PENTECOST 4, C – June16, 2013

SCRIPTURES: 2 Samuel 11:1 – 12:14; Galatians 2:15-3:14; Luke 7:36-8:3

David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child who is born to you shall die.”

Happy Father’s Day! I give thanks to God for my father on this day. A good, loving, caring, correcting, disciplining father was my dad. I’m very thankful I had such a dad; although, when I was young, there were some things about him I would have changed, if I could.

I mean, my dad did lots of things with me and my brothers. He played catch with us; he took us along when he played golf and taught us the game; I became interested in cards, and so he taught me various games, and we played often. He and mom planned and took us on family vacations every year. These were all good things, and as a kid I would have encouraged more of such things. Other things, however – spankings; taking things away; grounding me; chewing me out and lecturing me; talking to, and agreeing with, my teachers – at the time I would have changed such things.

And then, there was church. Oh, church was ok when I was young. But, I got bored after a while, and especially when I got a bit older. One Sunday I remember asking dad if I could stay home. I didn’t get anywhere, and knew not to bother asking again! He even roped me into singing in the choir when I was in high school. And, look what happened to me! I didn’t understand at the time, but I now thank God for my dad, for his discipline, his loving correction and guidance, and above all for his involvement with me. He didn’t just send me and my brothers to church; he and mom took us.

It was especially when I became a father that ii understood and appreciated my dad much better. I also understood and appreciated my heavenly Father much better.

Our heavenly Father is tough; far too tough, it may seem to us. Oh, His mercy and forgiveness is incredible, and for this we should be especially thankful. “As high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.” (Ps. 103:11-13) He immediately forgave David, even though he was guilty of coveting the wife of one of his best soldiers, committing adultery with her, and then murdering her husband to cover it up. Even though by his actions David showed that he despised God, God forgave him. How great is His mercy! And yet, His discipline: “because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child who is born to you shall die.” How tough! How wrong it seems! Why is God willing to discipline His people so severely?

He knows us, and better than we know ourselves. Our heavenly Father knows what lies within us; and it is not good. Our culture disagrees, and promotes the idea that there is great goodness within us. People often say things like, “Just follow your heart, and you won’t go wrong.”
  • There’s a new Superman movie out right now. I remember the others. Superman’s father, Jor-El, says to his young son as he sends him from the planet Krypton to earth: "They’re a great people Kal-El, they wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way. For this reason above all, their capacity for good, I have sent them you, my only son."
It’s our capacity for evil that is the problem. It is this capacity, this sin that is bound up within us from our conception and birth, that led David to follow up his accidental view of a woman bathing with lust and adultery and murder.

Learn from such stories. 1 Cor. 10:11-12 says, “These things were written down for our instruction. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” If such a man of faith as David – the author of Psalm 23 and many other Psalms; the man who in his teens faced the mighty warrior Goliath with just a sling and a stone and his trust in God – could fall into such sin, then you and I can, also. Sin is strong and we are weak, inclined to sin and evil. “But I am a good person! Unlike so many others, I even go to church regularly!” Good for you! But, this is no guarantee of God’s blessing. 
  • Many religious and morally good people sat at the table with Jesus in the house of Simon the Pharisee, but He rebuked them all as debtors before God. Simon was not the one who received Christ’s blessing, but the lowly woman who by her actions acknowledged herself to be a sinner and Jesus to be her Savior.
Christ did not come to reward the good but to save the sinful. By His death on the cross, bearing our sins and their punishment for us, He has done so! We are forgiven! This does not mean, however, that your battle with sin is over. Beware! Temptation can come upon us in the simplest and most innocent of ways and places, but it must never be indulged or given a place. Flee from temptation, lest your sin destroy you and others! Turn the other way – to Christ! He is, and will always be, the Friend and Savior of sinners.

God the Father sent us His Son, not to be a superman who by his power would cast down the evil and rescue the good, but to call us sinners to Himself and raise us up from our sin and its certain condemnation. But, how we misunderstand God in this! His desire, you see, is to forgive you and then turn you from your sin. We must now live for God and not for ourselves, and this will not always seem fair. As Paul says in our reading from Galatians 2, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” This is just as true for God’s babies as it is for His adults.
  • God used the death of David and Bathsheba’s child to show the people of Israel that He was not pleased with David’s sin. This was hard. But, does He say that He would send the child to hell? No!! Yes, it was sad that the baby died and seems very unfair to us, but God was that precious baby’s loving Father just as much as He was David’s loving Father. Now the child would be with His Father in heaven; and isn’t that great?!
God is not easy as He deals with sin, for He knows well how sin corrupts and destroys. His forgiveness, then, is also not easy. Jesus had to bear the consequences of your sins for you and die for them! “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Gal. 3). We will never know how painful that was.

Always remember, especially when you are enduring God’s discipline for your sin and do not understand it, that it is Jesus – God who became flesh for you, who bore in His flesh the curse of your sins for you – who deals with your sin. He will always be with you as you face them, and it is His love that directs how you must deal with them. He not only accepted the sinful woman who cried on His feet. He elevated her above those who looked down upon her and proclaimed her to be the true believer, the one truly blessed by God. In Him God was her Father and is our Father. He will never do us wrong.

Your faith in Christ, in His death for you, saves you! It makes you God’s child, so that you can call upon Him as your Father! That is as true for you as it was for the woman who cried on Jesus’ feet. So, go in peace. Be at peace in your heart and mind, and know that you live in your Father’s love and favor. Don’t be bothered by your sins, for they are forgiven and gone! But, your sinful flesh with its desires remains, and the world seems to be getting worse and worse. So, love your heavenly Father and love what He has commanded. Above all, love Him for His mercy in Christ and seek His forgiveness constantly. God’s peace in Christ will guard and keep you, and bring forth great works of love; to the glory and honor Christ, our Savior.