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Sunday, March 13, 2016
Fifth Sunday in Lent, commonly called Passion Sunday
Sermon - Rev Jack Arnold
Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California
Today’s sermon brought the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and is partly contained in the forewords above.
Consider these words from the Collect:
… thy people; … by thy great goodness … may be governed and preserved evermore, both in body and soul …
In the Collect, we ask God to help us to look to Him for leadership and direction that we might be saved, both our physical bodies and souls. For, if we do not look to God for our guidance and direction we are surely lost like a man in the wilderness without a compass. When we ask that we might be governed and thus preserved by His great goodness, we are in effect asking for His Guidance for us to be guided. Guided, that means we need to ask, then listen to what He Tells us, then actually follow that guidance. Recall to mind this quote from GK Chesterton:
· “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.”
It does absolutely no good for us to ask God for guidance, then when He gives it to us for us to ignore or pretend we did not hear. After all, there are none so deaf as those who will not hear, a concept discussed more fully in Matthew 13.13. Thus, we need to ask for He Help, His Guidance, then actually do our very best to follow Him.
If we look to Him for guidance, we then look to Him for safety. Safety means only the safety of our soul, our eternal life. Things may get tense here, for as Aslan is not a tame lion, God is not a tame god. He is the one true and triune God. Not tame, but the savior of mankind. Think about this; pretty clearly the Mosaic Law with its 613 rules did not really work to save mankind. The constant sacrifice of animals could not make us accounted for as perfect in God’s eye. After all, an animal would never work to cleanse our sins, account us as perfect and let us enter into heaven, as Christ’s sacrifice by the terrible death on the Cross did for us. An animal is a poor substitute for a divine being that is our conduit from heaven to earth, and visa versa. Yet this was only an intermediate step towards Christ as we will hear about more in a minute.. The law to paraphrase the words of St. Paul was our teacher to make us ready for the coming of Christ. Without having had the law as our base, we would not have been ready for Christ. It was a needed step to prepare the world for Jesus. We were always destined to fail. We cannot make the grade on our own. We need the One Sacrifice, One Time, for all mankind, for all time.
Our only means of being accounted as perfect when we come before God is to rely on the sacrifice and intermediary priesthood of His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ to account us as perfect before God on that final day. Your AOC ministers, while officially titled as priests are not intermediary priests, there is one high priest, Jesus Christ the Righteous who is also the propitiation for our sins! He is our Savior, our Leader, our Teacher, our Master, our Example!
Christ came to succeed the Old Covenant which was marked by sacrifices of innocent animals, that really did not do the job, with the New Covenant which is marked by His death on the cross for our sins, and this has done the job which was intended. Before the world began God knew of both the New and the Old Covenants. The Old Covenant had to be put in place before the New Covenant or Jesus could come to Earth. The people had to be prepared for Him.
At the same time, as imperfect creatures with free will if we do our very best to follow His Word, we will not be perfect. On the other hand, we will be better than we will if we do not. Thus, without the sacrifice of His Son, we will not make the cut. It is a better solution than sacrificing the animals like the Hebrews. Without Him, we will end up in the pit. We need that one sacrifice, one time, for all mankind, for all time. If we did not need that sacrifice, then we wouldn’t be seeing all the troubles in the world today. Today’s world makes clear the need for the sacrifice He made for us; one time for all time. Unlike the sacrifices of the Old Testament, which required multiple sacrifices a year, this sacrifice was made one time, one year, for all time. It is a far superior arrangement, but it came at a heavier cost than the Old Covenant, the cost of His death. It is a cost that we should always remember and be thankful that He was willing to die for our sins.
In the Gospel, Jesus reminds us that if we believe in Him and keep His Word (keeping His Word meaning acting upon it), then we shall make our seamless journey from the Shadowlands to His Home. Few of the Pharisees could conceive, or peradventure would not conceive, that God would send His Son to this world for us. They did not even believe He had a son, they were looking for the Messiah figure they thought couldn’t be Him. The Messiah was in fact Jesus, the Christ of God. They expected an earthly savior, one who would drive the Romans out and put the Jews in charge of that corner of the world. They did not expect a divine savior and could not conceive that this savior would come from God, as His Own Son, to offer himself up as a sacrifice in our stead.
Their problem was that Jesus came to save our souls and give us eternal life, eternal life starting right then. Not just for the Jews and Israel, but the whole wide world, Jew, Gentile, Greek and all others. Jesus brought salvation and life to the entire world. That was not what the Pharisees were looking so hard for with their magnifying glasses as they examined Torah and The Law. Pharisees were not big picture people, and as Calvin told Hobbes, “We big picture people rarely become historians.” It would seem that also applied to the Pharisees though they were not “big picture people”, they misinterpreted the prophecies of the Messiah. Regardless, even though some people chose to misunderstand the prophecies, He came and He made that one sacrifice, at one time, for all mankind, for all time. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Who is Jesus? Our Savior? Indeed. But, more He has been since before the beginning of the world, for He is one with I Am.
Through His Actions, we are saved.
Do ye likewise:
It is by our actions we are known.
Be of God - Live of God - Act of God