Monday, February 28, 2011

“Can It Be…?” (Isaiah 49:15-16).

S-1235 8SAE//3A 02/27/11 Hymns (O) #1; (S) #442 L.S. from LSB #620; #623; 633; (C) #493

Text: Isaiah 49:8-16; I Cor. 4:1-13; Matthew 6:24-34

Theme: “Can It Be…?” (Isaiah 49:15-16).

Question: “How often do you forget things?”


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for the 8th Sunday after the Epiphany is from the Old Testament: “But Zion said, ‘The LORD has forsaken me; My Lord has forgotten me.’ Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands; your walls are continually before Me’” (Isaiah 49:14-16).

Introduction: In Nomine IESU

You who are the most beloved in the Lord Jesus Christ, this text is the medicine for every believing heart and soul that doubts God’s love for him or her. What a glorious text Isaiah gives us today. It is one that engages us and assures us of who our loving and gracious God is. Isaiah paints a most moving message with these words to help us on our journey of life and remind us that the Lord will never EVER forget us. If the creator of the universe doesn’t forget one blade of grass; if He who made all of the animals in the world, can’t forget these creature but provides for them; don’t you think He would do the same for YOU?

I’m certain that you have seen someone who has a tattoo on his body. Some of these tattoos are simple and elegant and others are gory and ugly. Yet, here is God—the Creator of the universe comforting us by telling us even though a mother may forget the child she nursed. He will not forget us. In fact He has in love on the cross engraved our names on the palm of His hands.

In today’s Scripture, the Lord Himself asks this very intriguing and compelling question: “Can a woman forget her nursing child?” and the answer through the centuries, through the millennia, has been – NO! ABSOLUTELY NOT! It’s often the woman who brings the love we all need. But humanity is degenerating in its attempt to be “modern,” and women of today care less about the gifts of God in our lives. Children, less-and-less are thought of as a “blessing,” and more-and-more of as a burden. Children used to be looked at as a joyful event, but now they have become an impediment to careers. An unborn child is labeled as a “fetus,” which is defined as some kind of disposable bodily tissue. We pretend like the children we are, also pretending we are mature adults making rational decisions.

Even though women have shown notable love for their children, the Scripture for today includes the sad note, but “surely they may forget.” We live in a time when women no longer wait for their men to come home and march with them in the creation of a home, in the nurturing of children and the forming of lives into one, through the power and the wonder of love. Women want to be loved, too, and are saying, “my children can wait – it’s me first.” PAUSE.

Did your mother love you? If so, you are blessed by God and you should thank Him every day. And the best way to say “Thank You” is to pass that love on. Take the risk of loving your spouse, your child, giving up your life for someone else, instead of forcing them to give up their lives for you. Love is a legacy that can LAST! If you didn’t feel loved as a child, you have the opportunity to give someone else the love you did not have. And amazingly, when you give honest, pure, wholesome love, your very being will radiate with the love you have always wanted and needed. As St. Francis of Assisi taught us, “it is in giving that we receive.”

David, the king of Israel in one of the Psalms wrote these words: When I look at Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You care for him?” (Ps. 8:3-4). The answer to this question is the Divine love for man. We all need to be loved and the only cure for our problems, our only hope for our hearts felts desire is reflected in today’s Scripture.

The love we cannot effectively give, the love that most don’t even WANT to give becomes possible when our lives are touched by the God of LOVE, Jesus Christ. Our Amazing and gracious God is the God of miracles who can and will change you and me for the better.

He knows your name. More than merely knowing about you, He knew YOU, before you even existed. He carefully fashioned you in your mother’s womb. He has protected you more times than you can imagine. Even our so-called “faults” have been carefully allowed, with the intention that all of us will be drawn out of the ashes of our failures into new life. As He says, “I will never forget you.”

We are given amazing words of love, written hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus, who was to die a terrible death as the remedy for our sins: “See,” He said, “I have engraved you on the palms of My hands” (Isaiah 49:16). Scholars recently have said that crucifixion did not involve the hands, but instead the terrible nails went through the wrists. But it was revealed to Isaiah the prophet that the “hands” of our Savior would be pierced for our sins. It was also revealed to David, who foretold the thought of Jesus: “They have pierced My hands and feet” (Psalm 22:16). They tied His wrists to the wood and pierced His hands with nails. He literally loved you to death, His death, and He did it so you will become His most admired and precious child. Remember, it was not the nails that kept Jesus on the cross but His love FOR YOU! PAUSE.

Somehow, some way, when Jesus hung on that cross for those six hours your name was etched in His palms. This is Jesus talking here in Isaiah 49:16, the Suffering Servant section, “See, take a good long look, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands.”

Jesus’ death on the cross was not just for the whole cosmos, it was FOR YOU! How many people do you know that laid down their life for you—literally, even went to hell and back for you? You can count them on one finger. His name is Jesus.

Can it be that God loves me this much? First, that He would die for me. Second, He would permit nails to be driven in His hands and feet for me? Third, that He would bear the wounds of these marks etched into His hands for all eternity?

When we arrive in heaven each one of us will see just how our name has been personally etched and inscribed into the hands of the risen Savior! It will be powerful, won’t it! Remember Thomas when he saw the wounds of the Risen Savior, he cried out “My Lord and My God” (John 20:28).

He went from it “could not be” to “can it really be” that Jesus died and rose for me?

One of the oldest books in the Bible is the book of Job. It is a book where we see an ancient believer suffer in an unbelieveable manner. He loses all ten children in one day. He loses all his possessions in one day. He loses his health—big time! He is rotting away and is covered with painful pus producing boils from head to toe. His wife abandons him. His work-righteous, legalistic friends turn on him like a pack of hyenas.

In the midst of all this pain, abandonment, delirium he cries out, Can it be that God loves me? Can it be that He has a cure for death—if a man die, shall He live again? Can it be that He will get me through this living hell?

In the midst of all His pain Job pleads for Easter words to be inscribed, etched into a rock or a book for all eternity. Little did He realize these words would be etched in a book—the Bible. Little did He realize these words would become a very familiar Easter Hymn. Little did He realize these words would be etched into stone: on millions of gravestones around the world! Little did He realize that His words would be engraved, inscribed, and etched upon the palms of the hands of the Savior! Listen to His prophetic and powerful words:

Oh that my words were written!

Oh that they were inscribed in a book!

That with an iron stylus and lead They were engraved in the rock forever!

And as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives.

And at the last He will take His stand on the earth.

Even after my skin is destroyed, Ye from my flesh I shall see God,

Whom I shall behold and not another! (Job 19:23-26)

Can it be that the Lord of history, the Man on Calvary, died personally for you and me? Can it be that our names are personally engraved in His Palms with Good Friday and Easter Sunday ink? Can it be that we receive today His true body and blood for the forgiveness of sins? Can it be that we have as St. Paul writes actually been baptized into His body?

The answer? YES, YES, YES, and YES! In Jesus Christ all the promises of God are yes! He loved us to death and He will personally love us for all eternity. Amen.

Now the peace of God…

Soli Deo Gloria

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