Racism, hatred & abuse of power is sin. Jesus saves.

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Trinity Sunday 2020
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
June 7, 2020
Genesis 1:1-2:4a, Acts 2:14a-22-36, Matthew 28:16-20

 

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

 

Authority.  This is not one of our favorite words.  If someone tells you, “I have authority over you,” what does that mean?  How does it make you feel?  During the COVID19 Pandemic we have had to learn a lot about authority.  The governor exercised his authority and life changed dramatically.  Very often, for many of us, we don’t much like authority.

I don’t know about you, but when someone tells me not to do something, it kind of makes me want to do it.  From the time a little child first tells her mother, “No!,” the quest for autonomy, and the rebellion against authority has started.  With Adam and Eve eating the fruit of the forbidden tree, rebellion against authority began and it has been accelerating ever since.

In 1981, Jeffery Stout, a professor of religion and philosophy at Princeton University, published a book called The Flight from Authority. In it, he described a social and philosophical trend in western society. Collectively, he argued, we have been on a, “flight from authority,” for several centuries. In the Reformation, we fled the authority of the Catholic Church. Under rationalism, we ran from the authority of the Scriptures. With Kant, we turned our backs on the authority of reason, and then morality. The flight continues in our own times as we resist conformity to governments, social norms, and institutions in general. Obedience is out. Autonomy is in. Simply put, we like to be charge.[1]

What does the Bible say about authority?  When we study the fourth commandment it is all about authority; “Honor your father and your mother.”  Parents have authority by virtue of creating or adopting a child. We have a lot of authorities in our lives.  Parents, teachers, bosses, coaches, pastors, police, government.  All individual authority, however, comes from one authority. Authority comes from God so that His Kingdom comes and His will is done.  Those in authority are masks of God, doing Jesus’ work of service, in love for their neighbor.

In our Gospel reading from Matthew today Jesus talks about authority.  Matthew 28:18 (ESV) 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.[2] How much authority does Jesus have?  All authority.  Jesus is in charge.  What does he tell you to do?  Matthew 28:19-20 (ESV) 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.”[3]

Jesus’ authority comes from who He is.  Jesus is the Son of God, begotten of the Father from eternity.  He is God in flesh, conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary.  Jesus’ authority is confirmed at His baptism with the presence of the Holy Spirit and the voice of God the Father, Matthew 3:17 (ESV) 17 … “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”[4] His authority is shown in His miracles such as when Jesus calms the storm on the Sea of Galilee, Luke 8:25 (ESV) 25 …[the disciples] were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?” [5]

Jesus has all authority.  He has the authority to forgive your sins because He takes responsibility for all sin.  He who knew no sin became sin for you and offers Himself as the atoning sacrifice upon the altar of the cross.  Jesus is God in flesh and all authority has been given to him.  At His transfiguration, God the Father says, Matthew 17:5 (ESV) 5 … “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”[6]  Listen to Jesus.  Do what He says.  Obey Him. He has authority over you.  He has all authority.  He exercises His authority with Divine perfection.

As you exercise the authority given to you by God, as a parent, teacher, boss, coach, pastor, police officer, government official, or in any other way, remember that you are a mask of God for good in the Kingdom of God.  You are a servant of God serving your neighbor. Also, remember always, with authority comes responsibility.

Parents have authority over their children, but also responsibility for their children.  The State of Ohio recognizes both.  Children can be arrested for not obeying their parents.  Parents can be arrested for not caring for their children.  With authority comes responsibility.

In our world there is the temptation to seek autonomy instead of obedience, but there is also the temptation for people with authority to abuse their authority and ignore their responsibilities.  You can all think of examples from your own life where someone in power overstepped their authority:  an abusive manager, pastor, parent, teacher, police officer, government official.

Over these last couple of weeks we have seen the horrifying video of a Minneapolis police officer abusing his authority.  Instead of using the least force necessary to arrest a suspect, he applied deadly force in a slow, brutal, deliberate way, taking the life of George Floyd.  This former officer’s abuse of power caused the death of a fellow human being.  This is a great evil and now we trust those with authority to bring justice.

Protests and demonstrations have been staged all over the country and the world, including here in Hamilton, to call out this deadly abuse of power and speak against racism.  According to the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, citizens have the right to peaceably assemble and petition the Government for a redress of grievances.  The people have a right to peaceably assemble, but those who bring violence, looting and destruction into the demonstrations are abusing their right to assemble.  They are overstepping their authority and neglecting their responsibilities.

This is a challenging time for our nation and, as Christians, we need to be careful how we respond.  This particular case is one in which there is nearly universal condemnation and calls for the former officer to be punished.  This is a time we should, as a nation, be able to unite to work for real solutions to end the abuse of police power.  But there are those in our nation who abuse their authority and use vague charges to divide us and promote in us hatred of others.  There are those who for power and political leverage take the actions of the few and indict the many.  There are those who strive to have us categorize people into groups and dismiss them. Abuse of power is evil.  Racism is evil.  Division and hatred are evil.  These are sins that we can all be drawn into, and these are sins for which we must repent.

When the actions of a few are magnified and applied to an entire group that is evil.  To be identified as a victim, or an abuser, simply based on the color of your skin, is wrong because we are each individuals with unique experiences.  It is wrong, but there is great power in division and there are those across the political spectrum that want to emphasize distinctions and differences, and drive wedges between us.  We must reject these divisions and hatred, and work together to stamp out the abuse of power at all levels for those in authority.  Christians are called to abhor racism, division, hatred and abuse of authority.

As a Christian, as a baptized child of God, you are under the authority of Jesus and He has instructed you to love your neighbor.  He has commanded you to love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you; to turn the other cheek, and go the extra mile.  Racism in all forms is contrary to Christianity.  In the Bible there are no races.  There is no mention of red and yellow, black and white; the only division is Jew and Gentile which is undone in Jesus.  St. Paul writes in Galatians 3:26-28 (ESV) 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.[7]

In the Kingdom of God there is no place for any type of racism or hatred or division.  When you fall prey to these temptations, repent and receive forgiveness in the blood of Jesus shed for you.

We all have room to improve in understanding people who come from different backgrounds.  We can all benefit by empathetically listening to those who look different from us; who come from different places, and who have different experiences. I have never been pulled over for driving while black, but I know people who have.  I am a fourth generation American with family roots and support.  Others are new immigrants, alone in this country. Honor others’ perspectives even if you don’t share them.  Racism and hatred have no place in our nation and certainly have no place in the Church. Here we are one in Christ.  Here we kneel together and confess our sins and receive forgiveness from Jesus.  As the old Christian Folk song says, “We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord.”

Every person on earth is someone for whom Jesus died.  In Christ, you cannot hate someone for whom Jesus died.  Each person is someone to be loved and cared for as Jesus would love and care.

These are difficult times.  We are struggling to find the best way forward. We struggle because we are all natural born sinners who rebel against authority.  We struggle because there are many who abuse their authority and do great evil.  We struggle because we can abuse our authority.

These are difficult time, but the call from Jesus is clear for all who exercise authority.  Love and serve your neighbor.  Jesus commands that we make disciples of all nations.  All nations.  All people groups.  And how do we make disciples?  Matthew 28:19-20 (ESV) 19 … 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…” [8]  Jesus wants all to be united in one baptism in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Learn from others.  Love and serve your neighbor.  Fight racism and hatred and division and abuse.  Obey Jesus.  Obedience may be radically counter cultural, but it is not optional.  Jesus has all authority; listen to Him.  Love God.  Love your neighbor.  Amen.

 

 


[1] Peter Nafzger www.1517.org/articles/gospel-matthew-2816-20-trinity-sunday-series-a

[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

 

You have the breath of God

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Pentecost 2020
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
May 31, 2020
Numbers 11:24-30, Acts 2:1-21, John 7:37-39

 

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

 

Last week we celebrated Jesus’ ascension to the right hand of God the Father to reign over all creation.  Before He ascended, Jesus told the disciples to stay in the city until they are clothed with power from on high.  Acts 1:8 (ESV)  8 …you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”[1]

Soon, the Holy Spirit will come upon the disciples in a powerful, public way. Forty days earlier, on the evening of the day of His resurrection, Jesus bestowed the Spirit on His disciples in a quiet, private way.  John 20:21-23 (ESV) 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven; if you withhold forgiveness from anyone, it is withheld.” [2]  On Pentecost, 10 days after Jesus’ ascension, the Spirit comes to the disciples in wind and fire.  Who is the Holy Spirit?  What do we know about Him?

The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. Coequal with God the Father and God the Son, and yet He is the person of the Trinity that we hear the least about.  We hear the least about Him because the Holy Spirit is not about promoting the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit points you to Jesus, your Savior; the Lamb of God sacrificed for you on the cross of Calvary.

            As a baptized child of God you are one Spirit with Jesus.  The Spirit dwells in you.  The breath of God gives you faith to know your sins are forgiven through Jesus.  You no longer belong to yourself.  You have been purchased and won by Christ.  You are in the Kingdom of God.  Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is the breath of God.  “Spirit” in Hebrew is ruach; in Greek, pneumatos. Both these words mean spirit, wind; breath.  In English we have similar words with similar roots such as pneumatic or pneumonia which have to do with air or breath.  In our word, respiration, the root of the word is the same as spirit.  The Holy Spirit is the breath of God and the Holy Spirit dwells in you.  St. Paul explains this when warning against sexual immorality in 1 Corinthians 6:17-20 (ESV) 17 But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.[3]

As a baptized child of God you are one Spirit with Jesus.  The Spirit dwells in you.  The breath of God gives you faith to know your sins are forgiven through Jesus.  You no longer belong to yourself.  You have been purchased and won by Christ.  You are in the Kingdom of God.  Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.

But the Holy Spirit’s presence is not something that you are even aware of most of the time.  It is sort of like breathing itself.  You don’t really notice that you are breathing unless you just ran up the stairs or have a stuffy nose some other breathing issue.  You have been born again in water and the Spirit and yet you don’t feel the Holy Spirit dwelling in you.  The spirit doesn’t shout out His existence.  You don’t know the Spirit is present, except by the result.  The Spirit is the breath of faith.  You can feel that when in the depths of darkness you remain in Christ.  You have faith.  You know Jesus is your Savior.  You know your sins are forgiven.

Ephesians 2:8 (ESV) 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God…[4]   Faith can be a struggle because we are so tempted to want to make faith about us and something we can do.  We want it to be about our strength; our determination.  We want to tightly hold onto the gifts of God so that we can control them.  But it is all a gift.  You do not firmly grasp God’s gifts in your closed fist; rather you hold the gift of forgiveness, life and salvation in an open hand.

Through the Holy Spirit you have faith that Jesus is your savior.  He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  Through the Holy Spirit you know that Jesus is Lord and that through Jesus you have access and knowledge of God the Father.  Jesus teaches in John 15:26-27 (ESV) 26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.[5]

The disciples are given the task to bear witness about what they have seen.  This is clearly shown on the day of Pentecost.  On the day of Pentecost the Spirit comes in the wind and in tongues of flame, but what does the Spirit empower the disciples to do?  The Spirit empowers them to preach and teach about Christ crucified and risen from the dead for the forgiveness of sins.

On that Pentecost day when the disciples receive the Holy Spirit and begin preaching and teaching in many different languages there are those who speak against them.  “What is going on here?  What is this teaching in different languages?  What is all this talk about Jesus?  These men must be drunk.”  Peter denies this and preaches about Jesus.  Peter preaches repentance and the forgiveness of sins.  Acts 2:38-42 (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.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. 42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.[6]

The work of the Holy Spirit in the Church does not fit into our rational categories in life.  There are many today who think that what Christians do is just foolishness. How ridiculous?  What a waste of time gathering together each week.  The pastor declares sins are forgiven, but what is that?  It is just words.  They splash some water on a baby’s head and think something happens; but it is just water; it is just words.  They eat a little cracker and take a sip of wine and think that makes everything okay with God; but it is just bread and wine; it is just words.

Without the Holy Spirit, Christianity is just foolishness.  1 Corinthians 1:18 (ESV) 18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.[7]  With the Holy Spirit, the truth of Christianity is the most important thing in all creation.  It is the source of forgiveness, salvation and eternal life with God.

Lately, there is a great temptation for the Church to give up on preaching Law and Gospel and instead try to meet people where they are; to adjust what we do to fit the “new realities.”  There is tremendous pressure to give up on the authority of the Word of God and to follow your feelings.  There is great pressure to conform to this new way, but this would have the Church cease to be the Church.  The Church trusts the Holy Spirit.

We trust the Holy Spirit to work.  We proclaim the word of the cross.  We continue the work of the apostles; preaching and teaching God’s law and God’s Gospel; confessing and forgiving, baptizing, and receiving the Lord’s Supper.

You have received the Spirit of God; in your baptism, and over and over again in God’s Word and the Lord’s Supper.  Your body is a temple for the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit, the breath of God, dwells in you and gives you faith to know you are a forgiven child of God.  Hold these gifts in an open hand and live your identity in Christ. 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

 

Jesus ascends to be God with us everywhere

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Ascension (observed) 2020
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
May, 23-24, 2020
Acts 1:1-11, Ephesians 1:15-23, Luke 24:44-53

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

Sunday, December 1, was the first Sunday of Advent.  It was the beginning of the new church year.  The first half of the church year is the Festival half when we remember and celebrate big events in Jesus’ life.  During Advent, we look forward to the Jesus’ arrival in two ways; His first arrival as Immanuel, “God with us,” as that baby born in Bethlehem and announced to shepherds, and His second arrival when He returns in glory on the last day.  Then comes Christmas, the Christ Mass, celebrating Jesus birth; that little, normal-looking, baby in the manger is God in flesh.  “Veiled in flesh the Godhead see, hail, incarnate deity.  Pleased as man with man to dwell, Jesus our Immanuel.” As you know, Immanuel is Hebrew for “God with us.”

Next comes Epiphany on January 6.  Jesus is revealed to the mysterious Magi from the East.  Jesus’ identity as “God with us” is revealed to Gentiles; non-Jews as well as to the Jews.  During the season of Epiphany we recall Jesus’ baptism, His 40 days in the wilderness and temptation, His miracles, and His transfiguration which brings us to Lent. Lent is the time we remember that Jesus has to suffer and die because of our sins and also that He suffers and dies to pay for our sins and give us forgiveness.  We learn that “God with us” is also “God for us”.  Maundy Thursday brings us to Jesus transforming the Passover meal into the Lord’s Supper as He offers Himself as the sacrificial Lamb of God whose body and blood is shed for us and given to us for the forgiveness of our sins. Good Friday brings us Jesus’ death and burial.  The dark sadness of Good Friday is tempered by the knowledge of what is coming. Resurrection Sunday soon comes with the great joy of knowing that “Christ is Risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia.” Jesus, God in flesh, God with us, dies for the sins of the world and He is raised from the dead.  He is still God with us.  He appears to the women at the tomb, to his disciples, to 500 others in Jerusalem and Galilee.  Jesus is with the people.  The resurrected God in flesh is still “God with us.”

And then comes the day of Ascension 40 days after resurrection which was this past Thursday.  Jesus is going away.  “God with us” is going away from us.  The disciples who have been with Jesus for three years are very concerned.  What are they going to do?  How can they go on without Jesus there with them?

Is “God with us” going far away to be “God away from us.”?  What is Jesus’ plan?  Luke 24:45-48 (ESV) 45 Then [Jesus] opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things.[1] Jesus tells the disciples that His mission is not ending, but expanding. The message of repentance first preached by John the Baptist and by Jesus will continue to be preached, by Jesus’ followers.  It will begin with the Jews in Jerusalem and expand to the people of all nations.  The disciples are the witnesses, martyrion, in Greek.  This word is where we get our word martyr, someone who dies for the faith.  The eleven remaining disciples will dedicate the rest of their lives to being witnesses to Jesus’ life, death and resurrection even while it costs ten of them their lives.

This is a huge challenge, but Jesus is not abandoning the disciples.  He continues in Luke 24:49 (ESV) 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” [2]  And from Acts 1:8 (ESV) 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”[3]

On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit comes to the followers of Jesus to reveal Jesus’ presence with us in his Word, in His sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion, in His body on earth, the Church.  Jesus remains “God with us” and we know this through the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. Jesus reigns over the creation in the power of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus remains Immanuel, “God with us.”

Have you ever had a helium balloon and let it go accidentally, or on purpose, and then watched it rise into the sky, higher and higher until you have to strain to see it and then it is gone from sight.  That is not how Jesus ascended into heaven.  Acts 1:9 (ESV) 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.[4]

Jesus ascension, is essential to our Christian faith because, along with Pentecost, the ascension signals a shift for how God, in Christ, is continually present with His people, with the Holy Spirit illuminating this reality through the gift of faith.

Jesus ascends and a cloud hides Him from their sight.  In the Bible God’s presence is often shown with a cloud.  During the exodus from Egypt the people are led by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.  When Moses is on the mountain to get the Ten Commandments from God, the mountain is enveloped in a cloud.  When the Israelites built the tabernacle, God’s presence was shown by a cloud.  At Jesus’ transfiguration a cloud covers the mountain when the voice of God the Father speaks.

The cloud shows God’s presence with us.  Jesus ascends in order to reign as Lord over all.  The Lamb who was slain has begun his reign.

Jesus ascension, is essential to our Christian faith because, along with Pentecost, the ascension signals a shift for how God, in Christ, is continually present with His people, with the Holy Spirit illuminating this reality through the gift of faith.

During the time of the reformation there were some theologians who taught that since Jesus ascended into heaven in His Body there was no way that Jesus’ Body and Blood could be present in the bread and wine of Holy Communion on countless altars around the world.  It does not make sense, therefore it must not be.  How can Jesus be at the right hand of God and also, in, with and under the Bread and Wine of Holy Communion?  It is because the right hand of God is not a set place.  The right hand of God is everywhere.  Jesus is omnipresent.  It does not make sense to us, but we are not called to limit God to our understandings.

There are those who believe they must seek God in their actions, in their feelings, in their meditations; so many are seeking God through being spiritual but not religious.  But you don’t need to seek after God, God comes to you.  Martin Luther addresses this in a sermon on Jesus’ baptism.

“God has given us Baptism, the Sacrament of the Altar, and absolution to bring Christ very close to us, so that we can have Him not only in our heart but also on our tongue, so that we can feel Him, grasp Him, and touch Him. God did all this for the sake of those shameful spirits who seek God according to their own pleasure, with their reason and their own ideas and dreams. To make it possible for us to recognize Him, God presents Himself to us perceptively and clearly in signs. But we do not accept these; nor are we concerned about the divine WordAt all times God has so governed His people that He could also be recognized visibly by them, lest they say: “If it were possible to find God, we would roam to the ends of the earth in search of Him.” If you had ears to hear, it would be needless to wander far in search of God. For He wants to come to you, plant Himself before your very eyes, press Himself into your hands, and say: “Just listen to Me and take hold of Me, give Me eye and ear; there you have Baptism and the Sacrament of the Altar. Open your mouth, let Me place My hand on your head. I give you this water which I sprinkle over your head.”          —Martin Luther”[5]

Advent to Pentecost is the festival half of the church year and we remember “God is with us” by remembering and celebrating events in the life of Jesus of Nazareth.  From Pentecost until Advent we have the season of the Church, or ordinary time; a time we don’t celebrate major events in Jesus’ life, but continue to learn about Jesus and what He has done for us.  It is a time to continue to live and worship in the presence of God.  It is a time to receive God’s gifts of forgiveness, life and salvation.

We have been worshipping separately from each other’s presence for some time, being the Church in a different way.  It is wonderful that we are beginning to gather together again while remaining somewhat distant.  Know that no matter if we are physically together or apart, we are one in Christ through the Holy Spirit.

Jesus, Immanuel, “God with us,” ascends in order to be present everywhere for you.  Amen.

 

 


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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

[5] LW 22, John 3:25

Who, what, where, when, why and how

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Easter 6, 2020
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
May 17, 2020
Acts 17:16-31, 1 Peter 3:13-22, John 14:15-21

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

 

Who, what, where, when, why, and how?  These are good questions to ask when you are trying to learn about something. They are questions I was taught when studying for my major at college in Northwest Indiana.  Today I want to use these questions to examine a passage from our Epistle reading 1 Peter 3:15 (ESV) 15 but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you;[1]

Who?  Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, is writing… 1 Peter 1:1 (ESV) 1 …To those who are elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,[2] These are areas in modern day Turkey. Now, because, as we learn in 2 Timothy 3:16 (ESV) 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,[3]  we know the who is not just dispersed Christians 2,000 years ago, the who is also you and me.

What?  The Greek word for defense is apologian.  An apology. I need to be ready to make an apology.  You need to be ready to make an apology.  When I work with premarital couples we talk about how important it is to say those two words that can be so hard to say, “I’m sorry.”  People are pretty proud by nature and it doesn’t come easy to admit you are wrong, but it is so important.  When husband and wife argue and there is tension between them each should go to the other, give them a hug, and say, “I’m sorry,” even if it is just, “I’m sorry I snapped at you.”  You need to be ready to make an apology.

But that is not the kind of apology that our text is talking about this morning.  The word apology also means a defense, or justification for your position.  1 Peter 3:15 (ESV) 15 but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you;[4]  Apologian.  From this word we also get the word apologetics which is the practice of defending the truth of Christianity.  One of the confessional writings that Lutheran pastors pledge faithfulness to is the “Apology of the Augsburg Confession,” which is the defense of the Augsburg Confession which presented by the Lutheran Princes to Emperor Charles V in Augsburg, Germany.

Always be prepared to give a defense for the hope that is in you.  Peter is giving us a powerful instruction.  Stay ready.  Know what it is that you believe and why you believe it and be ready to give a defense; an apology.

Where?  The where could be anywhere.  We think about certain places where sharing the Good News seems more likely, but often the opportunities come up in unexpected places.

When?  Be prepared to give a reason for the hope that you have.  The when is when someone asks you.

When you are able to maintain the joy of salvation even in the midst of a global pandemic, people will notice.  When you grieve the loss of a loved one, but not like those who have no hope, people will notice.  When you forgive others who do not deserve forgiveness, people will notice, and they may ask you.  Why? What is the secret to your joy and peace and hope?  Be prepared to give a defense of your hope when someone asks.

Why? Because you know Christ is Lord. Because you know, Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!  How do you know that Jesus has risen from the dead?  You have eyewitness testimony.  You have eyewitness testimony from Matthew, Mark, John, and Peter.  Luke records the eyewitness testimony of those who were there.  You have the written testimony from people who were there and saw Jesus crucified, buried and then raised from the dead.  These men spent the rest of their lives telling people the Good News because they knew it was true even when it cost them their lives.

You make a defense of your faith because you have a good conscience knowing your sins have been forgiven.  You give the reason for your hope because Jesus is the way and He is the only way and all people need Jesus.  You want all people to hear the Good News of forgiveness of sins and believe it.

How?  How do you give the defense; the apology for your hope in Christ?  Peter gives clear instruction.  1 Peter 3:16 (ESV) 16 … do it with gentleness and respect.”  I think we can all do with the reminder to be gentle and respectful even with people with whom we disagree.

I am reminded of a travelling preacher who visits Miami University ever once in a while and yells at students passing by about all the evil they are involved in, including wearing short pants, and how they are destined for hell.  That is not gentleness and respect.  When someone asks you for the reason for your hope it is a tender, vulnerable moment.  They are reaching out to you.  This is not a moment to be flippant or rude or snarky. It is a moment for gentleness and respect.  It is a time to share that your hope comes from the gift of faith through the Holy Spirit. It is a time to share that you are a sinner who does not deserve mercy and grace and God gives you mercy and grace anyway through Jesus.  It is time to share that Jesus loves you so much that He took responsibility for your sins and sacrificed Himself on the cross as the payment for your sins.

            You give reason for the hope that you have not as one who is a better person, but as a fellow sinner needing forgiveness.  You are not up on some Christian pedestal looking down on the others who are beneath you.  You are a sinner who needs forgiveness as much as the person with whom you are sharing the reason for your hope.  Your hope is in nothing from you; your hope is entirely in Jesus.

You give the reason for the hope that you have with a good conscience.  A good conscience meaning that you know that you are right with God.  You received a good conscience in your baptism into Christ.  1 Peter 3:21 (ESV) 21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,[5]  This is a difficult thing to get your head around. How can you be right with God? You are a sinner.  You struggle with sin.  You sin daily in thought, word and deed.  And yet you have a good conscience.  You know you are right with God.  Not from what you have done, but what Jesus has done for you.  Jesus’ life, death and resurrection have been credited to you.  You are, at the same time, a sinner deserving death and hell, and a saint destined for eternal life in heaven.  Even though you are guilty, you have been declared not guilty.  This is the amazing Good News.

You give reason for the hope that you have not as one who is a better person, but as a fellow sinner needing forgiveness.  You are not up on some Christian pedestal looking down on the others who are beneath you.  You are a sinner who needs forgiveness as much as the person with whom you are sharing the reason for your hope.  Your hope is in nothing from you; your hope is entirely in Jesus.

You give reason for the hope that you have by declaring the truth that Jesus rose from the dead.  At the end of our reading from Acts we see Paul do this as he speaks to the Greeks in Athens.  Acts 17:29-31 (ESV) 29 Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”[6]

Who, what, where, when, why, how?  Good questions for a reporter and also good questions when examining a Bible verse. You have hope because you have Jesus who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  1 Peter 3:15 (ESV15 [be] prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you;[7]

You know the reason.  Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia! 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

 

The Way can be hard, but it is the only Way

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Luther Service Book Divine Service 1

Hymns:  468, 488,633,, 644

Easter 5 2020
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
May 10, 2020
Acts 6:1–9; 7:2a, 51–60, 1 Peter 2:2–10, John 14:1–14

 

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 couple of weeks ago we got to hear Saint Peter’s Pentecost sermon in which he accused the Jews of Judea and Jerusalem of killing Jesus; the Messiah, the Son of God.  The people are cut to the heart and repent and ask, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter answers, Acts 2:38-41 (ESV) 38 …“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.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. [1]

What a great day!  Three thousand souls!  Wow!  What a victory.

And now today, in Acts chapter 6, we hear about Stephen, one of the new deacons chosen to help the disciples serve the poor. Stephen is doing great signs and wonders and because of it he is arrested and brought before the council to answer for his teaching about Jesus.  Stephen has an opportunity to speak to the High Priest and the council. Stephen takes this opportunity to teach the history of God’s people from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; Joseph and the time in Egypt; Moses leading the people out of Egypt to the Promised Land, to King David and his son Solomon who built the temple.  Stephen accuses the council members of being the children of those who killed the prophets who announced the coming of Jesus.

The people hearing Peter are cut to the heart and repent.  The people hearing Stephen do not repent; just the opposite.  They dig in their heels.  They believe they have done nothing wrong and they become so enraged that they grind their teeth.  Stephen continues, Acts 7:55-56 (ESV) 55 …full of the Holy Spirit, [Stephen] gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”[2] Stephen is having a vision of Jesus and the council’s rage intensifies.  Acts 7:57 (ESV) 57 …they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him.[3]

Three thousand hear about Jesus and are baptized with Peter, with Stephen they cover their ears and scream and drag him outside the city, surround him, and throw rocks at him until he is dead.  Before he died Stephen forgives those throwing the rocks.  Acts 7:59-60 (ESV) 59 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep. [4]

What a contrast from the day of Pentecost. Instead of the mass baptism of thousands, we are left with a silent, bloody, lifeless body lying in the dirt. Speaking about Jesus can have different effects on people.  Life in Christ is not all victory after victory, but it is The Way.  There is no alternative to Jesus.  Jesus is The Way.  Jesus is the truth.  Jesus is the life.  There is no other way to the Father.

Our Gospel lesson today is often a funeral text.  At the death of a loved one Jesus’ words brings great comfort.  John 14:1-3 (ESV) 1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.[5]

It brings great comfort to know that there is more to come.  The best is yet to come.  There is an old story published by Ann Landers.  “A woman was diagnosed with a terminal illness and given three months to live. She asked her pastor to come to her home to discuss her final wishes. She told him which songs she wanted sung at her funeral, and what scriptures to read, and which outfit she wanted to be buried in.

Then she said, “One more thing. I want to be buried with a fork in my hand.”

The pastor was surprised. The woman explained, “In all my years of attending church socials and potluck dinners, I always remember that when the dishes of the main course were being cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and say, `Keep your fork.’ It was my favorite time, because I knew something better was coming, like velvety chocolate cake or deep-dish apple pie — something wonderful. So, I want people to see me there in that casket with a fork in my hand and wonder, ‘What’s with the fork?’ Then, I want you to tell them, `Keep your fork, because the best is yet to come.”‘[6]

The best is yet to come, but the comfort Jesus gives is not only for the future.  This is comfort and strength along The Way.  And what is The Way?  Jesus is The Way.  He tells us in the Gospel of John.  He is The Way, the truth, the life; He is the living water, He is the Bread of Life; He is the light of the world, He is the Good Shepherd, He is the door, He is the resurrection and the life, He is the vine.  What is The Way?  Jesus is The Way.  He is The Way to the Father in this idolatrous world.  Jesus is The Way, but it is not an easy way.  The danger of Pentecost is that we might think that is always how life is on The Way; people hearing the Good News and repenting and following Jesus. Life on The Way can be like that at times, people hear about Jesus and are cut to the heart, repent and follow Jesus. But life on The Way can also be hard.  Stephen and Acts 7 bring us another reality of life on The Way.  Life on The Way can bring persecution and even martyrdom.

Before they stop their ears Stephen rebukes the High Priest and the council Acts 7:51 (ESV) 51 “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you.[7]

Not much has changed.  Today you are on The Way but it is in a world full of stiff-necked people who are uncircumcised in heart and ears, who always resist the Holy Spirit.  There are so many who when confronted with the Word of God cover their ears and scream and try to silence God’s Word.

And living amongst these people and being a natural born sinner yourself, it is quite easy to fall into the idolatry of ignoring God’s Word.  God’s Word speaks against your favorite sin and you just ignore Him.  What is it for you?  What sin in your life do you hold onto and try to rationalize and excuse?  When do you cover your ears and say “La-la-la-la” to try to drown out God’s Way because you want to do it your way?  Far too often you want so badly to do it your way that you are tempted to stop reading God’s Word, stop hearing God’s Word, stop repenting of your sins.  You want to do it your way.  But that is not the right way.  You know The Way.  Jesus is The Way.

When you realize you have stopped up your ears to ignore God, be like the crowds on Pentecost; repent and be baptized.  Repent and live as a baptized child of God in the Kingdom of Heaven. Remain on The Way to your Heavenly Father.  Jesus is The Way.  His life, death and resurrection are credited to you.  You belong to Him.  You have been purchased and won by the innocent blood of Christ, the Lamb of God, sacrificed for the sin of the world.  Jesus is The Way.  There is no other way.

You are on The Way because Jesus put you on The Way.  Quiet yourself and uncover your ears and hear the Word of God. Turn from sin.  Stay on The Way.  The Way is not easy but it is the only way.  Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Life is hard, but you know The Way.  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] https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-2000-08-12-0008120241-story.html

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

 

Jesus is the only door to Paradise

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Easter 4
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
May 3, 2020
Acts 2:42-47, Psalm 23, 1 Peter 2:19-25, John 10:1-10

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

It is kind of fascinating to think about doorways to other worlds; portals to other lands, times, dimensions.  We see this often in movies and dramas.  Stranger Things is all about the upside down dimension with various entry points.  Alice goes to Wonderland when she falls down a hole.  In Back to the Future the portal is a DeLorean with a flux capacitor.  In the Wizard of Oz it is a Kansas farm house and a tornado.  Dr. Who explores the universe in a blue police box called the TARDIS.  In the Chronicles of Narnia it is a wardrobe in the bedroom.  In Avengers: Endgame the heroes use a time machine to go back in time to undo destruction of half of the earth’s population.

There are a lot of fictional portals to other times and places.  Today, in our Gospel reading we learn about the true portal to the eternal kingdom; the one and only door to paradise.

You live in a broken world.  This is a fallen world with many troubles.  There is disease.  There is violence.  There is murder.  There is abuse.  There is rampant evil.  There is death.  There is great trouble and turmoil.  The Psalmist describes this world as the valley of the shadow of death.  Currently all humanity is affected by a virus which is spreading disease and death across the globe.  Truly you live in a fallen world.

There is another world; a better world, a Kingdom beyond anything you know in this broken world.  There is the Kingdom of Heaven; the Kingdom of God.  This is the Kingdom that Jesus teaches about in His parables, and it is not a Kingdom of this world, as Jesus tells Pontius Pilate.  This is a Kingdom that has three phases.  Phase one is the Kingdom of Heaven while you are still living life in this fallen world.  It is a life lived without fear because you know Jesus is your Good Shepherd.  In this Kingdom you live in the grace a mercy of God and strive to love God and love one another.  Kingdom of Heaven Phase two is the time between your death and the resurrection of the dead.  This phase we don’t know much about.  Your body is buried in the ground and your spirit goes to be with the Lord to rest in peace until the day of resurrection.  Kingdom of Heaven Phase three begins with the resurrection of the dead and it is the full glory of eternal life in the Heavenly City of New Jerusalem.  It is the Wedding Feast of the Lamb in His Kingdom. It is the Pearl Gates and Golden streets and Jesus as the light.  How do we get to this Kingdom?

Everyone is born into this fallen world of trouble and is, by nature, sinful and unclean.  Everyone is, by nature, blind, dead and an enemy of God.  You are born into the domain of darkness.  How do you get from the domain of darkness to Jesus’ Kingdom?  How do you get to the Kingdom of Heaven?  What is the way to the Kingdom of God?  Where is the portal to this place of grace and mercy and peace?  Where is the door to paradise?  Jesus tells us today in His story about sheep.

John 10:1-5 (ESV) 1 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”[1]

Jesus here is continuing to rebuke the Pharisees after they expelled the man born blind and then healed from the synagogue.  Jesus is telling the Pharisees that they are thieves and robbers and that there is one shepherd and there is one door.  In this world there are many, like the Pharisees, who don’t use the door.  These are thieves and robbers who want to hurt the sheep.  There is one shepherd and there is one door.

John 10:7-10 (ESV) 7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.[2]

Jesus is the door. The door is Jesus.  He is the only door.  Jesus is the portal to the Kingdom of Heaven.  If anyone enters by Jesus he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. Where do we hear this language of going in and out?  It is in the blessing after baptism.  The Lord preserve your coming in and your going out from this time forth and even forevermore.  Jesus is the door and Jesus instituted baptism as a portal to the green pastures of the Kingdom of Heaven.  This baptismal font is the portal by which many of you entered the Kingdom of Heaven.  When you see this font, recognize it as the place where so many have been transferred into the light of the Lord.  It is a Holy portal to paradise.  Baptism is God marking you as being in Christ.  Jesus is the door.

The great Good News is that the door is open for everyone.  There is no secret knock.  There is no entrance requirement.  There is no heroic act you need to perform in order to access the door. The door is open for anyone and everyone.  This is great Good News that the door is open for everyone and yet some people find this to be offensive to their sensibilities.  Your intelligence, your reason and your common sense want you to believe that you have to do something.  So many people cannot believe that they don’t have to do anything.  They so much want to believe that they have to have a part in their salvation.  But it is not about you, it is about Jesus for you.

The great Good News is that Jesus is the door and the door is open for everyone. The hard teaching is that Jesus is the only door.  Jesus is the door.  There is no other door.  There is no other way into the Kingdom of Heaven.  There is no other way to the Kingdom of God.  Jesus is the way.  Many find this exclusivity offensive.  People hate that Jesus is the only way.  Out of our compassion we want any way to be a good way, but that is not God’s compassion. God’s ways are not our ways.  God has compassion by opening the way to all people, but there is only one way.

The thieves and the robbers want to deceive you by pretending there are other doors. They talk about other ways to the Kingdom.  It is as if they have painted beautiful doorways on a concrete wall.  This painted concrete looks like a doorway and people talk about it as if it is a doorway; they believe it is a doorway, but it is just a pretty concrete wall and when the time comes to go through the door it will be impossible.  There are very sincere people who believe that all these pretend doors are real portals, but it is just fiction.  Throughout human history folks have made up religions to control people, exploit people, and pacify people.  There are so many false religions all promising that they are the way but those that promote these religions are thieves and robbers.  Jesus is the way.  How do we know that Jesus is the way; because, Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!  Christianity is completely false if Christ is not raised from the dead, but Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!  There is only one door and that door is Jesus.

It is like an eternally important game of Let’s Make a Deal.  It looks like there are many doors to choose from but only one is really a door.  Jesus is the only door.  There is no mystery here.  You know which door is real.  Tell others. Spread the word.  Jesus is the door.  Jesus is the way.  Don’t let the thieves and robbers lead people to false doors which will leave them outside the Kingdom of Heaven.  We so want to believe that any way is a good way, but there are not many ways; there is only one way.  You know the way.  Jesus is the way.  Jesus is the door.  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

 

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   
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
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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itunes:                         bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:    bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship

 

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   
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
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.