INI + AMEN.
“Don’t fear: You’re worth more than many sparrows.” That’s Jesus’ Word today. His comfort today. Of all the beasts of the field and the birds of air—“not one falls apart from your Father.”
Yes, two sparrows could’ve been sold for a Roman penny, but even those two sparrows, which we value as insignificant, are prized and valued by your heavenly Father. He made them. He sustains them. They are His.
“Don’t fear: You’re worth more than many sparrows.” But what does that mean? How many sparrows are we talking about? How much copper, silver, or gold? What sort of worth and value is “many sparrows”?
But the comfort is this: your worth isn’t just “many sparrows;” your worth is this: The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
((YOU’RE WORTH THE LAMB OF GOD WHO TAKES AWAY THE SIN OF THE WORLD.))
((I. God sets the price not us.)
Who determined that price? Certainly not us. We’d value ourselves way more highly than we ought, and we can do this in two ways.
First, we can say, “Of course that was the price! Why wouldn’t it be? It’s me we’re talking about, here.” We think there’s something in us, something about us that is worth saving. That God just has to save me because it’s me! We set the conditions and put God on the hook.
The other way is that we don’t truly believe what the price paid really means, what it means that it took God’s death, God’s blood to be shed in order to redeem us, buy us back. In this way we devalue God’s mercy and salvation. We don’t truly take an account of the true problem, the depths of our own sin. We treat it as a slight problem, a minor imperfection, a superficial blemish. We think sins are just bad habits that we can overcome with enough hard work and determination. But if that were really true, then why did Jesus, your God, have to die in order to save you?
But the truth of the matter is this: God set the price; He paid the price. He determined, only out of mercy, that He would save. Only out of His love that is found in Christ Jesus alone, did the Father say that He would save you. Only in His eternal Son did He set the price: the death of the Son, the death of God Himself. The price God determined wasn’t copper or silver or gold but it was His own “holy, precious blood” and His own “innocent suffering and death.” He set this price even before the foundation of the world, and paid it: “crucified FOR US under Pontius Pilate.”
So, because God planned, set, and paid the price, you have infinite value in Christ. But only in Him. Only in Jesus is your eternal worth and value set. For He alone paid the price: His blood, His death—no sparrow, but “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
There are those who want to remain valued by something other than Jesus’ blood: their anger, lustful desires, their past, or whatever else. Or their overcoming these things. This means they’ll reject Jesus and His payment either out of pride or out of pity.
Pride: cling to your sins, revel in them, continue doing them. Pride: overcome these things by your own hard work.
Pity: that your sins, your pain, your past, or whatever means that you’re worthless. But your worth isn’t based on you at all. Your worth is this: “Christ the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”—your sin. That’s your value. That’s your worth. That’s your standing before God. Christ, His blood, His death, His resurrection given you in your Baptism. No anger, no desires, no baggage can change your Baptism.
((II. This is what we confess.))
That’s our confession. That’s the heart of the Christian message. The heart and soul of the Christian confession is that Jesus “FOR OUR SALVATION came down from heaven.” We just confessed that in the Nicene Creed. You confess that Jesus “was crucified FOR US under Pontius Pilate” in your daily devotions in the Apostles’ Creed. This isn’t just our confession here, but it’s our confession to the world.
This is what the Princes at Augsburg confessed June 25, 1530. This is what we confess today. That Jesus alone is the only one who takes away the sin of the world—Senate hearings notwithstanding. Not works, not sparrows, but Jesus, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
Taught from God’s Word alone, the Princes confessed their faith, the faith of their pastors, the faith of their congregations—really the true Christian Faith—in the Augsburg Confession, which we still confess today. For them God’s Word alone was so important that they stood before the Emperor with this confession, putting their lives on the line.
But as Jude says, each one of us is “to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” We’re called to defend the faith of the Scriptures. For this reason we have Bibles in our own language, for our study and learning that faith in Christ alone would be nurtured and sustained. For this reason we cherish, we make time for God’s Word (to hear it, sing on Sundays, of course, but also to study it together.) For this reason we cherish Jesus’ Gifts. His Baptism. His Absolution. His body and blood. For, as the Augsburg Confession says,“through the Word and Sacraments, as through instruments, the Holy Spirit is given. He works faith He works faith, when and where it pleases God, in those who hear the Gospel that God justifies those who believe that they are received into grace for Christ’s sake.”
That Jesus paid the price makes us bold to confess. What do we have to fear? Jesus died. Jesus rose. Sin taken care. Failure? No where to be found. Not in Christ. In Christ alone we have salvation. Him, His death, His resurrection, His salvation for sinners—that’s our confession.
“Don’t fear: You’re worth more than many sparrows.” In Jesus and Jesus alone, baptized into Him, YOU’RE WORTH THE LAMB OF GOD WHO TAKES AWAY THE SIN OF THE WORLD. Your sin. We confess that. We confess Him. We confess Him FOR US and for the world. For He alone has reconciled you 100% to the Father.
INI + AMEN.