Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sermon: Trinity 21 - 2010

24 October 2010 at Salem Lutheran Church, Gretna, LA

Text: John 4:46-54 (Gen 1:1-2:3, Eph 6:10-17)

In the name of + Jesus. Amen.

“And God said, ‘Let there be light,” and there was light.” And God continued to create all things by nothing more than His Word, declaring each step in the process to be “good.”

“And God saw everything that he had made, and behold it was very good.”

It was “very good” because it was perfect. There was no dysfunction, no strife, no violence, no contention, no corruption, no aging, no disease, and above all, no death.

For God did not create a world of death. But we know how things turned out. Adam and Eve took that which was “very good” and made it “very bad.” In disobedience of God’s Word they took the world fashioned by that same Word, and by means of false words of a false god, self-deception, and disobedience against the Creator, and they brought every manner of evil – even death itself – to the Lord’s good and perfect creation.

And this is how it is that we have evil in the world to this very day, dear friends. It is not the creation of a merciful God, but rather the corruption of a selfish mankind. We chose to do things our own repugnant way rather than submit to God’s resplendent way. We opted for death over life, for the hollow utterances of the devil over and against the wholesome Word and promise of God. We did all of this, and now God has come into our world, the world He lovingly fashioned and created by means of His Word – in order to settle the score.

And settle it He does!

For death does not get the last word, dear brothers and sisters. For the Word of Life overcomes the word of death. The Word made flesh has come to overcome our own sin-ridden flesh. The one who made water and who made wine has come into a fallen world, one where water becomes brackish and wine becomes vinegar – and He turns water into wine, the first of His signs.

But He doesn’t stop there!

His second sign is more wondrous, more indicative of His mission among us; in, with, and under our fallen flesh; foreshadowing His overcoming of death by means of death, and delivering us from the grave by His own departure from the grave.

In Capernaum, “an official” has come to Jesus, the Son of God in the flesh, to plead on behalf of the dying flesh of his own son. Jesus bade him: “Go; your son will live.” And “the man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way.”

How remarkable, dear brothers and sisters! What a glorious commentary on faith and the Word! For the man believed – that is, he put his trust in – the Word spoken by the Word made flesh. Rather than continue pleading, he simply did what Jesus said to do: in faith, he “went.” Jesus said “Go,” the man believed, and he “went.” The Son of God cured the son of the official at the seventh hour, the same hour that the official “believed.” Many times our Lord told people “your faith has made you well.” In this case, we are left to draw that conclusion. That, dear friends, is the power of faith; that is, the power of belief. It is the power of life over death. The power does not lie in us, but rather in Jesus, in His Word, in His divinity, in His love for His fallen creatures, and in His authorship of life itself. For in faith we flip on the light switch, and when the circuit is closed, the power of electricity surges through the wires at the speed of light, and behold, there is light.

Our faith does not create the electricity, but if we did not believe that the switch would work, we would simply never flip it to find out. The circuit would remain open, and the darkness would prevail because of our own foolish lack of belief.

But thanks be to God that the Word – He who is God and who was with God in the beginning, the Word made flesh who dwelt among us, the very same Word who spoke all things into being “in the beginning,” the selfsame Word who bore our human flesh and bore our human cross and bore our human sins, who bears us from death to life – thanks be to Him that He hears our plea for mercy and delivers us from our own wretchedness and brings us to life everlasting!

For even though we may fall into allowing ourselves to be seduced by Satan’s falsehood over God’s truth, even though our sin has brought death into the world, our most merciful Lord and Savior does not leave us helpless. He has come to free us by His liberating Word, cleanse us by His life-giving baptism, and bring us at last to everlasting life. He arms us like a soldier to do battle against the devil and his hordes. For, dear brothers and sisters, “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

The Lord equips us to resist, to fight, to go on the offensive, to beat back the assaults of the devil, to wage war against those who would attempt to snuff out our faith, to make battle against the mocker with love, and to exorcise demons – all by means of the Word.

“Stand therefore,” He implores us. “In all circumstances, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one.” For, “the man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him.”

Dear friends, that faith is our shield: the faith of the One who was faithful unto death, a sacrificial death that delivers to us life and victory over sin, death, and the devil.

“And take up the helmet of salvation,” the apostle exhorts us, “and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.”

For in the beginning, God said: “Let there be… and there was.” The Word is proclaimed, and so we believe. “Go” dear friends. Your son will live. Your daughter will live. Your husband, your wife, your grandparents, your loved ones, your friends, your foes, those who protect you and those who sin against you – all of those who believe, who hear the Word of the Word made flesh and in repentance take to heart His promise of life – all of these will live. All who confess Christ and who believe on His name will be healed, will be forgiven all their sins, will have new life, and will one day walk out of their own graves even as the Word made flesh did in the flesh that first Easter morning from His own empty tomb.

For we hold to the Lord’s Word, the same Lord who created all things and proclaimed them “good” by His Word, the same Word made flesh who has given us the promise of a new and greater creation, one that is not only “good,” but “very good” – both now and forevermore.

Let it be so, for it shall be so. We believe! Amen.

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

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