† I.H.S. †
May the grace of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, as it is shown to you, affect more people than you can imagine!
- Intro – The Harvest Focus today
Usually, when the story of Joseph and his brothers come up, the pastor will try to get you to see yourself walking in the shoes of Joseph, trying to encourage you to deal with those who’ve hurt you. (Oddly enough Joseph never says he forgives them, only that he doesn’t have the right to judge them.)
Today, I want us to think through what the brothers had to process. I want us to walk in their shoes, to feel their pain, their relief, the comfort they were given and the most incredible thing of all, the awe at what the Lord truly made of their sin….
- The Sin
So let’s deal with their sin, originally how they reacted to Joseph’s dreams.
5 One night Joseph had a dream, and when he told his brothers about it, they hated him more than ever. 6 “Listen to this dream,” he said. 7 “We were out in the field, tying up bundles of grain. Suddenly my bundle stood up, and your bundles all gathered around and bowed low before mine!” 8 His brothers responded, “So you think you will be our king, do you? Do you actually think you will reign over us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dreams and the way he talked about them. Genesis 37:5-8 (NLT2)
That is where it all started, and now that the brothers realized the vision had come true, that it was prophetic, the brothers are scared for their very life, and so the same self-centered nature that would not believe the dream. This time, instead of getting rid of a pain in the neck little brother, in fear they lied, about what their father had said.
The sent this message – they didn’t even have the guts to say it to his face, ““Before your father died, he instructed us 17 to say to you: ‘Please forgive your brothers for the great wrong they did to you—for their sin in treating you so cruelly.’ So we, the servants of the God of your father, beg you to forgive our sin.”
Like Dad would have needed to say that! He either assumed Joseph would do this, or that the 10 deserved whatever they deserved. They had already apologized, but now with dad dead, they thought revenge would be total and swift.
They would eventually get to the place were they would throw themselves at his feet, and indicated they were his slaves.
Their sin finally broke them, their guilt and shame caused the fear that they would get what they deserve.
If all the world could ever get to the point where they felt the need to do something like this, to feel the pressure of the sin, then being to drawn to God like the brothers went to Joseph would change the world.
- The Redemption
As we, and by me I mean the entire world, go to God finally broken by our sin, we can realize what Joseph told them…
“Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good.”
Joseph couldn’t forgive his brothers, he realized this was all in the hands of God Almighty, it was all in the hands of God who would come and visit his great grandfather, with whom his dad wrestled. Who would come and live among His descendants, and die on the cross.
Who could punish us for every sin that would damn us to hell, but instead chose to use even what we meant for evil not just for good – but for the greatest good, for something that would bring pure contentment and joy.
I watched the movie about the first successful heart surgery on a baby the other night. A remarkable story I’ve watched a number of times, as it was the story which eventually led to my own heart procedures. When the baby’s skin turns from blue to pink, because of the success, the operating theater explodes in awe.
Even more awe must have been known by the brothers.
To realize their sin God was able to use for good, what a profound miracle!
God does that, even with ours today…
- Who was saved!
If we only see the awe in God forgiving us, we are still self-centered and missing the point. When god heals our brokenness it does something far more,
Hear the scriptures again, “20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.”
This is what leaves them in awe… that the salvation wasn’t limited to the 10 brothers. It wasn’t even limited to their dad and their children.
God was able to use their sin ot bring Joseph to a place where millions would be physically saved.
So who knows what happens, what could happen, when we are forgiven, and realize God can us even that to bless others. We see that already in the lives of people here, like Vanessa – whose co-workers ask her to pray – and have us pray for them, or like the Chinese congregation, which has four new believers going through a new membership class, or the children in school age care who asked me questions for 30 minutes about this place – hungry to hear about the windows that teach the catechism and the banners and candles and how they teach about Jesus.
All of that God has done, because a bunch of sinners were forgiven. And the impact of that in 10 years, or 20 or 50…
God will use everything – including the sins we’ve committed, to bring people to a place where others are saved..
And while it happens, you dwell in the peace of God which goes beyond all understanding, guarding our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. AMEN!
† I.H.S. †
May the grace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ create in you an eager repentant Spirit that rejoices in the God’s presence!
- We should be envied!
There is an old Italian “blessing”, which mommas used on their children when they are misbehaving! That “blessing” is this:
“I hope your children grow up to be …. JUST LIKE YOU!”
Oddly enough, the Psalmist would agree, but without the sarcasm.
You, according to the Psalmist, you are to be envied greatly! People should want to be just like you! Well, at least in one way!
Let me explain. Our translation reads:
“Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! 2 Yes, what joy for those whose record the LORD has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty!”
In looking up the word “joy”, I discovered it means “to be envied with great desire” So we could translate this
“Greatly envied (with a desire to be like them) are those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is forgiven. Yes, how we should envy (and wanna be like) those whose record the LORD has cleared from guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty”
So you are to be greatly envied, and people should want to be just like you!
- Our stupidity!
Well, except there is a problem—at least the writer of this Psalm had one, and I think some of us might as well. He describes the problem spiritually in verse 3:
3 When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long. 4 Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat.
That sounds like a bit of a problem!
I need to be clear here, not all physical, emotional, and spiritual suffering is caused by refusing to confess your sin. But there is a definite correlation between suffering from the guilt and shame sin causes and one’s well-being.
Sin can and does rip us apart.
We need relationships, and it destroys them. It can cause a type of paranoia—as we are afraid someone is going to find out. It creates all sorts of stresses, as it disconnects us from God and from those who love us and would have us live in peace. Even if we convince ourselves that our particular sin isn’t that bad, living a life based on that lie hollows it out until it collapses.
Sin drains us,
It wipes us out..
And makes our life hollow.
There is only one way to deal with this—though it is a joyful one.
- Our Joy!
Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the LORD.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone!
I know how much courage this takes to stop trying to hide all the guilt. But as much courage as it takes, the reward of knowing those sins are completely lifted and tossed away…
All of it – forgiven!
All the guilt—gone!
Think about that for a moment…
Not one thing should haunt you.
Not one thing should you even regret!
As much as we contemplate our sin and brokenness during Lent, it is for this purpose–to know the relief of Psalmist–the absolute joy of the weight being lifted off of us!
We really need to take the time and think through what God has done to us… what He continues to do in our lives. …
Therefore, the psalmist says people should envy us, as we live forgiven lives, empowered by the Holy Spirit! For the burdens we no longer carry, or at least that we aren’t to carry,.. so many do! This is what Jesus came to do, to free us from the sin which stops us from being with God!
So many walk around, living with guilt and shame….so many people walk around without knowing God really loves them, without experiencing that love.
- What happens next
The change is so incredible for the psalmist – that feeling the relief inwards; he turns to those around him
Therefore, let all the godly pray to you while there is still time, that they may not drown in the floodwaters of judgment. 7 For you are my hiding place; you protect me from trouble. You surround me with songs of victory!
This is an evangelistic spirit.
Wow, God, you did this for me! All of us need to know this – we all need to pray—we all need to experience this relief, especially before the waters rise, and judgment occurs.
The more you know God has done for you, the more you need to share it with others, to share with them how God heals and protects and hides us from trouble, the more we need to invite people into the safe place we have found.
This is Christianity at its simplest… to realize the incredible way God has called you to His side, cleaning you up along the way, as you invite others into a peace that is beyond explanation….as Jesus saves them, as the Holy Spirit takes us residence with them, as sin and satan the fear of death are tossed out like yesterday’s trash…
This is our hope, and it is the very reason people should be envious of us, why we want them to be just like us.
Only One Guy Understood—How Ironic
† In the name of Jesus, Son, Savior, King †
May the grace of God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ draw you closer and closer to them! As close as a criminal executed for his bad (crappy) life!
- I Love Good Irony
Pastor Parker knows I like irony, for a few reasons….
But theological Irony? Well, I might need more teaching…to understand that!
Take this cartoon that someone put on the internet (ask Doug to advance slide or use the clicker)
But what most of you don’t know is that Charles Schultz was a devout Christian and used the Peanuts cartoon as a way to tell people about Jesus!
Linus will go from waiting for the Great Pumpkin in that movie to reciting the story of Jesus’ birth in the Christmas special. Hmmm That’s cool! From waiting for Someone to Come and bring ultimate blessings–to seeing that Someone to come at Christmas! Sound familiar?
Anyone make that connection?
Here is where irony comes in… Lucy kills Jes… err the Great Pumpkin and serves Him up for everyone to eat.
HMMMMMMMM… someone mocked the Peanuts characters and unknowingly revealed one of the most blessed mysteries in scripture. That Jesus would provide His body and blood to us, to help us know He loves us and would die for us! And we would share in that Body and Blood as gather here today!
Pastor thinks Schultz would love this cartoon… He certainly does. I think I do too!
So back to the gospel reading, and more irony!
- The Crowds and Experts (and sometimes us)
So, let’s talk about some serious mocking—or, as they say today—trash talking.
This is even more intense than pastor and I comparing Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers!
Hear the gospel again,
The crowd watched and the leaders scoffed. “He saved others,” they said, “let him save himself if he is really God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”
That’s pretty nasty to say to a guy tortured and nailed to a cross to pay for your sins, don’t you think?
Other’s picked up on it, saying,
The soldiers mocked him, too, by offering him a drink of sour wine. 37 They called out to him, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!”
Even Pilate, the governor, got into the act. This is what he had done…
A sign was fastened above him with these words: “This is the King of the Jews.”
Man, these people are cruel!
I mean—I can’t see myself being that cruel to a guy was guilty and about to be executed!
Never mind doing that to Jesus, we would never ever do that, would we?
Here is the hard part of the law—we have…
Every time we have tried to kick Jesus off of the throne, by choosing our way, rather than His. Every time we have broken the commandments, or failed to love our neighbor, we deny the fact that He died to save us!
This is harsh—and I wish Pastor was preaching this… o wait- then I would sit there and pay attention…. And hear the law. It would sting and rip my sinful heart to pieces… hmmm… maybe it’s better I am up here…
We need to see our sin as…well sin. We need to see it as just as much a betrayal of Jesus as those people who mocked him, and those who laughed. We have to struggle with it, so that we become as desperate as the man on the cross… whose only hope…hanging there next to Jesus… was Jesus.
- Irony Man
Now we get to the criminal on the cross. Not the dude that mocked Jesus, but the one the Holy Spirit worked on, the one whose heart was opened, who saw Jesus as the Messiah, as the savior
The word for criminal is interesting. Kaka-poi-a-oh. It’s actually two words merged into one. The Poi-a-o one is to craft something—to bring artistic level skill to your work. So this guy is an artist when it comes to what he does…
What he does is the Kaka part. Now, that isn’t what it sounds like! It means the worst of the worse, the scummiest kind of bad actions against others. He was convicted of a capital crime—murder, treason; you know the other options.
And while everyone was mocking Jesus, telling him to save himself—this guy was the one to see that Jesus had to die… that Jesus must die, if there was any hope..
It is ironic—that the baddest, scummiest, crappiest sinner in the crowd was the one to see the need for Christ’s sacrifice… and to say… “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”
I think it’s only when we put ourselves in his shoes… when we realize how broken and bad we’ve been, that we can see how wonderful Jesus is! How he is our hope—whether we are facing dealing with the consequences of our sin, or the ultimate consequence of sin as death approaches!
He is our King, the one who came to save us.
No matter how bad our kaka-poi-a-o has been…
We can cry out—Jesus, remember us, dear King!
And at Communion, what is called the Great Feast, I almost said pumpkin—as we celebrate, we recall what He said—do this; remembering me… proclaiming my death for you… until He comes again.
Jesus is here, and He could not save Himself, because He was saving you.
But in doing so, He entered His kingdom, and there will be a day when that Kingdom will be as clearly seen.
Until then, you still dwell in His Kingdom, as surely as the sinner on the cross next to Him, and therefore in His peace that passes all understanding, which He will keep you in…. AMEN!
You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your friends, hate your enemies.’ 44But now I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45so that you may become the children of your Father in heaven. For he makes his sun to shine on bad and good people alike, and gives rain to those who do good and to those who do evil. Matt 5:43-45 GNT
The sum of the matter is this, that those persons are saved who place their trust solely in God, not in their works, nor in any creature. Consequently man should learn to have greater confidence in God’s mercy than in the zeal with which he makes confession. One cannot be too active, determined and guarded against the accursed evil of confiding in one’s own works. Therefore we should accustom our consciences to trust in God, and let it be done with the understanding that to believe and trust in God is pleasing to him, and that unreserved trust in God is his highest glory.
The question may be asked: “How does the living Christ feel today about the sinful men and women who walk our streets?”
There is only one answer: He loves them!
We may be righteously indignant about the things they do. We may be disgusted with their actions and their ways. We are often ready to condemn and turn away from them.
But Jesus keeps on loving them! It is His unchanging nature to love and seek the lost. He said many times when He was on earth, “I have come to help the needy. The well do not need a doctor—but the sick need attention and love.”
There is no doubt in my mind that sin is prevalent today. And just noting that, may be a sin. It is when I look at the sins of others as if I was the judge, When I catch myself at doing such, I cringe, and wonder if I am ever going to learn…
More precisely, am I ever going to learn to walk with Jesus
My indignation, my disgust, my willingness (even eagerness) to walk away is as sinful as whatever sin they committed.
I need to see His desire to them back, to draw them into His presence–so they can heal. For that reinforces that I am healed as well.
This is what it means to love your enemies more than anything else you can do. To help them see the grace of God is directed to them, and it heals what divides us.
We cannot hold back the grace of God that we’ve come to know. The church does not have that authority–we only have the responsibility to make it known to everyone, just as it was made known to us. For then, as we encourage others to share in the mercy of God, have become like Jesus, and like our Father.
This is the Church, investing what it treasures, the relationship where the Father in Heaven treasures is, and wants us all to be His people….
Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 390.
A. W. Tozer and Gerald B. Smith, Mornings with Tozer: Daily Devotional Readings (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2008).
25 “I—yes, I alone—will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again.Isaiah 43:25 (NLT2)
I, the LORD, made you, and I will not forget you.22 I have swept away your sins like a cloud. I have scattered your offenses like the morning mist. Oh, return to me, for I have paid the price to set you free.”23 Sing, O heavens, for the LORD has done this wondrous thing. Shout for joy, O depths of the earth! Break into song, O mountains and forests and every tree! .Isaiah 44:21b-23 (NLT2)
Now, on the basis of grace as taught in the Word of God, when God forgives a man, He trusts him as though he had never sinned. God did not have mental reservations about any of us when we became His children by faith. When God forgives a man, He doesn’t think, I will have to watch this fellow because he has a bad record. No, He starts with him again as though he had just been created and as if there had been no past at all! That is the basis of our Christian assurance—and God wants us to be happy in it.
The great privilege of contemplatives is that we are invited to share first in our own redemption by accepting our personal alienation from God and its consequences throughout our lives, and then to identify with the divine compassion in healing the world through the groanings of the Spirit within us.
One of the standard theological characteristics of God is that He is a know it all.
The technical term is omniscience, and it is a logical progression. He is all powerful, created and sustains everything, therefore He knows everything–right?
Not so fast, for scripture says something contrary. For those that are in a relationship with God, there is one thing He chooses not to know.
If only it was so easy for us to not know them!
SO many of us live in the dark shadows caused by our guilt and shame for those sins once committed, yet which we still can’t dismiss from our hearts and our souls.
We need to learn to! While we have to recognize our sin, it is equally important to realize God is healing us. We can’t do the second without the first, and more than you can add gas to an empty fule take without realizing your need for it. Without God’s grace, we are dead.
But with grace, those sins become non-existent. He knows them no longer, and since He is still omniscient, they are not history..
That is why Jesus talks of being born again, and Paul talks about the renewing of our mind, and Ezekiel talks about a heart transplant, so the Holy Spirit begins to reside there.
God doesn’t know those sins, so let them slide away, even as they were once removed and live life free of them! You find that other sins and temptations will lose their grip on you as well..
God is with you, and He sees you as innocent.
Just think on that for a moment – and then love the Lord and this life He is sharing with you!
A. W. Tozer, Tozer for the Christian Leader (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2015).
Thomas Keating, The Daily Reader for Contemplative Living: Excerpts from the Works of Father Thomas Keating, O.C.S.O., Sacred Scripture, and Other Spiritual Writings, ed. S. Stephanie Iachetta (New York; London; New Delhi; Sydney: Bloomsbury, 2009), 278.
Thoughts to urge you closer to Jesus… and to adore Him!
6 I am quite confident that the One who began a good work in you will go on completing it until the Day of Jesus Christ comes. Philippians 1:6 (NJB)
They dream of a church as righteous as Adam was in paradise, though the wrath of God was revealed from heaven against him when God said, ‘Adam, you may eat of every fruit, but if you eat of this tree you shall die.’
The Eucharist received in Holy Communion awakens us to the permanent presence of Christ within us at the deepest level. The Eucharist, like the Word of God in Scripture, has as its primary purpose to bring us to the awareness of God’s abiding presence within us.…
There are times where being a part of a church is overwhelming.
It might be because of conflict.
It might be because people have expectations that they place on the church, but not on themselves as part of the church.
It might simply be because of too much truama.
Simply put, church is not heaven on earth. We might want it to be perfect, we may think it should be, we will get angry when it is not heaven on earth, when people in it disappoint us, and even hurt us.
People may think churches are built on holy ground – and I will argue they are! But that doesn’t mean everything that happens within it is holy and perfect. For sinners in need of grace find a place there, and God begins His work in someone’s life, as the church is gathered together, and shares in the words of God, and the sacraments through which He pours out His love.
Keating is right – church is where God reveals Himself to His people, especially through the Eucharist! He is here as God’s people are gathered – whether in stately cathedrals, simple wooden buildings, caves, or at the local starbucks.
But Luther is also correct – in this midst of these groups, there is sin, and sin that God must purge or punish, cleanse or condemn. ANd sin means people get disappointed, hurt, betrayed. They fail and yes, they sin.
Here is why – the work of sanctification happens there – as God continues His work – and will continue it, until we are are completed when Jesus returns. That means there is always work going on, sins being confronted and cleansed, reconciliations occuring where there was only brokenness, life becoming real and glorious, even as evil is dealt with, and people who are muddied with sin being cleansed. If these things aren’t happening in a church, it isn’t the church.
Church isn’t heaven…. but it is the place where we see glimpses of it, as we see God at work. It’s full of broken people – and that can be frustrating – and even depressing – and it can even break you. But it is also where you heal, where you find God at work, where you find hope and rest..
So keep looking to what He is doing – and become part of it…. and be patient with His work, and not dismayed that it is needed. In fact, rejoice as you see it being accomplished – for it means God is at work…. around you and in you. And He will complete it!
Luther, Martin. 1999. Luther’s Works, Vol. 54: Table Talk. Edited by Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann. Vol. 54. Philadelphia: Fortress Press.
Keating, Thomas. 2009. The Daily Reader for Contemplative Living: Excerpts from the Works of Father Thomas Keating, O.C.S.O., Sacred Scripture, and Other Spiritual Writings. Edited by S. Stephanie Iachetta. New York; London; New Delhi; Sydney: Bloomsbury.
Thoughts to help us realize God’s love….
71 Then he started to curse and swear,be “I don’t know this man you’re talking about!”
72 Immediately a rooster crowed a second time,a and Peter remembered when Jesus had spoken the word to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept. Mark 14:71-72 CSB
When Jesus encourages us to pray with insistence he sends us to the very heart of the Trinity where, through his holy humanity, he leads us to the Father and promises the Holy Spirit.
We’ve been there…
We have fallen deeply into whatever temptation Satan has thrown at us.
You and I deny Jesus far more often than we want to admit.
Sometimes that denial is in order to secure some momentary pleasure. Sometimes the sin is to avoid discomfort, the unknown or known consequences that happen because people don’t understand what it means to be baptized into Jesus.
And in that moment, when we are in tears, the Spirit comes and brings us to repentance once again.
As the Spirit calls us to pray, as Jesus encourages us to pray, it is not a prayer of an someone cast away, drowning. Satan would love for us to think of it that way. And our own hearts and minds might agree with that demonic assessment.
But God is drawing us in, cleansing us, brinnging us into the very heart of the Trinity, into the place of healing, into the sanctuary, into the place of rest, until we find hope….
When we realize that, when we take a deep breath and remember that we dwell in Chirst – and therefore are in the presence on a holy, triune God, everything slowly takes shape.
And that is the only answer when we find ourselves betraying God, or anything that is less painful.
Here is our hope, that He is our fortress, our sanctuary, our place of hope and healing. Ours, not yours or mine, but everyones. If, as we are realizing God’s work in our lives, can help someone else come along, that is wonderful, and the way it should be…
But you and I, we need to pray… and talk with God.. even when we just sinned.
Pope Francis, A Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections from His Writings, ed. Alberto Rossa (New York; Mahwah, NJ; Toronto, ON: Paulist Press; Novalis, 2013), 255.
Thoughts to cause us to adore our Lord and God.
15 The Lord has removed your punishment; he has turned back your enemy. The King of Israel, the Lord, is among you; you need no longer fear harm. 16 On that day it will be said to Jerusalem: “Do not fear; Zion, do not let your hands grow weak. 17 The Lord your God is among you, a warrior who saves. He will rejoice over you with gladness. He will be quiet in his love. He will delight in you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:15-17 (CSBBible)
We Christians must stop apologizing for our moral position and start making our voices heard, exposing sin for the enemy of the human race which it surely is, and setting forth righteousness and true holiness as the only worthy pursuits for moral beings.
We must overcome all, renounce all, in order to gain all. St. Teresa said: “Because we do not come to the conclusion of giving all our affection to God, so neither does he give all his love to us.”3 Oh, God, how little is all that is given to Jesus Christ, who has given his blood and his life for us!
Be this as it may, our life consists of the forgiveness of sins. Otherwise it’s no good.
Tozer begs the people of God to expose sin for what it is – the enemy of the human race. deLigouri tells us we have to renouce all, basically referring to what we desire, so that we gain all.
I think they understand the result, but they still are trusting in human willpower to choose what is right. That is where they make their mistake. For you and I aren’t capable of living a perfect, sinless life. If we were, why would we need Jesus? Why would we need the cross?
Yet we must come to the place they both desire. But we have to realize that perfection comes from without,
Well, sort of.
THat kind of holiness occurs only through the presence oof Jesus in our lives.
That is why Luther notes that our life is centered in the forgiveness of sins. That we have to live there, in the place where Jesus’ death pays the price, and endures the consequences. Aware of that, the power of sin to haunt us, disolves. We are forgiven, we are the people whom the prophet Zephaniah speaks,
Jesus has done this, it is why He died, so that you and I could be free form sin, how it haunts us, and how it would steal our present, our future, our eternity.
Sin isn’t about morality, it is about true freedom. When we reduce sin to a moral competition, we have lost. God doesn’t want us to be moral so He can declare us good! Rather, morality is what happens to us, when we are looking to Jesus. It is a passive transformaiton on our part, not an active choice. It is the work of the Holy Spirit, not the work of our heart and mind.
THerefore we cannot claim superior morals, as if it is our victory. It is Jesus’ victory, at the cross….
We just get to live in it..
Jesus gave His life, so that the Holy Spirit could work in ours, setting us apart, declaring us righteous and His people. Rejoice in that, and live in its truth.
Sin is our enemy… God’s taken care of sin, and Satan, and the threat of death… AMEN!
A. W. Tozer and Marilynne E. Foster, Tozer on the Holy Spirit: A 366-Day Devotional (Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread, 2007).
Alphonsus de Liguori, The Holy Eucharist, ed. Eugene Grimm, The Complete Works of Saint Alphonsus de Liguori (New York; London; Dublin; Cincinnati; St. Louis: Benziger Brothers; R. Washbourne; M. H. Gill & Son, 1887), 341.
Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 54: Table Talk, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 54 (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 150.
Deal with it Lord!
Deal with our Ignorance!
† In Jesus Name †
May you realize the gentleness of the grace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, as you see revealed that Jesus is the source of your salvation!
- Instinct When Dealing with Ignorance
The illustration for today is simple.
You are going to teach someone who has never seen a old fashioned charcoal barbecue, how to cook a nice steak, and maybe a few beast loaf burgers on the grill.
Simple? Easy? Sure!
Except they are completely ignorant about the process.
So you tell them to make a nice pile of Kingsford charcoal in the grill, and they get the bag and do so.
Step two, you get some handy barbecue lighter fluid and tell them to squirt some on the briquets, and then using the torch, which you have demonstrated, light the fire.
A moment later you see them dousing the charcoal, and they keep dousing it, you go inside to grab a drink, come out and in their left hand they are still dousing the charcoal and in the right hand they have the torch, and they’ve lowered it into the grill, where there now ¼ of an inch of lighter fluid in the bottom.
What do you do next?
Wait!!! Before you answer than, I’ve got one question, which is more dangerous, an ignorant person with something flammable and even explosive, or an ignorant and wayward person tempted to sin?
- Will This Work with the Sinner?
I am going to assume you are all brave and honorable and would somehow try to save the person you were supposed to be teaching before he or she burns down the entire neighborhood.
But can you use the same technique with the person about to give into temptation? Can you reach the person ignorant of God’s grace yet caught up in sin the same way?
Imagine, you are the ignorant, wayward sinner about to gossip, and racing across the church comes Bob, and he is about to tackle you! Or maybe you were about to covet something, and Tom starts screaming at you to stop! I will not event get into what Manny might do if you don’t find a sabbath rest with God!
I do not think that any of them are going to stop you from sinning, in fact, they may create another response or two that is sinful!
So back to what is more deadly than lighting 3 cups of lighter fluid at close distance.
The acts of the ignorant and wayward person caught up in sin.
- Jesus Does it
Our passage in Hebrews tells us how Jesus, the great high priest will deal with him.
2 And he is able to deal gently with ignorant and wayward people because he himself is subject to the same weaknesses.
I love that, he is able to deal gently with ignorant and wayward people… like you and me.
Jesus doesn’t tackle us or scream at those caught up in sin. He deals with us, and he does it gently, with grace and compassion.
- How He does it
So how does Jesus deal with those who get caught up in sin, who don’t understand He is here to rescue us?
He does two things according to this passage. He identifies with us and our trials, and He offers the sacrifice that
Let’s deal with the identity idea first.
Remember it said that “he Himself is subject to the same weaknesses.”
Living among us wasn’t easy, even as God. Besides dealing with Satan, He had to deal with sinners like Peter and hotheads like James and John, and Matthew and Simon the Zealot on opposite sides of the political spectrum.
I imagine Jesus might have been tempted to let some of them light the barbecue grill once or twice…
Remember, he faced temptation, just as we have, without sinning. He lived our kinds of lives and didn’t give in to sin.
Knowing He went through what we do, it makes it easier to realize His compassion and sympathy for us.
While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God. 8 Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered.
That doesn’t sound like the easy life.
Jesus felt the pain and the anxiety of dealing with sin around Him, and He knew when death was coming, and how it would come… and for what reason.
Which leads to the second way in which Jesus helps us. He is not just offering the sacrifice for our sins.
The writer of Hebrews said this about Jesus’ role,
In this way, God qualified him as a perfect High Priest, and he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him.
Going back to our illustration, as our playing with sin is likened to lighting half a bottle of lighter fluid on fire. Jesus deals with us by moving us away, and taking all the heat Himself. He protects us from the consequences of our actions and does becomes our salvation.
Every sin you’ve committed. Every single one. He takes your place and my place, taking all of God’s wrath as the ultimate sacrifice.
A sacrifice we realize as we take His Body and His blood at communion, and realize the penalty of sin was dealt with, as His body and blood were broken and spilled for us.
He moves us out of the way, and takes all the heat….
And the Holy Spirit recreates in us a holiness that reflects Jesus’s
We just confess our sins, and realize He did the hard stuff.
- Lent and Outreach
During Lent, we go back to these basics. We work through them, remembering Jesus gentleness with ignorant and wayward ones for two reasons.
The first is simple – we need to work gently with the ignorant and wayward ones in our lives. We have to not tackle them or scream at them, but bring them Jesus slowly, prayerfully and patiently. Gently, drawing them to Jesus, letting the Holy Spirit convert them.
The second is more touchy. Some of you here today are wayward, and if not ignorant of God’s mercy, it has been forgotten as we are buried under guilt and shame. If that is the case, knowing God’s nature, we stop hiding or fighting Him, and let Him bring healing into our lives.
That is where we are – either the ignorant and wayward, or called to gently minister to the ignorant and wayward…. Or of course, we are both.
Either way, Jesus is our high priest, and the one who offers the sacrifice. AMEN.