Matthew 28:16-20

Called to be a Blessing Bearer

A strong thread that weaves through today’s readings is God’s call to be a blessing bearer. The words are different from situation to situation in the readings, but they continue to express the call to be a blessing bearer.

To begin, the scene in the Garden of Eden is a simple narrative that introduces the heart of the Bible. It introduces the fundamental relationships between God and his creation. It shows the relationship between God and humankind, and their place in creation as a whole. This theme of relationships weaves through the books of the Old and New Testaments of the Bible displaying the details of those relationships. It is written in Genesis 2: 15, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” In essence, this is God’s call to all humanity to be a blessing bearer to all of God’s creation. It means for all people to take care of the land and all that lives upon it so that all life may prosper in every way. In particular, it means that we take care of each other so that all people may have life and have life abundantly.

As sin entered the Garden of Eden, the world changed. Despite the sin and resulting hardships in the world, the initial call to all people to be a blessing bearer of God’s creation, still remains. More than often, that call seems impossible to fulfil.

In earnest, God initiated a plan to bring about salvation to his fallen creation. He first called Abraham. In turn he called Isaac, Jacob, and the people of Israel. In the covenant that he made with them, he promised to give them land, descendants too numerous to count, and the promise to always be with them. In return God expected them to be faithful to him. He expected them to express their faithfulness in being his blessing bearer. He says within the covenant, “and you will be a blessing……….and all the people on earth will be blessed through you.” Gen. 12: 3.

It is easy from the Christian perspective to see the blessing bearer solely as Jesus who was to come. It means more than that. Abraham together in turn with Isaac, Jacob, the people of Israel and including you and me are called to be a blessing bearer in our own day. We are called to care for the land and all that lives upon it; we are called to care for each other.

God’s call and associated covenant was made in terms that were appropriated within the culture of the day. It was expressed in relationships of father to son or king to servant, and couched in terms of inheritance. For example, the faithful son would work the land on behalf of the father to make the land fruitful and the father prosperous. The responsibility of the father and the son was to use the fruits of the land to feed, cloth, and house the family, servants and all who lived on the land. The son was to be the blessing bearer of the father to all who lived on the land. The hope of the first born son, or the favourite son was to inherit the land. But the responsibility to it would remain. God as a father figure, called Abraham and his descendants as if he was a son and his blessing bearer. Their call was to go beyond the land that God would settle them on. They were called to be a blessing bearer to all the nations, to all the peoples on earth. The land and the descendants that God gave Abraham were the means through which he would make him prosperous. The land became the means through which God could bless Abraham with a great quantity of herds, flocks, and crops. Not to keep in total, but as a blessing bearer to pass on a good portion of his wealth so that God’s creation may be restored and have life.

At Mt. Sinai, the call of Abraham and associated covenant was renewed with the people of Israel. There God spoke to the people of Israel through Moses and within the covenant he said, “….then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” Exodus 19: 5- 6. The people of Israel had themselves chosen the tribe of Levi to be a people of priest and a holy tribe in the midst of Israel. In the same calling as the tribe of Levi, so all of Israel where called to be a blessing bearer to all the nations and all the peoples on earth. Then as a blessing bearer, they were to mediate and carry the blessings from God in order to restore God’s creation and to give life.

From the beginning, from the time of sin in the Garden of Eden, God endeavours to restore his creation and to give it life. From the beginning, God reveals himself through the calling of blessing bearers as a God who loves and cares for his creation. He is a God who loves and cares for you and me and desires to give us life. This is the nature of God.

Like the people before us we make an effort to be a blessing bearer, but unfortunately it is not enough to restore and take care of God’s creation. Like the people before us, we keep too much of God’s blessing for ourselves whereby too many people are still hungry, homeless, and unemployed; we shamefully still turn away the refugees that come to our land. Are we a blessing or a curse to them?

The God who loves and desires his creation to be restored to life has sent his beloved Son to restore and give life to his creation. Jesus, the Son of God is the rightful heir to all that belongs to God. God has given his son Jesus all authority in heaven and on earth to manage the ‘estate’. Jesus is our blessing bearer and through him we will receive eternal life. Jesus is the fulfilment of Abraham’s calling.

In his life on earth with us, Jesus fed the hungry, healed the sick, was a friend to sinners, raised the dead, and finally died in our place for our sins to give us eternal life. Because he lives, Jesus continues to restore life today. Jesus is the blessing bearer in whom we can call upon. We can pray to him to restore our life and the life of others. He will give us love and peace, faith and hope. Furthermore, since he knows what we need, he will also bless us with many good things as well.

When Jesus departed to return to his Father in heaven, he gave his disciples their great commission. Within it he says to them, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 28: 19. That calling also goes out to you and me since we too are his disciples. We are called to be his blessing bearers. As disciples we are called to be like Jesus. That is, to feed the hungry, heal the sick, be a friend to sinners, forgive each other’s sins, and to take care of God’s creation in every way. Jesus has given us his love and therefore as his blessing bearers we are called to pass that love on so that others may also have life.  Amen.

Readings for Today

Genesis 2: 15 (God calls Adam to care for the Garden of Eden)
Genesis 12: 1-3 (God calls Abraham to be a blessing bearer)
Genesis 26: 1-6 (God renews call with Isaac)
Genesis 28: 10-15 (God renews call with Jacob)
Exodus 19: 1-6 (God calls Israel to be a blessing bearer)
Matthew 28: 16-20 (Jesus gives the great commission)

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