No Hiding, No Fighting; Forgiven And Declared Righteous For Jesus Sake

Text:  Genesis 3:8-15 and Mark 3:20-35

To Him who loves us and has washed us from our sins by His blood and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever.  Amen.

There are really only two options.  The first is to resort to name calling and fighting.  The second is to run and hide. 

This was how Adam and Eve handled things in our Old Testament lesson and it is the way that the religious leaders handled things in our Gospel reading from today.

What am I talking about?

I am talking about mankind’s reactions to the Lord.  Mankind’s flight or fight reactions when the Lord draws near.

First, let’s look at mankind’s flight response. 

In the first book of the Bible, Genesis, (our Old Testament Lesson from today) Adam and Eve were in complete harmony with the Lord, each other, and their conscious was at peace: no shame, no guilt, no fear, no restlessness, and no blaming.  However, all this changed.  It changed when Eve’s teeth bit down on the forbidden fruit.  This was the Devil’s plan all along: to distance Eve from God’s Word.  

After Eve ate the fruit, Adam being the head of the family, should also have trusted God’s Word, put Eve over his shoulder, brought her to God, confessed her sin, and said, “Now take my life.” However, Adam went the route of a deadbeat loser by taking the fruit as well, disobeying and distancing himself from God’s Word.  Yes, our first parents tragically believed Satan contrary to God’s Word.

After sin fractured everything—and I mean everything—the Lord God came to the garden to draw near to Adam and Eve.  But like a bunch of frantic scurrying cockroaches hiding from the light, Adam and Eve covered themselves with fig leaves and hid from the Lord. 

In case we begin to snub our noises at Adam and Eve, we must admit that we are no different.  We hide from the Lord, so at least we try.  Like a four-year old child, we cover our eyes while standing in the corner behind a curtain with the lower half of our body totally exposed.  We think we have made ourselves invisible to this seeking God of ours.  However, “God is all knowing and He's present everywhere.  Therefore, He knows us better than we know ourselves and He sees deeper into us than we are able, or, even willing to look.  So, like Adam and Eve, we play our games with God.  We hide from Him.  We bob and weave in a fruitless effort to escape His piercing eye and His angry judgment.  And maybe worst of all we pretend that we aren't as bad as we really are, or, that our sins, our failings, really aren't our fault.”[1]

If the flight tactic of running and hiding from the Lord doesn’t work—because it really doesn’t—we typically have a backup plan, we fight.  This was the tactic of the religious leaders as we heard from today’s Gospel reading from Mark.  In other words, the scribes from Jerusalem were the ‘heavy hitters’ who had come down to assist the local religious leaders in challenging Jesus.  They couldn’t deny the miracles of Jesus, so they accused Jesus of using the power of Satan to cast out demons.  They concluded that Jesus’ power was evil, thus rendering Jesus as someone that could be written off, disregarded, and marginalized. 

This is all starting to make sense.  When the Lord gets too close to you and me, too close for our comfort, we feel the heat of being exposed as failures.  We don’t want to be caught red handed.  We don’t want to be proven wrong.  We don’t want to be told that we are sinners in thought, word, and deed.  So, we run.  We hide.    We cover ourselves and our shame with fig leaves.  If we are cornered by the Lord and our sin is brought out of the shadows and there is nowhere to turn, that only leaves the option of pushing back.  More often than not, we push back towards the messengers of the Lord, those who are merely speaking God’s Word to us.

That didn’t sound too loving! 

That was mean!

You can’t judge me!

You are a hater!

Jesus would never say that!

My Jesus is all about love, not all that negativity!

You are of the devil and not of God!

We use these aggressive fighting words when the Word of God challenges us.  These words attempt to push the conviction back. 

This then leads me to ask, when we are convicted of our sin, do we repent or do we accuse God’s Word and His messengers of being divisive? 

Furthermore, how often do we complain that we are not heard when it is we who refuse to listen to God's Word?  “How often do we accuse others of arrogance when it is we who want our way rather than what God's Word clearly teaches?  If we are honest, we will confess that we have often been like the scribes in today's Gospel.  When God's Word convicts us, we attack God's Word instead of repenting of our sins.”[2]

All of our efforts to run from the Lord and to fight the Lord—to duck and punch—are really our attempts to avoid His authority and avoid being judged.  If we aren’t running from the Lord and if we aren’t fighting the Lord and if we are not blaming others for our sins, we are most likely holding up our own supposed righteousness as a defense, a shield against the Lord’s anger and wrath.  “And the thing is, this is probably the greatest temptation of the children of God.  Having been given God's grace in preaching and the Sacraments, having been made right by God's work and by His grace, we continually want to hold up ourselves as enlightened people, people who know what is best for us.”[3]

All this points to our sinful nature, that our sinful nature doesn’t love the Lord, but loves itself. 

Since we are such sinners, with our running and fighting, how on earth can we possibly be saved?

Oh dear friends, listen now.  The Lord is not content to let us run and fight.   He is not content to let you hide in your sin, leaving you to fend for yourself.  No, He condemned the serpent in Genesis chapter three, He held Adam and Eve responsible, He exposed the logical fallacies of the scribes, and He holds you and me accountable as well. 

You, who have ears, hear.  After the fall into sin, the Lord did not abandon His creation and He is not content to allow you and me to hide behind our fig leaves and rationalize His judgment away. 

Rather than running from your sin and rather than doing what would’ve been rational, to leave you in the dark condemnation of your sin, the Lord did something completely contrary.  He came towards Adam and Eve.  He confronted them and clothed their nakedness. He also gave them the promise of a Savior who would make all things right—Jesus Christ bleeding and dying and rising for mankind.   Ever since then, God the Holy Spirit through the Word has invaded the world of sinners breaking through rebellious hearts, weakening clinched fists, chasing down the ragamuffin, and continually exposing that which is sin in order proclaim,

“Truly you are forgiven of your sins.  It is finished.  Do not be afraid.  Be of good cheer it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.  There is no condemnation for you are in Christ.  Let us celebrate for you were dead, but are now alive.”   

Blessed Saints, when Jesus suffered and died on the cross, He not only bound and plundered Satan’s stronghold, but also forgave you of your running and forgave you of your fighting as well.  You are redeemed. You could not out run the Lord.  You could not mount a defense strong enough to keep His forgiveness at bay.  You have been called out of hiding and will commune with Him.  Your blaming, your fighting, and your antagonism are completely forgiven.  Here at the altar He makes all things right again.
Christ is the victor and He shares this victory with you.  Shame is taken away, as you are covered with the very righteousness of the One who bore evil on your behalf. 

No hiding; no fighting. 

Forgiven; redeemed: loved; declared righteous for His name sake.

The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

[1] Rev. Alan Taylor, “God Brings us Out of Hiding,” LCMS Sermons, (Accessed June 6, 2015).

[2] James T. Batchelor, “Second Sunday after Pentecost” LCMS Sermons, (Accessed June 6, 2015).

[3] Ibid.

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