Trinity 8, 2012
Delivered By
Pr. Lovett
Delivered On
July 29, 2012
Central Passage
Matthew 7:15-23


+ Matthew 7:15-23 +
In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

There were only two trees that mattered in the Garden of Eden. One led to life and other led to death. There are only two words that are spoken. One is of God and is spoken of the true prophet and leads to life; the other is of the false prophet, the devil, and leads to death.

Those who hear and follow the true prophet will enter the kingdom of heaven and eternal life. Those who hear and follow the false prophet will never enter the kingdom of heaven and will be cast out from the presence of God, even though they should call Jesus “Lord”.

And that’s what frightens us, isn’t it. Even if we say to Him, “Lord, Lord,” He might say to us, “I never knew you; depart from me you workers of lawlessness.” Even if we say, “But Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?” Still, we may hear His rejection, “Depart from me, I never knew you.”

When Adam and Even were in the Garden, there were only two trees that mattered: the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The fruit of one tree led to eternal life; the fruit of the other led to excommunication and death. Each tree had its own prophet. Eve chose the wrong fruit from the wrong tree. She ate the forbidden fruit, as did her husband who was with her. She picked the wrong tree. Eve listened to the wrong prophet.

And what did this false prophet, this wolf in sheep’s clothing say to the mother of all the living? He told her that the tree was good for food. He told her to look at the fruit and see how beautiful and good it looked. He told her that to eat of the fruit of this tree was to gain wisdom and understanding, to be able to discern for herself between good and evil, just as God does. After all, if you really want to be like God shouldn’t you know good from evil? And Even, seeing that the tree was good for food and was a delight to the eyes, and good for gaining wisdom – when she saw that it was good for giving her something she didn’t have but wanted and needed – she ate of the fruit and gave some to her husband who was with her and he ate. And their eyes were opened. But they were not opened to enlightenment but to shame. They saw that they were naked, that instead of gaining something, they saw that they had nothing. And they were ashamed. So they hid from God, making for themselves coverings of fig leaves so they would have something. And they hid from God in the Garden.

And when the Lord found them, He cast them out. He excommunicated them.

The false prophet is always trying to get you to eat of the wrong tree, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. It is the belief that you can know and decide what is right and wrong; what is God-pleasing and what is not. The fruit of this tree is poison to you because you are not God. And it promises you something that you are not given by God. You don’t get to decide for yourself what is good and evil; no matter what your gut says.  But the devil sells his tall tale with great skill and practice. He doesn’t need you to denounce God and spit on Bibles. He only needs you to believe that you can decide what is good and what is evil. And frankly, that’s easy enough to do.

After all, death is evil and life is good. That’s true. Just like when he tempted Jesus, the devil quoted the Bible, so he is uses truth in service of lies. It is true that death is evil and life is good. So why should your dead-beat husband keep you from living your life? Why should your parasitic children keep your from buying new cars and fast boats or keep you from watching raunchy movies? After all, it’s your couch, your TV, your money. Isn’t it written that we can do what we like with what is ours? It is? Why should your wife keep you from living life? Why should some preacher tell you to give your money to some organized religion that has done so much wrong in this world? Why should others tell you how to live your life? After all, you’re all going to die someday. No matter if you prayed a thousand times a day or never darkened the doorway of a church. You will all die. How pointless it all is. You try so hard to be good and to live good and keep up values, but you get the same as that evil s.o.b. that murdered all those people in Colorado. We all die, and death is evil. Live your life the best you can because life is good.

Suddenly divorce isn’t so evil when it’s a matter of falling out of love. Suddenly neglecting your kids is masked as “mommy time” or “daddy time”. Suddenly leaving your wife for work or pleasure is your right, not the neglect of a bad husband. After all, you’re providing for them aren’t you? And before you know it, you’ve bitten deep into the poisoned fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and you have given it to others to eat as well. And together you decide what is good and what is evil. Only, no matter how good you try to be; no matter how much you hate those things you call evil; no matter how much you try to do right by what you call good; you are afraid.

So every once in a while you read your Bible, just in case. Every once in a while you pray, just in case. Every once in a while you pray with your family and think, “There, that ought to count for something, right?” But even as you say such things you’re hoping God didn’t hear you because you know that He is not pleased with such bargaining. But you can’t help yourself. You’re always bargaining with God even though you having nothing with which to bargain. Your fig leaves are worth nothing.

Still, you’re always showing Him your fig-leaf covering, trying to show Him that what you have is good; the good things you’ve done, the times you’ve called Him “Lord,” hoping it is enough to cover your shame. You’re always trying to hide your sins from Him; hiding among the trees and bushes, hoping He’ll leave you alone. If He could just see that you meant well. If He would just see that you’re not as bad as that other guy who actually divorced his wife. If He would just see that you’re not as bad as those parents who never go to church and never seem to discipline their kids, and whose kids are pregnant, addicted, and rebellious. More than yours, anyway. Even now you are thinking that at least you call Jesus “Lord” and try do live by His rules. Even now you are grasping for reasons why God should accept you.

Repent and spit the poisoned fruit out of your mouth! And eat of the Tree of Life! Cling to Christ who is your righteousness! God never said, “Be like me and know good from evil.” He has said, “Be like me and show mercy.” God is a God of mercy and not sacrifice

Christ, who is the mercy of God,]says to you: “My Father wants you to have the kingdom and so I baptize you in my name and join you to myself: my death to sin and my life to God. By my blood I remove your sins from you and give you my righteousness so that in me you are not condemned but have eternal life. You do not need to hide from My Father, because I have given you a new heart and a right spirit. I feed you with the bread of angels and give you drink from my cup, the cup of salvation, filled by the river of life that flows from my hand and feet and out of my side. I call you my own and know you by name because I named you in the waters purified by my obedience to the Father. I am your Lord and your God, and I promise to be your God and raise you up on the last day to live before me in righteousness and purity forever, even as I am risen from the dead and have joined you to me by washing you in the power of my resurrection.”

The true prophet brings you the fruit from the Tree of Life. This tree is truly good for food and for gaining true wisdom. But it is not delightful to the eyes. Those who look upon this tree are aghast with horror repulsed with gruesome wonder. What sort of Tree is this with its bloodied, pierced, and beaten Prophet hanging on it? What sort of Prophet is this that is despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, one well acquainted with grief? There is nothing about Him that is pleasing to the eye; and to behold Him is to want to hide one’s face from Him. He seems rejected and smitten by God, and the nations of men do not esteem Him.

Yet He is the true Prophet of God. Blessed are those who are not offended by Him. His name is Truth and His tree is the Tree of Life. From it He brings you good fruit that leads to eternal life. Whoever eats of His fruit will live forever. Whoever tastes of His hand will taste and see that the Lord is good. He is the righteousness of the sinner and the justifier of the guilty. He is the Man of Mercy to those who are afraid. He is the lover of souls to those who think themselves hated by God. He brings the medicine of immortality and bears the fruit of eternal life. And those who hear Him receive Him gladly and are welcomed by Him into the kingdom of heaven.

He is not one who is far off. He is at hand. And by His wounds you are healed. By His suffering you find peace with God. All who look to Him are heard and all who call upon His name are saved from death and hell.

There are two trees. The fruit of one leads to death and destruction and its prophets are liars and ravenous wolves ready to devour. But the fruit of the other leads you to eternal life and freedom. Its Prophet is Truth and Wisdom. Come and eat from the Tree of Life. Eat the good fruit of the true Prophet and be saved.

In Nomine Iesu
+ Amen +