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Delivered By
Pr. Mark D. Lovett
Delivered On
January 3, 2016
Central Passage
Matthew 2:13-23
Description

In the name of the FATHER and of the + SON and of the HOLY SPIRIT.

What is true about the Christ is also true about His Christians: He was not where He was or do what He did for His own sake but for the sake of others. The Lord Jesus was not born for His sake but for the sake of others. He did not suffer and die and rise again for His sake but for the sake of others. He did not suffer for His own sake but for the sake of others, for the salvation of others.

You are not where you are for your own sake. You do not do what you do for your own sake. Even when you take a little “me” time you take it so that you can be refreshed in order to serve others. For the Son of Man came to serve, not to be served. So you who are being made in His image are to serve rather than to be served.

Joseph served the Child and His mother by going down to Egypt. Never mind whether it was an easy thing or a hard thing, that’s very much beside the point. Rather, pay attention that Joseph did it. Mothers aren’t mothers for their own sake but for the sake of the child. Fathers aren’t fathers for their own sake but for the sake of their families. Neighbors are neighbors for the sake of their neighbors.

But this is not the same thing as saying: make sure you think of others. Like all things in Christendom, this is more than a behavior, more than a habit. This is a fundamental shift in being. St. Paul says that in our sinfulness we do all things for ourselves and that the end of those things is death (Romans 6:21). But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death but the free gift of God in Christ is eternal life (Romans 6:20-23).

And what is sin if it is not living for one’s self? That is rebellion of the highest order. It rebels against the nature of God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; none of the Holy Three Persons is living for Himself but is living for the others. For God is love and love is never for the individual but for others.

Live for everyone else. This will kill you and blessed is that death.

It might not kill you literally. But it will kill you. Every time you serve someone else you die a little that another may live. Every time you give yourself for the sake of another’s need, you decrease a little for their increase. This is true in normal, mundane things as well as in great big things. The mother who holds her crying daughter, comforting her from whatever has harmed her, is doing as mighty and great a work of love as the soldier who died defending his country. Perhaps a better one, in fact. For motherhood is ordained by God in the fabric of creation whereas soldering is ordained by men who need soldiers because of sin. The mother’s time and energy, her thoughts and even her soft lullaby are all for the sake of her daughter, even as the soldier’s time, energy, thoughts, and even battle cries are all for the sake of his homeland.

Of course, unbelievers are capable of this, too. They are mothers and soldiers also. They give of themselves, too. And their giving of themselves is just as beneficial to the recipient as the Christian’s giving of him or herself. But we are consumed with this question of whether or not an unbeliever’s good works are just as good as a believer’s or if they are just as useful. Let us repent of this question and focus on the Scripture that says, Without faith it is impossible to please God.

In faith Joseph took the Child and His mother to Egypt. In faith he brought them back out of Egypt and settled them in the land of Galilee of the Gentiles. In faith Mary had said, “I am the

Lord’s servant, let it be to me according to your word.” In faith, Joseph had taken Mary to be his wife even though she was with child.

Why? Not for their sakes, not even for Jesus’ sake only. But for your sake. No less than the apostle Paul wrote his letters for your sake even as he says that the Old Testament, a record of the faith of the saints of God in Israel, was written for our sakes. But don’t become conceited as if everything centers around you. You, too, believe and live in faith for the sake of others. That doesn’t mean that your faith or the faith of Joseph can be someone else’s faith; each must give an account for his own life. But it means that your faith serves other people, especially those sitting next to you and behind you and in front of you.

Behold your mother and your brothers and you sisters. Those who share in the Spirit of God and do the will of the Father.

The only way to participate in Christ’s suffering as St. Peter teaches us this morning, is to participate in His faith. If Abraham believed and it was credited to him as righteousness, how much more does the faith of Jesus count as righteousness? But Abraham cannot give you his faith but can only preach the One in Whom he believes. But Jesus gives you His faith when He pours out His Spirit on you so that you become as He is: a child of God. A pouring He does through such preaching.

The Son of God took on the flesh of men to serve men. So the sons of God take on the flesh of others, so to speak, to serve them. This is what St. Paul means when he says to bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ. This is how we obey the Gospel of God: by consider the sins of others as our own and confessing the mercy and love of God in Christ Jesus.

Your faith, dear Christian, is no different than Abraham’s or Jacob’s or Joseph’s. It’s not different, even, than Jesus’ faith. For we all have one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father of us all. We believe that He has sent His Servant, Jesus Christ, to do away with sin and sadness and to proclaim a kingdom of joy and gladness! To burst the bonds of sin and guilt and cloth us with the righteousness of God. We believe that just as Jesus was called out of Egypt, so shall we be called out of this land of slavery to the Promised Land, the heavenly land, the New Jerusalem.

Our faith is bound up in the promises of God; promises that find their “yes” in Christ Jesus our Lord. Let us rejoice in these promises of our Father, looking to Jesus the author of our faith. Let us not judge the sins of others but receive and eat with them. Let us not consider ourselves more than others but humble ourselves that the Lord may lift us up. For that is the will of God our Father, that you be lifted up on high in the heavenly places and that He would be your God.

+ In Nomine Iesu+