Wednesday of Lent 3
14 March 2012
St. John’s, Chicago, IL
In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
For anyone over forty, the memory is burned into your mind. Every year, one Sunday evening in the spring -- often Palm Sunday -- one of the television networks aired Cecil B. DeMil's The Ten Commandments. When the climactic moment came, Moses stood on the mountainside, and the deep, resonating voice of God thundered each commandment. When each was spoken, a whirlwind of fire crashed into the stone, carving out the letters that wrote the commandment.
No matter how it actually sounded or looked, the Lord God gave His commandments to Moses to give to the Old Testament Church. The Law of God is clear, and in these "Ten Words" perfect love toward God and neighbor is demanded. He speaks, and expects that you will follow through, keeping His commands 100 percent.
And how well did that go? As soon as Moses came down the mountain, he discovered a drunken orgy of false worship of a false god, already in progress. Wow! First, second, third, sixth, and tenth commandments all together. And that is just glancing around. You would find all the others broken, as well. In fact, not only would you find that, but you would be giving in to temptation and joining in all the wickedness.
The Pharisees and scribes and local rabbis had noticed this over the years, so they thought they would help. In addition to the Ten Commandments and the expounded Law in the Books of Moses, they came up with additional commentary and piled on traditions that were intended to be helpful in keeping it. Law upon law. It ended up not making it easier, but far worse. And then there is the breaking of the "first table of the law" in not thinking the Word of God was sufficient.
When you stop and the about it, basically you are breaking God's commands almost nonstop. That means that you are having other gods before the Lord. That means you are on the path to hell.
But the Lord God does not want you in hell. He wants to raise your body and perfect you and glorify you, and welcome you into life everlasting. He desires you to walk in His ways, and knows that this will not happen on your part. Jesus alone can keep those commands and remain perfect. He is the Word of God who perfectly keeps the Word of God.
And having kept the commandments without failure, Jesus should have had a free pass on death. He could live forever, untainted by sin. Yet He was arrested and tried. He was convicted of the crimes of blasphemy and treason that He did not commit.
However, when you step back and look at what happened, you see that at His Baptism, Jesus assumed the guilt of every man, woman, and child on Himself. He who knew no sin, became sin for us, ...so that we might have the righteousness of God! The breaking of every commandment in every lifetime was upon Jesus, and there He was: Christ became the worst offender, the most heinous sinner ever, nailed to the cross.
Now that Jesus Christ has taken your sin and guilt and paid the price for the broken Law, you are freed. You no longer live under the weight of His Law. You are released and given the sweet reward of life and salvation that come through Christ alone.
Your Father in heaven knows you as His child, and has gotten rid of the rebellious, law-breaking Old Adam, and from those baptismal waters raised up the Gospel-filled, forgiven new creature. The Good News of Jesus' death and resurrection for you gives His righteousness to you as a great gift -- a gift that no one can steal from you.
The commandments have been nailed to the cross, along with Christ who is guilty of them all, for you. Now that He is risen, they no longer have a death grip on you, but become a description of the life that He presents to you as a gift.
Enjoy the gift, dear friends in Christ. You are blessed with this gift of commandments kept, that your dear Father in heaven will gladly welcome you someday with the words, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Enter into the pleasure of My Father." Amen.