Today's Reading: Genesis 4:1-15
Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, "I have acquired a man, the LORD." (Genesis 4:1, author's translation)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. When Cain was born, Eve thought he was the child who was going to stomp on the devil's head and be the Savior. Not quite. It was just Cain. But her words do teach us that she knew exactly what God's promise meant: It would be a child born of a woman who would be the Savior.
Cain, though, wasn't what you'd call the ideal son. He killed his brother and was driven off in shame. In that sense, Cain is a picture of Jesus: born of a woman, born under the Law, marked by God, and covered in shame. But not His own shame. Jesus was covered with Cain's shame. And your shame. Cain's guilt and yours. The shame and guilt of all the sinners of the whole world.
Abel is also a picture of Jesus in that he was killed by those who hate God's promises and grace. Abel lived by the Lord's promises. He knew he deserved nothing, yet in His grace and mercy, the Lord took the life of the lamb instead of Abel's life. But it was that trust alone in the Lord's mercy and promises that Cain despised, for Cain's religion was one of doing it himself and he didn't appreciate that God doesn't like that sort of religion.
So Cain and Abel both, in different ways, give us pictures of what Christ was: the sinless Son of God who trusted in His Father and the shame-filled sinner who was driven out. Both are true of Jesus. That's how He saves us--by being perfect before the Father and by being every sinner before the Father.
And by that salvation, the Lord brings us into His family as His dear children. Like Abel, we live by God's promises and we are hated by those who make their own religion. Like Cain, the Lord has marked us as ones who are not to be touched--not by sin, death or the devil. Cain's murder of Abel is a sad story of how quickly sin ruined things but it is also a reminder that God's promise still stood and was fulfilled in Jesus for Cain, Abel, the whole world, and you. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
In ev'ry time of need Before the judgment throne, Thy work, O Lamb of God, I'll plead, Thy merits, not mine own. (O Perfect Life of Love, LSB 452:6)