APRIL 2 2006Lent 5

The Happiest Sadness

Hebrews 5:7-9

7During the days of Jesusí life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him

 

††††††††††† Something that has struck me recently is the dedication and faithfulness of our military.We have the best-trained, best equipped and most watched military in the world.These young men and women are in the worldís eye as they perform their missions especially in Iraq and Afghanistan today.With the war on terror continuing, things will probably not change very much in the near future.

 

††††††††††† Those who sign up for military service today, especially those signing up for the Army and the Marines, will most certainly spend time in a battle zone.And still, young men and women sign up, volunteer, to put their lives in harmís way, to accomplish the missions they are given.

 

††††††††††† How do they do that?What would cause young men and women to volunteer for service in dangerous places, to put their lives on the line in combat on foreign soil?How do they endure the daily dangers and the pressures without going insane?

 

††††††††††† I think that the writer to the Hebrews helps us understand a little bit by sharing what helped Jesus in His mission to save the world.You know, He was on a mission in a place foreign to Him.

He left His heavenly home and came to the foreign soil of this earth.

He left the culture of perfection to exist and endure the culture He abhorred, the culture He came to rescue us from, the culture of rebellion and sin and death.

He came not just risking His life, but knowing that He would lose His life on the battlefield of the cross after suffering the torture of hell itself.

How did He do that?How did He take on such a mission willingly knowing what will happen to Him?

 

Yes, the writer to the Hebrews gives us some clues.

 

7During the days of Jesusí life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.

 

Thereís a clue.†† Jesus knew that He was not alone in His mission.†† He had an ally, the Father, Who could have saved Him from death.The Father, Who heard His prayers.The Father brought comfort and help to Jesus as He underwent His mission here on earth.He was not alone Ö and neither are we.

 

Soldiers and marines who fight in battle know they are not alone either.They have their buddies in battle and the might of the United States available to them.Knowing they are not alone helps them through dangerous missions.

 

And we are not alone either.The same Father available to Jesus is our heavenly Father.The same Father who heard the cries of Jesus also hears our cries for mercy, for strength and for comfort as we take up the mission He has given us, as we take up our crosses and follow Him.††

 

Jesus knew He was not alone.We know we are not alone.As we face lifeís difficulties, struggles and pains, we have an ally.We have someone to whom we can turn.We are not alone.

 

And thereís more.The writer to the Hebrews continues, 8Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.††

 

Boiling this down, it seems to me that it says that Jesus was not deterred or distracted from His mission to save the world because He kept His eye on the goal.The goal of His mission was to be the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him.†† That meant enduring separation from His home, separation from His Father, a dangerous mission and certain death.But He obeyed Ö He obeyed because the purpose of the mission was worth it.Successfully completing His mission would mean salvation for all who obey Him.

 

††††††††††† Donít Soldiers and Marines also obey their commanders for the sake of the mission?Being a soldier or marine is dangerous work.Thatís the nature of war.But soldiers and marines who are wise know that the goal of the mission is worth it.In the case of Iraq and Afghanistan and the war against terror, it means a safer world.In the end, a successful war against terrorism and terrorists will mean a safer world.Keeping their eye on the goal, focusing on the big picture, helps soldiers and marines accomplish their dangerous missions.

 

††††††††††† Now weíve talked a bit about soldiers and marines today because they are the ones who primarily are in the line of fire.Sailors and Airman also have jobs to do that are just as important, and also involve death and destruction.But primarily itís Soldiers and Marines who hear the bullets and see the destruction of Improvised Explosive Devices.All of our military men and women have missions to accomplish.Keeping their eye on the goal of a safer world helps them obey their commanders and accomplish their mission.

 

††††††††††† Jesus obeyed His Father in His mission losing His life on the battlefield of Calvary for all the times you and I fail in the missions He gives us.

He does give us a mission:

 

He calls us to be His people in the world.

He gives us the orders to produce the fruits of repentance by honestly confessing our sins.

He gives us the orders to allow Him to produce the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness, and self-control in our lives.

He gives us the marching orders to make disciples of the world by baptizing in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything He has commanded.

He invites us to meet with Him in Word and Sacrament, to let the Holy Spirit grow our faith, to let it develop and mature.

 

He calls us to be at peace with all in as much as in us lies.

He calls us to speak out against evil and to proclaim His love and forgiveness.

He calls us to love and help one another, beginning with the family of God.

He calls us to pray for others, especially our enemies.

And the list goes on and on.

 

Yes, we too, His church, His people, have a mission.†† How much of it do we accomplish?How can we seek to accomplish all of what He has called us to do?

 

We do have the same resources available to us as were available to Jesus.We are not alone, we have an ally, a rock, to whom we can turn who hears our prayers and sends His aid.††

 

We can keep our eyes focused on the end of the mission Ö the prize for which God has called us and others heavenward ÖHe helps us keep our eyes on heaven and Heavenís gifts in Jesus Christ.Knowing we are His own, trusting His aid and comfort, we can attempt and even accomplish that which seems impossible.

 

Talk about impossible tasks:you know how you eat an elephant Ö one bite at a time.

 

You know how those addicted to alcohol or illegal drugs stay free from their addictions Öone day at a time

 

How do we live our lives in the midst of temptation and trials as we work at obeying the word of the Lord Ö one moment at a time, remembering we are not alone, our Father in heaven hears and answers our prayers, and we are heading to heaven.In Jesus Christ we have already the assurance of full victory!

 

We do have our crosses to carry.Illnesses and pains plague us all in various ways.People we just canít seem to love or who just canít seem to love us surround us.Temptation beckons like the sirens of Greek mythology drawing us to destruction and death on rocky shores.

 

But we also have the love of our Father in heaven, the victory of Christ even through death on a cross, and the presence and power of the Holy Spirit to help us keep our eyes on the goal as we strive to complete the mission we have been given by God.

 

He is faithful.Where we fail, He forgives.Where we strive, He strengthens.He bore our cross.He helps us to bear ours too.Keep our eyes on the goal, Lord.Help us to know Your aid and comfort.Help us not give up or grow weary in doing what our King desires.Amen.