2nd Sunday in Lent – B LSB #’s 420:1-4, 435, 790
Text – Romans 5:10
For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life!
HOW MUCH MORE?
One bright & beautiful Sunday morning, as usual everyone in the little town of Resch got up early & went to the local church. Before the services started, the townspeople were sitting in their pews & talking about their lives, their families, & so on.
Suddenly, Satan appeared at the front of the church. Everyone began screaming & running for the entrance, trampling each other in the frantic effort to get away from the incarnation of evil.
Soon, everyone was evacuated except for an elderly gentleman who sat calmly in his pew. He seemed oblivious to the fact that he was in the presence of God’s enemy.
Now this confused Lucifer, so he walked up to the man & said, “Don’t you know who I am?” The man replied, “Yep, sure do.” Satan asked, “Aren’t you afraid of me?” “Nope, sure ain’t.” That perturbed the Devil even more & he said, “Why aren’t you afraid of me?” The man calmly replied, “Been married to your sister for over 48 years.”
This is the question we will consider this morning, “Why aren’t you afraid?” Is it because you also have married the devil’s sister? Have your sins become such close & intimate companions, that they no longer frighten you?
Have greed, immorality, self-centeredness or pride become so commonplace in your lives, that you no longer notice them? If so, then it’s easy to understand why you’ve so little use for God in your daily routine. When looking into the mirror of the law, some people do not see the Wicked Queen, but Sleeping Beauty instead. So they go away thinking, “All is well.” It’s said that love is blind & that’s never truer than in reference to self-love. It’s so easy to ignore the log in our own eyes, while noticing every single speck in the eye of our neighbor. Sin blinds us to our very own sin, & in that manner we become comfortable with it. We become complacent with it, & no longer fearful of it.
Yet, in spite of our lack of fear over our own sin, instinctively we still know that we need to cover it up. In my visits with members, it’s uncanny how often I hear words that are spoken because the host feels a need to tell me what they think I want to hear. For example, “Pastor, I’ll see you in church this Sunday.”
Now, I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. I do like to see you here for worship. But if you’re only telling me that because you think it’s what I want to hear, what spiritual benefit is in it for you? If you’re just telling me stories, you really are wasting your breath. God knows the truth anyway. God knows the truth far better than you care to realize.
Your Creator is fully aware that your sinful nature is His enemy. You don’t have to cover it up or hide it. Adam & Eve tried that in the Garden of Eden & their attempt was pitiful. God found them anyway, & He Himself made them suitable clothing to cover their nakedness.
We are naked in God’s sight. He sees everything that we are. He knows who & what we are. There’s no reason to hide, no reason to lay, no reason to play games. For if when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life? (Romans 5:10 NIV)
There truly is no reason to be afraid of God. Instead, we should be afraid of ourselves. For our sinful nature will lie to us & deceive us at every turn. We cannot be trusted. Our Gospel lesson warns of seeking to save our own lives, & still that’s just what we would do. But in our attempt to do so, we will lose our life, & then, what can we give in exchange for our soul? As enemies of God, we were dead in our sins. A dead man can’t decide for Christ. A dead man can’t do anything but rot. That’s how powerless we were to save ourselves. We were rotting in our sins, & in that condition is when Jesus gave up His life for ours. If you understand, if you believe that, then you know what it is that God has done for us.
So how can you be afraid in this life? You’ve already been brought back from the dead once. What a joy it is to have been resurrected from the grave of our sinful & lost condition. That’s why we celebrate at a Baptism. That’s why we celebrate at a confirmation. We are celebrating life brought back from death.
As children of God our life can be one of celebration. Whether you celebrate that new life on a mission trip, building houses & conducting a Bible school, whether you celebrate it through your offerings, or by teaching Sunday School, through your prayers or any one of hundreds of means. Anything that we do out of love for God is a celebration of that gift.
Through our use of the means of grace, our faith grows. And as it grows, God uses us as His instruments. He uses us to bring words of comfort to someone who is grieving. He uses us to bring words of hope to someone who is lost. Through the experiences of our suffering, we are enabled to understand and to share in the pain of someone else who is struggling.
When those people we help, come out the other side of their trial, they’ll be stronger for it & we’ll be able to celebrate with them that God delivered them. When we commune, we are participating along with all those who have gone before us in the faith.
When we study God’s Word, He gives us a stronger conviction of His will, His love & the message that we’re to share with the people God brings into our lives. The view we take of religion often has such a heavenly focus, that we end up having no earthly value. We act as if practicing our religion is something that only blesses us in eternity. We forget, or never understood in the 1st place, that in Paul’s letter to the Romans, chapters 5 through 8 deal entirely with our lives here on earth. Jesus Christ became man in order that we might have life to the full, not just in heaven, but here on earth as well. Now granted, life on earth is much different than it will be in heaven, but that doesn’t mean our only purpose on earth is to struggle.
God has given all our brothers & sisters in Christ to us as blessings. He’s given His entire creation for us to manage & enjoy. He’s given life to experience, & to grow, in our relationship with Him. That began already at our Baptism, & our relationship with God being completely restored to perfection is what our heavenly existence will be about. It will be perfect communion with our Savior & Creator.
How much more would our Heavenly Father bless us here on earth if we followed His will & guidance for our lives already today? Jesus, our Brother, has given you His peace. And in that peace we’re able to view all things through a different frame of reference. Paul mentions that we rejoice in our sufferings because they produce perseverance, character & hope.
When we view our lives in that way, we’re able to stand back from the pain of the moment & take a look at our lives in a much broader perspective. That perspective, of eternity, helps us see the good that our Lord brings even out of the evil in this world. And if our Lord is able to bring good out of evil, how much more then, will He bring good out of life.
During Lent we’re preparing ourselves for Easter. The season is meant to remind us to consider our lives in the bigger picture, to let go of our material concerns in this world & to focus on the preparation of our hearts for the coming message of the Resurrection of the Lord. That Resurrection has a lot to say to us, if we’re listening.
Where Adam brought sin, death & condemnation; Christ brings reconciliation. Where men harbor false, self-made hope & security, Christ brings true hope & true security. The Resurrection proves that Jesus did not fail with His death on the cross. How much more then will He not fail to give us life? PAUSE
Last week we read of Abraham & Isaac hiking together up Mt. Moriah, where Abraham was to sacrifice his son as a burnt offering. It’s difficult to imagine such faith. Yet, how much more, having already been reconciled to God, shall we be saved through Christ’s resurrection?
The same God that created such tremendous faith in Abraham & Isaac is working to create the same kind of faith in you. For Jesus died to save us who were powerless to save ourselves, who were ungodly, who were His enemies, who had no chance at all without Him.
That is what we consider this Lenten Season & St. Paul put it beautifully in these words: “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” You & I cannot help but be comfortable with many of our sins because they come from the heart. In a certain respect, we truly are married to the Devil’s sister.
Our Savior knows that & it is for that reason He came to rescue us. If He’s willing to do that, how much more will Jesus do for you? If you place your trust in Him you’ll find out. Amen.
Come in sorrow & contrition, wounded, impotent & blind; here the guilty free remission, here the troubled peace may find. Health this fountain will restore; they that drink shall thirst no more. Amen. LSB 435:3.
Pastor Dean R. Poellet