S-1270 13SAP/3C 9/11/11 Hymns (O) #123; #239; S#339; LS.#39; #348; #341 (C) LSB # 922 vv. 1-4
Text: Genesis 50:15-21; Romans 14:1-12; Matthew 18:21-35
Theme: “From Tragedy to Triumph!” (Genesis 50:19-21)
Question: “How do you cope with tragedies?” Armour, SD
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! The text for the 13th Sunday after Pentecost is from the O.T. lesson: “But Joseph said to them, ‘Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.’ Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them” (Genesis 50:19-21).
Introduction: In Nomine IESU
People of God, chosen, cherished, loved and adored in His sight and mine; today, as our nation remembers the tragic events of 9/11, many of you here have hearts that are heavy and broken, some are angry at the atrocity done against our nation, and some are even weeping at the loss of life and the life-style we had.
While today marks the anniversary of tragedy and terror, death and destruction, ashes and debris of the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and flight 93; we can’t lose focus of why we are in God’s holy house. Not only to observe and remember the Day of Tragedy, but more importantly to keep our eyes focused on our hope and help, and faith and foundation rooted in Christ our Savior and His life-giving Word as recorded for us in Romans 8:28: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose”. Yes, indeed, God’s Word of promise and power is our confidence and conviction that the Lord of the Universe is 1000 steps ahead of us planning out His plan of redemption.
On this 10th anniversary of 9/11 we remember all of the evil that has occurred against this great nation. We pray for the families that have suffered loss of loved ones and property that the God of all grace would hold them in His powerful hands, and the wounds of Christ would be the ointment of healing and forgiveness.
If anything is evident from that tragedy of 9/11 it is this: THAT SIN LIVES IN EVERY HUMAN HEART, AND WE ARE POWERLESS TO REMOVE IT. Yes, sin is in us and not only in the hearts of those terrorists who carried the atrocity and brought so much carnage and bloodshed to many lives.
We see this sin clearly visible throughout history and even among believers of the God of the Bible. In our Old Testament reading, we have Joseph’s brothers coming to him after his father’s death (their hearts are troubled) and ask him to forgive them for the tragedy they caused him. But even in this they are being deceptive. I am not aware that Jacob made any such request of Joseph.
Remember, my beloved, these were the sons of promise—the sons of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who served the great God of heaven, yet in their jealousy against their brother Joseph, they wanted to kill him. They threw him into a pit and eventually sold him as a slave for 20 pieces of silver. Right there in their hearts lies sin, active and vicious to destroy life—the life of their own kin and blood-brother. What a tragedy!
But how does Joseph answer: ‘Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.’ Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them”
Out of this tragedy comes triumph. How could have Joseph known that he would go from dreams to dungeons to diadems in order to save the remnant? He couldn’t have known that, not at that time at least. In our text he states clearly that God used this tragic event in His life to bring about the salvation of many—not only the 70 members of his immediate family, but after 400 years of slavery the deliverance of over 2.5 million people.
Yes, God works everything for our good, from tragedies comes Triumph. We may not see the good at the time, but it is there.
Remember 10 years ago, after our President George W. Bush was informed of the Twin Towers, the Pentagon attack, he said: “AMERICA HAS BEEN ATTACKED!” As he spoke those words, you could see the anger in his voice, and the tears in his eyes. Here is the Commander in Chief. His heart is bleeding for those whose lives ended and property destroyed. PAUSE.
But did you know that our heavenly Father had the same sentiment: He had created a beautiful world. Filled it with every blessing and set Adam and Eve to enjoy it and all it had to offer. But one day, the fallen angel Lucifer came disguised as a snake and caused havoc upon the lives of God’s creatures and destroyed the relationship with their loving and gracious Father.
That day in the garden without any media present, without any microphones and without anyone to observe, God said: “My world has been attacked!” And from this tragedy comes Triumph—God promises to send a deliverer to redeem the world and His most precious creature-man.
There are other tragedies mentioned in the Scriptures. In Genesis chapter 11, men lived in the Plains of Shinar and wanted to build a name for themselves by erecting a tower that reaches the heavens. That was a tragedy. Yet out of this tragedy the gracious Lord confused their language so that many languages are spoken now and people are able to hear the Gospel in their language.
Faithful follower of Jesus, in a strange way beyond our human understanding, it takes a great tragedy that makes us understand the grace and love of God. Again, this is a reminder of God’s Word of promise, that His ways are not like our ways and neither are His thoughts like our thoughts (Is. 55:8).
We don’t understand God’s ways, His plans or what He does sometimes. If you want to talk about tragedy that has turned to triumph; travel with me to Jerusalem. There, hear the voice of God saying my world has been attacked and He did something about it. He sent His Son—His only Son—Jesus to rescue this world from the attacks of Lucifer.
Jesus does just that! In the face of the profound suffering He would undergo for the sins of the world, prayed, “Take this cup from Me. Yet not My will, but Thine be done” (Matt. 26:39). And so it is human and by no means wrong for those so terribly hurt by the senseless carnage 10 years ago, to lament their loss and pain even today, and to cry out, “Why, Lord?” Somehow, in an unfathomable way, the Lord’s hand is not shortened and His universe is still His, despite the carnage of a few madmen. And like His very cross—which appeared to be a tragedy, senseless and pointless in the end brings about the greatest triumph the world has ever known—your salvation and mine.
Joseph understood this. By God’s grace alone He turns the tragedy that his brothers brought upon him, as a triumphal mission of bringing salvation to many. He learned the art of forgiveness and applied the medicine to his own heart and his brothers. Joseph would not and couldn’t put himself in the place of God and exact revenge. He would put himself in the place of God however to exact mercy and live out grace! He received a greater richness and wealth than yellowish metal could ever offer - his brothers and father and their families! God gave to Joseph the true treasure - His own heart!
Today, in this place of comfort and solace, where Christ comes to us in His Word and Sacrament we remember that God turns tragedies into triumph. By His power we learn the true meaning of love and forgiveness and we learn to apply and dispense it to one and all. PAUSE.
We can and we must apply this, not just to the big issues that run across our TV News reports like 9-11, but more importantly, every day and in every way with one another. By the way, I love how you forgive. You make me proud ... and you make me thankful. You, my fellow sinners know what it is to be forgiven much. You can and you do, go out like Joseph by speaking tenderly and gently to others. Take no pride in this, but rejoice in it, for the Lord has remembered you... and now... now He is living through you. You are Baptized. You have been bought with a price, you are not your own (1 Corinthians 6:20, 7:23), so you can resist the devil. His heart now owns your heart! I love seeing Joseph’s heart beating in your chest, and just like Joseph, you cannot put yourself in the place of God to Judge, and just as importantly, He has put His only begotten Son in your place, on your cross, to call you home. Remember, as far as the East is from the West, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. In this gift, from this gift, because of this Gift you and I can love, and love, Divine agape love is the source and completion of your new heart. In the name of the compassionate and forgiving Jesus, we say AMEN AND AMEN.
Now the peace…
SOLI DEO GLORIA.