God is not fair!!!

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Pentecost 16 2020, Proper 20
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
September 19-20, 2020
Isaiah 55:6-9. Philippians 1:12-14, Matthew 20:1-16

Sermons online: 
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Text:                            pastorjud.org   
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itunes:                         bit.ly/pastorjud
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            I enjoy getting into running every once in a while, but I have only ever run in one race which was when I was at seminary.  The seminary is very near to Forest Park in St. Louis which is a huge, beautiful park with Art Museum, Zoo and remnants from the 1904 World’s Fair. I generally ran four miles or so a few times a week and I felt pretty good about myself as a runner.  So when I saw the notice I signed up for the “Faster Pastor” 5K at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis in the spring of 2001.  During the race I was doing okay, running my regular pace, but then this classmate of mine, Matt Thompson, who I thought was kind of out of shape, ran by me like I was standing still.  I tried to speed up, but I couldn’t catch him.  It felt terrible.  I enjoyed running when it was just me running and keeping track of the time, but it really messed it up for me when I started to compare myself to others. 

            In our Gospel reading today we see an example of how people get messed up by comparing themselves with others.  The men working all day in the Vineyard were content with their daily wage of a denarius until they found out that the men who only worked one hour also got a denarius. 

            This parable is one that I believe gives people a lot of heartburn because we completely understand the workers’ frustration.  It is not fair.  These guys worked 12 hours through the heat of the day…those guys worked one hour in the cooler evening…and got paid the same.  It’s not fair.  When you are working it is easy to be content with your pay until you find out the gal next to you, doing the same thing, is making 50 cents an hour more than you are. You were content, now you are upset. You were happy, now you are jealous.

            This is the way of the world.  You are in competition with those around you.  You are told you get what you deserve.  You get what you earn.  This is the way of the world, but this is not God’s way.  God’s way is different. 

God’s way is different.  This is the profound message of Jesus’ parables about the Kingdom of Heaven; the Reign of Heaven.  God reigns, He rules, in ways very different from what you expect.  God does things that you do not understand.  God acts in ways that do not make sense. 

            God acts in ways that do not make sense and that is really disturbing in this parable, and yet this is where you find the beautiful Gospel truth.  Here in the midst of this troubling story, you get to see God’s mercy and grace so clearly because God does things differently than the way you would do them.  God’s mercy and grace are completely separate from your works.  God does not measure your accomplishments.  God does things differently.  Isaiah 55:8 (ESV) 8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.[1]

            We are offended by the parable of the workers in the vineyard because we completely understand the position of the workers who worked all day.  It is not fair.  But as mom used to say, “Life is not fair.”  And an even greater truth is “God is not fair.”

            God is not fair.  And that is amazing, incomprehensible, good news.  God is not fair.  God is not going to give you your just deserts.  God is not going to give you what you earn.  Romans 6:23 (ESV) 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. [2] 

At the beginning of the service you confessed that you are by nature sinful and unclean. You have sinned against God in thought, word, and deed, by what you have done and by what you have left undone. You have not loved God with your whole heart; you have not loved your neighbors as yourself.  And then you said that you justly deserve God’s present and eternal punishment.

            You deserve God’s punishment.  You deserve to be punished now, and you deserve to go to Hell for eternity.  You said that is what you deserve.  The great, Good News of the Bible is that are not going to get what you deserve; because God is not fair. 

            God is not fair.  God the Father punished His Son, Jesus, the Christ, God in flesh, instead of you. Jesus took the punishment for your sins. Jesus is the perfect, sacrificial Lamb of God who is sacrificed in your place.  Jesus takes your sin to the cross and suffers and dies because of your sin. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV) 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.[3]  God is not fair.  Praise God for that.

            Tell that liar that God is not fair and you will not get what you deserve.  This is incredible mercy of God.  You don’t get what you do deserve.  The genuine grace of God is that you get what you don’t deserve.  You get forgiveness and eternal life.

            Jesus got what you deserve, and you get what Jesus deserves.  In Christ you are the righteousness of God.  You are a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven.  You are a child of God destined to inherit eternal life in the Heavenly City of New Jerusalem.  You are on the narrow way to that leads to life.

            Now the devil wants to derail you.  The devil wants to get you off the narrow way and onto the wide, easy way that leads to eternal death.  The devil wants you to take your eyes off of Jesus and instead compare yourself to others. The devil wants you to forget about the prize.  Forget about the crown of righteousness.  Forget about eternity with Jesus.  Forget about all that and instead worry about other people.  The devil wants you to keep score in church about who does more and who does less.  The devil wants you to feel prideful superiority over that other guy, or, if not that, the devil wants you to feel fearful crushing inferiority next to someone else.  The devil does all of this to get you off the narrow way to life because he wants to destroy you.  The devil will try to convince you that you are not good enough.  You have not done enough.  You deserve death and Hell.  It is only fair.

            Tell that liar that God is not fair and you will not get what you deserve.  This is incredible mercy of God.  You don’t get what you do deserve.  The genuine grace of God is that you get what you don’t deserve.  You get forgiveness and eternal life.

            Don’t worry about the other runners in the race; keep your eyes on Jesus.  Don’t compare yourself to others.  It is not about what you or the others are doing.  God’s mercy and grace is all you need.  Forgetting what lies behind strain forward to what lies ahead.  Press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  Set your mind on the things of God rather than on the things of man.  Never forget, salvation unto us has come, by God’s free grace and favor.  Thank the Lord, God is not fair.

            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

It is necessary to forgive.

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Pentecost 15 2020 Proper 19
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
September 12, 13, 2020
Genesis 50:15-21, Romans 14:1-12, Matthew 18:21-35

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Full Service Audio:    bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship

            How many times have you sinned?  Today? This week?  This year?  Over your lifetime?  If each of your sins was a brick, how many bricks would you have piled up?  Every sinful thing you have done is another brick in the pile.  Every sinful word you have spoken in anger or hatred or lies is another brick.  Every sinful thought you have is another brick in the pile.  The bricks rain down on your pile and it grows and grows by the minute, the hour, the day, the year, the lifetime.  If every sin you have ever committed is a brick in the pile, how big is your pile of sin?

That is a lot of bricks; a lot of weight.  It is a great burden.  That is an insurmountable pile of bricks.  What do you do about that load of sin? 

            This world is a kingdom of sin; the kingdom of the Devil.  In this kingdom of sin it is a dog eat dog world.  Sin is everywhere and so, it seems, sin does not matter.  In this kingdom people get what they can get for themselves regardless of what it costs others; money…power…sex.  They blame and they hate and they seek revenge.  They live by the motto, “do unto others before they do it to you.”  In this kingdom there is pride in sin. There is boasting in sin.  This is normal life in the Kingdom of Sin with its ever growing piles of sin reaching up toward the sky.  The debt to God continually increases. 

Now, all people have an inbred sense of right and wrong.  In the Kingdom of Sin if someone becomes concerned about sin, they may try to do something about it.  They may try to make a deal with the gods.  They may try to excuse their sin or rationalize their sin or try to come up with their own way to work off the sin and pay the gods off.  But their gods are fiction and their sin debt is insurmountable.  It cannot be paid off.

            We see this in our Gospel lesson this week.  A servant has an overwhelming debt to his master.  To repay 10,000 talents the servant would have to work 60 million days.  The master calls the servant in, Matthew 18:25-26 (ESV) 25And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’[1] Patience?  Waiting 60 million days would be a lot of patience.  The man owes more than he could pay in 2,000 lifetimes.  There is no way the man can pay, but out of pity the master forgives the servant’s debt.  That huge, unpayable debt is erased.  It is wiped away.  Forgiven.

            That servant is you.  You owe God an insurmountable debt because of your sin.  You have that enormous, growing pile of sin.  You know you cannot pay this debt and you cry out for mercy and God has mercy on you.  God the Father sends Jesus to pay the price for your sin.  Jesus gives up everything on the cross to ransom you from sin, death and the devil.  Jesus is stripped of everything.  He gives up His dignity, His blood, His breath, His life, all to pay your debt.  Jesus forgives your sin. 

So the question is, how much of your sin does Jesus forgive?  How many bricks of your sin does Jesus remove?  How many are left for you?

            Jesus takes away all your sin.  Jesus removes all your sin and declares you to be righteous, innocent and blessed which means you are righteous, innocent and blessed.  Jesus takes you from the Kingdom of Sin; the Kingdom of the Devil, and brings you into the Kingdom of Heaven.  He takes you from darkness to the light.  Jesus delivers forgiveness to you in His Word, in the waters of baptism, in the Body and Blood of Christ in Holy Communion. 

In the Kingdom of Heaven your sin is gone; all gone.  Not one sin left.  Not one brick left of the giant pile.  This is a miracle of God.  Jesus, in His great mercy, forgives you all your sins.  Remain in Christ.  Hold onto His gift of mercy and live your life in the Kingdom of Heaven.  In this Kingdom, forgiveness reigns…love reigns…mercy reigns.  Love God and love your neighbor.  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  Forgive others as God has forgiven you.  Cling to the mercy of the cross and have mercy on others.  Forgive and forgive and forgive and forgive.

            Forgiven means God is not going to hold your sin against you.  We say forgive and forget.  The “forget” part does not mean that God has no knowledge of your sin. The “forget” part means God no longer holds that sin against you. 

            And what does it mean to forgive?

            Sometimes when a person tells you they are sorry for something they did to you the response might be, “It’s okay.  No big deal.”  Sometimes things are no big deal, but saying this can make you believe that to forgive someone is to say that what they did is okay.  That is certainly not what forgiveness means.  When Jesus forgives all your sins He does not say that your sin is okay.  He is whipped for your sin.  He is crucified for your sin.  He sheds His blood for your sin.  He dies for your sin.  Your sin is not okay.  But it is forgiven.

            Forgiven means God is not going to hold your sin against you.  We say forgive and forget.  The “forget” part does not mean that God has no knowledge of your sin. The “forget” part means God no longer holds that sin against you. 

God has great mercy on you in Jesus. Hold on to that mercy and let go of bitterness and revenge.  Cling to the cross of Christ and forgive others even when they don’t deserve it.  Forgive them.  And this means you promise to not hold their sin against them.

            Forgiveness is easy to say… and hard to do.  It is easy to receive… and hard to give.  Forgiveness is very difficult…incredibly difficult.  Your natural reaction when someone hurts you is hurt them back, worse. That is the name of the game in the Kingdom of Sin.  We see the servant in Jesus’ parable doing this very thing.  He is shown great mercy, but falls right back into the Kingdom of Sin. The unmerciful servant lets go of the master’s mercy and grabs the club of revenge to exact repayment from a fellow servant.  The servant gives up His place in the Kingdom of Forgiveness in order to get what he has coming.  And, sadly, he does indeed get what he has coming…eternal punishment.

            This world is a kingdom of sin, but you have been transferred to the Kingdom of Heaven.  The rules are different.  The Kingdom of Heaven is ruled by forgiveness.  Live in the Kingdom of Heaven with all of your sins taken away; every last brick gone. As someone who has been forgiven all your sins, it is necessary for you to forgive those who sin against you.  If you cannot forgive someone, you need to repent of that sin, confess that sin, and receive forgiveness, and forgive.

            Peter knows about forgiveness but he thinks there should be limits.  Peter’s question to Jesus prompts the parable of the unmerciful servant.  Matthew 18:21 (ESV) 21 Then Peter came up and said to [Jesus], “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?”[2] 

            Forgiving someone seven times is a lot; foolish really.  Once or twice, okay, but seven times.  That is absurdly generous.  It is absurdly generous, but Jesus says it is not enough.  Matthew 18:22 (ESV) 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.[3]  Jesus tells Peter that absurdly generous forgiveness is inadequate.  Forgiveness in the Kingdom of Heaven is much more than that.  Forgiveness in the Kingdom of Heaven is more because forgiveness in the Kingdom of Heaven is forgiving like Jesus forgives. 

            Jesus forgives you all your sins.  Jesus forgives you in a way that is beyond absurdly generous.  How many times has Jesus forgiven you for that same stupid sin?  It is more than seven times.  It is more than 490 times.  Jesus keeps on forgiving you.  Jesus’ forgiveness of you does not make sense.  But He keeps on forgiving. 

You live in the Kingdom of Heaven.  Hold onto God’s mercy.  Give up on revenge.  Release your bitterness.  Forgive. Promise to not hold it against them. Forgive others as God forgives you because, in Christ, you are righteous, innocent and blessed. 

            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

Who is the Greatest?

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Pentecost 14 2020 Proper 18
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
September 5-6, 2020
Ezekiel 33:7-9. Romans 13:1-10, Matthew 18:1-20

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            Have you ever been to the Emergency Room at the hospital?  It can often take hours and hours to be seen by the doctor. You sit patiently for hours and then someone else comes in and suddenly there is a swarm of people around them working feverishly.  What is the difference?  It doesn’t matter how long you have been waiting.  The person with the greatest need is the most important.

            What is the Church?  Is the Church a museum for saints or a hospital for sinners?  This is something we can get confused about. It is something the disciples are getting confused about in our Gospel reading today.  Matthew 18:1 (ESV) 1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”[1] Who is the greatest?  Who is the most important?  These are normal, natural human questions.  Who is the best?  Who is number one?  Who is Jesus’ favorite?

            We are, sadly, way too much like the disciples.  We also like to know who is the greatest.  Who is the most important in your department at work?  Who has the highest grades in your class?  Who is the best on your team?  Who has things the most together in your extended family?  Pastors measure themselves against other pastors by the size of our congregations.

            And then there is the natural, opposite classification.  Who is the least important?  Who is failing?  Who is the worst?  Whose life is falling apart?  Who can I look down on and feel better about myself? 

            You meet a new group of people and you start to classify and sort people into these categories of best and worst.  It is way too easy to do this also in the Church.  Who is the greatest?  Who is the least?  We check out other people and size them up based on their looks or clothing or how they sing or how their kids behave and we want to try to figure it out.  Who is the greatest?

            The disciples want to know who is the greatest and Jesus tells them that they have it all wrong.  Matthew 18:2-4 (ESV) 2 And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them 3 and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.[2]

            Children, especially in Jesus’ time, are needy, helpless, vulnerable and powerless. There are some nowadays who almost idolize children, but they are still needy, helpless, vulnerable and powerless. If you hear that an adult is lost in the woods you get a little concerned.  If you hear that a 3-year-old is lost in the woods you become very concerned.  That child needs help.  Right away.

            This is revolutionary teaching.  This turns what is considered “normal” on its head.  The world teaches that you get what you deserve.  You get what you earn.  Jesus gives you what you don’t deserve and He doesn’t give you what you earn.

            The disciples are worried about who is the greatest.  Jesus tells greatest one is the one who knows that he is needy, helpless, vulnerable and powerless.  This brings us back to the Sermon on the Mount.  Matthew 5:3 (ESV) 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.[3] The world is very worried about greatness; Jesus blesses those who know they are helpless; who know they cannot do it on their own.  You want to pretend that you have life pretty much together, but you know, as hard as it is to admit, that you are needy, helpless, vulnerable and powerless.  This is what Jesus calls you to do.  Whoever humbles himself like a child is the greatest.  Blessed are the poor in spirit.

            This is revolutionary teaching.  This turns what is considered “normal” on its head.  The world teaches that you get what you deserve.  You get what you earn.  Jesus gives you what you don’t deserve and He doesn’t give you what you earn.

            Christianity is counter-cultural.  Out of love, God sends Jesus to be the sacrificial Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world on the cross.  Being the Christ means suffering, dying and rising from the dead.  Jesus pays the price for your sins and Jesus gives this gift to you; free of charge.  You cannot buy it.  You cannot earn it.  Jesus gives it to those who know they are in need.

            The devil so much wants to get you to look down others and build yourself up.  The devil wants you to stay away from church because of all those hypocrites.  “They say they are Christians, but they are just a bunch of sinners.”  That is absolutely correct.  This is a gathering of sinners…and there is always room for one more.  When you are at church the devil wants you to look around and judge the others; look down on the others.  The devil wants you to think you are better than them.  The devil wants you to pray, “thank God I am not like that person.”  That is the devil trying to keep you from the forgiveness of sins.

            We welcome sinners to gather with us to receive God’s gifts.  We welcome sinners, but we can never welcome or encourage sin.  The devil wants to tempt you to embrace sin, share sin, and pull others into sin.  The devil wants you to get so used to sin that it becomes part of your identity and you want to invite others to participate with you. 

            You are a baptized child of God.  Sin does comes naturally, but it is not who you are.  Sin comes naturally, but it is still evil. Jesus clearly warns against causing others to sin.  Matthew 18:5-7 (ESV) 5 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, 6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. 7 “Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes![4]

            Is the Church a museum for saints or a hospital for sinners? You know the answer…because you are here.  You are here to receive God’s gifts.  You are gathered to hear the words of absolution.  You are here to receive Jesus’ body and blood for the forgiveness of your sins.  You are here to receive the medicine of eternal life.  This is indeed a hospital for sinners and the greatest one here is the one who needs forgiveness the most.

In order to illustrate that we are indeed, by nature, sinful and unclean I sometimes say, “Imagine you have an IPad on your chest and the IPad reveals your thoughts to those around you.  It is a window revealing your inner self to the world.  What would you do?  I would run away pretty fast.

            Now, if everyone had one of these, one thing that it would do is show you that you are not alone in your struggles.  You are not the lone, sick sinner in a museum of saints.  It would show you that the church is indeed a hospital for sinners.  No one has it all together.  No one is being good enough.  We all struggle together.  A question like, “Who is the greatest?” is just the wrong question. 

            When someone in the ER is surrounded by doctors and nurses and technicians they are the most important person in the room at that moment. They are the most important because they have the greatest need; their life hangs in the balance.  When you gather here to receive God’s forgiveness the one who needs forgiveness the most is the most important, because they have the greatest need; their eternal life hangs in the balance.

            Be honest about your battle with sin.  Know your sin.  Name your sin.  Struggle against sin.  Cut it out of your life no matter how painful.  The struggle against sin is humbling because is marked by consistent failure.  It shows you that you are needy, helpless, vulnerable and powerless; like a little child. It shows you that you need Jesus. 

You need Jesus and you have come to the right place.  Jesus is here 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

Love does not drive theology. Faith does.

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Pentecost 13 2020, Proper 17
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
August 30, 2020
Jeremiah 15:15-21, Romans 12:9-21, Matthew 16:21-28

 

Sermons online: 
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Jacob is in the kitchen making scrambled eggs.  He cracks the eggs into a water glass and stirs in some milk and cheddar cheese and bacon bits and beats the eggs in the glass with a spoon while the big frying pan is heating on the stove with a hunk of butter melting in it. Jacob’s wife Katie comes into the kitchen and sees what he is doing.  She loves Jacob. She wants the best for him, and he is doing it all wrong.  Katie takes the frying pan off the stove and puts it in the sink and then grabs the glass of eggs out of Jacob’s hands and pours it down the drain.  She looks at him and scolds him, saying, “That’s not how I would do it.  My way is better.”  This is what Peter does to Jesus in our Gospel reading today regarding something infinitely more important than an omelet.

Peter has just confessed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Peter is right on the mark. He is confessing the right thing. Jesus commends Peter and says that on this rock He will build His church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.  Peter is saying the right things but then Jesus begins to explain what it means to be the Christ.

Matthew 16:21 (ESV) 21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples 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]  This is the first time that Jesus tells the disciples what is ahead.  He will tell them twice more before arriving in Jerusalem.  These are often called passion predictions; a prediction of Jesus’ suffering and death.  But calling this a passion prediction is missing something.

Matthew 16:21 (ESV) 21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples 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.[2]

            Why does Peter say this?  What is his motivation?  This is where it gets tricky.  Peter loves Jesus.  Peter wants to protect Jesus.  Peter is motivated by love, but we see here how the demands of love can get things terribly wrong.

It is a passion and resurrection prediction.  Jesus gives the disciples both the bad news and the good news.  Jesus tells them plainly what is going to happen, but Peter is having none of it.  Peter basically tells Jesus, “That’s not how I would do it.  My way is better.”  Matthew 16:22 (ESV) 22 … “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.”[3]

Why does Peter say this?  What is his motivation?  This is where it gets tricky.  Peter loves Jesus.  Peter wants to protect Jesus.  Peter is motivated by love, but we see here how the demands of love can get things terribly wrong.

Because of Peter’s love for Jesus, Peter rejects Jesus’ Words, and this is from Satan.  Peter wants to take control of Jesus’ words and do them the way Peter wants them done. Peter, out of love, wants to prevent Jesus from going to the cross.  Peter, out of love, believes his way is better.  Matthew 16:23 (ESV) 23 But [Jesus] 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.” [4]

We are very much guided by our emotions; our feelings.  Peter is an emotional person but his emotions are not a good guide.  Peter’s emotions lead him to sin.

Love is not where you get your theology; your understanding of God. Your feelings and emotions are not where you find truth.  You find truth in faith.  You find truth in faith because faith has nothing to say about itself, faith only speaks about what it is given in God’s Word.  Faith is focused on the object of faith given to you from God.  Your feelings; your emotions are focused on yourself and they can easily lead you into false belief.

The demands of love can get things terribly wrong.  Love can get you to call good evil and evil good.  It can have you rejecting God’s Word in order to conform to the ever changing ways of the world.  It can have you very concerned about the things of man while ignoring the things of God.

God gives you His gifts of forgiveness and eternal life with His Words, and His Words do what they say.  “I baptize you.  I forgive you all your sins.  Take eat, this is my body.  Take drink, this is my blood shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.”  Jesus’ truth is not an easy truth.  Jesus truth is that there is a penalty for sin that needs to be paid.  Jesus’ truth is what we learn in Hebrews 9:22 (ESV) 22 …without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.[5]

Jesus’ declaration that He will suffer and be killed and on the third day rise from the dead is the hard truth about sin, but is also the great good news that in His resurrection Jesus conquers sin and death.

Faith does not talk about itself, but only about what it is given.  Faith comes first from God and love flows out of faith.  Love follows faith because love is the fulfilling of the Law.  Romans 13:10 (ESV) 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.[6]

It is very easy to fall into Peter’s error of letting love drive your theology rather than letting love flow out of faith.  When love drives your theology you can quickly fall into the satanic practice of commandeering God’s words and making them say what you want them to say. Letting love drive your theology brings you into a theology of glory in which emphasizes your own works and your own reason.

The late Rev. Dr. Norman Nagel, a retired professor at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, and former Dean of the Chapel at Valparaiso, University, was not known for mincing words.  He says it like this, “Peter speaks for Satan even with a heart full of love, ‘This will never happen to you.’  You can confess, saying all the right words, with a heart full of love for an alternative Christ, and be the mouthpiece for Satan.”

The apostle Peter falls into this satanic trap, so be alert.  Don’t think that you are immune.  Be on guard against letting love drive your theology.  And as Jesus instructs, Matthew 16:24 (ESV) 24 … “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.[7] Christians under persecution in other countries know much more clearly what it means to take up their cross and follow Jesus.  Following Jesus is not a promise of an easy life; it is a promise of eternal life.  You want to find your own way, but Jesus is the only way.  Jesus clearly teaches that following Him means following Him.  “If anyone would come after me…follow me…for my sake.”  Faith follows Jesus.  Love flows from faith.

Deny yourself and follow Jesus.  Denying yourself is not a popular message in this world in which you are encouraged to indulge yourself, pamper yourself, fulfill yourself.  Because you earned it; you deserve it.  But Jesus says deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me.

Your sinful nature is not much of a fan of denying yourself; you are much more likely to want to deny the cross.  Your sinful nature so much wants to believe that the cross really is not necessary.  Your sinful nature so much wants to believe that your sins are not that big a deal, that you can take care of it yourself.  You don’t need to do it Jesus’ way because you have a better way.  You want to believe you can do it yourself…but you cannot.  You need Jesus.  You need the cross.  This is why you don’t follow your feelings…you follow Jesus.  You follow Jesus because sin is serious…deadly serious, and there is no forgiveness without the shedding of blood.

Thank God Jesus is who He says He is and He does what He says He will do.  Jesus goes to the cross as the ultimate blood sacrifice; shedding His blood for you.  Jesus rises from the dead in victory over sin and death.

Peter rebukes Jesus, and Jesus rebukes Peter, but Jesus doesn’t give up on Peter even after Peter denies Him three times, Jesus does not give up on Peter. Jesus forgives Peter and restores Peter three times, feed my lambs, tend my sheep, feed my sheep.

Jesus does not give up on you.  Jesus does not deny the cross.  Jesus does not avoid the cross.  Jesus goes to the cross for you.  Jesus rises from the dead for you.  For the forgiveness of your sins.  Jesus does it His way and gives His gift of forgiveness to you in His Word and in His sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion.

Do not let your feelings and emotions control your theology.  Your faith is not in your emotions.  Your faith is in Jesus, the Christ, the Son of the Living God, who gave Himself as the offering for your sin and promises you forgiveness and eternal life.  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

 

Who is Jesus?

WORSHIP VIDEO LINK  Divine Service 4, LSB Hymns – 730, 645, 956, 507, 623,

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Pentecost 12 2020, Proper 16
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
August 23, 2020
Isaiah 51:1-6, Romans 11:33-12:8, Matthew 16:13-20

 

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

 

When I was in high school the really cool car was a Pontiac Trans Am with the 6.6 liter engine, tail fin, hood scoop, and tires with raised white letters. That was a fast, cool looking car with cool looking tires.  Tires are kind of funny.  There is style in the look of tires.  Since 1914 when whitewall tires were first made by the Vogue Tyre and Rubber Co. in Chicago for their horse drawn carriages we have had many variations in the style of the sidewalls of tires.  There are wide whitewalls, there are skinny whitewalls, there are the raised white letters, and there are the plain black sidewalls which seems to be mostly the preference today.  As cool as the different style of tire sidewalls may or may not look, it doesn’t really matter as far as the function of the tire.  What matters is the tread; where the rubber meets the road.

In churches there are a lot of different looks and styles.  Different styles of buildings and different styles of worship and church publications, programs, fellowship and food.  But these things are a lot like the sidewall of the tire. It may look nice and stylish, but that is not where the rubber meets the road.

In today’s Gospel reading we have a fundamental truth; a foundational truth.  Matthew 16:13 (ESV) 13 … [Jesus] asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”[1] Who is Jesus?  This was a huge question 2,000 years ago and it is a huge question today.  It is a fundamental question.  It is indeed where the rubber meets the road.  Who is Jesus?  Lots of people talk about Jesus.  Some shout his name as an expletive.  Muslims say they believe in Jesus, so the big question is…Who is Jesus?

Matthew 16:14 (ESV) 14 [The disciples] said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”[2] People at Jesus’ time are confused about Jesus’ identity.  That is the same problem that we have today.

The Barna research group did a poll in 2015 entitled, “What do Americans believe about Jesus? 5 popular beliefs.”  92% of Americans believe that Jesus was a real person who actually lived.  Ok, most people believe there was a guy named Jesus, but only 56% believe Jesus was God.  26% believe Jesus was only a religious or spiritual leader and 18% are not sure.  46% of people believe Jesus was sinless, while 52% of Americans believe Jesus was human and committed sins like other people.  Interestingly, while only 46% of Americans believe Jesus was sinless, 62% claim they have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in their life today.  So, who is this sinful Jesus that the 16% of Americans are committed to?  62% claim a commitment, but only 56% believe Jesus is God.  Who is this normal guy Jesus the other 6% are committing to.

Of the 62% who have made a commitment to Jesus only 63% of them believe you go to heaven because of Jesus.  Now, polls can be skewed depending on the questions, but this certainly shows there is a lot of confusion about the question, “Who is Jesus?”

In our nation there is increasingly open hostility toward people who believe that Jesus is God in flesh. Atheists will deride Christians for believing in a magical sky daddy.  Others have a generic god; “the big guy upstairs.”  Some have reduced Jesus to a life coach who helps you navigate the struggles of life.  So the question remains.  Who is Jesus?

Jesus asks the disciples, Matthew 16:15-16 (ESV) 15 …“But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”[3]  Peter gets it right.

            This is the fundamental truth of the Bible.  From Genesis to Revelation this is the foundational truth.  If you get this question wrong you get it all wrong. On Christ, the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.

Who is Jesus.  Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.  Jesus is the anointed one.  He is the Son of God.  He is the Messiah foretold by the prophets of the Old Testament.  Now what does it mean to be the Messiah; the Christ?  We will explore that more next week when well-meaning Peter gets it very wrong.

Who is Jesus?  Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.  Jesus is not your creation.  He is not someone you can mold and shape to your own understandings.  Jesus is not a comforting teddy-bear-type figure that you can put up on your shelf and ignore most of the time and then take Him down when you need to be comforted.  There is a great temptation to make Jesus be who you want Him to be; to be someone that you control.  But that is not Jesus.  You are not lord over Jesus.  Jesus is Lord over you and all creation.  Jesus is the Son of God.  Jesus is God in flesh.  Jesus is Lord.

This is the fundamental truth of the Bible.  From Genesis to Revelation this is the foundational truth.  If you get this question wrong you get it all wrong. On Christ, the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.

Jesus commends Peter’s confession.  Matthew 16:17-19 (ESV) 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”[4]

Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God is the foundation of Christ’s Church.  This is the solid rock of your faith.  This truth will prevail against the horde of demons and evil flooding out of the gates of Hell to attack the Church.  The Church is built on this confession by Peter and the disciples who spread this truth in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.  This truth has spread over the world even to you, here in Hamilton, Ohio.

And the wonderful thing is that this truth is not from you.  It is not about you ginning up the necessary amount of faith. Faith does not proceed from your own intellect or feelings.  This truth is revealed by God.  For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.  Faith is a gift from God to you through the Holy Spirit.

What a great time to be the Church.  It is a wonderful time to be a Christian because we know the truth that so many people need.  So many churches and denominations are all worried about the style and perceptions, but so many have forgotten where the rubber meets the road.  They are busy polishing the whitewalls, but the tires are flat and bald with the steel belts showing and the stems cut off.  In order to be more acceptable to the world they have given up on the real Jesus.

Confessing the real Jesus will not make us popular with the world.  It may bring social and even governmental pressure.  Confessing the true Jesus will not make life easier, but we have Jesus’ own promise that the Church will stand on this rock.

In this time of generic religion and generic gods and so many people so confused about Jesus, it is a great time to be the Church and confess the truth about Jesus.  Who is Jesus? Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.  Built on the rock the Church shall stand.         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

 

What does great faith believe?

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Pentecost 11, 2020 Proper 15A
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
August 16, 2020
Isaiah 56:1, 6-8, Romans 11:1-2a, 13-15, 28-32, Matthew 15:21-28

 

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

 

I am old enough to remember that when the phone rang at home you had to answer it because you did not know who was calling.  You didn’t know whether or not it was important.  The main phone was mounted on the wall and the receiver was connected to the phone by a curly cord.  It was a great step forward at our house growing up when we got a ten foot cord so when you were on the phone you could at least step out of the kitchen and sit on the stairs to the basement with the door closed for a little privacy. When the phone rang you answered it.

Not so much nowadays.  My phone rings and I look to see who is calling.  Someone I know?  An unknown number?  Potential spam?  If I don’t want to talk I can swipe down to ignore.  Talking on the phone, which we did so much of when I was a teenager, is not so popular these days.  Kids don’t call each other.  They text. They message.  They Snapchat.  And it is easy to ignore someone because you know who the message is coming from.

When you have been texting or messaging with someone and they stop texting back what is that called?  Ghosting. The modern silent treatment.  You reached out to someone and they do not respond. That’s not a good feeling.

In our Gospel reading today the Canaanite woman gets this from Jesus.  Jesus is visiting the foreign area of Tyre and Sidon and this woman comes to him crying out, “Matthew 15:22 (ESV) 22 … “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.”[1]

Jesus is in an ongoing battle against Satan and his demons and this seems like a great opportunity for Jesus to defeat the devil and bring peace and healing to this woman’s daughter.  Matthew 15:23 (ESV) 23 But [Jesus] did not answer her a word. …[2]  This desperate mother is asking for help and Jesus remains silent.

That is a feeling that is all too familiar for so many of us.  You cry out to God for help and God remains silent.  You are at the bedside of your critically ill spouse or parent or child and it feels like God is ghosting you.  You pray for God to send you a good Christian man or woman to be your spouse and God seems to be silent.  You pray for help to get a better job and it appears that God does not care.  That is not a good feeling.

            But there is one question that is clearly answered by the Gospel reading today.  What does great faith believe about Jesus?  We can find the answer to this question because in this reading from Matthew 15 we meet a woman whom Jesus says has great faith.  What does great faith believe about Jesus?

We don’t like unanswered questions and this lesson leaves us with many.  What is the woman thinking?  What is the disciples’ tone of voice?  Why is Jesus silent?  We don’t get answers to these questions, which makes this very much like life.  There are many questions for which we just do not get answers.  We certainly have learned that lesson during these Pandemic times.

But there is one question that is clearly answered by the Gospel reading today.  What does great faith believe about Jesus?  We can find the answer to this question because in this reading from Matthew 15 we meet a woman whom Jesus says has great faith.  What does great faith believe about Jesus?

Great faith knows who Jesus is.  The Canaanite woman calls Jesus “Lord”.  In the Gospel of Matthew only the disciples refer to Jesus as “Lord.”  This Gentile woman also calls Jesus, “Son of David.” She knows who Jesus is.  She knows that Jesus is the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy of the Messiah coming from the house of David.  Isaiah 11:1 (ESV) 1 There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.[3]  Jesse is the father of King David; Jesus is descended from the house and line of David.

Great faith knows who Jesus is.  The Canaanite woman knows Jesus is Lord and that she is not.  She also knows that Jesus has something for her.  Jesus does not answer her first request but she does not give up.  She continues to make her request to the disciples and they just want her to go away. Matthew 15:23 (ESV) 23 … [Jesus’] disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.”[4]  The woman knows who Jesus is and she knows Jesus has something for her.

Jesus answers this Gentile woman, Matthew 15:24-26 (ESV) 24 … “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26 And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”[5]

Whoa! Jesus!  I thought you were the nice guy.  What are you doing telling this woman that because she is a Gentile she is a dog and she does not deserve good things.  Jesus rebukes her, but the Canaanite woman knows that Jesus is Lord and she is not.  She knows that Jesus has something for her.  We know this from how she responds to him.

Matthew 15:27 (ESV) 27 She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”[6]  Now a quick note on the translation of her response.  The ESV and other English translations all translate her response and “Yes, Lord, yet…” or “Yes, Lord, but…”  The Greek words used here are “kai gar”, they are used together in 40 places in the Bible but only here is it ever translated as an adversative; as being in opposition. I know that, but…  The much better translation is, “Yes, Lord, for even the dogs eat from the crumbs that are falling from their masters’ table.”  The woman is not arguing with Jesus, she is agreeing with Jesus.

The Canaanite woman knows who Jesus is and knows that He gives in such abundance that crumbs are more than enough.  Matthew 15:28 (ESV) 28 Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly. [7]

Great faith knows who Jesus is.  Great faith knows that Jesus is Lord and you are not.  Great faith knows that Jesus has something for you. However, what God has for you may not be something you want.  Great faith knows that you belong to Jesus.  Great faith knows that you are forgiven by the blood of Jesus.  Great faith has the peace that is beyond understanding. Great faith knows that even in the midst of God’s silence His promises remain in effect.  Great faith knows that one day God will bring full healing.  Great faith looks for the resurrection of the dead on the last day.  Great faith knows that promise is still in place and it will happen.

As you look to receive the Lord’s gifts today in His Word and in His Body and Blood you have great faith.  You know who Jesus is and you know He has something for you.  You have great faith.  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

 

Stay in the boat

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Pentecost 10 2020 Proper 14
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
August 9, 2020
Job 38:4-18, Romans 10:5-17, Matt. 14:22-33

 

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

 

This week’s Gospel lesson picks up right where we left off last week.  To recap a bit, Jesus is rejected at his home town of Nazareth, John the Baptist is beheaded, Jesus and His disciples withdraw by boat to try to grieve in peace, but the crowds follow.  Jesus heals their sick and then He miraculously feeds 5,000 plus people with just five loaves of bread and two fish, afterwards the disciples gather twelve baskets of leftovers.

Now it is time for the disciples to leave.  Matthew 14:22-23 (ESV) 22 Immediately [Jesus] made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds.  23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone,[1]

The disciples are out in the boat trying to make their way across the Sea of Galilee against the wind; we don’t know if they are tacking with the sail or rowing.  It is hard going into the wind and waves, but they are making progress and have made it a few miles.  Sometime between 3 AM and 6 AM Jesus comes to them in the middle of the Sea of Galilee. It is late at night, it is dark, they are tired, and the disciples see a figure walking on the water miles from shore. They are terrified.  They assume it is a ghost; a phantom, coming to get them. Matthew 14:27 (ESV) 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”[2]

The disciples thought it was a ghost, but now Jesus has identified Himself, “It is I,” (and not a ghost).  Most of the disciples are satisfied, but not Peter.  Oh Peter.  Peter is my most favorite disciple and my least favorite disciple for the same reason. He is too much like me.  Peter is the impulsive disciple who always seems to be the one who has to say something when there is nothing needed to be said. In this instance it is worse. Peter  challenges Jesus.  Peter challenges Jesus’ identity…He challenges Jesus’ authority.  Matthew 14:28 (ESV) 28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”[3]

“If it is you.”  You can hear echoes from the Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness by the devil after His baptism.  Matthew 4:3 (ESV) 3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”[4]  If you are who you say you are…

Peter is the most thickheaded of the thickheaded disciples…and He is so much like you and me.  How many times have you questioned Jesus’ identity and Jesus’ authority?  You are a baptized child of God.  God has marked you with water and the Spirit.  What a blessing that we get to witness this happen (tomorrow) today at the 11 AM service with the three Miller children who are students at our school and are joining the congregation with their parents.

You are a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven; you are a part of the Body of Christ on earth.  You are part of the Church.  You should know better, and yet how often do you find yourself being like Peter…questioning Jesus identity…questioning Jesus authority?

Is Jesus really God?  Can He really forgive my sins?  For far too many, the answer to the question, “why are you going to heaven.” is, “Because I am good enough.”  You are tempted to believe this.  You are tempted to think that you do not need Jesus; that salvation is a “do-it-yourself” proposition; that you can be good enough, or at least better than that other guy. You are tempted to question if Jesus really is God and if He really can forgive sins.

You are tempted to question Jesus’ authority to forgive sins, and you are tempted to question God’s authority to give law.  You are tempted to treat the Ten Commandments as if they are given for someone else in another time.  You are tempted to try to explain away your behavior with the “but.”  “I know the Bible says this is wrong, but…I have a good excuse.”  “I know I shouldn’t be looking at this website…but…”  “I know I shouldn’t be getting drunk…but…”  “I know I need to control my anger…but…”  “I know I need to treasure and love and serve my spouse…but…” “I know I should come to church as much as I can…but…”  “I know intimacy belongs only inside the marriage union of a man and a woman…but…” “I know I should forgive those who sin against me…but…”  “I know, (fill in your favorite sin) is wrong…but…I know better.  I know better than God.”

Peter should know better than to question Jesus’ identity or authority.  He has seen Jesus in action.  He was just with Jesus miraculously feeding the five thousand plus people.  Even Peter questions Jesus?  “If it is you.”  Jesus calls Peter out to walk on the water, but then Peter doubts Jesus’ authority and he begins to sink.  This is where Jesus wants Peter.  Peter realizes he is helpless and cries out, “Lord, save me.”

This is where you find yourself.  You dabble with evil thoughts, evil words, evil deeds.  You think you can control it, but then you find yourself sinking into the murky depths of rebellion and sin and there is only one thing to do.  Cry out, “Lord, save me.”  When you are caught up in sin, know that you cannot do it yourself.  You cannot fix it.  Ask for help, because you need help.  You need Jesus.  Cry out, “Lord, save me,” and Jesus reaches out His nail-scarred hand and takes hold of you and bring you back into the boat.  Jesus gives you the gift of salvation that He earned on the cross at Calvary.  Jesus restores you to purity and holiness that comes, not from you, but from Him alone.

This area of the church is called the Nave and, architecturally it looks like an upside down boat.  The word Nave comes from the Latin word Navis which means ship.  Stay in the boat.  Stay in the ship of faith.  Trust in the Lord Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins.  Repent of the times you have questioned Jesus’ identity or challenged His authority.  Repent of trying to run your own life, and submit to Jesus’ will for your life.

Life in the ship of faith is not a luxury cruise to exciting ports.  Life in the ship of faith is living daily life doing what you are supposed to be doing.  Love God and love your neighbor.  It is a life of doing what has been given you to do.  The young mother caring for her child is doing the Lord’s work.  The engineer working to provide safe air travel is doing the Lord’s work.  The teacher preparing to teach students in this crazy new school year is doing the Lord’s work.

Fight the temptation to get out of the boat.  But if you stray, know where your help comes from.  Cry out as you do in the confession of sins, “Lord, save me.”  Because He will.  Because He already has.  Trust in the Lord always.  Stay in the boat.  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

 

Jesus does the impossible

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Pentecost 9, 2020
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
August 2, 2020
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

 

Think about a time you felt overwhelmed when you face a task that just seems so big…so intimidating.  Pretty sure this is the feeling a child gets when he is told he needs to clean his room. Moving does it for me.  Moving from one house to another gives me that feeling of being overwhelmed.  There was a time that Jeannette and I were moving about every two years or so and it is just overwhelming to think about getting everything packed up again and into the truck and then unloaded on the other end.  Facing a move I felt overcome by everything that has to be done.  But, as with many of life’s overwhelming tasks, it gets accomplished one step at a time.  Although, I have to say that after all the moving before coming to Hamilton, it has been nice to stay put here for 19 years, although now we help the kids move.

There is the feeling of being overwhelmed, but then there is the feeling of facing the impossible.  Not just a big, overwhelming task that can be overcome, but the impossible. That’s where Jesus has the disciples in our Gospel reading today in six impossible words.  Matthew 14:16 (ESV) 16 …you give them something to eat.”[1]

These words are not necessarily impossible depending on the context.  If you are sitting with two siblings and you have a whole pizza and they have none and they are complaining that they are hungry mom may say, “You give them something to eat,” and it’s no big deal.  You shouldn’t eat the whole pizza anyway.  But the disciples are surrounded by thousands of hungry people and the twelve disciples have only five loaves of bread and two fish. That’s not even enough for themselves. Matthew 14:16 (ESV) 16 …you give them something to eat.”[2] It’s impossible.  It can’t be done.  What are they supposed to do?  Imagine yourself standing there with the disciples looking out at a sea of thousands and thousands of faces and knowing that you are supposed to feed them.  It is hopeless; it is impossible.

And this is the culmination of a very bad time for the disciples.  The voice of one calling in the desert has been silenced.  John the Baptist, the prophet who heralded Jesus’ arrival, prepared the way for Him, and baptized Him in the Jordan River, is beheaded by Herod Antipas because of a drunken promise made at a party.  Not only was John killed, but his head was brought to the party on a platter in a final humiliation.  It has been a bad time for Jesus and His disciples.

They try to take a break.  They go by boat to a desolate place to grieve in peace but the crowds follow them and get to the place ahead of them.  Instead of getting angry, Matthew 14:14 (ESV) [Jesus] had compassion on them and healed their sick.[3]

It has been a terribly long day and Jesus and the disciples still have not gotten a chance to grieve.  The disciples are ready to send the people away and be done, but Jesus gives them the impossible task of feeding all these thousands of people.  I’ve got to imagine that the disciples just want to quit.  They must just want to ignore the hungry crowd and get back in the boat and sail away because they face an impossible task. They cannot do it.  But Jesus can.  And Jesus has compassion on the people.  He has already healed the sick, now he is going to feed all of them.  Jesus can heal the sick and feed the hungry with just His words. He can do it because Jesus is not just a teacher or a prophet.  Jesus is God. Jesus is God in flesh.

You are a sinner and you cannot change that.  As hard as you try you cannot stop sinning.  All you have to do is to perfectly love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.  That’s all.  But you cannot do it.  It is impossible.  You cannot stop being a sinner.

Jesus tells the disciples to bring Him the five loaves and two fish.  He orders all the people to sit down on the grass and then looks up to heaven and blesses the food.  He breaks the loaves and gives them to the disciples and the disciples start handing out the food and they keep handing out the food.  They hand out bread and fish to all of the thousands of people.  How long would it take for twelve people to distribute food to 5,000 plus people?  The disciples do not run out of bread and fish until everyone has eaten and is satisfied.  Jesus has done the impossible through the disciples, and to top it off they collect twelve baskets full of leftovers.  With the disciples facing the impossible, Jesus, the Son of God, God in flesh, in His compassion, provides.  And He provides in abundance.

In life you will face many overwhelming things.  This whole pandemic and its effects are pretty overwhelming and looking at how to reopen schools is overwhelming.  Raising children is overwhelming.  You face many overwhelming things, but there is one thing you face that is impossible. You are a sinner and the wages of sin is death; eternal death in Hell.  You are a sinner and you cannot change that.  As hard as you try you cannot stop sinning.  All you have to do is to perfectly love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.  That’s all.  But you cannot do it.  It is impossible.  You cannot stop being a sinner.

Jesus does the impossible.  Jesus has compassion on you.  He loves you, and with His words, “I forgive you all your sins,” He declares you to be sinless.  He pours out forgiveness upon you in abundance with His Word–with the waters of Holy Baptism–with His own Body and Blood in Holy Communion.  He forgives you to overflowing.  Jesus’ pours our His love and forgiveness on you and fills you.  He fills your cup to the brim and then His love and forgiveness overflow to those around you in your love and forgiveness of others.

In His miracles, in His life, His death and His resurrection, Jesus shows that He is the Son of God; God in flesh.  As John the Baptist declared, Jesus is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. Jesus’ sacrifice on the altar of the cross is enough to pay for all your sins.  His suffering and death is credited to you.  His resurrection is your resurrection as you are born again of water and spirit and you will be raised from the dead on the last day.

In this life you will be assaulted by temptation and sin and by the devil himself trying to convince you that you must do it on your own, all the time knowing that you cannot.  He will tempt you to despair.  He will tempt you to give up when you face difficulties.  But you are not alone.  You have the armor of God.  You are covered by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Jesus has done the impossible.  He declared you to be righteous, innocent and blessed and if Jesus says it, it is true, because Jesus is the truth.

There are many things in life that are overwhelming.  And as we starkly learn from the death of John the Baptist, being a Christian is no guarantee of an easy life.  Jesus never promises to make this life easy, but He does promise to be with you; to never leave you or forsake you.  He promises you eternal life with Him.  Jesus is God. Jesus does the impossible.  From nothing He speaks the world into existence. He speaks water into wine.  He speaks sight to the blind.  He speaks life to the dead.  He speaks five loaves and two fish into enough to feed thousands. He speaks you from darkness to light; from sinner to sinless saint in the Kingdom of Heaven.  Jesus does the impossible.  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

 

You are God’s treasure; His pearl of great price

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Pentecost 8, 2020 Proper 12
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
July 26, 2020
Deuteronomy 7:6-9, Romans 8:28-39, Matthew 13:44-52

 

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

 

Today, in our Gospel reading Jesus teaches us four parables.  The challenge of these parables is that a couple of them do not have an obvious explanation.  When Jesus finishes the first three, He asks, Matthew 13:51 (ESV) 51 “Have you understood all these things?” They said to him, “Yes.”[1]  So it is entirely possible that Jesus never gave an interpretation of these parables.  Now that would be fine if the meaning was as obvious to us as it was to the disciples.

The first two parables are both very short, and the themes are similar: a man discovers something of great value and then sacrifices everything that he has in order to obtain it.  In the first parable, the item of great value is a treasure.  In the second, it is a precious pearl.  Despite the simplicity of the two parables, faithful theologians have come up with two possible interpretations.

One interpretation is that the Kingdom of Heaven is the item of great value … the treasure…the pearl.  In this case, the parable teaches that we should be like the man or the merchant, and give up everything to obtain the Kingdom of Heaven.

The other interpretation is that the Kingdom of Heaven is the main actor in the parable…the man or the merchant. In this case, both the treasure and the pearl represent the Holy Christian Church.  The idea is that the Kingdom of Heaven suffers all, in the person of Jesus Christ, in order to redeem you…His treasure…His pearl of great price.

The fact that good, solid, faithful theologians can, in all honesty, come up with two valid, reasonable interpretations of these parables does illustrate one point.  Unless the Bible itself gives the explanation to a parable, we should not base any teachings on parables.  We can use parables to illustrate teachings that are clearly expressed in other parts of the Bible, but we should not rely on parables alone as a source for doctrine.

But what should we do with the parables that we heard from Jesus this morning? Although I am not nearly as smart as the great theologians of the church, I am going to give you something to think about when you hear these parables.

Jesus begins the first of these parables and says, Matthew 13:44 (ESV) 44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. …[2]  This sounds like the Kingdom of Heaven is the treasure hidden in the field.  In that case, Jesus is indeed illustrating that the Kingdom of Heaven is precious.  In fact, it is so precious that Jesus goes on to say, (ESV) 44 “…Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. [3]  This implies that there is no price that is too much to pay for the treasure of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Because our sin has corrupted our human nature, we do not recognize the value of the Kingdom of Heaven.  We are certainly not inclined to surrender everything in order to obtain it.  And even if we wanted to obtain it, we are not able to pay the price required by so great a treasure.  So, we are beyond hope.

Now this would be great if it weren’t for one important detail.  As the Apostle Paul writes, Ephesians 2:1-3 (ESV) 1… you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.[4]  

Because our sin has corrupted our human nature, we do not recognize the value of the Kingdom of Heaven.  We are certainly not inclined to surrender everything in order to obtain it.  And even if we wanted to obtain it, we are not able to pay the price required by so great a treasure.  So, we are beyond hope.

But now we hear the second parable from the mouth of Jesus.  This time Jesus teaches, Matthew 13:45 (ESV) 45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls,[5]  In this parable, the Kingdom of Heaven is the merchant who searches for fine pearls.  With this parable, Jesus portrays the Kingdom of Heaven as the one who does the searching.  The Kingdom of Heaven is the Reign of God who searches for excellent pearls.  But what are these excellent pearls for which the Kingdom of Heaven searches?  At another time, Jesus Himself says, Luke 19:10 (ESV) 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”[6]  You are the excellent pearl.  In this second parable, Jesus is the merchant who sold all that he had…even his body to death on a cross…in order to obtain you…His precious Pearl.

Consider Jesus’ words this morning.  Matthew 13:44 (ESV) 44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. …[7]  In this parable, the Kingdom of Heaven isa precious treasure … beyond anything that we could pay.  Nevertheless, in the second parable, Jesus said, Matthew 13:45 (ESV) 45 “…the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls,[8] In the second parable, the Kingdom of Heaven searches for you.  You are the precious pearl for which Jesus Christ gave His all.

So, what difference does it make that you are the precious pearl of the Kingdom of Heaven.  Well, that becomes apparent in the next parable.

The Parable of the Net makes it very clear what will happen to all people on Judgment Day. Jesus compares the people of this world to the contents of a net full of fish.  Just as a net gathers up all things from the water, so Judgment Day will gather up all things.  Just as fishermen sort the contents of the net into trash and good fish, so God will send His angels to separate the evil from the righteous.  The righteous are those who have the righteousness of Christ through the Holy Spirit’s gift of faith.  They are God’s valuable treasure – His precious pearl.  The evil are those who refuse the Holy Spirit’s gift and rely on their own righteousness for salvation.  They may be valuable and precious in their own sight, but that means nothing in God’s eyes.

The Bible tells us that we are sinful creatures.  The psalmist says, Psalm 51:5 (ESV) 5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.[9]  From this we learn that we are sinners the instant we come into existence at conception. The prophet Isaiah says Isaiah 64:6 (ESV) 6 We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.[10]  From this verse we learn that nothing we do in our lives can change our sinful status.  Paul tells us, Romans 3:23 (ESV) 23 … all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,[11]  From this we learn that no one can escape from this sinful condition.

From today’s parables, you learn that God still considers you precious in spite of your sinful condition.  You learn that God will spare nothing to ransom you from this sinful condition.  Instead, He will give all that He has in order to purchase and redeem you from sin, death, and the power of the devil.  Peter writes, 1 Peter 1:18-19 (ESV) 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.[12]  From this we learn that Christ gave it all.  He paid for you with the currency of His holy, innocent blood … a shedding of blood leading to death.

You know that Christ’s payment is sufficient.  He does not remain in the grave, but rises on the third day.  His resurrection assures you that you are indeed God’s treasure.  You are His precious pearl.  His resurrection assures you that you also will rise from the dead.  It assures you that you, and all believers; God’s Holy and precious people, will enjoy heaven with Him forever.  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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds

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Pentecost 7, 2020
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Hilber Kamps
July 18, 19, 2020
Mathew 13: 24-30 36-43

 

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Our sermon text for this afternoon is our gospel lesson which is commonly called “The Parable of the Weeds in the Wheat” or “The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares.” The earthly side of this parable is based on a very nasty way to attack or take revenge on an enemy.  Keeping that in mind please pray with me and especially for me. Gracious Lord God, Heavenly Father, help us to accept the fact that that in this world good and evil will grow side by side.  Lead us also to count on Your wise timing and judgment.  Amen

Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father, and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. AMEN

In the Concordia Study Bible, the note from verse 25 indicated the weeds Jesus was speaking about was a specific type.  Bearded Darnel.  I had never heard of it.  Maybe because we never planted wheat on our farm in Wisconsin.

However, there is a plant that many people call darnel rye.  It looks like wheat, it grows like wheat, it competes with wheat for resources, but it is not wheat.  The point is that most people can’t tell the difference between this plant and real wheat.  That is, until the seeds begin to ripen.

Sowing this plant in a wheat field would be devastating.  This false-wheat would compete with the wheat for moisture, soil nutrition, sunlight, everything.  No one would discover the damage until it was too late.  By the time that wheat yield would be reduced considerably.

Intentionally planting this seed in someone’s field indicates a very long-term and deep-seated hatred.  No sane person would have a stockpile of darnel rye seeds in their own storehouse.  Accidents happen.  The seeds could get loose and infect your own fields.  No one kept these weed seeds around unless they planned to do damage with them.  The planning for this type of attack had to begin during the previous growing seasons.  Servants had to go throughout the countryside collecting these seeds during the previous harvest.  Either that, or the enemy needed to set aside a patch of valuable ground to grow his own weed seeds.  Either way, sowing these seeds required long-term planning.  This is the attack of someone who is willing to risk harm to themselves in order to take revenge on another.

Jesus began His explanation of the spiritual meaning of this parable by comparing the wheat field to His church.  He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. (Matthew 13:37–38) Jesus often talked about Himself as the Son of Man.  So, Jesus is talking about Himself as the one who sowed the good seed.  He said the field is the entire world.  This means that His salvation is for all people in all places and times.  The meaning of this parable crosses all borders and transcends all cultures.  The Children of the Kingdom are those who believe that Jesus is their savior which is another way of saying The Holy Christian Church.

This has all been pretty good news so far, but nothing in this sinful world remains untouched by sin.  Jesus continued, “The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil.” (Matthew 13:38–39) Here Jesus tells us that the devil sends his agents to infiltrate the earthly institutions of the church.  Just as darnel rye looks, acts, and grows like wheat, so these unbelievers look like Christians and act like Christians, but they are not Christians.  They are hypocrites.  In this parable, Jesus tells us that every church has hypocrites who are sons of the devil.

Martin Luther put it this way: “Wherever God builds a church, [the devil] builds his chapel or tabernacle next to it.” Daniel Defoe wrote a poem that says about the same thing.  Wherever God erects a house of prayer, The devil always builds a chapel there; And ’twill be found, upon examination, The latter has the largest congregation. 

You probably all know a hypocrite or two; and most of you probably remember back in 2011 when Jan and I moved here I was shaving my head bald.  Sometime later I began getting haircuts on the same day and very near to where Jan had her regular hair appointments.

Sometimes we talked about his church, sometimes about our church.  But I found a different shop when I realized the language was noticeably different when more people were present.

In retrospect, I should have made it known that I was going elsewhere because of his foul mouth. That’s what I did in writing, after patronizing ‘Jill the Barber’ for about three years.

That situation was a heated argument over the legalization of marijuana by her assistant; who got in my face while she was cutting my hair.  Now then I am not making this hypocrite analogy about “the weed,” but rather, about Christian Life-Style in the work place by Christians.

Even when Jesus Himself was the visible pastor of a congregation, there were hypocrites.  Think about it.  When Jesus sent the disciples out to do mission work among the lost sheep of Israel, Judas Iscariot was one of those disciples.  He cast out demons.  He preached the Word of the Kingdom of God.  He even held the office of treasurer. That is how much the other disciples trusted him.  They did not realize that he was a weed in the wheat field until after he betrayed Jesus in Gethsemane.  The early church had its weeds.  The Apostle Paul wanted to take the Gospel to the Gentiles and a group of weeds followed him everywhere he went.  They infiltrated the congregations that the Holy Spirit established through Paul and tried to teach that a person must fulfill the ceremonial law of the Jews before they could become a Christian.

Jesus’ parable helps me understand a very puzzling behavior.  There are people in every denomination of Christianity who want to change the teachings of that denomination.  These people would have the church to go along with the idea that suicide and elective abortion are valid solutions to life’s problems.  They want the church to promote the gay and transgender life style.  They want the church to treat the Bible as a quaint, but old-fashioned book of fairy tales. Don’t you just wonder, “Why don’t these people join an organization that agrees with them?  There are plenty of religious organizations out there that agree with what they want.  Why don’t they join them?  Why do they have to cause trouble and heartache among those who simply wish to follow the Word of God?” This parable helps understand these people.  They are the sons of the evil one.  It is not enough for them to have an organization of people who agree with them, but the evil one drives them to destroy all organizations who do not agree with them.  Of course, there are times that all of us have acted like weeds.  We often try to get what we want without checking the Bible to see what God wants.  Instead of loving God above all things, we love ourselves.  Instead of loving our neighbor, we seek to exploit our neighbor. When God’s Word specifically teaches something that we don’t like, we try to find a work-around that will let us do what we want instead of what God wants.  That part of us that acts like weeds should terrify us. Jesus teaching in today’s Gospel is clear.  He said, “The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 13:39–42) Jesus very clearly teaches that hypocrites in congregations will suffer an eternal fate that is like a fiery furnace … a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth.  I imagine many of you are reacting the same way the disciples did when Jesus said one of them was a betrayer.  In Matthew 26 we read: When it was evening, [Jesus] reclined at table with the twelve. And as they were eating, he said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” And they were very sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?” (Matthew 26:20–22)  Many of you are thinking to yourself, “Does Jesus mean me?” We all, like the disciples, know that we have been hypocrites.  As someone once said, “Saying that the church is full of hypocrites is a lot like saying that a hospital is full of sick people.” So, it is normal, it is natural for the true wheat to ask Jesus, “Lord, are You talking about me?”  The Good News is that Jesus died for all sinners.  That includes hypocrites.  He invites all hypocrites to come to Him for healing.  Where else can hypocrites go to receive healing?  Where else can hypocrites go to get rid of their hypocrisy?  This is the comfort we receive in God’s Word. There we learn that Jesus suffered and died on the cross for ALL sins.  The Bible says, “He died for all.” (2 Corinthians 5:15) The blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7) He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:2) There is no question that Jesus paid the penalty for every sin with His suffering and death on the cross.  There is no question that God the Father accepted that sacrifice as payment in full, for Jesus did not remain in the grave, but He rose from the dead.

Jesus offers forgiveness, life, and salvation to all people through the Holy Spirit’s gift of faith.  By creating faith in us, the Holy Spirit quietly goes about the miracle of converting fake wheat into the real thing.  He converts the sons of the devil into the Sons of God.  Jesus ended His parable with the end of all things.  When the wheat matured, it was time for the harvest.  Jesus said, “The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 13:39–42)  For most of us, this Day of Judgment will come at our earthly death, but there will be some who live until the end of the world.  In either case, those who refuse God’s gifts of forgiveness, life, and salvation will be gathered up and thrown into the eternal fires of hell.  In that place, they will cry and clench their teeth in pain.  Jesus also said, “Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. (Matthe13:43) On that Day of Judgment, those who have the gift of faith that the Holy Spirit created in their heart will have the righteousness that Jesus earned for them on the cross.  They will share in His glory; a glory that shines like the sun. Jesus will share all things with them.  His kingdom will be their kingdom and His Father will be their Father.

There will be a day when Jesus will send His angels to remove the fake wheat and take the true wheat out of this sinful world to Himself in eternity.  There the true wheat, that is all those who truly believe in Jesus as savior, will live in joy forever, because He has forgiven all of your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen

Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 21: The Sermon on the Mount and the Magnificat, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999