Joel 2:12- 19
· Story about a newly wed couple where the groom drank too much at their wedding reception, he drove drunk, crashed his motorcycle, caused the death of his bride, wounded himself, and ended up in jail. Jesus Christ was wounded for that man, He was crucified until He was dead and buried for that man, He rose up again so that His Father could be gracious to that man.
· No doubt there are people not too far away from here who have drove drunk, there are those who have caused accidents, there are those who have wounded loved ones and themselves with their reckless habits. Jesus Christ was wounded for those people, He was crucified until He was dead and buried for those people, He rose up again so that His Father could be merciful to those people.
· No doubt there are children in our school who have lied to their parents, children who have disrespected their teachers, children who have fallen into fits of crabbiness, fits of nastiness, fits of orneriness. Jesus Christ was wounded for those children, He was crucified until He was dead and buried for those people, He rose up again so that His Father could be slow to anger with those children.
· No doubt there are teenagers in our high school who have broken all kinds of commandments, teenagers who have had little or no time for the Word of God, teenagers who have failed to do the good they wanted to do and fallen into bad habits they didn’t want to fall into. Jesus Christ was wounded for those teenagers, he was crucified until He was dead and buried for those teenagers, He rose up again so that His Father could abound in steadfast love for those teenagers.
· Three lessons we want to learn from Jesus about Lent on this Ash Wednesday.
1. Lent is about staring in amazement at a sacred head, now wounded, instead of just passing by unimpressed.
· Amazed at how far He came to find us - the ones who came from dust and are returning to dust. The ashes for which this day are named symbolize that we are dying, they remind us that the wages of sin is death, they warn us against getting full of ourselves.
· Amazed that Christ would take on flesh and blood, as He did when He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. Jesus went so far as to become dust for us, He went so far as to become sin for us, that we might be claimed by our Father as sons and daughters.
· If ever there was a season to be amazed by the grace of God, if there was ever a season to be quiet in the house of God, if ever there was a season to be sorry for the ways we have offended our God, if ever there was a season to weep over the messes we have left behind, if ever there was a season to regret the opportunities we have missed, this is the season.
#1 lesson – staring in amazement at a sacred head, now wounded, instead of just passing by unimpressed.
2. Lent is about pastors and congregations gathering in sacred assembly, admitting that we are wounded, and crying out for mercy.
· Luther writes that Joel was a kindly and gentle man. He does not denounce and rebuke as do the other prophets, but pleads and laments. He tried with kind and friendly words to make the people pay attention and mend their sinful ways. But it happened to him as it happened to the other prophets, they did not believe his prophecies, they held him to be a fool.
· In the first chapter, Joel predicts that Israel will be destroyed and carried away by the Assyrians. He pictures the Assyrians as locusts cutting, swarming, hopping, and unrelenting.
· In our text for tonight, Joel urges the folks to blow the trumpet, to consecrate a fast, to call a solemn assembly, to gather the people. The elders and the widows were to come together, the married and the single folks were to come together, the teenagers, the children, and the nursing babies were to be summoned, ministers and priests were to lead the people in admitting that they were wounded, crying out for mercy.
· No doubt many of their wounds were self inflicted, many of their wounds were brought on by their enemies, some of their wounds were just part of being human, all of their wounds, all of our wounds are to be brought to the foot of the cross. Again and again we cry out for mercy, and mercy is ours. Even before we can get the words out, by his wounds we are healed. Hear the good news tonight – a broken and contrite heart, our God will not despise.
· Lesson #2 is about gathering together, admitting we are wounded, crying out for mercy.
3. Lent is about getting turned around by God and going in opposite direction instead of just going through the motions.
· Lent isn’t for pretend sinners. Lent is for real, honest to God sinners who have fallen, they have fallen hard, and they realize they have fallen hard. Over a thousand times in the Old Testament, we have this word for repentance that has to do with getting turned around and returning to God
· Return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning….return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love…
· The best the Law of God can do is show us we are in the wrong place, only the Gospel can turn us around. The Law of God can get our attention, but it is only by the grace of God that new hearts can be created. The best the Law can do is show us what the damage we have done and the holes we have dug for ourselves. Only the Gospel can undo that damage, only the Gospel can lift us up out of those holes, only the love of Christ can compel us to go in brand new directions that give glory to God and build up other people.
The kingdom of God is like a man whose head begins to hurt, his blood vessels are bleeding, he is rushed to the hospital, and after a short time, the doctor announces his decision to drill a hole in the top of his head. A more frightening moment is hard to imagine. And yet this surgeon’s drill saves a life. Recovery is slow, but sure. So also is God’s Law like surgeon’s scalpel on our sin. The Law cuts us to the heart, because we are indeed wounded by sin and death. It may feel quite uncomfortable, but God’s mercy makes such a healing possible. Praise God that he mercifully sends a wounded Savior to heal us wounded people.
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