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Pardon of Christ December 6, 2015

Posted by sandhandrews in Sermons.
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Isaiah 40:3-5

Advent 2

December 6, 2015

 

Focus:  God gives us a second chance in the blood of His Son.

Function:  That the hearers.

Structure:  Pre-written Sermon Series, “Comfort and Joy” by Tim Klinkenberg, Drew Gerdes, and Michael Hoy via Creative Communications.

 

Pardon of Christ

 

The Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park is like nothing else in the world. It’s 50 miles of hairpin twists and turns, huge drop-offs on one side of the road, and amazing views of the Rocky Mountains on the other. Traveling on this road requires that the driver completely pays attention and sometimes creeps along at a snail’s pace to make way for a bighorn sheep and some of God’s other little critters! It’s a phenomenal drive.

Isaiah writes, “Make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.” This heavy road work would be the work of the Messiah of whom Isaiah writes. The Messiah who would come and take the twisted mess of roads and valleys and straighten them out.

This season we get to go back and press forward. The end of the year provides opportunity to reflect on where we are now. We think about our present struggles. We remember the previous year and leave the rough places behind. We engage in a new path, a smoother path, a path that flows from the pardon of our Lord Jesus.

When we go back down the path of the previous year, we do see those congested highways. Those moments where anxiety clogged up our lives like bumper-to-bumper traffic. We become anxious about the simple things of life, like food and clothing. We become anxious about the complicated things of life, like relationships and people. And somehow we struggle to navigate that anxiety on our own. It wears out our bodies. It wears out our souls and we need our Lord to come and deliver us and give us relief.

We look forward into the new year, wondering what the rough places will be. Our jobs seem to be somewhat disposable and the uncertainty in the world makes life rough. We depend on our own ability to make our own way. We try to smooth out the rough spots and somehow engineer our own straight ways. Yet all humanity, you and me included, has no way to predict the future or to reckon the past.

The Messiah is on the way, Jesus our Lord. It’s His advent that we celebrate. Isaiah proclaims that “every valley will be lifted up and every mountain and hill made flat.” The One who can reckon the past and predict the future is our Lord. God chose His Son Jesus to do the work of pardoning us, forgiving the sins of the past and graciously laying out our future.

Jesus goes back down the highway of the past and provides His pardon for our sins. He leads us not to look inward, but to look to the cross. In the Christmas season we are led to the one place where the pardon of God was so clear and so public. We are led to the cross. Jesus cleared up the past, not with tar and asphalt, but with flesh and blood. He is the sacrifice by which all of our past is reckoned. He pardons us with His death and our past is released from us. We see it; He doesn’t. We go back to it; He has crucified it. We are pardoned in Jesus.

The future may look treacherous, but we have our Messiah with us. He doesn’t promise that things will be easy, but that He will be with us. He promises that His Spirit will lead us into the New Year. There are no road blocks that will dissuade Him. Amazing is the power of His grace. He not only forgives the past, but He gives us hope for a new year filled with experiences that flow from His open hand. We can’t predict the circumstances of the future, but we can predict that our Savior’s love and grace will go with us.

A pardon is a second chance for someone. It’s interesting to think about. Having the guilt and the fear along the way is draining and tiring. Serving time incarcerated must be horrible. The cells are tiny. There are so many people. The day is ordered for you. There is no freedom. But then the phone call comes: the pardon is on the way. The governor has said, “I pardon you and you are free.” It is a fresh start for the pardoned. The hope for the future is grand.

In pardoning us our Lord enlivens our hearts and souls. The drudgery of guilt is replaced with the joy of redemption. The gate of the cell of shame is opened, and we are led out to freedom. Life takes on a hopeful spirit. Pardon has a way of doing that.

The Going-to-the-Sun Road is 50 miles of amazing scenery as it winds through Glacier National Park. Lake McDonald is on the west all the way to St. Mary on the east, but it’s a treacherous road. There’s almost always congestion. There are almost always bicycles on the shoulder. There are almost always cars parked in crazy ways. And sometimes there is rain, snow, wind, or other random weather. There are unpredictable places all throughout the drive. But the drive is worth it in every way.

In our lives, as well, the journey is worth it. There are many things that we can never predict, such as challenges with people, economics, politics, and the like. Yet with Jesus, as His pardoned people, we can depend on and rest our complete confidence in Him. He has removed the past and promised His presence in the future. With that promise in tow, we can take on the challenges of a new year and have a joyful Christmas celebration. Amen.

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