Sunday, March 21, 2010

5th Sunday in Lent Genesis 22:1-14

And it was after these things, and God tested Abraham, and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am." Take now your son, your only son which you love, Isaac, and you walk to the land of Moriah, and offer him up there to be offered up on one of the mountains which I will tell you." And Abraham rose in the morning and saddled his donkey and took two of his young men with Him and Isaac His son; and he split wood for the offering, and he rose and walked to the place which was told him from God. On the third day, and Abraham lifted his eyes and he saw Moriah from a distance. And Abraham said to his young men, "Be captive yourselves, here, with the donkey, and I and the young man will walk up to here and we will worship, and we will return to you." And Abraham took the wood of the offering and placed it on Isaac his son, and he took in his hand the fire and the knife. And they walked, the two of them, together. And Isaac spoke to Abraham, his father, and he said, "My Father!" And he said, "Here I am, my son." And he said, "Look, the fire and the wood; and where is the Lamb to offer?" And Abraham said, "God will see Himself the Lamb to offer, my son."

Today, the 5th Sunday in Lent, is known as Judica, or *Judgment* Sunday. On this day, in the historic entrance Psalm, each singer called upon God to "Judge me!". At first glance, this sounds a bit scary, as though we are asking God to bring down a condemning judgment upon us. But actually, we are asking God to judge us based upon His grace and mercy in Christ Jesus. For that's just how God judged Abraham, who rejoiced, seeing the day of Jesus' redemption, as our Lord confirms in John 8.

We don't like to cry out to God "Judge me" because we tend to think of judgment as only negative. Now, condemnation is certainly a part of God's judgment, but it is only half. God's judgement is like a 2-edged sword, separating good from bad. Christ's judging is like a refining fire, separating gold from dross. His judging is like the flood, which separated the wicked from Noah's family. On the Last Day, Jesus will separate the wheat from the chaff, sheep from the goats. God's judgment is always 2-fold.

That's just how God's judgment is for you too. Using the water analogy, it is a drowning flood. The negative part is that it brings you death. Your sins are washed in baptism from you directly to the + where they are deposited on Jesus to bear your punishment there. "Sinful you" therefore dies with Jesus at Calvary. But just as He didn't stay dead, but rose again "on the third day", so too in your baptism do you rise up in Him to walk in newness of life, one that now lasts for an eternity in heaven!

We hesitate to call for God's judgment also because we don't care for His tests. They can be rough, like the one Abraham faced. His didn't make any sense. God promised that all the world would be blessed through the singular Seed of Abraham who would be born from Isaac's line. But if Isaac died, Jesus, that blessed Seed, would never be born–the promise left unfulfilled! What could Abraham do?

Abraham trusted God, despite the illogic of this test. He was so sure God would come through in the end that Abraham prophesies to his servants at the foot of the hill, that *we* (He and Isaac!) would return. That's confidence in God! You have similar confidence, trusting in the gospel promises of Jesus. His word proclaims to you that in Jesus' death for you, you are forgiven! How that simple word can accomplish such a miracle, you cannot explain. But you believe His Word forgives and saves you!

We are reluctant to ask God to judge us because we are afraid of what He might do. Abraham was concerned too that God would have Isaac, his son, sacrificed at Moriah. What was going through his mind as they climbed the mountain? Abraham hoped God might raise Isaac back to life after the sacrifice. But would God really allow Abraham's only son to be given up to death in a sacrifice?

Again Abraham prophesied what God would do. When Isaac asked about the Lamb, Abraham said, "God will see Himself, the Lamb to offer." Now, don't be perplexed by how many translations botch this verse. It is clear. God sees Himself as the sacrificial Lamb! Christ Jesus was God, and He was also the spotless Lamb of God sacrificed for you at Calvary. His body given on a Jerusalem mountain like Moriah, and His blood shed there for you, have redeemed, purchased, and won you as His Own!

Abraham really rejoiced to see the day of Jesus! He knew God's promised Seed would still come through Isaac's line. He knew that both he and his only son would return safe and sound. He knew God would provide a substitute Lamb, the Father's only-begotten Son, Christ Jesus. God judged Abraham favorably. You, too, receive His thumbs-up, judged worthy of eternal life by grace through faith. Amen.

Hymns for today from LSB:
#902 Lord Jesus Christ, Be Present Now
#430 My Song is Love Unknown
#572 In the Shattered Bliss of Eden

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