nullAll Saints Day 2019
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
November 3, 2019
Rev. 7:9-17, 1 John 3:1-3, Matthew 5:1-12

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 are on a lonely country road driving through the night with the kids in the back seat trying to make it to your mother’s house.  Your spouse left you.  You got fired and ran through what little savings you had.  The credit card is maxed out and the bank account is overdrawn.  You lost your apartment and you sold your cell phone to a friend for enough money to get gas to get to your mother’s in the next state.  It’s 3:12 AM when the engine misses.  Your fuel gauge is further below the E than you have ever seen it and what you fear happens quickly.  The engine sputters and quits and you coast to a stop on the side of the country road with almost no shoulder so most of the car is still on the road.  You cannot see a house anywhere around.  You put the hazard lights on and start to cry as you realize how helpless and alone you are.  You are the one who is supposed to be taking care of the kids in the back seat and you can’t even take care of yourself.  You are weak, vulnerable and helpless.  You can’t fix this problem. You are at the mercy of whoever may come by on that road at 3 in the morning.

Weak, vulnerable and helpless.  We hate these feelings.  We spend a lot of money on insurance to try to diminish the feeling of helplessness.  We do our best to maintain our health.  We save money for a rainy day.  We work hard in our lives to avoid feeling weak and vulnerable and helpless.

This is why Christianity can be so difficult for so many.  Christianity is about knowing you are weak, knowing you are vulnerable, knowing you are helpless.  Indeed the doorway to salvation is knowing that you come before God an empty-handed beggar with no standing.

Infants who are baptized are indeed weak, vulnerable and helpless.  They have no standing.  They have nothing to offer.  God simply gives and they receive.  Children know they are weak and helpless.  For children, faith is easier because there is not the great horror at admitting you are weak.  Faith is easier for children because they are more honest about who they are.  Matthew 19:14 (ESV) 14 …Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”[1]

The older you get the more desperately you want to believe you are in charge of the things in your life.  Salvation is one of those things.  You want to play a part.  You want to be involved.  You want to be able to work some formula and make it happen.  You want to be able to fix your problems.  But you cannot.  You are weak.  You are vulnerable.  You are helpless.  You need Jesus.  You are poor in spirit.

Matthew 5:3 (ESV) 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.[2]

Blessed is the one who knows they come to God emptyhanded.  Blessed does not mean happy or something like that.  These are not the be-happy-attitudes.  Blessed here means you are blessed for all eternity.  Blessed here is a blessing for the last day that you will be judged righteous and spend eternity in heaven with the Lord.  Blessed here means the kingdom of God is yours now and forever.  Knowing you are a spiritual beggar you are made a part of the reign of God because you are blessed by the Lord Jesus.

Being poor in spirit is your status; it is who you are.  It is the status of all people everywhere but so many want to deny it.  As a Christian you know you are poor in spirit; you know you are weak, vulnerable and helpless and you know that sin and evil lurk in your own soul, sin and evil lurk in your thoughts and desires, sin and evil surround you in this world.  You know the utter, awful, horrifying evil that is all around you.  Sin and evil and also the tragedies of life; the pain, the suffering, the sickness and the death.  Truly you walk through the valley of the shadow of death.  You know the evil and the tragedy in your own life and in the lives of those around you.  You have seen sin and evil tear apart lives and families and you know you are helpless to stop it.

And so you mourn over it.  Mourning is the attitude that you have because of your status of being Poor in Spirit.  You mourn because you know your helplessness.  You mourn because you recognize all the evil and hurt in the world and it brings you sadness and anguish.  As you mourn, remember Jesus’ promise in Matthew 5:4 (ESV) 4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.[3]  In the end, evil will not win.  In the end, evil will be destroyed and truth and love will fully triumph.

            Blessed is the one who knows they come to God emptyhanded.  Blessed does not mean happy or something like that.  These are not the be-happy-attitudes.  Blessed here means you are blessed for all eternity.  Blessed here is a blessing for the last day that you will be judged righteous and spend eternity in heaven with the Lord.  Blessed here means the kingdom of God is yours now and forever.  Knowing you are a spiritual beggar you are made a part of the reign of God because you are blessed by the Lord Jesus.

Matthew 5:5 (ESV) 5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.[4]  Being meek is a status, not an attitude.  Being meek and lowly is who you are, not what you should pursue.  When you acknowledge that you are indeed lowly; that you cannot stop sinning and you are powerless to make yourself holy, it brings about in you a longing to be righteous; a hungering, a thirsting to be saved from your sins.

Matthew 5:5-6 (ESV) 5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. 6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.[5]  Knowing you are poor in spirit, and meek and lowly allows you to see that you need Jesus and Jesus comes to you to claim you and reassure you that the troubles of this present life are only temporary.

This first sermon from Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew is earth shattering.  It is so completely contrary to the ways of the world.  The Sermon on the Mount exposes the utter emptiness of the ways of the world where self-righteousness and power are the name of the game.  The humble knowledge that you are helpless before God is the doorway to knowing you need Jesus.  Jesus is teaching the people that He has come to reign over the Kingdom of Heaven and bring that Kingdom to all people.   But the Kingdom of God; the Kingdom of Heaven is not the kind of kingdom people are used to knowing.  Jesus comes as King, but not as a King who is served, rather as a King who serves.  A King who is born into a simple family and laid in a manger.  A King who washes feet.  A King who offers Himself as the sacrifice for sins.  A King whose crown is made of vicious, stabbing thorns.  A King whose throne is a cruel Roman cross.  A King whose greatest glory is found in being abused, humiliated and killed.  A King who suffers and dies for you.  A King who rises from the dead for you.  A King who comes to save you.  Jesus reigns over this Kingdom of love and service and in your baptism you are sealed as a citizen of this Kingdom.

And so on All Saint’s Day remember your baptism and celebrate all those baptized believers who have gone before you in the faith whose spirits are with the Lord awaiting the Last Day and the resurrection of the dead.  Today we remember our brothers and sisters in Christ.  We remember mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers who have died in the faith and rest from their labors.  We remember we are right now in the Kingdom of God and we look forward to the coming last day when we will be raised up together, the living and the dead, to stand before the judgement seat of God.  We look forward to the judgement day when all those clothed in the white robe of Christ’s righteousness will march into the heavenly city of New Jerusalem.  We look forward to being a part of the Revelation 7:9-10 (ESV) 9 … great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”[6]

We look forward to the day when the saints go marching in because on that day evil will be destroyed forever, sin will be abolished, hatred will end, and God will wipe away every tear from your eyes.

Knowing you are weak, vulnerable and helpless is a terrible feeling, but knowing Jesus has given you the gift of eternal life with Him is a healing balm beyond comprehension.  So today look beyond the fading things of this short life and look towards the glory of your unveiled, eternal life in the Kingdom of God given by Jesus Christ.  Matthew 5:3 (ESV) 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.[7]

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

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s