Christmas Eve The Unexpected Savior

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Christmas Eve 2020
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
December 24, 2020
Various Lessons

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

            2020 has been quite a year.  One year ago who would have thought that now you would be sitting here socially-distanced, wearing a mask or having one close at hand?  Who could have imagined that many would be sitting home watching Christmas Eve service on YouTube; infected, quarantining, isolating?  The world has been overwhelmed by an invisible virus.

The world is broken and our instinct is to fix it. We do not like the feeling of being helpless.  We have to do something…anything.  Politicians try making this new rule and that to try to control the virus.  Money is thrown at the problem.  We try to fix things, but despite our best efforts this virus is still causing no end of trouble all over the earth.  Two weeks to slow the spread has turned into a year. Vaccines are bringing some hope on the horizon but it remains a very difficult time. 

            Now, as bad as this pandemic is, it did not break the world, it only clarified the truth that we live in a broken world.  COVID19 reminds us that we are not in control.  This year in the United States there have been over 300,000 deaths related to the pandemic, but in a normal year there are almost three million deaths from many different causes, plus another 800,000 deaths from abortion. That people are dying of COVID19 is tragic, but death is nothing new in 2020.  You walk through the valley of the shadow of death.  The world is broken.

            The world broke, and sickness and death flooded in when Adam and Eve listened to the lies of the Prince of Darkness and sought to be like God. His first lie is still one of His favorites, “Did God actually say?”  Genesis 3:1-4 (ESV) 1 … “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.[1] 

Our first parents believed the devil’s lies.  They were one with God but then their rebellion broke that relationship.  And now all people, the offspring of Adam and Eve, are by nature, spiritually blind, dead and enemies of God. 

            There is so much brokenness in the world…so much darkness.  So much disease, injury, violence, starvation, warfare, and poverty.  The powerful abuse the weak.  Families are torn apart by lust and strife.  Children are exploited for profit.  Death separates you from your loved ones.  The darkness of this world is oppressive and this virus reminds you how helpless you are against the brokenness.

            This year there has been a dramatic yearning for Christmas.  There is a longing for hope in the darkness of despair, peace in the chaos of the pandemic, joy in the midst of the sorrow of sickness and death, and love in times of division and struggle.  This year folks were more anxious than ever to put up the tree and decorate the house and try to find some hope, peace, joy and love in Christmas.  There is desire for some kind of contentment in the familiarity of Christmas.  Because…the world is broken.  Because…you need a savior. 

            This unexpected savior’s birth is not announced to kings.  It is not proclaimed to the rich and powerful.  It is not heralded at the temple to the religious leaders.  The birth of this unexpected savior is announced to rough and tumble working men on the night shift watching sheep out in the fields.

            You need a savior.  You are looking for a hero to save you from the brokenness of the world and the brokenness in you.  You want someone to come and make it all better.  You need someone with the right connections to make things happen.  You need a mover and shaker to get things done. And so you come here tonight in the midst of brokenness looking for savior.  You have come to the right place. 

            What kind of glorious, powerful, connected, awesome champion do you find tonight?  As you dig through the lights and garland and trees and presents and songs and food and all the trappings of the season you find the savior.  But you find that the savior is a seeming nobody.  He is just a poor, Jewish, newborn boy wrapped in rags lying in a manger in the little town of Bethlehem six miles away from the important city of Jerusalem.  What kind of savior is this?  He is not glorious.  He is not powerful.  He is not politically connected.  He is not awesome.  He is not a champion.  He is a helpless little baby who needs His mother.  This is not the savior that you expect.

            This unexpected savior’s birth is not announced to kings.  It is not proclaimed to the rich and powerful.  It is not heralded at the temple to the religious leaders.  The birth of this unexpected savior is announced to rough and tumble working men on the night shift watching sheep out in the fields.

            The others with Mary and Joseph at the birth of their baby boy just see a normal baby.  They are confused when these shepherds come and tell them about angels announcing to them Luke 2:11 (ESV) 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.[2] They wonder at this, but Mary, the mother, has been told the truth about this baby by the angel Gabriel, and she treasures the shepherds’ words in her heart. 

This unremarkable little baby is the savior of the world.  The unexpected Savior does things in unexpected ways.  He quietly grows to be a man in a backwater hill town and then be baptized into your sin and carry that sin to a Roman cross in Jerusalem where He is beaten and pierced and killed for your brokenness and the brokenness of the world.  He enters death to destroy death.  He is laid in a tomb to sanctify the graves of all those who believe in Him.  He rises from the dead to declare victory over death and the grave.  He is the unexpected savior. 

Still today He is the unexpected savior forgiving in unexpected ways.  In the simple water and Word of baptism Jesus gives you eternal life in the Heavenly City where He will be the light.  He continues to deliver forgiveness to you in His Word, and in His Body and Blood in the bread and wine.  He is the humble servant king who calls you to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. 

            This is one of the proofs for me that Christianity is true.  This is not the kind of God someone would invent.  A God who comes to earth as a helpless infant. A God who quietly preaches and teaches and feeds and heals the lowly people of society.  A God who rebukes the religious leaders and eats with the outcasts. A God whose greatest glory is suffering in humiliation on a cruel cross.  A God who enters into the brokenness of the world to bring reconciliation with God the Father.  A God who does not solve every problem of the world — not yet — but solves the biggest problem.  A God who gives His life as ransom to forgive the sin that separates you from God.  A God who, in water, word, bread and wine, restores your relationship with the Creator that was broken in the Garden of Eden.   

            You come tonight looking for a savior in this broken world.  Your savior is come.  Your savior unexpectedly comes to you in the flesh of that little Jewish boy lying in a manger in Bethlehem.  He comes to ordinary people in ordinary places.  He comes to save sinners like you and me.  He comes as the Holy Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He comes as Immanuel, God with us, who offers Himself as the sacrifice to save you.  He promises to come again on the Last Day to fully undo the brokenness of the world.  He will abolish pandemics and sickness and death and evil forever and raise the dead in Christ to live with Him in the Heavenly City of New Jerusalem for eternity.  In Jesus you find the hope, the peace, the joy and the love you seek.  Unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior who is Christ the Lord. 

            Merry Christmas.

            Amen. 


[1]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[2]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Advent 4 — St. Mary Lutheran?

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Advent 4 2020
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
December 20, 2020
2 Sam. 7:1-11, 16, Romans 16:25-27, Luke 1:26-38

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 you ever visit Dresden, Germany you cannot help but be awed by the towering dome of the Frauenkirche, The Church of Our Lady with a big statue of Martin Luther out front.  This is a church with interesting history.  The original church was built in the 11th Century and then rebuilt in 1727 after the Reformation as a sign to the prince that even though he converted to Catholicism the people of Dresden remained Lutheran.  The 315 foot high dome collapsed on the morning of February 15, 1945 after two days of firebombing Dresden by Allied forces. The stone pillars holding up the dome became so hot they exploded destroying much of the building.  The church remained in ruins for 47 years as a war memorial during the time of Communist rule of East Germany.  In 1992, after reunification, rebuilding began. Builders used as many of the stones from the rubble piles as possible back in their original positions.  You can see these black stones amidst the lighter yellowish stones.

            Lots of St. Paul, St. John, St. Peter, and the like, but no St. Mary. Why?  I would guess that it would seem “too Catholic”.  And Lutherans, over the years, have desired not to look “too Catholic” even though we are reformed catholics.  For a long time we resisted making the sign of the cross or having a crucifix because it would seem, “too Catholic.”

Also interesting is the name; Frauenkirche, German for “The Church of Our Lady”.  It is Our Lady Lutheran Church.  It is named after Mary, the mother of Jesus.  Now the Frauenkirche was named when it was a Roman Catholic Church before the Reformation and kept the name afterwards.  You do not find too many Lutheran Churches with names like Our Lady or St. Mary.  In the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod I searched but did not find one St. Mary Lutheran. 

            Lots of St. Paul, St. John, St. Peter, and the like, but no St. Mary. Why?  I would guess that it would seem “too Catholic”.  And Lutherans, over the years, have desired not to look “too Catholic” even though we are reformed catholics.  For a long time we resisted making the sign of the cross or having a crucifix because it would seem, “too Catholic.”

            And I can certainly understand that after the Reformation Lutherans wanted to be clear that they have a different understanding of many things, including Mary. The cult of Mary in the Roman Catholic Church has grown since the Reformation.  A few years ago I was at a Catholic retreat center in Illinois and they had a parade with a statue of Mary on a bier carried on the shoulders of four men. It can seem that devotion to Mary starts to supplant devotion to God.  And there are a number of teachings in the Roman Catholic Church about Mary that are not in the Bible but have become dogma; teachings you must believe in order to be Catholic.  That Mary was conceived without sin, that she was a virgin her entire life, that she ascended into heaven in her body. 

            Now, while Roman Catholics can err in elevating Mary to almost being God, Lutherans can err by ignoring Mary and not giving her enough honor; not viewing her as a great hero of the faith alongside others in the Old Testament and New Testament.  We certainly should have a St. Mary Lutheran Church somewhere in our synod. 

            Like other Bible heroes, Mary is not without fault.  It would seem that there were times that Mary and her other children tried to rescue Jesus from Himself.  She likely did not always fully grasp what Jesus was about.  Mary has flaws the same as every other Biblical character except Jesus.  We know this because Mary is a descendant of Adam and Eve and she has original sin just like Moses and David, Peter, James and John, and just like you and me.  Mary is a sinner.  But this is what makes Mary a remarkable example of faith.  Mary believes the angel Gabriel.  In a Martin Luther Advent sermon on the annunciation he writes:

            “There is such richness and goodness in this Nativity that if we should see and deeply understand, we should be dissolved in perpetual joy.  Wherefore Saint Bernard declared there are here three miracles: that God and man should be joined in this Child; that a mother should remain a virgin; that Mary should have such faith as to believe that this mystery would be accomplished in her.  The last is not the least of the three.  The Virgin birth is a mere trifle for God; that God should become man is a greater miracle; but most amazing of all is that this maiden should credit the announcement that she, rather than some other virgin, had been chosen to be the mother of God.  She did indeed inquire of the angel, “How can these things be?” and he answered, “Mary, you have asked too high a question for me, but the Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you and you will not know yourself how it happens.”  Had she not believed, she could not have conceived.  She held fast to the word of the angel because she had become a new creature.  Even so must we be transformed and renewed in heart from day to day.  Otherwise Christ is born in vain.  This is the word of the prophet: “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given” (Isaiah 9:6).  This is for us the hardest point, not so much to believe that He is the son of the Virgin and God himself, as to believe that this Son of God is ours.  [1]

            Mary heard the message from God and she believed it.  Luke 1:38 (ESV) 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. [2] 

            Mary is a wonderful example of simple, trusting faith even in the midst of things she does not understand.  There are many things about God that you do not understand and still you trust His promise to you in your baptism.  God has chosen you to be His.  God has marked you as His own child.  Jesus takes your sin and your guilt and trades them for His righteousness, His holiness and His blessedness.  Jesus declares through the mouth of the pastor, “I forgive you all your sins.”  Jesus gives to you His own Body and Blood for the forgiveness of your sins.  This is His message to you.  This is His promise to you.  Jesus declares you are forgiven.  Jesus has chosen you to live with Him forever in the Heavenly City.  Believe it.

            There is great danger lurking when you elevate your own reason and understanding to be greater than the mysteries of God.  Just because you do not understand something does not mean that it is not true.  I do not understand how Jesus’ Body and Blood are present in the bread and wine of Holy Communion.  This troubled me when I was at seminary.  But then I realized I do not need to understand because I know it is true because Jesus said it is true.  I know Jesus has chosen me because He promised that to me in my baptism. 

            Meditate this week and throughout the year on Gabriel’s words to Mary and Mary’s humble faith.  Treasure Mary as one of the great cloud of witnesses that encourages us to… Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV) 1 … lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. [3]

            Each week as you confess in the creed that Jesus is conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, remember what a great example of faith Mary is to you.  Marvel not only at the miracles of the Virgin birth, and the incarnation, but ponder also the greater miracle of Mary believing that she was chosen by God. And know that you too have been chosen by God.  Amen. 


[1] Martin Luther’s Christmas Book, Roland H. Bainton, 1948, pp. 15-16

[2]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[3]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Advent 3 – The devil hates the light

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Advent 3 2020
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
December 13, 2020
Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11, 1 Thess. 5:16-24, John 1:6-8, 19-28

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

John 1:1-9 (ESV)
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. 9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.[1]

            You are running late for an appointment.  You are in an unfamiliar building hurrying down a hall looking for a right office.  Suddenly all the lights go out and you are plunged into complete darkness.  What do you do?  Do you keep hurrying?  Of course not.  You stop. You put your hands out in front of you and you slowly grope along the walls looking for an exit to get outside to the light.  What had been a clear and straightforward journey is now full of danger and uncertainty. 

            Darkness is dangerous.  The Hamilton Fire Department wants to make sure that if power goes out in this building you are not plunged into darkness and so they come around each year to test our emergency lights.  Emergency lights are important, because as powerful as darkness is, it is undone by light. So normally it is very unusual to be in place of total darkness because just a little light undoes the darkness. 

            The language of the Gospel of John is profound and heavy laden with imagery and significance.  In these first verses we have the Word.  John 1:1 (ESV) 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.[2]  We have Life. John 1:4 (ESV) 4 In him was life… And we have the light. John 1:4 (ESV) 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men.[3][4] 

            Who is this who was there in the beginning and is the Word, life and light? We look to John 1:14 (ESV) which is essentially the Christmas story in John. 14 … the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.[5]

            Jesus is the Word. Jesus is the life.  Jesus is the light.  John 1:5 (ESV) 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.[6] 

            Since Adam and Eve’s fall into sin the world is a spiritually dark place.  By nature you are sinful and unclean.  By nature you hate the light.  Jesus overcomes your nature.  The light drives out the darkness.  Jesus tells His disciples on night before His crucifixion, John 12:46 (ESV) 46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.[7] The light has come into the world and yet there are so many in the world who are fumbling around in spiritual darkness not sure which way to go or what to do.  They grope around in the dark for something to hold onto but only because they have their eyes closed.  The light has dawned.  The light has come.  The light is here. 

            So many are stumbling in darkness, but the light surrounds them.  What do you tell them?  Open your eyes.  The light has come!  Jesus has come!  He has come for you!  The light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot put it out.  And yet people choose to remain in the darkness because they love the darkness. 

            John 3:19-21 (ESV) 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been carried out in God.” [8]

            There is an ongoing battle between darkness and light. The darkness wants to extinguish the light.  The light has come and yet so many hate the light and flee from the light.  They want to silence anyone who speaks about the light. You see this in the world as governments and groups attempt to snuff out the light by attacking those who bear witness to the light.  Isaiah 5:20 (ESV) 20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter![9] 

The devil is the prince of darkness and he hates the light.  The devil tries to extinguish the light of Christ wherever he finds it.  The devil tried to extinguish Jesus, the Light.

You feel this in your own life as the cloud of the darkness of sin and despair creeps over you trying to extinguish the light of Christ in your life. You feel it as you give in to the temptation to ignore the light and explore the darkness of your lust, your anger, your envy, your pride. 

The devil is the prince of darkness and he hates the light.  The devil tries to extinguish the light of Christ wherever he finds it.  The devil tried to extinguish Jesus, the Light.  That awful Friday afternoon it certainly seems that the darkness overcomes the light. Even the Mark 15:33 (ESV) 33 And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.[10]

            Three hours of darkness envelopes the land as the devil extinguishes the light of Christ on the cruel cross as gravity and fatigue slowly suffocate the light until… it is finished.  The snuffed out light is sealed in a dark grave.  It looks like the devil has won.  It appears the darkness has put out the light. 

            But the darkness does not win.  The light reignites on Sunday morning and goes forth from the grave.  God of God, light of light shines in the darkness.

            John the Baptist is witness to the light.  He is not the light but comes to bear witness to the light.  John the Baptist proclaims the light has come.  Isaiah 60:1 (ESV) 1 Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.[11] 

            What John the Baptist started we continue here in this place.  We, as a church and school, bear witness to the light of Christ.  The light shines in what we preach and teach, but also in what we say and do to each other, and to others.  You bear the name of Jesus.  You are baptized into the light of Christ.  You are a Christian; a little Christ.  You bear witness to the light in your words and deeds.  And the prince of darkness hates you for it.  He wants you to stop.  He wants you to act like you don’t have the light of Christ.  He wants you to return to the darkness of the world. He wants to separate you from the light and have the light of Christ fade from your life.  Know your enemy and his lies.  James 4:7 (ESV) 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.[12]

            Darkness comes in like a cloud to cover up your Gospel light. The darkness wants to snuff out the light of Christ in you.  Do you let the darkness win?  Hide it under a bushel?  No!  I’m going to let it shine.  You are in the light.  You live in the light of Christ.  You daily repent.  You turn from sin and turn back to God.  You humble yourself and receive the gifts of the light; forgiveness and eternal life. And you give thanks for all God has done for you. 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV) 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.[13]

            The light has come into the world.  The darkness hates the light but the darkness cannot overcome the light.  Colossians 1:13 (ESV) 13 [Jesus] has delivered [you] from the domain of darkness and transferred [you] to the kingdom of his beloved Son,[14]

Give thanks.  Rejoice always.  The Light has come to you.  Amen.


[1]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[2]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[3]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[4]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[5]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[6]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[7]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[8]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[9]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[10]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[11]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[12]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[13]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[14]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Advent 2 Good news in the wilderness

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Advent 2 2020
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
December 5, 6, 2020
Isaiah 40:1-11, 2 Peter 3:8-14, Mark 1:1-8

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

            The church is decorated.  Here are the trees, and the lights, and the garland and stars.  There is a familiar comfort to it all.  It is calming.  It brings a peaceful feeling.  On dark December evenings it is nice to drive around and see houses brightly illuminated with colorful twinkling lights.  Peace on earth, good will to men.  Into this scene of calm bursts John the Baptist on the second Sunday of Advent dressed in a garment of hair with a leather belt around his waist like the prophet Elijah, and eating food he foraged in the desert.  John is not some slick, fancy pants preacher living in luxury, sipping wine and having subtle intellectual conversations about the meaning of life.  This is John the Baptist, the new Elijah promised by the prophets Malachi and Isaiah blasting in full strength to fulfill Old Testament prophecies.  Mark 1:2-3 (ESV) 2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, 3 the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’ ”[1]  John gives it to you straight.  John calls people to repentance because the reign of heaven is near.  People hear this message and respond.  Crowds come from Judea and Jerusalem to be baptized by John in the wilderness.

            John is the voice calling in the wilderness.  Now the wilderness is not a happy, comfortable place.  It is desolate and dangerous.  Isolated and abandoned.  John is preaching the Good News of the coming of King Jesus in difficult circumstances in a dangerous location.  Lately it can certainly feel like we are in the wilderness in these unending days of pandemic.  We pray for this to end, but the virus is spiking and we have more and more people we know infected and quarantining; sick and dying.  The virus continues to ravage the world and makes everything feel out of sorts.  The voice crying in the wilderness still speaks to us today.  John is the voice in the wilderness bringing the Good News of Jesus’ arrival.  The one promised from of old has come.  John’s cry in the wilderness still resonates today.  It is still Good News in the wilderness that Jesus has come in the flesh to be God with us, Immanuel.  It is still Good News that God in flesh is born in Bethlehem and grows to die on the cross for your sins and rise from the dead.  It is still Good News in the wilderness that you look forward to Jesus coming again on the Last Day to raise the dead and bring all believers in Jesus into the Heavenly City of New Jerusalem.  It is still Good News in the wilderness that Jesus comes to you today in His Word, and in His Body and Blood in Holy Communion.  In the wilderness of this world and in the wilderness of the pandemic, you still need to hear the call to repent and follow Jesus. 

            John breaks the calm on this second Sunday of Advent calling you to repent.  Now this can sound like John is trying to make you feel guilty for a bit, but repentance is not something Jesus needs from you, repentance is something you need in order to know where you stand. 

            John is a good preacher because while he is kind of a rock star of his time with people coming out to him from all over, John does not teach about John.  John does not promote John.  John does not preach sermons about how cool John is.  John knows he is a sinner who needs Jesus and so John minimizes John, and preaches about Jesus.  Mark 1:7 (ESV) 7 And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.[2]  John preaches about Jesus.  A wise seminary professor once said that any preacher worth his salt sends his people home talking about Jesus, not talking about the pastor.

            John breaks the calm on this second Sunday of Advent calling you to repent.  Now this can sound like John is trying to make you feel guilty for a bit, but repentance is not something Jesus needs from you, repentance is something you need in order to know where you stand.  To know you are a sinner who needs forgiveness.  To know you are a sinner who needs Jesus.  To know you are not God.  To know that you should fear, love and trust in God alone.  Martin Luther in his book the “Bondage of the Will” writes, “…no man can be thoroughly humbled until he knows that his salvation is utterly beyond his own powers, devices, endeavors, will, and works, and depends entirely on the choice, will, and work of another, namely, of God alone. For as long as he is persuaded that he himself can do even the least thing toward his salvation, he retains some self-confidence and does not altogether despair of himself, and therefore he is not humbled before God, but presumes that there is—or at least hopes or desires that there may be—some place, time, and work for him, by which he may at length attain to salvation.[3]

            Repentance despairs of yourself and looks to God for salvation.  Repentance admits you cannot save yourself; you need Jesus. Repentance takes the kings crown off your own head and returns it to Jesus.  Repentance is a call to remove those things from your life that keep you from welcoming the King to reign over you.

            John the Baptist is the voice of one crying in the wilderness to prepare the way for Jesus’ arrival.  Jesus arrives to take center stage, but he ministers in a surprisingly humble way with healing and forgiveness.  Jesus welcomes sinners and eats with them.  He cares for the weak and lowly.  Mark 10:45 (ESV)45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”[4] 

            Today in the wilderness of this world; in the isolation and desolation of the unending pandemic, take heart.  Jesus has come as the sacrifice for your sins.  Jesus comes to you today in His Word, and in His Body and Blood in Holy Communion.  Jesus will come on the Last Day to raise you from the dead to live with him forever.  This is the great Good News that John the Baptist brings to you today.  It is the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

            Amen. 


[1]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[2]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[3]Luther, M. (1999, c1972). Vol. 33: Luther’s works, vol. 33 : Career of the Reformer III (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther’s Works (33:62). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.

[4]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Jesus came to save you

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Advent 1 2020
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
November 29, 2020
Isaiah 64:1-9, 1 Corinthians 1:3-9, Mark 11:1-10

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

Today is the first Sunday of the Church Year and the First Sunday in Advent. The word Advent comes from the Latin word “adventus” which means arrival or coming into place.  This season before Christmas is a time to look forward to the coming of Jesus — and it is very likely that the first arrival of Jesus that enters your mind is that of the Son of God coming in flesh as that baby born in Bethlehem.  This is what Christmas is all about.  The second coming is on the Last Day; the Day of Judgment.  And there is a third coming, the present coming, the one that is happening even now as Jesus comes to you in His Word and Sacraments.

These are the three main categories of Jesus coming into place that form your meditations during Advent, but in scripture there are many other instances of God coming to be with His people.

Very early in history, when the universe was only six days old, it is a joy when God reveals Himself to His creation.  God creates Adam and Eve, and God dwelling with them is a joyful thing. 

But then something happens.  God’s arrival is no longer a time of celebration.  Genesis 3:8 (ESV) 8 [Adam and Eve] heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.[1]  It only takes three chapters for mankind to change the coming of God from a time of celebration into a time of hiding and terror.  Adam changes the coming of God forever.  After this the Bible describes the coming of God with words like “dread,” “darkness,” and “terror.”  People react to God’s presence by falling on their faces as dead men.  Even when God wants to be with His people in grace, He hides Himself inside the tabernacle and the temple.

The terror of God’s presence is His holiness.  As you see His holiness, the true measure of your sin shatters you.  Your reaction at the coming of God is to run and hide.  The Bible tells you that when Jesus comes to judge on the Last Day, Revelation 6:15-17 (ESV) 15 Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, 16 calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”[2]

The coming of God is terrifying because of sin.  Deep down inside of every human being, no matter how much you may deny it, is the knowledge that you must pay for your sin.  The teachings of the Bible bear this out.  Listen to what happened to Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, when they came before the Lord in an improper way.  Leviticus 10:1-2 (ESV) 1 Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, which he had not commanded them. 2 And fire came out from before the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord.[3]  The mere thought of entering God’s glory should terrify all who have even the slightest understanding of their sin.

God’s plan for coming to you replaces the terror of sin with the joy of righteousness.  God does this by removing the punishment of sin and giving you the righteousness of Christ instead.

And yet God wants to be Immanuel, God with us.  God wants His coming to be a time of joy as it was in Eden.  He wants to share Himself with you and not have you run and hide.  That is the great comfort that you find in today’s Gospel.  Here is God coming in the flesh of a man; humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.  Here is Jesus coming into Jerusalem in order to finish His perfect, sinless life with an utterly cruel and terrible death so that God can come to you with joy instead of terror.

God’s plan for coming to you replaces the terror of sin with the joy of righteousness.  God does this by removing the punishment of sin and giving you the righteousness of Christ instead.  In order to do this, God Himself takes on human flesh in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus is both God and man.  As a human being, just like you, Jesus takes on the terror, the shame, the pain, and the guilt of your sin.  As a man, Jesus can die and He does.  He dies the shameful death of crucifixion; nailed naked to a few pieces of wood and put on display for all the world to see. 

Since Jesus is God, God experiences that shameful death.  As the holy Son of God, Jesus’ shame takes away your shame and His death takes away your death.  There is no longer any terror in your sin because Jesus has taken the terror away. 1 Corinthians 15:55-57 (ESV) 55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.[4] 

Jesus riding a donkey into Jerusalem brings great comfort.  Here is God and man in one person coming to the battle ground. As the Son of God comes to Jerusalem on that day, the Passover Pilgrims shout His praise even though few, if any of them understand the full meaning of Christ’s coming.  Although their songs speak of coming in the name of the Lord and the kingdom of David, they do not understand the implications.  They quite rightly call Jesus their Messiah, but they will not know what that means until the coming week is over because Jesus, God in flesh, has come to die.  He has come to Jerusalem to offer Himself up as the sacrifice that takes away the sin of the world.

The Son of God takes on human flesh in order to take your place.  He comes to Jerusalem to experience the full guilt of your sin and take the punishment for that guilt.  He comes to remove the guilt that causes your terror at His coming. He comes to grant you the gift of His righteous life.  Jesus comes to Jerusalem that Sunday so that on Friday He can suffer and die on a Roman cross and so make the full payment for the sins of the world. 

As you remember the coming of the Christ to Jerusalem, not only remember that He comes to die, but also remember that He comes to live.  The Sunday after He dies, He rises to new life.  His resurrection means that He continuously comes to you.

The wonderful thing about His continual coming is that it no longer terrifies you.  Even as God lives with you, He still comes to you.  He comes to you as you read and hear His word.  He continues to come to you in His flesh and blood as you eat and drink the bread and the wine of His table. 

In the Lord’s Supper you eat the very flesh that He sacrificed for you on the cross and the very blood that He shed for you on the cross.  The flesh and blood He gives to you are not just the flesh and blood of crucifixion, but they are also the flesh and blood of resurrection. In this sacrament He comes to you with the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.

God will continue to come to you until the day of his last coming.  There will be a day when He will come and all flesh will see Him.  On that day He will raise all the dead. 

He will send away those who are still terrified of Him; those who still retain their guilt because they refused the gift of His coming.  They will never experience His grace because they will never again experience His coming.  They will only experience God’s judgment and condemnation.

But those who received the gift of His coming; those who believe in Him, will rejoice on that day.  They will always be with Him and He will always be with them and they will experience His presence forevermore.

Ponder God and His coming during this Advent.  Consider His coming as the baby at Christmas, but don’t limit your consideration just to Christmas.  Ponder the love that God shows in His coming in that even while sin causes terror and hatred, He continues to come with His love.  Consider how He came to save you with His suffering, death, and resurrection. Consider how He now comes in Word and Sacrament.  Consider how He will come on the last day to take His people home with Him.  Consider the blessings that He once gave, that He now gives, and that He will give when He comes again. Amen


[1]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[2]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[3]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[4]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Who is the least of these my brothers?

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Last Sunday of the Church Year 2020
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
November 22, 2020
Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24, 1 Cor. 15:20-28, Matthew 25:31-46

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

            As we get towards the end of the church year we have a number of Sundays focused on the end times when Jesus will return for judgment.  We have the parable of the wedding feast where you need to be clothed in the correct garment, the parable of the ten virgins where you need to be ready and stay ready, the parable of the talents where you need to fear, love and trust in God.  Directly after the parable of the talents we get Jesus’ last description of the final judgment in our Gospel reading today. 

            Matthew 25:31 (ESV) 31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.[1]  This is what we learn about also in Revelation 4:2-4 (ESV) 2 At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. 3 And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. 4 Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads.[2]

            Jesus is giving us a picture of the judgment day when He sits on His throne.  It has been long held that on the 24 thrones are representatives of the 12 tribes of Israel and the 12 apostles.  Jesus promises the 12 disciples in Matthew 19:28 (ESV) 28 …“Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.[3]

            Jesus is on His throne and… Matthew 25:32-33 (ESV) 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.[4] Why the separation?  Why are the sheep blessed and the goats cursed?

Matthew 25:34-36 (ESV) 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’[5]

            On its face it seems that Jesus is teaching that your eternal destiny is determined by how well you care for the hungry, the thirsting, the strangers, the naked, the sick and the imprisoned.  Now, we absolutely should care for people in need.  The summary of the Ten Commandments is love God and love your neighbor.  But being judged on your care for others contradicts the Bible’s other teachings about salvation.  When we encounter a difficult passage where do we look for guidance?  We let scripture interpret scripture.  We look to clearer passages to clarify difficult passages.   

            In Ephesians 2:8-9 we learn (ESV) 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.[6]  So if the parable of the sheep and the goats is not Jesus teaching that you will be judged on how well you cared for others, what is He teaching?  The answer is found in the identity of “one of the least of these my brothers.”  Matthew 25:40 (ESV) 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’[7] 

            Who is Jesus talking about as “one of the least of these my brothers.”  Nowhere in scripture does Jesus refer to needy people as His brothers.  In fact he is very specific in Matthew 12:46-50 (ESV) 46 While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. 48 But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” [8]  To the women at the tomb Jesus says, Matthew 28:10 (ESV) 10 …“Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” [9]

            In Matthew 10 Jesus tells the disciples, His brothers, “Whoever receives you receives me.”  In Matthew 25 He says “As you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” 

            Jesus refers to the disciples as his brothers.  In Jesus’ final words in the Gospel of Matthew we hear Him give instructions to these brothers.  Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV) 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” [10]

            The twelve disciples are sent to make disciples of all nations.  At the judgment all nations will be gathered before the throne of God.  We get insight on the verses about the sheep and the goats from Matthew 10 where Jesus is sending His 12 disciples to the lost sheep of the House of Israel.  Jesus concludes his sending by telling His disciples… Matthew 10:40 (ESV)40 “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.[11]  

            In Matthew 10 Jesus tells the disciples, His brothers, “Whoever receives you receives me.”  In Matthew 25 He says “As you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” 

            Those who receive and care for the disciples bringing the Good News of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection to all nations are the blessed sheep.  Those who reject those who preach and teach the Good News are the cursed goats.  Being a sheep is having faith in Jesus and supporting those who bring the Good News to you and to the world.  Feeding them.  Giving them something to drink.  Welcoming them.  Clothing them.  Caring for them when sick.  Visiting them in prison.

            In the early days of Christianity, after Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension, those who brought the Good News to all nations faced great hardship and danger.  Those first missionaries were beaten, whipped, imprisoned and even killed.  It still happens today in many places in the world.  Those who care for those bringing the Gospel are blessed by God.  They are the ones who hear the Good News and believe.  They provide food, drink, clothing, shelter, and care for the disciples. They are blessed by God for eternity because they are in Christ.

            Someone first taught you about Jesus.  There are those who taught you over the years and there are those who continue today to teach you about Jesus.  Care for those who bring the Gospel to your ears.

            You trace your faith back to the original 12 disciples bringing the Good News of Jesus’ resurrection to all nations.  Through many generations and continuing today the Good News is proclaimed by faithful preachers and teachers and missionaries.  Receive them and care for them.  You do it together.  You continue the mission of the first 12 followers of Jesus, to make disciples baptizing and teaching.  You get to see another beginning step again today (tomorrow) at the 11 AM Sunday service with the baptism of baby Robert Whitaker. 

Together you gather to hear the Good News of Jesus and receive His Body and Blood for the forgiveness of sins.  Together you care for your pastor and staff.  Together you support those in your school who bring the Good News of Jesus to 230 students and their families.  Together you care for those in need with food and finances.  Together you support missionaries bringing the Good News to all nations.  Together you support those preparing for full time church work.  Together you work to increase what you are doing so that you do as much as you can. Together you continue the work of making disciples of all nations, baptizing and teaching and look forward to the day when, with all nations, you are placed on the right of the throne of God and Jesus will say, Matthew 25:34 (ESV) 34 … ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.[12] Amen.


[1]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[2]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[3]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[4]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[5]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[6]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[7]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[8] The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[9]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[10]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[11]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[12]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Two kinds of fear

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Pentecost 24 2020
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
November 14, 15, 2020
Zephaniah 1:7-16, 1 Thess. 5:1-11, Matt. 25:14-30

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

            The first commandment is “You shall have no other Gods.” What does this mean?  Martin Luther’s explains in the Small Catechism, “You should, fear, love and trust in God above all things.”  Fear, love and trust in God above all things.  The explanation of the other nine commandments all begin, We should fear and love God so that…we obey God’s commands.  Fear, love and trust. 

            The parable of the talents is kind of a confusing story. What is Jesus trying to teach us? A talent here is an amount of money; a large amount of money.  One talent is worth about 20 years wages, so even one talent is a great sum maybe like $1,000,000 in today’s money.  The word talent here refers to money, but in English, talent means ability, which can be confusing.  In this parable there are three servants, but only two types of servants.  There are two “good and faithful” servants and there is one “wicked and slothful” servant. What is the difference?  The master gives each servant a huge sum of money; some more, some less, but still a lot of money to each servant.  Why are two good and faithful, and one wicked and slothful?  The good and faithful servants fear, love and trust their master.  The wicked and slothful servant fears and despises his master. 

What does it mean to fear God?  What kind of fear should we have of God?  Philip Melanchthon, a close associate to Martin Luther during the Reformation, made the distinction of servile fear and filial fear.  Servile fear would be the kind of fear a slave has for his master; filial fear is the kind of fear a child has for his father.  Those who reject Jesus are unforgiven and should be in servile fear of God.  They should be in terror of God’s righteousness and holiness.  If you reject Jesus’ forgiveness, you should be in terror of God’s wrath being poured out on you.

            This is the difference between the two kinds of servants in the parable today.  The first two fear their master with a filial fear; a fear filled with respect, awe, love and trust.  The third servant fears the master with a servile fear; a fear of punishment which causes him to be paralyzed in terror and to have no desire to serve his master.

            As a baptized child of God you do not need to be in terror of God.  Jesus has taken God’s wrath upon Himself and has given you His perfection and His holiness. As a baptized believer in Jesus you are a beloved child of God.  You should still fear God but in the way a child fears a good father.  A fear of respect and awe.  A fear based in love and trust.  A fear that makes you want to please God; want to serve and obey Him. Jesus tells us to look to God as Father and teaches us to pray, “Our Father.”  In the catechism Martin Luther explains, “With these words God tenderly invites us to believe that He is our true Father and that we are His true children, so that with all boldness and confidence we may ask Him as dear children ask their dear father.”

            This is the difference between the two kinds of servants in the parable today.  The first two fear their master with a filial fear; a fear filled with respect, awe, love and trust.  The third servant fears the master with a servile fear; a fear of punishment which causes him to be paralyzed in terror and to have no desire to serve his master.

            It is far too common for people to see God as a harsh, demanding taskmaster who is always threatening punishment and damnation. For these people the law becomes a great burden; a list of impossible demands.  God is viewed as a constant nag who relentlessly tells you that you are messing up and you will never be good enough.  There are so many that see God as a vicious tyrant with a sword on your neck telling you, “Behave, or else.”  God is too often perceived as a vindictive taskmaster, but this is wrong.  Jesus invites everyone…  Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV) 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” [1] 

            As a monk, Martin Luther was tormented by his sinfulness and fear of God’s judgment and wrath.  The Roman Church taught that you must confess every sin to the priest or it would not be forgiven and so Luther would spend hours in the confessional booth trying to recall and confess every sin.  He lived in constant terror of God’s judgment.  He would starve himself and beat himself with a whip to try to control his sinful impulses.  Churches gain power by presenting God this way.  It is easy to manipulate people who live in terror of God’s judgment.  “Do what I say, or else God is going to get you.”

            By reading the New Testament Luther discovered the sweet, sweet Good News that Jesus’ death and resurrection is full payment for your sins and that, in Christ, you are declared righteous because of what Jesus has done for you.  You are indeed a poor, miserable sinner.  You are indeed, by nature, sinful and unclean, but Jesus died for real sins and real sinners. Jesus died for you because He loves you. He loves you so much He drank the cup of God’s wrath down to the bitter dregs so that you are free from the wrath of God.  You are liberated from the terror of God’s judgment.  You live in fear, love and trust in God above all things because He is your beloved creator, redeemer and sanctifier.  You live to serve and obey God by loving and serving your neighbor. You take the good gifts that God has given you and you generously use them to love and serve your neighbor in your various vocations in life.  You take God’s gifts of forgiveness, eternal life and salvation and you multiply these gifts in the world.

            Now you will never do this perfectly this side of the Judgment Day because you are a natural born sinner and you are sorely tempted by the devil, the world and your own sinful flesh.  You are not perfect, but you are forgiven, and you live in filial fear of God.  You live in love and trust of God and on the day of resurrection Jesus will look at you and say, “Matthew 25:23 (ESV) 23 … ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’[2] 

            The tragic, wretched truth about life in this sinful world is that so many do not know the sweet, sweet Good News of freedom in Jesus. So many are still in bondage to sin and live in servile fear of God.  They live in terror of God.  They take God’s good gift of forgiveness, life and salvation and they bury it because they live in terror of God.  They are so afraid of doing something wrong that they just don’t do anything at all. Instead of fearing, loving and trusting God, they fear and despise God.  They fear and hate God because they see God as a demanding slave master who only wants to punish.  They try to make up ways to negotiate with God and earn His favor by their actions. They give up hope and despair or they rationalize and minimize their sin and become self-righteous.  It is so heartbreaking that so many are missing the truth that God is a God of love who loves you so much He paid the price for your sins. 

            In the Parable of the Talents the master starts off by entrusting his servants with huge sums of money.  The master obviously loves and trusts his servants.  God obviously loves and trusts you.  He entrusts you with forgiveness, eternal life and salvation. Knowing your sins are forgiven in Jesus you fear, love and trust God.  You treasure His commandments.  You use His gifts to love and serve others and you look forward to the day when the veil of this life is lifted and you are raised up to live in the presence of the Lamb of God forever.  Amen. 


[1]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[2]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Be wise. Stay ready.

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Pentecost 23 2020
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
November 6, 2020
Amos 5:18-24, 1 Thess 4:13-18, Matthew 25:1-13

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

            The door to the kingdom of heaven is open.  Jesus is the door and He invites all people to come into the kingdom to await the wedding feast of the Lamb.  Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the world and wants all people to be saved.  Jesus reaches out to sinners.  A bruised reed He will not break.  A smoldering wick He will not snuff out.  Jesus wants all to be saved.  He calls all to repent and believe the Good News that sins are forgiven in Jesus.  The door is open and all are welcome.

            The door is open and all are welcome, but there are a lot of people who are milling around outside the door ignoring the invitation to come in. There are those who say they will come through the door someday…when they are not so busy…when they are not so caught up in living life.  I had a young man at juvenile detention tell me once that he would probably become a Christian when he was old, maybe 40 or so, but for now he wanted to party and sleep around.  Jesus? Maybe later.   

            There are those who come through the door into the kingdom of heaven and live there for a while, but the busyness of life and the deceitfulness of wealth lure them back outside the door.  They were under the reign of the Lord Jesus but now they reject His rule.  They intellectually know the door is there and they have some sense they should probably be back in the kingdom of heaven, but life gets in the way.  They had faith, but they neglected it and lost it; other things became more important; other gods snuck in to replace the one true God.

            There are so many today living in a spiritual land of opportunity where you can believe a little of this and a little of that and kind of make up your own god who cheers you on, but does not cramp your style or curtail your sexual adventures.  Folks seem to want a weak god who pretty much does what they tell him to do. 

            The parable of the ten virgins is a harsh warning blasting into our lives today. It is the lion of Judah roaring to let us know He is not a passive kitten.  Jesus is not a weak god of our own design.  He is God Almighty.  Right now the door to the kingdom of heaven is open and the God of mercy and grace pours out His forgiveness on sinners.  Now the door is open, but the day is coming when the door will be closed.  The day is coming when God’s mercy and grace will cease. The day is coming when Jesus returns and there will be no more opportunity to believe the Good News that Jesus died for your sins.  When Jesus returns there will be only two categories.  You either believe or you do not.  You are saved or damned.  These stark categories make us uncomfortable.  We want there to be some gray area, some mushy middle where we can muddle our way through life not fully committing one way or the other, and then figure things out on the Last Day.  But there is no gray area, and if you wait until the Last Day it will be too late.

            When Jesus returns the door will be closed and there will be no second chances.  For the five foolish virgins who did not have enough oil there is no mercy.  While they are off trying to buy more oil the bridegroom arrives and goes into the marriage feast with those who are ready and the door is shut.  The five foolish virgins arrive late and find the door already closed.  They cry out, Matthew 25:11 (ESV) 11 … ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’[1] These are desperate people in desperate need crying out for help.  The answer they receive is chilling.  Matthew 25:12 (ESV) 12 … ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’[2]

            Jesus is giving us a hard teaching.  There will come a day when it will be too late to come into the kingdom of heaven.  When Jesus returns and those who reject Him see Him coming in power and glory, they will know they were wrong about Jesus, but it will be too late.  The wise know they need to be ready.  The foolish think they can get ready if necessary.  Jesus is warning you today, be wise.  Be ready, stay ready.  Stay connected to Jesus through His body on earth, the Church.  Hebrews 10:23-25 (ESV) 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.[3]

            In the busyness of life it is very tempting to give up gathering together to receive the forgiveness of sins through Jesus’ words and through His Body and Blood in Holy Communion.  It is too easy to let yourself be separated from the fountain of forgiveness that you receive in worship.  Just a skip week here and a week there and weeks become months, and soon you drift away from God through quiet neglect.  We can come up with all sorts of reasons why we cannot make it to church.  As you make excuses you need to honestly ask yourself where receiving Jesus’ forgiveness is on your list of priorities in life.  The devil wants nothing more than to separate you from Jesus and have you give up the wisdom of God and embrace the wisdom of the world. 

            In our Gospel reading there are those who are wise and those who are foolish. Be wise.  And what is wisdom?  Psalm 111:10 (ESV)  10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…

Now, during this time of pandemic there are those who need to continue to stay away from in-person worship for health reasons, but it is still important to remain connected as much as you can and return in person when you are able.  If possible, come to the family unit communion if you are not able to attend in person worship.  If health reasons prevent you from attending in person worship let me know and we can bring the Lord’s Supper to you.  Stay connected to Jesus.  Attend worship, receive the sacrament, read God’s Word.  In the end there will not be time to get ready for Jesus to return, you need to stay ready.

            Be wise.  Stay ready. Now I get to preach this to you all who are here; you have gathered today to receive God’s gifts in Jesus.  Abide in Christ, stay faithful, do not drift away from the Church.  Remain faithful until the day you fall asleep in Christ.  

            In our Gospel reading there are those who are wise and those who are foolish. Be wise.  And what is wisdom?  Psalm 111:10 (ESV)  10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…[4]

            Stay ready.  Reject the wisdom of the world seek the wisdom of God.  1 Corinthians 1:20-25 (ESV) 20 …Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.[5]

            The door to the kingdom of heaven is now open.  Shout it from the mountain top.  Let everyone know.  Now is the time to repent and believe Jesus died for your sins.  Now is the time to know there is forgiveness in Jesus.  Now is the time to repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.  Now is the time to be ready and stay ready for Jesus to return.  Remain in Christ.  Stay ready. Be wise.  Amen.


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

[2]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[3]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[4]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[5]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Three stages of the Kingdom of Heaven

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BULLETIN

SERMON TEXT BELOW

All Saints’ Day 2020
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
November 1, 2020
Rev. 7:2-17, 1 John 3:1-3, Matthew 5:1-12

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

            A few years ago to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary Jeannette and I planned a trip to a resort in the Dominican Republic.  It was fun and exciting to plan the trip and for almost a year we looked forward to the adventure of going to an all-inclusive Caribbean resort.  It was a great trip and once we were there the days flew by and too soon it was time to come home.  The trip only lasted a week, but knowing that you have vacation coming up is exciting as you plan and make reservations and think about where you are going and what you’re going to do.  The holiday is planned, and God willing you will get to go.  For the time being though, you still live your normal day to day existence but you do it with the anticipation of the upcoming vacation; you have something to look forward to. 

            As a Christian you have an eternal vacation coming.  The reservation has already been made, everything has been booked; it is a done deal.  All is prepared, but it is not time yet.  For now you still walk in the valley of the shadow of death.

            The day is coming when you will be free from all of the sorrows and struggles of this life and you will live in the perfect peace and holiness of Jesus’ presence in the heavenly city.  The day is coming when everything will be perfected.  Revelation 21:4 (ESV) 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”[1] That day is coming, but you don’t know when. 

            On this All Saints Day we remember those who have died in the faith.  Today I want to talk about the kingdom of heaven because there is a lot of confusion.  What is kingdom of heaven?  Where is it? How do I get there?  The kingdom of heaven is not so much a place as a reign, an authority.  The kingdom of heaven is God reigning, ruling, in Jesus.  John the Baptist and Jesus both preach the same sermon, Matthew 3:2 (ESV) 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”[2] Jesus is King, and He comes into the world to be the sacrificial Lamb of God who dies on the cross for the sins of the world and rises from the dead to conquer death forever.  Jesus is King who reigns in humble, sacrificial, suffering service.  Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near.  It is near in Jesus.  Turn from sin and follow Jesus.

            The kingdom of heaven can be a bit puzzling for us because it has three stages; the Church Militant, the Church at Rest and the Church Triumphant.  For simplicity I will call them the kingdom of heaven stage one, two and three.  There is the kingdom of heaven stage one in which you currently live as a baptized follower of Jesus.  Matthew 5:3 (ESV) 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.[3] Theirs’ is the kingdom of heaven; present tense. You are marked and sealed by God in your baptism.  Just as the houses of the children of Israel were marked with the blood of the lamb so the angel of death passed over them in Egypt, you have been marked by the blood of the Lamb of God for salvation on the Last Day.  You are poor in spirit.  You know you are not good enough.  You know you cannot do it yourself.  You know you need Jesus and have nothing to offer Him in exchange for His forgiveness.  You are poor in spirit.  Matthew 5:3 (ESV) 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.[4]

In the kingdom of heaven stage one you live under the reign of God.  You pray God’s will be done in your life.  You are most familiar with this stage because it is your life.  It is a life of being right now marked by God for salvation; destined for eternal life in the heavenly City of New Jerusalem, and at the same time of not yet being there.  Life in kingdom of heaven stage one is an ongoing struggle against the devil, against the world and against your own sinful nature.  As someone who lives under the reign of Jesus in this broken world, you feel the struggle everyday as you battle against your own sinful desires in order to delight in God’s will and walk in His ways.  It is a life of contrition and repentance.  Kingdom of heaven stage one has the joy of forgiveness in Jesus, and the ongoing sorrow of living in a fallen world where there is death, mourning, crying, pain.  Kingdom of heaven stage one is now and not yetNow you are saved but you are not yet in the Heavenly City of New Jerusalem.  In stage one, the Church Militant, You have been redeemed, but you are still fighting against the spiritual forces of evil in this world.  Ephesians 6:11 (ESV) 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.[5]  1 Corinthians 15:58 (ESV) 58 … be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. [6] 

When you die, your body is buried in the ground and your spirit goes to be with the Lord to wait for the day of resurrection when body and spirit will be reunited.  In death you are asleep in Christ.  This is kingdom of heaven stage two; the Church at Rest. We don’t know very much at all about this time between physical death and the resurrection of the dead.  The cliché tombstone inscription of R.I.P. is actually pretty good.  Rest in peace until the Lord comes to raise you from the dead.  “In its narrow chamber keep, my body safe in peaceful sleep, until thy reappearing.” (LSB hymn 708).  Too often we are tempted to overstate what happens to our loved ones who have died in the Lord.  We want to transport them fully to after the day of resurrection when the perishable will put on the imperishable and the mortal will put on immortality and they will walk on the golden streets of the heavenly city.  That day will come, but it has not yet come.  Our loved ones who have died now rest in peace while the whole creation groans to be set free from the bondage to decay.  Your loved one is at peace, but there body is still buried and you still live with sin and sorrow and struggle.  You live with disease and death.  You still mourn the loss of your loved ones while they are asleep in Christ in the kingdom of heaven stage two.

When Jesus returns in glory on the Last Day to judge the living and the dead He will usher in kingdom of heaven stage three.  The Last Day will be the First Day of eternal life in the Heavenly City of New Jerusalem. The dead will be raised, the earth will be destroyed and restored, and then there will be…Revelation 21:1-4 (ESV) 1 … a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”[7]

The kingdom of heaven stage three is…1 Corinthians 15:54-55 (ESV) 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”[8]  On that day the dead in Christ will rise and death will be defeated forever.  On that day those who have rejected Jesus will be raised up and judged based on their own actions in this life while those in Christ; those covered by the robe of Jesus’ righteousness, will be raised up and judged based on Jesus’ perfection. On that day, as a baptized believer in Jesus, you will be part of the Church Triumphant, a… Revelation 7:9-10 (ESV) 9 … great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”[9]  On that day the dead in Christ will rise with imperishable, immortal, perfected bodies to live forever with Jesus.

            On that day the future tense blessings of the beatitudes from our Gospel reading will be fully realized in the kingdom of heaven stage three.  The mourning will be comforted.  The meek will inherit the earth.  Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be satisfied.  The merciful will receive mercy.  The pure in heart will see God.  The peacemakers will be called the sons of God.  The persecuted will be rewarded. 

            That day is coming, but has not yet come, when evil will be altogether destroyed, and you and all the saints in Christ will go marching into the Heavenly City through the gates of pearl where you will live in the peace and presence of God forever.  That day is coming and so through these difficult days of the kingdom of heaven stage one, you can live with the certain knowledge that better days are coming. The struggle is easier when you know that this world is not forever.  The day is coming when you will get an eternal holiday; a permanent vacation from sin, evil and death.  Knowing you have an everlasting home in heaven strengthens you today to remain steadfast and faithful and fight the good fight. 

You have been baptized into Jesus’ death and resurrection and into the kingdom of heaven.  You are marked and sealed to live under the reign of Jesus.  You are destined to live in the Heavenly City of New Jerusalem forever.  Amen. 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus isn’t who you think He is.

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Reformation Day 2020
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
October 24, 25, 2020
Revelation 14:6-7, Romans 3:19-28, Matthew 11:12-19

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 God is really God why does He allow so much evil?  Why is there war?  Why is there human trafficking?  Why do people abuse children?  Why do people harm themselves?  Why is there sickness and disability and dementia and death?  Why is there abortion?  Why is there murder, rape, and robbery?  Why is there poverty?  Why are so many politicians so corrupt, making themselves wealthy instead of serving the people?  Why is there so much evil in the world?  You know there is a loving God who created this world and yet you look around and think, “Things don’t look right.”

            This is what John the Baptist and his disciples are thinking just prior to our Gospel reading today as John is languishing in Herod’s prison.  He must be thinking, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness.  I am a prophet of God.  I am the one preparing the way for Jesus, and yet here I sit in the darkness of this prison. “Things don’t look right.”

            John’s disciples go to Jesus to question what is going on. Matthew 11:3 (ESV)
3 … “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”[1] They are really saying to Jesus, “If you really are the Messiah, why is John still in prison.”

            Matthew 11:4-6 (ESV) 4 And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. 6 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”[2]

            Jesus is offensive because He does not meet the people’s expectations.  Proof of Jesus’ identity is not found in earthly power and glory, but it is found in the blind, the lame, the lepers, the deaf, the dead and the poor.  Jesus commends John the Baptist as more than a prophet, but what does it mean to be great in the reign of God?  Matthew 11:11 (ESV) 11 Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.[3]

            Later, when the disciples are arguing about which of them is the greatest Jesus teaches about true greatness, Matthew 18:3-4 (ESV) 3 … “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.[4]

            The greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven is the one who knows he has nothing to offer.  Matthew 5:3 (ESV) 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.[5] Children…the blind…the lame…the deaf…the dead…the poor…these are the greatest.  This doesn’t look right.  What kind of greatness is this?

            And then we come to our Gospel reading today.  Matthew 11:12 (ESV) 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force.[6]

            John has been arrested and imprisoned and will soon have his head cut off because he spoke God’s truth about marriage and adultery to Herod Antipas. Jesus will also soon be arrested and whipped and mocked and crucified.  There is violent opposition to the kingdom of heaven.  Ten of Jesus’ remaining eleven disciples will meet violent deaths because they preach and teach about His life, death and resurrection. Jesus is God in flesh, He is the King of the universe, and yet He and His people suffer violence.  Things don’t look right.

            People violently attacked Jesus, so it should come as no surprise to us today that there are many influential people that hate anyone who believes the Bible is authoritative and true.  They want to relegate us to the fringes of society labeled as ignorant extremists.  It should be no surprise when violence is used to try to silence the Good News of Jesus’ death and resurrection.  There are certainly many places in the world today where confessing Jesus is Lord will get you beaten, imprisoned or killed, lately especially in Nigeria.

            In this environment of violent opposition, Jesus talks about how the people are indifferent and inconsistent in what they are looking for in a messiah.  The people want a savior of their own design and they are disappointed when Jesus does not fulfil their desires and dance to their tune.  Matthew 11:16-19 (ESV) 16 “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates, 17 “ ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’ 18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ …” [7] 

            Jesus and John do not meet the peoples’ expectations.  They are not doing what the people think they should be doing.  John is too harsh, Jesus is too loose.  John dresses funny and lives in the desert, Jesus hangs around with low-life sinners. The next line in the ESV Bible is Matthew 11:19 (ESV) 19 Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.” [8]  A better, more natural translation is, “And so Wisdom was declared innocent of her own works.”  The people are familiar with the Wisdom of God but they assume God’s ways are the same as their ways.  What they cannot accept is that the Wisdom of God has sent John the Baptist and Jesus to do what they have been doing.  The people don’t like what they see.  They reject John and Jesus.  They want something different. 

The Emperor and the Pope wanted to burn Luther at the stake because He dared to teach that Jesus freely forgives sins.  Violence tried to snuff out the truth of the Gospel.

            It is an all too common thing for people to reject Jesus because He does not meet their expectations.  Today is Reformation Sunday when we remember that on the eve of All Saint’s Day in 1517 Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the door of All Saints Church, the Castle Church, in Wittenberg Germany to protest the sale of indulgences.  Luther wanted to get back to scripture alone and stop the abuse of faithful Christians by those who did not accept the Jesus of the Bible who freely forgives sins. The Roman church rejected the free grace of God in Jesus and instead worked out schemes to raise huge amounts of money by selling forgiveness certificates.  The leaders’ lavish lifestyles and the exquisite buildings of the Roman Catholic Church required a great deal of money and Luther was getting in the way of collecting from German peasants. 

            Luther was bold in challenging the authority of Pope Leo X, and he was found guilty of heresy and sentenced to death.  He became a wanted man, dead or alive.  The Emperor and the Pope wanted to burn Luther at the stake because He dared to teach that Jesus freely forgives sins.  Violence tried to snuff out the truth of the Gospel.

            Violence is used against the reign of heaven in many places but another more subtle enemy of the Kingdom of Heaven is your rebellious desire for a Jesus to meet your own expectations.  So many people want a Jesus to make all things look right, right now. They want a Jesus to do what they want Him to do and teach what they want Him to teach.  There is a great temptation to dismiss the real Jesus and create a false Jesus will do what you want.

            We live together in fellowship with Jesus in this world where we look around and say, “Things don’t look right.”  We look at our own lives and say, “things don’t look right.” We know things don’t look right and so we are baptized into the kingdom of heaven.  We gather together to confess our sins and receive absolution.  Together we hear the truth of God’s Word and receive Jesus’ body and blood for the forgiveness of sins.  Forgiven, we live together in weakness and lowliness in a world that doesn’t look right and look forward to the last days when Jesus will return in power and glory and destroy evil forever and makes things forever right. Come, Lord Jesus.  Thy Kingdom come.  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