Home > Lent > In the Garden, Not Hiding. Wednesday after Reminiscere 2014. “What is Confession?”

In the Garden, Not Hiding. Wednesday after Reminiscere 2014. “What is Confession?”


Jesus' face 3Wednesday after Reminiscere / St. Joseph, Guardian of Jesus +  St. Peter Lutheran Church  +  Part 2 of Passion History (Gethsemane); What is Confession?  +  March 19, 2014 + “In the garden, not hiding”

Iesu Iuva!

 

  1.  Adam and Eve did the unthinkable thing.  One minute it was unthinkable.  The next it was done.

Irreversible.

 

Then they started doing what human beings have done ever since then—covering up.  Hiding.

 

Fig leaves can cover nakedness, but not the guilty conscience.  Animal skins can’t cover a guilty conscience either.  God covers our shame so that we do not have it broadcast through the whole world everywhere we go.

 

But we try to cover up our sin from ourselves and from Him.  And it can’t be done.  He knows where you are and what you’ve done, even if you hide amidst the trees.  And you know what you’ve done.  You may succeed in deluding your conscience for awhile.  But there is nothing hidden that will not be made known.

 

When God called to Adam, Adam’s guilty conscience made him trip all over himself before God.

 

Where are you?  I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid from you.

 

Who told you you were naked?  Did you eat from the tree I told you to leave alone?  The woman you put here with me—she gave me some of the fruit.

 

And…?

 

And…I ate.

 

What is this?  The serpent deceived me, and I ate.

 

And what does God do?

 

In the day you eat of it, you will surely die.  That was why Adam and Eve tried to hide from God.  Maybe they were ashamed of themselves, but above all they had to be afraid to die.

 

But of course hiding and covering up only add to the sin.  Only add rebellion to rebellion.  Now they are guilty not only of rebelling but of wanting to escape from God’s judgment and go on living as renegades.  The snake promised freedom.  He didn’t tell them they were just switching sides.  They were just turning traitor and joining the enemy.

 

But the first words out of God’s mouth?  Not condemnation on the man and the woman, damnation for their treachery, which was deserved.  Rather a curse on the snake, and a promise for the man and woman.

 

I will put enmity between you and the woman, between her seed and yours.  He will bruise your head, and you will bruise His heel.

In other words, the first thing God says is that the man and the woman are not going to die.  They are not going to be damned.  They are forgiven.  A Savior will come to them.

 

  1.  Adam and Eve hid from God in the garden and tried to cover up their sin.  And so the Savior

promised them comes to undo the wrong that began there.

 

He enters into the garden of Gethsemane wearing their guilt and all that came from it, all its exponential multiplication as the sin of Adam and Eve bore its fruit in more and more sin and rebellion against God in more and more lives.

 

But when Adam and Eve did the unthinkable, they tried to erase it.  Bury it.  Hide themselves.  Accuse each other.  Run away from God.  Cover up.

 

Jesus is not hiding and not covering up.  The sin is not His work, but He has adopted it.  Or He has adopted the people to whom it belongs and taken legal ownership of it.  He has married the enemies of God.

 

Now, carrying Adam’s rebellion and defection to Satan, repeated billions of times over as each son of Adam came into the world, He comes into the presence of His Father.

 

Forgiveness was easy for Adam and Eve.  Just like that—forgiven.  They don’t die.

 

But we think, they were given these horrible curses!  And us too!  We live in this world and suffer a lot.  We pray and pray and we still suffer and God doesn’t take the curse away.  How can you say their forgiveness was easy?

 

The punishments God gave to Adam and Eve and us are corrections for our good.  They hurt.

 

But they aren’t the wages of sin.  Adam and Eve were right to be afraid of death when they sinned, because that is what sin earns.  God is a gracious God who forgives sins.  But He is a righteous and just God who doesn’t wink at sin and say, “It’s not so bad, and you’re not really responsible, since the devil tricked you.”

 

God is angry at sin and sinners.  Really angry.  He hates sin.  It deserves His fury.

 

All of that fury He now begins to pour out in righteousness.  And it falls not on the ones who committed it, but on the One who voluntarily bears the sin.

 

Look at Jesus in the garden, and you see how really terrible sin is.  His Son, whom He loves, prays, “Father, everything is possible for you.  Let this cup pass from Me.”  He prays it again and again.

 

Think of how terrible sin must be, that God will not let the cup of His wrath pass unless it is drunk—not even at the pleading of His Son.

 

Think of how terrible God’s wrath is, that even the only-begotten Son asks if there is some way He might not have to receive it.  Think of how great it is, that Jesus who is God falls on His face because of it and is so terrified and grieved that He is near death, that sweat pours off of Him mixed with blood.

 

God’s grace is great, that He doesn’t want to damn Adam and his children.  But the grace, the forgiveness of sins is costly.

 

His Son must bear our guilt and His wrath and not hide.  What Adam and Eve were allowed to hide from—the fury of God and condemnation—Jesus could not hide from.  He could not cover up our sin until it was paid for.

 

Much less did He hide from mistreatment and betrayal and suffering at the hands of sinful men.

 

Judas and those He betrayed Jesus to are afraid.  There is no way they can take Jesus and bind Him.  He has to tell them who He is, and when He does, His voice is so powerful (for a moment) that they all fall down in fear.  They come out with swords, torches, and lanterns, because they are weak and blind.  Judas says, “Make sure you chain Jesus up really tight.”  They’ve convinced themselves Jesus is dangerous even though He is meek and mild as a lamb.  No one wants to hurt them less than Jesus.

 

Why?  It’s their guilty conscience.  Their conscience accuses them, and they put their sins on Jesus.

 

But Jesus doesn’t hide from this.  He accepts it.  He goes out to meet them and puts Himself into their hands because of the love He bears toward the disciples who are about to deny Him, because of the love He bears toward Judas and the soldiers and the Sanhedrin.

 

  1.  Hiding and covering up is what all the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve know how to do.

It’s all we know, really.  How to hide and cover up and minimize our sin.

 

Pretend it didn’t happen.  Pretend it isn’t so bad.  Blame other people so much that we no longer see our own guilt before God.

 

Covering up and hiding doesn’t work.  Look at the bloody sweat pouring from Jesus in the garden as His disciples take their rest.  Look at the fact that it is the Father who strikes His Son and who will not let the cup of His wrath disappear any other way than His beloved Son drinking it.

 

To pretend we are not sinners, that we are not worthy of the wrath?  It will not go away.  You were the cause of Jesus drinking the cup of the Father’s wrath.  It was your sins that were punished in Him.  If He made His Son bear your sins, how in the world will He let you escape if you choose to have your rest and your good things here on earth, while Jesus bore the wrath of God?

 

We have another way through faith in Jesus.  That is to confess our sins.  To own up and take responsibility.  A lot of people have sinned against you, no doubt.  But you are the one who took it easy and went to sleep while Jesus begged the Father for some other way for you to be saved than for Him to bear His anger and punishment against you.

 

God commands that we confess our sins to Him and to our neighbor.

 

We confess to God that we have sinned against Him in thought, word, and deed.  We should confess the sins we know, but also agree that there is nothing good in us by nature and that we deserve nothing but His punishment in this life and the life to come.

 

God also commands that we confess our sins to our neighbor when we sin against him.  If you know that you sinned against someone but refuse to go to him and ask forgiveness, how can you receive forgiveness from God?

 

When we confess our sins to God we are asking Him to forgive us and desiring to do them no more.

 

Those are the two types of confession that God has commanded.  There is another type of confession, which the catechism talks about, which is not commanded, but given as a gift.

 

That is the gift of confession to a brother in order to receive God’s consolation.  This happens when we confess our sins to another Christian, and they say not, “Oh well, you couldn’t help it,” or “I don’t blame you,” or “Don’t be so hard on yourself.”  But instead they tell you what God says in the bloody sweat of Jesus: He says, “Your sins are forgiven.”

 

When God said no to Jesus’ prayer and would not take away the cup of His wrath from Jesus, He was saying “Yes” to sinners.  He was saying, “I forgive sinners.”

 

We have this confession and can exercise it in private among the priesthood of believers.  We also have it publicly.  When the pastor preaches the Gospel, it is Jesus absolving, forgiving the congregation.

 

And when the congregation confesses our sins in general together, the pastor’s forgiveness is Christ’s forgiveness.  It is the forgiveness He won by His suffering for us.  He gave the church the power to forgive sins, which is exercised publicly when the congregation calls a pastor and the pastor forgives sins in the stead of Christ.

 

The pastor has the authority also to forgive and retain sins in private.  And Christ sends him to exercise that authority on your behalf.

 

We hide and cover up our sins.  But Christ bears them and sets us free from them through forgiveness.

 

He forgives us when we pray and confess our sins in secret.  But He also gives us the gift that when we uncover our sins before Him, His servant will speak His forgiveness to us in His name.

 

That forgiveness is not just conveying information and facts.  It is Christ loosing us, unlocking us.

 

It was that key that rescued Peter after he denied Christ.  He was uncertain.  Jesus Himself spoke forgiveness.

 

Often we cover up our sins and forgive ourselves and never own up and see the connection between Christ’s suffering and our misdeeds.  That kind of forgiveness doesn’t stand on judgment day.  Only the forgiveness Jesus won with His suffering will stand.

 

That is the absolution we receive in private confession and absolution.

 

The peace of God….

 

SDG

 

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