September 16, 2018 – 17th Sunday After Pentecost
by Pastor Pete Scheele
Read Isaiah 50:4 – 10
Grace and peace to you as you learn from God’s Word about your future, from God, our Father, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The Lord God has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary. (Isa. 50:4 a)
These are the words of God spoken through the pen of Isaiah. These are the words of Isaiah who was telling the people of His time about the great destruction that was going to happen to the people of Israel if they didn’t repent of their sins and turn back to God again. These are also the words of Jesus spoken as the Servant of God who would accomplish all the promises that Isaiah wrote about the servant of God who would come to save us from all our sins and the weariness of this world. These are also the words of God given to us, for we have been taught by God’s Word to be His spokesmen in this world, so that we may share with those who are weary the Good News of their salvation, so that they too may be strengthened by God’s love, peace and joy. God gives us the words of hope and strength to share with others who need the love, peace and joy of God in their lives. These words were spoken by Isaiah in his time, by Jesus in his time here on this earth and they are taught to us so that we might speak about the hope that God has given to all of us by the life, death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. These are the words that will sustain us in times of difficulties and despair, but they have to be spoken by us because God has given us the tongue and has taught us His Words of comfort for this world.
Morning by morning He awakens; He awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught. (Isa. 50:4b) Morning by morning God has awaken us to a new day, a day that the Lord has given to us with opportunities to share what we have been taught about the salvation and the love, peace and joy that God wants us all to have in this world and for eternity with Him. Salvador Dali was asked in an interview in the 1950’s, “Why he painted Jesus’ crucifixion in the way that He did?” He answered, “One night during World War II, I had a dream and in that dream I was given a vision of Jesus on his cross looking down out of the darkness of the clouds of war to give us the peace and the hope that we needed. When I woke up I remembered that vision and strived to paint that vision so that it could give others the hope that it had given to me.” God has awoken your ears to hear about the Good News of Jesus Christ and how He came into this world to give hope to those who are weary. Jesus says to us: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Mt. 11:28-29) Salvador Dali in his dream was given a vision of hope that can change the darkness of any problems in this world into the light of hope from God and so after enduring World War II in Spain, he worked with models to get the right perspective of how he saw Jesus looking down on the world in his dream and named this painting ‘The Cross of St. John with Christ” Now you may not have the talent of an artist or the tongue of a speaker but God has opened your ears to hear the Words of God’s Good New so that you can have hope in your life and so that you can share that hope with others by the talents that God has given to you. Your talents are a gift from God to be used, to share the Love, peace and joy of God to all the world.
The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious; I turned not backward. 6 I gave my back to those who strike, and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard; I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting. (Is. 50:5-6)
The Lord God has opened our ears to His Words to be taught the Good News about all that God has done for us and to bring us back into the relationship that we were given from the beginning of time. But we have rebelled, we have turned our backs on the creator of all the world and we have changed the world that God made for us from love to hatred, from peace to turmoil, from joy to sadness. Jesus Christ is the only person in this world that could truly say these words given to Isaiah. Jesus never rebelled against His Heavenly Father and yet He gave His back, His cheeks and His whole body to take all the wrath that this world can dish out so that He could bring us to the love, peace and joy of God that is beyond this world’s understanding. Jesus took all the ways that the world uses to shame us and make us look like fools and He destroyed sin, death and the power of the devil for us by His suffering, pain and death on the cross of Calvary to bring us to the hope of our resurrection and the eternal life in His love, peace and joy that His resurrection gave to us. Jesus accomplished what we could not accomplish so that we can live in His love, peace and joy now and forever, by grace alone through faith alone because of Jesus Christ alone.
So why is there famine, war, suffering, disease, crime and homelessness in our world? Because we have rebelled against the love, peace and joy of God. We have brought the pain of this world upon ourselves because we have not listened with our ears and made God’s Word a bigger and bigger part of our lives. Isaiah tells us how Jesus was able to stop sin and the deceit of the devil from taking over His life and preventing Him from bring us God’s love, peace and joy as He record the word of Jesus, as our suffering servant, “But the Lord God helps me; therefore, I have not been disgraced; therefore, I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.” (Is. 50:7)
It’s not just hard; it’s impossible to stay focused on the ways of God instead of the ways of the world, because our nature is sinful. Jesus stayed focused on the words of His Heavenly Father, but not without help. Yes, God the Father and the Holy Spirit were working with and through Jesus’ life to keep His life, His thoughts and His word away from and against all that is evil in this world, even though the sin filled world and the devil did all that they could to bring His life to shame. Jesus conquered sin, death and the devil by His life, death and resurrection so that He could give God’s love, peace and joy to you, me and all the world, as a free gift of grace. Jesus set His face like flint to accomplish this for us because of His love for us. So, what is our response?
God is there to help us, but it begins by letting our ears be opened to all the Words of the Bible so that they can guide us in our life to the light of God’s love instead of the darkness of death. Salvador Dali but a Bible in his picture to remind us of the importance of the Bible in our lives and in our world, but it’s hard to see the Bible unless you look closely at the clouds with the sun shining through them. The Bible is in the clouds and for many in this world that’s the way the Word of God is, they are cloudy and hard to understand. God’s Word is in the clouds and the light of God’s love is shining through them, but they are still covered by clouds of misunderstanding because we don’t let the Holy Spirit go to work in our live to give us that understanding we need, instead we often come to a misunderstanding of the ways of God by the words of mankind, that draws us away from God instead of to Him. God’s Words are opened to us as we let the Holy Spirit go to work in our lives, opening up the scriptures as we study and let God’s Word be the guide to all that we do in this world.
The Suffering Servant and Isaiah says to us, “He who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together. Who is my adversary? Let him come near to me.” (Isa. 50:8) Jesus by His life, death and resurrection has vindicated us from all our sins so that we can stand with God in His love, peace and joy now and forever. As sinner in this world we are the adversaries of God and yet as we let Him come near to us He gives us the love, peace and joy that we are looking for in this world.
Salvador Dali painted his crucifixion of Jesus without the blood, the thorns or the nails of other crucifixions painting and yet at the same time he made his painting a perspective that draws our attention to the life boat we have been given in this world by His crucifixion. If you take the perspective lines which Salvador Dali painted his painting with you will see that it points to the boat, the ark of our salvation which comes through the crucifixion of Jesus Christ that brings us from the cross to resurrection and life eternal with Him.
Isaiah tell us, “Behold, the Lord God helps me; who will declare me guilty? Behold, all of them will wear out like a garment; the moth will eat them up. 10 Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the voice of His servant? Let him who walks in darkness and has no light trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God.” (Isa. 50:9-10)
Our Lord God is the source of our hope in this world all because Christ is Risen! He has risen indeed! Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia. God through Jesus Christ is the light of the world so let us put our trust in Him always and share the Good News of all that God has done for us with all the World. Amen.