S-1201 8/01/10 10SAP/3C Hymns: (O) #349; S#201; (C) #400
Texts: Ecclesiastes1:2, 12-14; 2:18-26; Colossians 3:1-11; Luke 12:13-21
Theme: “ONLY God Can…” (Psalm 49:7-8, 15)
Question: What price do you put on your life?
Armour, SD SOLI DEO GLORIA
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleuia. The text for our meditation is the Introit: “Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life, for the ransom of their life is costly and can never suffice…But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for He will receive me” (Ps. 49:7-8, 15).
People of God, CHOSEN and BELOVED, many stories have been told and written about our POW’s being brutally mistreated in Japanese prison camps during WWII. In one of the camps, the Americans soldiers arrived while it was snowing. Their quarters were very rudely made huts with grass walls, and had no heat of any kind. Many prisoners died from pneumonia, the food was lousy and they were forced to do heavy labor under terrible conditions. Often these POW’s were beaten unconsciously by their Japanese guard (real name unknown), but he was nicknamed “The Beast.”
At the end of the day, the guards would count the shovels and picks that the POW’s used. On a particular day, the guard returned with a big frown on his face saying, “He had counted the shovels and one of them is missing. Unless the shovel is brought forth immediately, one prisoner would be put to death every hour.” All POW’s stood at attention in fear and no one dared blink or move. Finally, at what seemed like an eternity, a man came forth saying, “I took the shovel!” The guard known as “The Beast” beat him mercilessly to death with a shovel.
The next morning, when the guards were counting the shovels and picks again, it was discovered that they counted wrong. The shovel had not been missing but was in the shed all along. The man, who was brutally beaten to death, was killed needlessly. However, he offered his life as a ransom for the other comrades.
Today, as we listen to the text from the Psalm of the Sons of Korah, we are told plainly, clearly and bluntly that man CAN’T ransom another life. Oh, many have given their lives for the sake of others. There is no denying it. You know and I know that many of our brave men and women have died in battle for the sake of others. Some have even exchanged their lives so that one of their comrades can go home to his wife and new born son.
But even with this act of bravery and kindness all that the person is able to do is save and spare the life of the other person for a while. But no matter how many give their lives for the others eventually, death will come knocking down. The payment for the soul is not made possible by man; no amount of wealth can buy escape from death. Although many think they can. Many even say, “I am going to cheat death.” But every one of us living now is destined to die.
The reason for death is sin. God commanded our ancestors in the Garden of Eden, “Saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die’” (Gen. 2:16-17). Ever since that day, men and women have been dying. Death has a hold on us. Death will claim us. Death will call us. For some it is sooner than they like. But regardless death will come!
So how can we sinful, selfish and self-indulgent people save our lives or the lives of others? WE CAN’T! It is impossible with man. Man can’t and never will redeem ransom or restore the life of another. ONLY God can.
Not only is this golden nugget truth taught in our Psalm today, but throughout all of Holy Scriptures. As the Lord of the Church, Jesus Christ taught the people of Palestine in the Gospel lesson saying, “What benefit if a man gains the whole world but looses his soul?” The answer is obvious. NOTHING!
Again, when our Savior, was on the earth He confessed this truth: “I Am the Way, the Truth and the Life, no one comes unto the Father, except through Me” (John 14:6). The Apostles Peter and John gave us this wisdom to hold unto. “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
Yet, many think they can and try to. Some even pray to saints or Mary as if they have power to save or ransom someone’s life. Not long ago I was visiting with someone who told me, “That their parent is with the Lord because the priest performed the Last Right!” No, Priest or Pop, , Politician or President, Peasant or Pastor can Ransom a soul, ONLY God can.
This is emphasized by the words of text today. In verse 7 we read these words: Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life, for the ransom of their life is costly and can never suffice” The words “give to God the price of his life” is from the Hebrew Cfar or kipper, Meaning covering or payment for sins. This is the same word that is used for the highest festival in the Jewish holiday known as “Yum Kippur”, “The Day of Atonement”. Again, ONLY God can make and put in place a covering for our sin! ONLY God can ransom the life of another. He is the One who can make alive from the dead.
Man can’t split the sea, but God can…Man can’t make the sun stand still, but God can…Man can’t bring food from heaven, but God can… Man can’t cause the rock to gush with water, but God can…Man can’t walk on water, but God can… Man can’t give His blood or body to save another, but God can and He does…Man can’t confess Jesus is Lord except through the Holy Spirit. ONLY God can cause us to acknowledge Him. PAUSE.
In the movie, “Men of Honor,” you hear the story of Carl Brashear. Carl Brashear is a black man wanted to be a Navy Diver in the 1960. As a black man he had no hope. But he was confident he could do it. When he left the farm for basic training his father gave him a radio with these inscriptions on the back of it. ASNF.
As the story progressed, his commanding office Master Chief Sunday did everything possible to fail Brashear even though he passed every test. When the final test was to take place, where each student had to assemble a flange 200 feet underwater using a bag of tools, Brashear’s bag was cut open. Brashear finishes the assembly and successfully completes the task after 9 hours and 31 minutes earning the quiet and suppressed admiration of Master Chief Sunday.
Master Chief Sunday had told Brashear to quit, but he wouldn’t and couldn’t. As he looked at Brashear’s father’s photo, Master Chief Sunday asked, “What did your dad say to you that keep you driving on and on?” His response was simple by the reminder of the inscriptions on the back of the radio-ASNF. A Son Never Forgets. PAUSE.
It is indeed true that a son never forgets. This truth is evident more than anywhere else except in our Big brother Jesus—The True Son of the Father. The Father had sent His Son Jesus to complete the mission not of becoming a Master Chief Diver to assemble or rescue ships, but to rescue and ransom humanity from sin, and hell and death and the power of the devil
Jesus the true Son of God never forgot His mission though many tried to get in His way. Many attempted to suppress, subdue, silence and stop Him from reaching His destination—the cross. He continued in spite of everyone’s attempt to stop Him—from the disciples, to Herod, to the Chief Priest and Pilate, but He wouldn’t and couldn’t.
So He continued His march to Calvary and there was beaten brutally and mercilessly for the sake of humanity. Even while He was on the cross for 6 full hours, people encouraged Him to save Himself and forget about the rest of the world. But A Son Never Forgets His mission and ministry to ransom you.
People of God CHOSEN and BELOVED, the POW gave his life but couldn’t spare nor save anyone’s life. Carl Brashear gave over 44 years of his life in the service of his country at a cost of 3 divorces and a lost leg but in the end he died too. But only the True Son, our God, Jesus Can and has Saved, Ransomed and Redeemed us to live with Him forever. What a blessing to know that God alone can. Amen.
Now the peace…