscovery of grace that blew the mind of a German monk in the early 1500s.
The result of the gospel explosion is a ripple effect of mercy that has reached us today in the twenty-first century.
But the ripple really didn’t start on October 31, 1517. We can way back, beyond the Protestant Reformation, beyond the apostles, and beyond the Old Testament prophets.
Eventually, we find a semi-cryptic promise in the earliest chapters of Genesis.
It is spoken just after the great rebellion in the garden.
In the wake of the cosmic disaster that opened the floodgates of sin to enter the world, the Lord proclaims a promise, stating to the deceiver (but expecting us to overhear),
I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He will crush your head, and you will strike his heel. — Genesis 3:15
Notice, the Lord spoke the promise before he enumerated the curses that now would befall the human race from that time until the fulfillment of promise.
The temporal consequences of their actions would unfold in the context of hope, where the promise of grace in the seed of the woman would be the atmosphere in which they would process the pain of childbirth, work, and all of human experience.
Then, to their astonishment, the Lord kills an animal to provide the exposed sinners a covering that wouldn’t wither, fade, or crumble.
They needed leather, not leaves.
And leather required blood.
This is where the ripple effect of grace began—not by posting 95 Theses in Wittenburg but by promising unfathomable grace to sinners in Eden.
And it’s not hard to make the connection.
Jesus is the seed of the women who crushed sin, death, and the enemy himself. Ironically and unexpectedly by voluntarily descending from heaven and stepping forward to atone for the deeds of the sinner.
To reconcile us to God by making us righteous, beautiful, and perfect in the Father’s eyes.
Yes, the promise in Genesis 3:15 was fulfilled in the cross of Jesus, an epic historical event that continues to create tsunami waves of hope.
Those waves changed the world in 1517. For that, I’m grateful, and celebrate the work of God for Luther’s rediscovery of grace that opened a new floodgate—not of sin but of salvation.
So, the question for us today is not, will we properly celebrate a monk’s manifesto, but will we receive and abide in the promise of God to provide gospel covering for any and all who step out of the woods wearing fig-leaves, believing that "The key to spiritual renewal is a continual rediscovery of the gospel?"
In other words, are you wearing leather or leaves?
If you found this post helpful, share it with a friend or spread the love on your favorite social page. See below for an “easy share button.”
If you’d like to get my weekly devotions sent directly to your inbox, subscribe for free below.
The two are not mutually exclusive. But one certainly takes the place of greater priority.