Summary: The sixth sermon in the 2007 Lenten Series
(The introduction to this sermon was the copyrighted dramatic reading ‘Christ On Trial: Witness, Matthew.’ Written by Elsa L. Clark with Peter Mead, Arden Mead, and Mark Zimmermann. © 2007 by Creative Communication for the Parish)
(Slide 1) Ever felt that you were being looked down upon? Have you ever been looked down upon and you knew it?
Years ago in graduate school I had one of those experiences. It was a leadership theory course designed for the doctoral students in the department and I was a mere master’s degree student. But I wanted to take it.
I remember hearing the professor’s condescending tone of voice reminding me what kind of a class I was in and who it was designed for. After that first class I felt that it was a no-win situation for me and I dropped the class.
What about looking down on people? Have you ever done that? (OUCH PASTOR JIM!) I have always tried to be a fair minded person to everybody I meet but there have been times when an individual rubbed me the wrong way and I choose to ignore them as best I could and not attempt to build a better relationship with them.
Our initial witness, as we examine the evidence against Jesus that will mount as we go through this Lenten season 2007, was looked down upon. He was considered scum. Many ‘straight-laced’ religious persons did not consider Matthew to be worth Jesus’ time. But Jesus thought Matthew was worth His time and He also thinks that you and I are worth His time as well!
This morning we are going to briefly look at two parallel Old Testament passages, Hosea 6:1-6 and Jeremiah 31:32-34, and discover what these two Old Testament prophets said about what I call the ‘before’ and ‘after’ of Easter as it relates to our status in God’s eyes.
Then we will examine our main text in Mark and consider the kind of change in Matthew that took place when Jesus said to him, ‘follow me.’ Finally we will take a few moments to consider what Christ’s call means to us, individually and corporately, in light of this week.
Let’s now turn to Hosea 6:1-6 which says, “Come, let us return to the Lord! He has torn us in pieces; now he will heal us. He has injured us; now he will bandage our wounds. In just a short time, he will restore us so we can live in his presence. Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know him! Then he will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring.” “O Israel and Judah, what should I do with you?” asks the Lord. “For your love vanishes like the morning mist and disappears like dew in the sunlight. I sent my prophets to cut you to pieces. I have slaughtered you with my words, threatening you with death. My judgment will strike you as surely as day follows night. I want you to be merciful; I don’t want your sacrifices. I want you to know God; that’s more important than burnt offerings.”
Notice; please the phrases out of this passage as ‘before’ and ‘after’ phrases of God’s deliverance. First the before… (Slide 2)
He has torn us in pieces…
He has injured us…
I sent my prophets to cut you to pieces
I have slaughtered you with my words…
My judgment will strike you down…
Not a very pretty and loving picture of God is it? He is not happy with the children of Israel. He is displeased with their quickly vanishing love. He is upset over their lack of mercy. He is ready to destroy them. They have disobeyed Him though He says at the end of the chapter in verse 11, ‘I wanted so much to restore the fortunes of my people!’
In the ‘before’ of Good Friday and Easter, there is judgment and there is punishment and there is death and alienation from God. During this season of Lent one of our tasks is the very unpleasant, difficult and sometimes brutal, but essential task of looking at ourselves in the light of Christ’s death on our behalf and facing the truth about our own sinful and flawed human nature that is no different that it was in Hosea’s day.
But, there is an ‘after’ that we must pay attention to this morning. (Slide 3) There is a new movement of God afoot. Jesus makes that clear in various statements to those who were still locked in to the ‘before’ mindset that God wanted to get rid of.
Hosea prophesizes that it will take place…
now he will heal us.
now he will bandage our wounds
he will restore us