Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners

February 7, 2021 ()

Bible Text: Genesis 27:1- 28:22 |

Series:

God’s Faithfulness to Broken People: Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners | Genesis 27-28
Brian Hedges | February 7, 2021

Let me invite you to turn in your bibles this morning to the book of Genesis. We’re going to be in Genesis 27 and 28. I want you to follow along in your own copy of God’s word if you have a Bible with you this morning; if not, you can use one of the Bibles there in the chairs in front of you. We’re going to be on page 21 if you’re following in that Bible, Genesis 27-28.

One of my favorite films over the last couple of years is a murder mystery called Knives Out. Many of you, perhaps, have seen this movie. It starred Christopher Plummer, I think in his last role; Christopher Plummer very sadly passed away this last week. Christopher Plummer is best known as playing Captain Von Trapp in that classic movie The Sound of Music, but he plays kind of a patriarch grandfather in a wealthy family in this movie, which is a murder mystery where the story really centers around a dysfunctional family, as the kids and the grandkids are all conspiring somehow to lay hold of the inheritance of this recently deceased father and grandfather.

It’s a murder mystery, as I said, with multiple twists in the story, and I think very well done. The one caveat is it does have some strong language, so I would recommend, especially if you have children, that you watch it with a streaming service. It’s easy to filter these things out these days. But otherwise I think it’s a very good movie.

Of course, in real life dysfunctional families are not entertaining, they’re actually really painful. It’s painful when we experience dysfunction in our own families, and perhaps you are experiencing that right now, either dysfunction in your home or your family, or you come from a family, your family of origin has been marked with dysfunction.

Well, this morning the story that we’re looking at in the Bible is about one of the most dysfunctional families in the history of God’s people. It’s the family of Isaac, and it’s a story where everyone in the family seems to be conspiring to somehow get ahold of the family inheritance, the "blessing" of Isaac. I’m sure many of you are familiar with the story, beginning in Genesis 27, and we’re really going to cover a lot of ground, two whole chapters this morning, 27 and 28. We’re just going to work through it a bit at a time.

You might think of this almost as six-act play, so we’re going to break it up into six parts, and I’ll name some of them for you, just so you can track with where we’re going. We’re going to begin by looking at the blindness of Isaac, then we shift to the scheme of Rebekah, then, thirdly, the deceit of Jacob, then the remorse of Esau, then we see the fallout of all this with the disruption of the family, and... I'll tell you the sixth point when we get to it!

1. The blindness of Isaac

Okay, number one, the blindness of Isaac. Let’s begin reading in Genesis 27:1.

“When Isaac was old and his eyes were dim so that he could not see, he called Esau his older son and said to him, ‘My son’; and he answered, ‘Here I am.’ He said, ‘Behold, I am old; I do not know the day of my death. Now then, take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me, and prepare for me delicious food, such as I love, and bring it to me so that I may eat, that my soul may bless you before I die.’”

Let’s stop right there. Isaac here is in old age; his eyes are dim, the text tells us, so that he cannot see. He’s blind. He’s physically blind.

But I think his physical blindness serves as a parable for the spiritual condition of his heart. He’s not only physically blind but he’s spiritually blind, and we see Isaac’s spiritual insensitivity coming through in this passage. We see it in a couple of ways.

(1) We see, first of all, that cultural conventions had blinded him to God’s plan. We know from Genesis 25 (we studied this last week) that God’s plan for these two twin boys, Jacob and Esau, was actually an inversion of the cultural norms of that day. In that day, according to the laws of primogeniture, the firstborn child would have the lion’s share of the inheritance and would carry on the family name. He would be the leader of the family once the father passed away. God through an oracle had told Rebekah that “the older will serve the younger.”

Isaac no doubt knew about this, but in spite of the word that God had given, Isaac is persisting now with the choice to bless Esau over Jacob. In doing so, of course, he’s also showing incredible and insensitive parental favoritism, as had been characteristic throughout his life. The cultural conventions of that day were blinding him to God’s plan, which was to choose Jacob over Esau. That’s the first way we see his spiritual insensibility.

(2) Here’s the second: His sensual appetites had blinded him to Esau’s character. We’ve already seen that Esau had sold his birthright for immediate gratification. As we’ll see in a few minutes, Esau’s character was flawed in other ways, including in his sexual ethics. But what’s interesting here is that Isaac seems completely blind to that and is driven by raw appetite, by the desire for food.

You see it in verse 4, where he’s told Esau to “go hunt game for me,” and verse 4 says, “and prepare for me delicious food.” Mark that phrase, delicious food. It appears six times in this narrative. Over and over again, the emphasis is on delicious food, the food that Isaac wants. He says, “Prepare for me delicious food such as I love, and bring it to me, so that I may eat, that my soul may bless you before I die.”

It’s an echo of Genesis 25:28, where it says that Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob. But get this: in chapter 27, the only object of Isaac’s love is the food. It never says that he loves Esau, much less that he loved Jacob, but several times “the delicious food which I love,” “the delicious food which your father loves,” in the words of Rebekah. He’s driven by his appetites.

Because he’s driven by his appetites, he’s literally blind to the character of Esau. He’s privileging Esau because of what Esau can do for him to satisfy these appetites. He wants this venison, he wants the meat, he wants the delicious food; but he’s blind to the deep character defects in Esau’s life. The blindness of Isaac.

Now, there are, obviously, several applications for this for us. First of all, for parents, this story is a warning against parental favoritism. As parents, and especially when we have multiple children—when we have multiple children, we should never privilege one child over another, we should never have favorites, we should never pick one child over another or love one child more than another. It’s so crucial that we not do that. It wreaks havoc in families when parents do that with their children.

Parents, and really all of us, should be careful that we’re also not blinded by our own cultures. There are always going to be things that are common in our cultures—beliefs about self, beliefs about the family, beliefs about economics, beliefs about politics—things that we just take for granted but may actually be contrary to God’s plan and to God’s word. We need to be careful that we are not blinded by our culture, but are constantly letting the word of God stand over our culture and critique our culture.

Then we should, of course, be careful to not let our appetites blind us to what is right. We don’t let our palates govern us, and that would include our appetite for food, but there are other appetites as well. We should not let our bodily appetites of any form cancel out the integrity of God’s law and the observance of God’s law and God’s word in our lives. Isaac seemed to be doing that, and in doing that he was leading his family into further and further dysfunction.

2. The scheme of Rebekah

Right on the heels of Isaac’s blindness we see the scheme of Rebekah. This is the second act in this play. You see it in verses 5-17. Rebekah’s sin is a different sin than Isaac’s, but it’s still a sin. Whereas Isaac seemed to not even believe or pay attention to the content of God’s oracle, Rebekah remembered it, but she’s not trusting God to fulfill it. Look at chapter 27:5.

“Now Rebekah was listening when Isaac spoke to his son Esau. So when Esau went to the field to hunt for game and bring it, Rebekah said to her son Jacob, ‘I heard your father speak to your brother Esau, “Bring me game and prepare for me delicious food, that I may eat it and bless you before the Lord before I die.” Now therefore, my son, obey my voice as I command you. Go to the flock and bring me two good young goats, so that I may prepare from them delicious food for your father, such as he loves. And you shall bring it to your father to eat, so that he may bless you before he dies.’”

Stop right there. We see how Rebekah is scheming here. She’s scheming. Of course, Jacob is complicit in this, but it’s Rebekah’s plan, and what is she doing? She’s trying to find a way to manipulate Isaac into giving Jacob the blessing instead of Esau.

Rebekah’s scheme and deception demonstrate a failure of faith. It was the missionary Hudson Taylor, I believe, who said that “God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s provision.” But Rebekah doesn’t believe that. She thinks she has to help God out. God has said that “the elder will serve the younger.” Jacob is the chosen son here; it’s through Jacob that the promises of God will be given and will be fulfilled. But Rebekah’s not praying, she’s not waiting, she’s not seeking God and asking him to see this promise through; she’s taking matters into her own hands. She is seeking to secure the blessing for Jacob by any means necessary. She is embracing the sin of believing that the end justifies the means.

Listen, brothers and sisters: It is never right to violate God’s moral law in order to accomplish what we think is God’s will. For example, we should not like, even if it means we’re lying to try to get somebody to do what we believe is right. We should not embrace worldliness in our methodology in order to bring someone to Christ, try to convert people. We should not turn a blind eye to either obvious immoral character or clearly evil policies when choosing leaders, including our elected officials.

When we do these kinds of things, we are assuming a responsibility that is not ours, to secure an outcome, and we’re doing it at the expense of trusting and obeying what God has clearly shown us to do. It’s always a danger, it’s always a temptation, the temptation to let the end justify the means.

Remember, Jesus was even tempted with this when he’s tempted in the wilderness, and Satan comes to him and says, “Listen, I’ll give you all these kingdoms if you’ll just bow down and worship me.” Now listen, the kingdoms of this world were Jesus’s by right; God had promised them to him, but not by that means. Jesus refuses the temptation, but Rebekah in her own way is embracing that temptation. She’s trying to manipulate circumstances in order to achieve God’s will, but in doing so she’s stepping outside of the clear moral boundaries of God’s revealed will.

3. The deceit of Jacob

Well, Jacob is complicit in this as well, and we see the deceit of Jacob in verses 18-29. They hatch the plan together in the preceding verses, but in verses 18-29 we see Jacob telling a series of bald-faced lies. There are so many of them we could just count them up as we walk through the text, and you can see the variety of ways in which people lie.

The first thing you see (this is lie number one) is a lie about identity. Look at verses 18-19.

“So [Jacob] went in to his father and said, ‘My father.’ And he said, ‘Here I am. Who are you, my son?’ Jacob said to his father, ‘I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me; now sit up and eat of my game, that your soul may bless me.’” He’s lying about his identity.

Now listen, deceit has many faces; lying takes on many forms. Sometimes we lie to manipulate, trying to get our own way, so we tell lies in order to achieve our own purposes. Jacob is doing that here. Sometimes we lie for convenience, because the truth is just too much trouble. Sometimes we lie to save face because the truth is just too embarrassing. Sometimes we lie religiously. We lie in our God-talk. That’s what we call hypocrisy, and we actually see Jacob doing that as well. This is lie number two; look at verse 20.

“But Isaac said to his son, ‘How is it that you have found it so quickly, my son?’ He answered, ‘Because the Lord your God granted me success.’” Jacob here is adding blasphemy to his list of sins as he takes the name of God in vain, bringing God into the picture. “The Lord your God,” he says. Notice that there’s no personal—he’s not saying “my God, my Lord.” “The Lord your God granted me success.” Verse 21, “Then Isaac said to Jacob, ‘Please come near, that I may feel you, my son, to know whether you are really my son Esau or not.’”Here’s yet another lie; it’s the lie of pretense. It’s pretending. He’s pretending to be someone he is not. You see that in verses 22-23, Jacob now in disguise. “So Jacob went near to Isaac his father, who felt him and said, ‘The voice is Jacob's voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.’ And he did not recognize him, because his hands were hairy like his brother Esau's hands.” You remember that Rebekah had put the goatskins on his hands. “So he blessed him.”

Finally, lie number four, verses 24-25. Jacob said, “Are you really my son Esau?” There’s still this sliver of doubt. Jacob answers, “‘I am.’ Then he said, ‘Bring it near to me, that I may eat of my son's game and bless you.’ So he brought it near to him, and he ate; and he brought him wine, and he drank.”

Then in verses 26-29 Isaac is finally convinced enough that he pronounces the blessing over Jacob.

4. The remorse of Esau

The problem, of course, with lying is that it always catches up with you, and that’s what happens here. It leads to the further fallout with Esau, and we see the remorse of Esau beginning in verse 30. This is the fourth act of the play.

“As soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob, when Jacob had scarcely gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, Esau his brother came in from his hunting. He also prepared delicious food and brought it to his father. And he said to his father, ‘Let my father arise and eat of his son's game, that you may bless me.’ His father Isaac said to him, ‘Who are you?’ He answered, ‘I am your son, your firstborn, Esau.’ Then Isaac trembled very violently and said, ‘Who was it then that hunted game and brought it to me, and I ate it all before you came, and I have blessed him? Yes, and he shall be blessed.’ As soon as Esau heard the words of his father, he cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry…”

Then, if you drop down to verse 38, it says, “And Esau lifted up his voice and wept.”

He’s full of remorse. It’s easy to read this story and feel some degree of sympathy with Esau. No doubt he is the victim here of the machinations here of both Rebekah, his manipulative, scheming mother, and Jacob, his lying, deceitful brother. Esau is a victim here.

But we shouldn’t feel too sorry for him, because Esau is also not without sin. Here’s what I think we have to understand about Esau. Esau did not want the covenant itself; he just wanted the blessings of the covenant. It wasn’t that Esau wanted to walk with God. That’s not the case. In fact, we’ve already seen the Esau had violated the covenant by selling his birthright, and he had done it for a pot of soup, a pot of stew. “Give me that red stuff!” he said. Remember that in chapter 25; we looked at it last week? For immediate gratification he had sold out the blessings which would have been his naturally, legally speaking. So he sold his birthright.

He also, we learn, had violated the covenant in another way, and that is through his marriages. He had married not just one, but two Canaanite women. You remember from Genesis 24 that Abraham had taken great pains to be sure that Isaac did not marry a Canaanite woman, and had sent his servant back to Mesopotamia to find a wife, a bride for Isaac. Esau, no doubt, knew of that story. He knew where his mother, Rebekah, was from, but with utter disregard for that mandate from his grandfather he had married not one but two Canaanite women. You see in chapter 26:34-35. He married two Hittite women, and it tells us that they made life bitter for Isaac and Rebekah.

When Esau later learns that this has displeased his parents, he takes a wife from the family of Ishmael—a third wife now—but again, he’s not seeking a God-fearing wife from the kindred of Rebekah.

I think this is perhaps one reason why Hebrews 12 says that Esau was sexually immoral. He’s married three women now, he has a voracious sexual appetite that matches his appetite for food. He’s thinking in those terms: sensual, physical terms, the terms of his appetite, not in terms of God’s covenant. When he weeps because he’s losing the blessing, he is not weeping over his sin, he’s weeping over the consequences of his sin. That’s the big difference. That’s the difference between godly grief and worldly grief, godly sorrow and worldly sorrow.

Remember 2 Corinthians 7? Paul contrasts them. He says, “Worldly grief produces death, but godly grief [or godly sorrow] produces repentance that leads to salvation without regret.” There’s no repentance in Esau. There’s grief, there are tears, there’s emotion; but there’s no repentance.

5. The disruption of the family

One way we know there’s no repentance is because of what happens next. Pick up in verse 41, and we begin to see what we could just call the disruption of this family, the complete breakdown. Look at verse 41. “Now Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him, and Esau said to himself, ‘The days of mourning for my father are approaching; then I will kill my brother Jacob.’” He is already premeditating murder. There’s no repentance here. There is, instead, deep alienation between these brothers. The family is being disrupted.

What will follow when Rebekah learns of Esau’s hatred and his plan? Rebekah hatches another scheme, and the scheme is to get Jacob out of there. She goes to Isaac—she doesn’t even bring up what Esau says. Isaac still seems completely blind to what’s going on right under his blind eyes. But Rebekah comes up with another plan, a plan to get Jacob away, so she brings up the issue of marriage. Isaac then sends Jacob back to Paddan-aram, Mesopotamia, in order to find a wife. But the net result is that Jacob will live the next 20 years of his life in exile, Rebekah most likely never sees Jacob again, Esau and Jacob are alienated from one another, and Isaac still doesn’t even know what’s going on. It’s complete family breakdown. It’s complete family breakdown.

One of the commentators pointed this out—it’s really interesting—when you read the story, there’s never one scene where you have the whole family together, never one scene where you have Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, and Esau all together working out their problems. You just have little groups—you have pairs. You have Isaac and Esau and you have Rebekah and Jacob, and then you have Esau and Isaac, and then you have Rebekah and Isaac; but you never have them working together. They’re just constantly divided, working against one another. It is the complete breakdown of a family.

It’s a very sad story, isn’t it, and it’s a story that shows us family dysfunction, it shows us that sin has consequences even for believers. You remember the warning of Paul in Galatians 6: “Do not be deceived; God is not mocked. For whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” Isaac and Rebekah have sown parental favoritism, they have sown distrust of God, and they are now reaping the consequences.

It’s a sad story where Jacob ends up in exile. He does receive the blessing from Isaac, and you see that in chapter 28:3-4, where he utters words reminiscent of the Abrahamic covenant, and then in verse 5 Jacob is sent away. So Jacob, this schemer, manipulator, deceiver, and sinner that he is, is now an exile; he will be so for the next 20 years.

6. The grace of God 

But…

Aren’t you glad there’s a “but”? Aren’t you glad that that’s not the last act of this play, that there’s one more? Because there is one more, and what we see in the last part of chapter 28 is the grace of God breaking into this tragic story. The grace of God—unsought for, unmerited, transforming, irresistible grace. Look at chapter 28:10.

“Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran. And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it!”

This is one of the most famous stories from Genesis. It’s one of the very first times where you have God revealing himself; it’s a theophany. God is revealing himself to someone, and he’s doing so in a dream, a dream vision. This is a vision—in our Bibles it usually says a ladder; probably what we should think of here is a stone stairway, a stairway up a ziggurat. Here’s a picture of a ziggurat. There are linguistic reasons and others why the commentators tell us this, but this is probably the idea, that Jacob has this vision, as he’s dreaming, of a ziggurat, this stone stairway, with angels of God moving up and down.

It’s showing us that there is some kind of commerce between heaven and earth. There’s some kind of movement. There’s an interplay, as the angels of God are moving up and down.

But the most important thing is seen in verses 13 and following. Look at verse 13. It says, “And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, ‘I am the Lord…’” God is revealing himself now to Jacob. “‘I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac.’” Then listen to this, because what you have here are the terms of the Abrahamic covenant being passed on to Jacob. “The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’” Do you recognize that language from Genesis 12? “‘Behold, I am with you—’” that’s the promise that he had made to Isaac in Genesis 26 “‘—and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.’” God is making his covenant with Jacob. Jacob wasn’t seeking God, but God was seeking Jacob, and God comes, and he makes this covenant with Jacob. It’s an amazing display of grace.

We see Jacob’s response in verse 16. “Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.’ And he was afraid and said, ‘How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.’”

The language there is important, and some of the scholars point out that the language here corresponds somewhat with the story of the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11. You remember that story, where people were building a tower in order to try to reach heaven? The word “Babel” or “Babylon,” the Assyrian word there, means “the gate of the gods.” It’s really a story about man’s attempt to reach God. Of course, God confuses the language, they’re not able to complete the building.

But in utter contrast to that, here you have not man trying to reach God, you have God reaching down to man. Jacob, when he wakes up, is in complete awe; a fear of God comes over him, and he says, “This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.” That’s why he names Beth-El. As you know, Bethel will become one of the most sacred places in the nation of Israel, a place where people often meet God.

You see more of Jacob’s response in verses 18-19. “Early in the morning Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. He called the name of that place Bethel, but the name of the city was Luz at the first.” So he is commemorating this even and he’s offering a sacrifice to the Lord (that’s what the pouring of the oil would be), and then he’s dedicating himself to God through vows in verses 20-22, a vow to the Lord to serve the Lord. Included with that is the vow to give a tithe, a tenth of his possessions to the Lord.

What we see here is that this meeting with God was transforming, as God’s grace always is. God’s grace, when it comes, always has transforming power and effect. Jacob isn’t completely changed, but he is changed, and from this point forward his life will be marked with some degree of consciousness of God in his life. We will see that it takes another encounter in Genesis 32 to really transform him more completely. But we see the grace of God coming in Jacob’s life.

I think what this story, when you take the whole thing together, I think what this story is showing us is that even in the midst of the human mess of dysfunctional families and human sin and brokenness, all the mess of our world, we see that God’s grace is able to break through, and we see that salvation is not about us climbing up to God through our works and our achievements, it is rather about God’s climb down to us in unmerited mercy and irresistible, transforming grace.

How is it that God comes? In this story he comes in a dream, he comes through a vision, the vision of the stairway. But listen to this—I want to give you one more passage as we close—from John 1. This is in the early days of Jesus’ ministry, and one of his first disciples is a man named Philip, and he goes to one of his friends, named Nathanael, and says, “We found the Messiah. We found the one who Moses in the Law and the prophets wrote about. It’s Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” You remember that Nathanael says, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip says, “Come and see!”

So we pick up in verse 47; I want you to hear verses 47-51. This is just amazing. “Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, ‘Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!’” Just mark, what a contrast with Jacob, who was Israel and in whom there was deceit. But here’s Nathanael, an Israelite without guilt, an Israelite without deceit. “Nathanael said to him, ‘How do you know me?’ Jesus answered him, ‘Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.’ Nathanael answered him, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!’ Jesus answered him, ‘Because I said to you, “I saw you under the fig tree,” do you believe? You will see greater things than these.’ And he said to him [listen to this], ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.’”

You know what it’s showing us? It’s showing us that the primary way, the superlative way, the supreme way in which God reaches down to man is through the incarnation, the ministry, and eventually the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It’s showing us that Jesus is the ladder, that Jesus is the stairway, that Jesus is the way to God, that Jesus is the way in which God makes his presence known and reaches down to us in grace.

Paul says in 1 Timothy, “There is one God and there is one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all.”

Listen, brothers and sisters. You may see all kinds of dysfunction in your family. You may see all kinds of sin in your life. A lot of it may be your fault. Maybe you’ve seen yourself this morning in this story, in the blindness, the spiritual insensitivity of Isaac, or in the manipulation and the schemes of Rebekah, or in Jacob’s deceit, or even in Esau’s remorse. Maybe you see yourself, to use the language of John Bunyan from his autobiography, as the chief of sinners. If so, the good news is that there is "grace abounding to the chief of sinners," and that’s what we see in the story of [Jacob]: great grace that is unsought, undeserved, irresistible, transforming, God coming down right into the middle of our mess.

We sang it this morning, and I didn’t even remember these words until we sang them on the screen,

“When sin runs deep
Your grace is more;
Where grace is found
Is where you are.”

That’s the good news, the good news of the gospel. I hope you’re trusting it this morning. Look to Jesus Christ as the source and the mediator of God’s grace. Let’s pray together.

Lord, we’re a mess. We look at our lives and our relationships, we look at our mistakes, our sins, our failures, and we can see the mess that we make of things. We thank you that the stories of the Bible are not stories of perfect people who did everything right, they are stories of broken people who did almost everything wrong, and yet how you reached down in your grace to rescue them, to save them, to transform them. Lord, it gives us hope, and it points us this morning to what Jesus Christ has done for us, the hope of the gospel. We look to you right now for that hope. We look to what Christ has done.

We pray for forgiveness of our sins, we pray for your intervention in our lives, we pray for deep, profound, lasting transformation of our hearts, and we pray that you would help us to experience your grace in life-changing ways. Show us the same grace, the same mercy that you showed to Jacob. Give us eyes to see how you have granted us that grace through your Son, Jesus.

As we come to the table, may we come with hearts wide open to receive from you this morning. May this be for us a real means of grace. As we take the emblems of our Lord’s death, may we have our eyes set on the broken body and the poured-out blood of Jesus, through whom redemption and forgiveness of sins are given to us. So draw near to us as we come to the table; we pray it in Jesus’ name and for his sake, amen.