Judica (Lent 5)
Delivered By
Pr. Lovett
Delivered On
March 25, 2012
Central Passage
John 8:46-59
+ John 8:46-59 +
In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.
The righteous shall live by faith.  It has always been this way.  The righteous have always lived by faith.  Even Adam and Eve lived by faith.  They received the promise from God that a Savior would come and crush the serpent’s head, thereby freeing them from the shame of their sin and the death they earned.  God has always dealt with His people through promises, and therefore His people have always had faith in the promises of God.  The righteous shall live by faith.

Jesus, too, lived by faith.  He had to.  There was no earthly evidence that God was pleased with Him.  He was conceived in a questionable manner. His mother was not married when she conceived.  He grew up in Nazareth, which is not mentioned in the Scriptures as the place of the messiah.  He was always being rejected by the authorities, mocked, tested, hated, ridiculed, used, abused, even by His own disciples.  He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.  He came to His own people but they rejected Him.  He was constantly misunderstood, misquoted, and mistreated.  People thought He had a demon.  They thought He was a pawn of Satan.  Nothing in His life suggested that God was well-pleased with Him; that He was the Son of God. Nothing but the promise of God, His Father in heaven.
The Righteous One walked by faith, trusting in the promises of His heavenly Father that He would not let His Holy One see decay.  Trusting that God would raise Him from the dead and give Him all dominion, authority, and power, which He has done – Jesus is risen and lives and reigns to all eternity.
So what are you looking for as evidence of God’s love and mercy toward you?  A perfect marriage? More money?  A better economy?  Better neighbors?  Better health?  A better church? A better pastor?  An easier life?  Repent.  The righteous live by faith, trusting in the promises of God.  And the promises of God are eternal life in Christ and persecutions in this present age.

Jesus walked by faith, and it did not go so well with Him in this life.  Passiontide has begun.  Good Friday is a mere two weeks away.  We will hear again the abuse He suffered, the pain He endured because He trusted in the promises of His heavenly Father.  Not that we don’t hear of it year in and year out, but this time of year is focused on it because by it – by His precious death and burial – we are redeemed from death and burial; sprinkled with His righteous blood that we, too, would be counted as righteous, being saved by the faith of Jesus.  But the point here is that it did not go so well for Jesus as He trusted His heavenly Father’s word.  And it will not go so well with you because a servant is not above his master.
If the world rejected Jesus, it will reject you.  If the world hated Jesus, it will hate you.  If the world said all manner of evil against the Lord, it will speak all manner of evil against you who belong to the Lord.  Indeed, blessed are you when you are persecuted and mistreated  and even murdered because you belong to the Lord.  For so the prophets were treated before you.
But this does not refer only to you as individuals, but as a congregation; as the gathering of those who gather in Jesus’ name, professing trust in God and calling upon Him as Our Father in heaven.
It will not go so well for you, Concordia.  The more you cling to the word of God and hold tightly to it as your only source of good and all blessings, the worse it will go for you in this world. The more you insist on hearing God’s Word about life, salvation, death, redemption, and daily living in repentance and faith, talking about the kingdom of heaven, the more you will be attacked and hated by the world; the more you will suffer at the hands of sinful men, even betrayed by those you call friend.
When you publicly speak out against evil like abortion, homosexuality, greed, lust, divorce, the neglect of children, and so forth, they will say you have a demon.  They will say that only a demon would say a woman doesn’t have the right to an abortion.  Only a demon would say that those who commit acts of homosexuality are wicked.  They will say that only a demon tries to suppress urges and desires.  They will lie and say that any true God would want people to be true to themselves. Any true God would want people to simply enjoy life and do what makes them happy.  They will say that any true God would not impose on people and force them to submit to rules and laws of an ancient culture.  The world will call your God a liar because the world does not know Him or call on Him as God.
Your God took on your sin and shame on His body and nailed it to the tree.  Your God died to sin and is alive forevermore.  And you are baptized into Him.  You are the temple of the Most High God, the dwelling place of His Spirit.
You do not have a demon.  You have the Spirit of the living God who is risen from the dead.  So that you can say to the world that whoever keeps your word will never see death because your word is nothing other than God’s Word.  You gather to hear the Word of God, to see the Word of God, to taste the Word of God, to be bathed and washed clean in and by the holy Word of God.
And by gathering in the name of Jesus, you glorify your Father in heaven.  For you know Him and you keep His Word.  By gathering around pulpit, font, and altar you glorify God, singing the praise of Him who died upon the tree. By eating and drinking what the world rejects, by hearing the Word the world doubts, by clinging to the hope of the resurrection in Christ, you glorify your Father in heaven.
And He shall glorify you.  But if you glorify yourself, your glory is nothing.  If you find your glory in your past or in your future or in your bank account or in whether or not your Sunday School grows or your pews become filled or in your beautiful building, then your glory is nothing.  If we glorify our self by rejecting God’s Word in order to be more appealing to the mass of the unfaithful and unbelievers, replacing the sharp Word of God with a dull word of men, then our glory is nothing. And though we may appear healthy and strong, it will be like a man who goes to the gym and never works out.  His reward is in his head and his body wastes away.
But holding fast to His promise that whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved from shame of sin and from death, waiting on Him to vindicate you because you take refuge in Him, hoping in the God whom you praise, your salvation and your God, then your heavenly Father will glorify you, as indeed He does even now.
He glorifies you before the angels in heaven, calling you His beloved children and holy saints.  He glorifies you now by feeding you the Bread of Heaven and gathering you to Himself in this wilderness of sin and death to give you life.  He glorifies you before all creation by putting His name on you and calling you His people and promising to be your God.  He glorifies you by giving you His Son who died for you and shed His blood for you on the cross in order to gather you in from the world and bring you before His Father in heaven.
And that is where you are – before your Father in heaven.
In Nomine Iesu
+ Amen +