INI + AMEN.
This is rough day, rough readings. The Lord Jesus shows up. He attacks Jacob, wrestles with Him. It is Jesus before He was born. He’s the Word of the God, as John 1 tells us. The Son is the Father’s true Messenger, even in the Old Testament. Whenever the Lord shows up in the Old Testament it’s actually the Son of God, the pre-incarnate Christ, Jesus before He was named Jesus, before He was born. As Jesus says, “Before Abraham was, I AM.”
So, Christ, in our Old Testament reading, attacks Jacob. He fights with him all night, and then He fights dirty! He hits below the belt and dislocates Jacob’s hip. It’s a bit awkward. But it’s even more awkward in our Gospel reading! He shows up around Tyre and Sidon, He’s confronted by this woman, and then He ignores her. He talks about her to His disciples, and then finally He insults her. She keeps coming back for more. Has to help her daughter! Talk about a wrestling match with words!
((2. The Lord doesn’t fit our expectations.))
The Lord doesn’t fit our expectations at all. We do have expectations about God and about our relationship with Him, and also how the world relates to Him, too. We all have ideas about what God should and shouldn’t do. We know how He should help us, help others, help the world. Life should be relatively easy and care free. More than enough money. Healthy. A life that’s put together the way we want. And when things don’t go according to our plan, well, we blame God.
If He doesn’t match our expectations, we put Him on trial. He needs to explain Himself. “Why’s there pain? Why’s there death? Why me? Why God? Explain yourself!” The idea that our original and continued rebellion against God doesn’t even come up. What does this rebellion look like? Like trying to put Him on trial. That’s just how people think today. The Packer’s quarterback is a good recent example of this. But sinners are hardwired to think that way. Adam accused God: “The woman You gave to be with me…”
God’s no longer judge. We are. We’re judge over God and what He does. If it doesn’t line up with how we think it should be going, well, we might just get rid of God. We want to be God in God’s place, after all. That’s the original lie, the original sin—“You will be like God,” the devil said.
But the Lord won’t be tamed. He won’t be controlled. He’s God. You’re not. We don’t like that very much. We like being in charge. God’s also God the way He chooses to be God! We really don’t like that at all either. He’s rough around the edges. He runs the show. He’s in charge the whole way.
He’s silent when He wants, wrestles when He wants, blesses when He wants, saves how He wants. You can’t force Him. He’s God not you, and the Lord Jesus doesn’t fit our expectations.
Now, Jesus in our Old Testament and Gospel readings may not fit our expectations of who God is, but He fits our experience though. A God who’s rough around the edges with us, who’s apparently silent toward us. But Jacob and this woman from Tyre and Sidon won’t be denied. Why not? Can’t they take the hint? They believe something that we often don’t. They know, they believe, they trust that the Lord is the Lord, and they know that the Lord is true to His promises.
((1. The Lord is still true to His promises.))
The Lord is still true to His promises. He doesn’t fit our expectations, but He does fit His own promises. He won’t go against what He’s promised, won’t got back on what He’s done or will do. He won’t be anything other than what He is. He’s God your Savior.
No matter what He’s still Jesus. He’s “Yahweh saves.” That’s what His name means, and that’s His name because that’s who He is and what He does for you. “We have peace with God [the Father] through our Lord Jesus Christ,” Paul tells us today. There’s no war with God. Jesus is Your Savior. That’s His name. That’s what He did. “Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews.” Crucified for you—died and risen!
Jesus being Savior is all right there in our readings. Just look at what sets up the meetings in our Gospel and Old Testament! “Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon.” “Jacob was left alone” at “the ford of the Jabbok.” That woman and Jacob were somewhere, and Jesus shows up! He had to be there for them to bless and save them.
The Lord had already promised Jacob as much, and so when He showed up to wrestle Jacob, Jacob knew it was to bless Him. Why else would He be there? “I won’t let you go until you bless me!” The woman, too! Jesus goes out of His way, and she heard the news, heard the reports. He must’ve been there for her. She latches on and won’t let go either. Gets in His way. “Lord, help me.”
Turns out you can boss Jesus around! You can hold Him to His promises. You can trap Him in His own words! “It’s not right to give the children’s bread to the dogs. Yes, Lord, but even the dogs eat the crumbs.” Her faith traps Jesus in His own giving of salvation. He remembers His mercy and His loving kindness, as we prayed in our Introit. He remembered it for that woman. “Her daughter was healed instantly.” He remembered it for Jacob. “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel.” He remembers it for you, too. He remembers His salvation, His death, His resurrection. You can hold Him to His salvation and His promises of Water, Word, Body and Blood. He forgives. He saves. He gives eternal life.
The Lord Jesus doesn’t fit our expectations. He’s God—Son of the Father. He’s always true to Himself, always true to His promises. And through our readings He tells us who He is and what He does. It’s the same as it ever was!
THE LORD JESUS ALWAYS HAS SALVATION FOR YOU.
He blessed Jacob. He saved that woman’s daughter from the demon. He saves you, too. His salvation, His mercy, and His loving kindness. You can’t fit Jesus or His salvation into what you think He should be, or what you think He should do, or what you think His salvation really means. Don’t be God in God’s place!
He rescues you from your sin. He will save you from death itself. Hold the Lord to His promises. He’s God who saves. THE LORD JESUS ALWAYS HAS SALVATION FOR YOU. His promises last until the day of eternal life dawns for you. Hold Jesus to His Baptism, hold Him to His Absolution, hold Him the the Supper of His body and blood. He loves to be held onto that way.
It looks like crumbs. Just water. Just words. Just bread and wine. Little things. Simple things. But just as dogs live from crumbs, so also the Lord gives His salvation, His mercy, His loving kindness, His forgiveness, His life to you. You’re His baptized brothers and sisters. You’re His absolved friends. You’re united with Him and His forgiveness through His own body and blood.
Faith knows the truth, who Jesus is, what He does. Jacob and the woman knew. You do, too! Due to unbelief and doubt, though, it’s a bit unexpected from time to time, but THE LORD JESUS ALWAYS HAS SALVATION FOR YOU. Cross-won, empty-tomb certain. Given into your ears and mouth, and through them, by faith, into your heart, soul, mind, and strength.
INI + AMEN.