Command Thursday

WORSHIP VIDEO LINK

WORSHIP AUDIO LINK

SERMON AUDIO LINK

BULLETIN

SERMON TEXT BELOW

Easter 6 2021
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
May 8, 9, 2021
Acts 10:34-48

Sermons online: 
Text and Audio:         immanuelhamiltonchurch.com   click “sermons”
Text:                           pastorjud.org   
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
itunes:                        bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:   bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship

            It is the sixth Sunday of Easter and here we find ourselves back in the upper room on Maundy Thursday as Jesus prepares His disciples for His arrest, crucifixion and resurrection.  The word Maundy comes from the Latin word mandatum; command.  Maundy Thursday is command Thursday. 

            In the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke the Maundy Thursday account is relatively short, contained in one chapter, and each includes the institution of the Lord’s Supper; Jesus ongoing gift to you of His Body and Blood. 

            In the Gospel of John, the account of Maundy Thursday covers chapters 13-18; six chapters.  It begins with Jesus washing his disciples’ feet.  Jesus explains afterwards, John 13:13–15 (ESV) 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 

            As we read Jesus’ words in our Gospel reading from that first Command Thursday the night is growing late and time is running short.  Jesus’ teaching here in this section is intensely important. Judas has already left the gathering to set up Jesus’ betrayal into the hands of those who would arrest Him, beat Him, mock Him, whip Him and crucify Him.  Jesus’ teaching here is focused and clear.  He gives a new command.  

            What is the command Jesus gives on commandment Thursday. John 13:34 (ESV)  34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 

            Love one another.

            Love.  It is an amazing word that can mean so many different things.  In English we have one word for love, in Greek there are at least four.  The word “love” for us often conjures up lots of sweet images of hearts.  We hear “love” and think first of romantic love.  But there is also brotherly love for our friends and family.  We use the word love to describe liking something a lot; “I love hiking.”  There is love within the family.  These loves come naturally to us.  The type of love that Jesus commands us to have for each other is not a natural love.  It is the Greek word “agape.”

Agape is a selfless love.  A love that loves no matter what.  A love that loves even when the other does not deserve to be loved.  A love that even loves your enemy.  This is the kind of love that Jesus has for you.  Jesus gives up everything for you.  He lays down His life for you.  He offers His own body to the wolf as a sacrificial lamb to pay the price for your sins.  Jesus is servant of all.  Jesus eats with sinners.  Jesus washes His disciples’ feet.  He washes you into His love in the waters of Holy Baptism.  He washes away your sins and covers you with His love and feeds you with His own Body and Blood.  You belong to Christ.  You abide in Christ and Christ in you.

            As a baptized, forgiven, beloved child of God, how should you live?  In the precious moments just before His arrest, Jesus is telling His disciples, and He is telling you, live in agape love.  Live in selfless love.  Strive to love like Jesus.  This is an impossible love.  It does not come naturally from within you.  This love comes from Jesus to you.  As a branch in the Jesus vine, the love of Jesus flows into you.  Jesus loves you unconditionally.  Jesus loves you in your sin.  Lose yourself in Jesus’ love.

            People unconditionally love many things instead of God.  St. John warns in 1 John 2:15 (ESV)  15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  And in 1 Timothy 6:10 (ESV) 10 …the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. … 

            Love can be misused.  Love can be abused.  Jesus’ command is to love unconditionally.  How do you love like this?  John 14:15 (ESV)  15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.  In our reading today John 15:12 (ESV) 12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  John 15:14 (ESV) 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 

            We have the Ten Commandments from God shown up here on two tables.  How are they broken up?  Commandments 1, 2, and 3 on the first table (recite 3 commandments) and commandments 4-10 on the second.  (recite 7 commandments).  What is the five word summary of the Ten Commandments.  Love God.  Love your neighbor. 

            On that first Command Thursday Jesus gives a deep teaching; an impossible teaching.  Jesus calls you to love like He loves.  Just love like God in flesh; God with us.  You want to cry out in frustration, “I can’t do it.  Just give me a list of five things to do.  Give me a doable checklist that I can accomplish.” But there is no checklist.  Instead you are called to love like Jesus, and when you fail to love like Jesus, He again envelopes you in His unconditional love and forgives you.  When you fail, you receive more love from Jesus and a renewed call to love like Jesus. 

            John 15:9–10 (ESV) 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.  

            Jesus loves you with an impossible love and calls you to love others with that impossible love.  It is this impossible love that enables you to forgive someone who does not deserve forgiveness.  It enables you to care for people who are not your responsibility.  It allows you to see others as fellow sinners that Jesus loves so much that He died for them.  If Jesus loves this person, how can you do anything less?    Matthew 5:44 (ESV)  44 …Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

            When you are tempted to love money.  When you are enticed to love the world.  When you are drawn to love yourself more than others. When satisfying your desires becomes top priority…stop.  Stop and ponder the love Jesus has for you.  Love like Jesus.  By nature you want everything to be about me.  Jesus smashes this idea.  Everything is about Jesus and what He has done for you.  Everything is about loving others.  You are to be about loving like Jesus.

            Jesus loves you with an impossible love.  He saves you and blesses you with eternal life. You abide in Christ and Christ in you. Live in this love and love like Jesus. Amen. 

The Branch says to the tree, “I don’t need you.”

WORSHIP VIDEO LINK

WORSHIP AUDIO LINK

SERMON AUDIO LINK

BULLETIN

SERMON TEXT BELOW

Easter 5 2021 – Confirmation Sunday
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
May 2, 2021

Sermons online: 
Text and Audio:         immanuelhamiltonchurch.com   click “sermons”
Text:                           pastorjud.org   
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
itunes:                        bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:   bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship

            When camping with my family as a boy I liked to whittle on sticks with my pocket knife.  I thought this was great fun, but my mother would cringe and start calculating the distance to the nearest emergency room.  Apparently I had a tendency to cut my fingers…badly.  Many times the doctors needed to stitch my fingertips back together, but somehow I made it to adulthood with all ten fingers scarred but intact.

            What would you do if you did actually cut off one of your fingers?  With my extensive first aid knowledge gleaned from television ambulance dramas I think you are supposed to find the missing digit, pack it in ice and send it with the patient so the doctors can hopefully reattach it.  If the finger cannot be reattached it will die; it is no use without being attached to the body.  The body gives the finger life.  How deadly foolish it would be for a finger to say to the rest of the body, “I don’t need you.  I’ll be better off on my own?”

            After a storm I walk around my yard and collect dead branches lying under the trees.  Attached to the tree they were full of life.  Now they are dead and only good to be thrown into the fire.  Imagine for a moment a branch rebelling against its tree saying, “I don’t need you.  I will be better off on my own.”  It is utterly self-destructive. 

            John 15:5–6 (ESV) 5 [Jesus said] I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 

            In baptism you are grafted into the vine of Christ. You are made a part of His Body, the Church.  You abide in Christ and He abides in you.  Christ Jesus lives in you.  His life flows into you and gives you life.  In the Church, the Body of Christ, you receive forgiveness of sins through the Word of God and the Body and Blood of Jesus.  You in Christ, Christ in you, you have life. 

            Today at the 11 AM service we will baptize the three Johnson children; sealing them as branches of the vine of Christ renouncing the devil and all his works and all his ways and declaring faith in God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  At the 8 AM service four of our young men will confirm what was spoken for them at their baptisms renouncing the devil and declaring faith in the true God.  They will also pledge to remain in Christ and Christ in them.  They will pledge to hear the Word of God and receive the Lord’s Supper faithfully.  They will pledge to live according to the Word of God, and in faith, word, and deed to remain true to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, even to death.  They will pledge to remain steadfast in this confession and Church and to suffer all, even death, rather than fall away from it.  They will promise to remain in Christ and Christ in them.  Because they know they need Jesus.  They know that in Christ there is life; without Christ is only death. 

Like blood flowing to your extremities, like sap flowing through vine and branches, Jesus’ love and forgiveness flows into you and then from you to others through your good works.  Because you are in Christ and Christ is in you, you bear the fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22–23 (ESV)  22 … love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; …. 

            You know that you need Jesus.  Each day remember your baptism in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and renew your vows to remain in Christ and Christ in you.  Because you need Jesus. 

            Jesus is life.  Without Jesus is death.  And yet there is an aching temptation to want to be independent.  The devil wants to separate you from the vine.  He wants you to think you don’t need Jesus; that you can be free from Jesus, that you can go it alone.  He wants you to let the busyness of daily life choke out life in Christ and to separate from His Body, the Church.  The devil wants you to give up the Church.  The devil wants to push you to declare, “I don’t need forgiveness.  I don’t need the Church.  I don’t need your organized religion.”  But that is like a finger saying to the body, “I don’t need you.” That is like the branch saying to the tree, “I don’t need you.”  Independence equals death.  You are fully dependent on Jesus.  

Like blood flowing to your extremities, like sap flowing through vine and branches, Jesus’ love and forgiveness flows into you and then from you to others through your good works.  Because you are in Christ and Christ is in you, you bear the fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22–23 (ESV)  22 … love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; …. 

Alive in Christ, you bear the fruit of the Spirit in love for your neighbor even as you continue to struggle with temptation to selfish sin.  Life in this fallen world is a struggle.  Life in Christ is not the promise of an easy life, a pain free life, a life without trouble or hardship.  Abiding in Christ and Christ in you, as a branch in the vine, God prunes you to clean you from sin and make you more fruitful.  With Christ in you; with your body as a temple of the Holy Spirit the Lord works in you to cut sin out of your life.  God prunes you to help you to battle sin in your thoughts before they become sinful words and deeds that harm your neighbor and that the devil can try to hold against you.  This pruning hurts and it is an ongoing process which continues until the day you die. You live in the paradox of being, at the same time, a Saint declared holy by God because of Jesus, and a sinner who struggles with the devil, the world and your own sinful desires.  You are already declared fully clean because you are in Christ and Christ is in you, and God continues to prune and cleanse you of your sin.  Pruning can be painful as sin is cut out of your life in this ongoing cleansing but it is God’s work in your life to make you more fully live out who you are in Christ in love for God and love for your neighbor. 

Alive in Christ or dead apart from Christ.  There are only two categories.  You in Christ and Christ in you, you are alive forever.  Apart from Christ you are dead and destined for eternal fire.  You cannot live apart from Jesus. 

Jesus is the vine.  You are the branches.  Remain in Jesus.  Amen. 

The Good Shepherd

WORSHIP VIDEO LINK

WORSHIP AUDIO LINK

SERMON AUDIO LINK

BULLETIN

SERMON TEXT BELOW

Easter 4 2021 Good Shepherd Sunday 
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
April 24, 25, 2021
Acts 4:1-12, Psalm 23, 1 John 3:16-24, John 10:11-18

Sermons online: 
Text and Audio:         immanuelhamiltonchurch.com   click “sermons”
Text:                           pastorjud.org   
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
itunes:                        bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:   bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship

            It is a dark night with a light wind blowing.  The sheep bleat in fear and huddle close together sensing a predator lurking nearby.  The young shepherd boy smells the bear’s musk on the wind and strains his eyes staring into the darkness trying to locate the hungry killer.  The shepherd boy loves the sheep.  They are his family business, but they are also his companions as he keeps watch over them during the long, dark nights.  He knows each sheep and each little lamb.  The bear makes his move and comes in fast toward the flock away from the shepherd boy.  The flock scatters and the bear is able to knock over a young ewe lamb and separate her from her mother.  The lamb gets back on its feet and tries to flee but the bear quickly catches the lamb in his mouth and carries her away for a feast.  

            Without warning, the knotty end of a thick wooden club crashes down on the bear’s head causing him to stumble and drop the lamb which quickly runs back to her mother.  The bear shakes his head to clear his vision and sees the young shepherd boy standing over him with a club.  The angry bear turns around and charges the shepherd boy who jumps to the side putting the bear in a headlock grabbing the fur under the bear’s chin twisting the bear onto its side with one arm while mercilessly clubbing the bear in the head with his other hand over and over and over.  The brutal clubbing continues until the bear lies dead in the bloody grass outside of Bethlehem.

            This shepherd boy’s name is David and he goes on to kill not only lions and bears threatening his family’s sheep, but also a giant Philistine warrior named Goliath who is threatening the children of Jacob; the sheep of the house of Israel.  David is God’s chosen one; anointed to be king by the Prophet Samuel.  Before becoming king, David remains faithful to faithless King Saul even while Saul tries repeatedly to kill David.  After Saul’s death David becomes King.  The Shepherd King.  Shepherding the children of Israel.  David is a good king…for a while…but then brings great shame and trouble because of his sins of adultery and murder.  David forgets that not only is he a shepherd, he is also a sheep in the flock of the Good Shepherd that he writes about in Psalm 23:1 (ESV) 1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.  As a sheep David needs to follow the Good Shepherd.  

            There is an ongoing problem with the shepherds of Israel forgetting that they are sheep of the Good Shepherd and instead of caring for God’s sheep, they abuse them for selfish gain.  God rebukes the bad shepherds of Israel; both kings and religious leaders.  Ezekiel 34:1–6 (ESV) 1 The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord God: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? 3 You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. 4 The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them. 5 So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts. My sheep were scattered; 6 they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them. 

Far too often the shepherds of the sheep of Israel are faithless, selfish shepherds; including David for a time. 1,000 years after David a new shepherd king is born in Bethlehem; the City of David.  This new king’s birth is announced by angels to Bethlehem shepherds keeping watch over their flocks at night.  The Shepherd King is named Jesus; Yeshua, YHWH saves, because this baby born in Bethlehem is YHWH in flesh who has come to save His people from their sins.  Jesus has come to save the Lost Sheep of the House of Israel. 

            In our Gospel reading today Jesus has just been confronted by the Pharisees for healing a man born blind on the Sabbath day.  Jesus lets them know that they are false shepherds. John 9:39–41 (ESV)  39 Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains. 

            Jesus then begins teaching about Himself being the Good Shepherd.  John 10:11–15 (ESV)  11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 

            When David is confronted by a predator he risks his life to rescue the sheep and kill the predator.  Jesus handles the wolf differently.  Jesus has come to save the lost sheep of the house of Israel, but when the wolf attacks, Jesus does not hit the wolf with a club.  He does not grab the wolf by the chin hairs and wrestle him to the ground.  Jesus offers himself to the wolf as a substitutionary sacrifice.  Jesus, the Good Shepherd, becomes the sacrificial Lamb of God and allows the wolf to savagely kill Him in order to protect the sheep.  The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. 

            Jesus is the Good Shepherd.  A good shepherd cares for the sheep because the sheep are his own. They belong to him and he loves them, not for his own sake, but for theirs. He will not abandon them when the wolf comes. He will protect and defend them. With Him, they are secure.  With Him, you are secure.  Jesus is your Good Shepherd.  Jesus loves you and will not abandon you to the devil. 

            When David is confronted by a predator he risks his life to rescue the sheep and kill the predator.  Jesus handles the wolf differently.  Jesus has come to save the lost sheep of the house of Israel, but when the wolf attacks, Jesus does not hit the wolf with a club.  He does not grab the wolf by the chin hairs and wrestle him to the ground.  Jesus offers himself to the wolf as a substitutionary sacrifice.  Jesus, the Good Shepherd, becomes the sacrificial Lamb of God and allows the wolf to savagely kill Him in order to protect the sheep.  The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. 

            Now, this is not a good technique for a regular shepherd because once the wolf kills the shepherd then he would kill all the unprotected sheep. But it is the strategy for the Good Shepherd because as Jesus says in John 10:17–18 (ESV)  17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” 

            A hired hand does not care for the sheep, but just runs away at the first sign of danger.  Jesus is accusing the Pharisees and other Jewish leaders of being nothing more than hired hands that don’t care for the sheep.  The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.  And then He takes up His life again.  Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!

            Jesus rises from the dead and is still the Good Shepherd who now defends His flock with the power of the cross.  The wolf tries to attack one of Jesus’ sheep and the wolf gets smashed on the head with the cross of Christ.  Jesus is the Good Shepherd and He has undershepherds who work for the Good Shepherd to do the will of the Good Shepherd. 

In the darkness outside the High Priest’s house Peter denies Jesus three times around a charcoal fire.  After His resurrection, at the Sea of Galilee Jesus builds a charcoal fire and feeds the disciples and restores Peter.  John 21:15–17 (ESV)  15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 

            Undershepherds of the Good Shepherd can never forget that they are also sheep in the flock of the Good Shepherd.  The undershepherds serve the sheep, tend the sheep, care for the sheep. They wash the sheep into the flock of the Good Shepherd with the waters of baptism, comfort the sheep with the eternal Word of God for the forgiveness of sins, and feed the sheep with the very Body and Blood of the Lamb of God who laid down His life for His sheep.  And not just the lost sheep of the house of Israel, but the lost sheep of the whole creation. 

The Good Shepherd laid down His life for you because He loves you.  You are Jesus’ beloved little lamb in the flock of the Good Shepherd.  One flock. One Shepherd. 

            Amen.             

Here I Stand

WORSHIP VIDEO LINK

WORSHIP AUDIO LINK

SERMON AUDIO LINK

BULLETIN

SERMON TEXT BELOW

Easter 3 2021 Here I Stand Sunday
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
April 17, 18, 2021
Acts 3:11-21, 1 John 3:1-7, Luke 24:36-49

Sermons online: 
Text and Audio:         immanuelhamiltonchurch.com   click “sermons”
Text:                           pastorjud.org   
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
itunes:                        bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:   bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship

            In the year 1414 Jan Hus, a Czech priest, theologian and philosopher, was summoned to the Church Council of Constance in what is modern Southwestern Germany.  Hus believed in the authority of scripture alone and had opposed a couple of Popes on various issues including the selling of church offices and the selling of indulgences.  He had been excommunicated, but continued to preach and teach.  Hus was promised safe passage to and from the Church Council and so he travelled from Prague to Constance in order to help put an end to dissension in the Church.

            Hus arrived November 3 and on November 28 he was imprisoned after church authorities claimed that promises made to heretics do not need to be kept.  Hus is urged to recant his writings but he asks to be shown his error in scripture.  The following summer Hus is condemned to death and on July 6, 1415 he is tied and chained to a stake and burned as a heretic.  Before lighting the fire Hus is asked once more to recant his teachings and he replies.  “God is my witness that the things charged against me I never preached. In the same truth of the Gospel which I have written, taught, and preached, drawing upon the sayings and positions of the holy doctors, I am ready to die today.[1]

            The fire is lit and before he dies Hus it is reported that Hus said, “What I have taught with my lips I seal with my blood. You are now going to burn a goose, but in a century you will have a swan which you can neither roast nor boil.” The name Hus in Czech literally means goose. His ashes were later thrown in the Rhine River in order to prevent his followers from venerating his grave.

            One hundred years later Martin Luther is coming onto the scene to continue what Hus began.  Luther is often called the swan of the reformation.  500 years ago Martin Luther is summoned to the Imperial Diet in the city of Worms in western Germany, 322 miles from Wittenberg.  Luther is promised safe passage to and from the Diet of Worms but Luther knows about the promise to Jan Hus and how well these promises are honored.

            On April 17 and 18, 1521, Luther faces Johann von Eck who is the presiding officer of the Diet speaking on behalf of the Emperor Charles V.  Luther is asked to recant his 25 publications.  It is a tense moment.  Failure to recant likely means being burned alive.  On the afternoon of April 17 Luther asks for more time to prepare a proper answer. 

            After a long night of prayer and preparation at 4 PM on April 18 Luther appears again before the assembly.  He notes that his writings are of different types.  First, works which were well received even by his enemies: those he would not reject.  Second, books which attacked the abuses, lies and desolation of the Christian world and the papacy: those, Luther believed, could not safely be rejected without encouraging abuses to continue. To retract them would be to open the door to further oppression.  “If I now recant these, then, I would be doing nothing but strengthening tyranny”.  Third, attacks on individuals: Luther apologized for the harsh tone of these writings but did not reject the substance of what he taught in them. If he could be shown by Scripture that his writings were in error, Luther continued, he would reject them. Luther concluded by saying:

            Jan Hus stood on Scripture alone.  Martin Luther stood on scripture alone.  The true Christian church today stands on Scripture alone.  The Bible is our source of knowledge of salvation.  We don’t add to it.  We don’t subtract from it.  It is through the words of scripture that you know that Jesus is God in flesh who suffered and died to pay for your sins and rose from the dead to conquer death forever.  The Bible teaches that Jesus forgives your sins. 

Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. I cannot do otherwise, here I stand,[2] May God help me. Amen.[3]

The pope declared that a believer could buy an indulgence to pay off the penalty for their sins and the Vatican was making big money.  Luther asked that the practice be defended from Scripture and not papal authority. 

            Jan Hus stood on Scripture alone.  Martin Luther stood on scripture alone.  The true Christian church today stands on Scripture alone.  The Bible is our source of knowledge of salvation.  We don’t add to it.  We don’t subtract from it.  It is through the words of scripture that you know that Jesus is God in flesh who suffered and died to pay for your sins and rose from the dead to conquer death forever.  The Bible teaches that Jesus forgives your sins. 

You would think that 600 years after Jan Hus and 500 years after Martin Luther we would not still be fighting the battle for scripture alone; but we are.  The battle continues.  The Roman Catholic Church still holds that the pope is infallible when speaking from the throne of St. Peter.  Teachings not in the Bible are declared to be dogma that must be believed in order to be a Christian. 

Many false religions have sprung up over the centuries; so many in American over the last 200 years.  People declare they have a new revelation from God.  They declare that there is a new scripture that is equal to the Bible or replaces the Bible.  Muslims, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Scientists, Scientologists and many others.  We can see these errors fairly clearly. 

There is more insidious threat that has made its way into Christian churches over the last hundred years or so.  Something else is taking the place of the Holy Bible as the authority. 

            We live in an age where more and more our ultimate authority is our feelings.  We want to disregard the authority of the Bible and be an authority unto ourselves.  We want to follow our feelings.  We want to make up our own theology and our own morality based on our own understandings and desires. 

            There is a growing movement to ignore scriptural guidance and trust your intuition; your inner feelings; your desires.  People do this in regards to sexual morality, abortion, greed, anger, hatred, laziness. “I know the Bible says this, but I feel like I know better.  So I will do things my way.”  There is a great desire to get rid of scripture alone and make a new god of your own design who does whatever you want him to do. 

            In the face of this ongoing movement to reject the Bible, we continue what Jesus started with His disciples and what Jan Hus and Martin Luther restarted.  We hold to Scripture alone and bring that message to the world.  Luke 24:46–47 (ESV) 46 [Jesus] said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.  

May God grant us the courage to continue to proclaim repentance and the forgiveness of sins in the face of a world of people that continue to reject the Bible and follow their feelings. May God grant us the strength to stand on Scripture Alone with Jan Hus and Martin Luther and so many others who have risked their lives for the truth of God’s Word.

            Martin Luther does get out of Worms and is quickly kidnapped by his own prince and held in protective custody for nearly a year at the Wartburg castle.  The emperor issues an order to capture Luther dead or alive and so Luther begins translating the Bible into German, which is a capital offense, but he is already under the threat of death.  Luther helps bring the Word of God into the language of the people.

            How blessed we are to have the Bible in our own language; what a great treasure to be able to read about Jesus saving all people from their sins; reading about how Jesus saves you from your sins.  What a tremendous blessing to know Jesus rose from the dead just like He said He would.  To know Jesus conquered death for you.  To know that in Christ you have eternal life. 

            There is a great temptation to add to the Bible or subtract from the Bible.  There is a great temptation to follow your feelings.  Resist the temptation.  Cling to Scripture alone.  Cling to Christ alone.  Even unto death.

            Amen. 


[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jan_Hus

[2] “I cannot do otherwise, here I stand” is not recorded in some transcripts of the Diet

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diet_of_Worms

Peace be with you

WORSHIP VIDEO LINK

WORSHIP AUDIO LINK

BULLETIN

SERMON TEXT BELOW

Easter 2 2021
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Hilbert Kamps 
April 10, 11, 2021
John 20:18-31

Sermons online: 
Text and Audio:         immanuelhamiltonchurch.com   click “sermons”
Text:                            pastorjud.org   
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
itunes:                         bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:    bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship

Our sermon text for this (afternoon/morning) is our gospel text where we hear Jesus greet His disciples two different times with the doors being locked; Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” So far our text.

Greetings are taken for granted in today’s society.  We think of them as just a way to get the conversation started. “Hey yer lookin­ good’ ‘back at cha ‘How’ya doin?’ ‘Fine.”‘  ‘”What’cha  up to?’ ‘Nothin’ much.'” We more or less go through the ritual on autopilot. Most of the time, our greetings are just a polite exchange of conversation.  Sometimes, these empty greetings lead to real conversation.  Other times, they are merely a polite acknowledgement of the other person’s presence.

Today’s Gospel has a greeting in it.  This greeting is not trivial. It is not a tired out old cliché. It is a great Gospel greeting full of grace and comfort. Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

The disciples were hiding behind locked doors.  They were lost, confused, and above all terrified.  They had seen the ruling authorities reach out and take their leader from them and kill Him on a cross.  Now they thought it was their turn. They expected the authorities to arrest them next. They were trying to keep a low profile and hope that the events of the past weekend would all blow over.

Now, in all fairness, there were a few in that group who knew different.  There were the women who had been to the tomb at dawn that morning.  They had talked with the angels.  Some of them had seen the risen Lord.  Others had even talked with Him. Never the less, their words seemed to fall on deaf ears. Most of the disciples in that room thought the stories of the resurrection were silly.

Suddenly, there He was with that wonderful greeting, “Peace be with you.” This is nothing other than peace with God – a peace no one deserves.  Here is a peace that means sins are forgiven.  Here is a peace that means our relationship with God is whole once again.  Here is a peace that means all the sins we have ever done are set aside.

And there are plenty of sins.  On the night Jesus was betrayed, all the disciples promised their lives and their honor to their master Jesus Christ.  Never the less, when the temple guard came to arrest Jesus, they all fled.  On a personal note, Peter denied Jesus three times during Jesus’ trial. Throughout that First Easter, witnesses have tried to tell them that Jesus was alive, [Luke 24:11]  but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.

Then there were the things that happened before Easter weekend – the disciples often argued over who was the greatest – the disciples prevented children from coming to Jesus – the disciples sinned often.      All these things are forgotten as Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”  Then Jesus showed them the marks of the struggle that had earned that peace.  He showed them his hands and his side.  Here were the marks that remind us all of the work Jesus did –  the  nails of the cross – the spear that pierced His heart.  Here, written on His body is the story of the suffering and death that earned salvation.

That salvation is also for us.  We, like all humanity — like the disciples, sin. There have been times we were ashamed of the Savior.  We have wanted to fit in and so denied that we knew Jesus. We’ve all made promises to God that we haven’t kept.  Like the disciples, we often focus on ourselves instead of God.  We know that our sin has earned the eternal wrath of God.

Nevertheless, Jesus comes to us and says, “Peace be with you.” The wounds of His hands and side tell us that He has made all things right.  Everything is new again and we have a new healthy relationship with God.

The peace that Jesus offers is not only for our relationship with God, but it is also for our relationship with each other. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending  you.”  And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven: if you withhold forgiveness from anyone, it is withheld.” Just as God breathed the breath of life into Adam and gave life to all mankind, so also Jesus breathed on His disciples and brought life to his church.

As Jesus breathed life into His church, He gave it a commission.  He gave His peace, His forgiveness to the church.  The mouth of the church is the mouth of Christ and that mouth gives peace and forgiveness.  In public, Christ’s words of peace and forgiveness come from the mouth of the pastor. As Martin Luther said in his explanation of confession, “We receive absolution, that is, forgiveness, from the pastor as from God Himself, not doubting, but firmly believing that by it our sins are forgiven before God in heaven.” The pastor himself can be inexperienced, he can be incompetent, he can be someone we really don’t like, but when he says, “I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” you can be certain that he is bringing the words of Christ to you. The sins of all who confess and believe in Jesus Christ are indeed forgiven just as certainly as if Jesus Christ Himself stood here and forgave your sins. 

Therefore the Holy Christian Church is a beautiful and glorious being. In her we hear what God speaks and desires.  We hear about repentance, forgiveness, baptism, and faith in Jesus Christ. Whoever touches a believer touches the apple of God’s eye.  Whoever believes in Jesus Christ shall be the dwelling place and temple of God.

How sad it was that Thomas missed out.  How sad it is when anyone misses out on hearing those words of peace. That is because the world is not polite and constantly pummels us with Satan’s lies.  We are helpless before those lies without Christ’s words of peace. It is a terrible thing when people do not hear the Word of God. They miss out on the peace of God.

How merciful it is that Jesus Christ gives His peace again and again. The second time Jesus brought His peace, Thomas was there.  Thomas had been hard hearted.  “Unless I see in  his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into  the mark  of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” Jesus did not say, “You foolish man.       Why didn’t you believe when your friends told you the truth?” Instead Jesus said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands: and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.”

Christ brought His peace to Thomas patiently and faithfully.  He brushed aside the stubbornness.  He offered the marks of His love for Thomas to inspect. He offered the marks that showed that sin is forgiven and we have peace with God.

It is easy to pick on Thomas.  He will forever be known as doubting Thomas.  In truth, all the disciples doubted until they saw the Lord. Thomas’ only disadvantage was that, for some reason, he was missing the first time Jesus appeared.             He was really no different than the others.  The real lesson here is how Jesus continues to bring His greeting of peace.  Jesus is patient, merciful and totally trustworthy.  He continued to offer His peace to Thomas and He gave that peace to His church.  Now He offers that peace through His church to us.

That peace is the peace that He earned for us with His perfect life, His innocent suffering and death, and his resurrection.  It is the peace of forgiveness, life, and salvation.  It is the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding.  Amen.

Christ is Risen!

WORSHIP VIDEO LINK

WORSHIP AUDIO LINK

SERMON AUDIO LINK

BULLETIN

SERMON TEXT BELOW

Easter 2021
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
April 4, 2021
Isaiah 25:6-9. 1 Corinthians 15:1-11, Matthew 28:1-10

Sermons online: 
Text and Audio:         immanuelhamiltonchurch.com   click “sermons”
Text:                            pastorjud.org   
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
itunes:                         bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:    bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship

Little Justin was the epitome of cuteness wrapped in the body of a four-year-old boy. The problem was, he was just too cute.  It wasn’t so much the day-to-day living, as it was special functions.  Like church.

            Come Sunday morning, all the older ladies of the church would just carry on about Justin’s cuteness, and before he could get away from them, they would grab his cheek between the index finger and the thumb, and give it a pinch. Sometimes they would add a little shaking motion, like a pit bull latched on to a chew toy. It left his cheeks rosy and numb. The pinching was especially bad at weddings. There are even more older women at weddings than there are at church on Sunday.  As each one pinched his little cheeks, they’d say “You’re next!”

Well, Justin finally discovered a way to get them to leave his cheeks alone.  Whenever he’d go to a funeral, he’d seek out the older women. He’d run up to them, grab their cheeks, and pinch them with a solid twist, look them right in the eye, smile and say, “You’re next!”

The old ladies never bothered Justin after that.

            Are you next?  Or is it me? Or someone else?

            There is a dark cloud that has been hanging over you from the moment of your birth. It is a cloud that brings deep darkness of impending doom.  It is the cloud of death that hangs over all people.  You live in the valley of the shadow of death.

            The fear of death is said to be the prime motivation for human behavior.  Politicians, advertisers, journalists all use the fear of death to motivate people to do what they want them to do.  “If we can save just one life…it will be worth it.” 

            Saving lives is a powerful motivation for action and trillions of dollars have been spent and yet you still live in the valley of the shadow of death.

            The Bible speaks about the snares of death, the waves of death, the cords of death, the shadow of death.  In Isaiah 25 death is spoken of as a… Isaiah 25:7 (ESV) 

7 … covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations.  

            Jesus understands death first hand.  God in flesh dies on that awful Friday. He is wrapped up in linen with spices and laid in a tomb sealed by a large stone.  Jesus lies motionless and silent in the darkness of death.  

Jesus destroys death by rising from the dead.  This is the feast of victory for our God.  The wet blanket of the fear of death is taken away.  Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!

            But death could not hold him.  Acts 2:24 (ESV) 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.  Death could not hold Jesus.  Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!

            In Christ Jesus, God swallows up death forever.  Isaiah 25:7–8 (ESV) 7 And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. 8 He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken.  

Jesus destroys death by rising from the dead.  This is the feast of victory for our God.  The wet blanket of the fear of death is taken away.  Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!

            Instead of living in terror of the grave, you live in confidence that even though death will come for you one day it is not the end for you. You too will be raised from the dead. Jesus has conquered death; for Himself, for you, for all humanity.  The great feast, the wedding feast of the Lamb in His kingdom, is for all people.  All are invited.  All are welcome.  Jesus has conquered death for all.  Jesus has conquered death for you.

Just before raising her brother from the dead Jesus tells Lazarus’s sister Martha, John 11:25–26 (ESV) 25 … “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”  Jesus is the light that drives out the darkness.  Jesus is the life that destroys death.  Jesus is the resurrection that conquers the grave.

            Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia! Because Christ has risen from the dead you will rise from the dead and knowing this, you can face death not as an ending, but as a transition to eternal life.  I have presided over many funerals here at Immanuel; I believe well over a hundred.  When we are at the cemetery for the committal, what is the last thing I say before the final benediction?  What are the words of greatest comfort when you are burying a loved one?  Alleluia!  Christ is Risen!  He is risen indeed, Alleluia!  Let us go forth in peace, in the name of the Lord.  Amen.

            We can find peace even in death because Jesus has gone through it already and He promises to bring you through it as well.  Jesus brings life; eternal life, and that changes everything. 

            Jesus’ resurrection is a historical fact.  We have eyewitness testimony from people who saw Jesus put to death on the cross on Friday by the Romans, buried in the tomb, and raised from the dead on Sunday morning.  The eleven remaining disciples spent the rest of their lives proclaiming the Good News that Christ is Risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia! We know it is true because they kept on proclaiming this truth even though they were being beaten and executed because of it.  They knew the truth and they were compelled to be Jesus’… Acts 1:8 (ESV) 8 … witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”  

            The historical fact of Jesus’ resurrection is the most important truth of Christianity.  As Paul tells us in the Epistle reading,  1 Corinthians 15:3–7 (ESV) 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 

Every Sunday we gather to celebrate Jesus rising from the dead to conquer death. This is the feast of victory. Each Sunday Jesus gives you a foretaste of the feast to come in His Body and His Blood to forgive your sins and to strengthen and preserve you in true faith unto life everlasting. 

            Indeed you live in the valley of the shadow of death. But you have Jesus who is the light and the life.  So Even though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death you fear no evil.  The pangs of death have been undone.  The fear of death no longer rules over you.  Jesus has swallowed up death forever. 

            So who is next?  We don’t know.  We wouldn’t want to know if we could.  Death is coming for each one of us, but you don’t need to fear because it is not the end, it is only a new beginning, because Christ is Risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia! Amen.

Good Friday

WORSHIP VIDEO LINK

WORSHIP AUDIO LINK

SERMON AUDIO LINK

BULLETIN

SERMON TEXT BELOW

Good Friday
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
April 2, 2021
Isaiah 52:13–53:12, Psalm 22, Hebrews 4:14–16, John 19:1–16

Sermons online: 
Text and Audio:         immanuelhamiltonchurch.com   click “sermons”
Text:                            pastorjud.org   
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
itunes:                         bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:    bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship

Questioning Jesus, Pontius Pilate asks a cynical, rhetorical question: “What is truth?” But it turns out that he is asking the wrong question. The real question is not “What is truth?” but rather “Who is truth?”

Today, we look on as the truth hangs on a cross, bearing the sins of the whole world in order to reconcile us to God the Father. Truth was incarnate in Jesus Christ, and He willingly walked this path for you.

During Lent we have centered on God’s call through the prophet Joel for His people to return to Him. To admit to your sinful nature and to come to the One who is “gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love” (Joel 2:13), the One who loves you, who provides for you, and who sent His Son to die for you, because He “relents over disaster” (Joel 2:13). His call today is for you to return to truth, to turn to Jesus Christ, for He is your life and your salvation.

The chief priests and the scribes and the whole Council deliver Jesus over to Pontius Pilate. They insist that He has done evil and deserves punishment; deserves death. Pilate is onto them; he knows they are driven by selfish motivations, but he is backed into a corner. His choice is impossible: put an innocent man to death or lose control of the city as the people riot.

Everything is working according to plan, but it is not the plan of the chief priests. It is a plan that God Himself had put together. A plan of salvation made necessary by mankind’s fall into sin at the temptation of Satan. A plan that includes a battle between the offspring of the serpent and the Offspring of the woman. A plan that requires that the heel of the Son of Man be bruised but the plan will finally be complete as the head of the serpent’s offspring is crushed, and death is stripped of its power. This plan will play out on the cross, and Jesus is the focus of the whole thing.

Pilate tries to satisfy the accusers. He has Jesus flogged and tortured, mocked and insulted. Beaten to within an inch of His life. Dressed in a purple robe and ridiculed for claiming to be King of the Jews. How can Pilate stand before the people and point to Jesus, bloodied and bruised, and say with a straight face, “I find no guilt in Him”? As if, perhaps, he has been trying to beat it out of Him.

But the plan is already in motion, and there will be no changing the outcome. Jesus has to die. “Crucify Him, crucify Him!” John tells us it is the chief priests and the officers who cry those words, but it is not just them. It is you and me.

Our sinful nature rises up even as Christ demands our attention. The Law forbids our sinful actions, and we want no part of that. “You shall have no other gods”? Fine, I’ll have only one god, and it will be me. This man, this “Son of God,” wants first place? No, He must die. “Crucify Him!”

“Do not take the Lord’s name in vain”? Ha! This man has blasphemed and made Himself the Son of God. “Crucify Him!”

“Honor the Sabbath Day by keeping it holy”? You can’t tell me what to do. “Crucify Him!”

Honor your father and your mother. You shall not kill. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness. You shall not covet. “Crucify Him!”

You chafe at God’s leadership. Your sinful nature wants nothing to do with it, because it is “hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot” (Romans 8:7). Your sinful nature rises up before the truth and closes its ears as it shouts, “Crucify Him!”

But the truth is not so easily silenced. The truth echoes in your ears even as it hangs lifeless on a cross. The truth slips past your defenses, and the Word softens your heart. You may cry out in anger, “Crucify Him,” but the truth whispers gently in your ears, Jesus says, “Yes, crucify Me. For that is the only way out of this mess. Someone has to die for all you have done, and I have come for just that purpose. Crucify Me.”

Look at the cross. Look at the One who hangs on it, bearing your sins, taking your punishment.

“His appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and His form beyond that of the children of mankind” (Isaiah 52:14). “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3).

Look at this man. Look at your God. Beaten. Bruised. Bleeding. Suffering.

“Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53:4). “He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5).

He dies for you. He carries your griefs, your sorrows, your sin, your guilt.

But why? Why did it have to be like this?

“It was the will of the Lord to crush Him; He has put Him to grief” (Isaiah 53:10). “He poured out His soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet He bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12).

Your Savior. Your Lord. Who died for your sins. Who made intercession for you. Who willingly poured out His soul to death so that you would have life. He is “the way, and the truth, and the life,” and “no one comes to the Father except through [Him]” (John 14:6).

And so your heart, led by the Holy Spirit, finally relents and cries out, “Crucify Him.” But not in anger. No, now it is because you see that there is no other way. “All [your] righteous deeds are like a polluted garment” (Isaiah 64:6), and you can’t fix it. You can’t be good enough. You can’t be without sin. You can’t win your own salvation. Whatever good you might manage to pull off is completely overshadowed by your sinful nature.

“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). With God, you can be saved. But someone must endure the penalty. God’s wrath must be satisfied. The wages of sin must be paid. Someone has to die.

And that someone is Jesus. He lived the perfect life you could not. He has taken all of your sin on Himself. He took all of it to the cross to satisfy God’s wrath. And He gives you His own righteousness in return, asking only that you trust Him and leave the work to Him.

Today, as you “survey the wondrous cross On which the Prince of Glory died” (LSB 425:1), may you hear God’s call to return to Him . . . to return to truth . . . to trust in the One who has promised you salvation and eternal life.

See, from His head, His hands, His feet

Sorrow and love flow mingled down!

Did e’er such love and sorrow meet

Or thorns compose so rich a crown? (LSB 425:3)

Amen. 

Maundy Thursday

WORSHIP VIDEO LINK

WORSHIP AUDIO LINK

SERMON AUDIO LINK

BULLETIN

SERMON TEXT BELOW

Maundy Thursday
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
April 1, 2021
Exodus 24:3–11, Psalm 116:12–19, 1 Corinthians 10:16–17, Mark 14:12–26

Sermons online: 
Text and Audio:         immanuelhamiltonchurch.com   click “sermons”
Text:                            pastorjud.org   
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
itunes:                         bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:    bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship

You arrive home one Tuesday afternoon after a long day at work. As you pull up to your house, you stop at the end of the driveway and step out of your car to check the mailbox. As you sort through the mail, you see the usual stuff: a couple of bills, a few credit card offers, a flyer for a sale at the furniture store down the street. 

That’s when you spot it. Something different. Something special. An oversized envelope with a wax seal on the flap. Heavy paper with the address inscribed in flowing calligraphy. It is stunningly beautiful, exuding luxury and prestige. There is no return address, but you can tell that this is a special invitation.

Without waiting to get in the house, you crack the seal and open the envelope. Inside is an engraved invitation to join the Queen of England for a grand banquet. Your travel arrangements have already been made. All expenses are covered, and you will travel first class. Before you can even consider what you have in the closet for such an event, you note that a gown, shoes, and accessories will be provided for you. You need only to show up.

When you call your boss to see if you can have a few days off, you’re stunned to discover that your employer has already been notified and arrangements have been made to cover your responsibilities while you are away. Every detail has been attended to. A few hours later, you’re on a plane winging your way across the Atlantic.

When you arrive, you are whisked to a luxurious suite, where you have a little bit of downtime to prepare for this amazing honor. You’re a little unsure, but a quick check of the invitation confirms that yes, that is indeed your name and address, so it must actually be for you.

You shower and dress in the dazzling white gown that has been laid out in your room, and then you follow the instructions that were given, explaining where to find the table. As you enter the room, you are surprised to find that you are not the only guest. The hostess has invited many people, from all walks of life, and everyone gathers around the table to take their seats. Small conversations pop up as people get to know one another, and common interests are discovered. There is great joy in the banquet hall.

Everyone here admires the Queen and is overjoyed to be in her presence. The assembled group is full of kind, loving people, and all are made to feel that they are part of the group.

As the night goes on, though, arguments pop up here and there. One person is angry that his neighbor took so much of the gravy for his potatoes. Another pair begins to argue about whether the crystal in use is the best choice for such an event. Someone accidentally steps on another person’s toes, and a yelling match ensues. One guy in the back has had a little too much wine and proceeds to try and belch the alphabet, much to the embarrassment of his tablemates. Another woman turns to her neighbor to point out someone who is using the wrong fork on the salad.

As you look around at the gathering, you may even begin to wonder if you belong here. The meal is so sumptuous, the environment is so luxurious. You doubt if this could possibly be meant for you. What in the world could you have done to deserve such a gift? How could you ever repay such generosity?

Now that you’ve conjured up that whole scene in your mind, let’s shift a few details and tie it in to our Gospel.

The invitation is not from the Queen of England; it is from someone far more important. The invitation you received is actually from the “Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God,” the One “by whom all things were made” (Nicene Creed).

And the venue is not some ritzy palace in Great Britain; it is the sanctuary of this very church. The table is no mahogany beauty, but is this humble altar. And the group of people who have been invited is, well, everyone around you—fellow members of this congregation; visitors from other congregations and the whole sainted host of heaven and earth, who come together for this foretaste of the feast to come.

We gather together today in response to an invitation that Christ has extended: return to the Table; return to the fellowship that you are a part of as members of the Body of Christ; return to the joyous communion that we share with one another. In fact, Christ extends this invitation again and again, week after week, as He draws you to His Table to feed you and strengthen you and nourish your faith.

It is an exceedingly joyous feast, but it doesn’t take long to recognize that it is also marred by sin. We are the chosen of God, but we also possess a sinful nature that infects everything. We come to the Table with the same people who can’t control their kids in worship. The man who smells a little funny. The woman who sings off-key. The friend who failed to keep your secret last month and betrayed you to a mutual acquaintance.

You may even wonder if you should really be here. At the Last Supper, Jesus revealed that one of His disciples would betray Him, and it rippled through the whole group. “Is it I?” each wondered in turn. “Am I that messed up that I would do something like that?”

You may wonder. You may doubt. But Christ has drawn you here, and He serves the banquet up all the same. He offers not just “a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined” (Isaiah 25:6). No, it’s much, much more than that. He offers you His own body and His own blood. He offers forgiveness of sins and life and salvation in this Holy Meal, as Luther explains in his explanation of the Sacrament in his Small Catechism: “where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.”

This Meal takes away your faults. This Meal binds you more closely to your brothers and sisters in Christ and, more important, to your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This Meal covers your sins, strengthens your faith, and nourishes your body to serve God and to serve your neighbors.

You belong here, because Christ has won your seat at the Table. Your Baptism is the personalized invitation, and Christ’s death and resurrection is the wax seal that authenticates it. No one can claim that you do not belong, because your seat is guaranteed in Christ. He has promised it, and His promises are trustworthy and true.

We rejoice in all that Christ gives us in the Meal we will share. We give thanks for His grace that invites us to His Table, joins us in fellowship with one another, removes our sins, and strengthens and nourishes us for service.

And as amazing as this Meal is, never forget that this is merely a foretaste of what God has in store for you. This bit of bread and this sip of wine is just a teaser for the sumptuous feast we will one day share when all the saints of God come together for the wedding feast of the Lamb in His kingdom, which has no end. We live in this crazy “now but not yet.” A time when we receive the benefits and the gifts that God has for us today, right now. But we also know that what we experience now cannot hold a candle to what will be on the Last Day. Today’s gifts sustain us and build up our confidence in the feast to come.

May you rejoice in the gift of Holy Communion, which we share together today, and hold fast to the promise of the full feast to come. Amen. 

For you

WORSHIP VIDEO LINK

WORSHIP AUDIO LINK

BULLETIN

MEDITATION  Instead of a regular sermon this week, spend three or more minutes silently meditating on Gustav Dore’s Crucifixion of Jesus

Dramatic Reading of Jesus’ Passion Story

The Passion of Our Lord According to the Gospel of St. Mark

Mark 14:1–15:47 (Series B)

For Congregational Reading Speaking Parts

Narrator                                 High Priest

Disciple 1                              Servant Girl

Disciple 2                              Pilate

Jesus                                       Chief  Priests

Peter                                       Bystander

Judas                                      Centurion

The congregation will read in unison the part in bold type and marked by the symbol ÌÌ .

NARRATOR: It was now two days before the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest [Jesus] by stealth and kill Him, for they said,

ÌÌ Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar from the people.

NARRATOR: And while He was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as He was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over His head.  There were some who said to themselves indignantly,

DISCIPLE 1: Why was the ointmentwasted like that?

DISCIPLE 2: For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.

NARRATOR: And they scolded her. But Jesus said,

JESUS: Leave her alone.Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to Me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have Me. She has done whatshe could; she has anointed My body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be toldin memory of her.

NARRATOR: Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray Him to them. And when they heard it, they were glad and promised to give him money. And he sought an opportunity to betray Him. And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, His disciples said to Him,

DISCIPLE 1: Where will You have us go and prepare for You to eat the Passover?

NARRATOR: And He sent two of His disciples and said to them,

JESUS: Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, “The Teacher says, Where is My guest room, where I may eat the Passover with My disciples?” And he will show you a largeupper room furnished and ready; there prepare for us.

NARRATOR:  And the disciples set out and went to the city and found it just as He had told them, and they prepared the Passover. And when it was evening, He came with the twelve. And as they were reclining at table and eating, Jesus said,

JESUS: Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me, one who is eating with Me.

NARRATOR: They began to be sorrowful and to say to Him one after another,

DISCIPLE 2: Is it I?

NARRATOR: He said to them,

JESUS: It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the dish with Me. For the Son of Man goes as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.

NARRATOR: And as they were eating, He took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said,

JESUS: Take; this is My body.

NARRATOR: And He took a cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, and theyall drank of it. And He said to them,

JESUS: This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.

NARRATOR: And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.And Jesus said to them,

JESUS: You will all fall away, for it is written, “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.” But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.

NARRATOR: Peter said to Him,

PETER: Even though they all fall away, I will not.

NARRATOR: And Jesus said to him,

JESUS: Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.

NARRATOR: But he said emphatically,

PETER: If I must die with You, I will not deny You.

NARRATOR: And they all said the same. And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And He said to His disciples,

JESUS: Sit here while I pray.

NARRATOR: And He took with Him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And He said to them,

JESUS: My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.

NARRATOR: And going a little farther, He fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. And He said,

JESUS: Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Remove this cup from Me. Yet not what I will, but what You will.

NARRATOR: And He came and found them sleeping, and He said to Peter,

JESUS: Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

NARRATOR: And again He went away and prayed, saying the same words. And again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer Him. And He came the third time and said to them,

JESUS: Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, My betrayer is at hand.

NARRATOR: And immediately, while He was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying,

JUDAS: The one I will kiss is the man. Seize Him and lead Him away under guard.

NARRATOR: And when he came, he went up to Him at once and said,

JUDAS: Rabbi!

NARRATOR: And he kissed Him. And they laid hands on Him and seized Him. But one of those who stood by drew His sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear.  And Jesus said to them,

JESUS: Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture Me? Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize Me. But let the Scriptures be fulfilled.

NARRATOR: And they all left Him and fled. And a young man followed Him, with nothing but a linen cloth about his body. And they seized him, but he left the linen cloth and ran away naked. And they led Jesus to the high priest. And all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes came together. And Peter had followed Him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. And he was sitting with the guards and warming himself at the fire. Now the chief priests and the whole Council were seeking testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, but they found none. For many bore false witness against Him, but their testimony did not agree.  And some stood up and bore false witness against Him, saying,

ÌÌ We heard Him say, “I will destroy thistemple that is made with hands,and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.”

NARRATOR: Yet even about this theirtestimony did not agree. And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus,

HIGH PRIEST: Have You no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against You?

NARRATOR: But He remained silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked Him,

HIGH PRIEST: Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?

NARRATOR: And Jesus said,

JESUS: I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.

NARRATOR: And the high priest torehis garments and said,

HIGH PRIEST: What furtherwitnesses do we need? You have heard His blasphemy. What is your decision?

NARRATOR: And they all condemned Him as deserving death. And some began to spit onHim and to cover His face and to strike Him, saying to Him,

ÌÌ  Prophesy!

NARRATOR: And the guards received Him with blows. And as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came, and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said,

SERVANT GIRL: You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus.

NARRATOR: But he denied it, saying,

PETER: I neither know nor understand what you mean.

NARRATOR: And he went out into the gatewayand the rooster crowed. And the servantgirl saw him and began again to say to the bystanders,

SERVANT GIRL: This man is one of them.

NARRATOR: But again he denied it. And after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter,

ÌÌ Certainly you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.

NARRATOR: But he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear,

PETER: I do not know this man of whom you speak.

NARRATOR: And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him,

JESUS: Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.

NARRATOR: And he broke down and wept. And as soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole Council. And they bound Jesusand led Him away and delivered Him over to Pilate. And Pilate asked Him,

PILATE: Are You the King of the Jews?

NARRATOR: And He answered him,

JESUS: You have said so.

NARRATOR: And the chief priests accusedHim of many things.And Pilate againasked Him,

PILATE: Have You no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against You.

NARRATOR: But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed. Now at the feast he used to release for them one prisoner for whom they asked. And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas. And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he usually did for them. And he answered them, saying,

PILATE: Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?

NARRATOR: For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered Him up. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release for them Barabbas instead.And Pilate again said to them,

PILATE: Then what shall I do with the man you call the King of the Jews?

NARRATOR: And they cried out again,

ÌÌ  Crucify Him.

NARRATOR: And Pilate said to them,

PILATE: Why, what evil has He done? 

NARRATOR: But they shouted all the more,

ÌÌ  Crucify Him.

NARRATOR: So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified. And the soldiers led Him away inside the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters), and they called together the whole battalion. And they clothedHim in a purple cloak,and twisting togethera crown of thorns, they put it  on Him. And they began to saluteHim,

ÌÌ Hail, King of the Jews!

NARRATOR: And they were striking His head with a reed and spitting on Him and kneeling down in homage to Him. And when they had mocked Him, they stripped Him of the purple cloak and put His own clothes on Him.

ÌÌ And they led Him out to crucify Him.

NARRATOR: And they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry His cross. And they brought Him tothe place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull). And they offered Him wine mixedwith myrrh, but He did not take it. And they crucified Him and divided His garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take.

ÌÌ And it was the third hour when they crucified Him.

NARRATOR: And the inscription of the charge against Him read, “The King of the Jews.” And with Him they crucified two robbers, oneon His right and one on His left. And those who passed by derided Him, wagging their heads and saying,

ÌÌ Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself, and come down from the cross!

NARRATOR: So also the chief priests with the scribes mocked Him to one another, saying,

CHIEF PRIESTS: He saved others; He cannot save Himself. Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.

NARRATOR: Those who were crucified with Him also reviled Him. And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the wholeland until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesuscried with a loud voice,

JESUS: Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?

NARRATOR: which means, “MyGod, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” And some of the bystanders hearing it said,

BYSTANDER: Behold, He is calling Elijah.

NARRATOR: And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to Him to drink, saying,

BYSTANDER: Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take Him down.

ÌÌ And Jesus uttereda loud cry and breathedHis  last.

NARRATOR: And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood facing Him, saw that in this way He breathed His last, he said,

CENTURION: Truly this man was the Son of  God!

NARRATOR: There were also women lookingon from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. WhenHe was in Galilee, they followed Him and ministered to Him, and there were also many other women who came up with Him to Jerusalem.

NARRATOR: And when evening had come, since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea,a respected member of the Council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God,took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate was surprised to hear that He should have already died. And summoning the centurion, he asked him whether He was already dead. And when he learned from the centurion that He was dead, he granted the corpse to Joseph.

NARRATOR: And Joseph bought a linen shroud, and taking Him down, wrapped Him in the linen shroud and laid Him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock. And he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where He was laid.

Dreams of Glory

WORSHIP VIDEO LINK

WORSHIP AUDIO LINK

SERMON AUDIO LINK

BULLETIN

SERMON TEXT BELOW

Lent 5 2021
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
March 21, 2021
Jeremiah 31:31-34, Hebrews 5:1-10, Mark 10:32-45

Sermons online: 
Text and Audio:         immanuelhamiltonchurch.com   click “sermons”
Text:                            pastorjud.org   
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
itunes:                         bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:    bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship

            At various times we all have dreams of glory. Catching the winning touchdown pass at the Super Bowl with no time left on the clock.  Executing a perfect triple lutz in figure skating to take the gold medal in the Olympics.  Moving up through the ranks until you are the company CEO with the private jet and the huge corner office with a great view of the city.  Receiving the award for being teacher of the year from a famous Hollywood celebrity.  Preaching a sermon to a stadium full of people who hang on every word and are all convicted by the law and set free by the Gospel.  We have dreams of glory.

            James and John, the sons of Zebedee, have dreams of glory.  Jesus taught them Mark 8:38 (ESV) 38 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” 

            James and John must be imaging how amazing it will be when Jesus comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.  The brothers want to share in that glory and try to trick Jesus into granting their wish without hearing what their wish is.  They misunderstand Jesus.  You can’t play verbal games with Jesus because He knows what you are thinking; being that He is God in flesh.  You cannot fool Him.  But the brothers have dreams of glory even if these dreams of glory come at a strange time.

            They are on their way to Jerusalem and Jesus has just told them for the third time what is going to happen in Jerusalem when they arrive. Mark 10:33–34 (ESV) 33 … “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. 34 And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.” 

This is not the first time the disciples have had dreams of greatness.  Earlier the disciples argued before about who is the greatest and Jesus told them, Mark 9:35 (ESV) 35 …“If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” 

            James and John do not let Jesus’ words and warnings deter them from their dreams of glory. They try to trick Jesus into promising to grant them, Mark 10:37 (ESV) 

37 … “…to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.”  James and John must be picturing themselves together with Jesus crowned with jewels, dressed in royal robes sitting on three golden thrones in heaven with angels fanning them with palm branches, feeding them grapes and attending to their every need.  They have dreams of glory. 

            Can they drink the cup?  Can they undergo the baptism?  The brothers say they are able but they still do not understand what Jesus means.  They will later learn and they will later share in Jesus’ suffering; each in their own way.

            They have dreams of glory but Jesus has just told them about His glory.  Condemnation, mocking, spitting, flogging, death.  Jesus’ throne is not golden, but rather rough wood.  There will be no royal robes, just shameful nakedness.  There will be no crown except one made of thorns pressed down on Jesus’ head.  Instead of attending angels there will be bullies with fists and sticks and spit and whips. Instead of grapes there will be just sour wine on a sponge.  Instead of honor there will be ridicule and mockery.  Jesus’ glory includes nails driven through His wrists and feet and hours of excruciating pain and slow suffocation.  This is Jesus’ glory.  This is Jesus in His most glorious doing the glorious thing He came to do.  He is paying the price for the sins of all humanity.  James and John just asked if they could be seated on Jesus’ right and left.  These are places the Romans have reserved for two criminals crucified with Jesus. 

Mark 10:38 (ESV) 38 Jesus said to [James and John], “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” 

            Can they drink the cup?  Can they undergo the baptism?  The brothers say they are able but they still do not understand what Jesus means.  They will later learn and they will later share in Jesus’ suffering; each in their own way. James will be beheaded around 44 AD by Herod Agrippa I, the grandson of Herod the Great.  John is the only disciple that is thought to have died of natural causes but we know he was exiled for a time on the Island of Patmos in the middle of the Aegean Sea.

            The brothers have dreams of glory but their dreams do not fit the reality of glory in Jesus.  Glory in Jesus is not found in what the world calls glory.  Glory in Jesus is not found in wealth and luxury with lots of people serving you.  Glory in Jesus is found in serving others.  Mark 9:35 (ESV) 35 … “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”  How radically counter cultural for glory to be found in service.

            And how wonderful is the way Jesus explains things to the brothers.  Are you able to drink the cup that I drink?  This is the cup of God’s wrath that Jesus prays to be taken away from Him in the Garden of Gethsemane.  But the reference to the cup also points us the cup of Holy Communion in which Jesus pours out for you His own blood to cleanse you of your sins.  When you drink of this cup you remember and proclaim Jesus’ death.  The cup brings to you the very blood of Christ shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.

            And Jesus also asks, “are you able to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”  Jesus is talking about His baptism of blood and suffering on the cross but it also points us to baptism of water and the Spirit.  Romans 6:3 (ESV) 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 

            Being a Christian is not for the casual observer.  As a baptized follower of Jesus you are immersed into the suffering and death of Jesus and raised up to live a new life of service to others.  In baptism you die with Christ and rise with Christ and look forward to the final resurrection from your grave.  Romans 6:4–5 (ESV) 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

            In Christ you are a new creation.  In Christ you find glory in the mundane things of life where you love and serve others.  A parent is glorified in the changing a dirty diaper; taking a sick child to the doctor; caring for your children through all the difficulties and hardships.  In Christ you find glory in shoveling the neighbor’s driveway and cutting their lawn.  In Christ you find glory in sending an encouraging note.  In Christ you find glory in loving those who hate you.  In Christ you find glory in persevering through difficulties at work in order to provide for your family.  In Christ you find glory in doing what you have been given to do.  In Christ you find glory in going to school, doing your homework, going to work, being faithful to your marriage vows, caring for your family, and helping others. 

            You will very likely never catch the winning touchdown pass in the Super Bowl or win an Olympic gold medal.  We have unrealistic dreams of worldly glory.  You find real glory in Christ.  You see Christ’s glory in the horror of the cross as He gives His life for you. You find real glory in your everyday service of others and this gives glory to God.  Matthew 5:16 (ESV) 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. 

            You will not find glory in the things of this world.  You have glory in Christ.  And on the last day Jesus will raise you from the dead and take you to live with Him forever in the Heavenly City of New Jerusalem.  Amen.