1 Corinthians 13:1-13
In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
And when God would lead them somewhere else, the cloud of His presence would lift up from the Tabernacle in their midst and lead them to the next place they would camp. Thus, God’s temple was moveable so that they would be led by Him, and always keep Him in their midst.
But once they were established in the land He gave them, once God’s anointed King, David, God’s beloved (for “David” means beloved), conquered their enemies, expanded their territory, established them with a wealthy, prosperous economy, then he desired to build God a temple. God said this is unnecessary. He had reasons to be mobile, to stay in midst of people, to be with them. But nonetheless God consented to His beloved’s desires. And naturally David desired what people desire. He desired glory for the God of His salvation; he desired a mighty building, a focal point for the nation, an impressive edifice for other nations to see and praise.
And so out of love for His beloved David God tied Himself to a temple of stone, to be worshiped and found there. And we ought to ask why? Because of His love for David. Because Our God knows that we physical human beings need something that our eyes can see, our hands touch, our noses can smell, mouths taste, and ears hear. So He who is Spirit and immaterial ties Himself to the matter of this creation so that we beings of flesh can see Him, hear Him, touch Him, taste Him and know He is good.
And with that in mind our great God came in the flesh and became physically present with us reestablishing His moveable temple. For three years, He traveled the length & breadth of the land of Israel, preaching to His people, going to them, being in their midst, gathering them together through repentance and faith.
Having come, having established a new temple—the temple of His body—forty years after His death, resurrection , and ascension to heaven He caused the Romans to destroy His temple of stone in Jerusalem so utterly that it has never been rebuilt. And now our God resides where He wills. On one hand because He is God heaven and earth are full of His glory. There is no where you can go where He is not present, not even in depths of the earth, or even into death and the grave. For He is there. That’s why His beloved Ones, His Saints, can rest in peace, for He is with them even in the grave.
But in a special, miraculous, sacramental way He comes to be present with us wherever His temple gathers. Since His ascension and sending of the Holy Spirit, His temple is His Church which is His Body. Not buildings. But His holy ones. Those ones in whom He has put His Holy Spirit through Holy Baptism. His temple can go everywhere, wherever His people are. It is not tied to buildings but to His Word, His Sacraments, His people. Where those three are found together, His Word, His Sacraments, and His People, there is His temple. There He is found.
A moveable temple? Why? So that He can go to His people. So that He can be in their midst. So that He can gather them together wherever they are to be His temple, just as He did with the blind beggar. He already had heard about our Lord. He had already had received the gift of faith through that hearing. But physical blindness kept him from His God. So His God, the movable temple, came to Him. He gave Him mercy. He healed his eyes enabling him to glorify God for His mighty works to save and enabling him to jump up and follow His God; to be where He is.
That’s an image of faith. For faith seeks the Lord where He may be found. Faith seeks out the moveable temple, the source of God’s gracious mercy. Faith desires to be in the presence of our Lord God who is salvation.
For this God rules you with mercy. He is not like the kings of old who after conquering their enemies had a tradition of having mercy upon their people by freely distributing the booty from a successful campaign to any who called out, “Kyrie eleison. Lord have mercy.” Our God gives His mercy to those who ask it of His Son. But He does not do this as propaganda, like the kings of old. He doesn’t do this to justify violent, aggressive wars where the youth of the nation serving in the military will die. He does this because it is His nature. He is mercy. That is why His temple is moveable. To be able to give His mercy to the most people possible.
And like the blind man in faith we may order God to have mercy on us! We can demand mercy of Him. Why? Because He is love. Because He has promised to have mercy. Because it is His nature. 1 Corinthians 13, that famous love chapter, doesn’t describe any human being on earth except our Lord, when He took flesh. His love never fails. Love is who and what He is. When His moveable temple finds you, when He gathers you into His presence, making you a living stone, wanting you to be in His fellowship continually, He brings His love to you. He “mercies” you. He promises that He will provide for your needs. He did it on the cross.
He told His disciples that was where He was going. Why? Because His mercy demanded it. He had to make a way that He could take your sins away from you and declare you innocent when you weren’t. A way to declare you full of righteousness when you didn’t bother caring for others around you, when you haven’t been love as He is love. His Love demanded that He go to the cross. That is a love we don’t understand, just as we are unable to love fully and completely as He does.
But that love is ours, given to us freely by Him. For our Lord has come to us, giving us mercy through His forgiveness declared to us, His water washed over us, His mercy poured down our throats.
Kyrie eleison. Lord have mercy.
Thanks be to God.
In +Jesus’ name, Amen.
—Pastor David Haberstock
Epiphany Lutheran Church
Thunder Bay, ON