They say, “Politics makes strange bedfellows.” We’ve probably all been surprised from time to time when we see two people or groups who would normally be at each other’s throats suddenly work together because they’ve found a common enemy.
In Psalm 2, the writer notices that to an extreme when he cries out asking, “Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? 2The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One.”
Throughout the centuries the strangest of alliances have been made because of a common opposition to God. Whether it was the various world superpowers throughout history all lining up against God’s people, or the various religious factions of Jesus’ day joining forces to condemn him, bitter enemies joined forces against God and his people.
And the same thing goes on today, in your life. Think about it: The busyness of work makes its demands and the hustle of home life fights against it, all the while the body cries for relaxation – and they all seem to be battling against one another. But somehow they all seem to line up in marching order when it comes to doing battle on our time with our Savior.
Or the opposing urges of greed and laziness, stress and apathy, all find common ground as they work together to fight peace and hope and love. As the psalm says, they all take their stand against the Lord and against his Anointed One.
Do you see what I’m saying? The sin in us, every single one of every single kind, from pride to despair, from a lack of love all the way to lust — as opposite as they may be, what they are really doing is lining us up against God, rebelling against him and his will for us.
Verse 4 tells us, “4The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. 5Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, 6’I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill.’”
No matter how many forces line up against our God — even when we are some of them — they cannot, we cannot, change His control. He laughs at the futility. And as we read on in Psalm 2, He makes clear that there is no refuge from Him.
But notice something else. He also makes clear that He doesn’t want us lining up against Him; He’d prefer to have us safe on His side, so He tells us there is only refuge in Him.
Look at verse 7: “7I will proclaim the decree of the Lord: He said to me, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father.” And then later he says, “11Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling. 12Kiss the Son…. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.”
Do you hear that? That’s something we’ve heard God our Father say a few times. At the Jordan River, when Jesus was baptized, God repeated this pronouncement, He announced that this solution Psalm 2 promised was here. There in the Baptism of Jesus, God was showing us the one in whom to take refuge. He was declaring for all to see that His plan from eternity was now being revealed in this, His Son from all eternity.
No enemy, no sin, no temptation, no power can stand up against this king. Like a piece of pottery verses an iron rod, there is no question. When Jesus stepped into our place in his Baptism and our eyes and ears were all opened to see who this was, no enemy could stand. From the temptation in the desert (Matthew 4) to the opposition of his opponents, from the guilt of sin he endured to the pain of death he suffered, the promised Son conquered every enemy.
So this is the one in whom to take refuge. The one who stepped into your place in his baptism, presenting himself to undergo all that our sins deserved, so that we could have what we don’t deserve —this is the one in whom to take refuge. When you hear of Jesus’ baptism today and are reminded of your own, take refuge in him.
The threats of your guilt and the accusations of your shame have been drowned in that water. Take refuge in him. The doubts of your status before God, the worries of whether you’re good enough have been wiped away as the Holy Spirit is poured out on you and your baptismal waters clothe you in Jesus’ righteousness. Take refuge there. In the one who laughs at how silly our enemies are, thinking they can touch you when you are in him, take refuge in him.
And there, under the shadow of his wings, in the protection of his arms, God’s word tells us, “Kiss the Son.”
Kiss the son. That’s an ancient way of saying “submit to him,” show him your love. Taking refuge in him, you can use his victory to inspire your victory over sin and temptation and over all the enemies that line up against you. When work demands or relaxation time line up against you, kiss the son in your scheduling.
When the greed in your heart and pride in your accomplishments line up against you, kiss the son in your budgeting.
When the jealousy or anger line up against you, kiss the son in how you respond.
When the frustration and stress line up for battle, kiss the son and take refuge in him.
There is only refuge in him.
Jonathan Scharf is pastor of Abiding Grace Lutheran Church in Covington. Full sermons and more information can be found at www.abidinggrace.com.