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Second Sunday after the Trinity, June 17th 2007, at Old Zion Lutheran Church in Philadelphia

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Second Sunday after the Trinity, June 17th 2007

at Old Zion Lutheran Church in Philadelphia

2 Samuel 11:26-12:10,13-15 Psalm 32 Galatians 2:15-21 Luke 7:36-8:3

The stories we heard this morning about David’s adultery with Bathsheba and the woman who anointed Jesus speak for themselves mostly, but what we learn from them is that all of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Is there anyone righteous? The answer is “no not one” (Romans 3:9), except Jesus Christ. Thus God has to have mercy upon us all. The only ground we have to stand on is the mercy of God, and thus we hold that it is “by grace that we are saved for Christ’s sake through faith” as it says in our Augsburg Confession, Article IV.

So Christ may have been called the Son of David, and the name “David” may mean “darling,” and David was God’s darling, but look at the dreadful sins he fell into! He was worse than Bill Clinton, at least considering the Lewinski affair. David committed adultery and then to cover it up, he had Uriah the Hittite, Bathsheba’s husband, killed in battle very intentionally. Joab, the commander, pulled back his forces so that Uriah would be sure to be killed, and poor Uriah, without knowing it, delivered the letter from David to the commander himself, saying that David wanted him dead so that he could take his wife. (Of course he did not include that part in the message.)

Now our Psalm 32 today says, “Blessed is the one whose transgressions the Lord does not count against him.” And when the prophet Nathan tricks David into self-judgment with his clever parable, and then says, “You are the man!” David realizes his cover is gone. To his credit, he does not kill Nathan as many a powerful despot would have done. He says, “I have sinned against the Lord!”

Now David had said that the one who killed the poor man’s ewe-lamb would have to return it fourfold, and David lost four of his sons thereafter. Losing Absalom, his son Absalom was the hardest for him. He could not be comforted and could not stop saying, “Absalom, my son, Absalom!” for many days afterward. Forgiveness does not seem to remove the consequences of David’s sin.

But when we are sinners, fallen short of the glory of God, we dare not cover it up, because the sin festers like a wound that seems to be healed on the outside, but the infection is still spreading on the inside. Confession is good for the soul, because then God treats our sin, like a doctor would our wound; the treatment may hurt, the way it hurts to confess it, but then the healing of forgiveness is possible. Otherwise the sin would have spread under cover and its corruption would have brought much more sin, death, and destruction.

I’m using an analogy of an athlete who had a deep wound in his leg. You could see to the bone. The wound would heal on top, but the infection would not let it heal inside. The doctors had to cut the wound open again and again so it would first heal on the inside before it closed and healed on the top.

God’s forgiveness heals us on the inside and we have to let God treat our sin with confession and forgiveness, because otherwise, if we cover it up, it produces untold harm, much more sin, as well as devastation.

Had Nathan not confronted David and exposed his adultery and murder, David would have lost his throne and the promise even of the Messiah sitting on David’s throne forever would have been lost. God would have had to choose another.

Now there are not some of us who are righteous and others of us who are sinners. We have all fallen short of the glory of God. Thus Simon the Pharisee saw himself as righteous and the woman touching Jesus as a sinner. She was bathing Jesus’ feet with her tears, drying them with her hair, anointing them with precious ointment, and kissing his feet all the while. Simon considered her a sinner. Simon was very much oriented to the law, but the law is not a way of salvation. Faith and worship of Jesus Christ is the way of salvation and in that regard, we do not know what the woman’s sins were, but look at how far Simon fell short of her ability to love and show love.

And how wonderful Jesus is! He does not judge and reject her. And her lavish, extravagant, amazing love would take a very mature person like Jesus to be able to accept. Love is more threatening to some people than anger. Some people’s relationships are filled with anger and resentment. Often a low-grade warfare fills the relationships of couples and families, because that is all they know and are familiar with. Real love is very threatening when we are insecure.

Jesus turns to the woman after telling Simon his parable and says, “Do you see this woman?” Simon only saw a sinner and saw himself as righteous. Jesus asks him, “Do you see this woman?” Simon could not see her. I asked an orthodox Jew once, why the women had to sit in back and the men in front in his synagogue. “I don’t want to be thinking of sex; I want to be worshiping God.” he answered. He couldn’t see the women. He could only see them as sex objects.

I might be unfair to Simon, but how did he know that she was a sinner and how did she have access to his house? Of course, she may have been a sinner because she was a tax collector’s wife. Yet Simon may have been able to see her only as a sex object.

Thus Jesus has to ask him, “Simon, do you see this woman?” Do you see this person? Do you see how much love she is capable of? Do you see her faith in the one sent from heaven, because God so loved the world, leaving you so far behind in your capacity to love, that you look like you have rigor mortis of the soul? Do you see how far short you fall compared to her, because you think the law is a way of salvation, but she knows that faith in the Holy One of Israel, faith in the Lord of Love, Jesus Christ, is the only way of salvation.

It is as if Jesus said, “Simon, she has been justified by faith, and her love covers a multitude of sins, and your attempt to justify yourself by the law has made you judgmental, rejecting, probably hypocritical, and a sorry excuse for a human being.

The freedom of the Gospel that the woman loved in was sure to get her hurt and misunderstood, because it made her so vulnerable. But Jesus was trustworthy. He did not take advantage of her.

Often someone like her is more sinned against than sinning. It’s like in the Middle East where a woman is raped by a man and her father or her brothers kill her to maintain the family’s honor. That is worse than adding insult to injury. That is worse than blaming the victim. That is killing the crime-victim to justify the criminal who raped her. God have mercy upon us!

Let’s move the insight of the Gospel one more step. Conservatives and liberals or conservatives and progressives, Republicans and Democrats, have all fallen short of the glory of God. We should stop acting as if one group, the one we belong to, is righteous and the other group is sinful. No way. We are all sinful. We have all fallen short of the glory of God. We have that one thing in common and we have to see that it is what makes us both Christians. We can only stand on God’s mercy and we do not have any righteousness of our own to stand on. Let’s stop being self-righteous. Our righteousness is only in Jesus Christ our Lord, and our faith in him will fill our relationships with love, and that love for those we disagree with so much and really can’t stand and stomach, will cover a multitude of sins. Amen.


Written by peterkrey

June 18, 2007 at 10:36 pm

Posted in Selected Sermons

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