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Sanctity of Life Sunday 2021
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
January 23, 24, 2021
Genesis 3:1-15, 2 Timothy 3:16-4:5, John 6:63-69

Sermons online: 
Text and Audio:         immanuelhamiltonchurch.com   click “sermons”
Text:                            pastorjud.org   
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
itunes:                         bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:    bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship

“Really” … it is such an interesting word. It can be used in so many ways. There is the “really” said as a question: “Really?” The “really” formed by gossip: “REALLY.” The “really” that expresses interest: “Really.” The “really” that reflects doubt: “Really?” The “really” as a punctuation of belief: “Really!” “Really” is simply a really interesting word.

It can alternate between reflecting disbelief and belief, between “really?” (said quizzically) and “really” (said with conviction). Yet, the “really” said with conviction is often simply a belief in your own “truth”.  And, this goes a long way back.

God creates.  He places our first parents, Adam and Eve, in the garden, saying “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth …” (Genesis 1:28a ESV). The instructions to them are clear: “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:16). The word is clear to the crown of His creation. Our first parents are not to determine for themselves what is right and wrong. They are not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If they do, they will die.

Clear. Straightforward. Simple. They are to “do this” and “not do that.” God means what He says. Really.

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1). No. That is not what God really said, and Scripture reveals that Eve correctly received God’s message. There is no hearing or comprehension problem. Message sent; message received. 

Yet, with the seed of doubt planted, the soil is prepared for depositing the lie. “But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil’” (Genesis 3:4-5). The lie is clear. Straightforward. Simple. Satan’s message is sent. The message is received. 

Rationalization leads to Adam and Eve’s own “really” of conviction. It just really seems right to them to eat from the forbidden tree. “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate” (Genesis 3:6).

That sense of “really” (conviction) born out of the certainty of your own thoughts is woven deep inside each of you. It started in the garden. It continues in the desert landscape of your sinful existence. It started with the pluck of the forbidden fruit. It continues with the harvest of your own sin. God is really clear in what He desires for you. Yet, you prefer your own clarity. 

After the fall Adam and Eve realize they are naked. They took their eyes off of God and notice themselves. They move to cover themselves, fashioning fig leaves together. In your sinfulness, you become comfortable in the nakedness of your sin. With your gaze fixed on yourself, you are convinced of the reality of your own convictions. You can be so sure of your own truth. It is woven deep inside of you and transmitted to the next generation.

The “really” (conviction) born of our own thoughts can be ever present. It is seen in the conversation between a couple as they grapple with the news of a pregnancy. Many other couples long for this news, but for this couple, it invokes fear. The pregnancy is not seen as a blessing, but a curse. The “problem” must be dealt with. A family member suggests an abortion. “After all,” the couple is counseled, “it isn’t really a life, just a blob of tissue.” Instead of looking forward to embracing their child, the “solution” to their problem is grasped. “Really,” they reason, “it isn’t life yet.” Their “really” sounds so true to them.

In another home a man is given the news. The woman timidly approaches the topic, afraid of the response. She shares that she is pregnant. Instead of pictures coming to mind of him playing with the child, he sees bills piling up. Instead of thinking about the baby crawling for the first time, first steps, catching a ball, and squealing with delight when he comes home, all he sees is an empty bank account. “We can’t afford a baby,” he exclaims. “You need to take care of this. You are not having this child!” he yells. “Take care of it. Now. Really!” he demands.

In another home, the conversations take a different turn, but the “really” born of one’s own thoughts continue. The woman discovers the child will have special needs. That doesn’t square with the image she held of life after the pregnancy. She doesn’t have the extra time that will be required to care for such a child. She doesn’t want a child who is different than the rest. She sees a challenging future and wants to start over.  She starts to think about terminating the pregnancy she now sees as a problem. The conviction regarding her solution forms into a resolute “really.”

We remain confused about truth. It starts in the garden, continues in biblical times, and persists today. Satan’s question: “Did God actually say … ?” (Genesis 3:1) is still a favorite question. We ask this question. We are confused.  In all the confusion what is God’s response?

The “really” of convictions born of one’s own thoughts has an impact on not only the youngest but also the oldest among us. “Quality of life” becomes a governing principle regarding the elderly, opening up the conversation about euthanasia. The concern is raised about older people “burdening the limited resources of society.” The conversation occurs among the young, while the old are excluded. Soon the conversations become monologues. The “really” of conviction is formed. The course of action seems so right when the only one you have to convince is yourself. 

We remain confused about truth. It starts in the garden, continues in biblical times, and persists today. Satan’s question: “Did God actually say … ?” (Genesis 3:1) is still a favorite question. We ask this question. We are confused.  In all the confusion what is God’s response?

In the story of Elizabeth and Mary the angel gives Mary the message that she will bear the Messiah. Along with this amazing news, she is told her relative Elizabeth is sixth-months pregnant. Mary goes quickly to Elizabeth. Luke 1:41a records: “And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb.” 

Fast forward to the birth account of our Lord. Luke 2:12: “And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” The same Greek word for baby, brephos, is used for the baby inside and outside of the womb. Clarity. God values life in all stages, from birth to natural death.

God’s value of life extends to all eternity. The baby carried in the womb of Mary and born in Bethlehem grows. The toddler Jesus learns to walk. As an adult, He walks to Jerusalem. There, He is crucified for your sin, including devaluing life and being quiet about protecting the most vulnerable among us. Jesus is raised from the dead. The sacrifice for sin accepted. You are washed in His victory in the life-giving waters of Baptism. Eternal life is given to you. Peter says to Jesus, “You have the words of eternal life …” (John 6:68b). And those words of eternal life are declared to you. Really! 

The world needs your voice to declare Jesus’ words of eternal life. The world needs your voice to declare God’s value of life in all stages. The world needs your voice to declare God’s convictions born of His Word. The world needs your voice to declare that God’s word of forgiveness extends to all of us sinners, including those who have chosen abortion. The world needs your voice! Really!  Amen.

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