Sun, 17 February 2019
(Gn.4:1-15,25; Ps.50:1,8,14,16-17,20-21; Mk.8:11-13)
“Sin is a demon lurking at the door:
his urge is toward you, yet you can be his master.”
Thus does the Lord encourage Cain not to hang his head at his failures in worship but to learn from his errors and be strong. Here already in Scripture we see how redemption is possible, how God gives us power to conquer sin. But Cain does not fight off the demon at his door but instead attacks his brother Abel, killing him who has overcome sin. The jealous demons write their name in Abel’s blood, by the hand of Cain his brother.
And the Pharisees are the same as Cain. It is they of whom our psalmist sings, they who “recite [the Lord’s] statutes, and profess [His] covenant with [their] mouth,” but whose hearts are far from Him and who “hate discipline and cast [His] words behind” themselves. It is they who “sit speaking against [their] brother,” for indeed they come to “argue with Jesus,” to “test” Him who is most especially their brother, who is their Messiah. And it is they who will shed their brother’s blood, who will conspire to kill their own “mother’s Son.” And though Jesus Himself “correct[s] [them] by drawing [their sin] up before [their] eyes,” yet, like Cain, they refuse to see the evil taking hold of them, and so will be unable to turn from it. And their punishment shall be greater than that of Cain, for so much greater is their sin. As Cain is banished from the soil which had been his own, so the covenant which the Lord had given into the Chosen people’s possession shall be taken from their leaders’ hands, and they shall be left empty – except for the hope of turning to Him and cleansing themselves in Jesus’ blood.
The sign the Pharisees seek is essentially one they would make with their own hands, one which they would find at their command. But “no such sign will be given” them, for then truly would they be condemned. They must come to the sign Jesus is and accept it as the Lord God offers – their attempts to control the Father’s will are perhaps the most tragic of transgressions. They say, as does Cain, that God must accept matters their way and are not humble to His Son’s teaching. And so, sadly for them, “He left them” there on the shore alone, burning in their jealousy.
Fight the demons, brothers and sisters. Ward off sin in all its forms. The Lord promises we shall have the strength, if we are willing to turn from our sins and accept His chastising word… and wash ourselves in His cleansing blood. But if we remain “resentful” and so “deaf” to the Lord’s correction, what shall save our souls? And with Cain we will wander restlessly the earth, avoiding the glorious presence of the Lord.
O LORD, we are a jealous race;
forgive our shedding the blood of our Brother.
YHWH, how sinful we are! How we turn our hand against our brother, inflicting upon him the punishment for our guilt. In condemning others we seek to rid ourselves of the condemnation we deserve; but this only brings the punishment on our own heads. Help us to admit our sin and turn away from it!
Killing our Brother will not free us from the death upon our souls. O LORD, how can we be so blind, so hardhearted, as to think such wickedness is our salvation? Jesus comes to us as our Brother, as the one closest to us and most concerned for our well-being… but we cannot bear to hear His voice speaking of our need to turn away from sin, and so, what can we do but kill Him? O set us free from bloodguilt!
Accept the sacrifice of a pure heart, dear God; make our offering to you sincere. Our very hearts let us give in the service of our brother.