Dear Baptized of God, created, redeemed, forgiven of God through Christ.
Are we worth anything? Are we of any value? Or are we just a lucky chance of mutations, something that evolved over millions of years from space dust? That is what science falsely so-called claims to be true. But if that were true, then wouldn’t that mean that we really aren’t much different than a plant, or an animal? And wouldn’t that mean that the grave would be final for us, and that there wouldn’t be anything more for us after this life? Just nothing for all eternity? But where is the hope or the comfort in such a false belief?
The truth is that we are in fact worth so much more than that. Jesus says we are worth more than the whole world. “What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” Jesus is saying our eternal soul is worth more than all the treasure in the world combined. Most of all, God loved us enough to send us His only-begotten Son. The Son whom the Father loved from all eternity, God gave Him to be crucified for us, that we might be forgiven of our sins, reconciled to God, and have eternal life restored to us once again. That’s how valuable we are to God.
We are not here by a lucky chance of mutations, we are not here by survival of the fittest, or whatever other lies the wisdom of the world wants to embrace. We are here by God’s grace alone, because He has loved us enough, not only to create us, but also to redeem us from sin and the grave by the sending of His only-begotten Son.
We are God’s special creation, made to live with Him for all eternity. We are more than an animal. “The LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”
People sometimes say, “Remember where you came from. Don’t forget your roots.” Don’t we need the Bible to know where we came from?, and to know what our real needs are, our most pressing need being the forgiveness of our sins? Jesus came to fulfil that need and to accomplish everything we need to be saved.
The Bible is the only place to find a true and realistic picture of man - the only place to learn what is really important for us. Today we learn from our Savior’s own words how to view mankind.
“It came to pass, as He went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the Sabbath Day, that they watched Him.”
Jesus was clearly eating dinner there, but He wasn’t invited because the Pharisees wanted to be buddy buddy with Him. They wanted to watch Him carefully, so that they could find fault with Him. They wanted to see whether they could catch Him breaking the Sabbath law. “And behold, there was a certain man before Him which had the dropsy.” (today dropsy is called “edema”, the swelling of the limbs).
Question: how did the sick man get there? One thing is certain from the context - the Pharisees wanted to use this situation to find fault with Jesus.
But Jesus knew their hearts. He knew their friendship was fake, their smiles were put on, and their invitation was insincere. “Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees.” How could Jesus answer when they had not yet verbally asked anything? Because He knew what was in their hearts. He didn’t need anyone to tell Him.
He throws the ball in their court, asking, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath day? And they held their peace.” They should have known that it is lawful. They did know. They knew the Bible frontwards and backwards. Love is the fulfilling of the law. God said He desires mercy more than sacrifice. But their own man made laws said it is not lawful. This is the idea they had in mind. Yet they did not answer, because then how could they explain bringing in the sick man? Jesus exposed the hypocrisy in their hearts. He didn’t hesitate to call a spade a spade. His view of them was very true and realistic.
Must we not also be realistic in our view of man? In other words, doesn’t mankind need to hear that we are sinners by nature, that we are born in sin, and that our most pressing need is to have our sins forgiven? Doesn’t mankind need to hear the law in all its severity, not watering down or disregarding the commandments altogether, never saying that any sin is ok? And that Jesus kept the law for us perfectly, not so we could disregard the law, but so that we would strive with all our heart, soul, and mind to fear, love, and trust in God above all things?
Many want to believe there isn’t anything that wrong with us, that we are mostly good at heart. Yet how similar this is to the Pharisees religion, who trusted in themselves for salvation.
But Jesus calls all people, saying: “Ye must be born again.” Peter says, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children.”
We all are born in sin, and we must have our sins forgiven, and that is only possible through Jesus Christ alone, His cross, His resurrection, and through His means of Grace, His Word and Sacraments.
Jesus took the man sick with dropsy, “healed him and let him go, and answered them saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit and will not straightway pull him out on the Sabbath day?”
Jesus viewed us as more than the animals, of much more value. He did not hesitate to say so. The lawyers were ready to condemn Jesus for healing on the Sabbath. But they would not hesitate for a second to help their own animal from a pit on the Sabbath. They would have found all sorts of ways to justify it. So they had no right to complain when Jesus helped a human being on the Sabbath. Isn't man more than an ox?
What a difference in Jesus' attitude compared to the demeaning teaching that we are just an evolved version of an ape! From Scripture we learn we did not descend from a blob of slime that once formed by accident. Man is more than a monster, more than an animal. Jesus says, “Ye are of more value than many sparrows.” God breathed into us the breath of life, and we became a living soul, an eternal soul, an eternal being. How blessed, and how truly valuable we are to God.
Isn’t our view of man important? The teaching of evolution strips away the importance of our eternal soul. If we are animals, then shouldn’t we act like animals? If we have no soul that God judges, then shouldn’t we follow whatever feelings we have, whether they are right or wrong, as long as it feels right? Who is to judge, since evolution says there is no god? Animals follow their natural impulses and instincts. Is that how we should live? That is how many people live right now, after being told over and over again that they came from apes and from space dust.
But Jesus’ words are clear. We are worth more than an animal. We are blessed with an eternal soul, “redeemed...with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”
We are God's special creation. Let us be encouraged knowing we are not here by chance. We are made to have eternal life with God - loved enough so that God gave His only begotten Son to redeem us through His life and death and resurrection. In Jesus’ name. Amen.