20 March 2010

Homily for Judica (2010)

When you trust in the God for whom nothing is impossible, people will always think at best you’re a bit off and at worst that you are totally deceived and a fool. Can you imagine what Abraham’s neighbors would have said if they knew, when they waved good-day that fateful morning, exactly what the old fellow was planning on doing to the child he’d waited a century for? Can’t you hear it? “You’re going to do WHAT to Isaac?! He’s out of his mind; the heat has addled his brains. Lock him up till he comes to his senses!”

How could Abraham even begin to make them understand? The God who had never lied to him or deceived him, had given him a promise - had given the world a promise, actually. Through Abraham’s son, Isaac, blessing would come to every family of the earth. This child’s very existence was a miracle that God had brought about. If God could create a child out of a 100 year old man and a 90 year old woman, he’d have little difficulty in raising that child from the dead in order to keep his promise. Abraham knew that he owed everything to this God whom he had come to know and delight in and so if God demanded the child back, then back to God the child would go! No matter how crazy it appeared to the world.

And if Abraham appeared crazy, how much more the Lord Jesus! He just spoke truth. And the truth was like salt in the wound of our self-deception. “Which one of you convicts me of sin?” THAT’s the question. For if one could convict Jesus of sin, then it would really matter much what He had to say about anything else. But no one has ever yet been able to do so. In Christ there is no sin, and so the big question remains: “If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me?”

His answer is that we don’t believe Him because we’re not of God. Earlier he’d said that we were of our father, the devil, since he was a liar from the beginning. We’re just like him; for “all men are liars.” You too. But not Him. He’s the one man in whom you will find NO lie, no sin, and so to a world accustomed to lying and sin, He seems positively loony.

We should not be surprised then when the Jews answered: “Are we not right in saying you are a Samaritan and have a demon!” He again counters the lie - which it is - with truth. “I honor my Father and you dishonor me; yet I do not seek my own glory. There is one who seeks it; and he is the judge. Amen! Amen, I say to you, if anyone keeps my words he will never see death.”

Well, you can imagine how THAT set. “Who do you think you are?” they scream at Him. “Abraham died, and so did the prophets, and yet YOU say that whoever keeps MY words will never taste death. Are you greater than our father Abraham??? And the prophets who died? Who do you make yourself out to be?”

But the Lord wasn’t making Himself out to be anyone. He simply spoke truth. And the truth sounded utterly insane in a world where everything is upside down and insane and nothing is as it should be.

“If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, that he is your God. But you have not known Him. I know Him. If I said I didn’t, I’d be the same as you: a liar! I do know Him and I keep His words. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day. He saw it and was glad.”

Now they go absolutely ballistic. “You are not even 50 years old! And you have seen Abraham?” He’d saved the best for last: “Amen, amen I say to you, before Abraham WAS, I AM!”

You can only imagine the shock that set in and the silence before they begin to grab the stones. He’d spoken blasphemy to their ears like they’d never heard before. He just claimed to be “I am” - the God who is the source of all being, the Eternal Word of His Eternal Father.

But before they can kill Him - it wasn’t His time then - He cloaks himself and disappears from among them. As in, He was there, and then He wasn’t. They couldn’t find Him. More proof that He was who He said He was.

Still the time was fast approaching when the absolute craziness of God would shine forth like never before. The writer to the Hebrews described it. The moment when Christ as the High Priest of the Good Things to come would take His own blood and enter into the Most Holy Place in heaven itself, thus securing an eternal redemption. Who could believe or ever guess the mercy and kindness of God in providing such a perfect, final sacrifice for sinners, that purifies consciences from dead works to serve the living God? Who would ever have dreamed that the Eternal Son would become flesh in order to be the mediator of a new testament so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance - an inheritance that is made their own and secure by a death that releases them from the transgressions committed against the first covenant - against the Law?

Who would be crazy enough to believe such a thing? Only those who by the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment discover the absolute trustworthiness of God and the correspondingly worthlessness of men’s promises. The Apostles go forth into the world proclaiming that while every man is a liar, God is true and truth itself. Crazy as it sounds, the One who commanded the Sacrifice of Isaac would Himself provide the Lamb for the offering, His only Son, so that not just Isaac, but all people, might live through Him.

As often as you come to the altar, you partake of the Lamb of God and God bequeathes to you His own eternal inheritance, the redemption Christ won for you. Yes, if you believe it, the world will think you’re crazy, silly, deceived, whatever. But the truth is, His truth will set you free. It always does. Amen.

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