nullPentecost 4 2019 Proper 9C
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
July 7, 2019
Isaiah 66:10-14, Galatians 6:1-10, 14-18, Luke 10:1-20

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

God does not do things the way we expect.  If I had God’s power and His Good News, I would spell it out in the sky.  I would proclaim it on the lips of the angels above.  I would carve it into the mountains.  If I had God’s resources, I would use every supernatural means to proclaim the Good News.  But I am not God, and God has chosen the opposite way to get out the message.  God has chosen to get His message out through the very natural method of human proclamation.

In last Sunday’s Gospel reading you learned that Jesus is the one who, Luke 9:51 (ESV) 51 …set his face to go to Jerusalem.[1]  That means that Jesus determined that He is going to Jerusalem to sacrifice Himself for you on the cross.  When Jesus sets his face to go to Jerusalem, that is another way of Jesus saying, “I love you.”

As we follow Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem, we learn that Jesus allows extra time to minister in the towns and places along the road.  In today’s Gospel we hear, Luke 10:1 (ESV) 1 …the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go.[2]  Jesus uses seventy-two sinners to prepare people for His coming.  That’s right!  Jesus sends sinners to proclaim His Good News to the people.  How strange?  Jesus puts His most precious Good News into the mouths of filthy sinners.

Now before you start wondering if maybe I am over-stating the case here, think about who Jesus sends out.  Jesus sends out James and John.  Last week, you learned that James and John want to call down fire from heaven on an unsuspecting Samaritan village just because they don’t want Jesus to pass through their town.  Jesus sends out Peter … you know the one to whom He has to say, “Get behind me, Satan!”  There is doubting Thomas, and, let’s not forget Judas.  Judas … the one who betrays Jesus … the one who hangs himself in despair … that Judas!  Jesus sends Judas out to prepare the way for His arrival.  Each and every one of these disciples fail Jesus multiple times.  These are not the men that I would choose to get out the word if I were God.  But then, I am not God.

In spite of the fact that all of these men are sinners … in spite of the fact that we know Judas is a traitor, Jesus still entrusts His message to them.  He even says, Luke 10:16 (ESV) 16 “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”[3]  Jesus promises that even though they are sinners, His message will remain intact in their mouths.  People are to pay no attention to the sins of the messengers.  Instead, they are to pay attention to the truth of the message.

What is this precious, holy message?  In today’s Gospel, Jesus says, Luke 10:5 (ESV) 5 Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’[4]  This is no ordinary peace.  This is the peace of God that passes all understanding.  This is the peace that Jesus will soon earn when He finishes His journey to Jerusalem and keeps His appointment with the cross.

Jesus also tells them to heal and preach.  Luke 10:8-9 (ESV) 8 Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. 9 Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’[5]  The Kingdom of God is different from earthly kingdoms.  On earth, we say that someone is a king because he rules a kingdom – the king depends on the kingdom.  When it comes to the Kingdom of God, things are the other way around.  The kingdom is the kingdom because Christ the king rules it – the kingdom depends on the king.  When we say that the kingdom of God has come near to you, we are saying that the king has come near to you.  That king is Jesus Christ Himself.

There are great blessings for the people who receive these messengers from Jesus:  “The kingdom of God has come near to you.”  They will receive the blessing that we pray for in the Lord’s Prayer.  Thy Kingdom Come.

We sometimes forget that the coming of Jesus means two very different things depending on how He comes.  When Jesus comes near to you, He comes with grace and every blessing.  When Jesus only comes near, He comes in severe judgment.

So far, everything about this mission of the 72 sounds pretty good, but there is also a dark side to this mission.  It begins in the instructions.  Jesus began with a warning, Luke 10:3 (ESV) 3 Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.[6]  As wonderful as God’s peace and His kingdom are, there will be some people who will attack you for it.  There will always be people who reject God’s peace and His kingdom.  There will always be those who hate God’s message and His messengers.

Jesus has stern words of judgment for the people who reject the words of His servants:  Luke 10:10-12 (ESV) 10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ 12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town. [7]

Sodom?  Sodom was the city that God destroyed with fire and brimstone back in Genesis.  Jesus clearly states that those who refuse to listen to God’s Word will suffer a judgment worse than Sodom.

We sometimes forget that the coming of Jesus means two very different things depending on how He comes.  When Jesus comes near to you, He comes with grace and every blessing.  When Jesus only comes near, He comes in severe judgment.

You see, Jesus Christ died for the sins of the entire world.  When Jesus Christ hung from the cross and shouted, “It is finished,” He meant it is finished for everybody.  Jesus Christ has earned the forgiveness of sins for every man, woman, and child who ever has or ever will live.  Jesus purchased the forgiveness of sins for all people in all places in all times.

This means that you can walk up to anyone in any place and tell them that you know for a fact that Jesus Christ has earned forgiveness of sins for them.  Think of the worst human beings who ever lived.  Jesus earned forgiveness of sins for them.  Nero burned Rome and blamed it on the Christians, but Jesus earned forgiveness for his sins.  Genghis Khan, Attila the Hun, Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Osama Bin Laden, whoever you can name, Jesus earned forgiveness for them.  Even Judas Iscariot, Jesus earned forgiveness for him.

Even though Jesus earned forgiveness for these horrible villains, the odds that they with the Lord are extremely low.  The problem lies in those two little words “to you.”  Jesus earned forgiveness for everyone, but some people reject that forgiveness.  It is not the Lord’s fault that anyone suffers forever.  He has brought His kingdom near.  He has earned forgiveness of sins for everyone.  The Holy Spirit offers that forgiveness through the Gospel to everyone.  The only thing the Holy Spirit does not do is jam the Gospel down people’s throats.  Some people resist the Holy Spirit and reject the Gospel.  The Kingdom of God has come near, but not to them.

In the Small Catechism, Martin Luther explains the Lord’s Prayer.  When He gets to the second petition, He says this: “Thy kingdom come.  What does this mean? The kingdom of God comes indeed without our prayer, of itself. But we pray in this petition that it may come to us also.  How does God’s Kingdom come?  God’s kingdom comes when our heavenly Father gives us His Holy Spirit, so that by His grace we believe His holy Word and lead godly lives here in time and there in eternity.”  We pray in this petition that God’s kindom comes to us.”

Two little words take the Gospel from objective fact to personal reality.  Those two words become the truth “when our heavenly Father gives us His Holy Spirit, so that by His grace we believe His holy Word.”  The Holy Spirit’s gift of faith makes the difference.  Without that faith, the life of Jesus is just a collection of the objective facts.  With that faith, the life of Jesus Christ is the way of salvation for me … and you.

Two little words can make such a difference.  Everyone who believes in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins can add two words to the objective facts.  Listen to the difference this makes.  Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary for you.  Jesus suffered under Pontius Pilate for you.  Jesus died on the cross for you.  Jesus rose from the dead for you.  Jesus ascended into heaven for you.  From thence He will come for you.  Two little words … “for you” … They make all the difference here in time and forever in eternity.  Jesus is for you.   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]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

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

 

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