INI + AMEN.
((3. Where’s God?))
Where’s God? Simple enough question, right? So, where’s God? Our knee jerk answer, the first thing that pops in our head might be: “Well, He’s here. We are in church, after all.”
But that question (“Where’s God?”), the answer to that question, is a little bit broader than that. It’s still pretty simple. We’re all taught, rightly so, that God’s everywhere. He’s omnipresent. No matter where you are, where you go, what you do—God’s there.
So, when it comes to the question of “Where’s God,” we start thinking that we can experience Him, encounter Him anywhere because He’s everywhere. He’s in the beautiful sunset, in the majestic mountains, the pretty little flowers. Since God is everywhere, He’s with me on the golf course, at the cabin, so I don’t really have to come here. It’s really not that important.
But if we can encounter God everywhere, it’s not just in the nice wonderful nature scenes we like to dream up. If God’s everywhere, and you can experience Him anywhere, what about Irma and Harvey? What about those Caribbean islands with over 50% loss of buildings? Or Houston with its 50 inches of rain? God was there, too.
Besides all that!—if God’s everywhere (and He is!), that means He’s there when you think no one else is listening, no one else is watching. He’s there even in your thoughts. Yeah, so that secret sin, the one you think no one knows about, yeah, God doesn’t just know about it. He’s right there when you do it—every time.
((2. Where’s God for you?))
God “being everywhere” doesn’t necessarily help you, doesn’t necessarily give you any comfort. He really can find you anywhere: in the sudden heart attack, in the hurricane, in the fire. He’s there. He encounters you there. The question’s not: “Where’s God?” The real question is: “Where’s God for you?” For your benefit? That’s the comforting question, because it has a comforting answer! “Where’s God for you?”—the best and most comforting question.
The 10 lepers were on the right track. God was at work somewhere in the area “between Samaria and Galilee.” In fact, He was at work near a “certain [Samaritan] town.” So they cry out: “Jesus, Master, have mercy upon us!” This is the cry of faith. Only disciples call Jesus “Master” in the Gospel of Luke. They need mercy, they need cleansing so they can go to the Temple. They don’t just need to be healed. They need to be pure to be able to go into the Temple: “Go show yourselves to the priests.”
They’re cleansed, and the nine, where’d they go? Well, they went to the priests. Where else would they go? They don’t get what the Samaritan gets. They don’t need to go to the Temple to find God. God was staying in that Samaritan village! Where’s God for you? Wherever Jesus is! Only where Jesus is! Only where He’s promised to be!
Jesus is God. God come into our universe, into that Samaritan town, into Judea to do one thing: save. To die and rise for sinners, for the unclean, for those in need a mercy. For the Lepers. For you, too. “To bestow on all His pard’ning grace.”
So, Jesus is here for you. Only here for you. Because here He delivers His Word. We hear it read! We hear it preached! Here He baptizes so that He can save even our infants. They’re that precious to Him—He dies and rises for them, and He dies them to sin and rises them to faith through baptism. Here He restores us to our Baptism in His absolution for our many and various sins. Here and only here He delivers His body for us to eat and His blood to drink for even more forgiveness, and to unite us to Himself and His promise of eternal resurrection from the dead.
Jesus can find you anywhere, but if you want to find Him for you, well, then you’ve got to be where He is, where He’s promised to be: in His Word and in His Gifts.
((1. What does He give you?))
Why’s it so important to be where God is, where Jesus is for you? It’s all about what He gives out where and when He’s promised to give it out. The Lepers knew what to look for: mercy. “Have mercy upon us.” And so He gives: cleansing—much more important than healing. But He gives that, too. Not only that: salvation. “Go your way; your trust in Me has saved you.”
So also you. All the things I just talked about. He gives mercy, He gives cleansing from sin, He gives salvation, He gives the promise of resurrected eternal life—eternal, everlasting healing. All these promises He’s made, He delivers them and the very things themselves (mercy, cleansing, salvation, forgiveness)—He delivers here in this place. Only in this place can you find and encounter God for you, Jesus for you. Baptism. Absolution. Body and Blood.
“Where’s God?” Not a particularly helpful question. He’s everywhere. “Where’s God for you?” Now, there’s a better question. You can find Jesus for you wherever He’s promised to be for you. When He’s promised to be somewhere for you, He’s there to save you. That’s really what this text is all about:
JESUS IS GOD FOR YOU TO SAVE YOU.
You find Him here. He’s promised to be only where His Word and Gifts are delivered. That’s where He is FOR YOU. Then we can go our way in peace, like that Leper. Our trust in Jesus clings to Him and His Word, Gifts, and Promises.
So, yes, Jesus is with you wherever you go—in good times and bad—not because He’s everywhere (He is!), but because He’s not only promised it but delivered it, too. His Baptism, His Absolution, His Body and Blood delivered to you are the only reason, and they’re the only sure and certain proof that JESUS IS GOD FOR YOU TO SAVE YOU.
INI + AMEN.