Matthew 5:1-12 – Saved

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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:Jesus Preaches the Sermon on the Mount

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.”

Grace, mercy, peace be to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Dear Henning,

Baptism 2Today, you are baptized. Today, Jesus has washed you in a saving flood. Today in your Baptism, you were buried with Jesus into His death so that, just as Jesus is risen from the dead, you too would walk in newness of life. Today, you have received the washing of regeneration and the renewal of the Holy Spirit.

Now and for the rest of your life, the Word of God will continually show you your sin in the Law. Hear that Word and repent. Repent and continue to listen to the Word of God. Hear the Gospel which always and continually points you to Jesus and what He has done for you. Listen to that Gospel. Listen to the word of the cross. It is foolishness in the ears of those who refuse to repent. But not for you. For you and all your brothers and sisters in Christ it is the power of God.

Jesus’ words in this text are the Gospel. Jesus is announcing blessings upon you and all your brothers and sisters in Christ here today and throughout thousands of other places across the world where these same words are being preached.

Henning, by proclaiming these blessings upon you, Jesus is speaking you and all believers into His kingdom. So Henning, and all of you here, listen to what Jesus says. By these words of Gospel, Jesus is proclaiming that you are saved.

Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus says when you have a bad spiritual life, when you aren’t praying enough, when you aren’t loving enough, when you know that you bring nothing to the table and have nothing to offer God, Jesus says you are blessed because He gives you the kingdom of heaven. Jesus has come not to call the righteous, but sinners.

Jesus says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” As you recognize that you are living in a world of sin and death, you know things are not as they should be and so you mourn and cry out to God. Jesus says that you shall be comforted because Jesus has come and fixed everything that is broken.

Jesus says, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” When you are weak, when you have no strength, when you recognize you are powerless against all the evil in this world and the evil within yourself, you are blessed. Though you are small, weak, and meek, you will inherit the earth.

Jesus says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” When you are starving for the righteousness you do not have, when you are parched in desert of your sin, Jesus says you are blessed. Christ will satisfy every hunger and quench every thirst you have by giving you His righteousness.

Jesus says, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” Because Jesus has already made you part of His kingdom, you will have mercy upon others – even though you aren’t aware of it. Jesus will continue to pour out upon you His mercy. And because Jesus has made you pure in heart you will see God.

Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” As Jesus has given you His peace, you will make peace among others. And you are blessed.

Jesus says, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” All you believers, the world is going to hate you because you believe Jesus has made you righteous. But don’t mind it. No matter what the world says, yours is the kingdom of heaven.

And so you can know that He means all these words for you, Jesus finishes by saying, “Blessed are you. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter kinds of evil against you falsely on My account. Rejoice and be glad for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

When you take your stand upon the Word of God and others hate you because of it, Jesus says that you are blessed. God has counted you worthy of suffering persecution for His great name. It is nothing new for the people of God to be reviled in this world.

Blessings from the CrossBlessed are you. Hear that again, “Blessed are you.” Blessed are you when people hate you because of what the Word of God says. In each of these Beatitudes, by saying you are blessed, Jesus says you are saved.

You will be tempted to not believe what Jesus says here. But believe it because these are Jesus’ words of Gospel to you. Scripture says (1 Cor. 1:30-31) that, because of what God has done for you, you are in Christ Jesus, “who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’” Amen.

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

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John 1:29-42a – Behold, the Lamb

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John 1:29-42a

29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”

35 The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38 Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39 He said to them, “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. 40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). 42 He brought him to Jesus.

Grace, mercy, peace be to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Dear Eloise,

Passover LambAs you grow, your parents, your sponsors, and your church will teach you about a lot of lambs in the Bible.

You will learn about Abel and how he tended his flock of lambs and offered one of his flock as a sacrifice to God. You will learn that God accepted the blood of Abel’s lambs but had no regard for his brother’s offering of crops. Abel believed that God accepted the blood of another for his sin. But God did not accept Cain’s sacrifices of whatever he thought was best.

You will learn about when God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. You will hear about how Abraham laid the wood for the sacrifice on Isaac’s shoulders. You will hear Isaac say to his father, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb?” And Abraham will respond, “God will provide Himself – a lamb.” And God does provide (Gen. 22:7-8).

You will learn about how God’s people sat in slavery in Egypt. God told His people that He will send one final plague where all the firstborn in the land will be killed. But you will hear God provide for His people. He instructs them to take a lamb a year old and kill it and take some of the blood of the lamb and smear it on their doorposts. This blood is a sign for when the angel of death passes through the land, he will pass over every house that is shielded by the blood of the lamb (Ex. 12:1-13).

You will learn about God telling His people to observe the Day of Atonement. Each year on that day, the priest is to set aside two lambs. One lamb, the priest laid his hand and confessed the sins of the people. That lamb is then taken and released into the wilderness bearing their sin. The other lamb is sacrificed. The blood of that lamb is used to make the people clean (Lev. 16:1-34).

Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the wolrdEloise, pay attention to all these stories about lambs because they all point to one Lamb – to Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Like Abel’s lambs, God accepts the death of Lamb of God Jesus in your place. Like the lamb that God provided for Isaac, God provides Lamb of God Jesus for you. Like the blood of the lambs that covered the people’s door, the blood of Lamb of God Jesus marks your door and death passes over you. Like the lamb released in the wilderness, Lamb of God Jesus removes your sin from you. Like the lamb that cleansed the people on the Day of Atonement, Lamb of God Jesus cleanses you from all of your sins.

John says that he came baptizing for the purpose that Jesus would be revealed to Israel – God’s people. And at Jesus’ baptism, He is recognized. The heavens were opened, the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus in the form of a dove, and God the Father said, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well pleased.”

Eloise, today when you were baptized, the heavens were opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon you. Today, when you were baptized, God placed His name on you. Today, Eloise you came to recognize Jesus who is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. That means that He takes away your sin, and the sin of all your brothers and sisters in Christ here today.

Eloise, your sins have been washed away today. Lamb of God Jesus has washed away the sin you were born with, the sins you have committed since you were born, and the sins you will commit throughout your life.

Satan will tempt you. The devil will try to point you to everything but Jesus. All of us, as your brothers and sisters in Christ, have experienced this too. But do not listen to the devil. Do not listen.

Instead, always look to Lamb of God Jesus. In your Baptism, you have been united with Jesus’ death which means that you are also united with Jesus’ resurrection. This same Lamb of God Jesus will come again to raise up you and all believers. Look only to Him. Let Lamb of God Jesus be the object of your faith. Let Him be your hope. Let Him, and Him alone, be your salvation.

Lamb of Judah Jesus Revelation 5All you believers, behold Jesus. Behold Him who was in the beginning before anything else, the One who was with God and was God. Behold Jesus who made all things, yet became flesh. Behold Jesus who is the light and life of all.

Behold the one in whom you believe, the one who gave you the right to be children of God not born of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. This Lamb, and this Lamb alone, has taken away the sin of the world. He has taken away your sin. Amen.

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

(This sermon was preached on the occasion of the Baptism of Eloise Mae Frech.)

Matthew 3:13-17 – You Want Me to Do What?

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Matthew 3:13-17

13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”Baptism of Christ - Theophany

Grace, mercy, peace be to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

No question about it. John the Baptizer was a bold man. He preached, “Repent,” and that takes guts. John preached the Law in such a way that Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were coming to him, confessing their sins, and being baptized (Mt. 3:5-6).

John, the last of God’s prophets, lived out in the wilderness wearing camel skins and eating locusts and honey. Yet he had the boldness to call even the Pharisees and Sadducees, the religious elite, to repentance calling them a brood of vipers.

Jesus called John the Baptizer the greatest of those born of women (Mt. 11:11). Yet, John knew his place. John rightly confessed, “The one coming after me is greater than I am. I am not even worthy to carry His sandals.”

But when Jesus came to John to be baptized, well, John flinched. “Excuse me? You want me to do what? Look, this isn’t right, Jesus. I need to be baptized by You! How can I with my dirty thoughts, my filthy hands, and my unclean heart, how can I baptize You? You should just baptize Yourself.”

Sinful Tree PersonIn John’s hesitation to baptize Jesus, we see John’s sinful pride rearing its ugly head. If John truly believed that he wasn’t worthy to carry Jesus’ sandals (and he wasn’t), then who does John think he is to question his Lord when Jesus tells John to baptize Him? How dare John say, “Look, Jesus, You’ve got it all wrong”?

We can all sympathize with John because we all shirk and attempt to evade our responsibilities. Too often, we parents don’t want to do the work of raising our children. It is too exhausting. Instead of giving our children discipline, attention, and love, we buy them off with devices to distract them so they will leave us alone and we can amuse ourselves.

As spouses, we do the same. We find all sorts of excuses to get out of serving one another – washing the dishes, changing the bed sheets, and scrubbing around the toilet.

As Christians, we fill our lives with things that are good in and of themselves. But our lives get stuffed by commitments, the tournaments, and the traveling. Something must give, and sadly the easiest thing to put off is being at church, gathering with one another, and hear and rejoicing in God’s Word.

And I can tell you, on good authority, that your pastor does this too. It is all too easy to put off calling someone who is hurting and ministering the Gospel to them under the guise of having too many other things to do. Forgive me.

For all of us, there are ample reasons to repent. Repent, and hear what Jesus says to John. “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.”

God had called John to baptize Jesus, to anoint Jesus for His work of being the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Anyone could have baptized Jesus. The act didn’t require a lot of skill, training, or experience. But God had called John to do it in order to fulfill all righteousness.

In the same way, God gives us tasks, duties, and vocations in His kingdom. It was fitting for Jesus and John together to fulfill all righteousness. And it is fitting for you to do the good works that God has called you to in your vocations.

Now, you have probably heard me use that word ‘vocation’ before, but to define it again is probably helpful. Your vocations are the many different functions you have and are defined by your relationships to others. Parent, spouse, child, neighbor, citizen, student, employee, employer – all of these are vocations. In all your vocations, God gives you good works to do.

If you are a parent, God has given you the good work of feeding, clothing, protecting, and providing for your child(ren). As a citizen, God has given you good works like paying taxes, voting, and coming to a complete stop at stop signs. If you are a customer at a grocery store, God has given you the good work of buying food and not shoplifting by tasting the grapes before you purchase them. Wherever you are, God has called you to a particular vocation where you can be His light shining in this dark world by doing good works.

And God gives you great freedom in these good works. At the risk of sounding sexist: mothers, God commands that you feed your children. But you have the freedom to decide whether to cook a lavish meal of salad, pot roast with potatoes, carrots, and onions finished off with homemade cheesecake or to simply grab some corn dogs out of the freezer and throw them in the oven. Either way, you have been a faithful mother by providing for your children.

In all our vocations, we remember that we are not worthy to do these good works, but God has called us to them. And in doing them, we join with God to do good in an evil world. Also, in doing them, God gives us the greatest joys.

When you have fed, bathed, swaddled, and finally gotten your infant to sleep, you stand over the crib in joy and peace that God has entrusted that little life to you. When you celebrate with your co-workers after that grueling, month-long project, God is blessing you and them with that happiness and sense of accomplishment. When you lay next to your spouse and fall asleep in their arms, you have comfort and peace of knowing that God has joined to you the bone of our bone and flesh of your flesh.

Will you fail in these vocations? Yes. You will sin and fall short of the calling that God has given you. But always remember, of all the vocations, all the callings which God has given you, the first, the primary, the most unchanging vocation God gives to you is your Baptism.

Baptism 2Abby, on this day of your Baptism, and all of you baptized believers here, remember this. Before anything you are a Baptized child of God. You belong to Him. He has placed His Name upon you. Jesus has joined you to Himself – joined to His death, buried you in His tomb, and raised you in His resurrection.

Where you lack, Jesus provides. Where you fail, Jesus fulfills. God will provide what you need as you carry your cross and follow after Him. You are His child. You belong to Him, and He is well-pleased with you. Amen.

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

*This sermon was preached on the occasion of the Baptism of Abigail McClintic.