Archive for the ‘2 Samuel 11:26-12:14’ Category

God’s True Curse and Blessing

Sunday, June 16th, 2013

Rev. Brian Henderson, Pastor-Trinity Lutheran Church-San Diego
Pentecost 4C, June 16th, 2013

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Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for usfor it is written, Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith. [Galatians 3:13-14]

What is a curse, really? Is it something real, that we should take serious, or is it something that only superstitious people believe in? Well it depends on what you consider a curse. For instance, if you are talking about  Hollywood type curses; curses that are based in folklore and superstition, say like a Voodoo or Hoodoo curse, well, I wouldn’t worry to much about that. But if you are talking about the things, the curses that God has spoken  of, well then, in the words of Hollywood, you should be afraid… very afraid.

We should always take anything that God says very seriously, for it is true, and it will come to pass; every word of if. This is what St. Paul is telling us in verse 10 thru 12 of our Epistle lesson. Listen: “For all who rely on  works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for  “The righteous shall live by faith.” But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” [Gal 3:10-12]

Make no mistake; Paul is not talking about a trivial curse, as if there were such a thing. He’s not saying there’s a curse only upon you and your entire family; and he’s not even saying that this is a generational curse that  pertains to this fallen and sinful generation; no this curse that Paul is talking about is much larger in scope than that. It is a curse that covers all of creation; everyone and everything that has ever been, or ever shall be. It is  God’s great curse that is over all.

Listen to how this great curse came to be and just how inclusive it really is: But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was  afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she   gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (v. 15) To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” [Genesis 3:9-19]

And so entered sin, death and the devil; this is precisely where our first parents exchanged God’s blessing for God’s curse.  But within in the curse of God, there are also Words of hope; the promise of a blessing to come when God says to the devil: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”  In those Words alone there is the hope of a coming Savior who shall snatch all of mankind out of the grasp of our true enemies, which are sin, death, and the devil.

But many will not hear this promise; they will think that they can earn God’s love, by doing their best, by being a good person. So, like the serpent, they are forever separated from God’s goodness.  For those who will not hear the good news, they are cursed to repeat the very sin that has always separated creation from its Creator.  Oh, what wretched sinners we are! Who will deliver us from this curse of death?  Thanks be to God for faithfully completing His promise of a coming Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord! [Romans 7:24-25]

In God’s mercy, the only curse that matters has been placed upon someone besides you; it’s been placed upon God’s own Son, Jesus Christ. Listen to how St. Paul explains this: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree” (Gal 3:13). Please hear those words clearly. Christ has purchased your freedom; He alone has redeemed you from the curse of sin, death, and the devil, by becoming a curse and taking on your sin; by taking your place upon the cross. This isn’t a limited atonement for only select few; it is for the world; for all who will believe in this completed promise of God and receive it as a gift.

In essence, you were being held hostage by your sin and death, through the management of the devil, and God the Father paid your ransom Himself, through the lifeblood of His Son, Jesus Christ.  You are free!  The curse is removed!  But how can this be?  Jesus did it and none other.  He became the curse, or He took on your curse by dying on the cross.  But why?  Because, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; (so to save us) the Lord has laid on (His Son) the (sin) of us all.” [Isaiah 53:6]

You are forgiven; in the work of Christ upon the cross, the world has been freed from the curse. In Christ alone the curse has been removed and a great blessing is being offered to you instead. But, how can we obtain this great blessing and live within it? By looking to Abraham; we must believe in God’s fulfillment of His promise long ago, and live out that blessing by faith—

So that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we (too) might receive the promised Spirit through faith. [Galatians 3:14]

The promise God gave to Abraham and his descendants was not centered around Abraham’s righteousness, but around his faith in God’s faithfulness to fulfill his promise of redemption and restoration of fallen mankind. And like Abraham, we too, through faith in Jesus Christ, receive this promised blessing; or as Paul calls it, the blessed indwelling of God’s own Holy Spirit.

The church has always only known of only one way to receive this personal blessing… through Holy Baptism. In Baptism, you have been called God’s own child. In baptism you have been infused, covered up, or re-identified with the Son of God’s own righteousness. It is a righteousness that is provided solely by Jesus Christ, and given to you as a gift, as a blessing of baptism.

In this world, people use the word blessing in such a cheap way. “I sure am blessed.” “I was blessed to be chosen for that new job.” “I was blessed with healthy children.” Or, (Ha-chew) God bless you!” We say the word blessing so easily, but seldom is the God who alone gives the blessing behind the word.

But God has blessed us first with the promise of a Savior, and then from the very mouth of the Savior as He died upon the cross. “It is finished!” Their debt has been paid in full and the curse as it has fallen upon me is paid in full!

God has blessed us within the waters of our own baptism, where everyone of the merits of Christ have been poured out upon us. And what is that great blessing? It is complete forgiveness of all of our sins! It is having a new heart that is led by the law of God, like King David’s in our Old Testament reading (2 Samuel 11:26-12:14). Like David, we too, are shown our sin in God’s law, and by the Holy Spirit, we are led to confess it so that the Holy One can remove the curse of sin, which is death, and exchange it for a blessing, which is forgiveness and eternal life!

What does this blessing of forgiveness look like? For the answer to that question, we need look no further than the sinful woman who was forgiven by Jesus in our Gospel reading (Luke 7:36-8:3). Once she heard the proclamation of the gospel, the forgiveness of sins, she was changed and compelled to serve Jesus and His church through acts of love and kindness. Through faith, she was saved and because of faith she was compelled to be with Jesus and serve Him always.

Today, we celebrate Father’s Day, and we look to our Great Father who has undone the curse given upon our first earthly father, Adam.  He was absent from the struggle, which Eve, his wife blindly entered into.  Sadly, today, there still are many men who are absent as well.  They have either abandoned their baptismal call to embrace the great blessing Jesus has provided, or they have never received that call.  Today, God calls out to each of us to live under that great blessing, and to look forward to that great eternal day to come when all of sinful creation will be restored to it’s original splendor.  A day when there will be no more sorrow or pain; when every tear shall be dried and the sounds of joyful celebration will fill the new heaven and earth and surround God’s own banquet table.  “And (on that day) there shall be no more curse.” [Revelations 22:3]  AMEN!