Lenten Midweek 1 2016


When Cain killed his brother, God heard it happen. He even says that Abel’s blood cried up to Him from the ground and testified against his murderer. So, it may be that dead men really do tell tales.

But whatever God heard, it seems God also witnessed, since He describes for us the ground, opening its mouth to receive the blood from Cain’s hand, as if it were consuming a sacrifice. And yet, if it was a sacrifice, it was literally fruitless, and gained nothing.

Abel’s blood poured out on the earth means that the ground will no longer produce fruit for Cain’s labor. No more can he work the ground and hope to make a living by the sweat of his brow.

Instead, he is cast out and destined to wander. That’s what “Nod” means. It is a land of wandering. It is a place without paths, without roads and rest stops. It is, in a sense, wilderness.

But Cain is not alone there. He has the company of Judas Iscariot, who, in a time of frustration and doubt, by his betrayal,

kills the One to whom he is closest, his very best Friend:  Jesus – who has been a Brother to him – an Abel to his Cain.

And in the end, what did he have? Judas could hardly give away the money earned by his betrayal.

So you might wonder, what has your sin actually gained you?

The satisfaction of a secret as you talk behind someone’s back?

The thrill of what could be, as that woman not your wife walks by?

30 pieces of silver you get to spend on whatever you want. Just use your imagination.

None of that does any good, and so we thank God that none of it will last.

Our sin has won us nothing worthy of mention. It only hurts us and others, and tarnishes our witness to Christ.

So…now what?

Sin, compounded by worrying, anxiety, and running away, never led anywhere helpful.

After his betrayal, Judas, like Cain wanders: to the Temple, to Gethsemane, back to the Temple, and then, in frustration, to a tree where he would dangle like rotten fruit.

Instead of running away in despair and shame, how much better it would have been for Judas to go to the cross;

To come face to face with his sin, and see what his betrayal has cost. To see Jesus hanging like ripe, life-giving fruit, buying him and all of us back –

Not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death, that we may be His own and live under Him in His kingdom and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness

That, really, is the only place to go with your sin: your betrayal, your murder. Whatever it was: gossip, false accusations, lies, or greed.

I know it can be hard to look at sometimes –

To come to grips with what we have done –

To see your sins crowning His head and piercing His flesh.

We’ve all dipped our hand in Jesus’ dish. We’ve all betrayed Him. We’ve all murdered our Brother, the Lord of Glory.

But this Christ, crucified, is not some grim reminder of our trespass, but,

as St. Paul writes, this is our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. (1 Cor. 1:30)

Lent, for the Christian, is a wilderness. But it is not a land of wandering. We, the baptized, who belong to Christ, are following Him somewhere.

For God has redeemed the wilderness. He has even built a road there. A highway, actually. It heads due west. From that demented suburb east of Eden, called “Nod”, there are many roads, and who knows the places they would take you. But Jesus walks the one that leads to His cross, with the hope that every wanderer, every last Cain and Judas, might find rest in the Garden which grows from the fruitful, blood-soaked soil beneath Him on the Tree of Life.


About Pastor Hopkins