S-1420 3SIL/3A 3/23/2014 Hymns: (O) #140 vv 1-3; (S) #342; L.S #153; #744 LSB; # 354. (C) # 140 vv 4-6
Texts: Exodus 17:1-7; Romans 5:1-8; John 4:5-26
Theme: “God’s Saving LOVE” Romans 5:6-8
Question: “How would you paint love?” Armour, SD
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen, indeed! Alleluia! The text is from the Epistle lesson “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8).
INTRODUCTION: In Nomine Iesu.
Precious and loved children of God, last month many of you celebrated Valentine’s Day. Some of you got lovely gifts—chocolate, candy, flowers, Jewelry, clothes, taken out for supper or something else. Those gifts were given in love from your man or your lady, mother, father, or grandparents. These gifts were given in love because someone thought of you and wanted you to know that you are loved.
But when was the last time you got something from someone who hates your guts. A person who when he/she sees you his blood pressure goes up, his eyes reflects hatred and fumes flow from his/her nostrils. When someone hates us it is the last thing they would think of doing—giving a gift. If truth be told, they would rather move away from us or give us a knuckle sandwich. It is not normal for enemies to show love. It is not natural to demonstrate care and concern for someone you despise. It is unheard of and not practiced in any culture.
Yet, today, the Apostle Paul tells us clearly and convincingly that is precisely what our loving, gracious and merciful God has done. Notice the words of Paul that “It was while we were sinners that Christ died for us.” He demonstrated His saving love towards us—His enemies. Instead of sending us to the abyss of hell, He becomes the ultimate Sacrifice-dying in our place on the cruel instrument of the cross.
Paul, the one who calls himself “the chief of sinners” paints a most vivid and colorful picture of God’s saving love towards the ungodly and His enemies—He dies for them. With these words you see God’s love given freely and abundantly. Here you learn the truth that God’s saving love is by grace alone—while we were sinners. Here you will learn that God would spare nothing to win you back to Him. Here you get a grasp of the truth that God is willing to go to hell and back for you so you don’t have to taste hell.
This kind of love is unheard of, unthinkable and unimaginable—who has ever heard of such love? And yet it is as real as the sun that rises daily…and the air we breathe. This is the love that flows from the veins of Christ who loves us and chose to give His life as The Lamb on the altar of the cross. But how do we describe this kind of love and with what words do we convey something so foreign to us? PAUSE.
One of the hardest things I went through when I came to the USA was learning the English language. Part of the challenge was all of the slangs used. And Americans use slangs often and they are confusing to a foreigner like myself. Such as “Keep your pants on.” (But I do have them on). Or, “What do you have up your sleeves?” (Nothing, except my arms). “Hold on to your horses” (What horses?). Or “We got to hit the road?”
The first time I heard these sentences I was dumbfounded. And when I heard about hitting the road, I had to ask, “What is this Hit the road?” Why would you hit the road?” People would say to me, “I don’t know. It is just one of those dumb things we say.” Then a wise guy would start stomping the street with one foot saying, “See, we hit the road!” I wasn’t impressed with that explanation. I would respond “Maybe to an American it makes sense, but to an Arab, is crazy!”
We often use slang terms when we’re searching for superlatives, words to describe the highest or utmost degree of something. It’s not big, it’s humongous. We’ll attach “super” or “mega” to a word. In an effort to get more vivid expressions, we even move to the extremes of life and death. And then of course, the ultimate is when something is so good, it’s “to die for,” “Oh that cake is so good, it’s to die for!” When we are trying to find a way to convey the height of our love for something, what stronger language can there be than that? You should see his car: “It’s to die for!” When it comes right down to it, probably no one would actually be willing to die for a chocolate cake, or a great car, but it certainly expresses vividly the height of our appreciation for those things. Love is often demonstrated in sacrifice and in giving.
And no greater sacrifice has ever been displayed on the canvas of human history except in the cross of Christ. That is why Paul states, “But God shows His love for us in that while we were still SINNERS, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). This is not slang, but it’s hard for us to understand because it is not common among us to see. Indeed it is unthinkable, unimaginable and unheard of—who ever heard of such love. You have! Holy Scripture testifies and affirms the grace and love of God towards those who were created in His image. You heard of it this morning again as Jesus spoke Gospel words to the Samaritan woman. PAUSE.
Certainly this is unthinkable, unimaginable and unheard of, yet God has painted Himself with beautiful language to convey who He is and what He does. In 1 John 4:8, 16 we find a straightforward phrase that has the profoundest implications: “God is love.” What a pregnant phrase. We can spend our lifetime pondering the meaning of that sentence without ever plumbing its depth. It is worth noting, in the original language John does not say that love is God, but only that God is love. The two terms are not interchangeable. Let us confuse the two. God indeed is love and His love is above any human thought or understanding.
Therefore, today by the grace of God as we have been brought by the Holy Spirit into His presence we behold this love given and shared through His absolution, His Word at the font and at the table.
But to whom does God demonstrate this unthinkable, unimaginable and unheard of LOVE? Do you know who He did this for? For all of humanity—so that every son of Adam and every daughter of Eve, will not experience the Second death; but live with Him forever and ever. He did it for you and me. He did it not because we have anything to offer God, but only because He offers us the greatest sacrifice ever witnessed in the world—the suffering, death, burial and resurrection of His Son. Yes, His Son showed us God’s Saving Love. It is yours today and every day by faith alone, through grace alone and on account of Christ alone.
Because God’s love is a saving love—He saved us while we were yet SINNERS. And we can sincerely say, it is no exaggeration or figure of speech that Christ came to die for us sinners. Thus, we take this message outside these hallowed walls and share them with other sinners so they too might know the saving love of God. God grant us the desire and will to carry this message to every corner of the world. Just as the Samaritan woman had done. Amen.
Now the peace…
SOLI DEO GLORIA.