March 22, 2017 – 3rd Wednesday in Lent
by Pastor Pete Scheele
Read 1 Peter 2:21-25
Grace and peace to you as you stand at the Cross of Christ in suffering, from God, our Father, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Have you ever heard the story of the Three Little Pigs? Well there is actually a book out on the market that claims to tell the familiar story of the Three Little Pigs from the perspective of the wolf. You see, according to the wolf, the whole thing was a misunderstanding. It was the result of a sneeze and a cup of sugar.
The wolf says had a terrible, sneezing cold and when he was making a birthday cake for his dear old granny he ran out of sugar. So, he walked down the street to his neighbor, a little pig. He couldn’t believe that the pig had built his house out of straw. When He knocked on the door it didn’t make any noise, because it was made of straw, so he said, “Little pig, little pig, are you in?” Well just then his nose started itching and he felt a big sneeze coming on. So, he took a few stepped back from the door and he huffed, he snuffed and he sneezed a great sneeze and the whole house fell down. And right in the middle of the pile of straw was the first little pig. As the little pig started to run away the wolf tried to say that he is sorry and explain what had happen, but the little pig had run off to the house of the second little pig.
Still needing some sugar the wolf goes down to the second pig’s house and it is made poorly completely out of wood. The wolf goes up to the door and knocks and as he knocks the door opens. Now the wolf didn’t want to walk in without permission so he says. “Little pig, little pig, are you in?” Well just then his nose started itching and he felt a great big sneeze coming on. So, he takes a few stepped back from the door and he huffed, he snuffed and he sneezed a great big sneeze and the whole house comes tumbling down. And right in the middle of the pile of wood was the first and the second little pigs. As the little pigs started to run away the wolf tried to say that he is sorry and explain what had happen, but the little pigs have run off to the house of the third little pig.
Still needing some sugar the wolf goes down to the third little pig’s house and finds that the house is completely made out of bricks and it is done immaculately. The wolf walks up the door of the third pig’s house and knocks on the door. No answer, but he can hear the voice of the three little pigs talking, so he knocks again. No answer but he can hear the noise of the three little pigs shirring around, so he knocks again. No answer so in a loud voice he says, “Little pig, little pig, are you in?” Well just then his nose started itching and he felt a great big huge sneeze coming on. So, he took a few stepped back from the door and he huffed and he snuffed and he huffed and he snuffed and he sneezed a great big huge sneeze and it knocks him of the step of the house and as he fell he hits his head on the concrete sidewalk and knocks himself out. When he woke up he was in jail without his cup of sugar and now he’s going to miss his granny’s birthday party. What is even worse is that the pigs told their story to some news reporter and the media makes the wolf out as a Big Bad Wolf that was going to devour them, which is how the wolf got a bad rap in all the fairy tales.
It’s a classic story of feeling wrongly accused. It’s human nature to attempt to rationalize our actions and make them look better than they really are. If we were suffering before, when we get caught up in our lies we begin to suffer even more. Sometimes we find ourselves standing in the middle of suffering with seemingly no way out.
Well in the First Sermon for Holy Week of 1534, Martin Luther said, “God the Lord has here yielded over a perfectly pure Lamb to the jaws of the devil, who with a vengeance gnashes on it with his teeth and fancies that he would wolf it down. But finally, he will have to leave it un-devoured.” The devil is the Big Bad Wolf incarnate, and it’s not funny. He does all that he can to huff, and puff, and devour us with his nasty lies and dishonest deceit. But because of Jesus, he will have to leave us un-devoured.
Suffering comes in all kinds of forms. We suffer physically when we are sick or injured. We might find ourselves with anything from a sore throat to abdominal pain or a broken bone and we suffer. We suffer mentally when we allow ourselves to worry. We might find ourselves with anything from worry about finances to worry about our children. We suffer spiritually when we sin. We might find ourselves suffering the consequences of sinful decisions or lack of attention to God’s Word. We stand in it, we try to find an excuse but we are stuck in our suffering.
The Bible tells us that Peter is the disciple who cut off the servant’s ear. He was trying to be noble and valiant but ended up sinning by hurting and harming his neighbor in his body. Not only did the servant suffer the injury; Peter suffered the rebuke of Jesus: “Put your sword back in its place.” Jesus said, “For all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” This time there was no wrongful accusation. Peter was guilty of sin and so are we. That’s why we suffer.
That’s why Jesus had to, as well. He took on our sin in his own passion and suffering. Isaiah tells us that, “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.” He was wrongly accused and suffered our rejection. Not only that, but He suffered the rejection of His own Heavenly Father as He hung on the cross. He suffered the damning penalty of our sins. He stood at the cross and suffered so that we would never have to stand in the place of eternal suffering.
Martin Luther said, “God the Lord has here yielded over a perfectly pure Lamb to the jaws of the devil, who with a vengeance gnashes on it with his teeth and fancies that he will wolf it down. But finally, he will have to leave it un-devoured.” Jesus may have had to suffer death and hell, but he finally was left un-devoured, “leaving you an example, so that you might follow in His footsteps.”
Jesus paid the full price and the costly penalty for our sin. When all was said and done, God the Father huffed and puffed and blew into Jesus’ nostrils the breath of life as he rose again from the dead. It may have looked as though He was defeated, but He was left un-devoured.
The same is true of you. Though you may sleep in death, you will be left un-devoured by the fangs of the devil. You will live to suffer no more. As the forgiven and restored disciple Peter has reminded us: “By his wounds you have been healed.” The healing power of God’s love for you are far greater than any of the suffering you will have to face in this world. So, come and stand at the Cross of Christ and see how He suffers for all your sins, for all your sins are paid for so that you can be in the heavenly home where there will be no more pain and suffering but instead the love of God. Amen.