Does God Have It All Wrong?

Third Sunday in Advent


Commemoration of Daniel the Prophet and the Three Young Men

December 17, 2017

Matthew 11:2–10

Your God has it all wrong. All those millions of people who believe in other thousands of religions, their gods have it right. They are the God and the people are supposed to come to him. But your God doesn’t sit there and wait. He comes to you. Your God seems to be like the person who bends over backward to do what you want so that you will like him. Not like those other gods who are more like the Wizard of Oz and shrouded in mystery but evident in power and demanding that you come before him and submit to him.

So why is it that you believe in a God who doesn’t demand that you come to Him? Why is it that you despise all those other gods who have the right to demand your allegiance? Why is it you don’t believe in a God who is fearsome and demands ultimate allegiance like the god Molech in ancient times who demanded human sacrifice? Why it is that you believe in a God who presents Himself to you as a baby who coos and dribbles out of His mouth the baby food and needs a diaper change?

Is it any wonder so many people think that you have a strange religion? You’re telling me that God was born and needed parents to raise Him and He went to school and played baseball out in the street with the neighborhood kids? You think all those other religions are weird and beyond belief. But if you compare yours with all the others on the basis of reason, yours is the one that doesn’t stand up to reason. The others do. It makes sense that if God is God He would demand you to come to Him. It stands to reason that if you are to gain favor with God then you should do what He demands of you to do.

But instead, you believe in a God who comes to you. Who stoops down to you and gives you everything you need. Instead of believing as all those sensible people out there, you believe that God does what is necessary for you rather than expecting you to do it.

Does God have it all wrong? Do you believe in a God who ends up not being the great and glorious God that you should expect in a God you’re going to believe in and expect that He will actually be able to be the almighty, powerful God you would like Him to be?

This is what you are presented with in the Gospel reading designated for the Third Sunday in Advent. If you were in a different religion you would be hearing some sort of demand upon you to gain God’s favor or stay in his favor. In the Gospel reading, though, you hear that God comes to you. He saves you. He binds up where you have failed. He heals where you have no power to overcome your deficiencies. He enters your world instead of demanding you ascend into His heavenly realm. He forgives you. He humbles Himself to save you rather than laying you waste if you don’t measure up to His standards of all-powerful holiness.

It’s crazy, it doesn’t make sense, and it seems as though God has it all wrong. But God, unlike all the other gods of all those other religions, doesn’t find His Godness, His almightiness, His eternal perfection in being above all but in the simple action of coming to you. His love and compassion for you defines who He is as God, not His holy perfection and sovereignty over you and all creation.

Satan would like for you to believe that you have to get into God’s good graces. God makes it clear that you can’t. Satan wants you to be the very best person you can be so that God will love you and grant you eternal life. God calls on you to repent. He wants you to confess your sins and pray the perpetual pray of His people, “Lord, have mercy.” Satan would like for you to see God as Above all, All-Powerful, Inaccessible unless you abide by His demands and work hard to do that. God simply points you to His Son, a lowly individual who grew up in a town with ordinary people and ordinary shops and ordinary life happening day after day. He tells you to see Him in His Son who came out of the womb of the Virgin Mary not in a sterilized hospital room with three nurses standing at the ready and a doctor who has delivered hundreds of babies, but in a room with hay on the ground and some dirty animals nearby.

He wants you to see Him by showing you His Son who grew as babies do into a man and carried out a ministry that was largely confined to an area around the town He grew up in and in nearby surrounding areas. He would like you to see that He came not to establish the greatest kingdom on earth as would make sense so that everybody could see clearly who He is and that this obviously is the true and only God. But He doesn’t see it that way. He rather comes and has compassion on people. As He says in the Gospel reading, Look at what you see, the blind are now seeing, the deaf are now hearing, the paralyzed are now walking, dead are now raised, the poor are having the good news preached to them.

The world today, just as it was back then, largely sees these things and doesn’t see anything worthy of proving that Jesus is God, that God the Father, with the Holy Spirit and the Son, are the Three Persons of the Triune God and the only God. But that’s because we human beings are so steeped in our sinful nature we think that it just has to be that we have to be the ones to do something to be what we need to be in order to be rewarded, gain salvation, however you want to look at it. We human beings are very secure in ourselves that we’re good as we are. We’re not so arrogant as to think that we are without fault. But since there are always those who are far worse than we are we are confident that we are good enough and that God is pleased that we have done what He demands.

That is the religion of the world and our sinful nature. It is the religion that originates with Satan. The religion the Gospel reading tells you of is the religion that says not only have you not done enough, you can’t. It tells you that God has done it all in His Son. It tells you that the way He has done it is by coming to you. That’s what John the Baptist was asking, Are You the Coming One, or should we look for another? The world looks for another, a God that suits them, that demands that they appease him so that they can be satisfied they have done enough or at least have tried enough.

But you are not going to go the sensible way. You believe in the one who has in fact come, which is what Advent means, coming. As we saw in the First Sunday in Advent, the one who came into Jerusalem, the reason being that He was going to the cross. As we saw in the Second Sunday in Advent, the one who will come again on the Last Day, the reason being that He will come to judge the living and the dead, those believe in all the false gods to eternal dmanaiton and those who believe in the Triune God to eternal life.

And as we see today on the Third Sunday in Advent, the one who comes to you in compassion. If blind people cannot see on their own, deaf people cannot hear on their own, and dead people cannot raise themselves, how much more true is it that you cannot appease God by anything you could do, even good things? Jesus has come. He lived as you are unable, perfectly in consonance with God’s holy will. He came in compassion to give you true sight, to open your ears to His forgiveness, to raise you from spiritual death. God has it right, after all. It’s all seen clearly in His Son. Amen.