Sermon for Lent 5C 04-03-2022
Psalm 126; Isaiah 43:16-21; Philippians 3:4-14; John 12:1-8
In Psalm 126 God’s delivering acts are not limited to one period in a people’s history. Israel confessed the great acts of God from creation to Exodus to restoration from Exile. Still, they looked forward to new acts. Beloved, history calls God’s people to ask for and expect His deliverance.
Their prayer celebrated restoration from Exile and petitioned God to complete the work of restoration. Petition is not complete until God’s work with His people is complete. Momentary joy does not guarantee permanent satisfaction, but a continual prayer life with Him assures eventual joy with God. What is your prayer life like?
In Isaiah 43, we are told God’s creative work never ends. He continually works to create a people . As holy King, He is morally perfect and absolute ruler. He will not let His people totally perish. He will destroy enemies and renew His “disciplined people.” The Creator God is not a figure of the past who has become senile and forgetful, beloved, He is the Creator bringing new redemption to His people. Because God is holy, He cannot overlook iniquity. Because He is a God of redemption, He is continually creating new things for His people so we can serve Him and bring His purposes to pass in the world. Are you a disciplined person who seeks to repent of your sins and thus seek God’s forgiveness in your life? God wants people to go out into the world and take the salvation message with you, proclaiming it by your words, by the way you live out your life, by the way you accept others as they are with the love of Jesus! Are you?
In Philippians, we read that our righteousness comes through our faith in Christ Jesus. God, as the sinless Suffering Servant, counts His righteousness as ours. This righteousness, like that portrayed in the Old Testament, is not static but is know for its application to personal and social behavior. Such faith an righteousness are difficult to separate since they move together in observable life style and conscious choices in our daily lives. . We cannot be righteous in our own efforts apart from Christ. We cannot receive righteousness from Christ without faith. We cannot be counted as righteous in Christ without the desire to let the Spirit create a life of righteous acts in and through us.
The resurrection from the dead here is that which awaits believers who know Christ and share fellowship in His sufferings in this life. In Greek the verse is an “if” clause reading literally, ‘If somehow I might attain.” The whole “if” clause is a statement of humility, rather than one of uncertainty. Believers resurrection is as certain as the fact Christ was raised. The only possible uncertainty for believers is whether they will have died by the return of Christ (and thereby participate in the resurrection of the dead) or whether they will be still alive when He comes and thereby receive transformed bodies at that time or upon entering the kingdom of heaven. The answer to this is above my “pay grade,” but I’m going to go ou on a limb and place my faith in when He says it is time. If you have claimed Him as your Lord and Savior, He will take care of you, period.
From the Gospel of John we glean that our Lord and Savior sought to teach in relationships and parables the value of love. He displayed His own love by accepting persons whom respected society ignored or simply shunned. He showed His equality with God by forgiving sins. He elicited faith from people and thus gave hem salvation. He showed that the greater the debtor, the greater is grace and the greater should be the gratitude for forgiveness.
So today’s Scriptures taught us we ought to have a meaningful prayer life, not just a quick, “Lord, help me today” and then out the door. It tells us we must take the salvation message out to the world, not by posting a sign, but by our actively proclaiming the message of salvation by how we speak, treat, and help others. If we not do these things without a personal relationship with Christ, then the message, no matter how good or not, will be hollow and without meaning to those who need to hear it the most. We have learned that faith without Christ doesn’t work, while faith from Christ is a genuine game changer that people will hear and listen to. Finally, we learned that no matter what Jesus did, He did it with true and deep love for other people and that responded to His message because it was obvious.
If we live our lives serving Christ and with the love of Jesus on our hearts and minds, we can be successful at harvesting fruit for the kingdom, which ultimately is what we are supposed to do as Christians. So, go forth and carry out the message of true freedom and salvation, to those you know that need to hear it. Amen