Matthew 25:31-46 – Sheepish Vocation Knows No Futility

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God over All Christ for AllMatthew 25:31-4631 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

At some point in life, everyone is plagued with thoughts of futility. Everyone wonders if all their work and all their effort and all their labor is, ultimately, serving no useful purpose. You go through the same motions day after day, month after month, and year after year, but who cares? You try hard to be a good husband or a good mother or a good son or a good student but does anyone notice? Does anyone appreciate it? What difference does it make?

The ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius said, “The hardest thing of all is to find a black cat in a dark room, especially if there is no cat.” Maybe your life feels that futile.

You wash the dishes, fold the laundry, and sweep the floor only to turn around and find the same mess moments later. You do your homework, write that paper, or finish that task at work and wonder, “What difference does it make? Why bother?” Your life is filled with all sorts of busyness – work, classes, meetings, taking the kids to this practice or that event – and everything you do feels as meaningless as finding that elusive, non-existent black cat.

The temptation to go through the motions of our daily lives without regard for the meaning behind the motions hounds us all. And always the fear of futility looms and grows. When all is said and done, what difference does it make? What’s the point? Why bother?

The answer is in today’s text, the story of the sheep and the goats. It’s not an easy text. It’s not that it is hard to understand; instead, the meaning is altogether clear, and that’s the problem. Now let’s be honest. If this was the only word that we had received from Jesus, then a religion of works and salvation by human effort would be the logical conclusion. Sheep do acts of kindness, and they receive heavenly praise and eternal rewards. Goats don’t, and get hell. It’s a tough text.

But Scripture is clear. We do not earn our way into God’s good graces. We don’t buy our way into eternal life. And even this text agrees. Notice, what Jesus first says to the sheep, “Come, you who are blessed of My Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

The sheep are sheep because God has made them sheep. They are chosen, predestined, elect. They are not sheep because they made a choice to be a sheep. They are not sheep because they did acts of kindness. They are not sheep because they worked hard to become a sheep. They are sheep for one reason – God has done it! God makes them sheep. God makes them righteous. And then, these sheep live like His sheep.

They go out into God’s creation, out into their ordinary lives, and they take care of those around them. They help the sick. They feed the hungry. They visit the imprisoned. They clothe the naked. They do sheep things. God’s sheep act like sheep.

And the goats? Well, the goats choose what God never planned. They choose to ignore the call of God. They choose to ignore the cry of their fellow creatures. They reject grace, and they choose death. And so, in return, God gives them what they choose. They share the unintended and unsought fate of Satan and his hoard.

But not you. You are a sheep.

Baptism 2At the Font, God made His claim on you and gave you His Name. The Lord is your shepherd. You are His sheep. You belong to Him – you always will. And so you, His sheep, live like His sheep. You go out into God’s world and you do what you have been given to do. You meet the needs of fellow creatures who cry for your help. That’s what sheep do. And when sheep do what God gives them to do, futility is gone. It’s wiped out completely. That’s the point of the text.

This text is not an exhortation to be a sheep and not a goat. Sheep have no choice anyway. Remember, God does the choosing. The point is that what sheep do as sheep is never wasted and never lost. There’s no futility. This means that your work, your daily work, is transformed. What you do, whatever you do, for the sake of those around you who need your help, whatever you do in fulfillment of your God-given vocation, whatever you do that God has given you to do, is exactly the work you should be doing and is never wasted and is never lost.

It’s not what makes a big splash. It’s not what makes others applaud. It’s not what earns financial perks or accolades or A’s. It’s not what makes you feel good. None of these things determine the value of the work you do. The only thing that counts is that you are doing what you have been given to do in service to others. And so, know that whatever it is you are doing, you are doing it as God’s sheep. And whatever you do as God’s sheep is holy work.

You get up and go to work and put in our eight or ten or twelve hours. You prepare another report. You struggle to meet another deadline. You stock that shelf. You clean up the kitchen. You fold the laundry. You sit through another lecture. You study for another spelling or history or science test. You make your bed, clear your dishes, and straighten your shoes and coats in the entryway. You change the day’s eighth dirty diaper, and you prepare the days’ fourth bottle, and you wipe the white truckle from your shoulder because it is holy work.

As God’s sheep, all the work you do is done in service to the one who needs what God has put you there to give. God has put that needy person in your life – even if their need seems inconsequential. Everything you do can be done with a sense of awe and wonder and gratitude at the sheer holiness of the work you are doing.

You don’t need work that is more meaningful. You don’t need a vocation that packs more prestige. You don’t need to do things that will impress those who watch or grade or evaluate. No, you just need to do what you have been given to do to care for those around you who need it. And when you do that, you are doing an incredible, holy work – just the way that God intended it to be done.

Your work is worthwhile always. That’s the way that it is with sheep. And you are a sheep. Elect, chosen by God, doused in forgiveness at the Font. Righteous. Righteous before God. You are a sheep. You see the need of those around you. You step up and you meet that need. Parents, children, students, employers, neighbors, strangers – you give them what they need from you, and you fulfill your vocation. And you are righteous.

The Lamb of GodSheep are righteous twice. Righteous before God in your election, and righteous before creation in your vocation. You are a sheep, my friend. You live without fear. You live without futility. You know – you know that your labor is never in vain. No deed is insignificant. No act is forgotten. God saves you and your labor. Neither is ever lost.

You may feel that your work is insignificant and meaningless. You may feel like what you do goes unnoticed. But it is not. You, you are a sheep. And that changes everything – everything about you and everything about what you do forever. Amen.[1]

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

[1] This sermon was taken largely from a sermon by Dr. Joel Biermann on this text (https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/matthew-25-31-46/id463450793?i=105495219&mt=2).

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Matthew 25:14-30 – 5, 2, 1

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Matthew 25:14-3014 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ Matthew 25_2121 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’”

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

Matthew 25 is a series of three parables about the return of Christ. The first parable, which we looked at last week, was the parable of the Ten Virgins. Jesus told that parable to teach you that you need to be ready for His return. Today’s parable, the Parable of the Talents, teaches what your attitude toward Christ return should be. Your attitude should be one of bold excitement. Next week’s parable, the Parable of the Sheep and Goats, teaches why you should be excited. I don’t want to preach next week’s sermon, but if we don’t see what happens in next week’s text, we won’t understand the parable before us today.

In next week’s parable, Christ says that He will separate all people. His sheep will be placed on His right and the goats on His left. Jesus will tell His sheep about all the good works they have done. Jesus will tell them about all the times they fed the hungry, gave a drink to the thirsty, welcomed the stranger, clothed the naked, and visited the sick and imprisoned. And the sheep will be surprised because they aren’t aware of doing any of those things. The goats will be surprised too. Jesus will tell them that they didn’t do any good works. The goats all thought they had a done all sorts of good works. But Jesus tells them that none of their works are good enough. Then He sends them off on the bus headed for the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

Believer, when Christ returns, He will not see one single, solitary sin in you. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Ro. 8:1).

Again, I don’t want to say too much and spoil next week’s sermon, but if you don’t see how Christ will judge you believer, you won’t understand this week’s text. When Christ returns to judge you, there will not be one mark against you. You will stand before God completely sinless and pure. God will not see any sin you have ever committed. God will look at you and see only perfect obedience. He will see the righteousness of Christ. Remember that as we look at this week’s parable.

When we look at this week’s parable and are honest, most of us identify ourselves as the third servant. We think we need to play it safe and take no risks. We look at God as a tyrant who makes hard, impossible demands of us. But that is not who God is!

God is a giver. God the Father has given you everything you have. He has given you your body and soul, your eyes and ears, food and clothing, home and family, and all your property. God the Son has given you His body and blood. Jesus has given you His obedience and His righteousness. And God the Holy Spirit has given you faith. He has delivered Jesus’ forgiveness to you. God is a giver.

God has done and still does exactly what the Master does in this parable. He gives and He goes. Jesus suffered, bled, died, rose again, and ascended into heaven. Ephesians 4:7–8 7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore it says, “When He ascended on high He led a host of captives, and He gave gifts to men.”

God gives generously to all, but God’s generosity does not mean equality. “To one servant he gave five talents, to another two, to another one.” One talent is equivalent to about 20 years’ wages. The average income in America right now is just over $50,000, so we’re talking about $5, $2, and $1 million. I want to give these servants names. For the sake of ease, I’m going to use prophet’s names. Isaiah gets $5 million. Jeremiah gets $2 million. And Jonah gets $1 million. Notice that this Master doesn’t give any directions, any instructions as to what to do with these gifts. The Master simply dishes out the cash saying, “Here you go boys. Five for you, two for you, and one for you. Now, I’m going away.”

The Master gives to His servants because He trusts them and their ability. Trusting is risky. It would have been safer for this Master to take His $8 million with Him. Most of us, probably all of us, would bring that money with us on our trip. But that is not God’s way. God is a giver. He gives, and He trusts His servants with what is His.

Isaiah and Jeremiah, see that their Master is a generous giver. So they go, and they go recklessly. They don’t read up on what is and what is not a good investment. They go straight to the trading floor, and each of them double their gift. That’s a nice return. But the return says more about the nature of the gift than the ability of the servants. The gifts of the Master just seem to magically double because they are the Master’s gifts.

But then there is Jonah. Jonah cannot see that his Master is a generous giver. The Master hands Jonah a gift of $1 million, and he is scared out of his mind because he wrongly thinks that his Master is a hard, impossible, merciless man. Instead of using the gift, Jonah buries it in the ground. In other words, Jonah does nothing.

Look at how differently the three servants address the Master when He returns. Both Isaiah and Jeremiah say the same thing. They both speak about the Master’s generosity. “Master, You delivered, You gave, me x talents. Look! I have doubled it.” But notice how differently Jonah addresses the Master – he says, “Master, I knew You to be a hard Man, an impossible Man, a merciless Man.”

Can you imagine the audacity of Jonah, after being given a free, no-strings-attached gift of $1 million, calling his Master a hard, merciless man? “Yeah, Master, You gave me $1 million, but I know You to be a hard, merciless Man.” That’s crazy talk! The problem with Jonah was that he thought that his Master would be angry with him no matter what he did with his gift. So he did nothing, nothing at all.

Remember, the Master gave no instructions about what to do with the gifts He gave. You know what would have happened if Jonah had just gone out and bought himself something nice? Let’s say Jonah had gone out and bought himself a $1 million yacht. When the Master returned, the boat would have been appraised at $2 million, and Jonah could have gone to the Master in the same awe that both Isaiah and Jeremiah had for the Master.

But Jonah didn’t do anything. So the Master condemns Jonah with his own words. “I gave you $1 million and you think I’m a hard Man with no mercy. Then, yes Jonah, you should be afraid of Me. And in that fear, you should have at least gone and put My money in the bank so it would have earned interest. But, let Me tell you something, Jonah. You could have gone out and lost every last penny, and I wouldn’t have cared. At least you would have recognized Me for the merciful, gracious Master that I really am. But since you fear Me, I’ll give you a reason to be afraid. Take the talent, give it to Isaiah, and throw Jonah out.”

Blessings from the CrossBrothers and sisters, open your eyes! God has given you everything, absolutely everything you have. And while you were still His enemy in open, active rebellion against Him, He gave you what was most precious to Him – He gave you Jesus, His only begotten Son. While you were a sinner and under His wrath against sin, He gave you grace. He freely gave you the full forgiveness of sins. Believe it!

And, “there is therefore now no condemnation for you who are in Christ Jesus” (Ro. 8:1). You have no need to fear God. God is a giver. God is a gracious giver. Use His gifts. Use them freely and recklessly, and He will say to you, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Master.” Amen.

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Matthew 25:1-13 – Flasks of Faith

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Parable of the Ten VirginsMatthew 25:1-131 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

In all the weddings I’ve been involved with as a pastor, I’ve never had to deal with a “Bridezilla” – the bride who is more concerned about the wedding than the marriage. When I see commercials for the reality show “Bridezillas,” it looks like a preview for an episode of Jerry Springer. Brides yelling and crying and moaning and complaining at friends and family. Let this serve as a warning: If you act that like that on your wedding day and I’m doing the ceremony, I’m walking out.

Only once have I had a bride be very specific about anything. The couple was getting married under the bell tower at Concordia College in Moorhead. It was a nice setting. Anyway, the bride wanted to be walking down the aisle as the bell tower struck 3:00 PM. I figured that wouldn’t be a problem. The bride was so insistent on that the bells announce her arrival that I figured she’d makes sure it happened. During rehearsal, the wedding coordinators helped me plan out where the wedding party needed to be and when so the bride’s entrance would be perfect.

The afternoon of the wedding came.  Bride, groom, and wedding party were all dressed. Pictures were finished. We had everyone in the appointed place at 2:30 PM. The groomsmen and I went to our designated place, and I assumed the bride and bridesmaids were going to their appointed place. But about ten minutes before we were supposed to start, one of the wedding coordinators came and asked me where the bride and bridesmaids were. I had no idea. Like a game of hide and seek, both wedding coordinators were frantically searching to find the bride and her bridesmaids. I’m sure the groom had thoughts of being left at the altar. I was wondering if the wedding was going to happen, if all my time and preparation would have been for nothing, and if I would still get reimbursed for driving down to Moorhead.

Anyway, three o’clock came, the bell tower chimed clear and bright, and still no bride. Finally at 3:07 PM, the tardy bride magically appeared with her bridesmaids. She asked, “Can we still get everyone down the aisle so I can come down while the bells are chiming?” I thought, “Are you kidding me?” As calmly as I could, I said, “No, the bell rang several minutes ago. You missed it.” I didn’t say it to be mean. It was just the truth. The rest of the ceremony went fine. The couple still got married,  but the bride’s picture of a “perfect” entrance was gone.

The Groom in this parable isn’t as forgiving. Now, this parable can be difficult if you get lost in all the details. But we don’t need to worry about the details. The main idea is clear: “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” Believer, be ready for the return of Christ, your Groom.

Imagine these ten giggly girls excitedly waiting at the groom’s house imagining all the fun and excitement of the party. They have all been invited, and none of them have imagined the possibility of being left out because they are already “in.” But five were foolish – the Greek word is μωρός, where we get our word moron. And five were wise.

Even though they have been invited to a daytime wedding, the five morons take their lamps. They don’t want to have to carry around a bunch of extra stuff to carry around. But the five wise girls burden themselves with the extra weight and bother of a flask of oil.

The afternoon passes, evening has come to a close, and a wedding reception turns into a slumber party. All ten became drowsy. All ten of them finally nod off and succumb to sleep.

The Ten Virgins Parable“But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’” The girls trim their lamps, but the morons realize to their horror they don’t’ have enough oil. The morons beg and plead with the wise girls whose silly, unnecessary act of bringing an extra flask of oil doesn’t seem so silly anymore. “Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.” But the wise girls say, “No way. There isn’t enough for us and for you. Go buy your own oil.” Hardly an act of Christian charity.

The oil dealers have all closed up shop by now, but the morons wouldn’t have a problem finding oil. Everyone knows everyone in these villages, and someone will give the oil. Their problem is time has already run out. As they were off trying to get their oil, the bridegroom comes, the party starts, and the door is shut.

The morons get themselves back to the house and are outside frantically knocking. “Lord, lord, open to us.” But the dreadful answer comes faintly but clearly through the closed door. “Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.” Notice he does not say, “I never called you.” He does not say, “I never invited you.” He does not say, “I never loved you.” He simply states honestly, “I never knew you because you never bothered to know Me.”

Again, we could get all bogged down in the details of the parable. But in the end what does it mean to be ready? What gets you into the party, and what keeps you outside?

Faith. Faith in Jesus crucified and risen for the forgiveness of your sins is all you need to make you acceptable to God. Faith is God’s gift, and God gives the gift of faith in specific ways. “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Ro. 10:17). God speaks His Word to you in the Scriptures, as you read them and hear, mark, and learn them. God gives faith in His Word connected to His Sacraments. In Baptism, God puts His faith-giving words directly on you in water. In Communion, God puts His faith sustaining words directly in you in bread and wine. Through His Word, Jesus always fills up your lamps and gives you enough oil of faith to fill up all the flasks you can find.

The only way you run out of the oil of faith is when you cut yourself off from it. By not filling up with the Word of God, you will run out.

Now is the time to fill your flasks! You do not know how much oil you will need. Why, why would you ever think you have enough? Why would you become complacent and think you don’t need more of God’s Word? Why would you stop coming to the merchant to get more oil? The oil isn’t expensive – in fact it’s on sale for free! But that sale isn’t eternal – there is a deadline, and you do not know when that deadline will come. There is no time to procrastinate. Come and receive the gift of faith. You do not know when it might be that you are not so freely able to read and study the Word of God. Hoard it.

Jesus is coming. The Bridegroom said He would return to take you to where He is. But you do not know when. It has been two thousand years of anticipation waiting for the Groom to return. It is easy to fall asleep. It is easy to get distracted with many other things and think the time to get oil will last forever. But it won’t.

Today feels like a lot like yesterday, and yesterday felt like the day before. Because Jesus didn’t come yesterday or the day before, you feel like Christ is not coming today (Wolfmueller). You fools, repent!

If you aren’t ready for Christ’s return, it will be as if you are being chased by a lion only to meet a bear. Then you run into your house to get safe from the bear and lean against a wall to be bitten by a snake. There is no escape, no safety. Christ is coming and you need to be ready. If you aren’t you will be eternally outside in the outer, eternal darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Outside is horrible and horrifying darkness. Come into the light!

But once you are scared silly about being left outside, remember what you are waiting for. You are waiting for a party. You are waiting for a time of unimaginable celebration and unspeakable joy. Absolutely, you need to be ready, but only because it would be a travesty to miss all the fun. Amen.

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Matthew 5:1-12 – Blessed Saints

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Matthew 5:1-12

1 Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.

2 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

3   “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4   “Blessed are those who mourn,
for they shall be comforted.

5   “Blessed are the meek,
for they shall inherit the earth.

6   “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they shall be satisfied.

7   “Blessed are the merciful,
for they shall receive mercy.

8   “Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they shall see God.

9   “Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they shall be called sons of God.

10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

I’m tired. Despite the extra hour of sleep last night, I’m tired. I’m tired of all the wars and fighting that go on in this world. I’m tired of the persecution that Muslim terrorists are inflicting on our brothers and sisters in Christ. I’m tired of seeing how people dismember and slaughter their children and call it ‘choice.’ I’m tired of worrying about Ebola. I’m tired of all the campaign ads and lofty promises of politicians who won’t deliver what they promise. I’m tired.

I’m tired, and I would venture to guess that you are tired too. And maybe you could add to this list. Maybe you’re tired of struggling to make ends meet. Maybe you are tired of your hard work going unrecognized by your family or your boss. Maybe you are tired of trying to hold your marriage together. Maybe you are tired of watching a friend or family member who is destroying his or her life with drugs or alcohol. Maybe you are tired of caring for a family member who is sick or dying.

We are all tired. We are tired of the tribulation that is life in this world of sin. Our sin has brought about the great tribulation. We are tired because we are cursed. Cursed by our own thoughts, cursed by our own words, and cursed by our own deeds.

All Saints 1Then this text comes along, and Jesus says, over and over, “Blessed. Blessed. Blessed” Nine times in this text, Jesus announces present blessing upon you, believer – not just some future blessing that you get someday after next Tuesday. “You are blessed now.”

Yesterday, November 1st, is the day the Church celebrated All Saints’ Day. It is a day to remember the believers who have died and are now with their God and Savior. But it is also a day to remember that you too, believer, are a saint. You are one who has been made holy by Christ. In baptism, you have washed your robe white in the blood of the Lamb. You are even now part of that multitude before the throne of God. Each Sunday we gather together as believers to receive God’s blessings. Therefore, each Sunday becomes a foretaste of what is ours when Christ returns and raises us to eternal life.

We’re not going to go through all the Beatitudes today because that would take too long. But consider, please, the first two:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the reign of heaven.”

The poor in spirit are those who wait on God. The poor in spirit are sinners who have nothing to give, nothing to offer God. The poor in spirit are you who are tired and lost in sin, you who are cursed by sin. Jesus says, “Blessed are you who are poor in spirit.” Why are you blessed? Because you have nothing to offer. You have nothing in your hands. There is nothing you have to barter and trade with to get something out of God. He simply wants to give to you. He gives you forgiveness, life, and salvation. He gives you Jesus – crucified and risen. He gives you the reign of heaven. “Blessed now are the poor in spirit, for there is, now, the reign of heaven.”

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

When we think of mourning, we think of death. “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the Law. But! But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:56-57). Your Lord, your Savior gives you the victory now. Jesus is the Lamb who was slain. Jesus walked through death and came out even more glorious than He was before He went to death. Jesus’ resurrection means that the resurrection of the dead has already begun. So, when your loved ones die, mourn – be sad. As James 4:9 says, be wretched and mourn and weep. But even in mourning, you are blessed. You are blessed because you know that death, as final as it is, is not the final fact. “Blessed now are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

All SaintsJesus says, “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is – not will someday be – your reward is now great in heaven.”

Beloved and blessed saints, though you are tired of living under the curse of sin, your Savior calls you blessed. Look around at what you have. See what Christ has given you. You have the presence of God in your midst. He is here to shelter you with His presence. Your hungering and thirsting is gone because Jesus gives you His body and blood for the forgiveness of your sins.

1 John 3:2-3 2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. Amen.

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.