A GOD EXPOSED                                                                                          Midweek Lent 4(3)

Genesis 3:7-21; John 19:1-5; 23-24a                                                         Behold the Man Series

April 3, 2019

 

TEXTS—

Ge 3:7–21:

       7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

       8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

       14 The Lord God said to the serpent,

 

“Because you have done this,

cursed are you above all livestock

and above all beasts of the field;

on your belly you shall go,

and dust you shall eat

all the days of your life.

15 I will put enmity between you and the woman,

and between your offspring and her offspring;

he shall bruise your head,

and you shall bruise his heel.”


16 To the woman he said,

 

“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;

in pain you shall bring forth children.

Your desire shall be contrary to your husband,

but he shall rule over you.”

 

17 And to Adam he said,

 

“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife

and have eaten of the tree

of which I commanded you,

‘You shall not eat of it,’

cursed is the ground because of you;

in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;

18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;

and you shall eat the plants of the field.

19 By the sweat of your face

you shall eat bread,

till you return to the ground,

for out of it you were taken;

for you are dust,

and to dust you shall return.”

 

       20 The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. 21 And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. (ESV)

 

Jn 19:1–5, 23-24a:

       1 Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged him. 2 And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe. 3 They came up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and struck him with their hands. 4 Pilate went out again and said to them, “See, I am bringing him out to you that you may know that I find no guilt in him.” 5 So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold the man!”...

       23 When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, 24 so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture which says,

 

       “They divided my garments among them,

and for my clothing they cast lots.” (ESV)

 

INTRODUCTION

       Exposed! The word has a nasty ring, doesn’t it. A politician who has used his position to his own benefit is exposed by a journalist investigating his activities. A neighbor whom everyone seems to like is exposed as a pedophile. A husband who appears to be faithful is exposed as an adulterer.

       However, the term can also carry a more positive sense. It can be used in the sense of revealed, made known, or made evident. Literally, it means to “make something visible by uncovering it” (Bing definitions). At low tide, the sand of the seashore is exposed. Students can be exposed to the subject of statistics in class and how to make good use of them.

       Tonight we consider A God Exposed.

 

I.    EXPOSED AS A GOD OF JUSTICE CONDEMNING SIN

       Adam and Eve experienced that exposure in the Garden of Eden. They were exposed as sinners who deserved...and received, divine judgment for their sin. Before that fateful day, they were naked, but not exposed. They experienced no shame. There was no need for them to cover themselves before one another or God. There was no need because there was no sin that needed to be hidden. There was no shame, for shame requires a level of self-awareness which grows out of sinful navel-gazing. Adam and Eve were not turned in on themselves. They lived in harmony with God and served one another. But, of course, it didn’t last. The serpent slithered into their path, whispering his wicked lies.

 

“You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Ge 3:4–5).

 

They ate. They realized they were naked. They hid. Then God came confronting them with their sin. There was no hiding from his searing sight. His words cut to the chase:

 

“Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” (Ge 3:11).

 

They acknowledged their actions, but there was no repentance, only blame. Finally, there was the word of justice in condemnation:

 

“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;...cursed is the ground because of you;...you are dust and to dust you shall return.” (Ge 3:16, 17, 19).

 

       The same is true for you and me; we stand exposed before the God of justice and judgment. There is a dream I had any number of times, early in my ministry. I dreamed that I was standing in the pulpit, before the whole congregation, wearing nothing but my underwear. It’s a laughable dream, I suppose, but I didn’t wake laughing. A pastor is on display before his congregation and the community in which he serves. Every action, every word, everything about him is critiqued. It’s a frightening reality. While the world may not so critically review your life, God sees it all. You can hide your sinfulness from your family, from your friends, and from your pastors. You cannot hide it from your God. Check out Psalm 139 sometime:

 

Where shall I go from your Spirit?

                     Or where shall I flee from your presence? (Ps 139:7).

 

He sees the secret desires that creep into your dreams, whether awake or asleep. He sees the hateful words that have crossed or lips and those that you’ve spoken only in your mind. He sees the anger you have felt toward your spouse, your neighbor, your children, your fellow church member. He sees the bitterness you experience because you think your life should be better than it is. You stand stark naked before the one who sees all. And there is a judgment that falls. You heard it on Ash Wednesday:

 

“Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.”

 

You and I live each day, aware of the truth that death is in our future. It may be true that only two things in life are certain: death and taxes. We can avoid taxes in many ways, but we cannot side step the grave.

       Our God is exposed as a God of justice who issues his rightful judgment against human sin.

 

II.   HE IS ALSO EXPOSED AS A GOD OF JUSTICE REDEEMING SINNERS

       This truth, also, Adam and Eve encountered in that garden, and undoubtedly rejoiced. First they overheard it in the condemnation God spoke against the serpent:

 

“Because you have done this,

cursed are you above all livestock

and above all beasts of the field;

on your belly you shall go,

and dust you shall eat

all the days of your life.

15 I will put enmity between you and the woman,

and between your offspring and her offspring;

he shall bruise your head,

and you shall bruise his heel.” (Ge 3:14–15).

 

The destruction and deceit that Satan brought down upon God’s creation would be defeated. The serpent would be crushed. The seed of the woman would reverse the results of Satan’s deception. Not only did they hear this plan of redemption, they began to experience it first-hand.

 

...the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. (Ge 3:21).

 

The skin of an innocent animal was torn from its flesh, to provide a covering for the man and the woman who stood exposed before their Creator. Could it have been a lamb?

       In Christ, God is exposed as the God of justice who brings us redemption. He was declared the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world by John the Baptist (Jn 1:29). Jesus stood exposed to the judgment against human sin. He was exposed to the ridicule and condemnation of the religious establishment. He was exposed to the maltreatment of Pilate’s soldiers. He was exposed to jeers of the crowd who called for his crucifixion. Worst of all, he was exposed to the denunciation of his heavenly Father as he cried out,

 

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mt 27:46).

 

His skin was stripped from his flesh to cover the sin of the world. His life was drained from his body that dead humanity might be restored to life. All of humanity’s sin was heaped upon him.

       So tonight, God exposes himself to us as our Redeemer, the God of justice who has redeemed us with the sacrifice of his Son. God doesn’t cover us with the skin of animals. He cloaks us with the blood of his Son. He covers us with the righteousness of Christ. He reveals our salvation on the cross.

 

CONCLUSION

       Pastor Jeffrey Hemmer, the primary author of this Lenten series, says it far better than I can. Listen to his words:

 

Behold the man scourged by the Roman soldiers with their evil flagrum, designed to shred the skin from the back of the whipped one, tearing away flesh so deep that the internal organs are nearly exposed. Behold the man on whose head the soldiers pressed the crown woven of thorns to ridicule Him as a madman with His belief in being King. Behold the man on whom they drape a soldier’s dirty purple robe to intensify the jest. Behold the man whom Pilate brought forth to say, “This is no king!” Here is God, with skin, clothed in the mockery of sinful men.

Behold the man who, when He was nailed to the cross, was stripped naked. Behold the man whose clothes the soldiers divided amongst themselves. Behold the man for whose seamless tunic the godless gambled. Behold the man, God with skin, whose skin is shamefully exposed for all passersby to mock. Behold the naked God.

Behold the man who will bear your sin and shame. Behold the man who will suffer in your place. Behold the man whose nakedness answers for Adam’s. Behold the man naked and unashamed, with nothing to hide, with no sin of His own to garb in raiment and rationalization. Behold the man stripped bare to bear your own sins. All of them. The ones you try to hide and obscure, the ones you pretend are not there, the ones that cause you the greatest shame. All of them hang there on the cross with this man, this God, Jesus, naked and dying for you.

Behold the man, stripped naked so He might clothe you in new skin. Behold the man who will hide your sin with His own righteousness. Behold the man who gives you Himself to wear. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Behold the man in whose washing of Holy Baptism you are clothed in the incomparable perfection of His own righteousness. Behold the man who covers your sin with His own skin. Wear His raiment. Wear Him. Your sin is gone, your shame removed, your guilt dissipated. Behold the man!

 

Amen.