God is Begging
Tuesday of Pentecost 18
20 September 2016
God pleads with sinners every way He possibly could. He Himself approached Adam and Eve in the garden when they were playing spiritual hide and seek with him. He confronted them with their sin, but that's not all. He promised them the Seed who would crush the serpent's head that He might save them back to Himself. He met with Abraham over the supper to tell him. He divided the waters of the Red Sea to bring His people through on dry ground. He sent the prophets to Israel although the people abused and murdered His messengers. Finally, He sent His Son with the confidence that the world would respect Him (Lk 20:13). He took upon Himself the full store of God's wrath, not because He was constrained to bear it, but because He chose to bear it.  How much more could He do for us, as He says in Isaiah: "What more was there to do for my vineyard, that I have not done in it" (Is 5:4)? If we are not led to repentance and faith, we are truly hard-hearted. Like an unrequited lover, God is begging us to relent and return to Him.

We are truly hardhearted. And our Father knows it. Recall that the prophet Hosea was commanded by God to marry a prostitute. Her name was Gomer. Even after marrying Hosea Gomer had fidelity problems. Yet God commanded Hosea to continue to love her, cherish her, indeed to chase after her, begging her to return to him, no matter how humiliating this might have been for Hosea. This is our God. He will suffer any humiliation necessary that we might live with Him as His bride in whom there is neither spot or blemish, despite our sins. To us God says: "How can I give you up? How can I hand you over to the destruction you deserve? My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender" (Ho 11:8 alt.). See how God responds to our hardhearted prostitution of ourselves in everything except His Word. He cannot hand us over to our wickedness. He must continue to chase after us as Hosea did after Gomer the prostitute wife.

God will always stand by his promises to us, even if we are abusing them. This is the point that Jesus is making in the gospel lesson for this past Sunday (Lk 16:1-15). We have attempted to take advantage of God and ironically that is exactly what he wants from us. This is what it means for God to be for us, that we receive all and everything from him; a full life, sustenance, our identity is in Him. Go ahead give away what's His. You cannot out give His generosity; even if you think you're cheating Him.

Our dearest Lord Jesus offered His own blood for us writing us into his last will and testament. He brings us here to this place so that we might participate in that precious gift; that the blood which was shed would be received here by us as we gather around the altar which He has set. Only sinners need apply for the great antidote to death; the prescription of immortality served out here by His own hand. Into our emptiness, He pours the life-giving blood of His Supper. Over our wickedness he spreads the covering blood of his mercy. Upon the corpse-like corpus of our tongue he sets the corpus of His body because he has promised, "This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh" (Jn 6:50-51). See how earnestly God is begging! See how He will go to the wildest, most outlandish lengths to win us back to Himself. God would have all people to be saved, even you! He is begging; begging even you!

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Martin Luther
"If you want to be a Christian, if you want to have forgiveness of sins and eternal life, then come here [to the sacrament]! There stands your God; He offers you His body and blood, broken and shed for you. If you want to despise God and neglect the forgiveness of sins, then stay away. So I do not compel you, but Christ pleads with you lovingly. If you despise this, then you see to it!

We are saying what your God is offering to you. Accordingly, I beg you to hold to the sacrament, for your sakes, not ours. There are now few boys and girls and women who come. I know that you are not holier than Peter. It really grieves me that you are so cold in your attitude toward it. If you will not do it for God's sake and my sake, then do it for the sake of your own necessity, which is exceedingly great, namely, your sins and death. There is the temptation of adultery, of fornication, avarice, hatred, pride, envy, of unbelief and despair, and you do not consider how you are ever going to get out of them, and you grow altogether cold in that ungodliness. But listen to what Christ says here [in the sacrament]: "for you."

Martin Luther, Sermons on the Cataechism
Luke 16:1-9

He also said to the disciples, "There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his possessions. And he called him and said to him, 'What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your management, for you can no longer be manager.' And the manager said to himself, 'What shall I do, since my master is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do, so that when I am removed from management, people may receive me into their houses.' So, summoning his master's debtors one by one, he said to the first, 'How much do you owe my master?' He said, 'A hundred measures of oil.' He said to him, 'Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.' Then he said to another, 'And how much do you owe?' He said, 'A hundred measures of wheat.' He said to him, 'Take your bill, and write eighty.' The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings. (ESV)
Almighty God, You plead with us, that we might receive all the abundance of Your kingdom, with its grace and gifts of mercy. Keep us from hardheartedness and unbelief that we might be freed from our depravity, and through the precious blood of Your Son become blood-bought children and heirs of Your heavenly kingdom; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

For all those charged with ecclesiastical supervision in the LCMS, that they would faithfully confess Christ as the Savior and those who are supervised be upheld and strengthened in this confession

For Michael Golchert, who is undergoing therapy for cancer, that the Lord Jesus would grant him strength body and courage of soul

For Bill Heine, that the Lord his God would grant him the peace that surpasses all human understanding
Art: Durer, Albrecht  The Adoration of the Trinity (1515) 
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2016
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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