Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Chapel Sermon for CU Irvine: "Signs and Promises"

+ CUI Chapel – March 20th, 2018 +
John 4:46-54

Image result for Jesus heals the officials son

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

We often hear stories of lost hikers or people trapped in the rubble after an earthquake or tornado who wait to hear the rumbling engine of a rescue vehicle, the welcomed sound of a helicopter, or a voice calling out for survivors – any sign that rescue is near.

When we, or our loved ones are sick, we look to a doctor, surgeon, or nurse to give us a good diagnosis and proper treatment – a sign of healing and restoration of health.

Even stories that take place in fictional cities like Gotham City or Metropolis, people look to the sky for the Bat-signal or the Man of Steel soaring through the clouds – a sign of hope in dark times.

The unnamed royal official in John 4 looked for a sign too. His son was ill. Death was near. He had heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee. He had heard that he changed water into wine at the wedding at Cana. And now he was in Capernaum. So, he did what any father would do. He went to Jesus and asked him to come and heal his son.

Speaking to the Galileans around him, and the man he said: Unless you see signs and wonders you will in no way believe.

Now at first, we might think, “Wow, that escalated quickly. The man comes to you for healing for his son and you rebuke him? That seems a bit harsh, Jesus.”

But when we look at Jesus’ words a bit closer, we see there’s more going on here. As John reminds us at the end of the Gospel, “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples which were not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

When Jesus responds to this royal official, he’s not saying this Galilean will believe only if he sees signs and miracles. Jesus isn’t rebuking this royal official’s lack of faith or weak faith in seeking a miraculous security blanket.

Rather, Jesus’ response is a promise and a call to faith in Him, the giver of the sign. He is the one who performs signs and wonders, just as he did for Israel in the Old Testament. The same Lord who poured out water from the Rock in the wilderness turned water into wine in Cana. The same Lord who fed Israel with manna, bread from heaven fed the crowds declaring himself the very Bread of Life. The same Lord who commanded Moses to lift up a bronze serpent on a pole and save Israel would himself be lifted up on the cross to save all people.

So, Jesus promises, and he calls this man, the Galileans, and us to believe in him. Jesus’ words and signs reveal who he is and what he has come to do. Jesus’ words and signs open our eyes to see where his signs and words lead us, to his death and resurrection, the greatest sign of all. Jesus’ words and signs bring us from death to life, just as they did the for the official’s son.

Sir, come down before my child dies.

Jesus said to him, “Go; your son lives.”

By Jesus’ word, this man’s son was healed. By Jesus’ word, his son passed from death to life. By Jesus’ word, this official believed Jesus and the sign he gave.

Three times in this story it is declared, “Your son, your child lives”. As Jesus will declare a few verses later in John 5, “As the Father raises the dead and makes them alive, so also the Son makes alive those whom he wills…whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life…he has passed out from death into life.”

That’s the sign: healing. Restoration. Resurrection. From death to life. It is a familiar sign. One which Jesus himself performs. Just as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so too will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for 3 days and 3 nights. From death to life. Jesus lives.

And in him, you are healed. You pass from death to life. You live. Jesus has signs for you too. Simple, ordinary tap water combined with the living water of God’s Word, baptizing you in the Name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, washing your sin away, bringing you from death to life. Ordinary words spoken by a fellow sinner that are filled with Jesus’ authority to forgive sin. A rather plain, ordinary looking piece of bread and wine become Jesus’ body and blood given and shed for you.

Like that royal official, Jesus gives his word and sign to give you faith. Like his son, you are brought from death to life. And you live.

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

Thursday, March 15, 2018

4th Midweek Lenten Sermon: Israel and Jesus

+ 4th Lenten Midweek Service – March 14th, 2018 +
Numbers 21:4-9
Redeemer Lutheran, HB

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

We often hear stories of lost hikers or people trapped in the rubble after an earthquake or tornado who wait to hear the rumbling engine of a rescue vehicle, the welcomed sound of a helicopter, or a voice calling out for survivors – any sign that rescue is near.

When we, or our loved ones are sick, we look to a doctor, surgeon, or nurse to give us a good diagnosis and proper treatment – a sign of healing and restoration of health.

Even stories that take place in fictional cities like Gotham City or Metropolis, people look to the sky for the Bat-signal or the Man of Steel soaring through the clouds – a sign of hope in dark times.

As we heard in Numbers 21, Israel needed sign as well. Only they weren’t plagued by a natural disaster, they weren’t sick with a bodily disease, and they weren’t surrounded by villains or enemies. The worst enemy Israel faced in the wilderness was Israel.

 “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.” 

YHWH gave them the Passover sacrifice. YHWH led them through the Red Sea on dry ground. YHWH destroyed Pharaoh and his hosts. YHWH fed Israel bread from heaven. YHWH opened the rock to quench their thirst. YHWH gave sign after sign of his love to his people. Still, Israel grumbled and spoke against God and Moses. They forgot YHWH and his promises. They despised YHWH’s gifts. They despised YHWH himself.

So the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died.
God’s sign of warning did the job. The Law did its work. The people of Israel came to Moses and confessed: We have sinned against YHWH and against you. Pray to YHWH, that he might take away the serpents from us.
Israel finally spoke the truth. They confessed. They had sinned. So have we. God sends the fiery serpent of his Law to us as well: If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. Israel asked Moses to intercede for them, to be their mediator. They prayed for a sign of rescue, hope, and healing. Like Israel, we cry out, Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.
And here is what’s always surprising and astonishing in this story. YHWH doesn’t smite Israel from the sky with lightning. Nor does he consume Israel to an ash heap in his holiness. Yes, he sends a judgment and a warning in the form of the fiery serpents but even then, he provides a sign, a signal of hope, healing, and rescue.
Moses prayed for the people.  And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.”
God provided a sacrament - a bronze serpent on a wooden pole. A visible sign with God’s promise: “Anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” How can bronze do such great things? Certainly not the bronze, but the Word of God in and with the bronze serpent which did these things. It had the promise of God’s Word attached to it – whoever looked on it would live.
Still, it’s a rather strange sign, don’t you think? Why a serpent? Most of us have some level of ophidiophobia, or fear of snakes. Usually serpents are gross, slippery and slimy; bad news. Just like Slytherin in Harry Potter or Smaug the Dragon in The Hobbit.

That the Lord chose a bronze serpent was no accident. The Lord used the disease to cure the disease. The Lord used the bronze serpent to defeat the fiery serpents. It’s similar to how an antidote or an anti-venom is made; antibodies are collected from one who survives the poison.

And in our case, the poison is strong and deadly. Israel was snakebitten, and so are we. Humanity has been since Adam and Eve listened to the snake instead of God back in Genesis 3. We are born snakebitten. Dead with the venom of the Law coursing through us. “The sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the Law.” That’s our condition from the greatest to the least of us. But God has provided the cure, a cure that looks strangely like the disease. His Son on the cross, dying a cursed death. He looks condemned by God, stricken, smitten, and afflicted, and He is, in our place, for us all and for our salvation.

This is how God loves this snakebitten world. He doesn’t simply love it abstractly and in general. “Oh, nice world, I love you.” He loves in the world in His Son, Jesus Christ, true God of the Father, true Man of His mother, born of woman, born under the Law, to take on the sting of death and become for the world the anti-venom for snakebitten humanity.
On the cross YHWH displays his sign, his signal of hope, healing, rescue, and salvation for Israel and for you. The prophet Isaiah foretold this sign centuries earlier:
In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious….He will raise a signal for the nations and will assemble the banished of Israel, and gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. (Isaiah 11:10-12)
On Good Friday, the Lord puts his signal high on a mountain top for all the world to see. Look on Jesus crucified and believe. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up,  that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

he Father didn’t send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to be condemned for the world. His condemnation is our acquittal; His death is our life. He came to be judged – one Man for all men, for all of humanity. He came to be lifted up and to draw all to Himself into His death. As in the one man Adam, all sinned, all die, all are condemned, so in the one Man, the second Adam, Jesus the Christ, all are forgiven, all are justified, and all live. As Moses lifted up the bronze serpent in the wilderness, so the Father has lifted up the Son on the cross that whoever looks on Him with the eyes of faith, trusting in that bleeding, broken, dying Son of Man, has eternal life.

Jesus’ crucified is your antidote. No wonder the early the church fathers called the Lord’s Supper “the medicine of immortality.” Here is the cure for death and the curse of sin. Here is strong medicine that heals, saves, and forgives. Jesus’ body given into death; Jesus’ blood given for your life. The Lord who provided Israel with a sign and a sacrament in the wilderness provides you his sign and sacrament still: his very body and blood, living bread from heaven. Living water that flows from his side to the font for your cleansing. His Word and promise of life.

Here is your sign. Here is your hope, healing, and rescue – in the cross of Jesus who was lifted up for you. Here is your antidote in Jesus’ word, water, body and blood. Look here, eat, drink, and live.

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

3rd Midweek Lenten Sermon: Moses and Jesus

+ 3rd Midweek Lenten Service – March 7th, 2018 +
Exodus 20:1-17
Redeemer Lutheran, HB

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

Every day, everywhere we go, in everything we do there are rules, instructions, laws to give order to life, provide safety and protection, and for well-being. As the old song goes, you can’t outrun the long arm of the law. Local, state, and federal governments give us laws; through just and good laws God does damage control on his fallen creation. Parents give their children rules and instruction, through whom God teaches us discipline, provides for our daily bread, cares for our body and life.

Our Lord also gives us his Law directly and most clearly in his Word, just as he did for Moses and Israel on Mt. Sinai. We call them the 10 Commandments.

You shall have no other gods.
You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.
Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
Honor your father and your mother.
You shall not murder.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s manservant, his maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

Through his Law our Lord gives us a curb and a limit to our sinful behavior. He disciplines and instructs us in the way we should go. And our Lord gives us his Law like a skilled physician gives a thorough medical exam. God’s Law shows us our sin. God’s Law shows us our need for a Savior. God’s Law gives us the proper diagnosis. And it’s not good:
The wages of sin is death.

Whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.
God gives us his Law, not to be a big bully or a buzzkill, but because he loves us. Listen to the first words God spoke to Israel when he gave them the 10 Commandments.
I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
Before YHWH declares his Word of Law he declares again who he is and what he has done for Israel. YHWH is their God. He redeemed them by the blood of the Passover lamb. He delivered them from captivity in Egypt. He rescued them at the Red Sea. He is their dear Father and they are his dear children.

And so are you. Like Israel, you are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb of God who has taken away your sin. Like Israel, you have been delivered from captivity to sin and death and are set free in Jesus’ death for you. Like Israel at the Red Sea, your enemies of sin, death, and the devil were drowned, and you are rescued in the Exodus of Holy Baptism.

Like Israel, God gives us his Law because he loves us. Each of the 10 Commandments is his way of providing for us, protecting us, and gives us the Law for our good.

In the 1st commandment, the fountain and source of all the others, God gives us the gift of himself.
In the 2nd commandment, God gives us the gift of his Name, presence, and blessing.
In the 3rd commandment, God gives us his holy word and a holy place to receive his holy gifts in water, word, body and blood.
In the 4th commandment, God gives us the gift of order and authority in the family, society, and church.
In the 5th commandment, God gives us the gift of life.
In the 6th commandment, God gives us the gift of the one flesh union of marriage, the gift of man and woman created in his image.
In the 7th commandment, God gives us the gift of stuff, earthly possessions used to serve in our vocations and delight in God’s creation.
In the 8th commandment, God gives us the gift of a good reputation.
In the 9th and 10th commandments, God gives us the gift of contentment in what he provides for us.

Like Israel, our Lord gives us his Law for our good. Problem is, our old sinful flesh – the Old Adam – does not look at God’s Law as a gift for our own good. We do not rejoice in God’s Law. We don’t like to be told what we can or can’t do. We don’t like to be told we’re wrong or have wronged someone else. Because most of all we don’t like the truth. We sin because we’re sinners. We’re sinners because sin has completely infected our hearts so that we do not fear, love, and trust in God above all things. Like Israel, we grumble and complain that life was better in slavery. Like Israel, we rebel against and disobey God’s Law. Like Israel, we are judged and condemned by the Law, and deserve only punishment.

And like Israel, the Lord has another word for us. A word of promise, peace, and pardon. The Lord doesn’t give us what we deserve. Jesus is judged in our place. Jesus takes the condemnation of our sin upon himself. The punishment we deserved Jesus bore for us. The Law that we cannot keep, Jesus keeps for us. His death on the cross is for you. And so is his keeping of the Law for you.

Jesus perfectly fears, loves, and trusts the Father for you.
Jesus uses, honors, and calls upon God’s name for you.
Jesus kept the Sabbath day and made it holy for you.
Jesus honored his earthly father and mother, as well as the Heavenly Father, for you.
Jesus helped and supported his neighbor in every physical need for you.
Jesus led a sexually pure and decent life in all he said and did for you.
Jesus never stole a thing, yet was crucified between two thieves, for you.
Jesus bore no false witness against his neighbor for you.
Jesus did not covet for you.

His keeping of the Law was for you. His perfect live was lived for you. It counts for you, as if you had kept all the commandments. As Jesus says in the Gospels, he did not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it, to keep it, to cross every T and dot every I for you.
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
For though the wages of sin is death, the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

He was delivered up for our trespasses and was raised for our justification.
In Jesus, Mt. Sinai no longer thunders and threatens. On Mt. Calvary Jesus paid for our debt, took the punishment of the Law upon himself, and hung all the Law around his neck for you. And now, Mt Zion is in view.

And now in Jesus…you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

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

2nd Midweek Lenten Sermon: Abraham and Jesus

+ 2nd Midweek Lenten Service – February 28th, 2018 +
Genesis 17:1-6, 15-16
Redeemer Lutheran, HB

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

When children make a promise to each other, they pinky-swear on it. When we grow up, adults make a promise and shake on it or say something like, “you have my word on it”. And when any politician keeps their campaign promise, it’s a breaking news story.

As we find out along with Abraham in today’s reading, God’s promises are entirely different from ours. God’s Word is unlike our word. What God says, happens. God’s promises are entirely unexpected. Undeserved. Unearned.

When the Lord makes a promise, he keeps it.

Throughout the Scriptures, God makes promises to, for, and with his people through a covenant. We usually think of a covenant as a legal term, like a last will and testament. An agreement between two parties, people, or groups. Throughout the Old and even in the New Testament, YHWH cuts a covenant with his people. That’s what the Hebrew word behind for covenant literally means, to cut. The animal would be cut in half and both participants would walk between the pieces as an oath that if either of them broke the covenant they would suffer the same fate. It may sound a bit gross or graphic, but it’s significant.

This is how the covenant repeated by YHWH to Abraham in Genesis 17 happened when YHWH first made his covenant with Abraham in Genesis 15. YHWH promised Abraham his own son would be the heir of all YHWH’s promises and that through his offspring all nations of the earth would be blessed. 

YHWH declared to Abraham: “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them…“So shall your offspring be.” And Abraham believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.

Like any of us, Abraham looked for assurance from God about his promise. So the Lord had Abraham bring him a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.”  And he brought him all these, cut them in half, and laid each half over against the other.

Then comes the truly remarkable part of YHWH’s covenant with Abraham. Abraham was asleep when the Lord made his covenant with him. And while he was sleeping, YHWH alone walked through the sacrifice that had been cut in the form of a flaming pot of fire and incense. The Lord alone bore responsibility for his covenant.

When it comes to YHWH’s covenants with his people, it is entirely one-sided. The responsibility party for keeping the covenant YHWH makes is YHWH himself. He swears by his own name. What he says, he will do.

When the Lord makes a promise, he keeps it.

The same is true for YHWH’s covenant with Noah and all creation after the flood. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.

Again, the Lord keeps his promise by making a covenant with King David, declaring, “When your days are fulfilled, and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom.  He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.”

Through his prophet Jeremiah, the Lord repeats his covenant of old and promises a new covenant:

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord.  For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people…. And will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

Time and time again, when the Lord makes a promise, he keeps it.

How different from us. Unlike the Lord we hold grudges and dredge up past sins of others, just as much as Satan loves to wave our past sins our face. Unlike the Lord, we shift the blame for our sin onto anything or anyone else. Unlike the Lord, our hearts and minds are a deluge of sin and darkness against our neighbors – we destroy others in thought, word, and deed.

It’s a good thing it’s not up to us to keep YHWH’s covenant, any more than it was up to Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, or Israel. When the Lord makes a promise, he keeps it.
In the Old Testament the Lord provided the sacrifices and circumcision as a sign of his covenant with Abraham and Israel. Now in the New Testament, the Lord provides his only-begotten Son for us.

“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
    for he has visited and redeemed his people
... to show the mercy promised to our fathers
    and to remember his holy covenant.

Jesus is born to make a new and everlasting covenant with us in his death on the cross and by his blood shed for us. Eight days after his birth, Jesus was circumcised, not for his own sake but for ours. Jesus was born under the Law to fulfill the Law for you. Jesus stands as the fulfillment of all YHWH’s covenants in the Old Testament, even as he makes a new covenant, a new testament for you in his body and blood.

And just like his covenant with Abraham, this New Testament is entirely one-sided. The responsible party for keeping this new covenant is YHWH himself. He swears by his own name. What he says, he will do. Take, eat; this is my body.” Take, drink of it, all of you,  for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 

When the Lord makes a promise, he keeps it.

Like YHWH’s covenant with Abraham, Jesus cuts a covenant with you only this time he uses his own flesh, his hands, his side, his feet for you. Once again God walks through the flames and sacrifice to bear our breach of his covenant. The Lord alone bore responsibility for his covenant for you. It is completely and totally free, by grace through faith in Christ – unexpected, undeserved, unearned – just as it was while Abraham slept.

Like YHWH’s covenant with Noah, Jesus makes a covenant with you that he might taste death, destruction, and judgment in your place. Jesus keeps us safe in the holy ark of his Church. Jesus ferries across the abyss of death through water and the Word. For on the cross Jesus drowned in your sin and rose again to save all flesh and raise you up on the Last Day.

Like YHWH’s covenant with David, Jesus delivers a new covenant, a new testament in his body and blood from his throne of the cross. Behold, your King. Crowned in thorns for you. Pierced for you. Robed in humility for you. Crucified for you. His gracious rule and reign over you is eternal, as is his mercy and grace.

Like YHWH’s covenant with Israel through Jeremiah, Jesus declares a new covenant for you, that the Lord who sees all, hears all, and knows all will remember your sin no more. The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love for you. He loves you. He forgives you. In Jesus, your sin is removed as far as the East is from the West.

As Hebrews declares, Jesus is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance… for Jesus has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

When the Lord makes a promise, he keeps it.

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

1st Lenten Midweek Sermon: Isaac and Jesus

+ 1st Lenten Midweek Sermon - February 21st, 2018 +
Genesis 22:1-18
Redeemer Lutheran, HB

Image result for abraham and isaac

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

Gregory of Nyssa, one of the great church fathers from the 4th century, wrote that, “The whole mystery of faith can be seen in the story of Isaac.

As profound of a statement as this is, it is not an original thought. Gregory is helping us understand what Jesus said in John 8 as he declared to the Jews who had believed in him:

Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.

Today we join Abraham in rejoicing that the day he and all creation longed for - the day of Christ's death for our redemption - has come. And today we join Gregory in rejoicing in and beholding the mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection foretold and foreshadowed in the Old Testament.

After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.”

“After these things” is our cue to remember all that had happened to Abraham up to this point. God called him to leave the land of Ur and journey to a new land. God made a covenant with Abraham that through from his offspring would come one who would bless all nations and all people. God promised that Abraham and Sarah would have a son, and heir of their own, despite their old age and barrenness. God rescued Lot and his family from Sodom. Isaac, the son promised by God, was born. And now another test.

“Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.

Ask any parent who reads this story and I think you’ll find a common reply. I don’t know if I could do that if I were in his place. How did Abraham do any of this?
Hebrews gives us the only answer that makes sense:

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise.

How did Abraham do it? By faith. Not the kind of faith you work up in yourself - as if we could. Not the kind of faith that rests on emotions or our reason. Faith that is a gift. Faith that clings to YHWH’s promise like a hiker clings to a flashlight in a dark cave. Faith that, like Abraham’s, is credited to us as righteousness in Christ.

And so, by faith, Abraham set out, and On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.”

Did you catch what Abraham said? It’s easy to miss it in all the action and suspense of the story. I am the boy will go over there and worship...and come again to you.

As remarkable as Abraham’s faith is in listening to God’s call to sacrifice Isaac, it’s even more remarkable to hear his confession of faith in YHWH’s promise. Abraham knows that Isaac his son, his only son whom he loves, is the promised heir through whom God would continue to keep his promises. And even if he is sacrificed, God will raise him from the dead to make good on his promise to bless all nations of the earth through Abraham’s offspring.

This is how the book of Hebrews teaches us to read Genesis 22 as well:

By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.

Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.”

In Isaac’s question and Abraham’s faithful reply, we see a picture of Good Friday. If Isaac is obedient to his father Abraham, how much more is Jesus obedient to the heavenly Father. If Abraham offers up his son, his only son whom he loves, how much more the love of our Heavenly Father is revealed as he offers up his Son, his only-begotten Son for you, whom he loves. Isaac is both the priest who carries the wood and the sacrifice, how much more is Jesus both the priest and the sacrifice for us on the cross. Abraham was right. God will provide for himself the lamb or the burnt offering. Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

So they went both of them together. When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”;[b] as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.

After the fall into sin, the Lord provided his promise to Adam and Eve: a child to crush the ancient foe. To Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob the Lord provided his promise. In the tabernacle and temple, the holy Lord provided sacrifice, atonement, and cleansing to his unholy people, to give them his holiness and life. So it is for us today as well. For He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? In Jesus, the Lord’s promise to Abraham remains forever. The Lord will provide. And he does. The Lord sends us his Son, his only Son for you.

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son, his only Son whom he loves, to be the atoning sacrifice for you. Jesus is the greater Isaac who walks up the mountain of Calvary bearing the wood of the cross to die in our place. On the mountain of the Lord it shall be provided.

And not only on the mountain, but here in his Word – the Lord provides us with his, promise, comfort and peace. In Holy Baptism, he cleanses us from all sin and calls us his own dear child, his sons and daughters whom he loves. In the Lord’s Supper he provides us a new covenant, a new testament in his body and blood for the forgiveness of all our sin.

By faith we too behold the mystery and rejoice with Abraham to see the day of Christ’s death and resurrection for us.

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