Monday, September 07, 2009

Not Without Reason

I remember this acquaintance I once had, (I really wouldn't call him a friend) every so often he would come up and whack my in the arm. When I asked him "why?" he would respond, "no reason," and just walk away. I always thought that if you're going to punch me in the arm, you should at least have a reason. But I guess some people will do mean things for no reason at all.

In this week's sermon passage (John 15:18-25) Jesus states that there are those who have "hated me without reason." (John 15:25) Jesus' words at this point are a quote from the Old Testament, from Psalm 69:4,

Those who hate me without reason
outnumber the hairs on my head,
many are my enemies without cause
those who seek to destroy me
I am forced to restore
what I did not steal.

Ecce Homo (Behold the Man!), Antonio Ciseri, 1...Image via Wikipedia

Scholars have said the Psalm 69 is the most quoted by the New Testament writers. And for good reason. As you read through it it is quite evident that the words of the psalmist can be placed in the mouth of the Messiah, the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53.

As I studied this Psalm in light of John 15:18-25, I was specifically drawn to the final phrase where the psalmist (Messiah) declares that he is forced to restore what he did not steal. Is that not what Jesus did on the cross? He paid for the sin that was not His. By His death He brought back to us the possibility to live in a restored relationship with the Father, a relationship that for Jesus did not need restoration. Yet, in the darkness of the Cross, He too knew the depth of separation from the Father which sin brings. (Mark 15:34, Psalm 22:1)

The death of our Savior Jesus the Messiah, brought about by a hatred which was thrown at Him without reason, but His death was not without reason. In fact, it was something that God had reasoned from of old.

Come, let us reason together
says the LORD,
"Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be white like snow;
though they are as red as crimson,
they shall be like wool."

How good is our God! For He has not given us what was reasonable considering our state, but in His grace and mercy He has done the incomprehensible paid the price for our sin. As the hymn writer, Charles S. Gabriel (1905) wrote in the refrain to his hymn, "I Stand Amazed in the Presence,"

How marvelous! How wonderful!
And my song shall ever be:
How marvelous! How Wonderful!
Is my Savior's love for me!
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