Monday, February 16, 2009

Thy Will be Done

Sixth Sunday in Epiphany
Mark 1:40-45
Bror Erickson

[40] And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, "If you will, you can make me clean." [41] Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, "I will; be clean." [42] And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. Mark 1:40-42 (ESV)

If you will, you can make me clean. What a profound statement of faith. Thy will be done. Lord, if you will it will be done. The leper has heard of Jesus. He has seen Jesus, and probably heard Jesus. The leper has faith, profound faith. And not only that but even profounder insight. He doesn’t ask Jesus, would you cleanse me. He states a simple fact. If you will, you can make me clean. The leper knows that it isn’t his own will that counts, but the will of Jesus. In essence he prays the third petition of the Lord’s Prayer. Thy will be done. And we know the will of our Lord will be done, now all there is, is to ask with this leper that it be done in our lives, and possibly to understand what the will of God is.

Too often we assume that we know what his will is. We assume it is the same as our will. We naively ask God that his will be done in our lives, because we assume that his will is the same as our will. Perhaps we would like a life of peace and tranquility, no upsets. We want to get through our hardships. And we never quite can figure out why things don’t always work out the way we want. Sometimes we assume it is our faith or lack there of. Sometimes we assume that God has it out for us, punishing us for some sin. If God loves us why do we get sick, why doesn’t he give us more. Why did he take that loved one from me. Why? We can never really know what God’s will is for us in those things in life. Paul had a thorn in his flesh that God refused to take away. God’s ways truly are unsearchable.
The leper here did not know if it was God’s will, Jesus will, that he be cleansed of his leprosy. He doesn’t assume that God’s will is the same as his own. But he does know that if God so wills than it will be done.

But that doesn’t mean that God keeps his whole will and counsel secret from us. He has revealed some of his will to us. For instance in 1 Timothy we learn that God desires all men to be saved. “This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, [4] who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. [5] For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, [6] who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.” (1 Tim. 2:3-6 (ESV)

So it is also a reasonable conclusion that God desires you, and your children to be saved. That he desires that his kingdom of Grace and mercy come to you, which is faith wrought by the work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit that comes to you when you hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the one mediator between man and God, who ransomed us all. The Holy Spirit who comes upon you in the waters of Baptism. Because Christ does not baptize with mere water, but with the Holy Spirit, as John the Baptist told his followers he would. So too it is a reasonable conclusion to believe that since God desires all people to be saved, and come to a knowledge of truth, so too he desires your children to be baptized, so that they to can have the Lord’s Kingdom come upon them, and the Lord’s will be done in there lives. Because it does not depend on our will.

Our will is all to often the opposite of God’s will. If it depended on us to want to make God a part of our life, we would never actually want it, we would never pray “Thy will be done.” Our Old Adam, our sinful flesh, the world and the devil, would never pray that. They are too caught up not in the desires of the Spirit, but the desires of the flesh.
“ [16] But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. [17] For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” (Galatians 5:16-17 (ESV)
And without the Spirit coming to us, we would never have the Spirit, we would never have faith, and we would never be able to pray with this leper, for spiritually we are all lepers at birth, dead rotting corpses with breath, dead in our trespasses, we would never be able to pray with him “Thy will be done.” If you will, you can make me clean.
And He does will, be clean. That is the Lord’s answer to our prayer, thy will be done: I do will; be clean.”
And this is something He does for us day in and day out as we return to our baptisms repenting of our sin in daily devotion, and praying that most powerful of all prayers the “Our Father,” “The Lord’s Prayer,” The prayer he taught us to pray. The one who wills that we be clean when we sin much and daily dirty ourselves with the dust of this world, and the temptations of the devil even as secretly our souls pray, though your will be done lord, not thy will but my will Lord, for the old Adam lives and swims. And yet, he is drowned daily as the Lord’s will is done, and our sins are forgiven. Because the Lord wills that we be clean, and washes us with his blood.
Now the peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord, Amen.

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