Sermon for 1st Advent Midweek -11.30.22

+ Advent Midweek 1 – November 30th, 2022 +

Genesis 4:1-16; Romans 5:12–17; Matthew 5:17–26

Beautiful Savior Lutheran

Milton, WA

 

“This is My Son: Cain”

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

Anyone who’s spent any time baking or cooking in the kitchen, or tried one of those DIY projects knows that all too often our expectations fail to meet up with the reality. There’s even a cooking show on Netflix called “Nailed It” where the entire premise of the show is based on the failed expectations of the participants.

 

Scripture is no stranger to high hopes and dashed expectations, particularly when it comes to people and their relationships in this fallen, broken world. Over the next three Wednesdays we’ll be looking at three father-son relationships found in the Old Testament. Like many stories, these stories begin with high hopes and end in failed expectations. And yet surrounding all the failures and disappointments of fallen man, there is the grace of the ultimate father-son relationship in God the Father and God the Son. The one and only relationship where hopes are always realized and expectations are never disappointed. This Advent we’ll reflect upon the Father’s words at Jesus’ baptism…“This is My Son, whom I love, with whom I am well pleased” And in his only begotten Son, Jesus, the Father is well pleased with you.

 

It doesn’t take long in Scripture before we arrive at the beginning of the story of the first disappointing son, the son of Adam, Cain.

 

Adam and Eve had high hopes for Cain. This was evident not only by his name but also by what Eve, his mother, says about him. Most translations say it this way: “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.” However, some scholars, including Martin Luther, have understood Eve to say, “I have gotten the man of the Lord.”

 

What Luther is getting at is that Eve thought that Cain was the promised Seed of Genesis 3:15 who would crush the serpent’s head and bring salvation from Adam and Eve’s sin. God promised a son who would deliver them, and here he is…so they thought.

 

In Hebrew the name Cain comes from the word meaning “to possess” or “to acquire.” Martin Luther imagines Eve saying something like this when Cain is born: “I remember what we have lost through sin. But now let our hope and speech be of nothing else except winning this back and keeping possession of it. For I have gotten the man of God who will obtain that lost glory for us again.” [1]

 

Talk about high expectations! And yet, as the story unfolds, we quickly discover that Cain was not the expected savior. Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. 

 

 

 

Hebrews 11 picks up the story of Cain and Abel. By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.

 

Back in Genesis 4, YHWH warned Cain about his anger. Warned him that his sin was ready like a wild cat ready to pounce. But we know how the story goes. Cain gave into his anger. When they were out in the field together, Cain rose up and murdered his own brother.

 

Imagine the pain and disappointment of Adam and Eve when they find out what Cain had done. The son they thought would save their lives instead became a taker of life. Not only that, the recognition that their own sin and rebellion in the garden had now spread its poison to their own family, and would be passed down through them to their children, and every generation following.

 

“By the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners,” Paul writes in Romans 5:19. We are all sons of Adam, and we all have inherited that same deadly sin, that same crouching wild animal that lurked in the heart of Cain. Well, at least I haven’t murdered anyone like Cain, we say, trying to justify ourselves. But Jesus reminds us in Matthew 5, that everyone who has become angry with his brother has already murdered them in their heart. The cycle of failed expectations continues.

 

When it comes to keeping God’s commandments, we have all gone the way of Cain. We do not always act in faith as Abel did. How often we have harbored anger and envy in our hearts toward others. How often we’ve told ourselves that we are not our brother’s keeper, not responsible for the well-being of others, more concerned with ourselves. Like Cain we have fallen short of the glory of God.

 

This is why Psalm 146 instructs us: “Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish.”

 

Cain was not the promised son and the promised Seed that Adam and Eve had hoped for. Their hope was not to be found in Cain, but in the true promised Seed, in the Son of Adam, the Son of Man, the Son of God in human flesh.

 

This God-Man Jesus, the perfect Son of Adam was born into our world of hatred and murder was yet bearing God’s love and grace for all. From the moment he was born murderous hearts would hound Jesus until his appointed hour on the cross, where like Abel before him, innocent blood was shed.  And yet Jesus went to the cross for Cain, for all murderers, including us. The blood of Abel cried out to YHWH from the ground, but now from the cross, the blood of Jesus cries out in pardon and mercy for you.

 

“You have come . . . to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel” (Hebrews 12:22a, 24). Jesus became our murdered brother so that He might keep us from everlasting death. And just as he placed a mark upon Cain to save him from murder in his exile, so too, he places the greater mark of his cross upon our foreheads and our hearts in holy baptism.

 

Jesus, the true and perfect Son of Adam comes to us in our hopelessness. He is the true Son of Adam whose shed blood and broken body are the perfect sacrifice accepted by God the Father to wash clean our murderous hearts and make us children of God. “For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man (Adam), much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:17). And in Jesus the Father says to you today and every day, with you I am well pleased.

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

[1] Martin Luther, Lectures on Genesis, vol. 1 of Luther’s Works, ed. Jaroslav Pelikan (St. Louis: Concordia, 1958).

Beautiful Savior

is a traditional Lutheran Church, faithful to God's Word and His Sacraments. We equip God's people to serve, love, and encourage one another as we grow in our personal relationship with Christ. We reach out to the community as beacons of light, sharing the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Savior.

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