Life Sunday – 2016 LSB #392
Text – Isaiah 43:1
But now thus says the Lord, He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.”
Created, Redeemed, Called
They can be complicated, confusing, controversial & uncomfortable. I’m talking about those things we typically address on a Sanctity of Life Sunday – the life issues. They can be complicated because of – stem cell research, cloning, in vitro fertilization, genetic engineering. It seems like we need to be scientists to figure it all out.
They can be confusing – should we or should we not remove that feeding tube, stop that treatment, sign that Living Will, or initiate a Do Not Resuscitate order? It seems like we need to be ethicists to figure it all out.
They can be controversial – why do we talk about this in church & bring it up in Bible study? These are political & social issues. Let’s stick to the Gospel. It can seem like we need to be theologians to figure it all out.
These topics can be uncomfortable – people in our pews have had abortions or pressured a girlfriend or daughter to have one, or were unable to stop someone from having an abortion. It seems like we need to be psychologists to figure it all out.
Every one of those is true. The life issues are complicated, confusing, controversial & uncomfortable. It’s how the devil does his best work, but today, on this Sanctity of Life Sunday, we are not going to talk about any of those things. Instead, we are going to talk about something that is not complicated, not confusing, not controversial, & not uncomfortable at all.
We’re going to talk about something that is, in fact, very simple. Yet, its simplicity speaks profoundly to all the life issues. It is where we need to start before addressing anything to do with the sanctity of life. This morning, we will answer the question: “What has our heavenly Creator done that gives value to human life?” In other words, we begin with God.
The sermon text contains the answer in three simple words – created, redeemed & called. We’ll look at each of these, not as scientists or ethicists or theologians or psychologists, but as people of God who live & move & have our very being in Christ, & in His holy Word. Every human life has value because God creates every human being.
The Bible pictures this pro-creative activity as an intimate & hands-on work: “Your hands fashioned & made me.” (Job 10:8) “For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb.” (Psalm 139:13 NIV) We all could have a tag attached to the back of our neck like we see on clothing. Our tag would read, “Made Personally by God!”
Some people want to interrupt here & say, “If every human being is the work of God’s hands, then how do we explain Down syndrome babies, or other physical & mental challenges?” We want this sermon to be simple, so here is the simple answer to that question: They are the work of God’s hands. The Bible is quite clear as it challenges us concerning God’s children:
From Isaiah 45:11, “Do you question me about my children, or give me orders about the work of my hands?” From Isaiah 29:16, “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘You did not make me’? Can the pot say to the potter, ‘You know nothing’?” It’s as if God is directly challenging those who teach atheistic evolution.
From Psalm 51:5 it is perfectly clear that God makes tiny human beings from the moment of conception, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” (NIV) Sinfulness is a human condition, & we are sinful from the moment of conception, so we must necessarily be human from the moment of conception.
That verse also points us to the next thing God has done that gives value to human life.
Since we are sinful from the moment of conception, we need a Savior from that same moment, & we have one! Remember the angel’s words to Mary? Christmas wasn’t that long ago. “You will conceive & give birth to a son, & you are to call Him Jesus.” (Luke 1:31)
We read that verse every Christmas, but note there are two events in Jesus’ life described there – His birth & His conception nine months earlier. It is His conception that was miraculous, not His birth.
When the “power of the Most High” overshadowed Mary (1:35a), Jesus was conceived without the aid of an earthly father, which is why the angel refers to Him as “the Son of God” (35b) from the moment of His conception. From that moment onward, Jesus is God & Man.
“The Word became flesh & made His dwelling among us” (John 1:14a) at Jesus’ conception, not at His birth. Jesus was not only the “God-man,” He was the “God-embryo”! His holiness at conception takes the place of our un-holiness at our conception. What value this gives to all embryos from that moment on! But there’s more.
Jesus needed to develop in a womb. He needed feet to walk among us. He needed hands to touch & to heal the sick. He needed a mouth so He could teach. He needed a heart to be filled with compassion for the lost. He needed a body so He could take little children in His arms to hold them close & bless them.
Jesus needed those hands & feet to be pierced as He was nailed to the cross in our place. He needed a mouth to utter that forsaken cry in order that we never have to. He needed a heart to pump the blood He shed for cleansing our sin, & then be stilled in death. He needed a body to be buried in a tomb, then to rise again victorious over death & the grave!
Paul says we were “bought at a price.” (1 Corinthians 6:20a) All that Jesus did from His conception onward was part of that price. Paul reminds the pastors at Ephesus of the magnitude of this price when he tells them, “Be shepherds of the church of God, which He bought with His own blood.” (Acts 20:28b) God did not purchase us with the blood of a man or the blood of some holy martyr. God purchased us with His own blood in the person & the human flesh of Jesus!
The price paid, for sinful humanity, was high. Thus the value it gives to human life is incalculable. And remember, this price was paid for every human being. Our Lord & Savior died “once for all.” (Hebrews 9:12)
Not every human being knows this, of course, & it is the task of the Church to share this message. But the fact remains, Jesus’ life & death & resurrection give value to each human life, to every human being, in any shape & any form.
So far, we have two pretty simple answers to our question, “What has God done that gives value to human life?” Every human being has value because every human being is the work of God’s hands in creation & the work of His hands stretched out on a cross in redemption. Each human being is created & redeemed.
One simple answer is left. Every human life has value because every person is someone whom God desires to call into an eternal relationship with Him. He “wants all people to be saved & to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4) He wants every human life to be splashed with His Holy Spirit in the waters of Baptism.
He who created every life with His hands, & redeemed every life with those same hands, wants to call everyone to be His child & hold us, indeed “engrave” us, into the palms of His hands, (Isaiah 49:16) here in time & forever in eternity!
Created, redeemed, called – it’s not complicated or confusing or controversial or uncomfortable. It’s very simple, yet its simplicity speaks profoundly to all the life issues. It’s where we need to start before addressing any of the life issues. Now, we’ll wrap up this sermon
with some quiz questions. They’re not trick questions at all.
The list could be a lot longer, but the answer will always be the same. Our lives have value. Your life has value. Every life has value because each life is someone created by God, redeemed by the blood of Jesus, & someone the Holy Spirit either has called, or wants to call, into an eternal relationship with Him.
The life issues do not have to be complicated! Good never makes things complicated. It is evil that always & only complicates everything. Amen.
God loves me dearly, grants me salvation, God loves me dearly, loves even me. I was in slavery, sin, death & darkness; God’s love was working to make me free. He sent forth Jesus, my dear Redeemer, He sent forth Jesus & set me free. Therefore I’ll say again: God loves me dearly, God loves me dearly, loves even me. Amen.
Pastor Dean R. Poellet