Christ is risen. Repent and be baptized.

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Divine Service One from Lutheran Service Book

Hymns:
478 The Day of Resurrection
486 If Christ Had Not Been Raised from Death
483 With High Delight Let Us Unite
487 Come, You Faithful, Raise the Strain

 

 

Easter 3 2020
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
April 26, 2020
Acts 2:14a, 36-41, 1 Peter 1:17-25, Luke 24:13-35

 

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

 

 

 

In dramatic films and horror movies there is a tension that builds as an enemy is confronted and the battle rages back and forth.  Relief only comes when the adversary is overcome and killed. But often, in these types of films, the relief that comes from killing the villain is short-lived.  You think the enemy is gone, but he comes back to life and the tension returns; greater than before.

This is where we find ourselves in our reading today from the Book of Acts. It is the Jewish feast the Greeks call Pentecost.  Jerusalem is crowded with people from all over the Mediterranean for the festival the Jews call the Feast of Weeks or Feast of Harvest which marks the beginning of the first harvest, seven weeks after Passover.  The Holy Spirit has come upon the Jesus’ disciples in wind and fire and they are telling the mighty works of God to the people and the people are hearing it in their own languages and they ask, “What does this mean?”

Then Peter stands up and addresses the Jews of Judea and Jerusalem.  It has been fifty days since Jesus died and rose from the dead and this is the first recorded public proclamation of Jesus’ resurrection.  Christ is Risen!  He is risen indeed, Alleluia!

Acts 2:22-24 (ESV) 22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.[1]

This seemingly Good News is bad news for the people of Judea and Jerusalem because they have blood on their hands.  Five weeks earlier they are convinced by the scribes and Pharisees that Jesus is the enemy; an outside agitator from Galilee stirring up all sorts of trouble.  They cry out for Jesus’ blood, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”  “His blood be on us and on our children!”

Friday morning the frenzied crowd cries out for blood, and they get their blood.  Jesus is beaten, flogged, crowned with thorns and crucified.  By Friday afternoon it is all over.  All the tension of the previous week is resolved; Jesus lies dead in a tomb.  It is all very dramatic, but now it is over.  Jesus, the troublemaker, is dead.  Everyone can breathe a sigh of relief and get back to normal life…that is until Sunday morning.  This Jesus, whose death they demanded, has risen from the dead.  “Oh no!  Jesus really is who He said He is.  What have we done?  We have killed the Messiah.  We have killed the King of the Jews.”

And now, here comes one of Jesus’ disciples.  It has been reported that Jesus ascended into heaven a week and a half ago and now Peter addresses a huge crowd at the Feast of Weeks and He tells the people, “this Jesus that you crucified and killed…God raised Him up.”

“We are finished!” the people must be thinking.  “What have we done?”  That awful, rock of guilt that has been sitting in their guts since the day of Jesus’ resurrection has now become a great boulder that will sink them down to Hell forever.  Not only did they crucify Jesus, but then He came back…He rose from the dead, just as He said He would.  The people are cut to the heart.  Peter preaches that Jesus has risen and instead of responding, “He is risen indeed!” the people, in their guilt, are left only with a question, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

“We killed Jesus.  We killed Jesus and then He rose from the dead.  We are in deep trouble.  What shall we do?”  What is Peter’s answer?  Peter has proclaimed the resurrection of Christ which brings not joy, but terror to those listening that day.  “What shall we do?”

The answer comes from God through Peter; an answer that is full of mercy and grace; an answer that brings the Holy Spirit, forgiveness and eternal life.

Acts 2:38-39 (ESV) 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”[2]

“Repent and be baptized.”  God’s response to those who killed Jesus is to give them the Holy Spirit in baptism; to them, and their children, and everyone.  What great mercy.  What abundant mercy from the one who said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” This promise of forgiveness is not given out with an eye dropper but poured out like a baptismal flood.  “The promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off.”  The Lord has great mercy on the people of Judea and Jerusalem who killed Jesus and they are told, “Repent and be baptized…save yourselves from this crooked generation,” and 3,000 are baptized that day.

So this is what happened 2,000 years ago in Jerusalem and it is all well and good for the people who cried out to crucify Jesus, but what about you?  What does all this have to do with you?  You were not there in Jerusalem crying out for Jesus to be crucified and you have already been baptized.

The people of Jerusalem cried out for Jesus’ blood.  What a terrible thing to do.  But you do it also.  You cry out, “crucify him,” when you indulge your sinful desires.  Your sins put Jesus on the cross.  Your anger.  Your lust. Your greed.  Your selfishness.  You also killed Jesus.  Peter’s words, “This Jesus…you crucified and killed,” are just as much for you as the people of Jerusalem.  And so what should you do?

Repent and be baptized.

Turn from sin and return to your baptism.  Save yourselves from this crooked generation.  Be baptized.  Live your life as a baptized child of God.  Live out your baptism.

There is a saying that you are, “all wet,” meaning that you are completely wrong. This crooked generation looks at the baptized followers of Jesus and says, “You are all wet.”  And it is so true.  You are all wet.  You have been baptized into Christ.  You have died to sin.  You have been crucified with Christ and have been raised from the dead with Christ. You are a new creation; born again in water and the Spirit.  Daily return to your baptism and remember God’s promise to you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

This crooked generation hates you for that. It wants you back following its crooked ways.  It wants you back to your anger and lust and greed and selfishness.  This crooked generation wants you to dry off and reject your baptism; ignore your baptism; live as if you are not baptized.  And this is a great danger.  It is so easy to compromise with this crooked generation and instead of living your baptized life you let yourself sink into ongoing sin and learn to be comfortable with it.

Repent and be baptized!  Turn from your sin and live your baptized life.  At Easter when I announce that Christ has risen the response is, “He is risen indeed, Alleluia!”  But perhaps another, very appropriate, very realistic response would be, “repent and be baptized.”

“He is risen indeed.” is a good response, it is acknowledging the fundamental truth that Jesus rose from the dead.  Knowing Jesus died for our sins, “Repent and be baptized.” is also our response to this great Good News.  So let us today add, “Repent and be baptized” after “He is risen indeed, Alleluia.”

Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed, Alleluia!  Repent and be baptized.

This Jesus who you killed with your sin has risen from the dead.  He has given you new life in baptism.  He has forgiven you all your sins.  Every day drown the Old Adam of this crooked generation in contrition and repentance along with all your sins and your evil desires.  Each day, be baptized.  Live your life as a baptized believer in righteousness and purity forever.

What shall we do?  Repent and be baptized.  Live out your identity as a redeemed child of God.  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

 

Easter 2, 2020 More to Thomas than Doubting

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Lutheran Service Book

Divine Service Setting One, Page 151
Hymns: 
490 Jesus lives!  The Victory is Won
470 O Sons and Daughters of the King
741 Jesus Christ, My Sure Defense

 

Easter 2 2020
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Hilbert Kamps
April 19, 2020
Acts 5:29-42, 1 Peter 1:3-9, John 20:19-31

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

One week ago, we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus in a special way.  It was the first Sunday of Easter.  Today is the Second Sunday of Easter and we are still examining the events of the day that Jesus rose from the dead.  For centuries the church has set aside the Second Sunday of Easter as the day we consider the first time that the Apostle Thomas saw our risen Lord.

We call Him Doubting Thomas, but that is really not fair.  One of the things that makes the resurrection accounts of the Gospels more believable is that everyone doubted His resurrection.  The women who first came to the tomb thought that someone had done something terrible to Jesus’ body.  After the angels proclaimed the good news to them, they told the disciples and the disciples thought they were suffering from some sort of hallucination.

The only difference between Thomas and the other disciples was that Thomas wasn’t with them when Jesus appeared to them that evening.  Before Jesus appeared to them, they were behind locked doors.  They were afraid that they were next on the Sanhedrin’s to-do list.  When the women told them that they had seen the Lord, the disciples didn’t believe them.  When Jesus first showed up He showed His hands, His feet, and His side to the ten disciples so that they would finally identify Him and believe.  Jesus had to convince them all.  When Thomas asked for proof, he really wasn’t asking for anything that Jesus hadn’t already shown to the other ten.  He just missed out because he wasn’t there.

Furthermore, the Bible doesn’t tell us why he was missing.  He probably had a perfectly sound reason for not being with the other disciples that evening.  As much as we might like to say that he should have been there, we can’t really criticize him even for that.  It really isn’t fair that we should single out Thomas as the only doubter in the bunch.

That is the reason that this event is one more way that Jesus shows His love to us.  He could have said, “Hey! For months now, I have been telling you people that I was going to suffer, die, and then rise from the dead.  Why are you so thick?  You should have been expecting me.”  He had every right to be that frustrated and more.

Never the less, Jesus came to His disciples.  He showed them His holy wounds – the wounds that witnessed to the love that He showed to us with his suffering and death.  He encouraged them to touch and investigate His body until they were absolutely convinced that it was the same body that hung dead from a cross as the loving sacrifice that paid for our sins.  The Apostle John would later describe this investigation with these words: [1 John 1:1] “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life.”  With these words, John describes a God who loves us so much that He let’s us touch Him.

In patient love, Jesus allowed Thomas to have the same privilege that He gave to the other disciples.  The next week, Thomas was there and Jesus came again.  Jesus invited Thomas to poke around until he too was satisfied that this really was His friend, teacher, and master back from the dead.  He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.”

Just like the disciples of old, we also doubt.  We are also afraid.  We have been ashamed of our savior.  We have wanted to fit in and so denied that we knew Jesus.  We’ve all made promises to God that we haven’t kept.  We often focus on ourselves instead of God.  We know that our sin has earned the eternal wrath of God.  We know that God should be our enemy.

What comfort today’s Gospel has for us.  In spite of all that we have done to make God hate us, He still loves us.  He searches us out.  He comes to us.  He gives us His peace.  He encourages us to touch Him and investigate Him.  He overcomes our terrors, our fears, and our doubts.  He unites us to Himself in love.

In today’s Gospel, He even gives us the authority to forgive sins.  He breathed on [His disciples] and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”  With these words, He authorized the church to forgive sins in His name.  When the pastor says, “I forgive you all your sins,” he is using this authority to speak as Jesus.  It makes no difference how sinful the pastor is or how sinful you are, all your sins are forgiven.  The authority lies in the words of Jesus and in the work that Jesus did on the cross.

Through out history people have done all sorts of things to experience God.  They torture themselves.  They meditate.  They deprive themselves of food and drink.  They attempt to do good works.  They try to achieve some sort of emotional high.  They buy all sorts of self help books.  They go on quests.  The harder they search for God, the farther away He seems to be.

For the time being, He does not come to us as He came to His disciples in today’s Gospel.  When we hear and read the Bible, we hear and read Christ’s Words.  As the waters of Holy Baptism make us wet, the Holy Spirit joins us to Christ.  As we live lives of continuous repentance, Jesus gives us continuous forgiveness especially when the pastor forgives our sins in His name.  As we eat the bread and drink the wine of the sacrament, Jesus comes to us as we eat His body and drink His blood in, with, and under the bread and wine of the sacrament.  In all these ways He comes to us just as He came to the disciples.

Jesus does not want us to think of Him as some “big guy up there.”  He isn’t some far off, remote God.  He has given us all these gifts so that we will know that He is near us and with us and in us.  He wants us to understand that He is as intimate with us as our hearing and sight, our touch and our taste.  He wants us to investigate Him and learn as much about Him as we possibly can.

Through out history people have done all sorts of things to experience God.  They torture themselves.  They meditate.  They deprive themselves of food and drink.  They attempt to do good works.  They try to achieve some sort of emotional high.  They buy all sorts of self help books.  They go on quests.  The harder they search for God, the farther away He seems to be.

In today’s Gospel, we learn that God comes to us in His Son Jesus Christ.  He comforts us with His peace.  He takes away our fear.  He gives us His forgiveness in such a way that we can give it to others.  He gives us all of this purely out of divine love for us and we need do nothing in return.

On this Second Sunday of the Easter season, we learn that, like Thomas, we all struggle with doubt.  We all miss out from time to time.  We can all be stubborn.  Instead of focusing on the stubbornness and doubt of Thomas, focus on the love, mercy, and grace of Jesus as He patiently displayed His wounds of love.  As we focus on how Jesus showed Himself then, let us remember how Jesus shows Himself to us in His Word and sacraments.  He shows His love to us by giving us His Word to hear and His body and blood to eat and drink, In His love, He comforts us with His forgiveness and gives us His peace.  AMEN

Good Friday

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Good Friday 2020
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
April 10, 2020
Mark 15:21-39

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Text:                            pastorjud.org   
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Our first six midweek Lenten sermons focused on what is seen through the eyes of various characters in the Passion—the perspectives of Judas, Peter, the chief priests and scribes, Pontius Pilate, the Roman soldiers, and the Jewish crowd. Yesterday, we meditated on how there is much more than meets the eye going on at the Last Supper.  Today, we’ll view Jesus’ crucifixion through God’s eyes—what God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit saw, and what they accomplished at the cross for us and for our salvation.

What did God the Father see on Good Friday? He saw His only-begotten Son suffering and dying unjustly on a Roman cross. Can you imagine watching your own child die in this way? It is beyond comprehension. As sinful mortals, we cannot understand what it is like to be the immortal, holy God, but surely the Father’s heart was grieved beyond words.

Yet what’s even more unfathomable is that God loves you so much that He willingly inflicted this on His beloved Son. St. Paul wrote that the Father “did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all” (Romans 8:32), and that “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). He didn’t wait around for us to clean up our act first, but while we were ungodly and enemies of God, He slaughtered His Son in our place, under His righteous anger against the sin of the world.

This means that we provoked the death of Jesus. On Pentecost, St. Peter preached, “This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men” (Acts 2:23). The Father gave the Son to the world, but “You crucified and killed” Him. Yes, Peter is also talking to you and me. He isn’t offering some anti-Judaic rant but an indictment of all sinners. Whether a sinner lived in the first or twenty-first century, the guilt and blame is all the same: we all crucified the Son of God by our sin. As we sang in the Lenten hymns:

 

I caused Your grief and sighing

By evils multiplying

As countless as the sands.

I caused the woes unnumbered

With which Your soul is cumbered,

Your sorrows raised by wicked hands. (LSB 453:4)

 

O child of woe: Who struck the blow

That killed our gracious Master?

“It was I,” thy conscience cries,

“I have wrought disaster!” (LSB 448:3; © Joseph Herl, used with permission)

 

As we acknowledge our sin and unworthiness, we need to see ourselves nailing Jesus to the tree, but at the same time, His crucifixion was “according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God” the Father. What value did the Father see in this plan? The Father saw, and now all of us can see, God’s own glory being manifested to the world. This is what Jesus prayed for, just hours before His crucifixion: Jesus “lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son that the Son may glorify You, since You have given Him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I glorified You on earth, having accomplished the work that You gave Me to do’ ” (John 17:1–4).

The Father and the Son both glory in having mercy on sinners. That is what they accomplished during Christ’s perfect life, suffering, death, and resurrection. The Father sees all of your sin taken upon Jesus on the cross, even the sin of crucifying His Son. Moreover, He sees His wrath against sin being poured out upon the Son and the gates of hell prevailing over Him. Yes, hell is being under God’s wrath, and that is what the Father sees Jesus taking, in your place, to save you.

On Good Friday, what does Jesus see when He looks at you and all sinners? He recognizes you as the cause of His woe, but He doesn’t hold this against you. The Lamb of God bears this willingly. He wants nothing other than to be your Savior.

Now for the Son’s perspective. Jesus always knew that His name means “the Lord saves,” so He sees Himself as the object of the Father’s wrath but as the subject of your salvation. He drinks His Father’s wrath down to its dregs, finally crying out in abandonment from His Father, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” But this is no cry of despair. He suffers abandonment from His Father, He suffers the pains of a sinner condemned to hell, but still He looks to His Father with perfect love and trust: “My God,” He cries, with unbroken faith. With the words “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit” (Luke 23:46), He breathes His last. He knows His Father still loves Him and will raise Him from the dead on the third day.

On Good Friday, what does Jesus see when He looks at you and all sinners? He recognizes you as the cause of His woe, but He doesn’t hold this against you. The Lamb of God bears this willingly. He wants nothing other than to be your Savior. He looks at you and then prays, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” He stares into your sinful eyes and says, “I love you all the same. I and My Father love you so much that We would make this sacrifice for you. I am offering Myself under the Father’s wrath in your place to save you from your sins and spare you from hell.”

Finally, what does the Holy Spirit see? First, He sees the Son and comes to Jesus’ aid as He offers His life as a ransom to the Father. We don’t know the ins and outs of this, but the Epistle to the Hebrews says that Christ, “through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God” (Hebrews 9:14), thus accomplishing your redemption by the blood of His cross. Jesus had received the Spirit without measure in His Baptism, and we know that the Spirit is the Helper, so it makes sense that the Holy Spirit not only helped Jesus fulfill all righteousness during His earthly ministry, but also helped Him offer Himself to the Father on the cross.

Second, on Good Friday, the Spirit sees that everything necessary for the salvation of sinners is achieved by the Son. Again, Jesus had promised just hours before His death, “When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth . . . He will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take what is Mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is Mine; therefore I said that He will take what is Mine and declare it to you” (John 16:13–15). Here we see the Holy Trinity working together in their natural perfect harmony. The Father gave the Son the task of redeeming mankind. The Son willingly took this task upon Himself. And the Holy Spirit joyfully proclaims this message to you so you may enjoy the benefits of the Son’s sacrificial death.

The Spirit takes what is Christ’s and declares it to you. He takes the righteousness of Jesus and instills it in the waters of Holy Baptism to make it a life-giving water, rich in grace, and a washing of new birth into God’s eternal kingdom. He takes the forgiveness of Jesus and declares it to you through the Gospel and through the words of Absolution. And He presents to you the body given and blood shed for you on the cross to be received for forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation in Holy Communion.

On Good Friday, God’s eyes see everything necessary to save you from sin, death, and hell. Although your own eyes look upon your guilt, unworthiness, and impurity, the Father looks upon your sin forgiven for Christ’s sake, the Son credits His own righteousness to your account, and the Holy Spirit makes you a participant in the holiness of Jesus. You are baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, so keep this truth on your mind — in your heart — and before your eyes at all times: When God looks at you, He sees the apple of His eye, His beloved child united with Christ in His death and raised up to new, eternal life with Him. Amen.

 

More than meets the eye

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Maundy Thursday 2020
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
April 9, 2020
Exodus 12:1-14, Mark 14:22-25

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

Today, there’s blood all over the place in our liturgy, hymns, and Scripture Readings. The sight of blood makes many of us squeamish. Perhaps the bloodiness of our Readings strikes you as odd and primitive, even unsettling. So, as you hear the Word of God you need to look under all this blood to find that there’s more there than meets the eye.

Our Old Testament Reading sets the stage for the first Passover. The Lord had visited nine plagues on Egypt; the Passover marked the tenth and final one. To every house that was not protected by the blood of consecrated lambs, the Lord came and struck down firstborn sons. On the other hand, the Lord caused the destroyer to pass over houses marked by the blood of a lamb.

This was such a momentous occasion that God commanded His people to celebrate the Passover every year as a memorial meal. Moses told the people, “When you come to the land that the Lord will give you, as He has promised, you shall keep this service. And when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ you shall say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s Passover, for He passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when He struck the Egyptians but spared our houses’ ” (Exodus 12:25–27a).

Take a hard look at the Passover. Dwelling only on the blood and violence, it might cause us to stumble. It shocks our sensibilities. What kind of God would inflict such wrath against even helpless children? And doesn’t it seem morbid or cruel to memorialize such a terrible event?

Now look deeper. There’s more here than meets the eye. After Moses announced the institution of the Passover, we are told, “The people bowed their heads and worshiped” (Exodus 12:27b). They recognized that when the Lord speaks His will, the only proper response is worship. The Passover is all about the First Commandment: “You shall have no other gods.” The Lord had said concerning the Passover, “On all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord” (Exodus 12:12). The tenth plague was divine warfare against God’s idolatrous enemies; against the Egyptian false gods and the oppressors of His people. And later in Exodus, God said this: “I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate Me” (20:5). This means that under all the dead Egyptians, you should not see innocent victims of a capricious god, but impenitent sinners receiving just judgment from the one Holy God. And all of God’s acts of judgment on idolaters—from the flood, to the Passover, to the conquest of Canaan—are intended to warn us about the consequences of idolatry and impenitence. They are previews of the final judgment.

You also should see that this judgment is what you deserve and more. For your idolatrous sins, for every time you have not feared, loved, and trusted in the Lord your God with all your heart.  For all this you deserve for the destroyer to come and spill your blood on the ground, while your soul is taken swiftly to hell for eternal punishment. The Lord is no tame God. The apostle known for writing about God’s grace, St. Paul, also wrote this: “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap” (Galatians 6:7).

For their own sins, the Israelites deserved the same fate as the Egyptians. But now look at the blood of the Passover lambs and see more there than meets the eye. To the naked eye, the blood of lambs would appear to be the normal sticky red substance, but God attached His Word of grace to the lambs’ blood and gave His people a means of salvation from the destroyer. Under the blood of Passover lambs, you do not find any merit or worthiness in the Israelites, but only the promise of deliverance from the gracious and merciful Lord.

So the Passover was to be celebrated by Israel above all as a remembrance of His election of Israel and of His protection and salvation of them from their enemies. Later the Lord would attach His word of forgiveness to the blood of lambs, goats, and bulls in the sacrificial system operated by the priests at the tabernacle and the temple. Through the pouring out of blood in the Most Holy Place, God provided a means of cleansing and forgiveness for His people’s sins. As the Epistle to the Hebrews says, “Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (9:22).

And this leads us to find more than meets the eye in the Upper Room on the night when Jesus was betrayed. It was a Passover Meal, so Israel’s deliverance from Egypt was in view, and the recently shed blood of Passover lambs would be fresh on the disciples’ minds. Surely they had celebrated this meal dozens of times with their families from little on, and they knew the Passover liturgy by heart. They thought they knew what was coming as they celebrated it with Jesus, but there would be way more than meets the eye.  Jesus, the Lord of Israel Incarnate, revises the Passover liturgy.

St. Mark writes, “As they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them” (14:22). So far, so good; no surprises yet. But here’s the bombshell: Jesus said over the bread, “Take; this is My body” (v. 22). The disciples must have looked at one another with bewildered glances. Then Jesus seems to slip back into the regular liturgy: “He took a cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, and they all drank of it.” Okay, back to normal, the disciples must have thought, looking at each other with relief. Perhaps they had just misheard Jesus earlier. But then another bombshell! Jesus “said to them, ‘This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many’ ” (v. 24). Or more literally: “poured out on behalf of the masses.” Once again, Jesus boggled their minds!

At this unprecedented Passover Meal, Jesus teaches three main things to His disciples. First, that in a short while, His body would be given and His blood shed on the cross—and that under this apparently senseless slaughter of a Righteous Man, they should see His death as a ransom for the masses of humanity; for the sins of the whole world. This is God’s final judgment on sin, and from that day forward, the only sin that condemns to hell remains idolatry, but specifically the idolatry of rejecting Jesus and His death for the life of the world.

Second, Jesus teaches that in a mysterious and supernatural way, there was more than meets the eye under the simple bread and wine of an ordinary Passover Meal—now, by the power of His Word, the bread was truly His body and the wine was truly His blood, given to His disciples for the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation. Further, by His words “Do this,” He instituted the Lord’s Supper for His Church to proclaim His death till the end of time (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:26).

And third, Jesus was teaching them that the Passover and the sacrificial system of Israel were types which prefigured His once-for-all sacrificial death on the cross, but now these Old Testament ceremonies must give way to the New Testament in His blood.

John the Baptist had pointed to Jesus and proclaimed, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). Later, St. Paul would write, “Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Corinthians 5:7). At the Last Supper and on Good Friday, John’s preaching was fulfilled, when God’s holy, spotless Passover Lamb, Jesus Christ, finally offered His life as a ransom for the masses, so that sinners don’t have to get what they deserve but instead what Jesus has earned for them. Everything in the Old Testament was pointing forward to the coming of the Lord in the flesh as the Messiah to redeem His people and win forgiveness for not just Israel but Gentiles too.

There’s another peculiar part of the Old Testament that finds its fulfillment and explanation here. The Lord had told Israel, “If any one of the house of Israel or of the strangers who sojourn among them eats any blood, I will set My face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from among his people. For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life” (Leviticus 17:10–11). The blood of animals in the Old Testament was reserved for atonement for the people’s sins, but the prohibition on its consumption would end with the institution of the Lord’s Supper.  The Lord’s Supper is the New Testament in Christ’s blood.  Now and until Christ returns, the atoning blood of Jesus would be sacramentally fed to God’s people in, with, and under the wine of Holy Communion.

And what is in that blood that doesn’t meet the eye? Life! The blood of Jesus delivers to us the forgiveness of sins and serves as the antidote to death. God said, “The life is in the blood,” and that is what Christ’s disciples receive as the life-giving blood of Jesus is drunk by us in the Lord’s Supper: “For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.” For, as you come in faith to Jesus to feed on His body given and His blood shed for you, Jesus promises, “Whoever feeds on My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him” (John 6:54–56). Amen.

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