What shall I return to the Lordfor all his goodness to me?
Here we are tonight, commemorating the last supper Jesus had with His friends before He died for you and for me. The night He lowered Himself to the rotten job of cleaning filthy feet that had trodden the dusty paths of Palestine. Serving His disciples, His students and followers, the ones who shouldâ€™ve ordinarily speaking served Him. Then eating with them and miraculously, mysteriously giving His body and blood to them for forgiveness even before He had died for their sins. And finally giving a new command, a mandate, saying, â€œlove one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.â€ (John 13:34-35). Then what follows are those dreadful events we remember in the coming days. Dreadful for Jesus, He sweat blood, but also wonderfully hopeful and joyous, for in His dying He freed many captives and in His rising He brings them with Him into new marvellous life.
That is His story and it is yours too, who trust His words. So what shall you return to the Lord for all the goodness Heâ€™s given you? We struggle in this world, to do what is right and to not do what is wrong, we suffer through drought and even plenty. Afflicted by the devil, by sickness, by expectation, by the tyranny of time and money, even in our resting we are tempted to forget the wonder of what God has done for you. He created us and all that is, He gives us life and sustains us knowing what is best for everythingâ€™s benefit but we constantly forget what He did, that He sustains us and that all we have is given by Him. Instead we go our own ways, away from God and the source of life, into sin and death, broken relationships, betrayal and lies. We seek to make ourselves masters of our own universe, but what we think is best for us often is most harmful. Itâ€™s easy to see this when we think about eating sweets, or meat and alcohol, even that desire to just stay in bed; but also our desires to build up wealth and safety for this life and to please everyone are also ultimately harmful. This is sin, our sickness that drags us away from God.
But even in our sin, in this slimy hole we canâ€™t escape He sent His Son to save us, Jesus Christ (Psalm 40:1). Despite our rejection of God and His great love for us He is merciful to us, and seeks our good, salvation and freedom from sin, death and the devil. The Lord is gracious and righteous, full of compassion, He protects the unwary and when the psalmist was brought low He saved Him (Psalm 116:5-6). Jesus gave His life to save you, to bring you true and ultimate rest in God. He gave His life for His disciples, even though they all broke their promises, to stay with Him, to love as He loved, He died for them too, freeing them from sin, He forgave them. Just as He forgives you. And so as the psalmist asks, what shall we offer to the Lord for all this wonderful and merciful goodness He has freely given?
I will life up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. I will fulfil my vows to the Lord in the presence of all people. Serving Him with thanksgiving throughout this new life He has given, listening to Him, even at this dreadful time of betrayal. Striving to love each other as He first loved us, giving His whole life, from birth to death and beyond, for you and me. Listening to the Word of God, to Jesus, trusting Him and looking to Him for the mercy and forgiveness we so often need. He has given us everything and still He gives more. Thank God for His mercy and great love for you and me, call on His name in your time of need and in your time of plenty Praise the Lord, Hallelujah!
And the peace of God which passes all understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
Pastor Joseph Graham