2020 Sermons Epiphany

Epiphany 3-2020

Sermon – Matthew 8.1-13 (Epiphany 3 – 2020)

Let us pray: O almighty and everlasting God, mercifully look upon our infirmities, and in all dangers and necessities stretch forth Your mighty hand to defend us against our enemies; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever. Amen.

Grace to you and peace from God, our Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

When He had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him.

 2 And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”

 3 Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

 4 And Jesus said to him, “See that you tell no one; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”

 5 Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him,

 6 saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented.”

 7 And Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.”

 8 The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed.

 9 “For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one,`Go,’ and he goes; and to another,`Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant,`Do this,’ and he does it.”

 10 When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!

 11 “And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.

 12 “But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

 13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” And his servant was healed that same hour.

These are Your words, heavenly Father. Sanctify us by the truth. Your Word is truth. Amen.

Dear fellow redeemed,

Faith has a simple definition: it is the trust of the heart. It’s a simple definition, but with the word so often thrown around, we need to understand what faith is in the Christian context.

Faith has a simple definition: it is the trust in the heart. Everyone has faith. We are surrounded by so many voices telling us to put our faith in a plethora of things. Have faith in humanity. Have faith in yourself. Have faith in your faith. Have faith in this political candidate or that one. Have faith in fate that all things will turn out. But the faith of a Christian is a trust in Christ. The two men we see in our gospel reading today provide great examples of faith to us. And so we study their examples today. And we’ll do this by examining two things: How these men considered themselves, and how these men considered Christ?

How did the leper consider himself? The leper says, “Lord, if you are willing, You can make me clean.” The leper doesn’t think that he is entitled to receive anything from Christ. He doesn’t complain that his suffering is unfair. He knows he is a sinner deserving ways much rougher. He is a man in need, in need of help for body and soul.

And what about the centurion? The centurion tells Jesus of the affliction of his servant. He thinks himself unworthy to receive help from the Lord. Not only that, but when Jesus immediately responds that He will come and heal the man, the centurion confesses that he is unworthy to have Jesus even in his house. His Roman education, his high military status, his authority, he doesn’t consider any of these things to make a difference in his worth in the eyes of Christ. This is reminiscent of Paul, when he speaks about his religious zeal before his conversion to Christianity. “I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him” (Ph 3:4-8). Paul and the centurion knew that they had nothing to boast of before Christ, that would make them worthy of His help and salvation.

Luther says about this faith shown in the centurion, “Thus true faith, properly speaking, brings along with itself contempt of self and a sense of unworthiness in comparison with others. [The centurion’s] example is thus of the highest comfort to us: that the more we feel ourselves to be unworthy and think that the promises of God have no application to us, the more we ought to desire them exceedingly, in the certitude that this desire is most pleasing to God, who wills and wishes that His grace should be fervently desired.” This is what Scripture says in the 51st Psalm, “You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart—these, O God, You will not despise.

And then how does the faith of the two men consider Christ?

The leper goes to worship Christ. And here we get a picture of true worship. Nowadays worship is viewed primarily as something we do for God, giving Him service, glory and praise. And sure we can call that worship. It is. But how is worship pictured here? The leper isn’t offering Jesus anything. But he seeks help from Jesus, trusting that Jesus is good and gracious and will answer according to what is best for him. And there we see what the leper thinks of Christ.

He doesn’t say, “if God wills,” but “if You will.” He recognizes the divinity of Christ, He believes Him to be God. And He knows God to be good and gracious. He leaves the answer to His prayer in Jesus hands, where truly it belongs. He shares his need with Jesus, and trusts that Jesus, in mercy, will do what is best for Him. Perhaps, Jesus deems best for him to continue to suffer the leprosy. And the man is willing to suffer it, still having confidence that Christ is merciful, and what he suffers is best for his salvation and for the glory of God.

And what about the faith of centurion? How does he consider the Christ? The centurion, too, believes that Jesus is merciful. He simply tells Jesus of the affliction of his servant, and trusts that whatever Jesus answers, He answers according to His mercy.

And the centurion also believes in the divinity of Christ. When Jesus offers to go to the centurion’s house, the man confesses the greatness of Christ. He doesn’t consider Jesus to be merely a great man, but a great God, who is not bound by space and time. He believes that Christ’s word is a divine and almighty Word. Jesus speaks and just as the wind and waves obey, so also must affliction obey.

So seeing these two examples, we see that a believer considers himself unworthy of the favor of God. No works, no status, no special lineage, nothing makes us worthy before the eyes of God. And we confess this in our confession of sins. We acknowledge our sins before God. We have offended His holy law. We deserve nothing but His wrath.

But faith also trusts that Jesus is the Son of God, and that He is indeed gracious and merciful. Faith believes that God’s favor rests upon us, not on account of our worthiness, for we are not, but on account of the worthiness of Christ, who is our perfect Mediator. Faith has confidence that God will respond graciously to us, granting us what is best for our good.

Faith is simply the trust of the heart that God is gracious to us on account of the Son, Jesus Christ.

But there’s one more thing for us to consider: what this faith receives. What did the leper receive? This leper had this devastating disease, and was ceremonially unclean, and therefore an outcast. He must remain separated from the other Jews, lest others may become unclean by contact with him. But what does Jesus do, Jesus in His grace was willing to help, and does the unthinkable. Jesus, in His abundant mercy, touched the man. Jesus doesn’t become unclean, but Jesus makes the leper clean. He speaks the word, and heals the leper of his leprosy.

Jesus is willing to help us. We are outcasts of paradise, banned from Eden with Adam and Eve. We are alienated from God by our sin. But Jesus comes to us, and gives His life for our redemption. His blood cleanses us from our leprosy of sin. His Word says salvation is won, there is forgiveness of all your sins. And the powerful word of God gives you what it says, and faith trusts that word receives that word and the blessings it gives.

He assures us of forgiveness and eternal life. These things we can be assured of, but when it comes to our physical ailments and other afflictions that we suffer, we know that God answers according to His gracious will. He is merciful, and so we bring our cares and concerns to Him, and He knows how best to answer them. Sometimes we must wait upon His counsel and will with long-suffering. Yet faith can cling to His mercy, and His sure promises in His Word that will never fail you. “The sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in you.

And consider also what the faith of the centurion received. The early Church Father, Chrysostom, says it well, “because he made himself out unworthy even to receive Christ into His house, he became worthy both of a kingdom, and of attaining unto those good things which Abraham enjoyed.” To use a parable of Jesus, the centurion took the lowest place of the table, and Jesus says, “Friend, go up higher” and puts him in a place of honor (Luke 14:10). Christ exalts him. In faith, the man has Christ’s forgiveness, His righteousness, and citizenship in Christ’s kingdom. So it is for you, believers. Through faith, you have Christ’s forgiveness, righteousness, and are exalted to citizenship in His eternal kingdom. Such are the gifts of Christ’s mercy. Such are the things that you have through faith.

May God preserve this faith in us, and grant many from the east and the west to also know His mercy. Amen.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, forevermore. Amen.

2020 Sermons Epiphany

Epiphany 1 – 2020

Sermon – Luke 2.41-52 (Epiphany 1 – 2020)

Let us pray: Lord God, heavenly Father, in mercy You have established the Christian home among us: We beseech You so to rule and direct our hearts, that we may be good examples to children and those subject to us, and not offend them by word or deed, but faithfully teach them to love Your Church and hear Your blessed Word. Give them Your Spirit and grace, that this seed may bring forth good fruit, so that our homelife may advance Your glory, honor and praise, our own improvement and welfare, and give offense to no one; through the same, Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever. Amen.

Grace to you and peace from God, our Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

41 His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover.

 42 And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast.

 43 When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. And Joseph and His mother did not know it;

 44 but supposing Him to have been in the company, they went a day’s journey, and sought Him among their relatives and acquaintances.

 45 So when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him.

 46 Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions.

 47 And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers.

 48 So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.”

 49 And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”

 50 But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them.

 51 Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart.

 52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

These are Your Words, heavenly Father. Sanctify us by the truth. Your Word is truth. Amen.

Dear fellow redeemed,

From the time of the holy family’s flight into Egypt until the account of Jesus baptism, we hear only one story about Jesus’ life. This is a span of 29 years, and the Holy Spirit saw fit to include in Holy Scripture one account from that span, and it’s this one. 12-year-old Jesus is about His Father’s business. The infinitely wise God has included this in Holy Scripture for our doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness (2 Tim 3:16). And so today we begin to mine the depths of this significant event.

So Jesus said He was about His Father’s business. He was not denying that Joseph was His father. Joseph was His stepfather, and the text says that Jesus was subject to His parents. He was an obedient son to both Mary and Joseph. But Jesus had in mind the purpose of His life, whereas Joseph and Mary didn’t. Jesus was born to be about His heavenly Father’s business. He was sent by the heavenly Father to save the world from the condemnation for its sins. And part of this business for which He was sent was to be in the Temple hearing God’s Word, and asking penetrating questions about the Scripture, which impressed the teachers of the Word.

He tended to the business of His Father by engaging in the Holy Scriptures. He was paying attention to the things regarding the revelation and will of His Father.

It was toward this end that Joseph and Mary were to raise Jesus, that He may accomplish that for which the Father had sent Him. Jesus expected His parents to know that He would be about His Father’s business. But the text says that they did not understand. The Old Testament prophecies and types gave glimpses of what was in store for the Messiah, their Son, but they had trouble understanding as the business of the Father was unfolding before their eyes in the life of their Son. Though they did not understand fully the heavenly Father’s business that Jesus was to accomplish, we could commend their faithfulness in bringing Jesus to the Temple faithfully every year to celebrate the Passover according to God’s command, and hearing His holy Word.

We too must consider what is the Father’s business for us, and what the Father’s business is for our children. His business pertains to each of us now, and also for our futures. God’s intention for His Son Jesus was that He would reconcile the world to Himself. God’s intention for us is that we would enjoy that reconciliation through faith, that we would have God as our Father, and that we would live now and for eternity as His children.

This is not our usual order of business. Now for Jesus being about the Father’s business was something He was capable of doing. Jesus had God as His Father, for He is eternally begotten of the Father from eternity, and even in His human flesh, He knew His Father, and in His perfection, He was faithful in being about His Father’s business. He recognized Scripture as His Father’s Word, and He delighted in hearing and studying the Word, which was essential to His Father’s business. He perfectly loved, listened and obeyed the Word.

But for us, we are not even born knowing our heavenly Father. Our sin has alienated us from Him. Our unbelief is a shroud of darkness that blinds us from knowing Him. And so to know God’s will, to know what He is about, what business He conducts, is completely unknown to us, and even if were known to us, in our unbelief, we would be completely unable to be about the business He would have for us, because our carnal minds are enmity against God. And His Word is foolishness to the unconverted mind.

But by the very same word spoken and also wet with baptismal waters, the Holy Spirit has caused us to know our heavenly Father. “God has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began” (2 Timothy 1:9).

We have been called to be as the Fatheer originally created us, to have life and communion with Him, and to live holy lives according to His will. This is at the center of God’s business for us. And essential to this work is His holy Word.

But do we love God’s Word as we ought? Likely not. Do we delight in it as the boy Jesus did? We adults do not have it spoken at home as we ought. Children do not hear it as eagerly as they should. And though we gather here in church, does God’s Word have our full attention? We do not ask those penetrating questions, digging deep into it, drinking from the deep fountains of the Word of Life, as though it is the source of our life, happiness, and joy.

Also, we get wrong ideas about the business we should be concerned with. We put other  things as priorities over God’s Word. We say, unfortunately, I have this or that, I have to miss church, as though my circumstances were making the decision for me. Now, if it is sickness or necessary work, well there’s not much we can do about it, we don’t have a choice, but when it comes to other things, priorities are choices you make. What do you choose to put over God’s Word? Instead of the Father’s business, whose business are you choosing to spend your time.

Or, for parents, are you putting before your children (or grandchildren) the business of the Father? Or do you have other business to preoccupy them. I know the big one today is sports. Do not be deceived, sports, as great as they are, can be an idol that destroys faith. But whatever it is, parents may get their children busy with the business of sports, or of academics, or of this experience and that hobby, even if parents strive to raise moral, productive citizens, when the children are not brought to the Father’s house and are trained in the Word of God and shown that these are the most important things that supercedes all else in priority, all those other things are worthless. Great, your child get awards and is successful and is a great person, but he does not know his Creator, and His Creator does not know Him.

This text exposes many sins in us, and perhaps some that are sensitive. Repent, and have comfort in how Jesus is shown to you today. Even here, as a 12 year old boy, He is about the Father’s business of saving you, and of forgiving your sins. The Word which He studies, is the Word that foretells His death, resurrection and ascension for you. The Word He studies says, “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed” (Is 53:5)

He knows the Father’s business, and He is about it, being willing to give His life as the sacrifice for your sins. He reads about how He is the world’s Savior. He came to win forgiveness of His own parents sins. He came for the forgiveness of our own parenting fails. He came for the forgiveness of the sins of children alike, when we do not love, delight in, and attend to the Word as we should. You are forgiven! Be about your Father’s business, and hear and receive this word of forgiveness bought by the blood of Christ, and freely and abundantly given you. By this forgiveness won by Christ, reconciliation is made between you and the Father. You are restored to your Creator, and He receives you as His dear child, and gives you a new heart and mind to do His will, to live a holy life to the glory of your gracious Father.

Be comforted also by this, the boy Jesus here not only serves as an example of loving the Word, but He is your righteousness in loving the Word, through faith this righteousness is yours. You can say now, that on account of Christ and through faith, you have a perfect love for the Word. This is what your heavenly Father sees. And so we being freed from sin, are now free to love and prioritize this life-giving word of God that saves us and gives us a new life of holiness. We are righteous through Christ. We are now free to be who we are in Christ, righteous. Being perfect lovers of God’s Word through Christ’s righteousness, we are now free to daily be lovers of God’s Word.

What a blessing it is for us that Jesus went about His Father’s business. And how blessed it is for us to be about our Father’s business. Hearing the Word, receiving by faith forgiveness and righteousness, reconciliation, and living holy lives as His dear children. God grant it. Amen.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, forevermore. Amen.