Life Sunday 2019
After church today, when you are at lunch or later at home, go on Google and type, “reasons my kid is crying.” Should take you to a website. Look it up online sometime and you will find funny pictures of kids crying along with funny captions. Toddlers bawling because “Someone ate all the muffins (it was him).” “She didn’t fit through the doggy door (note the open house door right next to her).” “I won’t let him eat Styrofoam.” “Put himself in time out (for no reason).” “Doesn’t want to go (even though we’ve repeatedly told her we’re not going anywhere).” “I wouldn’t let him push his fingers into my throat until I make that noise he really likes when I can’t breathe.”
Now for all of us who have been parents, we can all remember, all picture a very young child, on their back, kicking around, nose running and drool-covered. You know, throwing a tantrum, sulking, hysterical. Whose baby picture is this?
Isaiah says it’s Israel’s. Isaiah pictures Israel as a BIG baby: “Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been borne by me from before your birth, carried from the womb” (Isaiah 46:3). Already in chapter one as well, “Children have I reared and brought up, but they have rebelled against me” (Isaiah 1:2). And why are the Israelites crying like babies? They got so fat that they were too big and lazy to harvest more food. They pampered themselves until they became too lazy to get up out of their sofas and Lay-Z-Boys. (Kind of like the fat guys on the spaceship with Wall-E.)
Isaiah pictures the Israelites throwing a tantrum. Why are the Israelites tantrumming? They trampled on their laws and morals until those laws were powerless to protect them. The leaders who got them rich by cheating then cheated them out of their rightful share. The officials they bribed to get stuff for them betrayed them because of a bigger bribe.
Isaiah pictures the Israelites sulking. Why are the Israelites sulking? They took such advantage of one another that no one was left to defend them against foreigners. The treasures they raided from their neighbors attracted raiders from other neighborhoods. The bullies to whom they handed over lunch money went ahead and helped themselves to dinner and breakfast, as well.
Isaiah pictures the Israelites being in hysterics. Why has Israel gone hysterical? They created golden idols and carved wooden gods and guess what? They didn’t listen. They didn’t help. They didn’t didn’t do anything. Israel refused to listen to God’s Words so often they could no longer hear the heavenly promises. This is Israel’s baby picture.
Do you recognize this picture? It’s just Israel, right? At least we don’t bow down to idols. OK, maybe we worship our careers. Maybe we serve wealth and money. Maybe the most important thing to us is our property, popularity, or pleasure. But at least we haven’t forgotten the words and ways of Almighty God. OK, maybe we try and forget the doctrines we teach from the Bible that our national culture finds offensive but at least we aren’t erasing the lines of right and wrong. OK, maybe we concern ourselves instead with what is convenient, comfortable, practical, and profitable…
I know we want to tell ourselves that we don’t act like Israel. Good thing we don’t behave like those sinners. Actually, we do. In some ways, we’re worse. We fear public opposition more than God’s disapproval. Our leaders revere profits more than the prophets. Our celebrities lift up sinful appetites like a religion. Our culture blesses abortion as some kind of sacrament. Children are aborted in the name of progress. Senior citizens are euthanized for the sake of convenience. We try and justify this and rationalize it. We don’t say anything and we sit here doing nothing.
Whose baby picture is this? It’s ours, every one of us. It doesn’t matter how old we are, what we look like, we are sinners. Our first thought, nature, inclination, is not to help, is not to do the right thing.
But there is another baby picture. God’s. God has been a baby too. God became a baby. Infant Jesus wore diapers and lay in a manger. The Lord Jesus toddled. The Lord Jesus had a childhood. He was a teenager (who always did His chores, and made His bed, and never talked back). Isaiah reminds us of Savior Jesus, determined in adulthood—“like a lamb that is led to the slaughter.” Jesus is pictured in God’s Word as humble in the garden, broken on the cross and incapacitated by crucifixion. God chose to become weakened, defenseless, and dependent like us.
The Almighty made Himself small so that He might be close to each of us. He knows about our ailments and our pains. He puts up with us when we are not content and when we are not listening. He saves us from our own defeats and failures. Jesus still loves you despite our sulking and tantrums.
He embraces even those who participate in abortions. Jesus loves us even when we aren’t doing everything we can to stop abortions, murderous experiments and assisted suicides. God forgives that, God forgives you, and in this, He reminds us that the smallest among us is special. He loves you, and you need to know that everyone at every age is important to Him.
Whose baby pictures are these? They’re all God’s. They’re all God’s babies. We’re all His little ones. You “have been borne by me from before your birth, carried from the womb; [now] even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs, I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.” By the death and resurrection of Jesus, He has removed all of our not-enough-ness. We belong to Him and are loved by Him.
Take it. Trust it. You are innocent to Jesus. Know it. Own it. You are righteous in Jesus Christ. Receive it. Believe it. You are holy before God. Life is His gift, and we should all treasure it. But we know that is not true out there, is it?
All lives, all life is important to Jesus. In frightened bellies and frozen labs, whether aching or aging, afraid or ashamed, alone or unaware, He cares. Public opinion, ridiculous Supreme Court decisions and political controversy cannot change these facts. Scientific findings and technological innovations do not amend these truths. Social experiences and economic circumstances will not change God. Whatever the year, His Law and His Grace is the same.
You can speak this truth. You get to show this love. You get to share this Gospel, and Jesus Himself shines through your words. We have the privilege to give it a voice. We have the opportunity of putting it into practice. In individual conversations and civic advocacy, at congregations and across communities, you can find the babies in these pictures. By acts of service and sharing—opening your hands, your hearts, and your homes—you’ll help with those who are treasured in heaven.
The Triune God who created us, who saved us from our sins and gives us faith, He wants us to love all as He loves all, and to fight for all as He fights for us. From Fetus to Fogie, we are His.
In Jesus’ Name.
Adapted from Material Written by Lutherans for Life