Saturday, February 27, 2016

Lent 3

Lent 3
Luke 13:1-9
28 February 2016
Facing Life with Jesus –Facing Destruction

Almighty God, because You know that we of ourselves have no strength, keep us both outwardly and inwardly that we may be defended from all adversities that may happen to the body and from all evil thoughts that may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever.

We face life with Jesus – Even in the face of destruction. As we rejoice in our salvation. And the freedom, which God has won for us by sending Jesus into this world to suffer, die and rise for us. We have a sense of genuine peace and security that our lives will be spared in the final judgment of God.
This is all true. And yet, we must also remember that this final judgment of God will happen sometime in the future. There has been appointed a time in which God will bring this world to a close. As we look at the sober words of Jesus for today we should heed His words concerning this certain truth. Destruction is bound to come.

How do we understand destruction? Do we understand loss and disaster, calamity and tragedy to mean that God is somehow punishing people for their in? Every time disaster strikes should you and I be look for some besetting sin as the cause of that horrific event? True. There is a principle of cause and effect in our world. That governs our lives. We live under certain laws.  Like gravity. If you fall from a three-story building and break a leg as a result of that fall does this mean that you have committed some horrific sin? Of course not! Accidents and mishaps are all part of life.

For every action - there is a similar and equal reaction. This is an experience common to man. It makes for terrible theology! When ugly things happen in our world. [And we know they occur - for we see their effect all around us.] We naturally go looking for the culprit –We need to find the boogie man –That troll, hiding under a bridge, a stump or a rock. There needs to be a sinister and creepy mastermind - Someone for us to condemn and single out - when we start playing that “blame game”.

Such was the case at the time in which Jesus lived.   A tower in Siloam fell. Crushed and killed some 18 hapless victims. Disaster happen. You can almost hear the conversations taking place. We hear them even today. “So, Whatdaya think about that?” Were they simply at the wrong place at the wrong time?

The public’s reaction was quite telling. They reasoned. The world is very evil. And, because the world is evil. They concluded in their own minds that there must be some wicked and nasty people living in the neighborhood. The people thought to themselves, “They must have done some immoral thing. God found them out and got back at them for what they had done!” What goes around – comes around! They got what’s coming to them.

Then there was the case of the worshippers at the temple. This was a more difficult situation. These were believers.  Those, who lived within the household of faith. Pilate gave the order to kill them; mixing their blood with the blood of the sacrifice. So, Whatdaya say to that?

Of course, the conventional wisdom of the time suggested that their piety was suspect! They had fallen victim to God’s curse. Again, the people’s response was quite revealing – “God showed them - didn’t He!

There are countless cases in which catastrophes and calamities occur. Whether it’s a severe drought or a devastating hurricane; like Katrina or Rita or Sandy. Whether it’s a victim of a drive-by-shooting or someone suffering with AIDS - there is that pietistic, knee-jerk, reaction in all of us to simply conclude, “Well, they got what they deserved!” Or, one might simply conclude, “The world is very evil”

Jesus begs the question. “Do you suppose they were worse sinners? I say to you No! But unless you repent you too will likewise perish!” Suffering and tragedy do not necessarily follow sin. Disasters and the wrath of God are two separate issues.

Tragedy might be devastating and extremely painful – the wrath of God –well, you can’t handle the wrath of God! That’s why Jesus took the wrath and anger of an offend God to Himself. He experienced the wrath of God because; to put it bluntly - you can’t manage it! – you can’t handle the wrath of an offended God! What Jesus says to us today is a deep and profound mystery – Repent! Cling to Christ in all things.  

Trust not in princes they are but mortal. Earth born they are and soon decay. Vain are their counsels at life’s last portal. When the dark grave engulfs its prey. Since mortals can no help afford. Place all your trust in Christ our Lord.” -  Praise the Almighty stanza two  -LSB 

God our Lord and Master is not some ogre enthroned in the heavens heaving lightning bolts at naughty children and the “dirties” of this world. –Arresting and convicting those who get out of line and misbehave. He’s more serious about your sin! He more serious about your sin then you could ever be! He has devised a plan by which our sin has been dealt with once and for all. To receive the Savior’s gracious favor - and to see the Father’s face - has been accomplished by Jesus Christ the righteous One. There is but one word for us to ponder – Repent!

There is forgiveness, which comes from a loving Father who calls us to repentance. This gift of salvation is entirely the Father’s gift. Titus reminds us, “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit.”  

Jesus bore your sin in His body on the cruel and bloody cross of Calvary that you might never have to experience the wrath of an angry God. If we believe Jesus’ words from the cross, “It is finished” really means it is finished – we must conclude that the wrath of an offended God rested on Christ and Him alone –Jesus endured the Father’s wrath so we would never have to experience such cruelty.

When Jesus cried from the cruel cross “it is finished” we can say without any doubt or misgivings – it’s over! The strife is over, the battle’s won! Hail to the Victor – our Rock and our Redeemer – the Lord’s Christ remains victorious.

This why we can take real and lasting comfort in the words of the Psalmist who said – But You O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. Turn to me and have mercy on me; grant Your strength to Your servant.  

The path many take is a wide and wandering - beset with many challenges and obstacles in our road. Know the voice of the Shepherd Jesus Christ. Listen to that same Shepherd’s voice. Hearken to Him as He speaks to you this day through the clear message of His Word.

Our faith rests in the Redeemer who came to "seek and save that which was lost."  God's kindness and love is made known through Jesus Christ. As we witness Jesus' unselfish devotion to our well-being, we are confident that His gift is more than adequate to lift us from otherwise hopeless calamities.

God is patient. He is a God of new beginnings and a fresh new start. He desires to give us more time to repent. “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” 

Behind this patience is a God of love who does not desire the death of any one person. “God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

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