Psalm 8 - Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Savior. Amen.
Today, we look at the central question in verse four of Psalm Eight:
What are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?
Imagine a young shepherd, David, who as a young man asks this question. This is a question we have all asked. Imagine a young David, alone at night with His sheep in the fields near Jerusalem, gazing up at the limitless heavens and being overwhelmed by the immensity of God’s creation. Imagine David, or me, or… any of you, asking this same question. We’ve all been there. Whether on a mountaintop, or an ocean, or forest, or any of God’s creation, we have all had the opportunity to be overwhelmed by the immensity of God’s creation. We have all been overwhelmed by the awesomeness of God and wondered, like David wondered, “Who are we, that God is pays attention to us?”
I remember as a young man, sitting on a sand dune overlooking the Pacific Ocean near my home in Southern California. I remember thinking that this same ocean has been here since the beginning of time. I remember hearing the crash of the waves sometimes even feeling the sand vibrating from their power. A power that is unstoppable and relentless. I remember pondering the vastness of the ocean, thinking that this same ocean touched China and other faraway places. I remember being overwhelmed by the immensity of God’s creation. Even this one part of God’s creation, this ocean I was close enough to see and touch, is completely beyond my comprehension. How much more beyond my comprehension is the entirety of God’s creation?
The first part of David’s question is, “Who are we, that God pays attention to us?” We have all asked this question. It is a question that contemplates God’s almighty power of creation and our smallness in comparison.
It is said that when President Roosevelt entertained diplomatic guests overnight at Sagamore in New York, he was fond of taking them out to the back lawn at the end of the day. As the president stood gazing at the night sky, all eyes would eventually be cast heavenward, as his were. In his day, the vast array of stars was not dimmed by the city lights, and the magnificent display of God's brilliant creation would overcome the party. After a long moment, Mr. Roosevelt would say, "Gentlemen, I believe we are small enough now. Let's go to bed."
When we try to take in all of God’s creation, we are overwhelmed.
Let’s go back to the text. The second part of David’s question, “Who are mortals, that you care for them?” becomes more personal: “Who am I, that God cares for me?”
We may ask this question when we are overwhelmed by different forces in our lives. This is a question many people in the Gulf coast region of our country have probably asked. People without homes, without jobs, whose entire life has been turned upside down or destroyed, have probably asked, “Who am I, that God cares for me?”
Natural disasters, health emergencies, tragedies in our families all make us start to wonder, “Who am I, that God cares for me?” Even our own bad choices and sin can make us ask this question.
Sin can overwhelm us. Picture King David when Nathan confronted him about his sin with Bathsheba. David was overwhelmed by his sin. Picture David asking the questions you and I have asked. When his world of sin began to fall apart around him, when his first son by Bathsheba died, David probably asked: “How could God care about someone like me?”
I remember asking myself this question. When my wife of 30 years told me she wanted a divorce, my world stopped for a long moment. My world started spinning again, in a downward spiral, as I started contemplating my mistakes and sins in my marriage. As 30 years of married life -- my entire adult life -- turned to ashes, I was overwhelmed by my sin and my mistakes and I kept asking, “How could God care about someone like me?”
So whether it is sin or poor health or some other calamity of life, probably most of us, at some time in our lives, have asked these same questions. I’ve talked to many LSS residents who have asked the question, “Who am I, that God cares about me and has chosen to keep me here?”
The answer is in the text, and it’s an answer you already know.
Remember the verse? 4 what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?
The answer I said you know is here, but it’s very difficult to translate in English. It is very clear in the Hebrew text. The word translated mortals is ben-adam.
These words, ben-adam, which mean, literally, “son of Man,” show up again and again in the New Testament. But it is only used by Jesus to describe himself. In the entire New Testament, only Jesus uses the phrase, “son of man,” and He only uses it to describe Himself. So, here we have David using the words, ben-adam, son of man, to refer to mortals, with Jesus later using this same language, these same words, to connect us to Him. Jesus is the connection, the bridge if you want, between mortals and God, between us and God.
We know this from our baptism. In our baptism we are forever united with Christ, one flesh and one Spirit. We are inseparably linked with him in his life, death, and resurrection. When God looks at you or at me, God sees the pure, perfect resurrected Jesus, who is, as we sing in the hymn, Beautiful Savior, son of man and son of God.
Jesus was born to be the answer to the question, “4 what are human beings that you are mindful of them,” by living and dying for you and me. Jesus is the answer to all our questions about why God cares about us. Because we are one with Christ, every time God looks at you, God sees the perfect, sinless life of Jesus.
It’s like taking a picture of someone at sunrise. I remember being in Florida once, near Miami. Being a California boy, I grew up watching the sun go down over the ocean, at dinnertime. In Miami, Florida, I remember being fascinated by the sun coming up out of the water in the morning, at breakfast. I thought I would have a friend take a picture of me at breakfast with my back to the sun, as the sun rose. But my friend waited too long. When the picture was developed, all you could see was the radiance of the sun. The radiance of the morning sun completely washed me out of the picture. When God looks at us, the radiance of His Son washes all of our frailties and sins out of the picture.
And it gets even better! In our reading from Paul today, we hear Christ’s promise that nothing can separate us from Him. Nothing can separate us from this love of God in Christ Jesus. Jesus Christ is our answer!
So if we put this together, these two parts of the question, we find something striking. David, a king and ancestor of Jesus, our King, asked the question, “What are weak and feeble human beings that God is mindful of them; moreover, what are mortals that God should care about us?” The answer is the son of man, Jesus, who cares enough about us to come and live among us. The answer is Jesus, son of man, and son of God, who chose to die rather than live without you and me in eternity.
In His name. Amen
Sermon text with italics and bold and John 3:16 and v. 20.
Text with an outline.
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