You don’t have time to GET ready, so BE ready!

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You don’t have time to GET ready, so BE ready!

Jesus compares the wise and the foolish. The wise have some foresight. The wise pilot makes sure she has sufficient fuel before taking off. The wise car buyer makes sure he can make the payments. A foolish youth drops out with no education or training. The foolish hiker heads out into the wilderness without map, compass, (or GPS).

It is the wise who are ready for Christ’s return. The foolish may know He is coming but lack what is necessary. The wise know the need for truth, for righteousness, for faith, and all the other gifts God gives through His word, and they do not forsake it.

Sermon for the Third Sunday of Endtime, November 15, 2020, Pastor Edward Bryant. Faith & Our Savior Lutheran Churches, Medford & Grants Pass, Oregon.

Matthew 25:1–13 (CSB)

      25 “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the groom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they didn’t take oil with them; but the wise ones took oil in their flasks with their lamps. When the groom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
      6 “In the middle of the night there was a shout: ‘Here’s the groom! Come out to meet him.’
      7 “Then all the virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise ones, ‘Give us some of your oil, because our lamps are going out.’
      9 “The wise ones answered, ‘No, there won’t be enough for us and for you. Go instead to those who sell oil, and buy some for yourselves.’
      10 “When they had gone to buy some, the groom arrived, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet, and the door was shut. 11 Later the rest of the virgins also came and said, ‘Master, master, open up for us!’
      12 “He replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you!’
      13 “Therefore be alert, because you don’t know either the day or the hour.

Dear fellow redeemed: How much do you know for sure about first century Jewish weddings? Me neither. We sometimes work backwards from Jesus’ parables to make conclusions, but we don’t know for sure. But that’s OK, because we don’t need to know to understand Jesus’ point.  He is returning; it may be a while; it will be sudden, you cannot get ready then so you must be ready; and whatever it takes to be ready, you better have enough. That is what it means to

WISELY AWAIT  OUR LORD’S RETURN

  1. The Reign of Heaven
  2. The Shout
  3. The Oil of Readiness
  1. The Reign of Heaven

Jesus begins with a common expression, as Matthew terms it, “The kingdom of heaven is like…” The kingdom He’s talking about isn’t geographical; it refers to “the royal deeds of God in Jesus, beginning in his earthly ministry, then in the intervening years as his disciples wait, and finally in the fullness of his reign at the unknown day of his Parousia.”[1] This parable tells us what it will be like when the reign of God comes to its fullness in Jesus’ return and the resurrection, and especially in the resurrection and eternal bliss of the righteous.

Do with think enough about the reign of heaven, either now or at the last day? We should. While it isn’t something we can see, we do live under His reign, and that is something that we should think about in view of the affairs of men.

Remember, He reigns as Lord of the Universe. The earth orbits the sun and the moon the earth because He has so decreed. As the Bible says, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For everything was created by him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities— all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and by him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:15–17, CSB)

Notice that includes also the spirits, the angels and the demons, and also the powers of the earth. Including those who seek power in our country.

He also reigns through His word, proclaimed by His church, and all salvation is accomplished through Him. “He is also the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile everything to himself, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” (Colossians 1:18–20, CSB)

I say to the guiltiest sinner, “You have peace with God,” and it is so because our Lord says so. I say to powers of the earth, complicit in the sins of the age, such as gross deceit, the destruction of marriage, the worship of nature, the killing of the unborn, and so on “Repent our perish,” and it is so because God says it is so. He says, “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19–21, ESV)

If we acknowledge the reign of God, and we look forward to our resurrection to its fullness, then we acknowledge Christ as Lord, and are at odds with the culture of an unbelieving age. Are you? What if you were a college student, government employee, military officer, nurse, doctor, or someone else required to take “sensitivity training,” which is coercive re-education, because you expressed value for an intact family, or the natural role of men and women. Would you say what you are told so say, something like “men can have babies too,” to keep your job? Would you say that the material world is all there is, and mankind can achieve paradise on earth?

We know there are re-education camps in Communist China, but don’t think the ungodly philosophy, false religion, and unbelief are only over there, or the coercion to deny what is true.

But Christ is Lord, so we look forward to His establishing His reign in all its fullness. Or do you? Are you ready?

2.  The Shout

You won’t have time to get ready when He comes. [Slap the pulpit and shout, “He’s here!”] You have to BE ready. Back to Christ’s parable: “In the middle of the night there was a shout: ‘Here’s the groom! Come out to meet him.’

“Then all the virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise ones, ‘Give us some of your oil, because our lamps are going out.’

Some were ready and some were not, and there was no time to get ready, for as Scripture says, the end will come “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:52, CSB)

3.  The Oil of Readiness

In Jesus’ parable there are ten virgins to greet the bridegroom, five wise and five foolish. ALL were expecting Him, so Jesus is here talking about people who are in the church, had been in the church, or otherwise at one time knew and believed that our Lord will come. It may be a long delay, but He will come.

Some didn’t have enough oil. What does this picture? Some pare this down very minutely, saying that the lamp is one thing, the flame another and the oil another. Could be. But we could also just call this the “oil of readiness.” It is whatever we need to be ready when the Lord returns.

It is righteousness of course, the righteousness that comes from God, was accomplished by Christ, and is ours by faith.

But some lose that faith because they are mired in sins of the flesh, so they lack repentance.

Some are tied up in the worries, riches, and pleasures of life, so that they forsake the word, and lack the nourishing gospel of the Spirit.

Some are deceived by the lies of Satan and the world, so they lack the truth.

Some grow tired of the conflict, so they lack perseverance.

Some fall in love with the world, so they lack faithfulness.

But whatever they may lack, whatever oil of readiness they were short of, it was because of their foolishness. To be foolish is to act contrary to what you know is reasonable, right, or true, especially lacking foresight.

If your gas gauge is on “E” and you set out across the boondocks anyway, that’s foolish. If you build a fire in your living room (its been done) that’s foolish. If you don’t finish high school, and still hope to make it in life, that’s foolish. If you know your blood pressure will give you a stroke, but don’t take your medicine, that’s foolish.

Now you know you are tempted in this world to treasure sins and not repent, like gossip, resentment, anger, etc., so listen to the gospel, which is the power of our reigning Lord.

You know there is deceit all over, so continue in the word of Christ, that you may know the truth.

You know that the Devil is the accuser, so listen to the comforting words of Christ’s absolution.

You know that your hope is in Christ alone, so put away pride and heed the rebuke of the Lord, so that your hope is only in Him.

You won’t have time to get ready, so be ready. Be ever faithful in receiving the life-giving means of grace, the gospel in word and sacrament. For there is our Lord’s gift of righteousness, forgiveness, life, and salvation.

AMEN

[1] Gibbs, Jeffrey A., Concordia Commentary, A Theological Exposition of Sacred Scripture, Matthew 21:1-28:20, p. 1318, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House. 2018

By |2020-11-15T17:23:00-07:00November 15th, 2020|Sermons|0 Comments

What Shows Who We Are on Judgment Day?

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WHAT SHOWS WHO WE ARE ON JUDGMENT DAY?

You probably remember the picture of the Final Judgment as Jesus related it. All nations will be separated “as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.” The separation is between the righteous and the unrighteous. “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (Matthew 25:34, ESV) ““Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Matthew 25:41, ESV)

What is the difference between them? Jesus says, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” As we read Matthew in its entirety, we see that “these brothers” refers to those who represent Christ by teaching and preaching His word.

So that is what shows who we are, the way we Christ in those who bring us His word.

Sermon for the Second Sunday of Endtime, November 8, 2020, Pastor Edward Bryant. Faith & Our Savior Lutheran Churches, Medford & Grants Pass, Oregon.

Matthew 25:31–46 (EHV)
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. 36 I was lacking clothes and you clothed me. I was sick and you took care of me. I was in prison and you visited me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or lacking clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

40 “The King will answer them, ‘Amen I tell you: Just as you did it for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it for me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire, which is prepared for the Devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you did not give me food to eat. I was thirsty and you did not give me anything to drink. 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, lacking clothes and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not take care of me.’

44 “Then they will also answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or lacking clothes or sick or in prison and did not serve you?’

45 “At that time he will answer them, ‘Amen I tell you: Just as you did not do it for one of the least of these, you did not do it for me.’ 46 And they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Dear fellow redeemed: This is one of Jesus’ sermons that is most quoted, usually in support of a so-called “social gospel” theology, that Jesus’ teaching was centered on helping the poor in order to get to heaven, or to bring heaven on earth.

In reaction to such “works righteousness” we often interpret these verses according to the scriptural teaching that in Christ, all that we do in faith is counted as righteousness, while nothing that an unbeliever does is done out of love for God is therefore intrinsically sinful.

The works-righteousness understanding is, of course, false, but the reaction to it is just that, a reaction, and therefore doesn’t lead to a thorough understanding of the text, so let’s start from the beginning to see

WHAT REALLY MATTERS ON JUDGMENT DAY

  1. Take Care of Jesus’ Brothers
  2. What Happens on Judgment Day
  3. Our Lesson for Today
  1. Take Care of Jesus’ Brothers

This is the last part of Jesus’ discourse on the consummation of the age, which began in chapter 24 of St. Matthew. As such, it tells us on what basis people will enter the kingdom. It has to do with the way we treat Jesus’ brothers. 40 “The King will answer them, ‘Amen I tell you: Just as you did it for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it for me.’ Entering the kingdom in the resurrection depends upon how we treat the brothers of Jesus.

So who are the brothers of Jesus? If we look through the gospel of Matthew, we see that He always uses this term ADELPHOS, brother, in reference to His disciples, as, for example, in 12:49-50 “Stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”” (Matthew 12:49–50, CSB)

So people are separated into the righteous and the unrighteous according to the way they treat the followers of Christ.

We also see this in Jesus’ Mission Discourse in Chapter 10. First He sends out the twelve without a bag, extra shirt, or food, depending on those who hear the gospel to take care of them. He sums up, “The one who welcomes you welcomes me, and the one who welcomes me welcomes him who sent me. Anyone who welcomes a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward. And anyone who welcomes a righteous person because he’s righteous will receive a righteous person’s reward. And whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is a disciple, truly I tell you, he will never lose his reward.” (Matthew 10:40–42, CSB)

2. What Happens on Judgment Day

With this in mind, we can look again at the lesson.

On the last day, Christ will return, as we confess, to judge the living and the dead. The dead will rise, and all nations will stand before Him. He will come in glory with all His angels and be enthroned before those who are living and those who have been raised from the dead. All nations will be divided into the righteous and the unrighteous. To those on His right He will say, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

He says why. It has to do with they way they treated those who teach the word. ‘Amen I tell you: Just as you did it for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it for me.’ So, those who welcomed the pastors, teachers, prophets, Sunday school teachers, evangelists, and so on are those who rise unto eternal life, for they live and act in faith.

But those who despised Christ’s brothers, the ministers of reconciliation, stand cursed, for they live and act in unbelief, 41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire, which is prepared for the Devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you did not give me food to eat. I was thirsty and you did not give me anything to drink. 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, lacking clothes and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not take care of me.’

It is interesting that Jesus doesn’t say that their fate hinges not only on attentiveness to their teaching, but on the way they were treated. But this is consistent with the way Jesus elsewhere characterizes the experience of preachers: Greet a household when you enter it, and if the household is worthy, let your peace be on it; but if it is unworthy, let your peace return to you. If anyone does not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that house or town. Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town. (Matthew 10:12–15, CSB)

3. Our Lesson for Today

As you can see, there is much for us to learn.

First, live in anticipation of the resurrection. For the Christian, the sentiment “Rest in Peace” is an unfinished story. The story with the climax and the happy ending is “Rest in peace and rise in glory!” Don’t buy into the sort of spiritualized afterlife picture of mythology, that everyone goes “up there, somewhere” in a sort of pleasant nirvana. Christ the King rose body and soul from the grave, and so shall we, in glorious, robust, physical reality. Wait until you see this body the way it was meant to be, glorious and immortal.

Second, this glorious resurrection, as opposed to infinite darkness and the eternal fire is dependent upon how we treat Christ as He comes to us through those who proclaim Him. It’s interesting how he puts it in physical as well as spiritual terms. Believers don’t just listen to their pastors, and those who stand in Christ’s place, but as Paul writes, Let the one who is taught the word share all his good things with the teacher. (Galatians 6:6, CSB)

Conversely, unbelief shows in disrespect, neglect, and general oppression of those who speak the word of Christ. Those in our age who make it so pastors have to be bi-vocational, that is have another job, or where it takes two congregations to support a full-time pastor are communities of unbelief who will rise on the day of judgment, be sent to the left by the King, and commended to perdition.

And third, there is all the world between those who listen to the word of Christ as He comes to us proclaimed, sung, and taught and those who listen to what they want to hear, what they feel, and what they desire.

And what is the message that is heard or rejected? It is this: You are righteous by the righteousness Christ lived, you are forgiven by the atonement Christ made, and you are His because He purchased you by His own blood. Never stop listening, cherishing, this precious Gospel.

AMEN

By |2020-11-08T15:49:29-07:00November 7th, 2020|Sermons|0 Comments

BELIEVERS ARE OUT OF THIS WORLD

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BELIEVERS ARE OUT OF THIS WORLD

“Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” This is Jesus’ prayer for all believers of all time. To “sanctify” is to set aside for God’s purposes. Christians are so “set aside” that Jesus says, “The world hated them because they are not of the world.”

So it is that the hope of believers is not in this world, that the next election or the next job opportunity or the next lottery ticket is going to give us joy. The love of believers for others is not conditioned on “what have they done for me,” but on the worth and value that Christ places on every person. The joy of believers is not found in one day’s experience, but in the transcendent beauty, comfort, virtue, wonder, and delight of eternity.

It is the truth of God’s word that brings us out of the petty ambitions of the moment into the eternal joys that are out of this world.

Sermon for the Reformation Sunday, November 1, 2020, Pastor Edward Bryant. Faith & Our Savior Lutheran Churches, Medford & Grants Pass, Oregon.

By |2020-11-01T18:20:28-07:00November 1st, 2020|Sermons|0 Comments

DO YOU EVEN KNOW YOU NEED IT?

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THE GREATEST GIFT MOST DON’T EVEN KNOW THEY NEED

Did you see the protestor sign on the news recently? – I Demand Forgiveness and I Want It NOW!!!!

Neither did I.

That’s because all the clamoring demands have nothing to do with the root cause of our problems – plain old sin.
So what does a paralyzed man need? You would think it would be healing. Yes, but Jesus doesn’t go for halfway measures; He doesn’t just fix him up for a while. He goes all the way. He says, “Have courage, son, your sins are forgiven.”

Here is why that’s a better gift – – – Sermon for the Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity, October 18, 2020, Pastor Edward Bryant. Faith & Our Savior Lutheran Churches, Medford & Grants Pass, Oregon.

Matthew 9:1–8 (CSB)

9 So he got into a boat, crossed over, and came to his own town. Just then some men brought to him a par­alytic lying on a stretcher. Seeing their faith, Jesus told the paralytic, “Have courage, son, your sins are for­given.”

At this, some of the scribes said to themselves, “He’s blaspheming!”

Perceiving their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why are you thinking evil things in your hearts? For which is eas­ier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—then he told the paralytic, “Get up, take your stretcher, and go home.” So he got up and went home. When the crowds saw this, they were awestruck, and gave glory to God, who had given such authority to men.

Dear fellow redeemed: There are lots of demands be­ing made these days. Questions to politicians, demands from demonstrators (and rioters). I don’t think there is a news pro­gram without someone waving a sign at the camera.

All of these hopes, these demands, some trivial, some not, have been in the news.  We want this, we want that, we demand this, we demand that.  But I have yet to hear of any­one walking around, carrying a poster saying, “I want the for­giveness of sins.”

It was the same in Jesus’ day.  It was actually shocking for His first words to this man to be, “Have courage, Son, your sins are forgiven.” You see, forgiveness of sins is

THE GREATEST GIFT YOU DON’T KNOW YOU NEED

  1. Sin Is Our Problem in This World
  2. Forgiveness Is the Solution
  3. It is Freely Given
  1. Sin Is Our Problem in This World

Listen, THE problem in this world is sin. I’m not just be­ing a mossy old moralist. Scripture teaches it.

First, sin is the problem directly. I think of the hard times in which I have comforted people.

People crushed by gossipy, self-righteous, disapprov­ing busy-bodies.

The agony of alienation when a spouse is unfaithful.

The betrayal and enslavement of pornography.

The physical and emotional scars of anger.

The lives wrecked through drunkenness or drug use.

Parents watching their kids ruining their futures by lazi­ness in school.

Children broken by their parent’s breaking their mar­riage vows.

The way people blame others for their own wrongdo­ing. Blame and then hate.

Every commandment broken hurts someone, including ourselves. Sin has direct consequences.

But second, sin is the problem indirectly. Much trouble in life isn’t a consequence of some sin of ours, but because of our sinfulness. Why is there death in the world, sickness, age, suffering, famine, infirmity, hunger, and the like? Because of sin generally. Jesus says in Luke 13 that whenever we see tragedy or injury, we should repent of our own sins.

And there is also judgment at times, as Paul says, “And because they did not think it worthwhile to acknowledge God, God delivered them over to a corrupt mind so that they do what is not right. They are filled with all unright­eousness, evil, greed, and wickedness. They are full of envy, murder, quarrels, deceit, and malice. They are gos­sips, slanderers, God-haters, arrogant, proud, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, senseless, un­trustworthy, unloving, and unmerciful. Although they know God’s just sentence—that those who practice such things deserve to die—they not only do them, but even applaud others who practice them.(Romans 1:28–32, CSB) Do you think our age will escape the judgment of God for our kill­ing of the unborn, the perversion of marriage, or the blas­phemy against the true and living God?

And death is in the world because of sin. “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all people, because all sinned.(Romans 5:12, CSB)

2. Forgiveness Is the Solution

So, if sin is the problem, then the solution is our salvation from sin. That means that Christ, is not just our salvation from this moral abstraction, sin, but from all of the trouble that is in our lives, as Paul writes, “If by the one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who re­ceive the over­flow of grace and the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.(Romans 5:17, CSB)

This is why Jesus did not come working “signs in the heavens” as the Jews demanded, but He began the unravelling of sorrow that sin brought into the world, the unravelling that will be complete in the resurrection. Only the One who conquers sin, the devil, and evil itself, only the One who can “undo our guilt” so to speak, can undo the curse of sin in the world.

Here Jesus looks upon the paralyzed man. Maybe he had suffered a stroke, maybe a spinal injury, maybe he was born with problems. It doesn’t matter. Mark and Luke tell us that he was lowered to Jesus down through the roof, but Matthew wants us to focus on the essentials. What the man most needed was forgiveness, for with forgiveness comes righteousness, and with righteousness comes salvation, and with salvation comes the resurrection unto eternal life.

This is what we need, for as Jesus said, “Do not be amazed at this, because a time is coming when all who are in the graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done good things, to the resurrection of life, but those who have done wicked things, to the resurrection of condemnation.(John 5:28–29, CSB) In giving this man forgiveness and righteousness, Jesus was giving him eventual salvation from this world and all its troubles.

3.   It is Freely Given

And He has given it to you as well. You have to wait because He is allowing this sin-cursed world to stand so that the sinners in it may yet be saved. You and I can only enjoy the perfection of the righteous in the resurrection. But in giving you the gift of forgiveness, the cure of all your troubles is promised by Christ’s words, and received by faith.

Matthew does an intriguing little thing in our text, as the Holy Spirit inspired him. He knows that we have problems believing these things. It is easy for us to focus on what is wrong in our lives rather than on the joy that is promised and is coming to us in the resurrection.

Here Mathew contrasts the faith of the paralytic and his friends with the unbelief of the scribes. These friends bring the paralytic and Seeing their faith, Jesus told the paralytic, “Have courage, son, your sins are for­given.”

The Scribes thought He was blaspheming God, by pretending to do what only God can do. [Seeing] their [evil] thoughts, Jesus said, “Why are you thinking evil things in your hearts?

Seeing that they had faith in Him – saving faith in Him as the Messiah – Jesus gave the man what we all most need. Actually, He said, “Your sins are being forgiven.” The Greek tense tells us that this wasn’t a transaction, but an ongoing thing because of their faith.

But the Jews did not believe in Him as the Messiah.

Because forgiveness, life, and salvation our ours by faith, unbelief is the rejection of this gift. So for the Jews and for us in out struggles and doubts, Jesus didn’t create a sign in the sky, make lightning strike or the moon turn to blood (that’s coming). He did in this instance what He will do for all of us in the resurrection. He gave the man the gift of perfect and complete healing.

In doing so He doesn’t ask “What is harder to DO,” but “What is harder to SAY.” The gift of forgiveness comes by faith, so He could say what He wants and who will know if it is true. But the gift of healing is testable, visible, indisputable. So He went put it this way:, For which is eas­ier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—then he told the paralytic, “Get up, take your stretcher, and go home.” So he got up and went home. When the crowds saw this, they were awestruck, and gave glory to God, who had given such authority to men.

Do you know now what becomes yours with the words, “I forgive you all your sins?” The forgiveness of sins, for sure, because those are the words, not of man, but of God, for Christ declared, “…, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, I also send you.” After saying this, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”(John 20:21–23, CSB)

But that is not all, for you receive also life and salvation, because just as death came by Adam and his sin, life and salvation come by Christ and His righteousness. So understand that whenever you hear the gospel promises, or consider your baptism, or partake of Holy Communion, you receive not only forgiveness and righteousness, but the life, health, strength, and eternal joy that is in store for the righteous, the justified, the saints.

So, take courage, dear one, your sins are forgiven, therefore also the resurrection unto eternal life.

AMEN: This is most certainly true.

By |2020-10-18T18:31:54-07:00October 18th, 2020|Sermons|0 Comments

CAN YOU MAKE PEOPLE BE GOOD?

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CAN YOU MAKE PEOPLE BE GOOD?

How powerful is a law? Some think that laws are so powerful they can make people be good. I even watched a legislative session (in Illinois) in which the State Representative insisted that just by passing a law against a certain behavior, people would stop doing it. They didn’t.

In today’s sermon text, an expert in the Torah, the books of Moses, tested Jesus as to what law was the greatest. The implication was that by knowing this law a person could keep it and make up for other failings and become righteous. Jesus responded by pointing to the overarching law of love: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the greatest and most important command. 39 The second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”

Though this surely is the greatest command, it is not a path to righteousness for us, for the law has no power to make us good.

Christ is our righteousness!

Sermon for the Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity, October 11, 2020, Pastor Edward Bryant. Faith & Our Savior Lutheran Churches, Medford & Grants Pass, Oregon.

Matthew 22:34–46 (CSB)

34 When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they came together. 35 And one of them, an expert in the law, asked a question to test him: 36 “Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?”

37 He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind., 38 This is the greatest and most important command. 39 The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself., 40 All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”

41 While the Pharisees were together, Jesus questioned them, 42 “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?”

They replied, “David’s.”

43 He asked them, “How is it then that David, inspired by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’:

44 The Lord declared to my Lord,

‘Sit at my right hand

until I put your enemies under your feet’?,,

45 “If David calls him ‘Lord,’ how, then, can he be his son?” 46 No one was able to answer him at all, and from that day no one dared to question him anymore.

Dear fellow redeemed: Matthew was one of the original apostles, as well as the writer of this Gospel. He was Jewish and wrote especially for a Jewish audience, people who had been brought up in the synagogue and knew about the Messiah, the Christ, which are (respectively) the Hebrew and Greek terms for The Anointed One.

He records much of the teaching of Jesus, as in this section of the book that both shows Jesus to be the Divine Messiah and includes what He reveals to us of God.

The Jews are opposed to Him because of their unbelief– their unbelief regarding salvation and their unbelief regarding the Messiah. Jesus had just confounded the Sadducees and their disbelief in the resurrection, and here He proclaims two truths that confound the Pharisees, the first being the law of God, and the second being the nature of the Messiah, our Savior. These are …

TWO TRUTHS ON WHICH SALVATION DEPENDS

  1. The RIGHTEOUSNESS of God
  2. The Righteousness of GOD

 

  1. The RIGHTEOUSNESS of God

You need to know some background about the question that the expert in the law brings to Jesus,  “Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?” Now, you probably think of “law” as “ten commandments.” But to the Pharisees, “Law” meant the “Torah,” the five books of Moses, and the “command in the law” meant the rules ranging from circumcision to observance of the Sabbath, to dietary laws, to laws pertaining to the temple, and to sacrifices. Implicit in the question is the idea that one who could keep the greatest laws might make up for transgressions against the lesser laws, and so be righteous.

Jesus’ reply was quick and specific: 37 He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind., 38 This is the greatest and most important command. 39 The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself., 40 All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”

This is the heart and core of Gods will, love. Love God and love your neighbor. Nothing makes up for this. If you do not love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and truly love your neighbor, desiring for him/her what you desire for yourself, then no keeping of any other part of the law can make up for it: No “good works,” no special efforts, no sacrifices.

The Lord’s Prophets had dealt with this thinking in the past. The Prophet Hosea went all the way back to the disobedience of Adam to make the point. For I desire faithful love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. But they, like Adam, have violated the covenant; there they have betrayed me. (Hosea 6:6–7, CSB) Isaiah  begins his book with a whole section on it. Some excerpts: “What are all your sacrifices to me?” asks the Lord. “I have had enough of burnt offerings and rams and the fat of well-fed cattle; I have no desire for the blood of bulls, lambs, or male goats…. “Wash yourselves. Cleanse yourselves. Remove your evil deeds from my sight. Stop doing evil. Learn to do what is good. Pursue justice. Correct the oppressor. Defend the rights of the fatherless. Plead the widow’s cause.” (from Isaiah 1:10-20, CSB)

Hope lies only in the mercy of God, as David expressed in His song of confession, For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart— These, O God, You will not despise. (Psalm 51:16–17, NKJV) So also Isaiah expressed the mercy of God, again in chapter 1, . “Come, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are crimson red, they will be like wool.

Yet it is part of our sinful human nature to think that by the law we can become righteous. God’s Law is good because its threats can curb and punish wrong, it can show us our sin, and for those who repent and want to do the right thing, it can be a guide.

But it has no power. You can’t make people want to do good just by telling them. Youngsters the world over have been told to keep their room neat and clean; how has that worked? “Don’t drink and drive. It’s the Law.” Has everyone who has been told that, do that? Of course not.

Righteousness cannot be by the law. “Is the law therefore contrary to God’s promises? Absolutely not! For if the law had been granted with the ability to give life, then righteousness would certainly be on the basis of the law. (Galatians 3:21, CSB)

It is also part of our sinful nature to think that we can create goodness in the world by passing laws. This is a modern form of idolatry. Putting our fear, trust, and even love into government or political heroes rather than fearing God above all.  The best “experts” in the world cannot instill honesty, industry, selflessness, moderation, self-control, and the other virtues in people by their clever laws.

That is not the path to righteousness in the heart or perfection in societies.

2. The Righteousness of GOD

Where, then, is our hope?

Jesus takes the Pharisees away from their consideration of how THEY could find the “greatest command” in the law that would enable them to secure righteousness. As we read Matthew, the shift seems abrupt, and so it might have seemed to the Pharisees, who were still there. 41 While the Pharisees were together, Jesus questioned them, 42 “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?”

They replied, “David’s.”

That was a question seemingly any Jewish child could answer. The long-expected king would be descended from David, the greatest king. There was a lot of speculation about what this king and kingdom would be like. As in our own day, people brought up their own ideas. (MY Jesus is …)

But Jesus brought them back to Scripture, 43 He asked them, “How is it then that David, inspired by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’:

44 The Lord declared to my Lord,

‘Sit at my right hand

until I put your enemies under your feet’?,,

45 “If David calls him ‘Lord,’ how, then, can he be his son?”

This wasn’t idle speculation, it was the INSPIRED word of David, the king and prophet. It was axiomatic that descendants would respect their forebears. But how is this that David calls his own descendant “Lord”? And more, this descendant would sit at the right hand of God and rule over his enemies.

You know why this is, for the one descended of David through Mary is at the same time the only-begotten Son of God. While we must have the RIGHTEOUSNESS of God, if we are to have fellowship with God, it must become ours because of the righteousness of GOD, that is, the righteousness of this Christ, this Messiah. “He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21, CSB) Written over centuries by dozens of inspired prophets, the Scriptures teach this same thing. As Jeremiah put it, speaking of this Christ: “In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. This is the name he will be called: The Lord Is Our Righteousness.” (Jeremiah 23:6, CSB)

And He has come to you, as you have come to know Christ, the most wonderful thing of all, as Paul writes, “But everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ. More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them as dung, so that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is through faith in Christ—the righteousness from God based on faith. (Philippians 3:7–9, CSB)

Love God; love your neighbor. It is the perfect and holy command of our Lord and God. But it is something we cannot do. So there was one anointed, chosen to atone for our sins and to bring the righteousness of God into this world. No wonder David called Him “Lord.” And so too shall we.

AMEN.

By |2020-10-11T18:47:52-07:00October 11th, 2020|Sermons|0 Comments

WHO COULD DO THAT?

view from hot air balloon

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WHO COULD DO THAT?

God Has Come to Help His People.

Can you imagine yourself flying above the hill country of Galilee over the village of Nain on that day?  I’ve never been in a hot-air balloon, but I’m told you can hear everything on the ground.  So, I imagine flying above this little town, whose name means “Vale of Beauty.”

Coming into the town is a big procession, headed from Capernaum.  Here there is joy and exhilaration, for Jesus had healed the servant of the centurion there.  But coming from the other direction, out of the town, is another procession.  Here, according to custom, there is shrieking and wailing, and the most pitiable sound imaginable, for in this procession is the body of a young man, followed by his widowed mother.

The two processions meet and mingle.  It’s quiet, and one man speaks, “Young man, I tell you, get up!” The young man sits up, and he is given back to His mother. WHO COULD DO THAT!?

God Himself has come to visit and redeem His people!

Sermon for the Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity, September 27, 2020, Pastor Edward Bryant. Faith & Our Savior Lutheran Churches, Medford & Grants Pass, Oregon.

Luke 7:11–17 (CSB)
11 Afterward he was on his way to a town called Nain. His disciples and a large crowd were traveling with him. 12 Just as he neared the gate of the town, a dead man was being carried out. He was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow. A large crowd from the town was also with her. 13 When the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said, “Don’t weep.” 14 Then he came up and touched the open coffin, and the pallbearers stopped. And he said, “Young man, I tell you, get up!”

15 The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. 16 Then fear came over everyone, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen among us,” and “God has visited his people.” 17 This report about him went throughout Judea and all the vicinity.

Dear fellow redeemed, whom God Himself has come to save:  Can you imagine yourself flying above the hill country of Galilee on that day?  I’ve never been in a hot-air balloon, but I’m told you can hear everything on the ground.  So, I imagine flying above this little town, whose name means “Vale of Beauty.”

Coming into the town is a big procession, headed from Capernaum.  Here there is joy and exhilaration, for Jesus had healed the servant of the centurion there.  But coming from the other direction, out of the town, is another procession.  Here, according to custom, there is shrieking and wailing, and the most pitiable sound imaginable, for in this procession is the body of a young man, followed by his widowed mother.

The two processions meet and mingle.  It’s quiet, and one man speaks, “Young man, I tell you, get up!” The young man sits up, and he is given back to His mother.

No doubt there was plenty said.  The wailing stopped, and a hubbub took its place.  Luke caught the gist of it in the words of many of them, “God has visited his people.”

GOD HAS COME TO HELP HIS PEOPLE

  1. God Comes to Us in Our Greatest Need
  2. He Comes with Rescue Unlooked-for
  1. God Comes to Us in Our Greatest Need

This is certainly a case of someone saying more than they know.  What the people said was true, but far more true in far more ways than they may have imagined.

If we had the chance to not only take that balloon ride, but to see things the way the people saw them, and hear them the way the people heard them, what would we see?  What is Luke showing US here?  What makes this more than something done once for one person?

Luke certainly shows us what the people saw- or should have seen.  When Luke says, “Jesus gave him to his mother,” He uses a direct quote from our Old Testament Lesson, using the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint.  This clearly showed that Jesus was greater than Elijah, who raised another widow’s son from the dead, indeed MORE than Elijah, for Elijah prayed to the Lord, but Jesus said, I tell you, get up!”

Luke also tells us what the people said,  “A great prophet has risen among us,” and “God has visited his people.”  Note:  Not just a person, but people.  Heaven has come to earth.

Jesus acted out of true compassion for the terrible situation the one woman was in.  Our text says When the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said, “Don’t weep.” (Dry your eyes.)  And well he might have compassion, for the woman was in desperate circumstances. To be without a husband or at least a son to speak for her, a woman would suffer poverty, and in some cases even starve if she had no family to care for her.  Jesus did more for her than give her back her son; He gave her back her life.

What kind of a prophet was this?  Luke sets it up to show that this was no mere prophet. Jesus’ cure of the Centurion’s servant was similar to Elijah curing Naaman the Syrian.  And now Jesus raises a widow’s son, as Elijah did!  And the next event after this text is Jesus talking about John the Baptist as the “Elijah” who was to prepare the way for the Messiah, so what did that make Jesus? One greater than Elijah has come, GOD has visited His people!

The term “visited” means way more than “show up.” It means to come, be present in need, and to help in ways most needed.

While the prophets came to prepare the way for Jesus, in Jesus, God Comes to Us in Our Greatest Need. He came to save us from sin.

The Covid epidemic, our cancers and heart troubles, the fires in Phoenix, Talent, and up and down the country, the riots and rebellion in the cities, the fatherless families, the drug-injured and homeless, the persecution of faithful Christians by Red China, on down to our own sicknesses, weaknesses, and troubles: The car won’t start, or the roof leaks. …

Pick the most terrible things in the world or the littlest disappointments; they are just symptoms of the real problem.   As God tells us in Romans, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all people, because all sinned.” (Romans 5:12, CSB)  and “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together with labor pains until now.” (Romans 8:22, CSB)

The basic problem that these people faced is that they were sinners. However bad things were for the people of Nain, and especially this poor widow, it is because of the curse of our sins. The cure? What they needed, and what you and I need is righteousness.  For only the righteous will finally be delivered from death and all evil, wonderfully, joyously, and forever.

2. He Comes with Rescue Unlooked-for

Rescue Because of Its Greatness

It is this righteousness that Jesus brought with Him to Nain.  It is His righteousness that is offered to you.  It is His righteousness that is His gift of grace.  Jesus isn’t just being powerful for this one woman; He is being good – for all.  He is providing a righteousness that comes from God and becomes ours by faith.

His righteousness was accomplished in His words of kindness.  It was made complete in his loving service to others.  His righteousness was complete in His reproof of the erring and in His comforting forgiveness to those grieving over their sins. His righteousness was established in His virtues of honesty, and chastity, and joy and longsuffering and selflessness.

His righteousness was foretold, for example, in Jeremiah, “In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. This is the name he will be called: The Lord Is Our Righteousness.” (Jeremiah 23:6, CSB)

This is the righteousness that is given to you in the gospel.  This is the righteousness that becomes yours by faith, makes peace with God, and opens Heaven to you.

Unlooked-for Because of Our Blindness

If you had been in that balloon, do you think you would have seen the Lord our Righteousness down below?

Many don’t see it today, because for them, man is the measure of all things, and the materialistic worldview scoffs at truth, beauty, goodness, and righteousness. This is because of unbelief, because without the Holy Spirit working faith through the word, people are too blind, spiritually speaking. “But the person without the Spirit does not receive what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to understand it since it is evaluated spiritually.” (1 Corinthians 2:14, CSB)

With the guidance of God’s word, though, we can see and know what Christ has brought us without our looking for it – a righteousness that counts with God and makes us welcome in heaven itself.

Because Jesus has given you righteousness that reconciles us to God, He is your LOVING Father.  He listens with eagerness to your prayers.  As the psalmist says, “My soul, bless the Lord, and do not forget all his benefits. He forgives all your iniquity; he heals all your diseases. He redeems your life from the Pit; he crowns you with faithful love and compassion. He satisfies you with good things; your youth is renewed like the eagle.” (Psalm 103:2–5, CSB)

This “Rescue Unlooked-for” has come to you, and through you it comes to those around you. God’s love is brought to this world especially and most importantly through the gospel.  But hugely, He depends upon YOU and ME to be His instruments to express His love in the world.  “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10, CSB)

God makes use of you.  He uses your Christian virtues of love and compassion to care for His children.  He has endowed us with wealth so that in His place, as His stewards, we can care for His church, His families, His creatures.  He looks to us fathers to be the spiritual leaders in our homes, church, and community.  He opens opportunities for us to speak of the hope that we have, which is nothing less than the hope of the world. Our hope is that …

GOD Himself HAS COME TO Rescue HIS PEOPLE!    Amen.

By |2020-09-27T18:09:29-07:00September 27th, 2020|Sermons|0 Comments

Real Life Is More

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REAL LIFE IS MORE

In our area the wildfires have take everything from some people. In view of that, how can Jesus say, “Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear”? Not worry!!?? And He goes on, “Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear.

To understand this, we need to realize that He is talking about REAL LIFE. To those who do not know Christ, the horizon of life is their own death, and all joy and happiness depends upon what happens up to that moment. To those who know Christ, however, there is no horizon to the Real Life that He brings, and like Paul, we say that we consider everything rubbish compared to the surpassing excellence of knowing Jesus Christ our Lord.

It’s a matter of perspective.

Sermon for the Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity, September 20, 2020, Pastor Edward Bryant. Faith & Our Savior Lutheran Churches, Medford & Grants Pass, Oregon.

Matthew 6:24–34 (CSB)

24 “No one can serve two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

25 “Therefore I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Consider the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? 27 Can any of you add one moment to his life span by worrying? 28 And why do you worry about clothes? Observe how the wildflowers of the field grow: They don’t labor or spin thread. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these. 30 If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t he do much more for you—you of little faith? 31 So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. 34 Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Dear fellow redeemed: This is an interesting text to cover today. As we sit here, there are thousands of evacuees from Phoenix and Talent and Ashland who have lost everything. Some have nothing left but the bathrobe they ran away with. So how can we tell them “don’t worry! Trust in Jesus?”

Right here, we have to change our perspective. If the perspective is, “This is all there is, and I have lost everything. How can God allow this!” Then you will never understand.

The true perspective, the reality, is this: What happened in Phoenix and Talent and two years ago in Paradise, CA, and with Hurricane Sally on the gulf coast a few days ago is the kind of thing that will happen until the end of time. It is the given. So our true hope is to seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, for that is salvation FROM all of this. And the One who has given you the greater salvation, will also help you get from here to there; all these things [that we need for this life] will be provided for you as well. But this short life, hinging on having enough calories, avoiding sickness, and all the “stuff” of this world is still not most important. Rather …

REAL LIFE IS MORE

  1. Real Life Is More than Anything
  2. Real Life Is Everlasting Life
  3. Real Life is Enough
  1. Real Life Is More than Anything

Jesus asks a really interesting question, Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? Is it? Can you have life without food or clothing? Jesus is talking about REAL life, the life of the soul, immortal life. There aren’t many people who are self-aware who believe that human life is just a body, and that the mind is the 5 pounds of grey matter in between our ears. We recognize the eternal intangible realities that every civilization has recognized: truth, beauty, right and wrong, love, devotion, honor and the like. These are realities, whether they can be measured, weighed, or photographed. And the part of us that senses these things is the part that transcends time, place, and circumstance– our immortal soul..

This life, however, now lives in a physical shell that is marred by sin, saddled with troubles, and doomed to die, all because of a lack of righteousness, as Isaiah says, “But your iniquities are separating you from your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not listen.” (Isaiah 59:2, CSB) And who is without sin? Anger, self-righteousness, pride, selfishness, gossip, greed, lust, contentiousness, sins of the mind and sins of the flesh.

It is to save this immortal life from sin, and in the resurrection to bring immortality to our whole selves, that Christ came. John puts it this way,  “In him was life, and that life was the light of men.” (John 1:4, CSB)

So when Jesus tells you that life is more than food, clothing, shelter, more than anything, it is this life that He is talking about, the life that you have now by faith, and in His kingdom, possessing His righteousness, you will enjoy forever. So, more than food and clothing, you need His righteousness.

2. Real Life Is Everlasting Life

This puts everything in perspective. What comes first, and what comes second? Jesus tells us, But seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.

His righteousness. Your righteousness or mine is nothing really, but the righteousness of Christ is something that IS. It is a reality that Jesus lived out in His life, as true and holy God who took up our humanity. And His righteousness can be given to us, counted as ours, because He also atoned for our un-righteousness. When He lived, suffered, died, and rose again, He accomplished this for all people at all times.

This righteousness is there for you. He gives it to you through His word and sacrament, even as I say His words to you: I forgive you all your sins. You receive this righteousness by faith, and nothing, nothing, nothing, is more valuable, more precious, more desirable, or more important, as Paul put it, “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.” (Philippians 3:8–9, NIV84)

But considering what has happened to our neighbors and those whom we love, considering what they lost and what they need just to get by, can we truly love God more than money or stuff, as Jesus says we must? Jesus leads us to the right answer by pointing out the realities under which we live. Yes, there are tragedies and there is death because of sin, yet daily life mostly reflects the mercy and love of God. Jesus reminds us that he spends millions of dollars’ worth of grain to feed the birds. He dresses oven fuel better than Solomon. He then puts it to you, Aren’t you worth more than they?

As much as this world is polluted and broken by the sins of humanity, and as undeserving as we are, year after year He “gives us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons and fills our hearts with joy,” (Acts 14:17) 31 So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

Yes there will be troubles in this world but the One who has proved His love by not withholding His own son from us, knows what we need. As John says, “See what great love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children—and we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it didn’t know him.” (1 John 3:1, CSB)

But we do know Him, so we know that when the fire is over, the rebuilding is finished, and life returns to normal, the most important thing, even more important than whether we survived the fire, or got our house rebuilt, or found a place to live, is that we know Christ, have His righteousness, and are destined for His eternal kingdom.

3. Real Life is Enough

If you have this eternal life, then you don’t have to worry, because real life is enough. Why would we worry? Ultimately it is because, with our sinful natures, we cannot quite divorce ourselves from the mast that Jesus spoke of at the beginning. We tend to love this short, troubled, mortal life, and the money that SEEMS to make it work that the real life that we have in Christ takes a back seat.

Thank God that His forgiveness and His righteousness covers even this idolatry!

So as Christians, we fight against it, so that His kingdom and His righteousness comes first. Take the example of poor Job. He lost more than we can even imagine, yet he confessed, “Though the Lord slay me, yet will I trust in Him.” For even in mortal death, we have the real and everlasting life. This Real life is enough.

Real life, the life of the resurrection, the eternal life of body and soul, the eternal life of joy and blessedness, the eternal fellowship with the Triune God, His angels, and the saints of every age, the new life with a resurrected body attuned to it is enough.

Think about His kingdom, which we are qualified for because of His righteousness. When you are struggling with the bills, or mourning the loss of possessions, or grieving over the hardship in this poor, troubled life, then think about the life that never ends, the life we have because of Christ. For in Him is Real life, and that life is a gift to us, Real life that is truly enough.

AMEN.

By |2020-09-20T14:58:13-07:00September 20th, 2020|Sermons|0 Comments

FAITH THAT MAKES US WHOLE

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A FAITH THAT MAKES US WHOLE

“I believe in God,” people say, based on the way He provides for us. But while God’s providence tells us something about His power and goodness, it doesn’t tell us WHO the true and living God is. The faith of the Samaritan in todays text is displayed in His worship of Jesus – as he gives glory to God. His faith is not in some vague spiritual thing, but in Jesus, the Christ, God incarnate.

True Christian faith takes hold of Christ and His righteousness, and while I can’t tell you that this guarantees the cure of some disease right now, I CAN tell you that the cure of all ills is found in Christ, Who is our eternal Savior.

Sermon for the Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity, September 13, 2020, Pastor Edward Bryant. Faith & Our Savior Lutheran Churches, Medford & Grants Pass, Oregon.

Luke 17:11–19 (CSB)

11 While traveling to Jerusalem, he passed between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he entered a village, ten men with leprosy, met him. They stood at a distance 13 and raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”
14 When he saw them, he told them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And while they were going, they were cleansed.
15 But one of them, seeing that he was healed, returned and, with a loud voice, gave glory to God. 16 He fell facedown at his feet, thanking him. And he was a Samaritan.
17 Then Jesus said, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Didn’t any return to give glory to God except this foreigner?” 19 And he told him, “Get up and go on your way. Your faith has saved you.”

Dear fellow redeemed in Christ Jesus, who have been given uncountable blessings by our gracious and merciful God, to Him be praise forever and ever:  Where shall we look for you in this picture?  Shall we find you among the ten who cried out in hope and faith in the midst of their suffering?  Shall we find you in the nine who went on their way without a word of gratitude to the One who had saved them from a dreadful life and a horrible death?  Or shall we find you in the one, the Samaritan, who had “a past” as it is put delicately, a past full of unbelief, but now has found a spiritual home on his knees before Jesus, his (and our) God and Savior?

Really, it isn’t that we are one or the other, for we may be all three at different times in our lives. The main thing is that we can learn the true nature of faith from Jesus and this Samaritan. The key thing about true faith is that it takes hold of Christ in truth. I can jump out of an airplane and trust that I will drift gently to the ground, but if I don’t use a parachute, all the trust in the world is meaningless.

The Psalmist makes this point in Psalm 121, I lift my eyes toward the mountains. Where will my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1–2, CSB)  “The Lord” means the true God and none other.

Those who say they are Christians, have faith, pray often, etc., but do not pay heed to Christ and His word have a vain and empty faith. So, because His faith and His gratitude is in Christ, this Samaritan, this outcast, this foreigner, this undeserving outsider, this half-breed, is not only healed, but returns with thanks and praise.

This faith is crucial as Jesus says, “Get up and go on your way. Your faith has saved you.” Now, I can assure you that God is gracious to you, for He did not even spare his own Son but gave him up for us all. How will he not also with him grant us everything? (Romans 8:32, CSB)

How can we be in such wretched circumstances, fall so far short of what we want to be, and still receive the gifts that God wants us to receive?  Because of faith, for it is faith by which we receive God’s gifts.

IT IS FAITH IN CHRIST THAT MAKES US WHOLE

  1. When We Suffer
  2. When We Are Ungrateful
  3. When We Turn from Our Sinfulness
  1. When We Suffer

This is the faith that brings us to Christ when we suffer, and to nobody else. This is a reminder to us in this year with the Wuhan virus, Covid, lost livelihoods, isolation, riots in the streets, a nation divided, deadly fires, choking smoke, lost homes, not to mention all the usual afflictions of this life, we need to listen to our true Lord, attend to His word, come to Him alone in prayer, and put our faith in Christ alone.

He may deliver us immediately, as He did these ten lepers, but whether now or in the time to come, He is our only hope. For what we need is more than Gods providence. What we need is salvation. God’s providence comes to believers and unbelievers, but salvation only to those who call upon Christ, our true Lord.

So these ten weren’t just “spiritual,” believing in A god.

What God does for us is clear to all, but not Who he is. Some will give credit to Allah when things go well. Others to “Mother Nature,” or some generic ‘god.” Ture faith is not in the fact that there is a god, but in the True God and His promises.

So, it was with faith that these 10 came to Jesus, and called upon him boldly, asking Him for mercy and deliverance.  At times we are like these 10, bold in our prayers, above all knowing that this same Jesus hears our prayers, eager to show mercy and deliverance. They came to Him, suffering from leprosy. We come to Him with our cancers, our heart disease, and our COPD, – our poverty, loneliness, and disappointment. We come to him with our guilt.

We are like these 10, our faith is  in Christ

2. When We Are Ungrateful

But we are also like the nine, are we not? We have in some measure lost sight of the ONE who is the giver of all good gifts, and that’s a common error. James reminded his flock, “Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. By his own choice, he gave us birth by the word of truth so that we would be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” (James 1:16–18, CSB)

But if we do forget it, we may focus on ourselves and our thoughts about him, instead of His word of truth.  Perhaps with some skepticism we speak of “luck” or “spontaneous recovery.”  To some degree or other our faith may grow weak, even dangerously so.  Then we are ungrateful, and forgetful of our Savior.  Ingratitude is losing sight of Christ as our God and Savior.

It’s like this: Let’s say that on your anniversary, your friends gave you a check for $50.  How would we respond?  Dear Elmer and Rosie, thank you so much…..  On the other hand, if you found a $50 bill and couldn’t find the owner, you would probably just call it luck.

Ingratitude is when we treat Elmer and Rosie’s gift as though it were just luck, and don’t thank them.

Ingratitude is when we treat God’s gifts as just luck, and don’t thank Him.

How many of the dollars in your paycheck do you see as God’s blessing to you?  How often do you sense the sun or feel the gentle rain, and see that it is God’s gift to you?  How often does your child give you a hug, and you see that hug as God’s gift?  How often do you boys and girls enjoy good times and good food and the love of your mom and dad and see that God has given these gifts to you? The God who speaks to you today through His word!

This is something to remember, next time you savor a chocolate chip cookie, or hear beautiful music, or hold hands with your spouse or drive down the road on a crisp sunny day with the car windows down… Remember that the one who has given these gifts to you is thinking of YOU.  He is giving them to YOU, not to the whole world and you accidentally, but to YOU, individually.  For only God can look out after a planet (a universe!) and still get personal about it.

How can we forget that?  Aren’t we often disappointed with ourselves that it has taken us this long to return and give thanks to God?

3. When we Turn from Our Sinfulness

With that thought, we become like the Samaritan.  We are the convicted sinner, crushed by the weight of our sins.  We are people with a past, a past of transgressions.  The Samaritan was by that name identified with those whose worship of “god” had been in defiance of the word.  He is one whose religion was the religion of the cult.  Accepting only the first five books of Moses, the Samaritans rejected the hope of David and of Isaiah, and of all the prophets.  Jesus describes him aptly, a foreigner.

But this is the past.  For us all our sins, our doubts, our lack of faith are in the past, and though remembered by us, they are forgotten by the one who judges, as it is written:  Who can bring an accusation against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies. Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the one who died, but even more, has been raised; he also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us. (Romans 8:33–34, CSB)

Of all the gifts Jesus has given to you and to me, this is the most important gift of all, a gift intangible and unseen except by the eyes of faith.  He gave us forgiveness, life, and salvation.  Truly…

When He died on the cross for ALL, He died for YOU.

When He showed kindness and love to the people in His life, He had YOU in mind, and was living that life for you.

When your conscience stirs, and accuses you, it was with YOU in mind that He said,  “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28, CSB)

Now, you and I have received so many blessings.  Have we just picked them up on the road?  Did they just come to us by chance?  No!  Every blessing that you have, most especially forgiveness and salvation, are God’s personal gift to you.  May we return to His house, then, over and over again, praise God with our hearts and voices, and throw ourselves at Jesus feet — and thank Him!

AMEN.

By |2020-09-13T17:20:15-07:00September 13th, 2020|Sermons|0 Comments

WE NEED A TRULY GOOD NEIGHBOR

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We Need a Truly Good Neighbor

With the Parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus takes up the question, “Who is my neighbor.” The question was asked by a lawyer wanting to justify himself for not loving as he should. At first it seems the answer is clear: Even the John Doe who was mugged and thrown naked in the ditch is a neighbor to whom we should show mercy. But wait! That isn’t the question Jesus raises. He asks, “[Who] do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” The answer to this question is “The one who showed mercy to him,” the Samaritan.

This raises the question, “who is like that?” This is a parable, after all, so whom does the Samaritan represent, and who is the poor wretch in the ditch?

The Samaritan is Christ, you and I are the wretch, and His perfect mercy saves us.

Sermon for the Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity, September 6, 2020, Pastor Edward Bryant. Faith & Our Savior Lutheran Churches, Medford & Grants Pass, Oregon.

Luke 10:23–37 (CSB)
23 Then turning to his disciples he said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see the things you see! 24 For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see the things you see but didn’t see them; to hear the things you hear but didn’t hear them.”

25 Then an expert in the law stood up to test him, saying, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 “What is written in the law?” he asked him. “How do you read it?”
27 He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,” and “your neighbor as yourself.”,
28 “You’ve answered correctly,” he told him. “Do this and you will live.”
29 But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 Jesus took up the question and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him, beat him up, and fled, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down that road. When he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 In the same way, a Levite, when he arrived at the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan on his journey came up to him, and when he saw the man, he had compassion. 34 He went over to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on olive oil and wine. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him. When I come back I’ll reimburse you for whatever extra you spend.’
36 “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?”
37 “The one who showed mercy to him,” he said.
Then Jesus told him, “Go and do the same.”

Dear fellow redeemed: The parable of the Good Samaritan comes up perhaps more often than usual in our Bible History books, books on the Life of Christ, and in the lessons chosen for our Sunday sermons. It gets quoted a lot also in popular religion, for its “do-gooder” character. Any difficulty in understanding this parable comes, not from some complexity or lack of clarity, but from the way that it reverses the human way of thinking. It starts out with the necessity that we be a good neighbor, and ends up making the point of how absolutely and completely …

WE NEED A GOOD NEIGHBOR

  1. It’s What We’re Supposed to Be
  2. It’s What Christ Is for You and Me
  1. It’s What We’re Supposed to Be

Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Luke recounts the powerful invasion of this world by the Lord of Life. Jesus has sent out the 72 to preach the gospel and they had power to heal, to cast out demonic spirits, and to proclaim the gospel, the good news that humanity is reconciled to God. It is all about Christ as the unique Savior of mankind. What a thing for these disciples to experience! 23 Then turning to his disciples he said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see the things you see! 24 For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see the things you see but didn’t see them; to hear the things you hear but didn’t hear them.”

But in contrast, next comes a man, an expert in the law, which meant the Torah, the books of Moses. He did not see Jesus as the pivotal figure in history, but saw himself as the one that must DO the thing that would save him. 25 Then an expert in the law stood up to test him, saying, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 “What is written in the law?” he asked him. “How do you read it?”
27 He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,” and “your neighbor as yourself.”,
28 “You’ve answered correctly,” he told him. “Do this and you will live.”

This is what we all do when confronted with the law, unless our heart is changed to faith. The law says, “Love God perfectly in every way, and also your neighbor.” Love perfectly, or you will be damned. Lest we despair, we look for some righteousness in our selves. This man looked for hope in a carful parsing of the law. 29 But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Ah, so long as my neighbor is lovable, that might work. Pick the right neighbor and we just might love  such a person. Let’s see if Jesus will give us some wiggle-room to show that we are really righteous. 30 Jesus took up the question and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of robbers.

There is a lot packed into the story, the significance of the priest and the Levite, but Jesus tells us more about the Samaritan. 33 But a Samaritan on his journey came up to him, and when he saw the man, he had compassion. 34 He went over to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on olive oil and wine. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him. When I come back I’ll reimburse you for whatever extra you spend.’

The Samaritan.  Arguably at risk to himself he tends the man’s wounds and disinfects them.  At great personal inconvenience, expense and exertion he gives him a ride, gets him set up in an inn, pays the bill out into the future, and obligates himself to further care and concern.

THAT is the kind of neighbor we are to be, even to our enemies. If the lawyer thought he could justify himself by quibbling about the definition of “neighbor,” he was clearly wrong.  Our neighbor is anyone with whom we have any connection who needs our love and compassion.  Who of us hasn’t failed to love our neighbor? Remember, over all of this hangs the man’s question, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

He  answered his own question, “Love God and my neighbor.”  So who was his neighbor?

36 “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?”
37 “The one who showed mercy to him,” he said.
Then Jesus told him, “Go and do the same.”

And we should. Really, we who have been the objects of God’s grace should be models of compassion where God has placed us in life. But we haven’t

2. It’s What Christ Is for You and Me

What can we “do” to gain eternal life when perfection eludes us? Has Christ left the man without hope, with only the condemnation of the law, “Be perfectly loving or you won’t inherit eternal life.”?

You’ve probably noticed by now, that at the end Jesus didn’t ask, “Was the man who fell among robbers our neighbor, whom we should love?”  Instead He changed things around and asked, “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?”

With that question, put that way, Jesus doesn’t take away the overall impact of what holiness demands, but at the same time He points to the one who showed mercy and compassion.  Who is like that?  Who could really “go and do likewise?”  You know that only Jesus has done that.  Look at Him and learn that He is your righteousness.

This man so learned in the Torah (“law” doesn’t convey the meaning) needed to compare one of the central event in the Torah with what Jesus describes in the Samaritan.

The Torah itself, in which this man was so learned was not a list of rules by which a person could achieve eternal life; it was a record of the grace of God who reached down into this world and revealed Himself as The Lord passed in front of him and proclaimed: The Lord—the Lord is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in faithful love and truth, maintaining faithful love to a thousand generations, forgiving iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But he will not leave the guilty unpunished, bringing the fathers’ iniquity on the children and grandchildren to the third and fourth generation. (Exodus 34:6–7, CSB)

In this account of the Good Samaritan Jesus portrays Himself as the one who, merciful and gracious, abounding in steadfast love, reaches out to us and sooths the wounds  in our lives because of sin – our sin and the sins of others.

Who is our neighbor?  You can answer fearlessly, even though it will show up your sins of lovelessness, because it is not on that basis that you are acceptable to God.  And you can love your neighbor without fear that it isn’t “good enough for God,” confident that you have been created and placed where you are in the world to do those good things which honor him and are a blessing to others.  All you do out of love for God and the good of your neighbor will indeed be cherished by God himself, and has His approval, because the righteousness of Christ fills up all that is lacking.

So may we love one another, that people may see our love and learn of our Savior Who is truly the Good Samaritan.  He is good to us pitiable wretches who need His salvation so much.

AMEN

By |2020-09-06T17:41:48-07:00September 6th, 2020|Sermons|0 Comments

FILLING EMPTY HEARTS WITH HOPE

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Filling Empty Hearts with Hope

Filling Empty Hearts with Hope

The evangelist, St. Mark, brings a message to the jaded and cynical Roman world. He opens a window, as it were, to the true Hope of the World. He shows them the uniquely divine worker of miracles, who (as Isaiah promised) would come and bring hearing to the deaf and sight to the blind. Is there anything in the Roman age or in our own that can do the same? In an age of empty, despairing hearts such as our own, the true Savior fills such empty hearts with hope.

Sermon for the Twelfth Sunday after Trinity, August 30, 2020, Pastor Edward Bryant. Faith & Our Savior Lutheran Churches, Medford & Grants Pass, Oregon.

Mark 7:31–37 (CSB)

31 Again, leaving the region of Tyre, he went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, through the region of the Decapolis. 32 They brought to him a deaf man who had difficulty speaking and begged Jesus to lay his hand on him. 33 So he took him away from the crowd in private. After putting his fingers in the man’s ears and spitting, he touched his tongue. 34 Looking up to heaven, he sighed deeply and said to him, “Ephphatha!” (that is, “Be opened!”). 35 Immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was loosened, and he began to speak clearly. 36 He ordered them to tell no one, but the more he ordered them, the more they proclaimed it.

37 They were extremely astonished and said, “He has done everything well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

Dear fellow redeemed: The events detailed here are fairly simple. People brought a deaf man to Jesus and begged Jesus to heal him, and He did. He doesn’t set an example for us, because what he does is uniquely divine. The significance of this text is found in what Jesus does in the circumstances.

And what were those circumstances? Briefly, Jesus touches people whose lives are empty of meaning, and so …

JESUS FILLS EMPTY HEARTS WITH HOPE

  1. Born and Living with Empty Hearts
  2. Uniquely Divine Fulfillment
  3.  Jesus Still Fills Empty Hearts with Hope
  1. Born and Living with Empty Hearts

The gospel of Mark was written especially with a Roman audience in mind, an audience similar to our own day. He emphasizes the divine power of Christ, something significant to the Romans. But the Romans were also cynical and jaded. They had filled their pantheon in Rome with multitudes of conquered divinities. They were skeptical of any supposed divine power, and of any religion, except maybe the religion of power. Not surprisingly, they worshiped the emperor as divine, after all, who else Had life and death so much in his hands?

As their civilization waned, life seemed to have less meaning. Virtues and aspirations became like dust and ashes. Wisdom, noble deeds, service,  civitas, the glory of Rome’s law, citizenship, and the worship of the gods (if there were any) didn’t seem worth sacrificing for. Pornography (it’s not a new thing), drunkenness, spectacle, gluttony, and glorification of self was the order of the day. What meaning did life have?

Where in such a world could hope be found?

In light of recent events, we might ask, “What kind of a world is it where hope can be found in burning cars and businesses, demanding people give the communist salute, and seeking to kill policemen? Or is there any hope or meaning there?

What kind of a world is it in which no truth is acknowledged, only a narrative fueled by envy, resentment, entitlement, hate, revenge, and a lust for power?

Human beings are born with empty hearts, which is to say, hearts without faith and without the knowledge of God, and ultimately without lasting hope – only a false hope. We have a sense of higher things, but we cannot find them, except fleetingly. We know there is truth, beauty, love, faithfulness, goodness, fidelity, companionship, comfort, peace, compassion, and joy. There is a natural law, written on the heart, that tells us this; there is righteousness, but we cannot achieve it.

This is the world invaded by God in the person of Jesus Christ, a world broken, sinful, and hoping vainly in itself. You can see the futility of it in the empty demands for a world that cannot be, and in justifying nihilism, destruction, rebellion, and fear. I like the way C.S. Lewis put it, “Human history is the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.” –Mere Christianity

2. Uniquely Divine Fulfillment

This is the world “invaded” by the Divine Son. Hidden in His humanity, He brought divine light and truth into the world. He was in the world, and the world was created through him, and yet the world did not recognize him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, he gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born, not of natural descent, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We observed his glory, the glory as the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:10–14, CSB)

Now here in our text Mark shows Jesus doing what only God can do. He turns back the effects of death and sin. This is not some kind of “magic,” it is returning things to the way God intended. It is true healing and restoration. 32 They brought to him a deaf man who had difficulty speaking and begged Jesus to lay his hand on him. 33 So he took him away from the crowd in private. After putting his fingers in the man’s ears and spitting, he touched his tongue. 34 Looking up to heaven, he sighed deeply and said to him, “Ephphatha!” (that is, “Be opened!”). 35 Immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was loosened, and he began to speak clearly.

This is a miracle. We speak of miracles a lot, like the miracle of birth, or the miracle of things working out in a wonderful way. Properly speaking, those are not miracles, they are God’s providence, the blessings of life that work out well for us and reflect His goodness. “although he did not leave himself without a witness, since he did what is good by giving you rain from heaven and fruitful seasons and filling you with food and your hearts with joy.”” (Acts 14:17, CSB)

Miracles are different. There is no natural way to do what miracles do: Feeding thousands with a handful of food, healing blindness, deafness, withered limbs, or palsy. Raising the dead. They are not “magic,” they are not illusion. They are both supernatural and real. They turn back the curse of sin and death itself

What Jesus does here is unique, he fulfills the hope of the (otherwise) hopeless man and his friends.

3.  Jesus Still Fills Empty Hearts with Hope

By including this account, Mark is telling the cynical and jaded Roman world that their false hope in emperor, in empire, in philosophy, in administrative power, in pagan deities, in nature, –in humanity– is vain and empty, but there is hope in the ONE who has entered this world from the heavenly realms to wage victorious war against sin and death.

He conquers sin. We humans have always regretted sin, but we could only make weak promises to do better. He greets our repentance with full forgiveness because He atoned for sin, and perfect righteousness because of His perfection.

He conquers death. We humans have always, finally, surrendered to death, but Christ has risen, and in the resurrection extends life to all believers.

He raises up the human condition. Mark and the other evangelists record how Jesus gives a preview of our glory. Paul put it this way: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18, CSB) What Christ did for this man and for others, He does for us.

He does it in the resurrection. As you have heard me say before, when He comes in His glory to remake this world, He will come in judgment. He therefore comes now in mercy through His word. It means that the world still stands. It means that this world is still dying. It means that the afflictions of this world will continue. But it means that those lost in unbelief may yet come to know and believe in him, and find salvation.

Again, what Christ did for this man and for others, He does for us. He does it now through His church. Contrary to the anti-Christian narrative rampant in the world today, the Christian church has been the source of much good. Hospitals, orphanages, care homes, respect for women and children, adoption, the rights of the individual, the scientific revolution, and so many things that have led to the life that we now enjoy are the result of Christ’s people carrying out their vocations in His fear and love.

And even now, He secures us in hope. He speaks to us through His word. He invites us to speak to him about what is in our hearts, and he promises to hear and bless according to His will and our good. (See the quote from U.V. Koren.)

He comes to us now and gives us what we most need, we who are dying: He gives us forgiveness, faith, and righteousness, so that we can live in the hope of the resurrection.

He come to us relentlessly in His word. You can always know where to find Him, and can always, hear His guidance, His wisdom, and especially His saving promises.

Not much has really changed since Mark’s day. Human nature is the same. The needs of a dying humanity are the same. But most importantly, the hope is the same, the hope of the conqueror of life over death, our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.  AMEN.

By |2020-08-30T17:30:16-07:00August 30th, 2020|Sermons|0 Comments