Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Sermon for 4/6/14--Lent V



Judgment and Truth

Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Judge me, O God.” That is a pretty bold request. The Psalmist asks for judgment. He is not deceived. He knows he is a sinner. But he looks to the God of Abraham to be His Deliverer, Light, and Truth. He looks to God to lead Him to the Temple where the mercy seat and sacrifices stand between him and damnation. God is the Health of his countenance and his Hope. That is why he is bold. That is why he prays: “Judge me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation.” He is bold because Our Lord promises: “My judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I am with the Father who sent me.” The judgment of the Christ, who shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead, is true. And that is no cause for terrors of conscience, but rejoicing. For truer than the Psalmist's sins is the Blood of Christ, which speaks better things than Abel's blood, better things than that of bulls and goats, which shuts the devils mouth, washes us clean, redeems us out of dead works to serve the living God. Truer than our betrayal is His faithfulness, His love, and His mercy that endures forever.

Abraham was long buried in the ground, decomposed back to the dust and ash from which he came. But Abraham rejoices, for he has seen the day when the Virgin conceived a Son without the aid of a Man. Abraham has seen his Lord. He has seen the Day when the Son of Man was lifted up from the earth on cross. He has seen the Day that the stone was rolled away and the Son was raised up from the dead. He has seen his Lord. Abraham saw and was glad. Our Lord's opponents were wrong, dead wrong. Abraham died. But Abraham is not dead. Abraham lives, as do all those who trust in Christ.

All that being said, Jerusalem still sought to kill Jesus. While His mercy endures forever, they have no mercy, and neither does their father the devil. Hatred consumes them. And our flesh is no less corrupt than that of Caiaphas or Pilate. We know something as well of Judas' love of money. The wood on Isaac's back, the fire and the knife in hand without the lamb before us, has terrified us. We were afraid that God would kill us for our sins. Unlike faithful Abraham, we have refused to believe that the Lord will provide and have sought to provide for ourselves. We have refused to believe that God will give us what is best. We've pampered our demons and idols like beloved pets. We've indulged ourselves, slipped into the self-delusion of addicts who think they'll ease themselves off their drugs tomorrow or the next day or that they are in control. Repent! We've become masterful liars, skilled at ignoring the facts and leveling accusations at any who would hold us back from our desires. Repent! We've flirted with death, daring God to judge us according to our sins. These opponents of Our Lord, who lived long ago and sought to shut His mouth by ending His life, still live among and in us. We are not the heroes of this story. We are the criminals, the victims, and the beneficiaries all at the same time.

And that is why we rightly pray, “Judge me, O God,” for the God of Abraham has promised to be your Deliverer, Light, and Truth. He promised to lead you out of death, to stand between you and damnation. He has suffered your judgment and sentence so that you would go free. The Sacrifice is worthy. Justice demands that it be accepted. Jesus is the Lamb who was slain but lives. He is the Health of your countenance and your Hope. Be bold in your prayer. Pray: “Judge me, O God” because His judgment is true. And that truth is not a cause for terror, but rejoicing.

Truer than your sins is the Blood of Christ, which speaks better things than Abel's blood or the blood of bulls and goats, which shuts the devils mouth, which washes you clean, which redeems you out of dead works to serve the living God. Truer than your betrayal and your lies is His faithfulness and love. The knife is stayed. Your bonds are loosed. The fire is extinguished. No one—not Abraham, nor any demon or power of Hell, nor anything in all creation—shall hurt you or snatch you away from the Father. You believe in God, in the Father, and in the Son, and in the Holy Spirit, and you belong to Him. That is the judgment and the Truth. In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

The peace which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always.  Amen.

No comments: