SERMON: Creation's Story - First Sunday In Lent

As previously mentioned, I've only been a Confessional Lutheran for the past 6 or 7 months even though I've been attending an LCMS Church for the past 2 years now.

For the most part, I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" and was never taught (a.k.a. catechized) anything about the Lutheran faith.

Being a Lutheran didn't really mean much to me because it didn't really mean much to our Pastor and the rest of the congregation (sadly, it still doesn't mean anything).

In fact, I'm afraid to point out that the only thing Lutheran about us is the name on the church sign out in front of our building.

So, I guess it comes as no surprise then that I made a shocking discovery on Friday.



Look, I know that there are no "perfect" churches, but learning about this brought to mind Matthew 15:18. How can it not, especially given what we already know about the Girl Scouts of America?

I mean, do we really want to honor that anti-Christian organization during the Divine Service for the First Sunday In Lent? Where's the discernment (Acts 17:11)!?!

Apparently, my reaction wasn't an isolated one.





It's certainly comforting to know I'm not alone or overreacting to this, but I wasn't prepared for what happened next.

Not only did other Christians I've never met or actually spoken to take time out of their busy day to provide me with some links to resources that might be able to point me and my family to some other nearby churches that might offer a more faithful confession and practice (thanks again, by the way!), but there was one LCMS Pastor from Wyoming who took things a step further.



How great is that?

Less than 24 hours later, true to his word, he sent me an email with his sermon for today attached and a note that simply said, "Here is the sermon I'm preaching for Lent 1, not Girl Scouts Sunday."

I have since received Rev. Jared C. Tucher's permission to share that sermon with all of you today. I hope you are blessed and edified by it like I was.


Creation's Story
Trinity Lutheran Church, Gillette, WY
March 9, 2014

Genesis 3:1-21 (ESV)
1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise,b she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. 8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?" 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 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.” 14 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. 15 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.” 16 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.” 17 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; 18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19 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.” 20 The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. 21 And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.


Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, amen. The text for the sermon is the Old Testament, which was read earlier.

Everyone loves a good story. And what makes a good story? Usually, it would start with, “Once upon a time” and end with “And they lived happily ever after.” There is often a situation that needs to be resolved in the story and the main characters are the ones who resolve the problem. This morning, we have a story that has all the makings of an epic story, though this story is not a fairytale story, though it will have a fairytale ending.

God’s epic story begins with creation and leads us to the first two people that God created, Adam and Eve. Things couldn’t be better for Adam and Eve. They lived in the Garden of Eden and had everything that they could ever need. They enjoyed intimate walks with God, Creator and creation coming together and enjoying one another’s company. The first chapter of this book is perfect, just as it should be. It’s not until you get to chapter three that things begin taking a turn for the worse.

The opening verse of the chapter sets the tone of how things will be from here on out: “Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made.” When you read a verse like that, this sets up for you the problem of the story that will need to be resolved.

When God placed Adam and Eve into the Garden, there was a single, simple rule that must be followed: eat from anything in the Garden except one tree, for when they do, they will surely die. It sounds as if it’s a pretty straight-forward rule with a straight-forward consequence. However, the serpent had something else in mind. With a single question, the problem begins to present itself: “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” Something enters the equation that wasn’t present before: doubt. Up until now, creation obeyed the Creator, no questions asked, and why shouldn’t they? With a simple question from the serpent, doubt comes racing into creation and leads to the problem of the story – creation disobeys the Creator. Adam and Eve eat from the forbidden tree and things are forever changed.

Now the consequence of their actions is made known by God. Eve will experience pain in childbirth. While childbirth can be painful, that doesn’t sound as bad of a consequence as Eve could have received. However, for Adam, the consequence is much more dire, more so in fact that it reaches to all of creation. The worst part of the consequence is the second half of it: “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.”

It’s here that we reach the climax of the problem in our story: the main characters are going to die. It is because of their actions that they will experience a temporal death. That trickles down throughout all of creation to every man, woman, and child. Because of our first parents, we will experience death. That is more than Satan could have ever expected. He wants God’s creation to simply doubt the words of the Creator. For creation to experience death, that truly is the best thing that Satan could have ever hoped for.

It sounds as if this story isn’t going to have a happy ending. But God already wrote the happy ending into the story and if you blinked, you might have missed it. The happy ending actually comes before the consequences. “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.” The happy ending is that you will have life after death! Even though Adam and Eve broke God’s single command, God has the perfect answer to the problem at hand: He is going to send a Redeemer to buy back Adam and Eve. That same Redeem will buy you back as well, since you are God’s beloved creation.

Listen to what Paul says in our Epistle reading: “For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many…. If, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.”

The happy ending comes through Jesus. The happy ending comes through the main character of the story. While in the beginning it seemed as if the main characters were Adam and Eve, they were only the supporting characters of the story. The main character was from the beginning Jesus, because this story is all about Jesus. It is about the promise of Jesus in the beginning. In the middle of the story, it’s about what Jesus is going to do. Towards the end of the story, we see what it is that Jesus does. We see how Jesus lives the perfect live that God demands and dies the death that you and I deserve. Our death accomplishes nothing while Jesus’ death accomplishes salvation for all who believe in Him.

This story plays itself out exactly as God had planned it. Jesus our faithful High Priest does all that we cannot. He defeats sin, death, and the devil. He does that by bring tried, convicted, and crucified. On what grounds was He tried? He was tried on the grounds that He was the Son of God, the promised Messiah of long ago come to fulfill the prophecies of old.

While judged as a heretic for making such a claim, it is by the truth of that claim is He able to do for us what He does. As the Son of God, He is able to make atonement to God on behalf of creation. As the Son of God, He is able to clothe us in His righteousness so that we may stand before God as holy and redeemed people. Jesus gives His holy, innocent, precious blood in exchange for creation.

Jesus kept the promise that God made to the serpent. He is the seed of the woman who crushed the serpent’s head. What a glorious victory for Christ and for us. Jesus endured temptation for us and never fell. Although He lived among sinners in a sinful world, He never sinned. He is the Lord our righteousness. With His suffering and death on the cross, He took all our sin to Himself and gave us the righteousness He lived with His perfect life. Because of this incredibly unfair exchange, God examines us and declares us holy and righteous for the sake of Christ.

This story ends with a happy ending. Christ dies, and yet He lives. Creation dies, and yet creation lives. Creation is restored to the Creator, just as it was meant to be from the beginning. We will live with Christ because of His sacrifice for us, so that we may stand before God as His holy and redeemed people. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Now the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus, amen.


Of course, that puts things into their proper perspective for us beautifully, doesn't it?

I think it's also important for us to notice the movement in this text, which begins with conflict between the woman and the serpent. It then moves to conflict between the descendent of the woman and the descendent of the serpent. But, usually, it concludes with the conflict between the woman's descendent and the serpent himself.

Clearly, however, this is all about Jesus Christ -- what He did and what He continues to do for you and for me, and that's what we must always emphasize here.

It's not just about the origin of the conflict between humans and snakes, but about a conflict that will culminate with the defeat of the serpent by One who will descend from the woman. This points to Christ and His defeat of Satan on the cross, and for this reason Genesis 3:15 is often called the "protoevangelium" ("The First Promise of The Gospel") too.

So, in Genesis 3, we find that with the words that God speaks to the serpent, to Eve, and to Adam after their disobedience, He sets the course for the rest of Biblical history.

Here there is judgment for sin, but also the first hint that the effects of the fall will one day be undone. There is no way back to Eden. The only way for Adam and Eve and their descendants is forward to the cross. The long story culminates in Jesus Christ, the Seed of the woman, but it does not end there.

Given my Evangelical past, I want to be very careful when I write this next statement since I don't want to give the impression that I mean it in the same way that many Evangelicals mean it when they use it, but the truth is that we are part of the unfolding story.

We are part of the unfolding story, but that should not be understood as though the story is ever about us. It's always and only about Jesus Christ Himself. Rev. Tucher used an analogy saying that Jesus is the "Main Character" of this story and we are like the "supporting cast" and perhaps even the "extras" in this story.

The good news? Well, the good news is the "Good News" that we know is the Gospel! We have received God's grace and mercy through the Seed of the woman, and now we are sent out to the ends of the earth to bear witness to the completion of God's plan of redemption and to offer His grace in Jesus Christ to all the descendants of Adam and Eve.

O Savior, write our names into Your story, into the Lamb's Book of Life. Amen.

*- Lutheran Study Bible / Genesis 3


It's so nice to know that there are men and women of God who care enough about a brother like me whom they've never met to the point where they'll take time to go out of their way to make sure that I'm being fed the spiritual meat that I need when there's a famine in the Western New York area.

This morning, I saw the following Tweet (to which I replied)...



Again, no church will ever be "perfect" or "without blemish" until we are all united as one body of believers with Christ, but for those of you who do attend a confessional, faithful, liturgical, and unashamed church please be thankful that you don't attend one that is willing to replace the First Sunday In Lent with Girl Scouts Sunday instead.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, this is why doctrine is so important, because doctrine determines practice.

NOTE: As you know, I am a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is not consistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and point us back to) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray. Finally, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote on this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that category since I was a Lutheran-In-Name-Only at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a "Book of Concord" containing our Confessions even existed. In addition, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by common Evangelical concerns/criticisms that perhaps wouldn't be too big a deal for us Lutherans. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because we now have this disclaimer and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Finally, please know that any time we engage in interpreting a specific portion of Scripture exegetically, it will always follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible unless otherwise noted. Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Grace and peace to you and yours!

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1 comment:

  1. Here's the direct link I received from Pr. Tucher...

    http://www.revtucher.com/?p=2880

    Grace And Peace,
    Jeff

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for visiting A Lutheran Layman! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question since we do not exercise censorship. We've seen a similar policy with other blogs and it's worth repeating: Please act as if you're a guest in my home, and we'll get along just fine. I think anyone would agree that the kind of back-and-forth that is characteristic of blogs/chat forums is becoming tiresome for all of us. Still, we should confess, edify, and love (and contend and defend when needed). Bottom line? Search the Scriptures! Apply Acts 17:11 to anything and everything you find here and, if you do happen to disagree with something you find here (which is certainly ok), or think I'm "irresponsible" and "wrong" for writing it, then please refute my position by supporting yours with...Scripture and/or the Confessions. I don't think that's an unreasonable request, especially for those who identify themselves as "Christians" here, right? Besides, Proverbs 27:17 tells us "Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend" and 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." If you have an opinion that's great, I welcome it, but try to support it using God's Word. I mean, if the goal here is to help us all mature spiritually (myself included) then it should be easy to follow through on this one simple request (I'm talking to all you "Anonymous" visitors out there). Grace and peace to you and yours!