Online Worship for Ash Wednesday, February 22, 2023
Sermon for Ash Wednesday – February 22, 2023
Calvary/Marquette ● Soli Deo Gloria
Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus, the Christ. Amen.
Romans 5:12, 18 (NKJV)
12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned...18 Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.
In the Name of Jesus, the Christ,
The Redeemer of Sinners, including us,
Dear Fellow Redeemed in His Precious Blood –
“He gets us.”
Unless you don’t watch television at all (which, honestly, isn’t the worst idea), you may know that “He gets us” is the ad slogan of a series of commercials launched in late 2022 and financed largely by the family that owns Hobby Lobby. If you go to YouTube, you can watch the actual commercials. If you do so, you will find that the ads present Jesus as a person who is compassionate and relevant because He experienced many of the same things we do today.
There is an element of truth in the commercials, but there are also some things that aren’t entirely accurate.
It is certainly true that “He gets us.” Jesus understands the things that we go through because He was fully human. He experienced things we experience like hunger and thirst, hatred and betrayal. It’s because “He gets us” that He can help us in our individual troubles. This is why the writer to the Hebrews says (Hebrews 4:15-16, ESV):
15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
There is no doubt that Jesus does understand us...but do we understand Him? Do we really understand who Jesus is and what He has done? Do we really grasp the truth about His person and the purpose of His Coming so that we can recognize and dismiss what is falsely asserted about Him?
Well, that is a more complicated question, isn’t it?
Ever since the 1st Century people have been talking about Jesus. There have been many things said and asserted about Him, some true and some false.
Likewise, every time we gather for worship...together we say something about Jesus. We confess our faith in Him. We declare who He is and what He has done and what He accomplished by it.
So, is it all true and accurate...or is it only partly true like the ‘He gets us’ commercials? Was the man Martin Luther correct when He said this about Jesus when explaining the 2nd Article of the Apostles’ Creed:
“He has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and His innocent sufferings and death; that I should be His very own, live under Him in His kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness.”
Is this most certainly true?
This Lenten Season we will witness the death of Jesus and we will find that He did it for all of us, for the entire mass of humanity. We will also find that what the man Martin Luther wrote is most certainly in agreement with what stands written. May God the Holy Spirit guide and strengthen us through these mediations. Amen.
We must seem twisted to those outside of Historic Biblical Christianity. This evening we begin the penitential season of Lent during which we review the suffering and death of our Savior Jesus in preparation for the celebration of His Resurrection.
How barbaric must Christians be that they set aside 40 days to recount blow by blow the suffering and death of their master...year after year? Do we Christians like re-opening old wounds?
o, if you were asked why...how would you answer? Why do we take time to look upon Jesus’ suffering and death?
Well, because it means something. Jesus died to redeem us from sin. Jesus’ death changed our final destination from a destiny of doom in hell to joy in eternal life.
After all, the suffering and death of Jesus didn’t happen because Jesus couldn’t stop it. The Son of God was born into the human race because of our need, our destiny...our doom.
The world around us doesn’t understand. Which is why we have work to do, helping people to see and understand.
For the most part people look at this world and say,
“Is everything really so bad? Is this world broken?” Things seem pretty good in my life. I have what I need.
“Why should I worry about hell or judgment?”
Well, that’s what people say when life is good and everything goes as planned. It’s another matter when a gunman opens fire on the campus of Michigan State killing three students and leaving five others critically injured before taking his own life. When tragedy strikes, people ask other questions:
“Why did this happen?” “If we are all good people as humanism asserts, then why do evil things happen?” “If God really created this world without flaw, then why is everything so messed up?”
The Apostle Paul answers the question behind it all. Why do things go so bad? If God really created the world perfect, why is everything so messed up?
12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world,
and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men,
because all sinned...
Many in our age scoff at the account of the fall into sin. “So, everything went wrong because two people ate an apple they weren’t supposed to...and this happened because a snake told them everything would be OK?” Sure thing.
The 3rd Chapter of Genesis isn’t a fairy tale. God created Adam unlike any other created thing and then made Eve from him. He placed them in Eden and provided all their needs. They had everything except something to fear. God gave them opportunity to show their thanksgiving for all that they were and had by NOT eating from the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil. They were perfect beings, created without sin. They were like God, righteous and holy. They could have lived forever in this sinless state by simply OBEYING God.
They disobeyed God...and through one man sin entered the world and death through sin.
“Wait a second pastor. Shouldn’t Paul have said that through one woman sin entered the world?”
NO... God’s Word doesn’t need any editing. Eve wasn’t alone when tempted by Satan. It may be that Eve took the first bite, but Adam was present with her all along (Genesis 3:6). Adam was created as the head of the household and yet he did and said nothing. It was as much the sin of Adam as of Eve.
It was human disobedience that opened the door for sin to enter this world and sin held the door open for death. There had been nothing wrong in this world and no death. Sin and death not only entered this world through the disobedience of man but infected man and all of his generations.
Sin is found in every human being...and death will claim every human being. Sin doesn’t just lurk in the shadows in big cities either...it hides in the very nature of every human being. When someone enters a high school or university or McDonalds and starts shooting...that rottenness rises from within as Jesus said (Matthew 15:18, Mark 7:21):
21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,
We have seen it in our own hearts and lives. We find bitterness and discontent in our own hearts. We find anger and resentment, jealousy, lust and covetousness. The rottenness within us doesn’t stay there either. It creeps out into our speech and is revealed in our actions. Our actions show what’s in our hearts.
This isn’t a problem of the distant past...it’s a problem today...here in Marquette and here in our hearts. We might be tempted to minimize the problem since it is common to all of us. We say things like, “I’m only human.”
That’s like saying: “I’m only a robber or I’m only a murderer.” Sin doesn’t just put us into one category or another it has lasting consequences. The robber goes to jail. The murderer goes to prison or to death row. There are consequences to sin and I’m not talking about the heartbreak and sorrow that we see all around us.
God’s Law demands that sin be punished. The consequence of even a single sin is eternal separation from God in Hell. There are no ‘slap on the wrist’ consequences for sin. Sin places us in the crosshairs of Gods’ Judgment. Sin owns us and it isn’t interested in giving us up either.
The consequence of sin is a guilty verdict and the sentence of eternal punishment. This isn’t only the verdict and punishment that Adam and Eve deserved...but is also passed on to every one of us.
As it is written:
18 Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation...
Squirm as we might, there is no evading the blame. We don’t need to look for a list of those to whom the condemnation of God’s Law applies because it says ‘all men’ meaning every man, woman and child. The punishment demanded by the crime is doom, eternal death.
If the message of Lent were only this – the message of sin and death – then it would be truly insane to review it year after year. But mercifully, there is more and its great news. We have been redeemed from sin and death by the righteous act of one man, our condemnation and punishment served by Him.
Let’s take it all together:
18 Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.
We are by birth sinful human beings. We prove by our thoughts, words and actions that we are guilty and deserve a guilty verdict and the corresponding punishment of death eternal. There was no escape and no hope... until one man’s righteous act...that one man being Jesus the Christ.
We were like convicted criminals in prison, bound to sin and reserved for death and eternal punishment in hell. Jesus came to redeem us, to do what was necessary to purchase our release from what Satan set in motion in Eden, from sin and from death. He didn’t come to help us make things right; but to save us by doing all that was necessary.
God’s Law demands that we be holy as Adam and Eve were at creation. They lost that righteousness and true holiness when they disobeyed God. We are descended of them and have never been righteous or holy. We have neither the desire or the ability to live a sinless life. We are bound to sin, hardwired to do so.
God sent Jesus into the human race to be our substitute, to keep His Law perfectly (Galatians 4:4-5). He was perfect and sinlessly obedient in every way and His shining perfect record is credited to our accounts by faith.
God’s Law demands that the guilty be punished. There is no doubt that we are guilty. Jesus took our sin – the wrongs that we have done and the weight of our guilt and of every man, woman and child upon Himself. He suffered the punishment our sins earned. The condemnation of our sin was transferred to Him.
God declares that ‘the soul that sins shall die (Ezekiel 18:4).’ Jesus not only took our sin and guilt, but suffered death in our place. He not only removed sin’s claim on us, but also death’s claim. He crushed Satan and His claim on us and destroyed his power (Hebrews 2:14-15).
The result is that when God now looks upon us He sees people...whose lives are covered by Jesus’ sinless life; whose sin is cleansed in Jesus’ blood; who have been freed from slavery to Satan to serve God.
Those people...God’s people...are you...and all who trust in His Son.
For Jesus has redeemed you...formerly lost and condemned people.
The holy, meek, unspotted Lamb, who from the Father’s bosom came,
Who died for me, e’en me to atone, Now for my Lord and God I own.
Jesus, be endless praise to Thee, Whose boundless mercy hath for me,
For me, and all Thy hands have made, An everlasting ransom paid.