In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
What is more difficult for Him is getting around the moral foundation of the universe, which is His own character. Since He created and sustains the universe the things, such as justice, which are part of His own nature, are written into the very fabric of the universe. He can not break these things without ceasing to be Himself, and throwing everything into chaos. Therefore, He can not put away or forgive sins and still remain just. Which is to say He can not forgive sins and remain the God who does not change. He can not do this, unless, He should satisfy His own justice’s requirements within Himself. Which is exactly what the holy and saving Trinity did when the Father sent His Son to suffer His own just wrath against evil, so that within Himself the Triune God might satisfy His own just requirements and save humankind! Thereby, He remains just, but more importantly He is the complete embodiment of love, and mercy, and salvation.
To understand this, merely think of what almost any parent will suffer to save their child who has justly brought the consequences of own actions down on their own heads. Parents will expend untold amounts of time, money, blood, sweat, tears, even their own organs simply to save their beloved child though they have wrecked their car, or destroyed their house with a party, or imperilled their own lives, or fallen into deadly drug addictions and the downward spiral that accompanies such things. Justice says they should suffer the consequences, but love causes a parent to suffer those losses in their child’s place in order to save them.
It is harder to forgive sins than to heal the sick. It costs God the Father more. It is more miraculous that sins are forgiven than that someone is healed. Repent of thinking it is so common place, so simple, that your sin is such a small thing.
For miraculous healings only occur because He is merciful, because He forgives sin, and thus in love from time to time He also superabundantly removes the affliction and decay sin causes in this world. But His mercy is not shown chiefly in healing your physical ailments, but in giving His precious and beloved Son to die in your place and secure for your eternal health and life.
This is what Scripture shows us this morning. That a mighty miracle happens regularly in this place. Therefore, how awesome is this place. This none other than the house of God, the gate of heaven. For from this place flow the promises, the love, the blessings of God our Father to you, His people.
Did you know that? What goes on here is the greatest miracle on earth! The forgiveness of your sins. The healing of your relationship with Your heavenly Father. The restoration of our walking with the Lord in paradise, for our Lord comes to be with us week by week, day by day in this place, every time His Word of salvation is declared. Every time He is present in His body and blood for us to eat and drink Him into ourselves paradise is tasted on earth.
What should our response to this be? It should be just like those Jews who saw our Lord’s healing of the paralytic! They knew no one could forgive sins but God. They knew that this was the hardest thing in the universe to accomplish. They knew that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. They knew that the blood of animals did not turn God’s wrath away from us, but rather that God must someday satisfy justice within Himself. They knew that this is what the Messiah would do. Thus, when they realized that the mighty God—the God who had walked on Mount Sinai, who wrote the Ten Commandments on stone with His own finger, whose voice terrified those below, whose presence had to be hidden from sinners on earth by the deep darkness of a mighty pillar of cloud and fire and terrible rumblings that felt like they would split the sky and shake the foundations of the earth—that He stood among them in human form, they were afraid. They trembled with fear. Deep reverence took hold of them. The kind of respect you have in presence of a great and powerful force that can snuff you out in a moment or tear you limb from limb.
Knowing God’s promise of forgiveness and salvation you need not be afraid of Him. But isn’t it the height of stupidity not to take the proper measures to be careful and safe around power tools that can cut off fingers and remove limbs? In the same way, that you are careful, respectful of the power of such a machine, being in the presence of the Holy God should give us deep humility, a wonderful sense of fear and awe. This is why we stand when we sing hymn verses that extol the Triune name of God, why we kneel before our Lord’s body and blood, why you may have seen the pastor bowing his head during the Gloria Patri, why it is appropriate to kneel or stand when we pray.
But what is it that we are in awe of? Not merely our Lord’s miracles which are child’s play for Him since He is truly God. We are awed by His granting to men the authorization to forgive sins.
The Father knew what He was doing. He granted this authority first to His Son who would, in His own flesh, satisfy the requirements of His own justice. But His Son having taken on flesh means that He can also bestow this authority on those men He calls to be His mouthpieces here on earth.
Thus, the Church is the gate of heaven. It is the place where God’s promises go forth from Him! It is the place where His Son speaks with the authority of heaven to forgive sin through men who are called and ordained by their Lord to apply to His saving blood to every family, tribe, nation, and language, to men and women, to children and infants. And Jesus’ blood on you means the Father passes over giving you justice for your sins.
For we are gathered her at the gate of heaven. Here the forgiveness of sins is found. Here the promises of God are applied to you. Here you walk with your God just as our first parents did before in their original created righteousness before their fall from His grace. Here heaven comes to earth restoring the paradise of His presence to our lives.
In +Jesus’ name, Amen.
—Pastor David Haberstock
Epiphany Lutheran Church
Thunder Bay, ON