Grace, mercy, and peace be unto you from God our Father and
from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.
Well you know that’s why she was rowdy. You know exactly
that’s why. Her father was not around when he ought to have been to be a
positive influence on her life and she became as wild as a March hare. You know
that’s why. You know that’s why he left her, don’t you? Always nitpicking,
always grumbling, never satisfied with anything she did. Wonder whose fault
Those kids…those kids, the reason they’re so crazy and wild
is that their parents never held them accountable for their actions. That’s why
they went out and caroused as they did and ended up like they did. Well you
know that’s why. Our kids, well, you know why they turned out so well. It’s
because they went to day school.
It’s sad how true those conversations are because we’ve
participated in them with full awareness of where they were going, trying to
figure out what God’s plan and hand was in all the things that happened in
their life or in our life. And we do that so that if we can figure out how God
works, we can avoid tragedies. Because are they not from lack of right behavior
or lack of fidelity to God or something along that line? And if we then can
live in another form or fashion, we should be able to always embrace goodness
and mercy and joy and blessings.
Brothers and sisters, that’s a damnable thought because it
seeks to find out about God where God has not chosen to reveal Himself. All of
us were offended when Jeremiah Wright proclaimed the reason that the plane went
into the towers on 9/11 was because of something that this nation had done, or
Pat Robertson for proclaiming the reason the earthquake occurred in Haiti was
because they made a pact with the devil 200 years ago.
So what about Chile? What about that grandmother in South Austin
who was beaten to death outside of the Taco Bell? What are the reasons there?
Why are we not that woman? Why are we not the one in Chile or Haiti or in the
towers? Just like we began, a bunch of tongue wagging and lip flapping, trying
to determine why and where God acts as He wills, and we haven’t the foggiest
because we’re not God.
In our gospel reading, the opening line sets the stage for
the potential of a tongue wagging time or coffee klatch. There were some
present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate
had mingled with their sacrifices, and you know those Galileans; they’re from
the north. And the northern kingdom was always a little bit more rebellious
than we Judeans. Jesus knew exactly where their mind and hearts were going.
If I can point to something in their life that plagued them,
then it must be due to the fact of some behavior in their life. And the lack of
such tragedy in my life must be due in part to the very ability of my
perception to always do the correct thing, avoiding such tragedy. That’s why
Jesus said, “Do you think they were worse sinners than anybody else in
Galilee? That’s why it happened? Because they were worse?”
Is that why you’re divorced? Because you’re a worse sinner
than others? Is that why your marriage is still intact because you’re a better
person than they? Is that why your kids turned out so well? Because you
parented them so well? Is that why your kids didn’t turn out so well?
Because…well, you can blame it on that person or that teacher or that other
person. Why did it? That’s when we get ourselves into deep, deep trouble…trying
to figure out God instead of repenting.
Repentance is what God desires of our hearts, not trying to
plumb the depths of unrevealed will of God where He has said, “Off limits.
Here is where I have revealed Myself. Here’s where you’re going to find My will
toward you. And my will is that none of you should perish, but that all of you
may have eternal life who believe in Me. That is My revealed will.”
So in the midst of going to complete destruction, as the
people’s lives occurred in 9/11 or in Haiti or in Chile, or even the family
members of that grandmother down in South Austin, they can still say, “God
is a loving God, not because of what I am perceiving or seeing in that person’s
life or in other people’s lives, but because of where God has revealed Himself here.”
Paul makes it very clear in his epistle reading. “Now these things…”
He’s referring to all that happened in the exile from Egypt finally to the
Promised Land, “These things all took place as examples for us that we
might not desire evil as they did.”
That means someone else suffered for you. Someone else had a
whole bunch of trouble and trial go on in their lives, and it’s recorded in the
Scriptures so that you and I would repent. What does Satan want us to do? What
does the world want us to do, but look at that and judge them as if they are
less than. And that smacks of self-righteousness and a complete lack of a need
for His sacrificial death for us and our sins.
Paul says it again, “These things happened to them as
an example, but they were written down for our instruction on whom the end of
ages has come.” All these trials and tribulations and mistakes and sins
that were punished and seen as so interpreted only by God through those
writers, and there is a whole bunch of other things that happened that we have
no idea as to why. These things we do. We don’t know why the things have
occurred in your life or in my life…absolutely not. But these things have
occurred that you and I might repent.
What Satan loves to do is to get us to focus away from our
need to repent and to look at everybody else as being why this situation has
befallen me or my family. But not about my need to repent, oh no, Satan wants
us away from that arena, for that means that I’m a sinner, and I’ve got reason
to repent. Well as long as tragedy doesn’t catch up with me, do I have a reason
It’s interesting, we don’t argue with God with His
benevolence to our lives, “Oh Lord, please, don’t bless me so much. Give
it to someone else who deserves it far more than I, Lord.” That’s not what
comes out of our lips.
We also aren’t willing to say, on the flipside of it, “Oh Lord, please
give me more hardship and trial because others don’t deserve it like I
do.” It is the same. It’s why Jesus told it to the Galileans, but He also
told it to the Judeans. For those 18 on whom the Tower of Siloam fell and
killed them, do you think they were worse offenders than all the others who
lived in Jerusalem, the southern kingdom of Israel or of the whole nation of
God there? It’s not just the northern kingdom or the southern kingdom, it’s not
just the haves or the have nots, it’s not just the enlightened and the
unenlightened, the educated and the uneducated, the disciplined or the
undisciplined, it is the fact that God allows things to happen in this world
and to you, for us that we would repent.
Now the difficulty is of this, we want to try to figure it
out because we want to take the blame that we deserve for the decisions we’ve
made, absolutely. But what about the ones we can’t figure out that we should
also blame ourselves for? Because our inability to completely understand
everything about any situation is hampered because we’re sinners, and we don’t
have the ability of our mind to grasp everything because we’re not God. All we
can do is repent, cry out for that mercy, and receive such mercy.
Paul finishes his statement in this, “Therefore, let
anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” Take heed, lest
he fall. The ungodly examples that I began this sermon with and the many
ones you can create in your own mind are not about taking heed least we fall,
they’re all about…I’m not cut from the same bolt of cloth as they.
That takes us away from Him, and what He has revealed about us, and what He has
revealed to us in our reception back to Him.
There are many Christians who died in the tower, in Chile,
in Haiti. There are many Christians whom you are a part who can give a litany
of sufferings that God has plunged you in. You and I can only say one thing
that we know for sure that God has revealed…He’s still a loving God because He
has still called me back to His mercy and forgiveness, not because I can figure
it out, not because I can show in my life all the reasons, but because I can’t.
And I can only cry, “Mercy, Lord!”
That’s why he ends it with a parable. A man had a fig tree
planted in his vineyard. You and I are that fig tree. This is his vineyard.
They came seeking fruit and found none. Told the vinedresser, “For three
years now I’ve come seeking food on the fig tree. I find none. Cut it
down.” The loving Son who has died for you whose punishment was given to
Him and Him alone that we might repent says, “No, no, no. Let it alone.
I’ll dig around it. I’ll put manure around it. I’ll give it Myself, then it
will bear fruit.”
If you’re concerned, if you’re questioning, God has dug
around your ball of roots and He has laid out the blood of His very precious
body upon that as fertilizer. It does bear fruit. And it is Satan who does not
wish us to see and pull us away from where we continually receive such
fertilization. He wants us (Satan that is) in this world to find it here. It
will only lead to Judas’ demise if we continue to look there.
Look to where He has revealed Himself, and only where He has
revealed Himself as a loving and gracious God, and that’s in those Scriptures,
that’s in that water that has marked you all as His children, and it’s in that
blood and that body with the bread and wine that you will eat and drink. There
He has said, “I am a loving and gracious God.” In spite of what you
have experienced and in spite of what you have seen and what doesn’t make sense
in your life or anyone else’s, He’s a loving God because here He has said so. That’s
why Paul has said, “If anyone thinks that he stands, take heed lest he
fall.” Repent and believe the kingdom of heaven is here among you, in
Jesus’ name, Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your
hearts and your minds on Christ Jesus to life everlasting, Amen.