Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the LORD respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. (Genesis 4:4-5)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Cain and Abel teach us about worship. Abel worshiped God by trusting that whatever He brought would be acceptable to God by His grace. Abel knew that he was nothing apart from the Lord’s promise. In fact, his name means “nothing.”
Cain thought he was something. His name means something like “increase” as if he would be a big man! He worshiped God by expecting God to be happy with his offering, because Cain was making it.
Abel trusted in the Lord. Cain trusted in Cain. But when Cain realized that his worship was wrong, he didn’t repent. He killed his brother instead. Ever since, those who practice a religion of “I’m better than others” have persecuted and killed those who confess nothing but “I only have God’s grace in Christ.” The Pharisee we heard about yesterday had a religion that goes all the way back to Cain!
When Jesus comes, He comes to be like Abel. A nothing. Despised. Hated. Neglected. Scorned. Crucified. A man of sorrows. A man murdered. But in Christ we have such a sacrifice that His blood covers the sins of all people. Abel’s sins. Cain’s sins. Even your sins. And the preaching of this crucified Christ is the means by which the Holy Spirit rescues sinners.
Now you learn that you are nothing. With just you and your sins, there is nothing but sin and death and a waste, a vanity, a “nothing” like Abel. But in Christ by Baptism, and Christ in you by His Supper and Word, then you are not a nothing. You are a child of God, an heir of salvation, and a king and priest in a royal nation. In Christ, we who killed our brother, are saved by His death. We who thought we were so big and bad, are made truly great in Jesus by the forgiveness of sins. We, who ran away from God, are once again, for the sake of Christ, in His family. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
But Christ, the second Adam, came To bear our sin and woe and shame, To be our life, our light, our way, Our only hope, our only stay. (All Mankind Fell in Adam’s Fall, LSB 562:4)