Sunday, April 06, 2014

Sermon: Judica (Lent 5) – 2014

6 April 2014

Text: John 8:42-59 (Gen 22:1-14, Heb 9:11-15)

In the name of + Jesus.  Amen.

We live in an age in which we are all encouraged to have opinions about anything and everything, and we can express these opinions publicly in many ways and formats.  And people become passionate about their opinions, from current events and politics, sports and leisure, what kinds of foods they like, what is the best kind of weather, to fashion and music.  People will argue with one another, and in many cases, will pay to watch others argue about differing opinions.

But if you really think about it, none of these things matter.  At the end of the day, and the end of a life, at the end of the age, what difference does it make whether Joe Smith or Mary Jones won a congressional seat, whether Victor Newman got married for the 54th time, or if the Saints ever won another Super Bowl?  Is it really all that important what kind of chocolate you like or how baggy your jeans are?

What does matter, dear friends, is what you confess about Jesus.  And this question, “Who is Jesus?” has been asked by mankind in some form or other dating back to the Garden of Eden, when God promised a Savior to vindicate us by crushing the serpent’s head.

Our Lord Himself gets into a discussion about who He is with people who think they know Him better than He knows Himself.  As Jesus preaches to them first concerning who they are – namely obstinate sinners who refuse to hear the Word of God – they in turn confess that Jesus is a “Samaritan” and “[has] a demon.”

This is how the sinful man responds to a call to repentance.  In our pride, we lash out at the messenger.  We kill the prophets.  We spread rumors about others.  We engage in personal destruction as a means of propping up our wounded pride.  We plug up our ears to the life-saving Word of God, as our Lord asks: “Why do you not understand what I say?” and answers his own question: “It is because you cannot bear to hear my Word.”

For when the Lord speaks the Law, it stings.  And yet, like applying medicine to a wound, the sting is necessary for healing.  We must humble ourselves, dear friends, to hear the Lord’s Word, lest we bear the Lord’s rebuke: “Whoever is of God hears the words of God.  The reason you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

And just as we may or may not receive the preached Word of God, we may or may not receive the Word Made Flesh who has come to save us.

So we are back to the question: “Who is Jesus?” What do we confess about Him?

Our Lord Himself plainly tells His hearers, including us, just who He is.  “I came from God and I am here.  I came not of My own accord, He sent Me.”  “I do not have a demon, but I honor My Father….  I do not seek My own glory; there is one who seeks it, and He is the judge.  Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My Word, he will never see death.”

And finally, the Lord Jesus Christ confesses and reveals Himself to us when He says: “Before Abraham was, I am.”  Jesus is eternal.  Jesus is the “I am” who revealed Himself to Moses by that very name, that most sacred of names, in the burning bush: the name that is above every name, the name before which every knee shall bow, the name of the Word through which all things came to be, the Word Made Flesh who dwelt among us. 

Just as when Jesus was in this discussion nearly 2,000 years ago, there is still a burning controversy about who Jesus is today.  Some say He is a fictional character.  Some say He was a preacher whose followers created a myth.  Some say He was a delusional madman with a messiah complex.  Some say He was a good man who was killed because He was a good man.  Some say He was a prophet but not God.  Most simply don’t care as they pursue the illusory and temporary things of this fallen and crumbling world.  Many mock.  Some persecute those who confess Christ as Lord.  Some are still accusing Jesus as being evil.

But, dear friends, we, the Church, the bearers of the Word of God, we who have the revelation of Jesus Christ by faith, have a different confession than the world.  And thanks be to God!  With our Lord, we confess that Jesus is the great “I am,” that He is eternal, that He is God, that He came into our crumbling world to save us, to rescue us, dying to defeat death, crushing the serpent’s head at the cross, shedding His own precious blood for us men and for our salvation, restoring us to Paradise in righteousness and peace!

Jesus is previewed for us in the account of Isaac, the only son of his father, whom his father loved, offered up as a sacrifice according to the command and will of God, bearing the wood upon his own back, climbing the hill to his own sacrifice, and stretched out upon a wood-covered altar.

God the Father is revealed to us in His mercy, when He sends the angel to intervene and stop the sacrifice of Isaac, as God would provide a substitute. 

Jesus is previewed as that substitute, the ram caught with his gory head encrusted by the thorns that first came to the world at the garden of Eden after the fall as a result of sin.  Jesus is previewed in the name: “The Lord will provide.”  Jesus is the world’s substitute.

We confess Jesus to be a “high priest of the good things to come” as is revealed to us in the Book of Hebrews.  “He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of His own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.”

An eternal redemption, dear friends!  An eternal redemption!  Our struggle with the serpent is over!  Our subjugation to death is ended!  Our prideful sinful nature that kills the prophets and calls the Son evil has been defeated along with hell and the grave!

By His blood sacrifice we are forgiven all our sins!  By His bloody death we are all released from eternal death.  By His body and blood sacrament we partake of His eternal redemption, eating and drinking unto forgiveness, life, and salvation!  And in Holy Baptism, the blood of this once-for-all sacrifice was sprinkled upon us, dear brothers and sisters, “that our inheritance in light has been secured.”

Indeed, we have our opinions about everything, and we have more ways than ever before of expressing those opinions.  But only one opinion matters, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, only one opinion means anything at all.  And that is our confession about Christ, who is truly the “mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance.”

Then let us now draw near,
Washed in that precious flood
And enter the Most Holy Place
By Jesus’ blood.
From hearts that are sincere,
Let tongues our hope profess,
And trust anew God’s faithful grace
That we confess. 


on the sickness of sinto the next - and d w liars and sons of the devil, tament, a bloodye people on In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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