S-1208 165SAP/3C 9/1205/10 Hymns (O) #32; S#342; L.S. # 377; #311; (C) #400
Texts: Ezekiel 34:11-24; 1Timothy, 1:12-17; Luke 15:12-17
Theme: “He Came To Save ME.” (1Timothy 1:15)
Question: “If you are in danger, would you want to be saved?”
SOLI DEO GLORIA, Armour, SD
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! The text for The 16th Sunday After Pentecost is from the Epistle lesson: “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” (1Timothy 1:15)
Introduction: In Nomine IESU
People of God, chosen and beloved, 9 years ago yesterday was a Black Day in the history of the USA. Early on Tuesday morning of 9-11, 19 Al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked Flights number 11, 175, 77 and 93. Flights 11 and 175 crashed into the Twin Towers, flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon in Arlington, VI, and the fourth flight—93, crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Within a couple of hours, there was mayhem and misery, death and debris, fire and fumes and dust that filled the skies over New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania. When all was said and done the total death toll of the attacks was 2,996, including the 19 hijackers. The overwhelming majority of casualties were civilians, including nationals of over 70 countries.
On that tragic and terrible day many gave their lives to save others. On Flight 93 few people did a heroic thing—Todd Beamer and Mark Bingham began a revolt saying, “LET’S ROLL!” By their brave efforts they stopped the plane from reaching its destination—The White House, and crashed into a wooded area thus saving more lives. Others gave their lives that day to save the wounded and trapped. 23 NYPD, 341 NYC Fire fighters, 2 paramedics and 37 Port Authority officers died in the line of duty.
Todd Beamer, Mark Bingham and the many faithful Police Officers (PO), Fire Fighters (FF), Paramedics, Port Authority, woke up that Tuesday morning, not thinking about this being their last and final day. The PO, FF and other agents new there might be a possibility to die in the line of duty, but they didn’t count on it. Certainly our hearts ache over the events of 9-11 PAUSE.
Unlike these brave men and women who gave their lives to save others, Pastor Paul tells of another who came for the specific mission of saving the world. Listen to Pastor Paul’s own words: “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.”
Paul is saying here, that Jesus’ main mission didn’t just happen as a last resort, but was planned before the foundation of the world. In the Garden of Eden we see the plans of God unfolding. It was a Black Day unlike any other in all of Creation. The hijacker was not Al-Qaeda terrorist, but a fallen angel who attacked the beauty of God’s creation and crashed the lives of Adam and Eve and their descendants; and were destined to death and destruction, mayhem and misery, and fire and fumes that burn without end.
But God’s plan was put in motion. He promised saying: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel" (Genesis 3:15) and in John 3:16 we hear God’s great promise: “For God so loved the world that He gave His One and ONLY Begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him may not perish but have eternal life”.
It is as clear as a crystal why Jesus came. Jesus left heaven, entered a virgin’s womb, laid on a bed of straw and came into our world of sin and sorrow foe one reason. Only one reason why He lived in this world, died in it, and rose again. That was to save sinners. He came not to judge, but to seek and save the lost. And He came not just for the world—not for Paul, but for ME—the sinner.
But why did He need to save us? There was no other choice to save humanity. Saint Paul tells us here that the Son of God came into the world and became a man in order to save sinners. It seems implausible, but a few moments’ reflection on this great miracle should convince us how highly believable it is.
God’s nature is made up of two glorious qualities. On the one hand, He is absolutely holy, just, and true. On the other hand, He is full of unending love, grace, and mercy. What was God to do when man transgressed His holy Law? Should He, perhaps, have forgiven man his sin and received him into heaven without anything further? No, never! For if God had done this, He would have had to ignore the part of His nature that is holy and just. God wrote His Law into the heart of man at His creation, and He threatened man with the punishment of temporal and eternal death if he should transgress that Law. If God had pardoned fallen man without anything further, He would have declared before all creatures that He is not faithful. He would be just like a poor earthly father who commands and threatens his children, but who follows through on neither his orders nor his punishments.
But God is also full of unending love, grace, and mercy. He is an eternally overflowing sea of love with which He embraces all of His creation. By virtue of this love, He could want nothing less than to rescue the human race from its sin. How could God do this without compromising His holiness, righteousness, and faithfulness? He determined to become a man and to suffer Himself the consequences of man’s sinfulness. Already, as a newborn child, we see Him in deepest humility, covered in miserable swaddling clothes, lying in a stall. This is the Lamb of God, who bears the world’s sins, and in Him, holiness and love, righteousness and grace, and faithfulness and mercy are reconciled.
But Pastor Paul in today’s text goes further. What he says is not only “trustworthy,” or exceedingly believable. It is also “deserving of full acceptance.” If the great Christmas miracle were only true, if we could not or would not be able to receive it, it would only have called forth a passing amazement. It would, then, have brought us no salvation and have worked in us no joy. But God be praised! This miracle is worthy of acceptance precisely because it happened for the salvation of all people, all sinners. Paul writes “of whom I am the foremost” to show that he applied the Christmas miracle to himself.
How blessed we are to be in the same boat with Pastor Paul, poor miserable beggars who need the unending sea of love from God that showers us with mercy and forgiveness. We the foremost sinners have been touched by the pierced hands of the One who came to SAVE us—Jesus the Christ.
The Hymn writer penned it well when he wrote: “Chief of sinners, though I be, Jesus shed His blood for me; Died that I might live on high, Lived that I might never die; As the branch is to the vine, I am His and He is Mine” PAUSE.
On Tuesday morning of 9-11 many PO, FF, Paramedics and others ran towards the fiery inferno to save the hurting and dying. Some carried 100 pounds of weight on their shoulders as they climbed the tower to reach their destination. Yet in all of this they didn’t know they were going to die.
When the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, woke up early on that Friday of 34A.D; He knew full well what was going to happen to Him. None-the-less He continued on His climb—not up the Twin Towers, Not to the Pentagon, Not to Washington, D.C. or Pennsylvania, but to a small hill outside of Jerusalem—Calvary. And as He did so He was carrying more than 100 pounds of weight on His shoulders—He carried the world’s sins including yours and mine. With Joy He ran forward to save the world—and ME—the Sinner. The author to the Hebrews declares: “Looking to Jesus, the Founder and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2). Here it is: “For the JOY that was set before Him”. What joy? Certainly not the pain and punishment of hell, not being forsaken by God, not mocked by the people; but saving YOU and ME—the SINNER.
Join me in thanking the Lord who loved us with the overflowing sea of love to save you and me the foremost sinner in the world. AMEN.
Now the peace…
SOLI DEO GLORIA