Ayear1140gcPentecost 13, 2017
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
September 3, 2017
Jeremiah 15:15-21, Psalm 26, Romans 12:9-21, Matthew 16:21-28

Sermons online:
Text:                            pastorjud.org
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com
itunes:                         bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:    bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship

We live in interesting times where it seems the freedom to speak is under attack as people would like to silence anyone who disagrees with them.  Lots of folks want to eliminate any words or symbols or ideas that offend them.  It seems we are less and less capable of civil conversations with people with whom we disagree.  I try to remain civil in my online and offline discussions, but I know I often fail.

I get upset by some of the stuff other people post on Facebook, and there are people who are deeply offended by some of the stuff I post online.  When someone is deeply offended I think that means that I am supposed to back off, quit posting and probably change my position.  They are done discussing or arguing.  They are offended and so they want me and my ideas to get out of the way.

In our Gospel reading today we find Jesus doing this very thing.  He says that he is offended and wants the offensive person to get out of the way.

Jesus begins to tell His disciples what is going to happen; Matthew 16:21 (ESV)  21 … that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.[1]

Peter has just confessed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.  Peter must have grand ideas in mind, of Jesus, the Christ going to Jerusalem to become king; to wear royal robes and be crowned and move into the palace to reign on the throne of David with all His disciples close by living a life a ease and luxury.

Peter thinks that with Jesus things will be easy.  With the Christ things will be nice.

But that is not what Jesus says is going to happen.  Jesus says that when He gets to Jerusalem He will be rejected and He will suffer and He will be killed and He will rise again from the dead.

Ironically, Jesus will get to be in the Governor’s headquarters and wear royal robes and a crown.  Jesus will get a throne.  At the Roman Praetorium in Jerusalem the soldiers strip Jesus and put a scarlet robe on him to make fun of Him saying, “Hail, king of the Jews.”  They crown him with thorns.  Jesus does reign, not from the throne of David, but in the pain and humiliation on the cross.  Jesus tells Peter that the work of the Christ involves suffering and death.  Peter says no.  Peter says this is not going to happen; not on his watch.  “Far be it from you, Lord.  This shall never happen to you.”  Peter is going to stand in the way of Jesus going to the cross.

And Jesus moves Peter out of the way.  Matthew 16:23 (ESV) 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” [2]

You are a hindrance.  In Greek a skandalon.  An offense.  A stumbling block.  Jesus is offended by what Peter said because what Peter said is a direct attack on Jesus’ mission.  And so Jesus wastes no time in getting Peter and his ideas out of the way.  “Get behind me, Satan.”  Get out of the way.  You cannot stop what needs to be done.  Nothing will stop Jesus from going to the cross to do what He came to do…for you.

Life for Jesus is not always easy.  Life for the Christ is not always nice.

That is a mistake so many make about Christianity.  Somehow, somewhere we get the idea that if we are followers of Jesus everything is going to be easy; everything will be nice.  Far too many believe the lie that if you are a Christian you are never going to have a bad day.

God will let you have a bad day.  God will allow you to suffer.  God will allow you to struggle.  Ask anyone you know in East Texas.

In a book about atheism I read once the author related the story of how he lost his faith because he spent a day job hunting in Las Vegas.  It was a hot day and he walked a long, long way and he was turned down by every place he visited and at the end of the day he was hot, tired, thirsty, frustrated and rejected.  He was having a very bad day and because of this he decided that there is no God because God would never let him have a day as bad as that one.  Because God would never let him feel as bad as he felt that evening.  This story was being offered as evidence that there is no God because God would not let you have a bad day.

That is a lie.  God will let you have a bad day.  God will allow you to suffer.  God will allow you to struggle.  Ask anyone you know in East Texas.  You want to believe that with Jesus things will be easy.  You want to believe that with the Christ things will be nice.  Because, like Peter, you have in mind the things of man rather than the things of God.  You get caught up in the here and now whereas God has a much greater vision for you.  He not only provides for you in the here and now, but He has saved you for all eternity.  He has marked you in Holy Baptism.  He feeds you with His Body and Blood.  He pours out forgiveness in His Words of absolution.  You are a redeemed child of God now and for all eternity.  And still, life is hard.  You will have to do hard things.  And God knows this.  The Bible addresses how you should deal with the struggles and difficulties and evil in the world.

The world is full of evil and evil can be very attractive, especially when you are having a bad day.  When things are going badly and you are tired and frustrated the devil knows this is a time when you are vulnerable to dabbling in evil.  Greed, lust, anger, sloth, pride, envy, gluttony.  The devil wants you to dabble in evil because then you can start to love evil and if you love evil the devil’s task of keeping you away from God is so much easier.  Do not love evil.  Do not dabble in evil.  And that is hard.  Life is hard.  You have desires that you cannot act on because those desires are contrary to God’s will.  Life is a struggle.  This is why St. Paul writes to the Christians in Rome.  Romans 12:9-13 (ESV) 9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.[3]

With Jesus life is not always easy, but life is eternal.  With the Christ, life is not always nice, but it is never-ending.  The things of the world that we think are so important are so often just temporary distractions from the true joy of eternal life with God.  Life is hard; life is a struggle, but you live it knowing you are loved forever by the Creator God himself.  You are loved and forgiven and in the love and forgiveness of God the Father through Jesus Christ you live in love and forgiveness and service each day with the people in your life.  You battle evil.  You hate evil.  You repent of the evil in your life.  You cling to good.  Cling to the cross of Christ.

In this world full of evil Paul instructs how to live with all people; friends and enemies.

Romans 12:14-18 (ESV) 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be conceited. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.  18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.[4]

When you get offended by someone’s words or actions do not repay evil for evil.  Bless those who persecute you.  That is a hard teaching.  Don’t get angry and aggressive with those you find offensive but rather bless those you disagree with.  Bless those who are out to get you.  Bless those who seek to do you harm.

I challenge you to do this.  When you find yourself disagreeing with someone else; in person or on social media; no matter how serious or trivial the disagreement, bless them.  “God bless you.”  When someone writes a nasty reply on Facebook, respond, “God bless you.”

You are not called on to defend God’s honor or your own honor.  God can take care of Himself and God will take care of you.  Paul writes, Romans 1-2:19-21 (ESV) 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. [5]

Jesus told Peter to get out of His way because Peter was an offense; a stumbling block; trying to stop Jesus from His mission.  Jesus has now accomplished His mission to die for your sins on the cross and be raised from the dead.

You still battle evil in your life and in the world around you, but do not battle evil with evil.  Battle it with good.  In humility and gentleness you battle evil.  With love and blessings you battle evil.  You battle evil by feeding your enemy and giving him something to drink.

Recently on NPR[6] there was a story of a black blues musician named Daryl Davis who has a collection of 200 Ku Klux Klan robes.  Davis collected the robes from Klansman whom he befriended and then they realized that their hate was misguided.  Davis overcomes the evil of the KKK with love and friendship.

Jesus did not let anything stand in the way of Him going to the cross for you.  He did not battle evil with evil.  He used love and good to overcome hate and evil.  Love and good overcomes hate and evil.  Amen

[1]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

[2]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

[3]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

[4]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

[5]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

[6] http://www.npr.org/2017/08/20/544861933/how-one-man-convinced-200-ku-klux-klan-members-to-give-up-their-robes*

One thought on “Bad days with Jesus

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