Bread – Who

June 19, 2013


Readings for Wednesday, June 19, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: 1 Sam. 2:12-26; Acts 2:1-21; Luke 20:27-40; Psalms 81,82,119:97-120

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In our reading today from 1 Samuel we are introduced to the priest’s Eli’s bad, bad children. Setting the scene, the writer says: “Now the sons of Eli were worthless men. They did not know the Lord….the men treated the offering of the Lord with contempt…how they lay with the women who were serving at the entrance to the tent of meeting … I [Eli] hear of your [the sons’] evil dealings from all the people.” 1 Sam. 2:12,17,22-23

These sons, these heirs of a potential high place (as priests) among the people, threw their inheritance in their father’s face, in God’s face, and in the people’s face. They used their protected position for evil. They did not use their wealth and power for good, but for evil. All they knew was the world’s ways and not the Father’s.

Know people like that? Does one of those people stare at you from the mirror every morning?

All this is to point to the question which Eli asks of his wayward sons: “If someone sins against a man, God will mediate for him, but if someone sins against the Lord, who can intercede for him?” 1 Sam. 2:25

If I sin against the Lord (really, the question should not be “if” but “when”), who can intercede for me? Who indeed. That is the question.

You have to remember that it was Eli asking this question. He is the priest at the time. It was his job to go into the Holy of Holies and, applying right sacrifice, intercede for the wayward of Israel. Essentially his question is an admission that he is inadequate to the task. Since he is the only person with “authority” to intercede, he has essentially admitted by this question that, when we sin against God, there is no one (at that time) who could intercede.

Various religions answer the “who” question in various ways. All of them except one (to my knowledge) answer the “who” with the word “man.” Man is the “who” in the question. We can intercede for ourselves by offering right sacrifice, by our good works, by our adherence to the rules of a particular book or a particular holy man, spirit guide, shaman, or leader, by our following the proper steps in the proper order. The “who” answer for these religions is “me.” I am the great “who” who can intercede on behalf of myself before God, assuming that I have done those works required of me by Buddha, Mohammed, Ron Hubbard, the local head of my group, or whoever.

Christianity answers the “who” by saying God Himself, in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the “who” who can intercede for me before God for my many sins against Him.

And not only does Jesus have the power (the “can”), He has the desire and purpose (the “will”). He can and He will for those people who are His.

Since this is true, how is it so hard for the world to understand?

Very simply, if the “who” is Jesus then then “who” is not me. If the “who” is someone else, then I am dependent upon that person, I am needy, I am in want, I am lowly, I am a sinner, I am no better than Eli’s sons. And why would I, the successful, independent, thinking, educated, hard-working, intelligent, good-looking, important, self-righteous, proper person want to claim such need?

The barrier to Christ is not Satan, it is us, it is me. Satan may play upon ourselves, but all he does is point us in the direction of our own tendencies, our own inclinations, our own desires.

Then how do I bridge the place where I am to the place where He is, so that I may enlist Him in my aid before God? I never, never can. I can’t.

I will never know the true “who” until I recognize the false “who” for who he is – me. I will never know the true “who” until I am truly aware of my pitiful estate. And at that point, at the point of least “self,” I may, with God’s grace and in His power, be allowed to see a bridge which I might go over to meet the true “who.” But it is a bridge not of my imagination, my planning, or my doing – it is a bridge built by God it is a bridge made out of the timbers of the cross, bonded together by Christ’s blood; it is a bridge built for me. And as a result of God’s purpose and mercy, in God’s grace and with the power of His Holy Spirit, once having seen the bridge I might then be lifted up in His strong arms and carried across.

See, the “who” can never be me, it can only be Christ. That is why I need not worry when I am in the throne room of God, because the “who” is not me, not even one little bit.

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© 2013 GBF

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