Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Sermon: Wednesday of Judica (Lent 5) – 2014

9 April 2014

Text: Ps 43

In the name of + Jesus.  Amen.

The world has a message for the church: “Don’t judge me!”  And the world often reminds the church of our Lord’s words: “Judge not.”  And so the church is often bullied into silence.  For according to the world, the church is to have nothing to say to matters of good and evil, of ethics and morality, as though there is no difference between the ethical systems of Adolph Hitler and Mother Teresa.

“Don’t judge me!” we are told.  And sometimes we are told such things by judges in black robes.

But here we are in the church’s week of “Judica” – from the first words of the Psalm in Latin: “Judica me (judge me).”  Indeed, the church has a very different command than the world’s “Don’t judge me!”

And yet, dear friends, in our sins, we are like the world.  For we are all poor miserable sinners in thought, word, and deed.  How can we cry out to a righteous God: “Judica me!”?  It sounds foolhardy and presumptuous.  For let’s take a brief tour through the Ten Commandments.

Do we fear, love, and trust in other things above God?  Do we misuse the Lord’s name by vulgarity or by failing to call upon Him in every trouble?  Do we do violence to the Sabbath by despising preaching and the Word?  Do we dishonor our parents and other authorities?  Do we kill, commit adultery, and steal in thought, word, or deed?  Do we gossip and fail to explain our neighbor’s actions in the kindest possible way?  Do we mope and daydream about our neighbor’s lifestyle, his spouse or job or circumstances or possessions?

Are we in the position to chant the antiphon: “Judica me” or should we join the world’s chorus of “Don’t judge me!”?  Do the guilty normally seek out a judge to have his case heard, or is it the innocent that seek judicial vindication?

You’ll note that our English translations don’t say “Judge me,” but are actually more bold to say: “Vindicate me.”  For we Christians are boldly, if not recklessly, demanding a verdict of “Not guilty” – and so we do not cry out “Don’t judge me.”

How can this be, dear friends, dear fellow sinners?  It can only be through Christ that we can pray this Psalm, for it is only through Christ, by Christ, and in Christ, that we poor miserable sinners are indeed vindicated, and judged to be innocent, adjudicated to be saints, and rewarded with eternal life – only
by Christ’s atoning blood sacrificed on the cross.  And this is why the church gathers around the Lamb that “takest away the sin of the world,” and this is why we sing together: “Lord, have mercy upon us.”  This is why we assemble here in this holy house to hear the words authorized by our judge: “I forgive you all your sins.”  It is in this gospel, this good news, this forgiveness, that we, the church, voice our “Judica me” and cry out for vindication from Him who judges all.

We are vindicated because of the “holy hill” spoken of in the Psalm: “Oh, send out Your light and Your truth!  Let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill.”  That holy hill is Calvary, the place of the skull, the very plot of sacred ground that became the final altar of blood sacrifice, once for all, not by the blood of bulls and goats, but the blood of Christ Himself, shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.  “Then” sings the church, “Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy.”  For this is where we see God, even our Judge, with joy, knowing that by the Lord’s sacrificial and atoning blood, we have been vindicated, joyfully declared “not guilty” by our judge in the very presence of our vicious enemies, in the face of a hostile world, even in the very jaws of the devil.  We go to the altar with exceeding joy in our vindication, participating in that body and blood, wrapped in the white robe of baptism, having put all need for self-justification and fear of being judged behind us.

And so dear brothers and sisters, even as the Lord has a message for the church, the church has a message for the world: “Judica me!”  Let us all examine ourselves according to the Ten Commandments and to the reality of our sin and inability to vindicate ourselves.  Let us throw ourselves upon the mercy of the court, upon the mercy of God, “God my exceeding joy.”  Let us be judged, let us be vindicated according to the blood of Christ shed upon the holy hill, blood  distributed to those who are baptized and who believe, at joyful altars of God here and all around the world.  Let the church not be bullied into silence, but let her joyfully and boldly proclaim right and wrong, law and gospel, and especially Christ’s vindication to a world that fears judgment more than anything.

And let the world join the church in being vindicated, in being forgiven, in having the courage to confess clearly right and wrong, and in spite of our sins, to remain steadfast and assured by the vindication that has come to us by grace, through faith, as revealed in the scriptures, in Christ alone!

Vindicate me, O God…. Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy!”  Amen.


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