Thursday, June 27, 2013

Fourth Sunday after Trinity

Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
Judging Others
37 “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38 give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
39 He also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. 41 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother's eye. (Luke 6:36-42)
Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
Your Father is merciful. God is merciful. He looks upon us in our sin and has mercy. He forgives even though our sin is an affront to him. God the Father, our Father, is perfect and holy. And in this we are nothing like our Father. He has no sin. He alone is qualified to cast the first stone. He alone is qualified to hurl the stone, the stone upon which he wrote his law for Moses, the only thing in the entire scriptures of which it can be said, “God wrote that with his own hand.” He could hurl this stone straight at you, because you have not kept any of which is written there on, you have broken his law, from the first commandment on down, and you don’t think twice about it most of the time. Yet God sees your sin and is merciful, because God is also love. Instead God judges God, the Father Judges the Son in our place. His holiness, his perfectness, his justness is satisfied in the death of his Son, the death that waited for us. The condemnation that waited for us.
And if our Father is merciful than we too ought to be merciful. Before we were under the law, we lived and died by the law. In that world it was dog eat dog. In that world men condemn men. They are perfectly happy to be judged by the standard with which they judge. In reality they judge with the standard by which they think they are judged. They fall short. Judge not and you will not be judged. Forgive and you will be forgiven. We are forgiven! Never forget that! Jesus died on the cross for you! You are forgiven of all your sins. I mean this is the amazing thing, you are even forgiven of the sin of judging others. And with that I breathe a sigh of relief. Because I’m not sure about you, but personally, I’m guilty of that sin. There are days I hate myself for it, when I finally turn the standard by which I have judged back on myself. I see the sin I have committed. I see myself for the hypocrite I am. Do you see yourself the same? “Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.” (Romans 2:1)
No, if you are going to help your neighbor remove the speck that is in his eye, then you first must remove the log from your own eye. But then removing the speck is a bit different than judging, or is it? See this is the thing. A log in our own eye. How would one remove it himself? It’s a grotesque picture isn’t it. Us walking around with logs stabbed into our eyes. And even if we were able to remove a log from our eye, we would not be able to see any better, that is if we were even alive! Little known fact, logs and eyes don’t do well with each other. This isn’t a matter of us being able to pull a bigger speck out of our own eye. This is beyond our doing. But Jesus is diagnosing our condition under the law. We are dead, we have been blinded by the law, the veil of Moses is no longer a pretty little scarf tied over our heads, it’s a bandage around our eye, bloody from the log of the law protruding from our cranium. And it will take more than pulling it out to make it better. It will take a miracle to restore it. And that miracle is the forgiveness of sins that Jesus won for us on the cross with his death and resurrection. Only the forgiveness of sins can remove the veil of moses and restore our sight.
But then we approach our neighbor with the speck in his eye a bit more cautiously, a bit differently. We don’t judge any longer. Now we realize that his speck is no different than the log Jesus had to remove from our eye. We begin to realize that what is needed, oh he might need be told that what he is doing is wrong, that he or she should stop doing it. This parable isn’t saying that the law is done away with etc. But we see that what he needs more than anything is the same thing we ourselves have received from God, the forgiveness of sins, mercy from our Father, because our Father is his Father, our Lord is his Lord, and he who has been merciful to us, is merciful to him. And it is only by grace and mercy that us sinners live at all.

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