Pastor Sean Willman
Good Shepherd Pleasant Prairie
Cantate (Easter 5)
29 April 2018
Holy Scripture, because it’s inspiration by the Holy Spirit, is full of divine perspective. It is always pointing its hearers to the mighty works of God. It is in His mighty works that He has done throughout time that the child of God finds comfort in midst of trials. The mighty works give perspective because they have as their end the salvation of the faithful. In them, the Christian is able to lift up his voice and sing.
“Oh, sing unto the Lord a new song.” That is what people who have come into newness of life by God’s deliverance, do. That’s what the Israelites did after they crossed the Red Sea and looked back and saw Pharaoh and all his army dead and lying on the seashore. They sang a new song, because they were given new life. No more bondage in Egypt, no more servitude to Pharaoh, no more oppressive decrees. Miriam and the women took up their tambourines and sang the new song as they went into the desert a new people.
“Oh, sing to the Lord a new song.” This is what God’s Bride the Church is commanded to do. So now you, join Miriam in singing a new song. For you have been made new in baptism. Shout joyfully to the Lord, for he has given you new life, made you a new creation in Christ Jesus. Break forth in song, for your oppressor, an enemy worse than Pharaoh has been defeated. Join the heavenly chorus in singing that new song that can only be sung by new people, the song of the Lamb who was slain and now reigns on the throne.
So, sing, but also remember. It wasn’t long before that new people faced trials and hardships in the desert into which God led them. It wasn’t long before the people grumbled and lost perspective. It wasn’t long before they wanted to return to their slavery in Egypt. It wasn’t long before they rebelled against God’s Word. Miriam used her freedom to sing love songs to a golden calf. How easy to go from singing new songs, to old songs about the old ways of unbelief (the old man).
Jesus tells us today that unbelief is the chief sin. One of the works of the Holy Spirit that Jesus talks about today is that he will convict the world of sin, because they do not believe in me. The worst sin of all is not sodomy, not sexism, not murder (even of the unborn), not rape, not slavery or racism, or theft—the worst sin of all is not to believe in Jesus. In fact, all the problems in the world, all sins that people commit have at their core this problem and common cause: Unbelief, the failure to love God, fear Him and trust him. The temptation to take matters into your own hands. Remember the meaning to the First Commandment “We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.”
It’s unbelief that causes your despair. It’s unbelief that causes your fear. It’s unbelief that causes your anger. It’s unbelief that causes you to be so inconsiderate and so hard to live with. It’s unbelief that makes you think that the world revolves around you. And it’s unbelief that you wrestle against every day.
Repent and believe. For you have been purchased by God’s blood and redeemed. He departed for a little while when He died and rested in the tomb, but He has come back to you alive. Now death has no power over Him, and on His account, death has no hold over you. All of the salvation accounts in the Old Testament were pointing forward to the final salvation account when Christ, our Passover lamb was sacrificed. The deliverance of Noah and his family from the flood, the deliverance of the children of Israel from Egypt, and the deliverance of Judah from Babylon all pointed to the final deliverance of the world from bondage to Satan.
So sing a new song to the Lamb who was slain at the cross for all of your sins. Sing, for though God was angry with you, His anger is now turned away, because it has been poured out fully on his dear Son for your sake. It was poured out on His dear Son who was despised and afflicted, so that you might be comforted with the word of forgiveness. Sing, because He has followed through on yet another promise. He has gone to the one who sent Him. He has taken His place in heaven at the right hand of God, that mighty right hand and that holy arm that has worked salvation (Introit). The Lord has made known His salvation by the sending of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter. Now, you are not only forgiven, but you are also comforted by the Holy Spirit, the Helper, who not only convicts the world of their sin of unbelief, as Jesus said, but who also convicts the world of a righteousness that is freely given to those who put their faith in the Son. And who also convicts the world of judgment, because the ruler of this world, your enemy and your oppressor, has been judged.
Every bit of unbelief that lurks in your old nature was laid upon Jesus and destroyed as he rose from the dead, ascended to the Father and sent the Holy Spirit to guide you into all truth. Jesus was willing to be treated as God’s enemy, that you might be reckoned as God’s beloved. And that is what you are.
For Jesus died and rose so that you might walk through the desert of this world singing hymns of praise to a gracious God. Even in the midst of trials, suffering, grief, and hardship, you can sing to God, who promises that these sufferings are temporary and tailor made even for your good. You are the Church that God has planted in this world as His pilgrim people, in whose heart He has placed hope and in whose mouth He has placed this new song, the one with the lyrics about a God who so loved the world that He gave His only Son.