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.

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Sigh – Sermon for the 12th Sunday of Trinity on Mark 7:31-37

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Mark 7:31-37

31 Then he returned from the region of Tyre and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 32 And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33 And taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue. 34 And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,”that is, “Be opened.” 35 And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36 And Jesus charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37 And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

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

Most of Jesus’ miracles recorded in the Gospels are fairly sterile (if you will allow me to use that term). Christ tells a bunch of servants to fill jars with water, take some to the master of the feast, and the master wonders why the best wine was served so late. Jesus tells a paralyzed man, “Rise, pick up your bed, and go home,”and the man does. And Jesus takes bread and fish, gives thanks, hands it to His disciples, and thousands are fed. Clean, neat, tidy miracles.

Little Girl Meme GrossThis miracle, on the other hand, is odd. It’s dirty. Maybe, you even find it disgusting. Jesus takes a deaf man who has a speech impediment off to the side. He sticks His fingers into wax-filled ears. God in the flesh spits (apparently, Jesus wasn’t taught how to give a proper wet-Willy). Christ literally seizes, not just ‘touches,’ the man’s tongue. And then, Jesus looks up to heaven. Sighs. And says, “Ephphatha,” which means,“Be opened.”

Scripture says that Jesus did more miracles than are recorded for us in the Gospels (Jn. 20:30; 21:25). It could be – maybe it isn’t, but it could be – that most of Jesus’ miracles were crazy and odd like this one rather than the ‘normal’ ones God has recorded for us in the Scriptures. That might explain why in Mt. 8[:5-13]the centurion who had a paralyzed servant tells Jesus to not bother about coming into his home, but to just speak the word.

Now, imagine how it was for this man. He had lived his life in a world of silence. He wasn’t able to communicate with others. Imagine his friends and family who have brought him to Jesus. They have wanted so desperately for him to hear and rejoice in God’s Word. They wanted him to be able to hear them say that they loved him. They have wanted to sing God’s praise with his voice added to their chorus. And now, here is Jesus. A man who can do the miraculous. So, they bring him to Jesus and beg and plead Jesus to heal him. And Jesus does this?

As unconventional as it is, the man is healed. His ears are opened. He is able to speak clearly. Though the man has a new-found voice, Jesus commands this man and his family and friends to tell no one what has happened. But they don’t listen. They disobey.

The Jesus who opens deaf ears has one simple command for to their ears to hear. The command comes from the Jesus who loosened the man’s tongue, “Don’t use your tongues to tell others about this.”But they shut their ears to His command, and they open their tongues in disobedience.

They were telling people that Jesus was a miracle worker who makes the deaf hear and the mute speak. They weren’t spreading lies about Jesus, but what they were proclaiming was misleading. It seemed like a victimless crime. But here is the problem – the people who heard their message got the wrong impression of who Jesus is and what He had come to do.

Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the wolrdJesus had come to be the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, not to be the audiologist who takes away the deafness of the world. Jesus had come to give eternal life through His death and resurrection, not to give a voice to the voiceless.

Jesus had a reason for telling them to keep silent about the miracle even if we don’t know exactly what that reason was. And their disobedience had consequences.

When Jesus was on trial before His crucifixion, Pilate sent Him to Herod, and Herod wanted Jesus to do some sign for him (Lk 23:6-11). When Jesus didn’t answer any of Herod’s questions or do a miracle, Herod had his soldiers treated Jesus with contempt and mocked Him. It might be that the report of these people fueled Herod’s curiosity to see Jesus the miracle worker and not Jesus the Savior.

You too, refuse to listen to God’s words and commands. Whenever you sin, you are refusing to hear God’s Word. You are choosing your own wisdom over God’s. Even when God’s command seems contrary to what is good, we must repent of our lunacy thinking that we know better than God.

But see Jesus’ grace despite their sin. Jesus knew that they would disobey Him. He knew that they would sinfully use His gifts as tools for their transgressions. Jesus looks to heaven and sighs.

Why does Jesus sigh? Well, Jesus sighs in sorrow over our sins against Him. He sighs when we act in self-righteousness. Jesus sighs grieving over our self-inflicted pain. He sighs in anger over what has been done to us by the devil, our neighbors, and even those who should love us. Jesus sighs, and yet, He acts in love and mercy.

Jesus is the friend of sinners, and He has compassion on all who suffer – no matter what that suffering is. He knows you are a transgressor and worker of iniquity, but He also knows that you are a victim.

Jesus takes and becomes sinYes, Jesus sighs and acts. He gets involved with us even though it hurts Him. He cannot help Himself. In His love and mercy, He gets bound up in the mess we make and that others have made for us. He gets entangled in our sin. In fact, He becomes sin so that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21).

What Jesus did for this man, He has done for you as well. Jesus has miraculously opened your ears to hear His word of Law and Gospel. Listen to them intently. Believe what Jesus tells you in His Word because Jesus has borne your griefs. He has carried your sorrows. And even by the stripes you inflict upon Him, He heals you (Is. 53:3-5). Amen.

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

Table for 4,000, Please? – Sermon for the Seventh Sunday of Trinity on Mark 8:1-9

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Mark 8:1-9

In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, he called his disciples to him and said to them, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away.” And his disciples answered him, “How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?” And he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?”They said, “Seven.” And he directed the crowd to sit down on the ground. And he took the seven loaves, and having given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and they set them before the crowd. And they had a few small fish. And having blessed them, he said that these also should be set before them. And they ate and were satisfied. And they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. And there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away.

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

The last food you ate came from God even though it didn’t come directly from God. An exception will be made if you gathered up manna in your yard this morning. If you did, let me know. I’d like to come over this afternoon, so I can have a taste before it goes bad tomorrow. Talk to me after the service.

Your food comes from God, but God in His infinite wisdom has seen fit to give you that food through a long food-pipeline. Through farmers and ranchers who grow and raise the food. Through factories and workers that process, grind, and package. Through truckers and train engineers who haul. Through construction workers who build and maintain the roads and buildings. Through plumbers, electricians, engineers, and mechanics who design, make, and keep the roads, railways, machines, and buildings working. And even through insurance agents, accountants, and computer programmers who make all the work efficient and organized.

In fact, I bet if you and I sat down and put our minds together, we could figure out how every wholesome task performed in the world ends up putting food in our mouth. (Maybe we can do that while we enjoy that manna of yours.)

Now, God doesn’t have to use this massive, intricate food-pipeline. He could feed us directly as Jesus does in this text. God is the author of all good work and a master at it all.

This crowd has been with Jesus in a desolate place for three days hearing Him teach. They were so excited to follow Him that these silly people didn’t bring any food with them. Jesus tells the disciples that He has compassion on the people because if He sends them away, they won’t make it home. Some of them will faint and die of hunger. The disciples ask, “How can one feed these people (4,000 men plus women and children [see Mt. 15:32-39]) with bread here in this desolate place?” Their question is legitimate. Even if you had the means to pay for it, I bet you’d have a hard time buying enough bread for a crowd that size if you went to Hugo’s right after the service.

But watch what Jesus does in slow motion. He becomes the master of many trades all at once. He plows, plants, harvests, threshes, grinds, and bakes bread in a moment. Then, He sails, fishes, processes, cleans, and cooks fish to give the crowd a second course.

Yes, Jesus does this with what the disciples have among themselves. So, in a small way, He works within His creation and preserves the food-pipeline. But He certainly didn’t need to use what the disciples had because when it is all said and done, there are seven baskets of leftovers. The disciples end up with more than they had at the beginning.

This is a miracle. No one can feed such a large crowd, but Jesus can and does. But this miracle of feeding the 4,000 pales in comparison to the miracle of food that will be on your plate at lunch. The same Jesus is working through hundreds if not millions of people to make sure you have a bite later when He could simply make the food appear on your plate without any of them.

You are constantly surrounded by miracles. But you have gotten so used to seeing them that you don’t see the splendor and glory of God’s provision for you.

Do you realize how miraculous farming and gardening is? You take a seed – a tiny part of something, put it in the ground, and you get more of that same thing. How many thousands and even millions of tomatoes are in a single tomato seed when God uses His creation to nurture and grow that seed? We hardly give tomato seeds a second thought. But in each of those seeds is a lifetime supply of tomatoes for you and your family. But it is a lot less work for you to simply go to the store and purchase more tomatoes.

We are too easily bored with God’s miracles. And worse, we even grow to despise God’s work among us.

We get excited when a child takes her first steps. Her body has miraculously formed and developed the muscles, bones, and tendons needed to support her frame. Her mind has learned to control all those parts of her body so she can keep her balance. But how many weeks pass before her parents are tired of keeping her from walking to the garbage can, tipping it over, and rummaging through the contents? They wish she were still stationary.

Think for a moment of the miracle of life. Your body is made up of somewhere around 35 trillion individual cells that serve various functions. If the DNA in those cells were laid out end to end, it would travel from here to the sun and back 100 times. From the moment you were conceived, the information in your DNA would fill 600,000 pages. And right now, in each of the 35 trillion cells of your body, biological “machines” are copying volumes of information into amino acids which are taken by other machines and folded in very specific ways into proteins. So, don’t let anyone tell you that you are lazy.

These miracles are going on all around you and inside of you. And as we are able to learn even more about how this all works, it will simply get more intricate and amazing. You are fearfully, wonderfully, and miraculously made. And the fact that all of this is done because of your Creator should cause you to fall on your knees in reverence and praise.

From a seed producing a plant that produces more fruit and more seeds to a child learning to walk to your cells writing and rewriting the information that keeps you alive, God keeps this creation working. But because all of this happens every day, it doesn’t capture our wonder and amazement as much as if it only happened once.[1]

The feeding of this crowd does show us that Jesus is God in the flesh. But that is not Jesus’ purpose in feeding the crowd. Jesus did not do this miracle to show the crowd that He is divine. Rather Jesus’ purpose in feeding and providing for them is His own compassion.

If Jesus provides so richly and abundantly for a crowd who got themselves into trouble by something so simply as forgetting to bring their lunch, how much more compassion will He have for you, sinner? You who are rightful recipients of death – the wages of sin – will Jesus not have compassion on you?

He does have that compassion and He has given that compassion. He has come in your flesh after your likeness. He died on the cross and shed His blood for you to give you His forgiveness and righteousness. And this same Jesus will provide for your needs in this body and life as well.

To this hungry and dying crowd of 4,000 in a desolate place, Jesus brings life on the third day. Just as He fed the people on the third day, He has risen on the third day for your justification.

So, rejoice and trust your Savior. When Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things…,”your food, drink, clothing, shelter, and everything you need for life, “all these things will be added to you,”He meant it. Amen.

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

[1]Revised from a quote by John Donne, “There is nothing that God has established in the constant course of nature, and which therefore is done everyday, but would seem a miracle, and exercise of our admiration, if it were done but once.”

Measured – Sermon for the Fourth Sunday of Trinity on Luke 6:36-42

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Luke 6:36-42

36 “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

37 “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38 give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

39 He also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. 41 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.”

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

Before we really get into this text, we have to understand that the way the world interprets these verses is wrong and sinful. Do Not JudgeJesus says, “Judge not,”and our fallen, twisted, evil, amoral society latches on to these words like stink on poo. If an unbeliever loves any words of Jesus, it is probably, “Judge not.”

The godless sinners of our society (and of all times) think this means Christians are not allowed to say that anything is sinful or wrong. How many times have you spoken against some sin and had these words, “Judge not,”thrown in your face? Even worse, how many times have you kept your mouth shut when you see sin because these words had been thrown at you?

Sin is evil and should and must be spoken against. When Jesus says, “Judge not,”He does not mean that you should be silent when it comes to others’ sin – even though the world will call you a hypocrite for doing so.

If someone steals your car, it is not helpful to you, to your faith, or to society to simply say, “Well, I guess it was his car.” That is simply adding sin to sin. The seventh commandment was broken when they stole the car. The thief probably also broke the eighth commandment saying the car was theirs. Don’t join them in breaking the eighth commandment by lying yourself.

When Joseph forgave his brothers (in our OT text [Gen. 50:15-21]), he didn’t say, “When you seized me, threw me in a pit, planned to kill me, and sold me as a slave instead of treating me like your brother, God was really doing a good thing through you.” No! Joseph says that what they did was evil. Yet, he forgave them and extended them mercy.

When we don’t call sin, “Sin,” we are judging God.

The parable about a blind man leading a blind man and Jesus’ statement about specks and logs in eyes shows that we as Christians are called to speak against sin. If you were blind, you wouldn’t offer to be a hiking guide for the blind at the Grand Canyon. You’ll all fall in. But if you see, you can and should lead the blind man safely. And Jesus isn’t saying that you should never remove specks from others’ eyes. No, Jesus says to receive His free forgiveness which removes the log in your eye. Then reprove, rebuke, and correct the one who has a speck in his.

Judge Hypocrite Adam4dKnow this: No one will thank you from hell for remaining silent about their sin on earth. And God forbid that they curse you from hell for remaining silent about their earthly sin.

The Apostle Paul sums up Jesus’ words for us in Galatians 6:1. “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore (this is a command) him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself (also a command), lest you too be tempted.”

So, do you see that this text isn’t a prohibition against you calling sin, “Sin”? Good. Now, the text can wallop you, you hypocrite.

Your fallen mind is selfish, always measuring your motives and actions against others’. You speak against the sins of others while ignoring the fact that you are committing the same sin.

Take the Fifth Commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” for example. You decry the plague of abortion in our country. You know that it is the heinous murder of the most vulnerable in our society and is the cousin of the Holocaust. But then, you don’t think twice about encouraging a young married couple to get settled in their careers before having kids. Or, you look at your own kids as a burden. You place your sinful actions on a scale and measure them to be less offensive and sinful. You hypocrite!

Take the Sixth Commandment, “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” for example. You speak against the sin of homosexuality and say that it is against God’s order. You are right that it is. But then, you turn around and do not love and honor your spouse as you should. Instead, wives, you undermine your husband and speak ill of him to anyone who will listen. Husbands, you do not treat your wives with the love and care they deserve, and you don’t avert your eyes from the lustful images that come your way. With your faulty scale, your sin doesn’t even register in your conscience. You hypocrite!

Take the Eighth Commandment, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” You get enraged when others spread false, malicious gossip about you. But then you talk about others behind their back in ways you never would if they were standing next to you. By doing so, you measure your sin against theirs with your thumb pressing down on their sin.You hypocrite!

You are not what you should be. “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”You, as a child of God, should and must resemble your Heavenly Father. But you don’t.

Repent. As Scripture says, “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost” (1 Tim. 1:15). Because these words are Scripture, they are true and inerrant. But they are also wrong. Paul was not the foremost of sinners; I am. And I hope you can honestly and vehemently say the same.

We sinners keep measuring. We want what is our due. We demand our rights. We forgive only when we think our enemy deserves it – which isn’t forgiveness at all. Pretending that it is is harmful to our faith. Mercy, by definition, is never deserved.

Repent and hear again Jesus’ words, “Your Father is merciful.”

Jesus takes and becomes sinGod loves you from His very heart. God gives you real mercy. He loves the good and bad, the greatest and the least. He loves the sinner who strives to be merciful but fails, the hardened drug lord who doesn’t care about his sin, and He even loves you. In His mercy, God doesn’t simply get frustrated with your hypocrisy and ignore it.

No. God, in His infinite mercy, sends Jesus – His beloved, hypocrisy-free, perfect Son – to shed His innocent blood and die for that sin. God doesn’t simply love you with words but also with His actions.

God’s love for you in Christ is that He sees no log or speck of sin in your eye. His measure of mercy isn’t changed by the standard of your mercy toward others. His mercy is poured into your lap – good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and overflowing. So, let that mercy change you. And let that mercy pour out to others. Amen.

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

The Devil’s Lie – Sermon for the Fifth Sunday in Lent on John 8:42-59

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John 8:42–59

42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. 43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. 46 Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? 47 Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

48 The Jews answered him, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?” 49 Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. 50 Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge. 51 Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” 52 The Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.’ 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?” 54 Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ 55 But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” 57 So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” 59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

So, you wake up this morning. Shower (hopefully). Get dressed. Drive yourself over to church. Grab a cup of coffee. Catch up on how others’ week went and talk about the weather. Grab your bulletin. Sit down in your pew. Speak some Scripture. Sing some songs. Confess your faith. Pass the offering plate. And this is the Jesus you hear?

Combative Jesus. Intolerant Jesus. Name-calling Jesus. Rude Jesus.

Jesus is fed up because these people, like you, have believed the devil’s lie rather than the truth of God’s Word. So, Jesus doesn’t beat around the bush. The people arguing with Him are Satan’s spawn, children of the murdering devil.

Jesus says something extremely important here. Look at the last sentence of v. 44. Our translation reads, “When he (that is, the devil) lies, he speaks out of his own character.” What Jesus actually says is, “When [the devil] speaks the lie, he speaks out of his own character…” Now, it’s not that we have a bad translation, but that little nuance gets to the core of what the devil is constantly doing to you. He tells you his one lie.

The one lie that is under all of the devil’s work is simply this: God is not good and does not love you – which is the boldest, basest lie there is. But the devil doesn’t just come out and say that. Instead, the devil disguises that lie. Little by little, Satan is always pointing you away from Jesus crucified for the complete, total forgiveness of all your sins.

You don’t get that promotion, raise, or contract. The devil comes along and says, “You must have made God mad. Until you get yourself in order, God isn’t going to bless you or help you.”

Then, rather than fixing your eyes Christ crucified for you, you put every aspect of your life under a microscope. You examine your motivations and try to make them purer. But then when blessings do come your way, you pat yourself on the back and, like little Jack Horner, say, “What a good boy am I.” And the devil has you right where he wants you.

Or you keep falling into the same sin. No matter how hard you try, you can’t keep yourself from doing that one thing. So, the devil comes along and whispers his lie into your ear. “Sure, God said that He forgives sin. But You can’t expect Him to forgive it all the time. Maybe you haven’t repented enough. Sure, you believe in Jesus, but you must have not fully yielded to Him.”

And you fall for the devil’s bait. Your eyes are diverted just a little from Jesus. You go off and try this program to keep you from falling into sin. Or you go and try to make up for your sin by doing some good work. And you trust in your self-improvement rather than in Christ’s sacrifice.

Repent. Knock it off. Stop believing the devil’s lie. All your works, all your efforts, all your striving does is take the crucified Jesus, the only Jesus, out of the equation. It puts you in the driver’s seat of your salvation. And when your salvation, or even the maintenance and preservation of your salvation, rests on you, you are going to fall big time. And every time you fail, the devil’s lie is easier to believe.

That is why Jesus is so combative and abrasive in this text. Jesus in this passage shows us what God meant what He said that He is a jealous God (Ex. 20:5). God wants you for Himself. That is why Jesus came and gave Himself for you. He wants you to trust in Him for your salvation and for everything else.

Jesus, by His cross and death, has secured for you an eternal redemption and given you an eternal inheritance. His blood poured out for you on Calvary will absolutely purify your conscience (Heb. 9:11-15).

Jesus doesn’t give you credit or leave part of the job in your hands. He works repentance in you. He puts His Word of forgiveness in your ear. He turns your heart of stone into a heart of flesh. He raises you from death. He pays your debt in full by His precious blood.

That is Jesus’ word, that is His promise, to you. Keep that word. Trust that promise, and Jesus says, “You will never see death,” because Jesus will pull you through death to eternal life with Him. Amen.

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

Kyrie Eleison – Sermon for Quinquagesima on Luke 18:31-43

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Luke 18:31–43

31 And taking the twelve, he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. 32 For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. 33 And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.” 34 But they understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said.

35 As he drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. 36 And hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what this meant. 37 They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” 38 And he cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 39 And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 40 And Jesus stopped and commanded him to be brought to him. And when he came near, he asked him, 41 “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me recover my sight.” 42 And Jesus said to him, “Recover your sight; your faith has made you well.” 43 And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.

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

The disciples are blind. Not physically but spiritually. Jesus plainly tells them where they are going – Jerusalem. Jesus plainly tells them why they are going to Jerusalem. So that everything written about Him in the Scriptures would be fulfilled. He will be mocked, shamefully treated, and spat upon. Jesus will be flogged, whipped, and beaten. He will be crucified, and He will die. But He will, He absolutely will, rise again on the third day.

Jesus gives turn-by-turn directions to His destination. But the disciples are blind, and Luke wants us to know this, and tells us three times. The disciples understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them. And they did not grasp what was said.

Jesus Heals BartimeausThe road to the cross passes through Jericho. In the city where the walls had come-a-tumblin’ down, lived a blind man. Mark tells us that his name is Bartimeaus (Mk. 10:46). Bartimeaus heard all sorts of commotion and asked what it was all about. He is told nothing more than that Jesus of Nazareth is passing through. As blind as he is, Bartimeaus sees his opportunity and cries out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” And don’t miss this.

 

By recognizing that Jesus is the “Son of David,” blind Bartimeaus recognizes that Jesus is his King and Lord. And Bartimeaus requests mercy. In Greek, it would be, “Kyrie eleison.”

Each week, part of our normal service to sing the Kyrie after the Confession of Sins. We ask God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit to have mercy upon us. Maybe, you have done it so often that you don’t really think about it. Well, today, do think about it.

Think through our whole service. What would you say is the highest praise, the most worshipful thing we do? Is it when we sing songs and hymns or when we place our tithes on the Altar? Now, those things are good, and it is right to do them. But I would argue above them, and maybe the greatest worship we offer, is singing that God would have mercy upon us.

For one thing, asking God for mercy is one of the most common prayers in all of Scripture, trusting people who count such things. It also puts us alongside other people in the Gospels – two blind men (Mt. 9:27), the Canaanite woman whose daughter is possessed by a demon (Mt. 15:22), and the ten lepers (Lk. 17:12-13). We take their cries for mercy and put them on our lips.

Now, maybe you think the Kyrie isn’t too worshipful and more like begging. You have a point because we are. But also realize that this is high praise. When we ask God to have mercy, we are recognizing God as He wants to be recognized. He wants to be known as the God who is merciful. His truest character is that He has steadfast love and compassion (Ex. 34:6-7). He desires mercy and not sacrifice (Hos. 6:6; Mt. 9:13). God’s mercy, His steadfast love, endures forever (Ps. 136).

When we cry out, “Kyrie eleison. Lord, have mercy.” We stand with the blind men, with the unclean lepers, and with those who are oppressed by the devil and the demons. We are saying, “Lord, we want You to be our Savior too. We want you to be Jesus for us. We want to receive what You gave to them. We want You to be what all the Scriptures reveal You to be. We want You to come to us in Your truest character.”

And Jesus delights in that prayer. He answers that prayer and is merciful. He gives sight, healing, deliverance, cleansing, life, and salvation. And because of that, we follow Him and give praise to God.

Baptism 2Dear Charlie. Today, you are Baptized. Today, your God and Lord has had mercy upon you. Today, God joined all His promises of forgiveness, life, and salvation to water and poured out all His love upon you. The perfect, Divine love we heard in our Epistle lesson (1 Cor. 13) has been given to you and to all your brothers and sisters in Christ.

All you saints, hear this. The love of Christ you have received is not simply empty words that echo like noisy gongs or clanging cymbals. In His great love and mercy, Jesus gave away all He had – every last ounce of strength, every drop of His blood, and His final breath.

To you, Christ has been patient and kind. Though Jesus was mocked, shamefully treated, and spit upon, He was not arrogant or rude. Even in the midst of all this He was thinking of you praying, “Father forgive them.” Jesus did not rejoice in the wrongdoing but rejoiced in the truth that God, in His mercy, would use all of this for your eternal good. On the cross, your Savior in love and mercy bore all things, believed all things, hoped all things, and endured all things. His merciful love for you will never fail and never end.

And so, we sing in worship with Bartimeaus, “Kyrie eleison.” Lord have mercy. And He does. Amen.

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