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Identity Thief Jesus!

March 4, 2015

anoint

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Midweek Lent 2

4 March 2015

 

Catechetical Sermon Series: The Ten Commandments

 

+ Jesu Juva +

 

St. John 12:1-8/ Commandment 7

 

A Bethany dinner party. Jesus is the guest of honor. After all, He is the Savior. Martha dishes up the mashed potatoes and prime rib. Pours the Zinfanel. Recently-raised-from-the-dead-by-Jesus-Lazarus is at table. All of a sudden Mary breaks out the most expensive of her imported from the East ointments. A whole pound full! Its magnificent and extravagant fragrance fills the entire house.

 

You know the verse in Psalm 23: “You anoint my Head WITH oil.” But Mary pours it all over Jesus’ feet and wipes it off with her hair.

 

Mary is not stingy. She doesn’t hold back. She generously and deliberately anoints Jesus with her one-of-a-kind, pure, genuine, precious, high-priced, anointing oil. It’s what you’d normally put on a dead body right before you bury it. To honor the deceased!

 

The deceased? The buried? What’s with that? Is Mary crazy? No. She gives one of her most precious possessions to honor Jesus! For who He is and what He has come to do for her, you, the entire world and me! Jesus is going to do a Good Friday to give His divine body into cruciform death– as the atoning sacrifice for all sin and every sinner. Soon, His divine body will be dead AND buried! So she humbly and lovingly anoints it because soon His body will be given into death for her salvation — and yours. She knows just how precious sinners are to Lord Jesus who has come to die for her. No wonder her faith in Him is exhibited through such love and thanksgiving as she anoints His feet with the pricey ointment and then wipes it from His feet with her hair.

 

Then there’s Judas. Judas Iscariot. The total opposite of Mary. He blasts her. Let’s her have it. But in a very pious way of course. “Oh Mary! You poor, poor dear! What a waste! As Chief Financial Officer in charge of Jesus Ministry Inc., I know a thing or two about fiscal responsibility. What you’ve just done is such a shame! A monetary calamity!   You meant well but you should have donated that high-priced oil to Jesus Ministry Inc. I would have sold it to the highest bidder and given the hefty proceeds to Bethany’s street people, the homeless, the battered, the abused, the orphaned and the unemployed. You could have been part of something greater! Community building! Community transformation! With all that cash we could make Bethany a better place to live. And just imagine how much street cred and props Jesus Ministry Inc. would get!”

 

Sounds really good doesn’t it? However, behind all the pious talk Judas doesn’t give a rip about the poor. Or about Jesus. He’s all about helping himself. Enriching himself at Mary’s expense.

 

He’s been at it for quite some time. Embezzling. Misappropriating funds. Stealing from Jesus Ministry Inc. “As keeper of the money bag he used to help himself to what was put in it.” Less for Jesus Ministry Inc. and the disciples who followed Jesus meant more for him. Judas was a thief! His pious talk was all poppycock as he quietly but relentlessly padded his Swiss and Mediterranean offshore bank accounts.

 

In fact, CFO Judas will soon make a dastardly deal for cash to betray Jesus into the hands of His enemies that leads directly to Jesus’ death. What a fraud! What a big time 7th Commandment breaker! He could care less how much his robbery deeply hurt people – Mary, his fellow disciples or even Jesus!

 

Now, with the 7th Commandment God wants you to help people. To serve them. To improve and protect your neighbor’s possessions and income instead of stealing, burglar-ing, or thieving them. In the 7th Commandment God wants you to love your neighbor. Stealing harms, hurts and injures your neighbor. Again, take the example of Judas Iscariot. More for you at the painful expense of your neighbor is a sin – not only against the one from whom you steal but it is rank rebellion and transgression against God Himself.

 

After all, when you steal you not only break the 7th Commandment, you also break the 1st Commandment. You steal because you do not fear, love and trust in God above all things. You steal because you do not believe that God is FOR YOU. You steal because you do not trust that God will provide FOR YOU. So, you take matters into your own hands and take from others.

 

You believe the lie that robbery or theft — from grand to petty — is no big deal. You believe the propaganda that there’s no harm – no foul when you cheat or defraud your neighbor at school, in your family, or in your community. You all play the video game Grand Theft Auto on your Xbox. You’ve become numb to the horrific nature of stealing as well as other wicked sins that usually go with it. (Remember the story of King Ahab and the sins that went his taking of Naboth’s vineyard?) Husbands steal from their wives when they withhold love from their wives and vice versa. Kids steal from their parents when they don’t honor them. When you don’t give what you should give to each other, like love, honor or respect that too is robbery!

 

Consequently, stealing is so common, so ordinary, so expected among you that you don’t even think twice about it. You lose no sleep. You don’t even blink an eye. No pangs of conscience when you steal in whatever way. It’s just a matter of fact. Expected. A way of life. It’s what people do. So what’s the big deal?

 

I’ll tell you what the big deal is! Your stealing (from chronic to occasional) – the hurtful and deliberate harming of your neighbor — reveals a much bigger dilemma – in fact – the biggest crisis in your life. What is that? It is this: you do not fear, love and trust in God above all things. You do not believe that God is FOR YOU to take care of you in everything and so you callously and fanatically steal with your heart, your mouth and your hands. I’m here to tell you that that is hellaciously disastrous.

 

And you’d better repent of such unbelief and repent of the stealing that flows from your breaking of the 1st Commandment. Confess you sin. Admit it. Take responsibility. Don’t deny it anymore. Quit blaming others. Stop the stealing. Knock it off.

 

And most especially believe that God is FOR YOU in Jesus His Son the Savior of 7th and 1st Commandment sinners. So much is God FOR YOU in Jesus that – dare I say it? – yes I think I will. I’m in a gospel-ly audacious mood. Here goes. So much is God FOR YOU IN JESUS that Jesus becomes the identity “thief”. Yes, that’s right I said it. The identity “thief” par exellence!

 

What do I mean? Here’s what I mean. I’m not saying that Jesus sinned. He never sinned. But what I am saying is that FOR YOU and for your salvation Jesus calculatingly and intentionally took your identity. He broke through all your LifeLock security measures and identity theft protection and He “stole” your identity from you. That is to say, as Jesus was hung on the cross by the Roman soldiers, He “was numbered with the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12) and He [Jesus] “who knew no sin was made to be sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21) because He was truly carrying all your sin in His divine sinless Body. He flat out took all your sin away from you! Stubbornly but graciously “stole” it all from you! Wrapped Himself in the totality of all your sin! Robbed every bit of it from your body and then bore it in His!

 

Why? So that God the Father would treat Him, not you, as the sinner that deserves all of God’s divine wrath and eternal damnation. This is what it takes to save you, the sinner! Listen carefully. Jesus becomes the sinner and gets treated as the sinner with the world’s sin and yours that He’s taken from you!

 

Identity thief Jesus! Redeeming you from the curse of the law by His “having become a curse for” you (Galatians 3:13) on His Good Friday cross.

 

Identity thief Jesus! Therefore, He is, “numbered with the transgressors” and “He who knew no sin was made to be sin.” And so He cries out with a loud voice with all the sin and its damning consequences that He took from you: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).

 

Well, since identity thief Jesus has taken all your sin, your sin, remarkably and wonderfully, doesn’t belong to you anymore! Seriously! It’s all forgiven. Not counted against you. Salvation is yours!

 

And now, because of Jesus, you have a new identity. You are a new creation spelled: F-A-I-T-H! A believer. Or that new creation that comes from Jesus’ forgiveness is spelled:

S-A-I-N-T! A holy one! Not your holiness. But the holiness and perfection of Jesus given in His forgiveness.

 

Now, brothers and sisters, as you have good use of the Lord’s forgiveness, He has ample first-class use for you, His believers or saints, in the world as His own hands and mouth. To deny yourself in order to help people — to love people without counting the cost. To improve and protect your neighbor’s money and possessions. Not to pull a Judas Iscariot but rather to give self-sacrificially and abundantly like Mary. You’re free to do that because salvation is yours in Jesus! And the Lord Jesus will provide you with tons of opportunities to love and help many people in the way of the 7th Commandment. Happy doing just that!

 

In the Name of Jesus.

 

 

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