Christ is Risen!

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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            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. 

Truth in the darkness

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Lent 4 2021
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
March 14, 2021
Numbers 21:4-9, Ephesians 2:1-10, John 3:14-21

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itunes:                         bit.ly/pastorjud
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            Remember what was like to be a young child trying to fall asleep in a dark room? Your imagination starts working overtime inventing monsters and bogeymen out of every shadow.  Every noise, every shadow, every gust of wind brings fresh terror. The older you get the more you learn to control your fear; you may no longer even need a nightlight, but before you go to bed you lock the doors and many of you have a loaded gun nearby.  Because there is great darkness in the world.

            John 3:19-20 (ESV) 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.[1]

            Darkness provides cover for evil.  Violent crime is more likely committed under the cover of darkness. Darkness provides concealment; it allows you to hide your sins.  Evil loves the darkness.  Evil loves concealing darkness and the darkness of ignorance of the Truth. 

            Nicodemus comes to Jesus at night; in the darkness.  Nicodemus is literally in the darkness, but also spiritually in the darkness.  This Pharisee, Nicodemus, senses there is something special about this Jesus fellow but Nicodemus is ignorant; he does not understand.  He wants to find out more, but he does not want anyone else to know what he is doing. 

            There in the darkness Jesus enlightens Nicodemus with His Word.  John 3:5-8 (ESV) 5 … “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”[2]

            Nicodemus still does not understand, John 3:9-15 (ESV) 9 … “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony.12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” [3][1] 

                Jesus is giving Nicodemus deep Truth; eternal truth.  Being born again of water and the Spirit is Christian baptism which is not yet being practiced by Jesus’ followers.  Jesus tells the Pharisee that the Son of Man must be lifted up in order to give all who believe in Him eternal life.  Jesus is talking about the cross, but Nicodemus does not have that Truth yet.  He will know that Truth later and he will be there on that dark Friday with 75 pounds of spices to help Joseph of Arimathea prepare Jesus’ body for the tomb. 

            Jesus continues to pour out the light of the Truth on Nicodemus to push back the darkness of ignorance and unbelief.  John 3:16-17 (ESV) 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.[4]

            John 3:16 is called the Gospel in a nutshell.  It is likely the most memorized verse in the Bible.  John 3:16 (ESV) 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.[5] This is profound, eternal, enlightening Truth that Jesus is giving to Nicodemus.  It is good to memorize, but the danger with the Gospel in a nutshell is that you may become so familiar with it that you minimize it.  Instead of being an entry point or a handle to an overwhelming Truth it becomes a nutshell-sized truth.  You are tempted to make the Gospel a manageable truth that you can hold in your hand and control.  A truth so small you so you close it inside your fist, cover it up, ignore it, and continue to live in the darkness of your sin.  You hear John 3:16 and think, “Yeah, yeah…God loves me…I have eternal life…Jesus died for me…I heard this before…no big deal.  Not like it is going to change how I live.” 

            But it is a big deal.  It is the biggest deal.  It is life altering.  Almighty God…the creator of the universe…the all-powerful, all-knowing, omnipresent, gracious and merciful God, out of love, sent His Son to save you.  God’s chosen way to save you was to send His own Son to take on human flesh and suffer and die on the cross for you and to rise again from the dead.  The Lamb of God is sacrificed to take away the sin of the world.  What a strange way to save the world. 

In our Old Testament lesson God sends snakes to punish the children of Israel for complaining about being rescued out of Egypt and fed manna from heaven in the wilderness.  After the snakes come, the people repent and cry out for help, and God tells Moses to put a bronze snake on a pole and whoever is bitten should look at the bronze snake and they will live.  What a weird way to save people.  Why not just get rid of the snakes?  Why send snakes in the first place?  God’s ways are not your ways.

            God’s way of saving you is to send His only begotten Son to suffer and die in your place.  His way of saving you is to give you the Holy Spirit who enables you to believe that Jesus died and rose again for you.  God’s love for you is beyond your comprehension.  God washes you in the waters of baptism and seals you in His name to be His child.  You are born again; born from above through water and the Spirit.  God forgives you over and over through His Word, “I forgive you all your sins.”  God feeds you the very body and blood of His Son Jesus to give you forgiveness, salvation and eternal life.

            The Gospel in a nutshell is your portal to the eternal Truth of God.  It is an overwhelming Truth; an incomprehensible Truth; a cosmic Truth.  This Truth brings light into the darkness.  This Truth pierces the darkness in your life.  This Truth brings forgiveness and new life.  This Truth changes you.  This Truth breaks through the darkness of fear, tragedy, sickness, suffering and death with light from above.  You are a baptized child of the light, born again of water and the Spirit, living in a world of darkness.  Reject the darkness.  Live in the light of the Truth.  Do the Truth. Love God, love your neighbor.  Repent of your sins.  Walk in the light of Christ and continue what Jesus began.  Bring the light of the Gospel into the darkness.  Do the Truth. Amen. 


[1]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[2]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[3][1]The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[4]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[5]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Jesus clears the Temple

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Lent 3 2021
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Hilbert Kamps 
March 6, 7, 2021
Exodus 20:1-17; John 2: 13-25

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Our sermon text for consideration this morning/afternoon is the Old Testament Text of the Ten Commandments as we heard from the book of Exodus and with the Passover Celebration in full swing with the Temple being the setting of our Gospel Lesson where we read again at verse 15.  (John 2:15 And making a whip of cords, He drove them all  out  of the temple, with the sheep and oxen.       And He poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables.  So far our text.

In order to get a sense of the events recorded  in today’s Gospel, we need to review the layout of the temple grounds in Jerusalem.

A variety of court yards surrounded the temple itself.  These courtyards and the rooms of the temple itself followed a strict access policy.  Only the high priest could enter the Holy of Holies inside the temple, and even he could only enter on one day of the year….that being….. the Day of Atonement. Then there was the Holy Place that was reserved for priests offering a variety of incense sacrifices  and other duties.    Outside the temple was the area of the altar for animal sacrifices located in the courtyard of the priests.  Then came the Court of Men, reserved for Jewish males who had passed Bar Mitzvah. Then there was the court of women which was really for all members of the Jewish family.  Finally, there was the court of Gentiles which was open to all nations.

The tradition of setting aside a place for Gentiles goes clear back to the days of Solomon who built the first temple. The scribes recorded Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of that temple.  Solomon’s prayer of dedication includes these words:  1 Kings s:41- 43  “Likewise, when a foreigner, who is not of your people

Israel, comes from a far country for your name’s sake (for they shall hear of your great name and your mighty hand, and of your outstretched arm), when he comes and prays toward this house, hear in heaven your dwelling place and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to you, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your people Israel, and that they may know that this house that I have built is called by your name.

At the time of today’s Gospel reading, in the Temple we have the Court of the Gentiles to be the place of prayer for foreigners from all over East Asia and all of the Roman Empire.  Meanwhile, people of Jewish ancestry and religion had also scattered to the far corners of the known world.  While it is one thing to bring a Passover lamb from other places in Israel, it is just impossible to bring a lamb from Spain or Ethiopia.  So Passover Pilgrims, both Jewish and Gentiles, had to bring along enough cash to  purchase a lamb after they got to Jerusalem.  Sooner or later, someone came up with the idea that it would be really handy to purchase your sacrificial animal right there on the temple grounds.

Now they are not going to set up a market in the Court of Men or the Court of Women, but who really cares about the Gentiles.  The man of the house could pick up his sacrifice in the Court of the Gentiles and then proceed to the Court of the Men and then slaughter  his animal and give it  to a priest to sacrifice.  This is all very convenient for everyone except the God-fearing Gentile.

The Court of the Gentiles had, in effect, become a sale barn.  While a person can always offer up a prayer at any time in any place, it is very hard to meditate or listen to the reading of God’s Word in a sale barn.

This is the scene that confronted Jesus when He entered the temple courts on that particular Passover.  Gentiles were trying to pray while Jews were buying sheep, goats, oxen, birds, and other sacrificial supplies just a few yards away.  Oh, and besides all that!  There was also a currency exchange so that coins from all over the world could be changed into the temple Shekel.  It…was…turmoil.

So we are presented with an uncomfortable fact — Jesus got angry; angry enough to cause a big, violent public uproar in the temple. This is a tough concept to wrap our minds around. We often try and explain it by saying that Jesus’ anger was different. He didn’t fall into sin when He was angered enough to grab a whip and chase everyone out of the temple. He was rightly and righteously angry at sinful things and sinful people.

The Court of the Gentiles had, in effect, become a sale barn.  While a person can always offer up a prayer at any time in any place, it is very hard to meditate or listen to the reading of God’s Word in a sale barn.

While this is certainly correct, this is also precisely where our understanding inevitably goes off the tracks. It’s at this point that our sinful ears filter this knowledge through our sinful hearts and minds, which, in turn, deceive us into believing that our many anger issues are also good and God-pleasing. We can look at everyone else around us and identify their anger issues as sinful. They lose their temper. They gave into temptation and allowed themselves to get riled up and angered.  But…when it comes to us and our anger issues, we’re different.  Sure, we’ll confess that there have been some occasions when we were wrongly, sinfully angry.  But there are also plenty of times when we deem our anger as right and righteous and necessary. And why is our anger over such things justified while our neighbor’s anger deemed sinful? Because we’re the ones who are angry!  No matter what is said about sinful anger versus righteous anger, we’re always going to deceive ourselves into believing that our anger is righteous, when in fact it’s not. It’s sinful. It’s selfishly focused ultimately has to do with our personal preferences and our desire to be in control, and not with God and His means of grace.

I have been really angry since November with the way the election was determined.  Then I became incensed watching those thugs storm our capitol on Jan 6th. Then came the “detrimental executive orders” undoing policies which had been making life better for so many of us.  Also finding out what type of “detrimental Laws” that are being contemplated  against us?  I say us….because WE are 75 million strong…RIGHT?  Or, could it be that some of you are right now becoming angry at me? Or at the very least, angry of what I  am now saying?

Let’s pursue the issue of anger from a Lutheran perspective.  How many of you read the Lutheran Witness?  Specifically the January issue? Where our countries directions are challenged in articles like Male & Female He Created Them and And Such Were Some of You. More specifically in the article Why the Nations are Raging?   Dr. Gene Edward Veith begins his response as follows:  “The nations are raging, the peoples are plotting and the rulers are taking council together.  Hostility against Christianity is intensifying.    Psalm 2 explains why and tells us what God is doing about it.  King David asks the perennial question: “Why do the nations rage and the people plot in vain?  The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed.  Psalm 2:1-2           Veith goes on:  “The political and cultural elite are angry at God, at Christ and at God’s people. They say, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” (PSALM (2:3)

With His 10 Commandments God put limits on our behavior…people naturally resent these constraints.  So they strike out against Him. And His Church.  God’s response is simple. From Psalm 2:4:

He who sits in the Heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision

            But…here’s the thing: This text isn’t really about our anger issues-righteous or unrighteous. I know that’s how this text is so often preached, but  that’s not what it’s about. This text is about God’s righteous anger over sin-all sin-yours and mine included. This is why we meditate on this text during the Lenten season.

Foreigners had come all this way to be in the place where God promised to reveal Himself to His people.  They were in a place where the Holy Spirit would shower them with His gifts.  And at the same time there were cattle sales going on just a few yards away.

From today’s Old Testament lesson, we see that the merchants in today’s gospel were violating every commandment that had to do with loving God.  The livestock sales and the money changing were not the problem in and of themselves.  The problem was that these activities were disrupting  the prayers and meditations  of the faithful.  The commercial activity was disrupting the spiritual activity.

Of course … when we point one finger at others, three fingers point back at us.  What about us?   When the Holy Spirit works faith in a person, that person becomes a temple.  Paul wrote to the Corinthians [1Corinthians 3:16-17] Do you not  know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?  If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.    [l Corinthians 6:1-20] Or do you not  know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.  What does the Lord find when He comes into the temple of our hearts?  What distractions block our relationship with God? What causes Jesus to enter our heart, get out His whip, and start cleaning the heart –  the place that  should belong to Him?

Today’s Old Testament lesson contains a list of characteristics that describe God’s children.          Jesus unpacks many of these commandments in the Sermon on the  Mount. [Matthew 5:21-22] “You have heard that it was said to those of  old, ‘You shall  not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with  his  brother will  be  liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will  be liable  to  the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hellfire. [Matthew 5:28] Everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed  adultery  with her in his heart. [Matthew 5:44] “Love your enemies and pray  for those who persecute you.”      These are just a small sample of Jesus’ teachings concerning the Commandments.  When you hear what Jesus has to say about the commandments, you  realize that you have broken them all.  You realize that the temple of your heart is much worse than that temple in Jerusalem.  Jesus cleared out the temple with a whip made of cords.  He uses something much more precious to cleanse our hearts from sin. He allowed the authorities to abuse the temple of His body.  They arrested Him, beat Him, and then nailed Him to a cross.   They did everything  they could to destroy the temple of His body.             In this way He produced the cleansing agent for our hearts — His holy precious blood and his innocent suffering and death.

Where is the sign that this cleaning agent of His body and blood are effective?  It is the sign that He gave to the temple authorities. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I  will raise it up.”  It is in His resurrection from the dead that we have the sure and certain hope of the cleansing of our hearts.  As the Holy Spirit works faith in our hearts, we know that Jesus has moved into our hearts and made them His temple.  He has carried away all our sins.

Those who believe in Jesus Christ are already part of the family of God.  God the Father is our dear father and we are His dear children.  He speaks to us in His word and we speak to Him in our prayers.   Those of us who have had our temples cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ can boldly walk into the Holy of Holies, crawl up onto God’s lap, and tell Him anything in prayer.  The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin, but then brings the comfort of continuous forgiveness to us.  All these blessings are ours because Jesus has cleansed the temple of our hearts with His blood.  We know that we are His and He is ours forever.           Amen

What kind of Christ does Jesus think He is?

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Lent 2 2021
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
February 28, 2021
Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16, Romans 5:1-11, Mark 8:27-38

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

            As a teenager I really enjoyed roller coasters.  I would wait in long lines for the Rebel Yell twin rollercoaster at King’s Dominion in Virginia.  This is a huge wooden coaster similar to the Racer at King’s Island.  It was a thrill to ride with the anticipatory clicking up the hill and all the shaking and rattling as it sped down the hill and through all the twists and turns.  After waiting in a long line it seemed the ride was over so quickly and I would be sad to hear the air brakes and feel the car slow down as it came back into the station. The ride was over too soon.  That’s what I thought when I was 14.

            Now, if I ride a roller coaster, there is no more welcome sound than the air brakes announcing the end of the ride.  Roller coasters now feel like they are rearranging my internal organs.  All I can think about when the car is moving is, “please let this be over!  I want to get off!”

            Peter and the other disciples think they have a pretty good thing going with Jesus. Jesus is amazing.  As Jesus tells John the Baptist’s disciples in the Gospel of Matthew, Old Testament prophecy is being fulfilled.  Matthew 11:5 (ESV) 5 the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.[1]  Jesus is the real deal. 

            Jesus is causing quite a stir in Judah and Galilee.  There is a lot of talk on the streets about Jesus. Who is He?  Where did He come from?  In our Gospel reading today we find Jesus and His disciples talking on the road to the Roman City of Caesarea Philippi about 40 miles north of Jesus’ home base in Capernaum on the Northern coast of the Sea of Galilee.  Jesus turns the conversation to His own identity.  Mark 8:27 (ESV) 27 …. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?”[2] The disciples respond, “Mark 8:28 (ESV) 28 … “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.”[3]

            The people are obviously confused, they know that Jesus is someone special, but they are not sure who He really is.  The people are confused.  What about the disciples?  Mark 8:29 (ESV) 29 And [Jesus] asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” [4]

            Peter and the disciples know better than the other people; Jesus is the Christ; the Messiah; the anointed one.  Jesus isn’t one of the prophets.  Jesus fulfills prophecy.  The disciples seem to be on the right track, but what does it mean to be the Christ? 

            Mark 8:31 (ESV) 31 And [Jesus] began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.[5]

            Like Peter, lots of folks would rather skip the cross.  The cross is shameful, gory, horrible.  A bloody, beaten, naked man writhing in excruciating agony trying to breath while nailed hand and foot is a shocking sight. 

            This Jesus rollercoaster ride was going pretty good, but for Peter things just went off the rails.  No! No! No! No!  What kind of Christ does Jesus think He is?  This is not going to work for anyone.  A suffering Christ?  A rejected Christ?  A dying Christ?  I don’t think so.  And so Peter is going to set Jesus right.  This is not the ride that Peter signed up for so Peter takes charge and rebukes Jesus.  Jesus does not listen to Peter and instead Jesus rebukes Peter harshly, Mark 8:33 (ESV) 33 … “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”[6] Peter is trying to take charge of Jesus, so Jesus sets him straight.  Get behind me, which is, interestingly, the same word that Jesus used earlier when He called Simon Peter and his brother Andrew, Mark 1:17 (ESV) 17 … “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”[7] Follow me, Satan.  For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man. God’s ways are not Peter’s ways. God’s ways are not your ways.  Do not take charge of Jesus.  Do not try to lead Jesus.  Get behind Him.  Follow Jesus through suffering and rejection and cross and resurrection even though it can be a rough ride.

            Like Peter, lots of folks would rather skip the cross.  The cross is shameful, gory, horrible.  A bloody, beaten, naked man writhing in excruciating agony trying to breath while nailed hand and foot is a shocking sight.  It is something you want to turn away from; something you are tempted to reject.  This is a ride you want to get off of.  But it is in this suffering that Jesus shows His love for you.  The cross is love.  Jesus is dying for your sins.  Jesus is dying because of His unending love for you. 

            Peter got so side-tracked by Jesus’ suffering and death that he could not hear Jesus say that He would rise again.  Death got in the way of resurrection.  The awfulness of the cross got in the way of Peter understanding who Jesus really is and what He has come to do.

            Jesus’ teaching is not just for Peter but for all those who follow Jesus. Mark 8:34-37 (ESV) 34 And he called to him the crowd with his disciples and said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? 37 For what can a man give in return for his life?[8]

            Jesus calls each of you to take up your cross and follow him.  Christian life is not a promise of a smooth ride.  No promise of an easy, prosperous life. Suffering is a part of Christian life. St. Paul in our Epistle reading teaches that suffering is useful.  Romans 5:3-5 (ESV) 3 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.[9]

            And what is God’s love?  The next verse tells us.  Romans 5:6 (ESV) 6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.[10]

            You need Jesus’ cross in order to get forgiveness of sins and eternal life. You need Jesus’ cross.  This is a big problem for much of so-called Christianity today.  There are so many who are adopting a “Crossless Christianity”.  So many people want to reject the cross of Christ and create a new religion that is therapeutic and encouraging; a new religion that is all about success and happiness with no sacrifice; no suffering.  It’s all about how God loves you but silent about how God loves you through His suffering and death on the cross at Calvary. 

            I watched Joel Osteen’s sermon from last week entitled “Trouble is Temporary.”  Osteen is pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston which had a pre-COVID attendance of over 50,000 people a week in person and 2 million online.  During COVID more than 4 million are viewing online.  This is awful.  Osteen is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.  His is a crossless Christianity.  He preaches what people’s itching ears want to hear.  As usual, nowhere in the sermon itself does Osteen even mention Jesus, let alone Jesus on the cross suffering and dying to pay for your sins.  His emphasis instead is that you need to keep a positive attitude that trouble is temporary so God will grant you favor because of your faithfulness and obedience.  This is a crossless Christianity.  There is not a cross in sight at Osteen’s Lakewood Church visually, or in the sermon, just God helping you to succeed if you have the right attitude. 

            Jesus rebukes false teachers like Peter, like Joel Osteen, like you and me when we lose sight of the cross, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” 

            Jesus tells us all, quit trying to be the leader.  Quit trying to set the agenda.  Quit rewriting the rules.  Quit telling God how things should be.  Get behind Jesus.  Follow Jesus.  Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Jesus. 

            “Deny yourself” is not a message of success and achievement.  “Deny yourself” means not indulging your sinful desires.  “Deny yourself” means remaining steadfast through daily temptations, tests and trials.  “Deny yourself” means not having God look to your faithfulness and obedience, but looking to God’s promises and faithfulness, and Jesus’ obedience.  It is looking to Jesus on the cross and not letting the horror of the cross prevent you from seeing the joy of the empty tomb.

            This life is full of ups and downs and twists and turns.  It is not easy going and it can feel like it is going to shake you apart.  Hang on to Jesus.  Do not let the trials, tests and temptations of this life including your own death keep you from looking forward to the joy of your own resurrection.  Follow Jesus all the way into eternal life with Him in the Heavenly City.  Amen. 


[1]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[2]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[3]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[4]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[5]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[6]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[7]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[8]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[9]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[10]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

What you should give up for Lent

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Lent 1 2021
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
February 21, 2021
Genesis 22:1-18, James 1:12-18, Mark 1:9-15

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

            Why is it that Christians moved the primary day of worship from the Jewish Sabbath Day of Saturday to Sunday?  What happened on Sunday that we celebrate each week?  Jesus rose from the dead.  Each Sunday is a little Easter as we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection over and over again throughout the year.  At our voters’ meeting last Sunday our congregational president, Matt Franke, remarked how each Sunday is also a little Epiphany as Jesus’ true identity is revealed again and again. 

            We have entered the season of Lent starting last week with Ash Wednesday.  Lent is a penitential season; a time to reflect on Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross, and to be penitent; which is to be feeling or showing sorrow and regret for having done wrong.  Lent is a time to sorrow over your sin and repent; a time to turn away from sin and turn back to God. 

            There is a tradition of giving something up for Lent.  This can be a spiritual exercise of self-denial and self-control.  Fasting and prayer during Lent can be helpful in meditating on what Jesus has done for you. Extra scripture reading can be added. What you do during Lent is up to you. 

The Roman Catholic Church requires their people to not eat meat on Fridays during Lent.  From what I could glean this is done to remember that Jesus died on a Friday. Rome requires a fast from eating meat from warm-blooded animals, but it is okay to eat meat from cold-blooded animals like fish.  Apparently other cold-blooded animals would also be acceptable, but I don’t think the Friday snake fry or alligator fry has caught on except maybe in Louisiana.

            I think it is good to give something up for Lent but instead of something like chocolate or beer, how about giving up sin for Lent?  What better way to show sorrow over your sin than by giving it up? Repent and believe the Good News that Jesus has died for your sins.  Lent is about baptized children of God living like baptized children of God.

            Now giving up sin for Lent is easy…to say, but it is hard to do.  You are, as you confessed earlier, by nature sinful; by nature unclean.  You sin with thoughts.  You sin with words.  You sin with deeds.  Giving up sin is challenging because you live in a world of sin.  You are in this world, but you are not of this world.  You are by nature sinful and unclean but God has declared you to be holy, blessed and innocent because of what Jesus has done for you.  Therefore you are holy, blessed and innocent.  As a holy, blessed, innocent child of God you are called to stand firm.  James 4:7 (ESV) 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.[1]

            In our Epistle lesson today James is writing to Christian brothers and sisters scattered around the Mediterranean world.  He is teaching about how to live as a follower of Jesus.  A little before our reading today James teaches that trials, temptations and testing are good for your faith.  James 1:2-4 (ESV) 2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.[2]

            It is worth noting that there is only one Greek word in James for trials, temptations and testing.  English translations like to pick one of the three in various places but that may be more specific than the writer intended.  We probably should look at the broader range of meanings.  Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials, temptations or testing of various kinds.  In James 1:12 (ESV) 12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under [trial, temptation and testing], for [being genuine] he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. [3] “Being genuine” is a better translation than “when he has stood the test.”  “Being genuine” is the literal translation of the words here.  Being genuine is being a Christian.  Being who you are.  God has promised believers the crown of life. 

            So for Lent give up sin.  Remain steadfast.  Don’t make excuses for sin.  Don’t blame God.  James 1:13 (ESV) 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.[4] Blaming God for sin is popular. Adam used this in the Garden of Eden, Genesis 3:12 (ESV)12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”[5]  It is popular these days to say, “God made me this way.  It’s God’s fault.”  James teaches us; don’t blame God.

            James then gives us the progression of sin.  James 1:14-15 (ESV) 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.[6] 

Sin begins with desires so battle sin in your thoughts.  Be aware and be honest about your own desires.  Know which desires are against God’s will.  Be aware and honest about what triggers you to lose your temper, to go to the dark side of the internet, to get drunk, to steal, to indulge your lusts, to be hateful, to be prideful, to be lazy.  What triggers you to give up delighting in God’s will and walking in His ways and instead conform to the ways of the world?  What prompts you to take your sin from a desire to words or actions?  Know your triggers and break the pattern of sin.  Change your behavior and remain steadfast.  Give up sin for Lent.  Stop making excuses…battle sin in your thoughts. 

Sinful thoughts will come to mind.  This is proof you are indeed a sinner, but do not indulge them.  Do not welcome them and dwell on them.  As Martin Luther once said, “You cannot keep birds from flying over your head but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair”

            Battle sin in your thoughts.  Don’t let the sin-bird build a nest and take up residence.  Remain steadfast.  1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV) 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.[7]

Often, you are successful in resisting temptations and remaining steadfast through trial and test.  You have a sinful thought and you reject it out of hand knowing that it is evil.  You are often successful and you often fail. As you try to give up sin for Lent you will find, in the words of C.S. Lewis in his book Mere Christianity, “When a man is getting better he understands more and more clearly the evil that is still left in him.  When a man is getting worse he understands his own badness less and less.”  Also, “A moderately bad man knows he is not very good; a thoroughly bad man thinks he is all right.”  So as you intensify your struggle against sin you will learn that you truly are, by nature, sinful and unclean.  Knowing this, keep up the struggle, because you do not belong to the world of sin and evil.  You are a baptized child of God.  Live life being genuine to your identity in Christ.

            Remain steadfast through tests, temptation and trials.  When you fail to remain steadfast, repent and remember who you are in Christ.  Return to the Lord, your God.  Sorrow over your failure but remember you have a Savior and Redeemer who has overcome testing, trial and temptation.  You have been ransomed from sin, death and the devil by the Son of God Himself, the Lamb of God, who overcame the Devil and who sacrifices Himself to save you.  Remember it is not about you; it is about Jesus for you. You are forgiven by Jesus who generously pours out forgiveness on you in His Word and in Baptism and Holy Communion. In Christ you are holy, innocent and blessed.

            You may or may not be giving something up for Lent or adding something like Bible reading and prayer; that is all a part of your Christian freedom. But I call on all of you to give up sin for Lent.  Give up sin because you are a baptized child of God.  Remain steadfast in the truth of God’s word.  Be genuine to your “born-again in water and Spirit” identity.  Give up sin for Lent.  And, come to think of it, just like every Sunday is a little Easter and a little Epiphany, living a penitential life of sorrow and repentance shouldn’t just be for Lent.  Penitence is Christian life every day of the year.  Every day die to sin and rise to new life in Christ because you are a baptized child of God.  Amen. 


[1]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[2]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[3]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[4]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[5]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[6]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[7]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Jesus Unveiled – Transfiguration

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Transfiguration 2021
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
Feb. 14, 2021
Exodus 34:29-35, 2 Corinthians 3:12-18; 4:1-6, Mark 9:2-9

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

            Who is Jesus?  Jesus identity and purpose is unveiled for us in the Bible. 

The New Testament unveiling begins when the Angel Gabriel announces to Mary Luke 1:30-33 (ESV) 30 … “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”[1]

At Christmas it continues.  Angels announce to shepherds Luke 2:11-12 (ESV) 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”[2]

The mysterious magi from the East follow the star to worship the one born King of the Jews as Jesus identity is further clarified. 

At Jesus’ baptism the heavens are torn open, the Holy Spirit descends like a dove and the voice of God the Father speaks, Mark 1:11 (ESV) 11 … “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”[3]

            Throughout the Epiphany season we see Jesus slowly pulling back the veil to show more and more of who He really is.  He heals, He drives out unclean spirits, He preaches, He teaches, He takes authority over the wind and the sea.  He raises a girl from the dead.  He feeds thousands with barely enough food for a few people.  Jesus is revealing who He is but most of the people, even His disciples, do not fully understand what Jesus has come to do – despite Jesus telling them what will happen. 

Mark 8:31-32 (ESV) 31 And [Jesus] began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And he said this plainly. …[4]

            Jesus tells the disciples what is going to happen, but they don’t like what they are hearing and Peter rebukes Jesus — and so Jesus rebukes Peter. After six days Jesus takes Peter, James and John up on a mountain and is transfigured before them.  Jesus shines with the unveiled glory of God.  Moses and Elijah are present with Jesus to show that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament Law and Prophets.  A cloud envelopes them and the voice of God the Father speaks, Mark 9:7 (ESV) 7 …“This is my beloved Son; listen to him.”[5] Jesus is the Son of God.  Jesus is God in flesh.  There on the mount of transfiguration the veil is further pulled back to reveal who Jesus is.  But still the disciples struggle.  Soon after the Transfiguration shows the glory of God in Jesus, the disciples are arguing about which of them is the greatest. 

            The people, and the disciples, have a veil over their hearts so they do not see the glory of God in Jesus.  As we heard in the Old Testament lesson today from Exodus, when Moses’ face glows after speaking with God, the people are afraid and Moses veils his face.  What are the people afraid of?  They are afraid of the glory of God because they have the Law of God and they know they don’t keep it.  They cannot bear the glory of God because God is holy and they are not. 

            At Jesus time, and still today, there are many who still have veils over their hearts.  They do not believe the Good News of forgiveness in Jesus, they only see the law of God and know that they cannot keep it.  2 Corinthians 4:4 (ESV) 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.[6]  The devil keeps them veiled so they do not understand who Jesus really is and what He has done for them. 

And so, instead of finding joy in Jesus’ forgiveness; instead of believing God’s Law and God’s Gospel they reject Jesus in many ways.  Some just want nothing to do with God because they cannot be good enough and so they live as if there is no God.  Some repeat Satan’s words in the Garden of Eden like a mantra, “Did God really say? Did God really say?” as they reimagine God in their own image and rewrite the Law of God to fit their own understandings.  They just cross out the parts of the Bible they don’t like so that they think they are following God’s law.  They continue to rewrite God’s commands to conform to the ever changing ethics of the world. Others double down on the Law and preach and teach about how you can work your way to heaven by doing the right things.  Some turn Christianity into a self-help program and preach that you can be successful if you just try harder; if you just do better.  Some start to believe that any way to God is a good way and it does not matter what you believe as long as you are sincere.  For so many the Gospel remains veiled and they remain outside salvation. 

            At the Transfiguration, Jesus’ true identity and purpose is further unveiled, but the full unveiling does not come until Jesus has gone to Jerusalem to be crucified.  That dark Friday it seems that the Old Testament veil is strengthened and yet, at the moment of Jesus’ death, the curtain in the Temple is torn in two from top to bottom.  The veil is lifted.  The truth about Jesus is revealed.  This becomes clear on that Sunday morning as Jesus rises from the dead and appears to the women at the tomb, to the 12 disciples, and to hundreds of others.  The truth is completely unveiled.  Jesus Christ is Lord.  He is God incarnate.  Christ has died for the sins of the world and death could not hold Him. Christ is Risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia! 

            You have the unveiled truth of Jesus.  You know that Jesus died for you and forgives you all your sins.  You know that Jesus has risen from the dead and promises to raise you from the dead on the Last Day.  You know that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and that no one comes to the Father except through Him.  2 Corinthians 3:12 (ESV) 12 Since we have such a hope, we are very bold,[7] Like St. Paul we are under divine obligation to speak the truth of God’s saving promises in Jesus boldly and clearly.

            We proclaim God’s Law and Gospel amidst a permissive, relativistic society that calls good evil and evil good.  We call sin, sin.  We call evil, evil.  We call good, good.  We confess that we are by nature sinful and unclean and into this world of sin we boldly proclaim that Jesus is the antidote to God’s judgement on sin.

            We boldly teach that Christianity is the only saving faith.  There are many religions; there is only one saving faith. There is no other way. 

            We teach that you are not saved by this politician or that politician.  The government cannot save you.  You are not saved by following a strict diet and exercise plan.  You are not saved by mystical experiences.  You are not saved by lessening the severity of God’s law.  You are not saved by pretending that you are good enough. 

You are saved by Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross taking the punishment for your sin.  You are saved by baptism in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  You are saved by Jesus’ words, “I forgive you all your sins.”  You are saved by Jesus’ Body and Blood given and shed for you.

We proclaim God’s Law and Gospel amidst a permissive, relativistic society that calls good evil and evil good.  We call sin, sin.  We call evil, evil.  We call good, good.  We confess that we are by nature sinful and unclean and into this world of sin we boldly proclaim that Jesus is the antidote to God’s judgement on sin.

            The Devil, the world and your own sinful flesh desperately want you to believe that you can be saved by something other than Jesus; something else…anything else — something that you can do — but it is a lie.  Ephesians 2:8 (ESV) 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,[8].  We boldly proclaim this truth in a world where people’s minds are hardened and their hearts are veiled. 

            Boldly teaching the truth of God’s Word will not make your life easier. Being a member of a church that believes, teaches and confesses that the Bible is true can get you cancelled.  Cancelled from your job, from friends, from opportunities.  When people find out you do not celebrate the latest sexual innovation you will be viewed as a hateful bigot and be rejected by those in synch with the cultural elite. When people find out you believe Jesus is the only way to heaven you will be called intolerant and rabidly exclusive even as you believe, teach and confess that Jesus died for all people and the gift of forgiveness and eternal life is offered to everyone.

            On this the 14th day of February we remember St. Valentine whose history is admittedly murky.  It is thought that he was a priest who was beheaded around 270 AD for performing Christian marriages in opposition to the orders of Roman Emperor Claudius II.  Valentine did what God commanded instead of what the emperor commanded and it cost him his head.  There have been so many Christian over the centuries that have lost their lives because they taught the truth about Jesus.  Boldly teaching the truth about Jesus is what we are called to do. It brings the saving Word of God to the world.  But it can get you rejected, cancelled, abused and even killed. 

            Despite the danger, we are called by God to continue to proclaim the unveiled truth. Do not lose heart.  As Peter, James and John saw in the radiance on the Mount of Transfiguration, and even more clearly at Calvary and at the empty tomb and the upper room.  Jesus is God in flesh.  Jesus did die for your sins.  Jesus did rise from the dead.  Jesus died and rose for you.  Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!

            Amen. 


[1]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[2]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[3]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[4]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[5]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[6]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[7]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[8]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.