This Sunday marks the last Sunday of our first year using the Narrative Lectionary (the year of Luke). I note that the summer of the Narrative Lectionary is not provided, so this has been my own scheduling of readings. We have looked at additional readings in Luke that were not included in the Narrative Lectionary proper.
This was the year of Luke—appropriately, this Sunday’s Gospel reading is Luke 24:44-49. And even more appropriately, we will commission our college students as they serve God on the campuses of southern California. The theme for the sermon and service is: Revealing the Father’s Heart.
Then He [Jesus] told them, “These are My words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about Me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. He also said to them, “This is what is written: The Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead the third day, and repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And look, I am sending you what My Father promised. As for you, stay in the city until you are empowered from on high.” (Luke 24:44-49 HCSB)
Revealing My Heart
God’s heart is to forgive and restore. But because of sin in the world, and specifically my own sin, by nature and in thought, word, and deed, the first step in revealing the Father’s heart is the call for people to repent, for me to repent. According to James 2:10, one sin is enough to make me guilty of the entire Law.
For whoever keeps the entire law, yet fails in one point, is guilty of breaking it all. (James 2:10 HCSB)
So the call to repentance is to examine myself under God’s Law, aptly summarized in the ten commandments (Exodus 20). And lest I think that a literalistic reading gets me by with “not being too bad,” Jesus reminds me of the intent of the Law (Matthew 5:21-48).
The problem with this examination is that my sin, as well as my guilt and shame make me cringe before God. This is too difficult! “Is this God’s heart? How horrible God must be to bring all this to the surface!” My pleas for a waiver on the Law’s demand are met with deaf ears, God’s deaf ears. With sin at the heart of my problem and my own heart, sin must be exposed. God’s desire is something different, but sin and its consequences must be dealt with.
Revealing the Heart of True Love
Once sin is exposed, my heart is ripped apart, and I recognize that while breathing, I lay dead in sin, then God begins His heart’s desire. Jesus, the Messiah [Christ], suffered for sins, my sins. I could not even die for my own sins, to atone for them, to take them over.
Yet these cannot redeem a person or pay his ransom to God—since the price of redeeming him is too costly, (Psalm 49:7-8 HCSB)
I could only die in sin. Only His death was sufficient, costly enough to pay the ransom for everyone, for me.
He is the payment for our sins, and not only for our sins, but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:2 GW)
The Father’s heart is seen most clearly when His own beloved Son, Jesus, dies on the cross. Sin is that costly. And Jesus died for everyone.
Revealing the Father’s Heart to Others
Revealing the Father’s heart to others follows the same pattern that we went: a call to repentance and then proclaiming the solution, forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ. The delivery of those truths come through God’s Word, as we speak them. As we learn from Matthew 28:18-20, the other tool that God provides for this work of saving is Baptism:
Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 HCSB)
Witness to Jesus
We live in a world that is being crushed under sin, some identifiable, some hidden, but all of it destructive. The father’s heart is to root out sin, bring the healing balm of forgiveness of sins. And through that He might enjoy fellowship with us forever.
As we worship this week, let us join with the young adults on college campuses as we commission them to the mission field. They will be living with and speaking to people for whom this is all new. We pray for their protection and blessing, for their wisdom and faithfulness.