Genesis 12: 1-4 March 5, 2023
Romans 4: 1-5, 13-17
St. John 3: 1-17
Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen.
“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help
come?” Psalm 121:1.
This world is filled with pain, agony, and misery. We walk
each day and it would be accounted as a miracle if we did not
experience at least one kind of displeasure before we rest our
We get assailed by tormenting accusations; many of which
are self-inflicted. We feel pain creep up a part of our body; pain
that chronically is our sure companion. Doubt withers away our
strong foundation and even our faith gets momentarily cast aside
as catastrophize cease us; loss inevitable wrecks what little
foothold we have as we sink into the abyss of misery. Our despair
becomes complete as all hope is lost and nihilism entrances our
already fragile minds.
People sin against us and our enemies takes away
everything little by little: our food, our home, our good name, our
health, and our freedoms. Yet, it is usually our own sin that
destroys us from within as we wrestle with our own moral
dilemmas; not knowing our left from our right.
In such agony, we cry out in pain, our anguish and anger
burst out with a bellowed howl. We may not know to whom we
direct our upward cry, but with tears and frustration we lift up our
eyes to the hills wondering if there is any aid that can possibly be
The heights of the old temples do our eyes rest. The ivory
pillars of our betters and their eyes of vane justice do we seek,
only to see equally empty windows likewise looking upward. All
the works of our hands are vanity. All our attempts at bettering
society are vanity. All our humanly-given aid is vanity, for all are
looking upward and all are crying out in pain. We the world is
suffering under the weight of our own sins, and thus we in unison
cry out how long will this pain last. From where does our help
And though our faith do quiver, as our eyes cast upwardly,
we see above the empty eyes of our betters, and still above them
the eyes of mournful angels, we see the eyes of a kind king
whose crown rests upon His feet. It is not works that looks up, but
it is our faith that looks up to thee, our most beautiful Lord. In our
misery we lift up our eyes, but our flesh has caused our eyes to
look no further than our ivory temples. In our misery we lift up our
eyes, yet our spirits rejoice as the Spirit continues our upward
gaze to meet the Savior’s.
No longer do our aching hearts crumble as we meet the
warm and loving face of our Redeemer. We may shed tears and a
pressure felt in our sinus. We may get a stab of pain in the crown
of our heads as an overwhelming emotion wells up inside of us.
But this tear-felt emotion which meets the love of God springs
forth not out of sadness but a wellspring of joy.
We see the help from our Lord, a help that asks nothing in
return, and our bottled up wretchedness is released. The flame of
hope that exudes from the Son softens our icy exterior which is
desperately retaining the exhausting flood. And yet, with our walls
slightly lowered on account of the initial sigh of relief we may feel,
the pressurized flood charges out of us and all our cares can no
longer be hid.
What greater love can one feel, what greater hope can one
have, what greater faith can one grasp on to than that
experienced by the one who sees the face of God?
Our eyes look up to the hills, asking for help and what do we
see? The Lamb of Calvary do we see: a body frail, torn by thorn
and nail; a pierced side from which blood and water flows; a face
marred by dripping blood and labored breath; and yet eyes so
benevolent we are put at perfect rest.
This Lamb, our propitiation, our sacrifice for our sins, asks
for nothing but our faith and in return He promises to takes on all
that assails us. To the ungodly He looks upon with compassion as
He tells them that He will be their righteousness. To the wicked
He looks with kindness and says, “Father, forgive them for they
know not what they are doing.” To the heavy laden He is gentle
and lowly of heart telling them that His yoke is easy and His
burden is light. To the poor in spirit the Lamb of God reminds us
that He came not to condemn us for we are already condemned
but to save us all. He sees the captive and proclaims He has
come to set us free.
He knows we are weak. He knows we suffer. He knows
every sin we have committed and will commit. He sees the deep
depravity of our hearts but He does not look upon such with anger
or wrath. Instead He is filled with grief over our sorry estate. He
sees the path we tread and the end result of our path. He is
begging us to turn around as we closer to the edge of the cliff that
leads to Hell. He sees us teetering on the edge and as we are just
about to lose our footing He reaches out to us and saves us while
taking the fall in our stead.
Jesus with His Law is like a drill sergeant whom we always
thought was mean and insufferable. But during training, for we are
but little children still learning to walk by faith, while learning how
to throw a grenade we pull the pin to our grenades ready to throw
it over the barrier only to drop it down to our feet. We stand
paralyzed at the grenade about to explode and see charging at us
our drill sergeant not with his usual apparent anger but with abject
fear. The drill sergeant throws us like a ragdoll over the barricade
to safety, and immediately puts his body over the grenade.
When we gaze upon the tattered body of our Savior know
this; every scar that He carries and bruise that He bears was
originally yours. He has willingly taken on your sins, your grief,
your shame, your burdens, your cares. He has willingly taken on
all these freely out of abundant unconditional love. The wound of
sin that was your death ticket has been taken by Christ who said I
will carry this heavy burden so you won’t have to. And in
exchange, the light burden Jesus carried, a burden so light it lifts
the bearer up to heaven, this light burden which is Jesus’ is given
to us. Our heavy burden which leads to perish is taken on by
Christ who then gives to us His light burden which lifts all who
believe to eternal life. He died so that we might live eternally.
He does this not for the godly; for those who work by the
Law and wish to be saved by the Law will receive their due. But
we who are ungodly and have no hope in the salvation through
the Law can be rest assured for Christ came down to earth for us.
He came to save the ungodly and wicked, the evil and
degenerate. The lost and the hopeless He came to save. The
criminal and the outcast, salvation He is to them. Tax collector,
politician, prostitute, murderer, all alike, it matters not, for He died
on the cross to save you of your sins regardless of who you are.
Is it the godly who look up to the hills will misery weighing
them down? Far from it! It is the one who sins who looks up
begging for mercy and grace. And to the one who looks up and
sees the face of God, not on account of who they are but only on
account of their faith, God justifies and makes righteous.
Our eyes may be lifted up to the hills and find the
horrendous Hill of Calvary. We may continue to lift our eyes up
and see the beginnings of three crosses. Our eyes lift higher and
are tormented by the image of three dying such a gruesome
death. But if our eyes just lift up ever so slightly on the lamb who
was lifted up on the cross and see His face then all despair will
perish. Sorrow will be wiped away and every tear from our eyes
as well. Any concern we carry will be lighten and the mercy and
grace we desired provided.
The cross may cause us pain, for the way Christ had to
provide for us this blessed peace reminds us of the sin we once
carried, and we like Peter do not want to see the one we love
pass away. But if we look beyond the pain associated with the
cross, never forgetting the cross, we see Christ and the wonderful
gift He is currently and will forever provide for us.
Let us pray,
Dear Heavenly Father, in our pain our eyes look up to you
for help. We thank you for the assurance we have found in you
and are blessed by your unconditional grace. In your name we
pray: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.