March 15, 2017
Lent 2 Midweek
The Fifth Commandment
Grace and mercy to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Please turn to page 321 so we may review the fifth commandment.
What is the Fifth Commandment? You shall not murder.
What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not hurt or harm our neighbor in his body, but help and support him in every physical need.
Let us pray: Creator Father, enable us to know this holy commandment and help us to love and act according to it. Protect us from the destroyer who is the source of all hurt and murder. Grant us Your rich grace so that united we will be friendly, kind, and gentle to one another, forgive each other from the heart, and put up with others' faults and shortcomings in Christian and brotherly gentleness So may we live in true peace and unity as this commandment teaches and requires us to do. In the name of Jesus. Amen.
It is part of our nature to want to get even when we are hurt. It is part of our fallen nature but it is a desire we all have in us. For those in Christ, however, you also have a new nature. A Christ-like nature.
Tonight I want to illustrate how two men respond to the Lord's Command, "You shall not murder". One man acts according to his fallend nature and the other man according to his new, Christ-like nature.
The first man is Cain. It is recorded in Genesis chapter 4 that Cain and his little brother brought the first-fruits of their daily work to the Lord. The Lord accepted little brother Abel's offering but not Cain's.
The Lord notices that Cain's face has fallen. That he is angry that Abel's offering pleased the Lord and his did not. So, the Lord asked Cain, "Why is your face fallen...Beware sin is crouching at the door and its desire is for you but you shall rule over it."
Cain did not like that encouragement. And it came to pass that when Cain and Able were alone in the field, Cain rose up and murdered Abel.
Sin resides in us too. It is like a crouching animal waiting to pounce upon its prey. When someone hurts us or does evil to us, vengenance feels like a lion waiting to attack. When we let it pounce, we lose our faith and the fruits of death abound.
There is another man. His name is David. David was a servant to King Saul. The problem was that David was much better at almost any task than King Saul. When King Saul goes into battle and kills his thousands, there is David who kills his ten-thousands and get all the glory.
It is recorded in 1 Samuel 26 when King Saul had enough and used the army of Israel to pursue David and kill him. With David dead, King Saul would receive the glory and praise of Israel rather than having it go to David.
One night, David and his men were camped not far from King Saul and the army of Israel. David and one of his men sneak into the enemy camp and find King Saul sleeping on the ground with his spear stuck in the ground near his head along with, what you might call, a water bottle.
Now, I hope you can imagine, David has many more reasons to kill King Saul than Cain had reasons to kill Abel. So David's assistant asks David for the honor of killing King Saul for David. Amazingly, David says "no". "Why should I lift my hand against the Lord's annointed?" If the Lord wants King Saul dead He can go ahead and do it. But I will not lift my hand to harm the guy the Lord Himself made king – even if it would be to my advantage.
However, taking King Saul's spear and water bottle, David went back to his own camp. No one ever saw David in the camp or known he was there.
The next morning, David shouts from his encampment (the camps were relatively close together and essentially said...) Excuse me, King Saul. Are you missing your spear and water bottle?
King Saul then knew that David could have killed him during the night but didn't. David had been close enough to him to take his spear and water bottle – but preserved Saul's life.
So you have two sinners. Two people, Cain and David, who are both told that they "Shall not murder." But the outcomes are quite different aren't they.
Cain's response to the crouching sin is to let it pounce. Cain acts according to his sinful nature.
David's response to the crouching sin is to give it no opportunity. David acts according to his Christ nature.
You, too, have two natures within you. Natures that deal with the sin crouching at your door like a wild animal in different manners. You are baptized so now you are both 100% sinner and 100% saint and yet one person.
Sometimes, like Cain, you let sin pounce. Someone hurts your feeling and you cover up the hurt with anger. You pounce. You get revenge. Sure, there is noone here this evening that has actually murdered anyone. But all of you, at one time or another, have wanted to get some vengenance against a person who hurt you physically or emotionally or financially or something. You had the motive to inflict harm. You have hurt others one way or another. You have acted on your sinful, fallen nature. And I suspect it felt really good.
But look at the damage it caused.
Other times, like David, you did not let sin pounce. Someone hurt your feeling and you let yourself feel sad rather than angry. You did not pounce. You did not get revenge. Many of you have protected people who meant to harm you. You have forgiven people whom you have every reason not to forgive.
You are able to let hurts be bygones because you have a share in God's nature.
You are patient with evil people because God, through Jesus, has forgiven you all your evil. Because Jesus does not hold your sin against you, you are now motivated to forgive the sin of the people who sin against you.
Because Jesus let His enemies nail Him to a cross of spears you have a Savior who is resurrected and washes away your sin. He is patient toward you. He loves and is taking care of you.
Upon the cross, Jesus looked up to His Father and said this about His enemies, such as you and me. Jesus said, forgive them. They don't know what they are doing. Jesus is not angry with you even when you are not as patient as you should be, but rather forgiving and loving instead.
In light of the great work of Jesus, let us learn to be a little more like David. Let us learn to forgive those who mean us harm. Let us not grow angry or embittered by people who strive against us and make our days more miserable than mighty. Let us commend to Jesus those who sin against us while being strengthened in our new Christ-like nature to no lift a finger, not even an eybrow, against those who wish us harm; in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.