I rejoiced with those who said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord.” Psalm 122:1

Innocent for the Guilty: Adam Accuses; Jesus Forgives

Midweek Lent 1 – Pr. Anderson sermon
Genesis 3:8-13; St. Luke 23:32-34 “Innocent for the Guilty: Adam Accuses; Jesus forgives”
February 21, 2024 | Christ Lutheran Church

In Nomine Iesu
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Not all the blood of beasts on ancient altars slain could give the guilty conscience peace or wash away the stain. But Christ, the heavenly Lamb, takes all our sins away; a sacrifice of nobler name and richer blood than they. Believing, we rejoice to see the curse remove; we bless the Lamb with cheerful voice and sing his bleeding love. Amen. (Evangelical Lutheran Hymnody #305 v. 1, 2, & 5)

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. (Rom. 1:7, etc.)

There is a statement in one aspect no one wants to hear. The statement is read to you if you have been caught breaking the law. “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in the court of law.” The reason that you do want to hear it is because you do have rights, even if you have committed a crime. You are “innocent until proven guilty.” When hearing these words, it is expected that the one who is hearing them is not that innocent. Of course, accidents can happen, but for the most part, when a cop reads these words, there is a guilty verdict that will be coming from the court. A guilty verdict is tough, even for those who are expecting it because it means the punishment that is deserved is coming. The person receiving the verdict can only dream that someone would take the punishment for them. This is exactly what has happened. All of us are guilty of breaking God’s holy law. An innocent man has walked silently to the judgement seat to take our punishment. As He does that, He does something even greater. As we are accused and often accuse God, Jesus forgives.

It is fair that we talk about accusing God along with being accused by God because they so often go hand in hand. When our first parents were found guilty of sin, they had the option to own up to what they had done. And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” Like little children when caught or about to be caught doing something wrong, they have gone and hid themselves. It seems like an easy choice to go and hide the evidence. For Adam and Eve, the evidence was themselves. Taking a bite out of the fruit was more dangerous than what they thought.

How dangerous was it? They became wise after eating the fruit. They became aware of themselves, aware that they had no clothes on. Adam and Eve now have fear because of their actions. They want to hide from the sin that they have committed. They have broken their fellowship with God and it is evident. This wasn’t the first time that the LORD God had walked in the garden. They recognized that He was coming so they hid. They forgot the knowledge that God has. When God says, “Where are you?”, He already knows the sin that they have committed.

And [Adam] said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” How would you feel if your child said that they messed up and it was your fault? You would be pretty upset. Could you imagine going to the LORD God, God Almighty, the Creator of Heaven and earth and tell Him that it is His fault?! The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” This is us. Like Adam and Eve, we are very quick to point at others for the things we have done and we are very quick to point a finger at God when things go wrong. We are accusers because we are guilty of sinning against God.

How fitting that Adam learned his way of accusing from the one who is called “The Accuser.” Except Satan was standing before God accusing us of the sins that we have committed against God. As innocent Jesus was arrested and crucified, He could have brought down all kinds of judgement. Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. The chief priests, scribes, roman soldiers, even the thieves on the crosses next to Him ridiculed Him. The ruling government had sentenced Him to die even though they had tried Him and found Him innocent. And this is the first Word Jesus says from the cross. He forgives them all.

This is the nicest anyone can possibly be. All sinful man can do is hurl accusations at God. Adam accuses God, the Pharisees and teachers of the law falsely accused Jesus of being Satan or being possessed, Rome thought they were mocking Him by bending the knee and paying homage to Him. All of these people were guilty. Guilty of Jesus’ death, guilty of sin and Jesus forgives. He stretches out His arms on the cross for them. This is the beautiful gift from God. As shown in the garden, as shown on the cross, forgiveness comes from God who does love His creation that He gave His Son over to death.

And God does not forget about you. Like Adam and Eve in the Garden, He sees all that you have done. It is the worst feeling when thinking that God knows and sees all of the sins committed against Him. Hiding sounds like a good option. Yet the Psalmist writes, “O LORD, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it. Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me” (Psalm 139:1-10). The right hand that holds you knows your hearts and says from the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

God’s promise to Adam and Eve is heard in these words. Their offspring was crucified at the place called The Skull, the innocent for the guilty, dying for the salvation of the world. The world hates to hear the guilty verdict from God. They will often accuse God that He is the reason for all their problems. Yet the innocent man who is hanging on the cross, is hanging there for their salvation too. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:17). We would rather accuse but once we admit that we are wrong, that we are the guilty ones, the words that Jesus spoke from the cross ring true in our ears. The gracious words that start our service, confessing our sins and hearing absolution spoken to us. This is the certainty that we have because we can’t hide. So, we stand out in the open and through repentance receive the forgiveness of sins from the death of our Savior.

When we are in trouble, we are told it is our right that we remain silent. The prophet Isaiah tells us that is exactly what Jesus did. “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7). Jesus didn’t complain about what was happening. He had every right too, being an innocent man. Yet He was quiet and He replaced the guilty. We are the guilty ones, we deserve death. Adam accused God for his own miss deed. God doesn’t strike him down. He stretches out His arms on a wooden cross and exclaims for the whole world to hear, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Amen.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, forevermore. Amen.
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