Where Is Your Sting? – Sermon on 1 Corinthians 15:51-57 for the Resurrection of Our Lord

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1 Corinthians 15:51-57

51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Alleluia! Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” Too often we think of death in wrong ways. We think that death is a state or a category or a condition. But v. 55 of that Epistle Lesson says that death is an enemy, a person who can be talked to and, most importantly, an enemy who can be questioned.

Imagine encountering death. When you or someone you love dies and you cross paths with death, you need to only ask death one simple question: “O death, where is your sting?”

Death might try to answer you with a pale, menacing, frightening voice, “My sting is your sin. I sting because you sin. If you didn’t have sin, I would have no sting. But I sting everyone because all have sinned. I am the wages and payment of sin (Ro. 6:23). And I will sting you because your sin is my sting.”

But you can simply respond, “I know all of that, death. I know that my sin has put me under your thumb. I know that the Bible says, ‘The wages of sin is death.’ So, what you say is true. But, death, I didn’t ask you, ‘What is your sting?’ I asked you, ‘Where is your sting?’ So, death, where is it, where is your sting?”

And death might smile and respond, “You simple Christian, have you forgotten how powerful my sting is? It is more powerful than the most poisonous snake or spider or jellyfish. My sting is the most powerful sting imaginable. My sting burns forever because the power of my sting is fueled by the Law. Yes, God’s eternal Law that abides forever, and you have broken that Law over and over.”

But you can look back at death and say, “I know my sin is no small sting. I know my sin is against the God who created me and loves me. I know the penalty of my sin is everlasting death, and I feel it in my conscience. I also know that the Law is not ever going to go away. I know that God’s Commandments are eternal. In fact, the Law was what made me scared of you. Because of the good and righteous Law, I know what you can do to me. I know that your sting is my sin, and I know that the power behind that sting is the Law. But, death, you still have not answered my question. Where is your sting?”

At this point, death is uncomfortable and a little fidgety, but he musters as much gusto as possible and says, “Well, you are face-to-face with me, aren’t you?”

“Yes, I am, but the sting of death is not death. The sting of death is sin. So, I ask you again, ‘Death, where is your sting?’”

Finally, death hangs his head. “I have used it, and I have lost it. But I’ll get it back again.”

Jesus Coming out of the TombAnd you can smile in his face, “Yes, death, you used your sting, didn’t you? You should have used your sting on me. The sting would have stuck on me. But you didn’t. Instead, death, you used your sting on my Savior, my God, and my Lord. You used your sting on Jesus, didn’t you? You had Jesus pinned tightly on the cross, and you stuck Him with your stinger and buried it into Him. Death, you were a fool that day. You stung God Himself. You stung Jesus who is the Resurrection and the Life (Jn. 11:25). But when you went to the tomb to find your stinger and get it back, Jesus wasn’t there. And guess what, death, Christ has taken my sin as He hung on the cross. And, death, you will not ever get your sting back. Never. That empty tomb means that your sting is lost forever. Death, I don’t fear you any longer.”

And having no other answer, death now turns around and walks away from you.

Dear saints, this is why we celebrate every Easter and every Sunday. Every Sunday, we celebrate what Christ has done in absorbing the sting of death so that death no longer has his sting.

And the day is coming when Christ will return. On that day, the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable. The day is coming when your perishable body will put on the imperishable and your mortal body will put on immortality.

Yes, death can and does buzz around now for a while. But death is like a bee that has used its stinger and soon dies.

Dear saints, “Death is swallowed up in victory.” Yes, the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the Law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. So now, Christian, you need have no fear of death. Jesus has conquered the bitter tyrant of death. And He has connected you to that victory. You do not need to fear and watch out for death hiding behind a corner to pounce on you. Instead, Christian, you continue to look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.

Because Christ is risen, death is overthrown. Christ is risen and life reigns. Christ is risen, and dear saint, you are safely anchored in Christ who has given you the victory, now and forever.

Alleluia! Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!


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


Even Now – Sermon for Ash Wednesday

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The texts for this evening were Joel 2:12-19 and Matthew 6:16-21.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

In our Old Testament lesson, God called to His people (v. 12-13), “Yet even now, return to me with all your heart with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning and rend your hearts and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and He relents over disaster.”

Let’s break this down. “Yet even now.” Those are such beautiful words of Gospel. “Even now.” After everything you have done and left undone. After failing again and again into the same sin over and over. After refusing again and again to do the good God put you there to do for your neighbor. After you have broken trust, broken relationships, broken the hearts of those you should mend, even now, return to the one, true, holy, God.

But repeatedly in Scripture, God’s holy presence is the last place that sinners want to be. Adam and Eve hid from God’s holy presence after they had sinned and realized their nakedness. Standing in God’s holy presence, Isaiah said, “Woe to me, for I am undone.” Jonah fled from God’s holy presence when God called him to preach to Nineveh. Peter asked the holy Son of God to depart from him because he was a sinful man.

Holiness and sin cannot coexist. Just as light destroys the darkness, the brightness of holiness destroys the darkness of sin. But if we think that our sin has forever separated us from God, we are defying the very words of God in this text, “Yet even now, return to Me,” says your Holy God. This returning is repentance.

Return and repent with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Return and repent because the Lord your God is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

Repentance has us saying, “Amen,” to God twice. “Amen” simply means yes, truly, absolutely, correct, right. We say “Amen” when God’s Law tells us that we are guilty of sin, when the Scriptures tell us that we deserve God’s wrath and punishment for our sins now, in this moment, and for all eternity. But repentance doesn’t stop there either.

Repentance says, “Amen,” when God speaks His Gospel over us, when God says that we are forgiven for Christ’s sake. That the suffering and death of Jesus has removed our sins as far as the east is from the west.

The first “Amen” is not easy to say. We don’t like to admit our failures and sins. We don’t like to admit that the wages our sin has earned is the bitterness, sickness, and hardships we face in this life. Instead, we blame others for the burdens we bear.

But the second “Amen” isn’t really any easier than the first. The devil and the world scream at us that the sacrifice of Jesus isn’t really enough. Our own flesh even says, “Well, it can’t be so easy as simply believing in Jesus.” But dear saints, that is when we need to say, “Shut up,” to the devil, the world, and our own flesh.

Just as God means it when He speaks the Law to say that your sins harm you and your neighbor, and more importantly that your sins separate you from Him, God also means it when He says that for the sake of Jesus He has forgiven you and blotted out your sins.

Through this Lenten season, we are going to be considering the Ten Commandments, and this will give us ample reasons to weep, lament, mourn, and rend our hearts because of our sin. However, we will also see the great gifts God is giving to us in each Commandment as well. But most importantly, we will see how Jesus has delivered us and calls us, “Even now, return to Me. Return to Me for I am gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.”

Your God has no pleasure in the destruction of the wicked. Instead He would have you repent. Say, “Amen,” to His Law and to His Gospel. Amen.

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

Repent, Rejoice, Repeat – Sermon on Romans 13:8-14 for the First Sunday in Advent

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Romans 13:8-14

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

11 Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. 12 The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Think about the opening words of this text for a moment: “Owe no one anything, except to love each other.”

Beatles All You Need Is LoveAt first blush, this seems simple enough. Just follow Dave Ramsey’s advice for getting rid of your loans, car payments, and mortgage. Then live your life humming the Beatles, “All you need is love. All you need is love. All you need is love, love, love. Love is all you need.”

But before images of a debt-free, hippie-eyed, easy-peasy life fill your brain, realize what this actually means in light of what the Scriptures say love is. Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Love is patient and kind. Love does not envy or boast. Love is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way. Love bears all things. Love hopes all things. Love endures all things. And remember, love never ends (1 Cor. 13:4-8).

So, when this text says to owe no one anything except love, it is saying that we owe one another absolutely everything because love fulfills the Law. All the Commandments, every last one of them, can be summed up with one little sentence, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

When you think about what that simple phrase, “Owe no one anything, except to love each other,” really means, those few opening words of our text should accuse and terrify us. To the sinner those words could just as easily be, “Go to hell.” So, sinner, repent.

But Paul doesn’t seem to be throwing down the hammer of the Law here. And, in fact, he isn’t. Paul isn’t writing these words to sinners – at least they aren’t only sinners. Paul is writing these words to sinners who are Christians. So, these words are for you who believe and are walking in the way of righteousness.

Christian, since you are loved unconditionally by Christ, love one another. But how do you do that? How can you love others perfectly as the Law demands? Trying harder, being more resolute, and making promises to do better haven’t worked in the past. And it won’t work in the future. So how can you keep the Law which you have never kept before?

The only way for sinners to keep the Law is to have the Law kept for us. God be praised, this is what Christ has done.

Christ has fulfilled the Law for you. He loved you as Himself. Just as Jesus came riding into Jerusalem to lay down His life on the cross for you, He also came and was born in Bethlehem to lay down His life while holding nothing back from you.

Clothed in ChristSo, as our text says, put on Christ. Clothe yourself in Him. Make His life, His obedience, His perfection your coat, your suit, your dress, your shirt, your shorts, your jeans, and your pajamas. How do you do that? Galatians 3:27 says, “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”

Dear Colt, today you are Baptized. Today, Christ has connected His Word and promise of forgiveness, life, and salvation to water. So, as that water poured on to you, it didn’t simply clean your head. Instead, God’s promise is that in your Baptism, He covered you with Christ.

Colt, today you are a Christian. So, today you begin the constant life of following Christ and loving your neighbor. And this command to love your neighbor as yourself is a command that you will fail to keep. But when you fail, confess that for the sin that it is, and believe. Believe in Christ’s forgiveness remembering that Scripture declares that you are loved perfectly by Christ. Rejoice in that love. And, go, love your neighbor.

Repent. Rejoice. Repeat. Again and again and again. And this is the case for all of you who have been Baptized.

But you say, “Pastor, I keep sinning. My fallen, sinful desires have gotten in the way. I keep failing to fulfill the command to love. There has to be something more.”

Baptism 2Well, there is something more, but it isn’t anything different. Repent again. Cast off the works of darkness again. Put on Christ again. Return to the promises God made when made you His child, when you were born again of Water and the Spirit (Jn. 3:5) in your Baptism.

Repent. Rejoice. Repeat. In other words, be a Christian. Amen.

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

From Commandment to Creed – Sermon on Matthew 22:34-46 for the Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity

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Matthew 22:34-46

34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

41 Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, 42 saying,“What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?”They said to him, “The son of David.” 43 He said to them, “How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying,

Psalm 110_1 Footstool44 “The Lord said to my Lord,
‘Sit at my right hand,
until I put your enemies under your feet’?

45 “If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?” 46 And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.

In the name Jesus. Amen.

This Gospel text drops us right into the middle of a conversation that Jesus had in the Temple on the Tuesday of Holy Week with the very people who want to destroy Him. The Pharisees and Sadducees are all trying to trap Jesus and entangle Him in His words. Their purpose is to make either the crowds or the authorities (they don’t care which) turn against Him so they can kill Him and be rid of Him and His preaching.

The first two questions they put to Jesus are about paying taxes and about the resurrection. Both of these questions are designed to take one part of God’s Word and make it contradict another part. And both questions appear to have no good answer. The leaders think that no matter how Jesus answers their question, they will have Him. But they are wrong. Jesus answers both questions leaving them dumbfounded.

Our text begins with the third question. One of the Pharisees, a lawyer, asked Jesus a question, again to test and to trap Jesus in His words.“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” The purpose of this question is to figure out which Commandment Jesus thinks is most important so that they can find a commandment set against it.

But again, this is absolutely foolish because Jesus knows there is no contradiction in the Law. He is the one who wrote the Law.

Jesus answers, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.And the second is like it: you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and prophets.”

Now, it is interesting in Mark’s account of this same event, the same questioning, that Jesus says there’s no other commandment (singular) greater than these (plural). Perfect love of God and perfect love of your neighbor go together. It is one commandment. The two are inseparably tied together. Love for God is demonstrated by love for the neighbor.

1 John 4_20-21 Love God and Neighbor

1 John 4:20 
says, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”And Jesus says in Matthew 25(:40) that the acts of love that you do toward your neighbor you do toward God. “As you did to the least of these, you did also to Me.”In other words, when you love your neighbor, you are loving God.

So, think about that for a moment. When you are helping, supporting, encouraging your spouse, you are serving both God and your spouse. You are loving both God and neighbor. When you feed your kids, when you obey your parents, when you do your homework, you are serving your neighbor and thereby serving God. Telling the truth, living a caste life, returning a lost wallet or purse instead of stealing, being content with what you have instead of coveting – all of these actions are service to God and your neighbor. Whoever is your neighbor, whoever God puts in your life at any given moment, that is the one whom God wants you to love. And when you love that neighbor, whoever it may be, you are loving God.

While that is so very beautiful, if we stop to think about it, this command to love God and neighbor demands everything of us. And we realize how fallen and sinful we are. This command shows us our desperate need for God to come and rescue us.

With His answer, with His preaching of the Law to love both God and neighbor, Jesus cuts down these people who are trying to trap Him, and He cuts you and I down as well because our sin is exposed. We do not love enough. We never have, and we never will.

But notice Jesus doesn’t take the conversation in that direction. He doesn’t ask them, “How are you doing with loving God and your neighbor?” Jesus doesn’t continue to have a conversation about the Law.

Instead, Jesus moves away from questions about the Law to the Creed. The Law is good and important. It shows us the nature and will of God, but the Law always shows us our sin. The Law tells us what we must do, but it always tells us what we have failed to do.

But the Creed shows us how God is toward us. The Creed isn’t about what we must do, it is the Gospel. It is what God has done for us. In the Creed, we confess that God is the Father who created us sent His Son who redeemed us and gives us the Holy Spirit who sanctifies us and makes us holy.

So, Jesus moves away from the Law to the Creed. He asks them, “The Messiah, whose son is he?”And they were right when they say, “David’s son.”God had promised to send David a son who would sit on David’s throne forever (1 Sam. 7). But David also wrote in Psalm 110:1, which is the verse that Jesus quotes, that this Son is also David’s Lord. So, Jesus’ question is, “How can the Messiah, David’s son, also be David’s Lord?”because a father would never call his descendent, “Lord.”

Now stay with me here: The reason Jesus asks this is that He is teaching the Pharisees, the crowds, and you that the Messiah is both God and man.

Because the Messiah is both God and man, He has kept the Law for you. Jesus perfectly loved God and your neighbor for you. And through faith, Jesus declares that what He has done perfectly, you have done as well (2 Cor. 5:21).

The Law says, “Honor thy father and mother. Love them as yourself.” And you are left saying, “God, I haven’t done that. I need Your help.” If it weren’t for the Creed, if the Messiah weren’t man, God would have to say, “Well, I’m God. I don’t have a father or mother, so I can’t help you. You have to do that yourself.” But God did become a man. Jesus had a mom and a dad. He did love and honor them perfectly. So, He can and does help you. And you can apply this to each and every one of the Commandments.

But most importantly, when you hear the law and know that you have sinned, you know that you deserve death. You deserve the eternal wrath and judgment of God. So, you pray, “God I’m lost. I deserve only death, could You die for me?” Because God has taken up your nature, God says, “Sure. I already have.”

Communion Cross with JesusStop playing games with the Law, there is no contradiction in it. Instead, believe. Believe that Christ has come for you. He has given His life for you. God has purchased you with His own blood (Act. 20:28). He has removed the curse of the Law from you because He has perfectly kept the Law for you. And He gives you His perfection, His righteousness, His holiness.

And, now, He invites you to have your faith strengthened. He invites you to receive His perfect Body and His holy Blood in Bread and Wine. He invites you to come and taste that He is good. Amen.

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

The One Who Shows You Mercy – Sermon on Luke 10:23-37 for the Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity

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Luke 10:23-37

23 Then turning to the disciples he said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! 24 For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”

25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” 29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. Jesus Good Samaritan Icon32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

This parable is arguably the most well-known parable Jesus ever told. That being said, it is also one of the most misinterpreted and misused parables. Today, may your eyes and ears be blessed as Jesus tells you what many prophets and kings desired to see and hear but did not. Holy Spirit, open our eyes and unplug our ears to Christ’s mercy.

This lawyer, this guy who knows the Old Testament forwards and backwards, asks Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” This is a stupid question. You don’t do something to gain an inheritance.

All Scripture shows that God’s people do not inherit eternal life by doing something. As our Epistle Text (Gal. 3:15-22) said, the inheritance of eternal life has always and will always come through the promise of God.

The lawyer knew exactly what he must do to have eternal life. He must do the Law, and his understanding of the Law is correct. Love God perfectly; love your neighbor perfectly. It’s exactly how Jesus sums up the Law elsewhere (Mt. 22:34-40). Jesus tells the lawyer, “Bingo! Do this, and you will live.”But Jesus might just as well have said, “Yup. Go to hell.”

And the lawyer gets it. He is stuck in his own death. The Law has exposed him for the wretched sinner that he is. The Law has left him scared and confused because he doesn’t know the Gospel; it’s completely foreign to him. He wants an out and clamors for a loophole. He asks, “Well, who is my neighbor? Whom should I love?”

But every Sunday school student knows the answer. “Who is my neighbor?” Everyone. “Whom should I love?” Everyone and without fail. But Jesus doesn’t tell the parable to answer the question, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus tells the parable to change the question to get the answer He wants. The point of the parable is not to teach us to love everyone. Scripture teaches that all over the place but not in this parable.

Instead, Jesus tells the parable because He wants to show the lawyer and you hope. Jesus wants to show you what God mercifully does for you. He wants your eyes to see and your ears to hear the Gospel.

With all that in mind, consider the parable: The road from Jerusalem to Jericho is downhill the whole way. The man in the parable is constantly going down. And as he goes down, he falls among thieves who rob, strip, beat, and leave him for dead.

A priest happens to come across him, but when he sees the poor sap, he moves to the other side of the road. A Levite spots him as well and does the same. They don’t bind up his wounds. They don’t offer to find someone else to help. They don’t even stand a safe distance and speak comforting words to him as he dies. Instead, the two most respected religious people in Jesus’ day are unwilling to give a second look to the wretch in the ditch.

They know God’s Word, but they are able to justify leaving the guy in the mud and blood. “If God allowed this to happen to him, it must have been for a reason.” Or, “He must have been hanging out with the wrong crowd.” Or, “If I help this guy, I’ll be unclean and won’t be able to perform my duties in the Temple and people won’t have their spiritual needs met.” They won’t let this looser distract them from their calling.

This beaten, bloodied man is despised and rejected by his own people who turn their faces from him (Is. 52:14; 53:2-4).

But then comes the hero – the man of the hour. But he is a Samaritan. He’s a looser and outcast just like the man in the ditch. And this looser ministers to his fellow looser.

He goes down into the ditch. He binds up the wounds. He puts ointment, oil, and wine on the lacerations. He hefts the guy onto his own animal, giving up his own comfort. He is delayed and intruded upon. Whatever appointment or meeting he was journeying to doesn’t matter anymore. The only thing that matters is the stripped, bleeding man.

The Samaritan brings the guy to a hotel and watches over him through the night. In the morning, he makes his way to the front desk and books the room indefinitely.

He tells the staff, “Bill everything to my room. That bloodied guy I brought in here last night, whatever he needs Is on my tab. If he needs doctors or nurses, I’ll cover it. If he needs a ride, get an Uber on me. If he consumes the mini bar fifteen times, I’m good for it. I’ll be back to pay for it all.”

The parable completed, Jesus looks at the lawyer and asks, “Who proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?”

Again, if this parable is teaching us to love everyone, then Jesus is a bad teacher and is asking the wrong question. “Who proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?”

Jesus is setting the lawyer up. Christ is not calling the lawyer to be like the Samaritan. Jesus wants the lawyer to see that he is the man in the ditch. Jesus wants the lawyer to desire the care, compassion, reckless love, and mercy that the Samaritan shows in the parable because that is exactly what Jesus has come to do for him and for you. Jesus is the one who shows mercy.

Good Samaritan Jesus IconChrist has come to find you. He has bound up your wounds. Jesus has poured out His healing, life-giving blood for you. Jesus nurses you in your brokenness. He has ascended into heaven and has promised to come back and pay for everything you need.

In order to be saved, you don’t need to be merciful; you need mercy. You don’t need to love your neighbor; you need to be loved. You need to receive the Jesus who has come to give you every last bit of His mercy.

That is what the parable means. Our text ends with Jesus saying, “You, go and do likewise.”And Jesus means that too. What Jesus has poured into you, let it spill out and bless others. Amen.

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

The Law Fulfilled – Sermon for the Sixth Sunday of Trinity on Exodus 20:1-17 & Matthew 5:17-26

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Exodus 20:1-17

And God spoke all these words, saying,

God Gives the Ten Commandments“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

“You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for 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, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

13 “You shall not murder.

14 “You shall not commit adultery.

15 “You shall not steal.

16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

administration american flag country daylight

Wednesday, the United States of America, turned 242 years old, and she doesn’t look a day over 220. In the midst of the heat, barbeques, mosquitoes, and fireworks, I hope you took time to thank God your Father for His good gift of the nation that you live in. God has blessed us with a country that allows her citizens the freedom to use their God-given talents and abilities to better their own lives and the lives of others. Our nation, in many ways, is the envy of people throughout the history of the world.

Yet, our nation is not without major flaws. A former US Senate Chaplain, Peter Marshall, said, “May we think of freedom, not as the right to do what we please, but as the opportunity to do what is right.” Sadly, too many people and politicians in our country believe freedom means we can do whatever we want, and then, use those freedoms as a cover for evil.

In this country, we have the freedom of speech. But a current US senator has advocated and promoted violence against those who disagree with her politics. In our country, parents have the freedom to educate their children in the way they think is best. But slowly and steadily, parents are losing freedom to even know how their children are being educated in school. Marriage has been eroding in our nation for decades, and it is now being proactively attacked. Our Declaration of Independence says that all men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights – life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But some states allow ‘physician-assisted suicide.’ In other words, it is now legal to be an accomplice to murder if you are a doctor, and when that happens, euthanasia is never far behind. And our country has made it legal to murder over 60 million babies through abortion.

The first verse of our national anthem closes with a question, “O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?” Yes, the flag still flies over this land, and for that, we can thank God. But can we still be considered the land of the free when the lives of the most vulnerable are not protected?

Abraham Lincoln supposedly said, “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” Lincoln might be wrong. We may still be destroyed by another nation. But at the rate the culture in our nation is disintegrating, Lincoln’s words appear to be accurate.

If a nation wants to destroy itself, all it has to do is ignore, undermine, or explain away the Ten Commandments. And that is precisely what is happening in our country, and it has been happening for a long time.

America needs to repent. Nations that have gone down the path our country is marching on don’t last long. God destroys them. America needs to repent.

But nations don’t repent. Individuals do. Americans need repentance, and it needs to start with you.

You are not what you should be. Do you hear these Ten Commandments and think, “Well, I’m way better than the society, culture, and people around me”? Then, you are the problem. The Law does not and cannot save you.

That is what Jesus was getting at in our Gospel lesson (Mt. 5:17-26). The Pharisees took the 5thCommandment, “You shall not murder,” and figured they must be pretty good. They were busy patting themselves on the back thinking they had impressed God. The Commandment was enough by itself. Jesus isn’t adding to the Commandment when He says that your anger makes you a murderer; instead, He is reminding you and I that we haven’t begun to be the people God created and wants us to be.

You need a righteousness that exceeds the righteousness of the best person you know or have heard of or you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. It is a righteousness you cannot attain or achieve by your works and efforts. Repent.

Small Catechism - Ten Commandments Cross IconRepent and know that there is righteousness that exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees. Jesus came and kept the Law. Jesus did everything the Commandments demanded and did not do anything the Law forbade. Jesus does not get angry with someone without cause. Jesus does not look upon a woman with lust. Jesus does not chase after or desire things that are not given to Him. Instead, Jesus gladly accepts what the Father gives and then waits with perfect trust that the Father is good and will provide.

Jesus kept that faith even when He was forsaken by His Father as He hung on the cross shedding His holy, perfect, sinless blood for you. He endured an eternity of Hell for all of humanity. And as He breathed His last, He cried, “It is finished.”

There, the Law was fulfilled, and all the holy Commandments were perfectly kept. The last penny was paid, and there is nothing left for you to do to make God happy with you.

Because now, Jesus gives His righteousness away for free to all who believe in Him. He joins you to Himself through His word of promise, through your Baptism, and through His holy Supper. God looks at you and sees Jesus, and He delights in you.

Christian, you have died to sin. Live in it no longer. Rejoice in God’s will for you revealed in the Commandments.

Because Jesus will come back. When He does, sin and death and hell will die as well. And you will rise, free from your bondage to sin and free to bask in the grace of your Savior who loves you now and forever. Amen.

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

Remembrance – Sermon for Pentecost on John 14:23-31

Due to technical difficulties, no audio for today’s sermon.

John 14:23–31

23Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.24Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.

25“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you.26But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

27“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.28You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.29And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe.30I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me,31but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.”

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Jesus says that the Holy Spirit’s job is, “to bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

What was the last thing you forgot? Now, there’s a scary question. If you can remember the last thing you forgot, then you’ve remembered. You maybe didn’t remember on time, but you did remember. The very question, “What was the last thing you forgot?” makes you wonder the dozens, or thousands, of things that you should remember but don’t.

We all have stories of entering the room with decision, purpose, and intent but we enter the room and ask ourselves, “What did I come here to do?” Some mornings, in the clamor of trying to get the kids to school, I frantically search for my keys wondering to myself, “Where in the world and I put them?” only to look down and find my misplaced keys in my hand.

Well, today is Pentecost. We are fifty days after Easter, and today we celebrate God sending His Holy Spirit. And, I hope you remember, three weeks ago Jesus said that the Holy Spirit convicts the world concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment (Jn. 16:5-15).

In case you don’t remember, the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin to show us that we need a Savior, Jesus. The Holy Spirit convicts us of righteousness to show us that Jesus’ perfect sacrifice on the cross makes us righteous. And the Holy Spirit convicts us of judgment to remind us that Satan no longer has any claim on us because he is judged.

In other words, wherever the Gospel is preached, where Jesus’ death and resurrection are proclaimed, where Jesus is announced as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world – there, the Holy Spirit is, without question, at work. Wherever the Word of God is being faithfully proclaimed, the Holy Spirit is doing His work calling, gathering, enlightening, sanctifying, and preserving the Christian Church.

In our Old Testament reading (Gen. 11:1-9), we heard how God dispersed the people after the Flood. They had plans to build a tower that would have its top in the heavens. Possibly, they were trying to protect themselves from another flood even though God had promised to never flood the earth again. They were sinfully rebelling against God’s command to fill the earth. However, God, in His mercy, came down to stop their sin and to disperse them by confusing their language – sort of a “we can do this the easy way or the hard way.” By this act of judgment, God nudges His creatures to do what He commanded them.

In our reading from Acts (2:1-21), we heard how God doesn’t remove the confusion of language He brought to Babel. Instead, God continues to be gracious. So the Gospel can be proclaimed in all creation, God gives the apostles the gift of speaking in tongues. They are enabled to preach the mighty works of God in all the human languages present that day of Pentecost.

We didn’t hear Peter’s whole sermon in our reading today. But in the next fifteen versus, he preaches Jesus. He doesn’t preach about the Holy Spirit; he preaches Jesus. And what happens in the crowd reveals the Holy Spirit’s work. They are convicted of sin.

They heard that Jesus, whom they crucified, was both Lord and Christ. And when they heard this, “they were cut to the heart,” and asked, “What shall we do?” And Peter continued to be the Holy Spirit’s instrument saying, “Repent.” Now, the people were already convicted, so Peter isn’t telling them to feel bad about their sin. Instead, the Holy Spirit through Peter is telling the people to trust Jesus’ forgiveness.

“Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. For this promise is for you and for your children and all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to Himself” (Act. 2:38-39). That day, 3,000 souls were added to the Christian church by the working of the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit continued to work in those believers’ hearts reminding them of Christ’s forgiveness.

The devil’s work is similar to the Holy Spirit’s work, but only at one point. The devil wants to do the first work of the Holy Spirit but leave you there. Like entering a room and not remembering why you are there, the devil wants to leave you in the fog and doubt of your sin.

Thank God for the Holy Spirit! He removes the fog. No matter how thick and dense your sin is, the Holy Spirit brings to your remembrance the truth that God has removed your every sin, transgression, and iniquity sin by Jesus’ death and resurrection.

And the Holy Spirit is about to do another work.

The only other time that Jesus uses this word, ‘remembrance,’ is when He institutes the Lord’s Supper. Jesus says to take and eat the bread which is His Body given unto death and to drink the wine which is His very Blood shed for the forgiveness of your sins. Jesus says we are to do this ‘in remembrance’ of Him.

Through this Bread and Wine, the Holy Spirit is at work giving you Jesus. Believe Him that through this holy and blessed Sacrament, all your sins are completely forgiven. Then, rise and go from here remembering the comfort of your Savior’s mercy. Amen.

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