And Jacob went out from Beer-Sheba and walked to Haran. And he encountered on the place and camped there because the sun had gone down; and he took from the stones of the place and he placed it for his head, and he lied down in that place. And he dreamed, and look, a ladder was set on earth and its head reaching the heavens, and look, angels of God going up and going down on it. And look, Yahweh stood over it and He said, "I–Yahweh, God of Abraham, your father, and God of Isaac; the land which You lie down on it, I give to you and to your seed. Will be, your seed, as the dust of the earth, and you will break through to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and will be blessed in you all the watered lands of the earth, and in your seed. And look, I–with you, and I will safe-guard you in all which you walk, and I will return you to this land, for I will not depart from you until which when I have done that which I spoke to you." And Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, "Truly, Yahweh is in this place and I, myself did not know." And he feared, and he said, "What awesomeness–this place! Is this not the house of God, and this–a gate of the heavens!"
Our God is an awesome God. But in the words of Inigo Montoya in the Princess Bride, "You keep on using that word...I do not think it means what you think it means." Indeed, God showed Jacob a spectacular sight in the ladder to heaven. Likewise, Jesus did a couple of amazing things by healing and forgiving a paralytic in to day's Gospel. God reveals His awesomeness to us, His chosen people, by what He chooses to reveal to us. Yet, the awesomeness of God surprises us more times than not.
In a contemporary Christian song, Michael W. Smith sings about an awesome God, giving lip-service to His mercy, grace and the cross. But while he "hints" about God's awesomeness, he never quite delivers it. For God's awesomeness isn't found in thunderclaps and lightening. God's awesomeness isn't found in an earthquake, in a violent wind storm, or in a great fire either. Your awesome God is found in a baby born in a stable, it is found in a criminal sentenced to die on a cross in your place.
"But Pastor" you want to interject, "doesn't God cause all these fantastic natural phenomena to occur?" Yes...but it's not in these glorious-appearing things that God's true awesomeness is found. "But Pastor, isn't it just awesome that God created and controls the entire universe?" Certainly these acts of God are note-worthy, but they pale in comparison with the actual *awesome* things that God does for you in His Son, a carpenter from the small town of Nazareth by the name of Jesus.
We are tempted to think that the glorious-appearing things are the most awesome. But they aren't. You like to consider the most exciting things, the most captivating events, and the most intriguing notions as those that are the awesome-est. But they aren't. You are using that word "awesome" in the wrong way. It doesn't mean what you think it means. Because you are considering things of worldly glory to be those which are "awesome" in your sight. But God calls other things "awesome".
Now, the dream Jacob had was indeed "awesome". But if any of us had such a crazy dream, we'd chalk it up to that late night pizza we ate. In Jacob's case, we are tempted to blame his foolish choice of a rock for a pillow. But this dream was amazing, for a simple reason: God was there, and He was doing stuff! God was in that place, so Jacob named it Beth-el, "House of God". But when Jacob opened his eyes, He couldn't see God. Awake & listening, he couldn't hear God. But God was there!
Likewise in the miracles of today's Gospel. They thought Jesus was blaspheming, claiming to do what God alone could do–forgive sins. But not only did Jesus forgive the paralytic–He also healed him! All to prove one important thing–that God was really there, in the person of Jesus, and God was indeed doing awesome stuff! God was keeping His promise to forgive, to save all people, and to be the one "Seed" of Abraham Who would bless all people by doing what God promised He would do.
So...just where do you find your awesome God in action today? Not so much in climactic events and astounding miracles which may or may not happen. But in where He has promised to be and act. You find an awesome God proclaiming your sins "Forgiven!" in holy absolution. Your awesome God is there in your daily bath of baptism which drowns your sinful flesh and raises you anew each day. You know your awesome God is there in the flesh, feeding you with His body and blood in Communion.
Now these things on the surface don't seem too awesome. Simple words. Plain old water. Ordinary bread and wine. But in these means of grace, Your Awesome God Jesus is there to forgive and save you! Your God is so awesome that He would chose to become a man, and take your place under God's law. He was cursed with the blame and punishment for your sins, and your God was so awesome that He chose to die on the cross, so that you, His beloved children, would have life. Jesus, the Gate of Heaven came down that ladder to die for you so that you now live forevermore in heaven above. Amen.
Today's Hymns from LSB:
#659 Lord of Our Life
#708 Lord, Thee I Love with All My Heart
#533 Jesus Has Come and Brings Pleasure Eternal!