Lent 5 2005

Judica
March 13, 2005 A+D
St. John 8:42-59

In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

“Judge me, O God” is a pretty bold request. Let’s not forget: “If Thou, O Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord who shall stand?” “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.” “In sin, did my mother conceive me.” “If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” And yet the Psalmist asks for judgment. He is not deceived. He knows he is a sinner. But he looks to the God of Abraham to be His Deliverer, Light, and Truth. He looks to God to lead Him to the Temple where the mercy seat and sacrifices stand between him and damnation. God is the Health of his countenance and his Hope. That is why he is bold. That is why he prays: “Judge me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation.”

He is bold because Our Lord promises: “My judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I am with the Father who sent me.” The judgment of the Christ, who shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead, is true. And that is no cause for terrors of conscience, but rejoicing. For truer than the Psalmist’s sins is the Blood of Christ, which speaks better things than Abel’s blood, better things than that of bulls and goats, which shuts the devils mouth, washes us clean, redeems us out of dead works to serve the living God. Truer than our betrayal is His faithfulness and love. Truest of all things, truest of all Truth, is the mercy that endureth forever. There is forgiveness with Him that He may be feared and the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

Before Abraham was, He is. Before Abraham was born or called from Chaldea, God knew his name. He has never forgotten it. Abraham is the father of God’s people, the father of those who do the works of Abraham, who hold to the Messianic hope that saw him to city built without hands, the father of a great people without number. But that number without number does not include Jesus. Abraham is not his father. He is not the father of God. No man is, for before Abraham was, before Adam was, Jesus is. Now Abraham, long buried in the ground, decomposed back to the dust and ash from which he came, rejoices for he has seen the day when the Virgin was overshadowed and conceived a Son without the aid of a Man, from above. He has seen his Lord. He has seen the day that God placed as the Capstone the Stone the builders had rejected. He has seen his Lord. He has seen the Day when the Son of Man was lifted up from the earth on the cruelest of all scaffolds, on that violent, torturous symbol of shame, hatred, violence  made into the emblem of love and forgiveness. He has seen the Day that the stone was rolled away and the Body of born of Mary was reunited with His soul and raised up from the dead. He has seen his Lord. Abraham saw it, saw Him, and was glad because Abraham believed and it was reckoned unto him as righteousness. Our Lord’s opponents were wrong, dead wrong. Abraham died. But Abraham is not dead. As all those who trust in Christ, so also, Abraham lives.

All that being said, Jerusalem still sought to kill Jesus. His mercy endureth forever but they, and their father the devil, have none. Their hatred consumes them. And we, in our weakest moments, have tasted of the same. Our flesh is no less corrupt than that of Caiaphas or Pilate. We know something as well of Judas’ love of money. The wood on Isaac’s back, the fire and the knife in hand without the lamb before us, has terrified us. We were afraid that God would kill us for our sins. Unlike faithful Abraham, we have refused to believe that the Lord will provide and have  sought to provide for ourselves. We have refused to believe that God will give us what is best. We’ve refused to believe that our sins were not good, were not pleasant and what we needed. We’ve pampered our sinful flesh and the attendant demons like beloved pets. We’ve indulged ourselves, slipped into the self-delusion of addicts who think they’ll ease themselves off their drugs tomorrow or the next day or that they are in control, or at least, that they’re not as bad as some. Repent! We’ve become masterful liars, skilled at ignoring the facts and leveling accusations at any who would hold us back from our desires. Repent! We’ve flirted with death, played with eternity, dared God to judge us according to our sins. These opponents of Our Lord who lived long ago and sought to shut His mouth by ending His life, still live among, and in, us. We are not the heroes of this story. We are the criminals and the victims and the beneficaries all at the same time.

And that is why “Judge me, O God” is the right prayer. For the God of Abraham has promised to be your Deliverer, Light, and Truth, to lead you out of death to the Temple raised on the third day, to stand between you and damnation. He has suffered your judgment and sentence that you would go free. The Sacrifice is worthy. Justice demands that it be accepted. Thus is Jesus, th Lamb who was slain but lives, the Health of your countenance and your Hope.

Be bold in your prayer. Pray: “Judge me, O God” because His judgment is true. And that truth is not a cause for terror, but rejoicing. Ant that prayer, prayed in faith, is always coupled with “Lord, have mercy.”

Truer than your sins is the Blood of Christ, which speaks better things than Abel’s blood, better things than that of bulls and goats, which shuts the devils mouth, washes you clean, redeems you out of dead works to serve the living God. Truer than your betrayal and your lies is His faithfulness and love. Truest of all things, truest of all Truth, is the mercy that endureth forever. There is forgiveness with Him for in the Mount of the Lord outside Jerusalem the Lord has provided and what Abraham glimpsed in Moriah has been seen. The knife is stayed. Your bonds are loosed. The fire is extinguished. Abraham, nor any man, nor any demon or power of Hell, nor any angel, nor anything in all creation, shall hurt you or snatch you away from the Father. You believe in God, in the Father, and in the Son, and in the Holy Spirit, and you belong to Him. That is the judgment and the Truth.

In +Jesus’ Name. Amen.

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