Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sermon: Judica – 2011

10 April 2011 at Salem Lutheran Church, Gretna, LA

Text: John 8:42-59

In the name of + Jesus. Amen.

We’ve walked in on Jesus in the middle of an argument. This is the kind of conversation in which nervous parents might scoot the curious children out of the room, and where people shift around and look at their shoes in embarrassment.

Jesus and His opponents are trading barbs. Speaking to the crowds, Jesus calls into question whether or not God is their father. In fact, He comes right out and tells them that their father is actually the devil, and that they too are liars just like him. Not the kind of language one might condone in Sunday School.

And for their part, our Lord’s opponents likewise question His ancestry. “Are we not right,” they ask, “in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?” The crack about being a “Samaritan” is an ethnic slur, for the Jews took pride in their racial purity. Samaritans were considered impure because of their mixed-race background. And this may well be a snipe at our Lord on account of His mother, who was not married at the time of His conception, and who may well have been the subject of rumors and ugliness.

They also deny that our Lord is the Son of God. They try to contradict Jesus by saying that He is the one who is actually the son of the devil.

At the end of the day, the mob resorts to the only thing it has in its bag of tricks: force and violence. “So they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple.” The lynch mob was cheated on this occasion, as it was not yet time for the Lord to carry out the will of His Father by going to the cross to conquer sin, by dying to defeat death, and by rising incorruptible to reign victorious over the sinful flesh by means of His sinless flesh. This time, Jesus just vanishes, leaving the stone-wielders to scratch their heads and plot for another day.

The reason our Lord’s listeners were so angry is, as He told them: “You cannot bear to hear My Word.” For we know that God’s Word is a two-edged sword, a spiritual weapon that, as Dr. Luther pointed out, is a Word “that kills and makes alive.” Jesus preached the Gospel of who He is: their Savior. And this is indeed Good News! But what they heard was not the Good News that they were rescued, but rather the “insulting” news that they needed to be rescued. For these were proud people, Abraham’s children, God’s chosen, and who did this preacher think He was to call them to repentance anyway. Haven’t we all heard the rumors about His ancestry?

And actually, some of those rumors are true. Jesus does indeed come from questionable ancestry, a long line of sinners and rebels, people who died in the flood, murderers, adulterers, idol-worshipers, liars, and cheats – as is truthfully recorded by the evangelists Matthew and Luke. For His ancestry is our ancestry, and we are every bit as sinful as our forbears – unlike our Savior who came from the same place as we, according to His flesh, though without sin, and yet who is also God. And this is the real mixed ancestry of Jesus that is most resented by His opponents. They do not want to believe that this Man is also God. For this God-Man is calling them to repent. If He is God, then what He speaks must be true. But they don’t want it to be true, dear friends. They want Jesus to tell them what they want to hear. They want flattery. They want fluff. They want no talk of repentance. And in light of such preaching, they would rather believe that He is a devil.

And likewise, there is some truth to the intended insult that Jesus is a Samaritan. For Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan, who finds a broken and bleeding man, symbolic of sinful mankind beaten about by Satan. Jesus is the merciful Samaritan who is the Rescuer of mankind, who puts upon the injured man’s wounds the medicinal oil of Holy Baptism and the healing wine of Holy Communion, and who carries the broken man to the innkeeper – though there was no room for Him at the inn at His own humble birth. And the Good Samaritan even pays for the victim’s lodging, even as our Lord Jesus has paid for our place in the kingdom “not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death.”

Indeed, Jesus is a “Samaritan” of sorts, a Good Samaritan who, though stricken, smitten, and afflicted, does not waver in His mission to save, to rescue, to forgive, and to make alive.

The Lord Jesus prayed for His enemies even as He died by their own blood-stained hands, balled up in fists of rage, spitting insults upon Him as His life ebbed away: “Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.” He is the truly Good Samaritan, even though the Jews meant the name to sting, to hurt, to wound. Indeed, Jesus knows what it is to be wounded. He knows what it is to pray with us: “Deliver me, O Lord… from the violent man.”

Our Lord leaves no room for doubt about who He is. For the most offensive thing that the Lord says is the good confession that He is indeed the Lord. “Truly, truly, I say to you,” He says, for His Word is always truth, “before Abraham was, I am.”

I am.

This is the divine name, the name that is not to be pronounced, for it is the name that is above every name, the name before which every knee shall bow. It is the name into which we are baptized, the name by which we must be saved. His name is “Jesus” and He is the Almighty God, the great I AM, the Creator, the Redeemer, the Sanctifier, the Holy and Mighty Lord, who is also the merciful Savior.

And His good confession is our good confession, dear friends. And this confession still causes men to take up stones in their hands seeking to kill, seeking to silence the Word, seeking to do to the Good Samaritan what the Good Samaritan seeks to save mankind from. Jesus still causes grown men to argue, to debate, and even to commit and suffer violence. Jesus continues to stir up controversy wherever His Word goes forth.

For Jesus has Good News for all who will swallow their pride, admit that they are in need of a Savior, and will humble themselves before the Lord. Jesus has Good News to those who will hear the Word and bear with it, even when it exposes things about ourselves that we do not like. Jesus has Good News for sinners who know they are sinners and who know that they need to repent. Jesus has Good News for us today, dear brothers and sisters, for He not only calls us to repent and to believe, but also to receive Him for who He truly is, and to receive Him as divine charity: God in the flesh, sent to the cross to redeem us in our flesh, given to us in His Word and His flesh and blood.

For here is the very same Good News proclaimed by our Lord Himself to friend and foe alike: He is our Redeemer. He is our Savior. He is our Life. Now and forevermore. Amen.

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

1 comment:

Frantz said...

Thanks Father Beane for God's Word. You must be using the historic one year lectionary. Pastor Drosendahl preached on the Hebrews lection.