Pentecost 22 Series B Kramer Chapel

Pentecost 22B
Mark 12:28-37

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

The scribe who knows the demands of God’s Law, love God and neighbor perfectly, and who knows the distinction between that and the ceremonial Law, that is whole burnt offerings and sacrifices, is not far from the Kingdom of God. He has rightly discerned what the Law wants, not an outward keeping of Mosaic ceremony and ritual, but selfless love. Still the scribe is not quite in the Kingdom of God. He has a right understanding of the Law. He has wisdom. But the best the Law can do is show us there is a Kingdom and we are not in it.

The wisdom of the Law serves to strip away our excuses, to expose our delusions, to reveal our desperate situation. We are so weak with sin that even when we know what the Law demands we still do not know how to perform it. Love your neighbor as yourself. Does this mean we should bring winos into our beds? Should we empty our wallets and bank accounts for every beggar we see? Should we pay the tuition and medical bills for children in foreign cities instead of going on vacation or having cable television or ordering a pizza? We would do that for our children. If we love all humanity as ourselves why don’t we do for all humanity what we do for ourselves?

Repent. The Law is an impossible demand for fallen men. It always accuses. It always shows us how far we are from the Kingdom, how confused and selfish we are, how unlike God we are. By itself, an honest discernment of the Law’s demands can only lead to despair. For what is man, if not unworthy? What are we, if not depraved, inwardly-turned, proud, lustful, and greedy? No matter how clearly we see what the Law expects, we are too weak to fulfill it in ourselves.

But David’s Lord is David’s Son. The God who is Love, the God of Abraham, has joined Himself to our flesh in Mary’s womb. The Finite holds the Infinite. God’s mercy trumps God’s wrath. God becomes Man by perfect love, Love that would not eat in the desert, but who provided manna from heaven and multiplied loaves and fishes for others; Love that would not defend Himself against false charges but who stopped the mob in the face of the true charges against the woman caught in adultery; Love that laid down His life outside Jerusalem, but called Lazarus forth from the grave.

David’s Lord is David’s Son. The Law is kept and fulfilled. Jesus loves His neighbor. He became weak as a kitten, as despised as a terrorist, as smitten as the worst burn victim in the worst crime every seen on earth. And what fallen man could not do, He did. He did all the Law demanded. He loved His neighbor as Himself. He kept the Law in every point, from the greatest to the least. Then He humbled Himself even further. He let go of all His glory and His strength. He became sin. He allowed the Law to do to Him all that it should have done to us. David’s Lord, God of God, Light of Light, dead, as dead as death, as dead as Abel, as dead as Adam and Eve and even Isaac should have been. David’s Son and David’s Lord put to death by the Law in order to birth us to new life by His resurrection.

God wills that man love God and neighbor perfectly. The scribe rightly discerned that to violate that was a far greater sin than failure in ceremonies. But as close as he was he still missed the crucial point. For there is more than accusation and demand in whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. They were not merely a demonstration of what God wanted us to do or how we would best live our lives in service to others. The ceremonies of Moses, the entire Temple service, given by God, was a foreshadowing of what God would do to Himself, as an Innocent in our place, to satisfy His own wrath for us. Whole burnt offerings and sacrifices showed how God would make payment for man’s rebellion. Whole burnt offerings and sacrifices showed the Blood Jesus would shed to remove our debts, guilt, and shame. The Lord Jesus Christ is the whole burnt offering and sacrifice on our behalf. This is how He loves His neighbor. And this is greater than the greatest of the commandments. This is the power of God unto salvation: David’s Son is David’s Lord, slain and yet alive. That is what it is to be in the Kingdom of God.

In +Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Pastor David Petersen

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