S-1131 7/26/09 8SAP/3B Hymns: (O) #349 1-4; (S) #370; L.S. #373; #314; #348; (C) #9 SOD
Texts Genesis 9:8-17; Ephesians 3:14-21; Mark 6:45-56
Theme: “He Is Able and Willing…” (Ephesians 3:20-21)
Question: “Have you said You are able lately?”
SOLI DEO GLORIA, Armour, SD
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our meditation this morning is the Epistle lesson: “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21)
Saints in Christ, a big wedding is coming up. The family is very excited about the event. The bride-to-be along with her parents seeks a professional and reputable Photographer who could capture the moments. They visit the photographer and he states: “I am honored that you have asked me to take your wedding pictures. I consider it a privilege to take these photos for you and hope they will be wonderful memories for years to come. I am able and willing to do so.”
The day of the wedding has arrived. The photographer came early, set up his lighting equipment, checked his cameras and began to take one picture after another. He would holler “Give me a smile here! Stand closer! Hold her dress! Show me the bouquet! And so on.” As the wedding party began to exit the church, he took more pictures. He was happy and content to be part of this special occasion.
The young couple left to their honey moon and the photographer went back to his studio and left all of his equipment in the shop. The next day, he comes and eagerly delves into developing the pictures. But to his horror there is not one frame of all of the pictures he took. He is shocked. He can’t believe it and he doesn’t even know what to say to the newlyweds.
The time came for him to contact the couple and give them the photos. The photographer came to their house and said, “I am so sorry to inform you that I don’t have a single picture to give you. Something went wrong with my camera and I never even so much as found a frame to develop. Please forgive me. Please forgive me. Please. Please forgive me. I feel so terrible. I wish I would be able to do it all over and recreate this moment. But alas I can’t. I AM REALLY SORRY!” The couple is crushed. No pictures.
This photographer is reputable and able to take good pictures, but something happened beyond his control. Even though he promised the couple that he would be willing and able to provide them with memorable pictures of the wedding, he couldn’t do it. There nothing the photographer can do to undo what is left undone. He is more than willing, but not able.
But unlike the poor photographer, Paul teaches us that God is not only Able but Willing to do more than we can imagine and hope for. He is willing to do the impossible even when we think there is no hope.
God’s ability and willingness to do good is very well documented in Scripture. From Genesis to Revelation we read again and again the mighty power of God who is able to do good and does it only as God can.
In the Gospel of Mark is the story of a person suffering from leprosy. Mark says: “And a leper came to Him [Jesus], imploring Him, and kneeling said to Him, ‘If you will, you can make me clean.’ Moved with pity, He stretched out His hand and touched him and said to him, ‘I will; be clean’” (Mark 1:40-41). Yes, Jesus is willing and able to do what He said He would and He has. In the Old Testament we hear Moses telling the people of Israel in what God was able to do: “So the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror and with miraculous signs and wonders” (Deut. 26:8). And in 1 Samuel we read of the fear of the Philistines: “Woe to us! Who is able to deliver us from the power of these mighty gods? These are the gods who struck the Egyptians with every sort of plague in the wilderness” (1 Samuel 4:8). And in our reading today Paul reminds us again that the God of the universe is the One who is able and willing to do more than we ask or imagine. PAUSE.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, to be able to do something for someone is a great attribute indeed. Especially, to do some good to a neighbor or friend is something that is special. Whenever, we are able and willing to do good that is a package worthy to have. We, of course are not the package. Often we’d like to do good and can’t. Other times, we could do something but don’t because we just don’t want to. More often than not we are not willing because we are selfish, rebellious and disobedient to the will of God our Savior. We are not willing and unable to do that because we think of the “me” rather than the common wealth of all.
Oh, don’t me take me wrong. We like to think we are able to do what we say we will. How many times we said, “I am going to be a better Christian, serve my Lord better, and not hurt my neighbor”, but end up doing just the opposite. How many times does an alcoholic say, “I am not going to take another drink”. How often do we say that we are going to give up gossip, put away pornography, opt out of ogling the attractive co-worker, cheat on a test, and any of a hundred other things that we are more than willing to give up? But are we not able? In short, the answer is no. They try, but they struggle with that. They need help. We try. But we fail miserably too! We are all sinners and rely on our own might and power to do what we think we should.
Here is our problem. We assess the situation incorrectly. It is not about me being good, or able to be good, or trying to be good. It is all about the goodness of the Lord. It isn’t about me coming to church because I am such a good person, but I come to church, because God makes me good.
The Apostle Paul who wrote the words of our text didn’t rely on his ability to stand before God, but relied on Christ’s mercy and grace. For this is the same God who met him on the road to Damascus forgave him his sins and sent him out into the world to be His missionary.
You and I can do no less than rely on the same Savior. Who is able to do more than we ask or imagine. This mighty and powerful God is able to do all things that are good for us. He does what is good for us especially to strengthen us—the One Holy Christian Church by His Spirit.
Saints in Christ, Jesus is able and willing to snatch us from the jaws of death. Jesus is able and willing to forgive our sins. Jesus is able and willing to bring us into the fold through the living gift of Baptism. Jesus is the One who dresses us with the clock of His innocence. Jesus is not willing that we would stay where we are, but change us through His saving Word and life-giving Means of Grace.
Why is He able and willing to do all of these things for us? Because God’s Son became a man, took upon Him our flesh and bone, allowed all the sins of all people to be attributed to Him, placed Himself under the Law, and by His suffering and death on the cross of Calvary bore our punishment. He, the innocent Son of God, became obedient even unto death on the cross. When He cried out, “IT IS FINISHED” (John 19:30), He referred to the completion of His great sacrifice for the atonement of all sin. With that cry He was willing and able to do what He said He would, “For the Son of Man didn’t come to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for Many” Mark 10:45).
Who of us is able to understand the width, height, depth and length of God’s love? Only those who believe, that He is the Savior of mankind and the Redeemer for their sins. Anyone who acknowledges this truth, will become strong and realize by the power of the Holy Spirit that being in the Lord’s house will make him strong to walk humbly before His Lord, all the days of his/her life. PAUSE.
The photographer wished that he could re-create the images of the wedding. He felt sorry of not being able to provide the pictures for the newlyweds. Jesus on the other hand is more than able and willing to recreate our image which was lost in the Garden of Eden. Jesus is the photo copy of God. He is not like the photographer who wished he could capture the moment. Jesus Can. Jesus will. And Jesus has done it all. He is indeed more than able and willing. Amen.
Now the peace of God…