"Clinging To Christ!" Genesis 32:22-32

March 13, 2022
Rev. Nathan J. Rusert

1 When in the hour of deepest need We know not where to look for aid; When days and nights of anxious thought No help or counsel yet have brought. 2 Then is our comfort this alone That we may meet before Your throne; To You, O faithful God, we cry For rescue from our misery. (LSB #615) Sermon text: Genesis 32:22-32. Sermon Theme: "Clinging To Christ!" Preached for Reminiscere, The Second Sunday of Lent, 13-March-2022, at Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Tell City, Indiana.

Episode Notes

Reminiscere, The Second Sunday In Lent         13-March-2022
Sermon Text: Genesis 32:22-32
Sermon Theme: “Clinging To Christ!” by Rev. Nathan J. Rusert

I.N.R.I. “Remember!” The second Sunday in Lent calls us to “remember.” Remember what? Many make lists to aid their memory. What do you remember most about this past week? The injuries done to you? The end of daylight savings time? Gas prices rising? War in Ukraine? An wedding anniversary? A birthday? What did you remember this past week? Your failing? Fighting against sin only to give into it once again? Guilt? Despair? The death of one you loved? What did you remember? The beginning of the two-week COVID-19 lock down to flatten the curve? The fear programmed into you by the media? The loss of liberty? The deflating dollar? What did you remember? Time spent with family? A child’s smile? A grandchild’s hug? A spouse’s embrace? A conversation with your Mom or Dad? That little word “remember” floods our minds with so many thoughts.
    “Psa 25:6 Remember your mercy, O LORD, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old.” David teaches us the heart of “remembering” this Sunday. It isn’t focused on our thoughts, hearts, feelings, experiences, or deeds. It isn’t a Law remembering as we look into the mirror of the holy Ten Commandments and conscience, Satan, and the world accuses us of being hypocritical law breakers worthy only of God’s eternal wrath. David teaches us a Gospel remembering. He calls on our Lord Jesus to remember His mercy for us poor miserable sinners. Remember Lord Jesus Your steadfast love to us who deserve only wrath. Remember Lord Jesus Your mercy and unfailing love for humanity whom You created in Eden. Lord Jesus Your mercy and love are eternal. Remember them as you forgive and forget the sins of my youth and my many transgressions washed away with your Holy precious blood.
    Luk 23:42 “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Is not only the prayer of the honest dying thief on the cross - it is our prayer. Today we learn from Jacob to always be: “Clinging To Christ!”
    Families are a blessing created and ordained by God on the sixth day of creation. He created man - male and female - married them - blessed them to have children - and to raise them to know Him and His love which brings true rest. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. The Lord God rested on the seventh day, not because He was tired, but He wanted to teach humanity to find their rest in His Word and loving care for them and all creation. To remember life is gift from our Creator - not a getting for self of that which moths destroy and thieves break in and steal. Our Gospel lesson for this day (Matthew 15:21-28) is about family. A heathen mother is distressed her daughter is severely demon possessed. She seeks out Him whose word drives Satan away - only to be met by silence. Our Epistle lesson (1 Thess. 4:1-7) calls husbands and wives to remember their baptismal calling. To rejoice in God gifting them to each other by possessing their bodies in sanctification. To keep their marriage bed undefiled in Christ’s holiness.
      Sin, Satan, and self fractures families. This is evident in our Old Testament history. (Vs.22-23) Jacob, the twin son, of Isaac and Rebekah was truly the “heel-grabber.” His brother Esau and him wrestled in their mother’s womb, so much so that Rebekah cried out to the Lord in prayer in distress that something was wrong. Remember what the Lord answered her? Gen 25:23 And the LORD said to her: "Two nations are in your womb, Two peoples shall be separated from your body; One people shall be stronger than the other, And the older shall serve the younger." When her boys were born, Esau was born first red and hairy all over. His brother Jacob’s infant hand grasped his brother’s heel as he is delivered. The “heel-grabber” the “supplanter” literally “trickster” is born. Jacob is loved by his mother, while Esau is loved by his father. Our sinful self often fractures our families as children argue who is the “favorite.”
        The “heel-grabber” lived up to his name. Starving Esau came to him for a bowl of stew - it cost him his birthright. When aged almost blind Isaac, wanted to pass on the blessing to his oldest son, Rebekah and Jacob conspired to trick him. Dressed in Esau’s smelly clothes and covered with hairy goat skins - Jacob - stole the blessing spoken to Abraham for himself. Esau vowed to put the “heel-grabber” to death as soon as their Dad died. In fear Rebekah convinced Isaac to send Jacob back to Haran to find a wife from their people - not the pagan Caananites. Marrying someone who worships the Lord God with you is foundational.
      Two decades have elapsed since Jacob fled into the darkness. The Lord blessed him through Uncle Laban. Laban proved to be a trickster like his sister Rebekah. He tricked Jacob into marrying his oldest daughter Leah for seven years of labor. Then sold his youngest daughter, Rachel, as wife for Jacob for another seven years work. The Lord God called Jacob to come home. When his mother Rebekah had sent him fleeing - she promised to send Jacob word when Esau’s wrath had died down. He hadn’t received any message - only God’s command. Jacob sends messengers before him to announce his homecoming to Esau and beg his favor. They come back telling him that Esau is coming to meet him with four hundred men. Jacob assumes the worst. He sends presents for his brother. Now in the cover of darkness he leads his family over the Jordan River into the promised land. Then he crosses back over the ford to a desolate place to pray.
    Jacob the Trickster is all out of tricks. Tomorrow his sin might be visited upon his family. Esau, in anger, may slaughter them all. Now in the darkness the sins of his youth, his transgressions against his brother and father accuse him. What right does he have to think he is the Lord’s chosen? (Vs.24) Suddenly Jacob isn’t alone in the darkness praying. A man grapples with him - a wrestling match ensues - not for three one minute rounds - but through the night. Wrestling is not only very physically exhausting - it is mentally exhausting. A wrestler wins by out thinking his opponent - making moves or countering moves faster.
    Who is the Man? Who engages in a wrestling match with Jacob? (Vs25) He is more than a mere man. His face cannot be seen, for no one can see His face and live. He is God drawing near to us as Man - the pre-incarnate only-begotten Son of the Father. Our Lord humbling Himself in weakness to allow Jacob to prevail against Him. He isn’t weak - a touch - dislocates Jacob’s hip. Dislocated joints shoot excruciating pain throughout the body. Dislocate an opponents hip in wrestling and the match is over - but not for Jacob.
    Jacob still clings to this Man. (Vs.26) He will not break his grip on this Man, until He speaks a blessing upon him. By faith in the Word of Promise he knows His Lord. (Vs.27-28 ) He has lived up to his name - Jacob - “heel-grabber” - “trickster.” Now the Stranger blesses him with a new name - “Israel” - “God Prevails” - “for you have striven with God and with man and have prevailed.” How did Jacob prevail against our almighty Lord? The Holy Spirit through the prophet Hosea teaches, Hos 12:3-5 He took his brother by the heel in the womb, And in his strength he struggled with God. (4) Yes, he struggled with the Angel and prevailed; He wept, and sought favor from Him. He found Him in Bethel, And there He spoke to us— (5) That is, the LORD God of hosts. The LORD is His memorable name.” Jacob would not let go of the promise the Lord God had spoken to him in Bethel - His promise to be with him on his journey and bring him safely home. His promise to be his God. Weeping over his own sins Jacob struggled with the Angel of the Lord - with Jesus - confessing his sins and clinging to Christ’s gracious promise. God breathed faith in Christ clings to Jesus through His Word. Just as the Canaanite mother will not let Jesus go until He blesses her according to His Word. She only wants to be a little dog receiving a crumb of God’s mercy from the Master’s table. Instead she is given a new name - “woman of great faith” a true daughter of Abraham clinging to Christ alone in His Word.
        Newly christened Israel now asks, (vs.29) The Lord doesn’t speak His Name for Israel knows Whom he had wrestled a blessing from. Now the Lord speaks a blessing - it isn’t recorded it echoes the blessing given first to Abraham, Gen 12:2-3 I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. (3) I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." What does this mean?“Gal 3:16 Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, "And to seeds," as of many, but as of one, "AND TO YOUR SEED," who is Christ.”
        Jacob confesses Christ. (Vs.30) Peniel - “Seeing God face to face - his life is delivered!” (Vs. 32-33) Now Jacob limps strengthened to cling to Christ. His flesh and heart may fail him, but Christ’s Word and promise never will.
        Remember! Jacob’s God and Lord is with you also - He has wrestled you to the waters of Holy Baptism. There His face shines upon you - blessing you with a new name - “Christian!” Baptized into Christ - you are His - He saves you! Remember His mercy. Remember His loving kindness. Cling to His Word! He has rescued you from death and the devil. He has worked for you the forgiveness of sins fulfilling the Law perfectly for you by His life - paying the debt of hell you deserved by His suffering and death. He gives you eternal salvation by His resurrection, ascension, and coming again to deliver you on the Last Day.
Today you have seen the Lord face to face - Jesus spoke His life giving baptismal words into your ears marking you with His victory through the cross. Jesus’ face shines upon you as He speaks you forgiven - makes you new through His Word, read, sung, and preached into your ears. Now you see His face as He prays by your side through His prayer breathed out through your lips. His face shines upon you as He feasts you on His living flesh and blood in bread and wine - given and shed to bless you filling you with forgiveness, life, and salvation. Then before you leave - He speaks His Word to bless you with the Name of the only true and saving God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - His face shines upon you and peace is given to you. Do not fear! Remember our God is mercy and love - His Name is Jesus - You are His - He saves you! Amen.

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