3rd Sunday a. Epiphany Sanctity of Human Life Sunday “Blessed Are We”
January 22, 2023 Psalm 41:2
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
“Blessed is the one who considers the poor! In the day of trouble the LORD delivers him; the LORD sustains him on his sickbed; in his illness you restore him to full health”
Do you believe that Word? It says that when you consider the poor = including the needy, the vulnerable, frail & defenseless human being= that the Lord Himself considers & blesses you. It sounds like your life will be blessed by God, in your time of trouble, when you have respected, & valued & helped those you encounter in their trouble.
This is not about being ‘saved’ by your good works = Scriptures says that cannot be. Salvation is only by God’s grace & thru faith in Christ & His work. But this IS saying that when you value others, help them, & do good to them, that God sees that, He takes note of that, and He will remember what you did in the day of your trouble and bless you.
“Blessed is the one who considers the poor! In the day of trouble the LORD delivers him; the LORD sustains him on his sickbed; in his illness you restore him to full health” This verse also speaks to how God views the poor. In the Bible, ‘the poor’ is an umbrella term for those who are in any need. Those that are deprived of food, clothing, home; whose lives need safety & protection, respect, healing, forgiveness, peace & hope.
To God, human life was a special creation, far above any other kind of created life on earth. Humans were created to bear His image; He respects that so highly – that He has given special value to people, male & female. There is no command about killing animals or plants; but His 5th Command is: You shall not murder. That’s the sanctity He has given to humans.
Because of sin, God did give a couple of exceptions to that command, such as capital punishment, national defense, and personal defense; but His Scripture holds human life sacred above all other forms of life. Human life begins at His will at conception, and it ends at His will with natural death. Anyone who does not have this sacred view of human life does not hold to what God has taught in His Word.
This Biblical, Christian view of human life is not only written in words for us, it is also written in the very life of Jesus Christ. As a church body, we are anti-abortion and pro-life, > not just because the words of Scripture support that view, but also because the promise & arrival of Jesus Himself proves that view. The worldly view argues that Jesus never spoke against abortion. But Jesus shows Himself as anti-abortion because He came to us in human flesh to save us. That is a message beyond words.
We learn to value human life from the moment of fertilization because God-the-Son, who was ‘very God of very God’, He took on our flesh in the same way you & I, & all people do, as an embryo in the womb of Mary. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, with God as the Father, and spent His own 9 months going thru those fetal stages, just as we all did. That’s why human life in the womb is sacred, and must be protected by God’s people from the threat of a wicked world, and from the evil actions of sinful or confused people.
We learn from Christ to value each human in body & soul, because =like Him, says Ps.139= we are fearfully & wonderfully made, being knit together by God in our mother’s womb. As a human being, Jesus’ submitted His physical body to the command of Baptism, where He was anointed with the Holy Spirit. When Jesus told the pharisees to ‘tear down this temple and I will raise it in three days,’ He was referring to the ‘temple of His body’.
As Jesus’ physical body was the temple of God in the fullest sense, so His body was honored & respected even after He died; His body was wrapped & respectfully placed in the tomb awaiting the promised resurrection. Your body, created by God, is also to be respected == it is not just a physical shell to house our soul that we can do whatever we want with it; it is a holy creation of God.
You & I are also to respect the bodies of those around us, /whether they are still being knit together in the womb, or if their body has lived over 100 years; /whether their body is healthy & beautiful, or crippled, sick, or disfigured. Like Jesus, their bodies are also created for the purpose of regaining the image of the eternal God. God’s desire is that all bodies will be baptized to be a temple of His Holy Spirit, and be used to live a new life of faith & obedience to the Creator.
The message of the Gospel is the good news of the forgiveness before God, which we have because of the cross & empty tomb of Jesus our Savior. We call this the ‘universal atonement’. Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the whole world, once, & for all people. Jesus put Himself, body & soul, under the penalty & judgment of God’s Law in our place.
By His holy, real, human blood, He became the Lamb of God sacrificed for your sins, and for the sins of each & every human being.
And remember, again, who is human? Whether the embryo in the womb, or the person who has celebrated over 100 birthdays, they are human under the gospel of Jesus. Whether that person has a huge bank account, or no bank account; whether that person talks to the leaders of the world, or talks to themselves; whether that person has muscles that can lift 500 lbs, or cannot lift their own hand for a drink of water.
We learn a Biblical, Christian view of human life from Jesus Himself. And because of His work for all of us, so the Lord gives us Ps.41, which is a word to teach us about the way God blesses us as we care for others. “Blessed is the one who considers the poor! In the day of trouble the LORD delivers him.”
If this Ps.41 is to apply to your life & mine, it must first & foremost apply to the life of the one perfect human being. “Blessed is the One who considers the poor!” Jesus is truly the One who considers the weak, the needy, & the vulnerable. His perfect eyesight & insight sees a sinful & wretched humanity, dead in sin, being deceived by our own foolishness, & selfishness, & by the chief liar – Satan. To God sinners look useless & repulsive, but He does not avoid us; He comes near. He is the Blessed One who comes to befriend us, defend us, to walk with us, and to bring us peace & a future. The Great Shepherd came to rescue lost sheep, and as He does, He is blessed with a large flock for His kingdom.
What kind of love IS that – that He would give everything, His whole life of body & blood for you & me; and for that cruel rich person, and for the homeless drug addict? This is the love of God that we cannot measure. Thankfully, we don’t have to measure it to believe it, & to receive it, & to share it with any person we encounter. ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.’
Even tho Jesus’ earthly life looked hard, as He was not ‘at home’ in a fallen world, as He was mocked & ridiculed, opposed & rejected by His own people; as He was threatened, betrayed, abandoned, beaten & crucified. But He was Blessed, because He considered the poor and gave Himself so that we would receive the gospel promise which gives us life with God.
Jesus demonstrates for us this life of faith in the word & promises of our God & Father. He knew He would be blessed by considering the needy; not blessed with earthly things that cannot last or give true life, but blessed with the lasting approval of God, and blessed with the treasures of the eternal kingdom that can’t be compared to gold, fame, power, or earthly health. His life of patient faith & obedience to the Father demonstrates for us the blessing we have as the children of the same Father.
And in order that we would also believe that the word of that eternal life will be ours, Jesus also demonstrated for us the promise of the resurrection to new life when He walked out of the tomb alive on Easter Sunday morning. Because He considered the poor in this life, so God delivered Him in His day of trouble, and restored Jesus to full health. Since Jesus came to be one of us, so we can believe the promise that being baptized in Him, we will join Him in a death to sin, and in a resurrection to new life.
In these ways, we learn from Jesus what it means to be human, and how we are to look at other humans, and to treat all people in a sacred, Biblical way. Young or old, slave or free, male or female, all are created by God to hear & receive this gospel message of forgiveness and salvation in Christ Jesus. Blessed are WE when we consider the poor with His gospel in this way. We are blessed because we have received the news of our Savior, and we have believed it. To believe it means that we also live by it. To live by the gospel means that we aim to hear God’s word and obey it. To obey God’s word means that our lives act like salt and look like light to those around us; we bring holy flavor & truth to a sinful world.
To live by the Christian gospel means that we consider the vulnerable, because Jesus has first considered us worthy of His attention, His forgiveness, and His heavenly kingdom. He protected us in the womb, and brought us into this life, so that we would be rescued for eternal life. In this biblical Christian view of human life, our Creator sees all humans as worthy to hear this gospel, and believe in the Son, and receive this gift of forgiveness, and a heavenly future. No matter their condition in life, /no matter their stage in life, /no matter their abilities or handicaps, /&, in fact, no matter what their sins have been. Jesus is the Blessed One who has come to redeem & bless all.
Blessed are WE when we are a church who considers those poor, and understands their need for this gospel of Christ. Blessed are we when we stand up for the vulnerable unborn, and for the defenseless elderly. Blessed are we -as a church- when we are ready to receive those who have run away from God for a time, and now fear they are unforgiveable, and cannot come back. Blessed are we when people try our patience and seek our forgiveness 70 x 7 times; because of Jesus we can forgive again.
Blessed are we when we don’t think of ourselves more highly than we ought, but we stoop down to humbly serve our neighbor -again & again- in the Lord’s name. Blessed are we when we return here each week repentant, receiving God’s forgiveness, and we return to our daily lives strengthened with this faith for another week of following after our Lord Jesus, the Blessed One. Blessed are we who know & follow Him.