PENTECOST 7, A, 2014

SCRIPTURES – Deut. 7:6-9; Rom. 8:28-39; Matthew 13:44-52

 

      “You are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession… Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.” Deut. 7

 

There’s an old saying, “Love is blind.” It’s a saying that usually doesn’t have the best connotations. When do you say, “Love is blind”? It’s when you think there is something about a person that should make that person undesirable to the person who loves him/her. Perhaps the person is unattractive; or, just not very nice; or, has some strange personality quirks; or, maybe is just a complete opposite in background and interests. “Love is blind,” you say. There’s just no explaining the attraction.

 

Well, “Love is blind” could certainly be said of God’s love! We heard Moses this morning speak for God and say to the people of Israel, “You are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession.” Jesus restated his words in this way: “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”

 

My, what God has chosen and bought for Himself. Surely His love is blind! After all, He is the great God whose hand reaches out to hold the deep places of the earth (Ps. 95:4). Our Maker is among us! He surely sees our every action, hears our every word, and knows our every thought. Do you think He did not hear Israel’s constant complaints against Him and His servant Moses as he led them out of Egypt and to the Promised Land? “We’re tired of this miserable manna!” they grumbled again and again. Yes, God heard; but still, through Moses He said to the people, “You are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you for his treasured possession.” So it is with you and me. Do you think God doesn’t hear when you judge someone and say, “Well, love is blind.” Surely He knows how we elevate ourselves and tear down others! Still, Jesus calls us “treasure hidden in a field” and “a pearl of great value.” In His joy He came down from heaven and gave up all He had to have us. God’s love is surely blind!

 

No, it is not. God just has a different focus. He is looking at a different person. His eyes are on His Son, and on you in His Son.

 

“You are a people holy to the Lord your God.” We think that “holy” means being pure and sinless. Its first and primary meaning, however, is “set apart.” You are a set apart people; and this is all God’s work. Try as hard as you can – and you must! You cannot let sin control you! – you cannot set sin apart from you. You cannot set aside sinful judgments based on mere dislikes and prejudices and arrogant attitudes. They pop into our minds. They spout from our mouths; sometimes without thinking, and, even worse, sometimes intentionally and purposefully. We cannot set them aside and make ourselves pure! God, however, can; and, He has done so. He has taken all of your sins, along with the sins of all of the people of the world, and set them upon His Son. Powerful though they are to overcome us, they could not overcome our Lord Jesus. He would not let them be set apart, but bound them to Himself, bore them before God to be punished, and by His death put them to death. Then, because He is the Son of God who is eternal life, in His flesh He rose to life without them, to live in pure and holy flesh forever. This living Jesus now sets you apart for Himself. He bound you to Himself in your Baptism. He gives His pure flesh and blood in Holy Communion to fill your bodies. He speaks to you by His Word to encourage you and direct your lives. “You are a people holy to the Lord your God.” He has chosen you and set you apart for Himself.

 

Be certain of this and rely on this, on God’s work for you in Christ, and not on your own goodness! Boast of this and rely on this, and do not fear because of your sins or belittle yourself because of your sinful weakness and inabilities. Christ has bought you, and you are His treasure! Be assured also that “for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son.” (Rom. 8) The almighty and eternal God, whose hand extends into this world, has set you apart as His own and will mold you into the image of His Son.

 

What does this mean for you? It means that your love, like God’s love in Christ, is to be directed by God and so be blind: not ignorantly blind; not blind because you are unable to see; but purposely blind, intentionally blind. You have been set apart to blindly love other people: not basing your love and goodness to them on their worthiness; or their goodness to you; or on how they may respond; but simply because you are loved by God. We are to love even our enemies! In this God makes us treasures on this earth, living testimonies in word and deed to forgiveness and new life in Jesus.

 

Unfortunately, in this world such love of God in Christ is often rejected. Instead of receiving love in return, upon us come tribulation and distress and persecution and famine and nakedness and danger and sword.

  • So it is right now for our Christian brothers and sisters in Syria and Iraq. They are being forced out of their homes, having everything taken from them, and are even being put to death by Islamist soldiers for refusing to renounce Jesus and embrace Allah. The city of Mosul, which a few years ago had 35,000 Christians, now has none. We need to pray for them!

    What can we say to these things? What can we say when hardships and sufferings come upon us and hide God’s love for us? With Moses we say, “The Lord our God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments.” We love and trust Him who first loved and chose us. With Paul we say, “If God is for us, who can be against us? 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? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

     

    God’s love for us in Christ can never be taken away. That love will raise us up on the last day, the glorious Day when all blindness is removed and we are given the sight of Him whose love never ends. To the glory of our Savior, who in His joy went and sold all that He had, even His own life, to have us as His treasure! Amen.