Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, Creston, Iowa;
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (Ro 5:6, ESV)
Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
There's another way you could say that. While we were weak, God remembered us, at just the right time. How many times have I said to you that in Baptism we know that God remembers us. He does it in a very personal way. He shows us that He has chosen us. Even though it is a very simple thing, water and spoken words, we trust that God does what He promises through it. We rejoiced in the fact that Baptism is so specific that it doesn’t leave any doubt about who God is dealing with. The water of Baptism makes our heads wet and God puts His name on us, and with His name comes all His promises. For each of us, it happens at just the right time.
So, here St. Paul says that God remembered us when we were weak. Another translation says it was when we were powerless. Now I don’t know about you but I’m the kind of person who never wants to be seen as weak. Just like everyone I want people to see me as a strong person. Weak people are taken advantage of. Weak people are not influential people. Weak people are not respected. Weak people are… well not really anything. It’s like a cartoon of a job interview I recently saw. The interviewer says: “You’re just the type of weakling this company is looking for to exploit and discard. You’re hired!” That’s really what we think about when we say that some one is weak. Here’s how we really hear Paul’s words: While we were doormats…While we were wusses.. While we were crybabies, softies, namby-pamby, or wimps. And naturally none of us wants to be any of those things. None of us wants to be weak. Really we don’t believe that we are weak, either in life or even in the sight of God.
Teen called weakling; saves man from pond
The Associated Press
Last Updated 8:22 a.m. PST Friday, January 30, 2004
CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) - A high school freshman who walked out of a weightlifting session after being called a weakling became a hero minutes later when he saved an elderly man who had driven into a pond.
Justin Gregorich, 14, was one of three people who jumped into the water Wednesday to pull Raymond J. Kane from his sinking Lincoln Town Car.
"It's amazing - there are snakes and there are alligators ... all three of them just jumped in right after that guy," said paramedic Mike Eash.
Gregorich had hopes of joining Countryside High School's junior-varsity football team next season, and after school Wednesday he went to the team's conditioning practice.
But at 5-foot-3 inches tall and 130 pounds, he couldn't lift as much weight as the other boys, who teased him. Gregorich said he left early and began walking home.
"I'm thinking, man, I should have stayed at football, the coach is going to be mad at me, why did I leave?" he recalled. "And - WHAM!"
At that moment, the Lincoln veered off the road in front of him and sped toward the pond. Gregorich dove in, along with passers-by Michael McBrayer and Shawn Brady.
One man opened the car door as Gregorich and the other man grabbed Kane by the arms, authorities said. They swam about 50 feet back to the bank.
Kane was in good condition Thursday, issuing a statement through a hospital spokesman thanking his rescuers.
"I owe my life to that young man," Kane said. He also wished him luck in making the football team.
Even if we could be convinced we are weak, that’s the picture we want to think about ourselves. The weakling makes good in the end. The football reject makes the team anyway. “It’s really about inner strength and character.” That’s really how we want God to look at us. We might be weak but we are sure that we are strong in inner strength and character. That’s the reason we believe God should remember us.
It happens every time we run into trouble in our lives. We are sure God is testing us. We are sure He just wants us to prove how strong we really are. So we buck up, we endure, we turn to our “inner” strength. And then we turn to God and say: “Look God! I’m doing great. See, I can handle it. I’m really strong. Aren’t I a great person, a person worth remembering?”
Think about Peter. He was a strong guy, right? Well, I wasn’t his strength that allowed him to walk on water. It happened after Jesus feed the five thousand. He told the disciples to go to the other side of the lake, while he stayed behind. It took them a long time to cross the lake, because “the wind was against them.” While they struggled against the wind, in the dark of the night they saw Jesus walking toward them on the water. They were frightened, just as you and I would be. “Don’t be afraid! Jesus shouted over the wind and the water. Now this is where Peter demonstrates his strength. “Lord, if that’s really you, let me walk on the water out to you.” “Come.” Jesus answered. And Peter stepped out of the boat and began to walk to Jesus. But as soon as the strong man realized what he was really doing, he began to sink. When he took his eyes off of Jesus and began to see his own position and his own ability he plunged into the water. “Lord, save me!” he cried out, and Jesus saved him. Even strong Peter, the Rock, couldn’t walk on water by his own strength but only when he was depending on Jesus.
St. Paul (that’s who wrote our text for this evening) also knew what it meant to be weak. In fact, he said that he boasted in his weakness.
"For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Co 12:10, ESV)
And he didn’t mean that weakness brought him strength, he means that his weakness showed the strength of Jesus. When Paul was down and out, bent down with trouble, unable to move on his own, paralyzed by unmanageable circumstances, that’s when he really depended on Jesus. Jesus even said to him,
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Co 12:9, ESV).
“When you are at your weakest point, that’s when you really depend on me, instead of yourself.”
Ok Pastor, but why do we have to be weak before Jesus remembers us? Well, that’s not exactly what I’m saying. That’s not what Paul is talking about either. Really what he is saying, what I am saying is that when we are weak, that’s when we see our need to be remembered by God. When we know that we don’t deserve anything God does for us, that’s when we see most clearly what it means that God does remember us. God does His most important work in our lives, not in the ways that we people think He should, but in weakness. While we were still weak… when we realize that there is nothing we can do to save ourselves, when we are sinking in the water of sin, when we are lost and alone, God remembers us and saves us.
He saves us through the weakness of Jesus.
…who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Php 2:6-8, ESV)
Jesus became a weak and humble person, and submitted to a death of weakness.
“At just the right time, Christ died for the ungodly.” (Rom 5:6, ESV)
It was just the right time for us, because if He hadn’t done it we would have been lost to our sin, lost to death and lost to hell. An eternity of hell is exactly what we deserve for our sin. But because we were weak and powerless, God stepped in, He remembered us, and took the punishment away from us paid it Himself, in Jesus. We can’t do it, we are too weak, so He did. He did it in the weakness of human flesh that bled and died on the cross.
In just a few short weeks, Easter will be upon us. We’ll travel through the rest of holy week and remember the weakness of Jesus death on the cross on Good Friday. And even more importantly we’ll remember that after Good Friday comes Easter Sunday. The same Jesus, who in weakness died, in glory and strength walks away from death alive again. That’s where He really shows us where our weakness ends. Because He took the punishment for our sin to the grave, we too will walk away from death.
We are weak. Trouble stalks us all the time. It causes us pain. And that’s were we most easily see Jesus. In our weakness we remember that He remembers us. Amen.
The peace of God that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.