The Audacity of Resurrection

SERMON AUDIO

WORSHIP SERVICE VIDEO

WORSHIP SERVICE AUDIO

WORSHIP SERVICE BULLETIN

 

Lent 5 2020
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
March 29, 2020
Ezekiel 37:1-14, Romans 8:1-11, John 11:1-53

 

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

 

Unless you were paying close attention, you would have missed it.  Jesus’ first sign in the Gospel of John is done very quietly.  At His mother’s request he turns around 120 gallons of water into wine at a wedding in Cana a few miles north of Nazareth.  Jesus does the miracle discreetly.  Only Mary, the disciples and the servants know what happened.  It was the first of Jesus’ signs of who He really is, but He does not make a big deal out of it.

His identifying signs become less discreet as He interacts with the Samaritan woman at the well and tells her all about herself and she shares it with her whole village.  Then, back in Cana, Jesus heals the son of an official from Capernaum.  Down in Jerusalem on a Sabbath, Jesus heals a crippled man at the pool of Bethesda and the man tells the Jewish leaders it was Jesus who did it.  Up in Galilee Jesus feeds 5,000 and then walks on water.  In our Gospel reading last week Jesus heals a man born blind in Jerusalem causing a great stir among the people and the leaders.  The number of people following Jesus grows, and the opposition to Jesus grows.  There are plans to arrest Jesus and plots to kill Jesus, especially in the areas around Jerusalem.  It is a tense situation.  Despite the danger, Jesus visits Jerusalem for the winter Feast of Dedication, which is now called Hanukkah, and while He is there the Jews pick up rocks and are ready throw them at Jesus to stone Him to death but he escapes and goes down across the Jordan where it is calmer and safer.

Jesus starts out discreetly doing signs, now he is going to do a sign with audacity.  Jesus is going to take bold risks.  At Jesus’ first miracle in Cana He tells His mother, John 2:4 (ESV) 4 … “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.”[1] Now, Jesus’ hour has come.  He is across the Jordan at the place John had been baptizing.  He is hunkered down with his disciples.  People come to Jesus saying, John 10:41 (ESV) 41 … “John did no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true.”[2]  Into this riverside place of peace and safety comes a messenger from the village of Bethany near Jerusalem.  Jesus’ friend Lazarus is sick.  His sisters, Mary and Martha, want Jesus to come and heal Lazarus. The disciples must tense up to think they will have to return to where Jesus was almost killed.  They don’t know that it is now Jesus’ hour.  Jesus is going to be audacious and He strategically sets everything up just right.  He delays their return to Bethany by telling the disciples, John 11:4 (ESV) 4 …“This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”[3] It sounds like they are staying put so the disciples relax.  Two days pass and then Jesus announces John 11:7 (ESV) 7 … “Let us go to Judea again.”[4]

The disciples had been relieved, but are now concerned and protest,  John 11:8 (ESV) 8 … “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?”[5]  It is kind of cute how the disciples, just like us, feel the need to remind Jesus of the “reality” of the situation as they second guess his decisions.  Jesus declares that it is time to act while it is day and that Lazarus is asleep and Jesus will go awaken Him, and then has to explain to the disciples that when He said Lazarus is asleep, He meant Lazarus is dead.  Thomas, knowing the risks of Jerusalem, bravely declares to the twelve, John 11:16 (ESV) 16 …“Let us also go, that we may die with him.” [6]

Jesus and the disciples go to Bethany and meet Lazarus’ sister Martha on the road.  Martha is distraught with grief over her brother who has been dead for four days. She is upset that Jesus was not there to save Lazarus, but still retains faith in Jesus.  John 11:21-22 (ESV) 21 Martha [says] to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.”[7]

John 11:23-24 (ESV) 23 Jesus [says] to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha [says] to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”[8]

Martha has good, solid faith in God.  She knows, perhaps better than many Christians today, that the dead will be raised on the last day.  What she doesn’t know is she has the resurrection standing in front of her.

Jesus is the resurrection and He declares victory over death right there in Bethany to grieving Martha with Lazarus lying dead nearby in a tomb.  Jesus declares authority over death and now He will demonstrate that audacious authority in front of a crowd of witnesses so there will be no denying what He has done.

Jesus is truly audacious.  He confronts death and declares, John 11:25-26 (ESV) 25 … “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”[9]

Jesus is the resurrection and He declares victory over death right there in Bethany to grieving Martha with Lazarus lying dead nearby in a tomb.  Jesus declares authority over death and now He will demonstrate that audacious authority in front of a crowd of witnesses so there will be no denying what He has done.

Martha goes to get Mary, and Mary quickly gets up and departs and the Jews at the house follow her and they all meet Jesus on the road.  Mary is crying, the Jews are crying, everyone is torn up by the death of Lazarus.  Death is tragic.  Death is the enemy.  Death is not part of God’s original plan in creation but is a result of sin.  Jesus is deeply moved and troubled by death and asks to be taken to the grave and then Jesus weeps.  Even knowing what is about to happen, death troubles Jesus; death saddens Jesus.

I think this is an important point to remember when Christians mourn the death of loved ones.  There is some social push lately to not have a funeral or memorial service but instead have a celebration of life.  I fear that this can make folks feel guilty that they are sad at the death of a loved one; as if their grief is somehow denying the resurrection of the dead. Jesus shows us here how there is absolutely a resurrection of the dead, and, at the same time, death still brings tears.

There is murmuring in the crowd as there was with Mary and Martha, “Why didn’t Jesus keep Lazarus from dying?”  In this case, healing a sick man is not audacious enough.

Jesus, Mary and Martha and the crowd of Jews go to the tomb and Jesus, with great audacity, demands that they take away the stone from the front of the tomb. And at this point Martha, dear, practical Martha, really must protest.  Okay, all this raising of the dead talk is fine and dandy, but this is real death, there is a real dead body in that tomb, and it has really been in there for four days, and real dead bodies decompose and start to smell like…well, they smell like death.

Jesus, however, is not worried about the reality or stench of death because Jesus has real authority over death and with great audacity John 11:40 (ESV) 40 Jesus [says] to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?”[10] Jesus’ audacity is greater than practical concerns about the stink of death and they roll away the stone.  Jesus prays out loud so that people will hear him and know that Jesus is the one sent by God the Father.  And then Jesus does something so audacious it is really ridiculous.  Jesus yells at a corpse.  Jesus gives an order to a dead man.  John 11:43 (ESV) 43 … “Lazarus, come out.”[11] How stupid is it to yell orders at a dead man?  It is ultimately stupid, unless…unless…you are the resurrection and the life…unless, you have authority over death…unless, you are God in flesh.

The dead man obeys Jesus’ command and Lazarus comes walking out of the tomb wrapped in grave clothes.  Jesus orders that he be unbound and freed.

In front of a crowd of onlookers Jesus raises a man from the dead who has been dead for four days.  The people are amazed by what they see.  Some believe that Jesus is the Christ sent from God.  Others are horrified, because Jesus is their enemy, and they run off to the Pharisees to report what has happened.  Jesus purposely does an audacious miracle that cannot be explained away or ignored and the Jewish leaders are stirred to action.  Jesus must die.  He must die as soon as possible.  The Jewish leaders lament, John 11:48 (ESV) 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”[12] You just can’t let someone live who is audacious enough to command dead people to live and they obey.  They want to kill Jesus and they want to kill Lazarus too since he is a living, breathing advertisement for Jesus’ power over death. It is time for Jesus to die. Jesus’ hour has come.

John 11:49-50 (ESV) 49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 50 Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.”[13]

Caiaphas is more right than he knows.  Truly, truly it is better for one man to die to save the people.  This is what Jesus has come to do.  This is Jesus’ mission that will soon bring Him in front of Caiaphas to be questioned, found guilty, turned over to Pontius Pilate, flogged, crowned with thorns, paraded through the streets, and crucified at Golgotha, the place of a skull.  Jesus’ audacity in raising Lazarus from the dead leads to Jesus’ crucifixion and death and burial in a tomb.  Jesus trades places with Lazarus.  But Jesus has authority over death.

This is quite an Easter Gospel reading here in the middle of Lent.  Jesus is the resurrection and the life.  Jesus can raise the dead.  Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead.  Jesus Himself is raised from the dead.  Jesus will raise you from the dead.

And so it is with great audacity that each week we confess in the creeds that we believe in the resurrection of the dead.  That is the resurrection of your body on the Last Day.  It is with great audacity that at funerals we declare Jesus’ words, John 11:25-26 (ESV) 25 … “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”[14]

It is with great audacity that even though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death you fear no evil.  In the face of the death of a loved one; in the face of your own death, you are saddened, but you do not grieve as those who have no hope.  You have great hope.  You have Jesus.

Jesus is the resurrection and the life. You have the audacity to believe that you have eternal life.  You know it is true because that is what Jesus has promised you.  Amen.

 

 


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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

[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

 

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

 

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

 

Murderous Eyes

SERMON AUDIO

WORSHIP VIDEO

BULLETIN

 

Lent Wednesday 5
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
March 25, 2020 Covid 19
Mark 14:1–2, 53–65

 

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

 

“If looks could kill.” Can you picture eyes filled with rage? Likely you’ve seen it in the eyes of another; perhaps you’ve seen it on your own face if you glanced in the mirror when you are angry. In the ancient world and still today in some cultures, the “evil eye” is a look that is thought to cause harm to the recipient. That’s how I envision the eyes of the chief priests, scribes, Sadducees and Pharisees, as they plotted Jesus’ death in today’s Passion Reading. They were filled with hatred and murder as they gazed upon Jesus being greeted with praise in Jerusalem during Holy Week, and before that, when face-to-face with Jesus, they heard Him speak woes and reproaches to them. If they could have spewed venom or shot arrows from their eyes at the Lord, they would have.

I don’t remember now what I did to deserve it, but I recall my reaction. My mother had again reprimanded me and sent me to my room. I remember going into my room closing the door and muttering, “I hate you, I hate you, I hate you! I’m sure for a moment my eyes had that murderous look the Jewish leaders had. But I knew in my heart that I had gotten what I had coming and needed to be sorry and change my ways.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” said Jesus (Matthew 23:29). He is reprimanding the religious leaders.  This rhetoric wouldn’t fit in with Dale Carnegie’s advice given in his 1936 bestseller How to Win Friends and Influence People. But it was what they needed to hear, so those words were spoken in love, just as parents do when disciplining their children. God and His representatives do not speak the Law to us in malice, but instead do it because we need to recognize our sin and know what to repent of.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” said Jesus. “For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers” (Matthew 23:29–32).

Jesus wanted them to recognize their rank hypocrisy and repent. “Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers” Jesus mockingly says to bring them face-to-face with the murder that lay in their hearts under their pious pretenses of honoring the murdered prophets and behind their pious platitudes of “We wouldn’t have done what our fathers did.” But multigenerational guilt is real when the sons of the fathers lack repentance, so Jesus challenges them to push things forward to their logical conclusion: “I know your hearts! I can see the murder in your eyes! Go ahead! Walk in the steps of your fathers! Why don’t you go ahead and kill Me too and continue your family tradition!”

“There is nothing new under the sun,” said the Preacher in Ecclesiastes. Murderous thoughts and looks are as old as the fall into sin. Cain’s downcast eyes became murderous toward his brother. Murder comes from man, but the original source is the devil, who, Jesus says, was a liar and murderer from the beginning. St. John says that the murderer Cain “was of the evil one” (1 John 3:12). In addressing the Jews who wanted to kill Him, Jesus identifies Satan as the father of all who hate God’s Son.

But how does that pertain to us? Aren’t John and Jesus just talking about Cain and the murderous Jewish leaders? Surely the Lord’s not talking to us Christians, is He? But listen to God’s Word from 1 John, “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (1 John 3:15). And a bit later, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen” (4:20). Follow the logic. If I claim to love God while hating my brother, I am both a murderer and a liar and cannot love God, and if I don’t love Him, then I must hate Him. Looks like Cain and the hostile Jews and all of us are in the same boat. This is why we make this confession to Jesus in the old hymn:

I caused Thy grief and sighing

By evils multiplying

As countless as the sands.

I caused the woes unnumbered

With which Thy soul is cumbered,

Thy sorrows raised by wicked hands. (TLH 171:4)

Don’t lie to yourself. You have said in your heart, “I have reasons for hating my parents. I can make excuses for wishing that my brother were dead. I have good cause for casting an evil eye upon my neighbor.” That’s enough to make you a murderer in God’s sight and place you under His wrath. The Jews filled up the measure of their fathers in today’s Passion Reading, and if we’re honest with ourselves, we must see ourselves right along with them.

The wrath of God is not a murderous glance from the Father, but a look of righteous judgment upon the guilt of sin. We all deserve God’s wrath, but instead of giving us what we deserved, God put it on Jesus, and Jesus willingly took it, for us men and for our salvation.

What a marvel, then, that the Father would allow His Son to be murdered at the hands of sinful men, just to save a bunch of rotten, rebellious sinners with eyes filled with rage against God and man. “But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by His blood, much more shall we be saved by Him from the wrath of God” (Romans 5:8–9).

The wrath of God is not a murderous glance from the Father, but a look of righteous judgment upon the guilt of sin. We all deserve God’s wrath, but instead of giving us what we deserved, God put it on Jesus, and Jesus willingly took it, for us men and for our salvation.

From the cross, Jesus looked upon the masses of humanity and said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Original sin, which produces lies, hatred, murder, and every other sin, is so deep a corruption that we cannot recognize the depravity of what we think, say, and do unless it is revealed by God’s Word. But once our murderous eyes have looked in horror on what we really have done—nailing the innocent Son of God to the tree with our sins—then we also are ready for the joyful Good News of the forgiveness of all of our sins.  Forgiveness for the sake of Christ’s voluntary sacrifice at the hands of murderers; the death by which He has extinguished the wrath of God toward us. “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by His life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation” (Romans 5:10–11). Rejoice in Christ, who has turned your murderous eyes away from sin, guilt, and despair and lifted them up to look upon Himself as your Savior. Amen.

 

 

Sin is the problem. Jesus is the cure.

Sermon Audio

Service Video

Bulletin

Lent 4 2020
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
March 22, 2020
Isaiah 42:14-21, Ephesians 5:8-14, John 9:1-41

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 fresh out of college working for a very small international construction and export company in Northern Virginia I learned a lot of different things.  One thing the boss taught me is that you can judge a man by his shoes.  If he is wearing well-polished, $300 dress shoes you know that he is a good person.  And if someone is wearing falling apart, cheap shoes you can tell that they have character flaws.  Like they say, the clothes make the man.

Deep down you know and I know that this is a terrible way to view people, and yet, sadly, it is often exactly how we judge others.  We take a look at them and evaluate what they look like and what they are wearing and categorize them accordingly.

We see someone who looks like they have had a hard life and we too often want to assign blame.  There is a meme circulating that says, “Everything happens for a reason, but sometimes that reason is that you’re stupid and make bad decisions.”  How often do we view other people through this lens?

In our Gospel reading today the disciples are using a similar lens to view a blind man that they meet.  This man has been blind from birth and instead of seeing him as a person, the disciples judge him by his disability.  They want to assign blame.  They want to use the man as a theological illustration.  John 9:2 (ESV) 2 … “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”[1]

Whose fault is it?  Someone must have done something wrong.  Someone must have made a bad decision.  The disciples are not seeing the situation properly and Jesus sets them straight.  John 9:3-5 (ESV) 3 … “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”[2]

This man’s blindness is no one’s fault, but his blindness allows Jesus to show His power over disease and disability.  It allows Jesus to show His authority as God in flesh.  This man’s story does not begin with his birth.  This man’s story will not end with his death.  This man’s story, and your story, begins in the beginning with God’s creation and it will conclude in the end with God’s restoration on the last day of this world, which is the first day of eternity with God. In between creation and restoration God is at work with his people.  Jesus comes to begin the restoration.  He restores this man’s sight and he continues His work of restoration by taking the sin of the world into Himself and becoming the ultimate sin offering on the cross at Calvary.  John 3:17 (ESV) 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.[3]

The disciples misunderstand the man’s blindness.  The neighbors of the man also misunderstand.  They misunderstand Jesus’ healing of the man and even deny that this is the same man that was born blind.  The Pharisees misunderstand Jesus’ healing of the man’s blindness.  Instead of marveling that this man who has been blind from birth can now see, they are concerned that Jesus broke a rule; that the healing took place on a Sabbath day.  Instead of being in awe at Jesus’ divine authority, they focus on their rules and lose the amazing truth that Jesus is the Christ.  Jesus is the cure.  They deny Jesus.

Even the man’s parents misunderstand Jesus’ healing of their son.  They are so intimidated by the Jewish religious leaders who have threatened to throw them out of the synagogue that they say they don’t know how their son was cured.  They deny Jesus is the cure.  They deny Jesus.

Finally the Pharisees and the Jewish leaders give the formerly blind man one last opportunity to deny Jesus and when he won’t, they cast him out of the synagogue and the community.

Jesus cures this man’s lifetime of blindness and it is seen as something awful and repellent because the religious leaders are so wrapped up in themselves and their rules that they miss the miraculous thing that just happened.  They reject the man who was cured.  They reject Jesus as the cure.  They reject Jesus.

Being so caught up in our own stuff that we miss Jesus is still an issue today. Jesus is the cure for the most devastating illness imaginable; sin.  Sin is the disease that brings death and hell.  Sin is your problem and Jesus is the cure for sin.  It is pretty straightforward and yet so many people get distracted by the details and the busyness of life that they miss Jesus. People can get so caught up in minutia of the rules that they can lose sight of the truth that Jesus is the cure for sin.  It is so easy to get caught up in thinking that all God is about is sin and punishment. You can get so caught up looking at other people’s sin that you forget about your own sin and especially forget that the main point is not sin and punishment.  Sin is indeed serious and sin brings death and damnation, but the main point is that Jesus comes to forgive sin.  Jesus comes to restore His creation.  Jesus comes to give you eternal life.  Jesus washes you clean, liberates you from the condemnation of the law, and frees you to live life as the light of the world; loving God and loving your neighbor.  Sin is the problem.  Jesus is the cure.  He gives you this holy medicine in your baptism, in His words of absolution, in His Body and Blood in Holy Communion.

That’s what makes this time of COVID-19 precautions so difficult.  Sin is still the problem and Jesus is still the cure but we are kept from our fellowship together around the Word.  We are kept from gathering to receive the Body and Blood of Jesus.  It is a time to mourn our separation and it is a time to look forward to our gathering together once again when restrictions are lifted.

It is a difficult time, but it is also a time that we remain united as the Body of Christ; His Church.  It is our time to continue to hear the word of God online as you are doing now, and it is a time to speak the Good News of Jesus to one another.  It is a time to read the Word of God.  It is a time to pray.  It is a time to pray for family, church, community, nation and world.  A time to pray for those who are ill and those who provide treatment.  A time to pray for those who cannot work and those who must work.  A time to pray for patience and joy in times of distress and uncertainty.  A time to reach out in love to your neighbor to serve and support in whatever ways you can.

It is a time to continue to do your part as a member of this fellowship and check in with fellow members.  Call those who sit around you at church and share the peace of the Lord with one another. It is a time to continue to give generously to the ministry here at Immanuel.  It can be done online through our website, by text, or by mailing in your offering.  Resist the temptation to think this is a time to take a break from Jesus and His Church.

It is easy to get distracted by the all the news and restrictions.  It is easy to be overwhelmed.  However, it is a time to remember that even in this season of COVID-19 the greatest threat of all is still sin.  Sin, death and the devil are a much larger threat than the coronavirus.  This virus will run its course, a cure will be found, the problem of sin will remain.  But we already have a cure for sin.  The cure is Jesus.

Don’t get distracted by the things of the world and miss the things of God. Don’t get confused and judge others by appearances.  Certainly don’t judge a man by his shoes.  In all that is going on with lives being upended, don’t lose track of what is truly important.  Jesus is God in flesh for you.

Your problem was sin.  Jesus has cured you with His blood.  In Christ you have 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

 

Denying Eyes

Sermon Audio

Sermon Video

Lent Wednesday 4
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
March 18, 2020
Mark 14:26–31, 66–72

 

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

 

Two weeks ago, we looked at and through Judas’s betraying eyes and recognized our own betrayals of the Lord. Last week, we saw the disciples’ sleepy eyes in the Garden of Gethsemane and identified the times we have fallen asleep as Christians. This week, we examine other ways sinful eyes can fail as we examine the denying eyes of Peter, of the other apostles, and even of all of us.

Back in the Upper Room, the eleven apostles and Jesus had sung a post-Communion hymn and then headed for the Mount of Olives. There were only eleven with Jesus because Judas had already departed to get staged for his betrayal. Jesus told the group they would all fall away, in fulfillment of Zechariah 13:7, “Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.” Their proud spokesman, Peter, thought he was exempt from this, saying to Jesus, “Even though they all fall away, I will not” (Mark 14:29). Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times” (v. 30). But Peter said emphatically, “If I must die with You, I will not deny You” (v. 31). They all said the same!

“They all said the same.” Not just Peter, but they all tried to exempt themselves from His saying and denied that they would fall away from Jesus, which was very foolish: they were denying the words from the lips of Jesus and the inspired and inerrant Word of God recorded by the prophet.

You’ve probably heard the song “Lyin’ Eyes” by the Eagles. Even though you try and disguise your intent with a smile, the song writer tells us, it is not enough to hide your lying eyes. If our eyes give away lies to one another, then how much more can the omniscient Lord Jesus see lying and denying in the eyes of His disciples of all times and places?

What was in the eyes of the apostles as they looked upon Jesus predicting their falling away from Him? Perhaps first a look of horror at such an awful prospect; then a look of disbelief as they processed His saying and began to form their defense; and then that slightly crazed look of a religious fanatic who thinks he can keep his vows to God simply by fervor, by his own force of will.

Yes, the eyes of the apostles weren’t really seeing Jesus and letting the truth of His words sink into their ears; they were blinded by their own strong delusions; they were lying to themselves as they were denying their Lord’s words; they were focused on their own perceptions and plans; they had their minds on the things of men rather than on the things of God (cf. Mark 8:33).

Who is the Man who stands next to Yahweh? Jesus. He is the One against whom the Father bids the sword awaken. “I will strike the shepherd,” says the Father. It’s just like we heard a couple weeks ago, that the one who ultimately handed Jesus over wasn’t Judas but the Father Himself.

So the other ten apostles would go on to deny Jesus by falling away in spite of their strident protests to the contrary, and we see Peter verbally deny Jesus in dramatic fashion during his cross-examination by a little servant girl and some bystanders. But as we saw last week with Jesus alone staying awake while the others slept, it had to be this way: He had to be the last one standing, the only one making “the good confession” (1 Timothy 6:13), the one who would never deny the will of His Father but humbly submitted to suffering and death, for us and for our salvation.

When Jesus had quoted the prophecy of Zechariah, He had actually added a couple words to it that I left out earlier. He said, “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered” (Mark 14:27). This is a quote from the Lord God of Israel Himself: “Awake, O sword, against My shepherd, against the Man who stands next to Me,’ declares the Lord of hosts. ‘Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered’ ” (Zechariah 13:7).

Who is the Man who stands next to Yahweh? Jesus. He is the One against whom the Father bids the sword awaken. “I will strike the shepherd,” says the Father. It’s just like we heard a couple weeks ago, that the one who ultimately handed Jesus over wasn’t Judas but the Father Himself. Or as we heard last week, it was the Father’s will that Jesus drink the cup of His wrath in full, emptying its last drop. That takes us back to Isaiah 53 and the Father’s will to crush the Messiah so that the masses would be accounted righteous in the Father’s sight: “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:4–5, emphasis added). “I will strike the shepherd,” said the Father, and Jesus was stricken with all of that, for you.

But that’s not all! Earlier, I focused on Jesus’ words about the disciples falling away and denying Jesus, but I left out the Gospel! Jesus told them they would all fall away, but then He said: “But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee” (Mark 14:28). His words about their falling away and denial did prove true, but even better, so did His prediction of the resurrection and His subsequent appearing to the apostles. To these denying and doubting apostles, Jesus entrusted the teaching and baptizing that would go out to all nations and turn deniers of God into confessors, into followers of Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit.

And what about Peter, who had fallen in so spectacular a fashion, who had denied that he even knew Jesus? First, I should point out that he seems to have been one of the only ones with the courage to get even close to Jesus’ trial. Second, we think we would never do such a thing, but how many times have we stood by silently when someone spoke words contradicting our Lord’s Word? How many opportunities to confess the Gospel to others have we passed up for fear of giving offense? And finally, we should recognize in Peter an example to follow in the way he expressed his contrition over what he had done. Unlike Judas, who did have a change of heart but tried to deal with his guilt on his own, Peter had true, godly sorrow (cf. 2 Corinthians 7:10) over his sin, which prepared him for the Absolution he would receive on Easter, when Jesus appeared to the apostles, showed them His hands and side, and spoke the forgiving “Peace be with you.”

And later on, in Galilee, Peter got a special singling-out that left no doubt he was restored from being a denier and was placed into the office of confessor. At the Sea of Tiberias (the Sea of Galilee), Jesus showed up for a breakfast on the beach with some of the disciples, including Peter. Jesus gave Peter a threefold admonition to feed His sheep, which negates Peter’s threefold denial, and then, Jesus said, “Follow Me,” to the restored Peter. And now He says the same to you. “If anyone would come after Me,” Jesus says, “let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:34–36, emphasis added).

Through your Baptism into Christ, you have been given a gift greater than the whole world. You have lost your life in this world for the sake of Christ and have now found your life in Him and His kingdom where you are saved from sin, death, and hell. You now look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. “Come, follow Me,” Jesus says. Come, for it is a truly joyful journey. Amen.

From outcast to a great missionary

SERMON AUDIO

Lent 3 2020
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Hilbert Kamps
March 15, 2020
Exodus 17:1-7, Romans 5:1-8, John 4:5-26 (27-30, 39-42)

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

 

In the name of the F/S/HS. AMEN            Our sermon text for this day is the Gospel reading from ST. JOHN, where we read again at verse 7: There came a woman of Samaria to draw water.  Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.”   So far our text….will you please pray with me?…..and especially for me? Gracious Lord God Heavenly Father,  just as Your Son Jesus taught the Gospel to this Samaritan woman and to Nicodemus, so may we also recognize and boldly full-fill the opportunities you give us to spread the ‘Good News’ of Jesus……..in whose name we pray.  AMEN   G/M/P B unto U frm God our F & our L & S Jesus Christ!  A                One of the ways to add a little variety to daily Bible study is to vary the amount of the bible that you read from day to day. On some days, you can focus on one verse of the Bible.  You can meditate on that verse all day as you go about your daily activities                           At other times, you can choose to read a complete event of Bible history or on a complete teaching of doctrine at one time. You can do word studies where you search through the bible for a particular word or phrase and notice all the different ways the Bible uses that word or phrase.      Then, every so often, it is good to read an entire book of the Bible in one sitting.  When you read an entire book, you notice very instructive patterns that you may not notice when you meditate on shorter sections of the Bible.                                                                                                                                                           There is a pattern between last week’s Gospel from John and the reading that we just heard a few minutes ago.  You may remember that last week we heard about the conversation that Jesus had with a Pharisee named Nicodemus.  This morning, we heard about a conversation that Jesus had with the woman at the well.                              The Holy Spirit inspired John to place these two conversations near one another.  First, John recorded the conversation with Nicodemus where He spoke of the new birth of water and the Spirit.    Then, he recorded a few verses that describe Jesus teaching His disciples to baptize near the place John the Baptist was baptizing.  Then the verses after that record that Jesus walked straight north through Samaria to meet the woman at the well and talk to her about living water.                              The account of Nicodemus and the account of the woman at the well are only separated by this ministry of baptism that Jesus taught to His disciples.  The accounts of Nicodemus and the woman at the well just invite us to make comparisons.                Last week, we heard “Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.” (John 3:1) Notice he was a man, a Pharisee, and a ruler.  This is someone who is at the apex of society … respected … a teacher …the cream of the crop. Today, we heard that Jesus was sitting beside Jacob’s well when a woman from Samaria came to draw water. (John 4:6–7) We also heard that this woman had been married five times and was currently living with a man who was not her husband. (John 4:17–18) It would be hard to find someone who was more different than Nicodemus.  Nicodemus was a male.  The woman was a female.                Nicodemus was a Jew.     The woman was a Samaritan. Nicodemus was a Pharisee … a man who had high moral standards                                             The woman was living in adultery.      Many people would point at Nicodemus and say, “Here is an example of the best.”  Many people would point at the woman       and say,        “Here is an example of the worst.”

Jesus had three good reasons not to talk with this woman.     She was a female.  She was a Samaritan.  She was an adulterer. Any one of these characteristics would be enough to prevent communication. No one would blame Jesus for ignoring this woman.                                                                     In fact, they would expect Him to ignore her. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit inspired John to tell us what time of the day it was.  Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour. (John 4:6) That would be about noon…….when the sun would bear down in full power.  It was one thing for a weary traveler like Jesus to be at the well in the middle of the day, but the locals would come out to the well after the sun was low in the sky … during the cool of the day.  The well would become the focal point of community life in the late afternoon and early evening.                                                The fact that this woman came out at noon tells us that she was not welcome in the community.     Even they shunned her.                         This woman was an outcast in every sense of the word.

Never the less, Jesus had some challenging teaching for this woman just as He had challenging teaching for Nicodemus the Pharisee in the reading we heard last week.            Jesus broke down the barriers between Himself and this woman and showed that His teaching is for all people in all times and in all places.                                                        Jesus transcended the cultural barriers between Him and the woman in a very simple way.  He asked for a drink of water. With this seemingly simple request, He blew away the barriers that stood between them.             The Holy Spirit inspired John  to bring out the tremendous cultural break that this was…… by recording the woman’s response and then adding an editorial comment of his own.  The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) (John 4:9) It is clear that Jesus will break down any barrier that seeks to prevent Him from doing what is right and fulfilling His vocation as Messiah.

Once Jesus broke down the cultural barriers, He began teaching this woman just as He taught Nicodemus in last week’s reading.   Jesus told the woman, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” (John 4:10)                                    The woman struggled with Jesus’ words.  She said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? (John 4:11) The woman expressed confusion because what Jesus said did not make sense from her point of view.                             She was thinking in terms of the flesh and not in terms of the spirit.                                  Jesus then took her to a special kind of water.  He said, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again,  (14)  but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty forever. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13–14)                            Here is another time that Jesus prepared someone for baptism.         He spoke of the spring of water welling up to eternal life.                                                      His words invite the woman to change her focus from her short life here in time to her life forever in eternity.       It was then that Jesus began dealing with her poor lifestyle choices. He confronted her lifestyle with a simple request.  Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” (John 4:16)                This was a reasonable request.  In fact, according to the culture of that day, this is what Jesus should have done to begin with. Men did not normally interact with women outside of their family. Instead, a man normally went through another man who was closely related to the woman – a husband, father, adult son, or some other close relative.     In this case, however, this ordinary request began a process that would cause the woman to confront her guilt.  The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” (John 4:17) Then Jesus laid her sins out before her.  He said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” (John 4:17–18)      Jesus laid out this woman’s lifestyle of adultery ……….. a sin that was punishable by death …… a sin that is still evil in God’s eyes today ……… a sin that earns eternal punishment.

It may seem that God is cruel when He forces us to face our sin, but that is not the case.  This is actually part of the love that God has for us.    As the Holy Spirit shows our sin to us, He shows us that we cannot save ourselves.        He shows us that we must receive our salvation from outside of ourselves.  He shows us our need for a savior.                     This reality check with the law prepares us for the living water of the Gospel.                         You see, once the Law has softened our hearts, the Holy Spirit uses the living water of the Gospel to show our savior to us.                                 Notice how Jesus brought the Gospel to the woman.             2  2 5 The woman said to [Jesus], “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.” (John 4:25–26)                      The same Jesus who presented this woman with her sin now shows her the salvation from that sin.                              Jesus is the Gospel in the flesh.                 He is the Messiah, the Christ, the anointed one.      He is the savior from all our sins. The Holy Spirit used these words to work faith in this woman.     t It was just as Jesus had said. She became a spring of living water. The living water of the Gospel quickly became a fountain in this woman.  The woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, 29“Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” (John 4:28–29)   The living water in her produced an instant missionary.     God used the living water of the Gospel that came out of this adulterous woman to perform an immense miracle.   A Samaritan town asked a Jewish rabbi to teach them. He taught them for two days.           Can you imagine today’s Palestinians allowing a Jewish rabbi to teach them for two days? Eventually, the people of this town confessed, “We know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.” (John 4:42) These people only had the books of Moses, but that was enough.  They knew that this was the Seed of the Woman that God had promised to Adam and Eve in the Garden.      They knew that this was the offspring of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob through whom all the nations of the world would be blessed.         They knew this was the fulfillment of all the sacrifices required by the Law of Moses.                                                                              They knew that this was God’s sacrifice who would give up His life for the sins of the world.      Because Jesus lovingly hammered a Samaritan woman with the law, a Samaritan village came to the knowledge of God’s salvation through the teaching of a Jewish rabbi – a Jewish rabbi who is their savior.                                                                                                                                                                              It is interesting that the Holy Spirit seemed to convert this woman at the well much more quickly than He converted Nicodemus.  We see this throughout the Gospels.  Tax collectors, prostitutes, and other sinners came to Jesus in droves. Meanwhile, the people who thought they were righteous stayed away. The people who should get it, don’t get it and the people who should not get it, receive it with eager hearts.                                         The people who felt their guilt the most came to Jesus first.      The people who felt their guilt the least came to Jesus last, if at all.                 The Bible’s main message is that the Son of God took on human flesh, lived a perfect life under the law, and died on the cross in order to save sinners.              It is the duty of us pastors to proclaim that you qualify for that salvation. When flight attendants give instructions for emergencies at the beginning of a flight, they tell the passengers to place the oxygen mask on themselves first and then on the people around them.                      In a similar way, when Jesus tells the church to proclaim repentance and the forgiveness of sins in His name, I need to proclaim it to myself first.                        I need to begin with my own evil self and the forgiveness that Jesus has for me.        Only then can I proclaim that message to others.  It is only when the church proclaims that message to herself first that she can go on to proclaim it to the world.      Our message to the world is not that Christians are better than anyone else, but rather that Christians are in the process of becoming honest about our sin.  It is only as we see our true depravity in the law that we begin to see the love that God has for us as Paul reminds us in Romans.. God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8) Through that death we receive forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation, for where there is forgiveness of sins there is also life and salvation.  Amen

 

Jesus is sin on the cross

Lent 2 2020
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
March 8, 2020
Genesis 12:1-9, Romans 4:1-8, 13-17, John 3:1-17

 

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

 

It is a secret meeting in the dark.  One man is an important, respected religious leader, the other a homeless, travelling teacher from up north.  But it is the one who is a ruler of the Jews named Nicodemus who is sneaking around to meet the mysterious rabbi, Jesus of Nazareth.  Nicodemus has heard about the miracles Jesus has done.  He wants to learn more about this man who has the Lord with Him.  Except Nicodemus does not understand.  God is not with Jesus.  Jesus is God with us.  And at this secret meeting in the dark, Jesus gives Nicodemus some mind-blowing teachings.

Jesus introduces the teachings with amen, amen which we translate as truly, truly. This double use of the word is an indication that Jesus is going to say something important.  John 3:3 (ESV) 3 … “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”[1] John 3:5 (ESV) 5 … “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.[2]

Nicodemus is confused about being born again and being born of water and the spirit.  Jesus is teaching that there are two births; your physical birth and your spiritual birth.  He is teaching that spiritual birth comes with water and the spirit in Holy Baptism even though He has not yet instituted baptism.  Jesus is giving Nicodemus deep teachings about the mysterious work of the Holy Spirit.

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

This is deep, significant teaching from Jesus to Nicodemus and to us.  Today, let’s focus on verses 14 and 15.  John 3:14-15 (ESV) 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” [4]

As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness…what is that about?  This brings us back to the book of Numbers chapter 21.  The Israelites are in the desert and they are complaining against God and Moses, Numbers 21:5 (ESV) 5 … “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.”[5]

God is miraculously providing food for hundreds of thousands of people in the wilderness.  He is giving them manna from heaven, but like too many of God’s gifts the people grow weary of them and they complain.  And so Lord sends fiery serpents among the people and the snakes bite the people and many die.  Rebuked by the snakes, the Israelites repent and cry out to Moses, “Numbers 21:7 (ESV) 7 …“We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you. Pray to the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.[6]  It is easy to grow weary of things being same old, same old, until something bad happens and you long for everything to just return to normal.

Moses prays to the Lord, Numbers 21:8-9 (ESV) 8 And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.” 9 So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live. [7]  The source of death is a fiery serpent.  The source of life is a fiery serpent on a pole.

John 3:14-15 (ESV) 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.”[8]

            Jesus on the cross is sin on the cross.  Your sin on the cross.  My sin on the cross.  All your anger and bitterness, all your lust and depravity, all your greed and selfishness, all your rebellion and disobedience, it is all there on the cross.  You have a problem with sin.  Sin bites you again and again and again. Jesus on the cross is your source of healing.  Look to Jesus on the cross and you will have eternal life.

Jesus is giving Nicodemus some very profound truth here.  Nicodemus thinks God is with Jesus but Jesus is communicating that He is God and He is telling Nicodemus about what is going to happen.  Jesus, the Son of Man, is going to be lifted up like the serpent on a pole.  And whoever believes in Him will have eternal life.  The serpent was the cause of death and the source of life.  What is the cause of death for us?  What is the cause of physical death, spiritual death, and eternal death?  It is sin.  Romans 6:23 (ESV) 23 For the wages of sin is death…” [9]  Sin is the problem.  Sin is what keeps biting us and bringing us death.  Jesus on the cross is the solution.  But if the problem is sin, how is Jesus like the serpent on the pole?  Jesus on the cross is sin.  Not His sin, but your sin.  As St. Paul writes in 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.[10]

Jesus on the cross is sin on the cross.  Your sin on the cross.  My sin on the cross.  All your anger and bitterness, all your lust and depravity, all your greed and selfishness, all your rebellion and disobedience, it is all there on the cross.  You have a problem with sin.  Sin bites you again and again and again. Jesus on the cross is your source of healing.  Look to Jesus on the cross and you will have eternal life.

John 3:16 (ESV) 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.[11]

Nicodemus sneaks out at night to try to find out more about this Jesus.  And Jesus gives him more than he can comprehend.  Jesus lifted up on the cross is the source of healing, forgiveness, and eternal life.  We don’t know how much Nicodemus understood of what Jesus taught him, but we do know that Nicodemus was at the cross after Jesus died to take care of Jesus’ body along with Joseph of Arimathea.  Together they wrapped Jesus up with burial spices and laid Him in the tomb.

Your sin died and is buried in that tomb.  The penalty is paid.  Jesus rests in the tomb over the Sabbath day and then, leaving your sin in the tomb, righteousness, purity and holiness rises from the dead on Sunday morning to show complete destruction of sin and death.  In Christ you have eternal life.  On the last day you will rise from the grave and leave sin behind forever.  Sin is the cause of death, Jesus on the cross is the source of eternal life.  Look to Jesus. 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

 

Don’t battle the devil alone

Lent 1 2020
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
March 1, 2020
Genesis 3:1-21, Romans 5:12-19, Matthew 4:1-11

 

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

 

Matthew 3:16-17 (ESV) 16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” [1]

God the Father and the Holy Spirit confirm Jesus’ identity as the Son of God and then the Spirit leads Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  I wonder if the Spirit is still in the form of a dove, flying ahead; leading Jesus into the desert.  Jesus goes into the wilderness as “Israel reduced to one” to finish what the Israelites failed to do when they were led by Moses into the wilderness to be tested for 40 years.  The Israelites fail, Jesus succeeds and defeats the devil and easily resists the devil’s threefold temptation.

It is attractive for us to look at this account of Jesus and the devil in the wilderness and think that it is a lesson for us as to how we can resist temptations from the devil, but that is not what this account is about.  Jesus versus the devil is a whole different fight card than you versus the devil.

Jesus is the sinless Son of God; He is God in flesh. He is not infected by original sin which infects all the children of Adam.  Romans 5:12 (ESV) 12 … sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin…[2]  Jesus does not have an earthly father and did not inherit original sin.  Jesus is the Good Shepherd come to lay down His life for the sheep and then be raised from the dead to defeat Satan.  Jesus comes to defeat the devil for all eternity.

The devil is a fallen angel.  Likely an archangel who, jealous of God’ authority, rebelled against God and brought a third of the angels with him as his evil angels or demons.  The devil is an angel and has the power of an angel.  He has many names.  The devil, which means slanderer; false accuser.  Satan, which means adversary.  Beelzebub, which is from the Hebrew and literally means lord of the flies.  He is a tempter. He is a liar.  He is an accuser.  The devil is powerful.  There is power to be found in the devil’s darkness, but it is a muted power; a limited power.  The devil can work false signs and wonders to distract and deceive people.  He tries to impress people with his parlor tricks.

Now, the devil is more powerful than you or I, but the devil’s power is no match for Jesus.  Despite great hunger after 40 days of fasting in the wilderness Jesus easily overcomes the devil.  Jesus is faithful Israel.  Jesus is victor over Satan on behalf of Israel and ultimately on behalf of all people.  Jesus is the faithful Son of God and He is victorious over the devil in the wilderness.  The devil then has to be more subtle and try to derail Jesus’ way to the cross.  We see this when Peter tells Jesus that He will not let Jesus go to the cross and Jesus tells Peter, “Get behind me Satan.”  At Jesus’ resurrection from the dead the devil’s defeat is profound.  He is angry that he could not stop Jesus and now he is going after the followers of Jesus. He is going after you.

While Jesus’ temptation is not a how-to for you to resist temptation, you can learn something, for indeed you are also tempted by the devil. Matthew 10:24 (ESV) 24 “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master.[3]

One of the devil’s deceptions is to get you to doubt that the devil even exists.  In our ever-so-smart, so sophisticated modern times it is not cool to believe in the devil and demons.  The so-called “smart people” know that the devil and demons are just silly superstitions from medieval times.  But we see the devil’s handiwork all over.  The devil’s influence is tremendous.  Evil is called good.  Unrestrained lust and debauchery are encouraged, and babies are sacrificed on the altar of sexual freedom.  Marriages are being destroyed by selfishness and anger.  God’s design for marriage is being redefined to a contract between any two or more individuals.  There is a culture of addiction fueled and encouraged by those who seek to profit regardless of the human cost.  Hatred is fomented and used as a political tool.  Families and churches and communities are torn up through conflict. Folks believe their value is based on how much they own and what labels are on their clothing.  People believe they are good enough.  They don’t need forgiveness of sins, they don’t need Jesus, they don’t need His church.  The devil’s work can be seen all around us and yet we are told that we are fools to believe in the devil.

There are many people whose houses are inhabited by evil spirits after someone invited the demons in by tapping into the power of darkness.  Folks do this by using Ouija Boards, Tarot Cards, holding séances and opening other doorways to evil.  The devil is very active in the world and yet he wants you to believe he doesn’t even exist.  Because if the devil does not exist, then there really isn’t temptation.  There is really isn’t evil.  There really isn’t sin.  There really is no need for Jesus.

If getting you to doubt his existence doesn’t work, the devil will try to get you to doubt that Jesus really is the Son of God; God in flesh.  This is in the wording the devil uses with Jesus and it is found in just one little word, “if”.  “If you are the son of God…”  Just as in the wilderness temptation Jesus is tempted by the words, “If you are the son of God,” we see this again at the cross with those passing by, taunting Jesus saying, Matthew 27:40 (ESV) 40 … If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.”[4]

We too are tempted to reject Jesus’ identity as the son of God because if Jesus is not the son of God then His death doesn’t mean anything and His resurrection is just a myth.  If Jesus is not the son of God He is just another crazy teacher making things up and you can ignore Him and be Lord of your own life.

Now, if the devil cannot get you to doubt his own existence or doubt that Jesus is the son of God, the devil will use his original temptation that worked with Eve and Adam.  He will try to get you to doubt the Word of God.  “Did God actually say?”  We have God’s Word but we are under constant pressure to mold it and shape it to our own desires rather than molding and shaping our desires to God’s Word.  The devil tempts Eve to be like God and it is the same temptation for you.  You want to have the authority to determine what is right and wrong rather than God having that authority.

And so you need to stay on guard against the devil and his lies, but you stay on guard knowing that you are not battling the devil on your own.  Just as the devil was outmatched going head to head with Jesus you are outmatched if you go head to head with the devil.  As a baptized child of God you are not left alone to battle Satan and that is good because the devil has had a lot of practice and he knows your weak spots.  You need Jesus, and you have Jesus.

Jesus has already defeated the devil; in the wilderness; at the cross, and at the empty tomb.  Victorious Jesus is on your side.  So you don’t battle the devil alone.  You put on the full armor God provides and take your stand against the devil. You are protected by Jesus.

The devil and his demons are very real and very active. Peter warns about the enemy.  1 Peter 5:8 (ESV) 8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.[5]

So beware of the devil’s temptations, be honest about your own weak spots, and keep up your guard.  Know that the devil and his demons are active in the world, be watchful, but do not fear.  For you have the victorious son of God on your side, and Jesus has already won the war. In Christ you are safe from the devil and his lies and accusations.  Stay connected to Christ and you are safe from the devil.

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

 

Transfiguration Glory and Calvary Glory

Transfiguration 2020
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
February 23, 2020
Exodus 24:8-18, 2 Peter 1:16-21, Matthew 17:1-9

 

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

 

Today is Transfiguration Sunday.  It is the last Sunday of the season of Epiphany.  It is the last Sunday before the beginning of the season of Lent, the 40 days, not including Sundays, leading up to Holy Week and Easter. Today we say farewell to alleluias during Lent as Jesus is heading to the cross.  Lent is a somber season on the road to the cross.  It is a time to reflect on Jesus’ suffering and death and how he did it because of your sin and because of His love for you.  Lent is not an easy season.  It is a hard thing to ponder the cross.  The cross is a horrid instrument of execution that we would rather not have to consider in its full awfulness.  The words, “Jesus died on the cross for me”, just roll off your tongue, but it is so profound.  “Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God, suffered and died on the cross for me, a poor, miserable sinner.”  Jesus died for me on the horrifying cross.

Jesus tells the disciples about his looming death and resurrection just before taking Peter, James and John up on the Mount of Transfiguration. Matthew 16:21 (ESV) 21 … 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]

The disciples reject the message.  The disciples don’t want a suffering, dying Jesus; they want a glorious, powerful Jesus who does miracles.  Peter, the disciple who is never at a loss for words, reprimands Jesus, Matthew 16:22 (ESV) 22 …Peter took [Jesus] aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.”[2] Peter thinks he knows what’s what, and this rough, tough fisherman is not going to let anyone hurt Jesus.  But Peter does not know what’s what and Jesus rebukes Peter.  Matthew 16:23 (ESV) 23 … “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.”[3]

Six days later, in order to strengthen the disciples in knowing Jesus’ true identity, Jesus takes Peter, along with James and John up on a mountain Matthew 17:2-3 (ESV) 2 And [Jesus] was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. 3 And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him.[4]

This is an incredible scene.  Jesus is confirming to Peter, James and John that He is indeed God in flesh.  He is the Messiah.  He is the Savior of the world.  Jesus is shining like the sun and talking to Moses and Elijah.  In the midst of all this Peter feels the need to interrupt.  Peter thinks he has something to add.  Peter again thinks he knows what’s what.  He thinks Jesus is an equal to Moses and Elijah.  He thinks Jesus is the new Moses; Jesus is the new Elijah.  Peter offers to build tents for each of them.  Peter thinks he knows what’s what but he does not.  Matthew 17:5 (ESV) 5 [Peter] is still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”[5]

            Contrast the awesome, bright scene from the Mount of Transfiguration with the gloomy darkness and awfulness of the scene on Mount Calvary.  The glory of God is revealed on the first mountain.  The glory of God is also revealed on the second mountain for this is where Jesus accomplishes what He came to do.

The disciples are terrified at this voice from heaven and they fall on their faces trying to hide from the overwhelming glory of God.  Now they have figured it out.  They have seen Jesus’ majesty.  They have seen’ Jesus honor and glory from God the Father.  They have heard God the Father’s voice.  They are overcome by all of this and lay face down on the ground afraid to look. Jesus walks over to the three men and touches them and says, “Rise, and have no fear.”  They look up and it is only Jesus there.  Everything is back to normal.

Everything is back to normal, except they have seen Jesus’ glory.  They have heard the voice of God.  In all the horror to come they have this memory to help sustain them.  Everything is back to normal, but they know that Jesus is God in flesh.  Even as Jesus is arrested and beaten He is God in flesh.  Even as Jesus is crowned with thorns He is God in flesh.  Even as Jesus is flogged He is God in flesh.  Even as Jesus is stripped and nailed to a cross He is God in flesh.  The cross shows Jesus’ glory.  Jesus shows His true identity on the Mount of Transfiguration shining like the sun, and He shows His true identity by being nailed to a cross as the sacrifice for the sins of the world.

Contrast the awesome, bright scene from the Mount of Transfiguration with the gloomy darkness and awfulness of the scene on Mount Calvary.  The glory of God is revealed on the first mountain.  The glory of God is also revealed on the second mountain for this is where Jesus accomplishes what He came to do.

We are a lot like the disciples.  We want to reject Jesus’ glory on the second mountain.  We want God’s glory to be shown in our lives by everything going great.  We want God’s glory to be seen in being healthy, wealthy and wise.  We want a religious experience to which we can appeal as proof of God’s existence.  We want Mount of Transfiguration glory and not Mount Calvary glory.

But very often we get Mount Calvary glory.  We bear crosses of pain and suffering and trouble.  We experience the evil in the world and the evil in ourselves.  We endure injury, illness, disability and death.  And God’s glory is there with you in the pain and the suffering.  Jesus enters fully into the ugliness of sin and evil and hardship and is there with you. Jesus has a moment of shining like the sun but the rest of His time on earth He looks like a normal person.  The glory of God is hidden in human flesh.

God’s glory is still present with us in hidden ways.  Baptism is done with plain water from the tap, but it is not just plain water it is water included in God’s command and combined with God’s word. God’s glory is hidden in simple words on a page and words spoken into the ear but these words work faith and the forgiveness of sins.  God’s glory is hidden in wafers of bread and sips of wine which are, in a mysterious way, the very Body and Blood of Christ.  Jesus’ glory is so often a hidden glory.

You have Jesus’ hidden glory in you; God’s glory hidden in human flesh.  You have been born again by water and the Spirit. Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.  You are by nature sinful and unclean and yet through baptism, through the Word, through the Body and Blood of Jesus you have been made righteous, innocent and blessed.  You are a holy child of God.  That is Jesus’ hidden glory; Jesus’ glory hidden in your human flesh.

Jesus’ glory will not be hidden forever.  Today we celebrate the glimpse at Jesus’ full glory shared with us by the eyewitnesses Peter, James and John.  This is the full glory of Jesus we look forward to having on the last day as the light of the city of God.  In the Heavenly City of New Jerusalem Jesus’ glory will be the light.  Revelation 21:23 (ESV) 23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.[6]

Today we celebrate Jesus’ visible glory at the Transfiguration.  Every day you live with Jesus’ glory hidden in you as you live as salt and light in the world.  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

 

Jesus has the authority to give law and forgive sins

Epiphany 6 2019
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
February 16, 2020
Deuteronomy 30:15-20, 1 Corinthians 3:1-9, Matthew 5:21-37

 

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

 

At Jesus’ baptism… Matthew 3:17 (ESV) 17 … a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” [1]

This is the answer.  What is the question?  The question is of cosmic significance.  The question is of eternal importance.  The question is, “Who is Jesus?”  The answer is that Jesus is the Son of God.  He is God in flesh.

“Who is Jesus?” is of great importance as we turn to our Gospel reading for today.  This reading follows directly after last weeks’ instructions about living as salt and light in the world.  This is further explanation of how you are to live and Jesus speaks with the authority of God.

Matthew 5:21-22 (ESV) 21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old… 22 But I say to you ….[2] Jesus is speaking with authority.  He is adding to the Old Testament teachings.  You and I cannot add or subtract from scripture; we do not have the authority.  Jesus does.

We will look at three of the teachings this morning.  These are hard teachings.  These are teachings for which we want to look for loopholes to try to excuse our own behavior.  These are teachings for which we want to find ways to try to reduce Jesus’ authority. Don’t do that.  Jesus has the authority.  He is the Son of God.  You are not.

Matthew 5:21-22 (ESV) 21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.[3] Jesus is teaching that murder goes beyond just the physical act of taking someone’s life.  Being angry and insulting is also unacceptable.

Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat can be a great way to keep up with what is going on with friends and family.  But they have also become a cesspool of anger and insults.  Reading the comments on various posts it is disheartening to see how angry and insulting people are to one another.  It is rare to see a civil disagreement.

I used to actively engage people I disagreed with on Facebook and Twitter and, try as I might to be civil, it too often would make me angry.  I would reply to a post or comment and then keep checking back to see if the other person responded so I respond again.  I’d think about it all the time.  It would make it hard to sleep.  Engaging like this was an opening for the devil to get me to be angry and insulting.  I try hard now, if I see someone on the internet that is wrong, to just walk away; to just let it be.  I have enough temptation to anger and insults.

Anger and insults are the work of the devil and they tear apart the fabric of families, churches, workplaces, classrooms, society.  If you are angry with or insulting to someone, repent and be reconciled.  Humble yourself and go to them and apologize for being angry and insulting. Ephesians 4:26-27 (ESV) 26 … do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil.[4]

Matthew 5:27-28 (ESV) 27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. [5]

I have heard married men excuse their wandering eyes by saying, “Just because you’re not going to order doesn’t mean you can’t read the menu.”  Jesus says; don’t even look at the menu.  Faithfulness to your marriage is much deeper than your outward actions.  It begins in the heart.  It begins from childhood and adolescence.  It extends into marriage and until death.  In a culture where intimacy outside of marriage is the norm Jesus’ teachings are even more radical.

This is convicting law from Jesus. The temptation to lustful thoughts is deeply ingrained in you with original sin, and you live in a world of unlimited temptation.  In an era where it seemed that the culture may be making some progress against the exploitation of women by the rich and famous we are treated to a half-time show at the Super Bowl which conjured up images of a giant strip club.  So much for not objectifying women.

Access to pornography has exploded. Anybody of any age with a smart phone or a tablet or a computer can, in seconds, find online decadence worse than the most depraved deviant 20 years ago could ever hope to find.  You are called to sexually pure and decent living and the world is not going to help you resist the temptation to lust.

Jesus uses hyperbole to make His point. He talks about plucking out your eye or cutting off your hand to avoid sin.  He is exaggerating to make a point, but He is serious.  It would be better to enter the Kingdom of Heaven with one eye than to go the Hell.  Jesus calls us to avoid temptation to lust.  If there is something that triggers you to look at pornography, cut out the trigger.  Too often we want to flirt around the edges of lust thinking we can manage the temptation; but we cannot.

Matthew 5:31-32 (ESV) 31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery. And whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. [6]

Marriage is God’s invention; God’s design.  Jesus is concerned about damaging relationships with anger and lust; marriage is a very special relationship invented by God Himself.  Matthew 19:5-6 (ESV) 5 [Jesus] said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”[7]

Jesus is addressing the issue of men being able to divorce their wives for any and every reason. And Jesus speaks clearly that it is wrong.  Marriage is designed by God for a lifetime; it is not something to be broken by people. Divorce is evil.  It is man tearing apart what God has put together. Now, as evil as divorce is, there are rare times when it is the lesser of two evils.  We indeed live in a broken world.  Lord, have mercy.

Jesus’ teaching about how to be salt and light is hard teaching; it is a high calling.  You must battle not only against physical violence and murder, but also battle against anger and insults.  Not only do you not have physical relations with someone other than your spouse, but also, do not even think about it.  Do not turn others into objects of your lust.  Marriage is sacred; it is holy, and it is to last until it is ended by death.

            You know you are unworthy.  You know you need Jesus.  Jesus knows your need and he is there for you.  He washes you with forgiveness in your baptism.  He pours out forgiveness on you in the words of absolution.  He feeds you forgiveness with His body and blood in Holy Communion.  You indeed are a redeemed child of God.  You are salt and light in the world even while you battle against sin and temptation. You have a heart problem, but Jesus gives you a new heart.

This is convicting law spoken by Jesus who is God in flesh.  He has the authority to give new teachings; new law.  And you learn from this that you are indeed incapable of being good enough. You learn that you need Jesus. This teaching calls you to holy living, but it also points you back to Matthew 5:3 (ESV) 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.[8] This teaching strips away any pretense of being good enough and leaves you as a beggar before the judgment seat of God.

You know from this teaching that you have a heart problem.  Matthew 15:19 (ESV) 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.[9]

You know you are unworthy.  You know you need Jesus.  Jesus knows your need and he is there for you.  He washes you with forgiveness in your baptism.  He pours out forgiveness on you in the words of absolution.  He feeds you forgiveness with His body and blood in Holy Communion.  You indeed are a redeemed child of God.  You are salt and light in the world even while you battle against sin and temptation. You have a heart problem, but Jesus gives you a new heart.  And so daily you repent and pray Psalm 51:10-12 (ESV) 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. 11 Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. [10]

Jesus is the Son of God.  He is God in flesh.  He is your Savior from sin.  He has authority to give new law and authority to forgive sins.  As a baptized child of God living as salt and light in the world, listen to Jesus.  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

 

Live in joy, die in peace.

Purification of Mary and the Presentation of Jesus 2020
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
February 2, 2020
1 Samuel 1:21-28, Hebrews 2:14-18, Luke 2:22-40

 

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

 

We live in a society where we want to deny death.  Every night on the news it seems the anchorperson will tell you about another threat to your health and how you can avoid it.  We truly want to believe that if we just do the right things and eat and drink the right stuff and exercise the right way that we will live forever.  Avoiding sickness and staying in shape certainly is a good thing, but death is still coming.

There is a company called Cryonics that plays on folks’ desire to never die.  For $30,000 they will, at the time of your death, preserve your body through freezing and keep it at -320 degrees Fahrenheit until medical science improves and there is no more death.

Death is an ever present companion in our life and we are reminded of this as we hear news about accidents, terrorism, war, old diseases, and new viruses. It can make you not want to get out of bed.  In order to get through the day we each have to deny that death is always lurking, always waiting, ever patient, and one day he will come for each of us.

I think that is why the news last Sunday of Kobe Bryant’s death was so hard to deal with.  A man in the prime of his life along with his daughter and seven others are all suddenly gone.  This man had it all; fame, money, fitness, family and yet in an instant it is all over; he is dead.  This is unnerving.  Commentators encouraged people to hug their loves ones because we don’t know when tragedy might strike.

In our Gospel reading today we meet a man who is, essentially, waiting to die. Simeon has been told by the Holy Spirit that he will not die until he sees the Lord’s Christ.  Simeon has been promised that he will see the Christ, the Messiah, the anointed one of God, and Simeon has been waiting.

I wonder what kind of Christ Simeon is expecting.  Maybe an angelic figure of some kind?  A king?  A warrior? A priest?  What does the Lord’s Christ look like?  The Spirit brings Simeon to the temple one day. Unbeknownst to Simeon it is 40 days after Jesus was born in Bethlehem six miles south.  Forty days after Christmas.  Mary and Joseph are at the temple that day for two purposes, Mary is there to be purified and declared ceremonially clean 40 days after giving birth to a male child.  She is to bring a lamb for an offering, or if she could not afford a lamb, two turtledoves or two pigeons.  Mary and Joseph, we learn, are humble folks and can only afford the two birds.

They are also at the temple for the redemption of their firstborn son.  This is to remember that before the Exodus, God killed the first born of the Egyptians but saved the first born of the Israelites, so each first born of the Israelites is consecrated to the Lord and redeemed.  Mary and Joseph are coming to the temple to fulfill the law of God.  Simeon is coming to the temple in obedience to the Spirit.

At the temple that day, Simeon takes the baby Jesus into his arms.  He has now seen the Lord’s Christ.  He is holding the Lord’s Christ in his arms.  Simeon, Mary and Joseph are in the temple, but Jesus is the new temple of God. When Jesus later is cleansing the temple He tells the Jews, John 2:19 (ESV) 19 … “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”[1]  He is referring to His own body.  When He is crucified for the sin of the world the curtain in the temple is torn in two.

30 years before this we find Simeon at that temple holding Jesus, the new temple, in his arms and saying, “Luke 2:29 (ESV) 29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word;[2]  Simeon can now die in peace; God’s promise has been fulfilled.  Luke 2:30-31 (ESV) 30 for my eyes have seen your salvation 31 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,[3]  Simeon can die in peace because that is what the Holy Spirit promised and Simeon can die in peace because Jesus has come to be His redeemer.  This baby in Simeon’s arms is Luke 2:32 (ESV) 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”[4]  Simeon is holding in his hands the redeemer of not only the Jews, but the redeemer of all people, and it brings Him great joy.

The savior of the world has come and Simeon has seen Him and can now die in peace.  And this peace between Simeon and God brings a deep and abiding joy despite the burdens of life.  The theme for Lutheran Schools this year is Joyfully Lutheran.  St. Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV) 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.[5]

Rejoice always.  We talked about this at Grandparents’ Day chapel on Friday.  What did Paul have to rejoice over?  He has been stoned, he has been beaten, he suffers from an unknown “thorn in the flesh”, he has been imprisoned and eventually he will be shipwrecked and taken to prison in Rome to be executed.  And he says, “Rejoice always.”  Why?  This man is suffering many various troubles. What does he have to rejoice over?

Paul can rejoice about the same thing that Simeon is rejoicing over. Paul has seen the Lord Jesus. Paul can die in peace because he knows the truth of Jesus.  Paul knows Jesus’ promise of redemption from his sins.  Paul knows that, in Christ, he has eternal life.  So, despite his current circumstances, he can rejoice always.

You are a baptized child of God.  You know the truth of God’s promise to wash away your sin and make you holy and pure.  You know Jesus and all He has done for you.  You know how Jesus took the guilt of your sin and paid the price for you on the cross. You know how He rose from the dead to conquer death.  And He gives this all to you.  In Christ, despite whatever is going on in your life, you can rejoice always.  You have eternal life in Christ.  Death will not hold you forever.  You will rise from the dead.

            Paul can rejoice about the same thing that Simeon is rejoicing over. Paul has seen the Lord Jesus. Paul can die in peace because he knows the truth of Jesus.  Paul knows Jesus’ promise of redemption from his sins.  Paul knows that, in Christ, he has eternal life.  So, despite his current circumstances, he can rejoice always.

And like Simeon you get to hold the Lord’s Christ.  As you come to the Lord’s altar I will place the Body in Christ in your hand.  You will partake of the Body and Blood of Jesus.  What great joy to receive the Lord’s forgiveness; to know that in Him you have forgiveness of sins and eternal life.  And so you can sing with Simeon, “Lord, now you let your servant go in peace, your word has been fulfilled, my own eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared in the sight of every people.  A light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of your people Israel.”

Knowing you have Christ you can rejoice always despite your circumstance.  Knowing you have eternal life in Christ you do not need to deny death or fear death.  Psalm 23:4 (ESV) 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.[6]

Death is still the enemy and a consequence for sin in the world.  We never seek death but we know it is coming and we can face it without fear.   Like Simeon, knowing Jesus, you can live in joy and die in peace.  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