Trinity 13, 2012
Audio
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Delivered By
Pr. Lovett
Delivered On
September 2, 2012
Central Passage
Luke 10:23-37
Description

 

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.
 
Blessed are your eyes, Christian, for you see what prophets and kings wanted to see but did not. Blessed are your ears, O Christian, for you hear what prophets and kings want to hear but did not hear it. Remember that, dear ones. Your eyes and ears are blessed for what you see and hear.
 
The eyes and ears of those who do not see and do not hear what you see and hear are not blessed as yours. That doesn’t meant they’re going to hell, it means they’re not blessed as your eyes and ears are. The prophets and kings of whom Jesus spoke were the prophets and good kings of Israel like Samuel and David, like Jeremiah and Hezekiah. They are not going to go to hell on the Day of Judgment. But still, their eyes and ears are not as blessed as yours.
 
But that’s not what we’re really concerned with, is it? Even though Jesus makes a point of saying how blessed are the eyes that see and ears that hear, we’re not really concerned with blessed eyes are ears. We’re far more concerned with the lawyer’s question: whether or not we’re going to hell. Sin sends people to hell. Those who do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that by His blood we are reconciled to God, their sin remains on them and they will reap what they have sown, hearing the words of the King, “Depart from me you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” The lawyer thought like most people think. If you have sinned then you deserve hell. But if you have never sinned and if sin does not infect your nature – or how most people say it, if you have tried your best – then you will live forever and God will bless you. The tricky thing is that the lawyer wasn’t entirely wrong. He was writ that If you sin, you do deserve hell. That’s why we put our hope in the savior, Jesus. And if you do right, if you obey the commandments, then you will live, as Jesus says, “Do this and you will live.” The lawyer was only wrong in his idea that he could actually keep the law. But when Jesus preached the law to him the law accused him so that he tried to justify himself.  All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
 
So we rightly believe and confess that Jesus paid for our sins on the cross. We are baptized into His death to sin and through Baptism we share in His resurrected life and shall be raised from the dead to live before God in righteousness and purity forever. Amen. Your faith has saved you from hell even as the Lord Jesus has saved you from hell. You believe and so you have. You can’t separate Jesus from faith as the world does, trying always to separate the historical Jesus from the Jesus of the Bible. And you can’t separate faith from Jesus as so many preachers do, preaching a faith that is more like a pinch of magic dust that will cause all your dreams to come true and your life to be easy and prosperous. But the promise of God for eternal life is made and fulfilled in Christ, as St. Paul preaches in today’s Epistle Reading. Jesus goes with faith and faith with Jesus so that if you have either one without the other then you do not have salvation. For Christ’s sake alone, your sin does not damn you.
 
In fact, it’s no longer your sin. Jesus bore your sin in His body; bore it as His own. Your lies, your gossip, your laziness, your apathy toward the Word of God, toward prayer, toward your husband or wife, toward your children and your neighbor, your lust, your greed, your fear, your doubt, your self-reliance, your pride, your inability to control your flesh – there is no end to our depravity and sin.  But all your sin and all my sin, and the sin of the whole world, the Son of God took as His own. Even the sin you commit now by thinking yourself good because you’ve only done a few of things I just listed and taking pride in all the sins you don’t commit. He who knew no sin became even that sin for you. He who was without sin took on your sin as His own. And the death He died, He died to sin. In the death of Jesus your sin died. In His burial your sin was buried. You are no longer a slave to sin. You have been freed from sin. You have been purchased by God with His own blood so that now you are a slave to God in Christ.  You are a new creation. In Baptism you are joined to the resurrection of the obedient Son of God so that your life is swallowed by His life. In Christ you are free from the condemnation of the law, which accuses the sinner and condemns him to hell.
 
This is what you see and hear. This is why your eyes and ears are blessed. You see the mercy of God right here in this little, seemingly insignificant puddle of water in a silver bowl based in a small wooden stand. Here you see sinners die and be buried with Christ, and here you witness the birth of the children of God, born of water and the Spirit. You see the Lord take the sin of the world away in each of the baptized. You hear His promise that He has redeemed you and saves you for His own name’s sake, the name He has put on you.
You see right here, on this table of wood, the gift of the Father given to children of men, the body and blood of Jesus, given and shed for you for the forgiveness of your sin; given to you as the pledge and seal of your life hidden in Christ. You hear the mercy of God right here, sitting at 9th & Clay in Hoisington, tens of thousands of miles away from Jerusalem and thousands of years after the night on which He was betrayed. You hear the voice of the living Christ declare to you, “This is my body given for you. This cup is the new covenant in my blood which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” You believe and so you speak, “Lord, now you let your servant depart in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation which you have prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the nations and the glory of your people, Israel” (Nunc Dimmittis, sung after receiving the blessed sacrament).
 
You see the heavens open and behold the glory of God in the Body of Christ. You hear the voice of the Lord and the fulfillment of the promise given so long ago to Abraham and his descendants. And with all the saints of God you rejoice in the salvation of our God. Blessed are the eyes that see what you see and the ears that hear what you hear.
 
But the lawyer and those who try to justify themselves before the law don’t rejoice in the salvation of God. They don’t see what you see or hear what you hear. They don’t recognize the mercy of God in Jesus, the Good Samaritan come from the heavenly places to rescue half-dead men. They think that their salvation, their worth, is wrapped up in their obedience to the law.  They want the preacher to admit and affirm that their obedience is their blessing. They want to know that the foot they put forward, their best foot, is good enough.
 
Sadly, that is all many people want. They just want to know if they’re good enough. They want to be told that their tithing is good enough, that their church attendance is good enough; that their prayers are good enough; that their knowledge of the Bible is good enough; that their good works are good enough; that their intentions are good enough. They try to be good. They want to rest from their labors for they have labored hard and long, trying to do enough good and to be good enough.
 
We live among people captivated by the question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” We know the answer: have faith in Jesus. But even then we often worry that our faith isn’t enough or isn’t strong enough, or that it has been too patchy throughout our lives to be good enough. We worry that because we’re not on fire for Jesus or because we still sin or because of our past sins, that we might not even actually have faith. And we begin to despair, which only leads us to try harder and do more, trying to inherit eternal life by obedience to some law, just as the lawyer was trying to do.
 
But we find that we can do no more, and no matter how hard you try to be good and right and just, the more the law shows us our sin. And you are left beaten and bloodied, half-dead by the thief who kills, steals, and destroys our lives through sin and despair. And no matter how good and right and holy the law seems to be, it cannot show mercy.
 
That’s what the priest and Levite represent. They represent the law, which is without mercy, even though it is good. The law leaves you in your condition because the law only accuses and condemns you. It cannot help or save you because it does not lead to righteousness, only to more transgression and the knowledge of more and greater sin.
 
But there is one who is our neighbor and who has compassion on us. We neither look for Him nor find Him. But He searches for us and finds us. He finds us half-dead, animated corpses, the living dead, and bandages our wounds with His grace. He pours His oil of salvation and the wine of His kingdom on our open sores and wounds left by shame and guilt, temptation and brokenness. He gives us life. And He carries us on His back to His Father’s house and tells His Father, “Whatever they require of you, whatever it might cost you, I will pay it.”
 
Jesus is the neighbor who has mercy on you. And He is enough. His body and blood are enough. His word is enough. His mercy and grace are enough. His compassion for sinners, His compassion for you, is enough. In Him you find rest from your labors. In Him you rest in peace.
 
In Nomine Iesu
+ Amen X+