Categories
2019 Sermons Advent

Advent 3 – 2019

Sermon – Matthew 11.2-10

Lord God, heavenly Father, You gave Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to become Man and to come into the world that He might destroy the works of the devil, deliver us poor offenders from sin and death, and give us everlasting life: We beseech You so to rule and govern our hearts by Your Holy Spirit that we may seek no other refuge than His Word, and thus avoid the sin to which we are by nature inclined, in order that we may always be found among the faithful followers of Your Son, Jesus Christ, and by faith in Him obtain eternal salvation; 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.

2 And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples

 3 and said to Him, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?”

 4 Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see:

 5 “The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them.

 6 “And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”

 7 As they departed, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?

 8 “But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses.

 9 “But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet.

 10 “For this is he of whom it is written:`Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You.’

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

Faithful Preaching; Faithful Hearing

Dear fellow redeemed,

There’s a large church in North Carolina that requires anyone seeking membership in the church and leadership positions there, to subscribe—not to Scriptural doctrines—but to the vision of the pastor.

Though other churches may not be so bold to require such a subscription, many are built around the leadership of the pastor. It sometimes happens that when a pastor is found to be teaching error, and is removed from the church body, the congregation that should know better, instead of sticking to the faith once delivered to the saints, sticks with the pastor, because of the pastor’s vision, his charisma, his style and so on.

Is this how John conducted his ministry? Is this how he obtained the disciples he had, two of which we hear about in our gospel reading? Did he build his ministry around himself, his vision to gather people to himself?

Definitely not. John faithfully preached the Word of God, which is all about Christ. He didn’t make it about himself. Many did come out to see this strange figure out by the Jordan, this man who wore camel hair clothing and ate honey and locusts. But John preached repentance, and pointed them to the coming of the kingdom of God in the person of Jesus Christ.

Jesus said as much about John. “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?” In other words, did they go out there expecting to find a man teaching the latest fad in Jewish teaching? Were they going to see a man who’s message was formed by the popular culture or the popular philosophies of the day, only to be change as the new wind of ideas comes upon him? Did they expect to find him to be the hip, up with the times kind of preacher? They found him to be something very different.

Then Jesus asked, “What did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments?” –the the kind of preacher welcomed into kings houses. In other words, is he a people pleaser, a king pleaser? Did they go out expecting him to tell them things that they want to hear? Is he the kind of preacher that speaks whatever may gain the peoples’ favor, their esteem, and their riches? That he would even gain the acceptance of kings? Again, they found John to be very different. Certainly if John wanted to find himself comfortable in kings’ houses, it would have been the Pharisees and Sadducees that he would have had to warm up to, but instead he calls them a “brood of vipers” and said, “Bear fruits worthy of repentance.” And he certainly made it impossible to live in king’s houses after confronting the ruler Herod Antipas about his adultery.

But what did they see out there in the wilderness? The world’s first prophet in 430 years. The one promised by Malachi. And this prophet, John, did what prophets do, and that is preach the Word of God. He was merely the messenger. He didn’t call people to follow him, to abide by his vision. Rather he preached the Word which draws people to repentance and faith in Christ. John was a pointer. He pointed people to Jesus, the king of heaven, and the sacrificial Lamb by which we may have entrance into His kingdom!

This is what John did when he sent his disciples to Jesus. He directed them to Jesus, that they may witness His works and preaching and follow Him. They were to ask the question: “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?”

And what did Jesus do? He provides an example for preachers by simply preaching the Word to them. He quotes from Isaiah, words that speak about what the Messiah would do. “The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them.” The Word reveals the Christ. Here in this point of history a multitude of miracles are being performed. These two disciples of John heard the reports and saw these miracles, some of which never had happened before. One man born blind was healed by Jesus, and he said before the Pharisees, “Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”

And so the Word reveals Jesus and draws people to Him. He is the Coming One, just as the Word describes.

And so the faithful preaching is the preaching of the Word, centered on “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” as Paul put it. Preachers are to be as John, preaching repentance and pointing to Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

But let us all be faithful listeners, too. One of the difficulties with this text is this question: “Was John, who was in prison, struggling with doubt about Jesus, whether He was the Coming One, and sent his disciples to ask for his sake.” It’s hard to imagine John doubting. He baptized Jesus, and heard the Father’s voice from heaven, and the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove landing upon Jesus. He faithfully preached God’s Word, even though it meant imprisonment and even death.

But should we find it hard to imagine John doubting? He is, after all, born in the likeness of Adam. He is a poor sinner going through a difficult time, imprisoned and likely to die there. So John wanted to hear his disciples preach to him the words that Jesus had said. John knew the answer. John knew that Jesus was the Coming One, but he needed to hear it again to receive the comfort of that knowledge, and be strengthened. He needed to hear that Jesus is for him.

And so consider how John, the great forerunner of Christ, desired the Word of God. You, too, consider your poverty, and your need to hear it. It’s like the story of the husband and wife, who’ve been married for several years. And the wife said to the husband, “You don’t tell me that you love me anymore.” And the husband said, “I told you once, and if anything changes, I’ll let you know.” We need to hear of Christ’s love and salvation.

You who wrestle with doubts know you need that assurance. And if you don’t feel that need, consider your sins, that they’re not simply mistakes that you make. A little lie, a word of gossip, a passing lustful thought, a little bit of haughtiness, these are not merely little sins, but they are outward signs of a heart that is corrupted, and completely fallen in sinfulness. And this sinfulness places you squarely at odds with God, and in the bonds of Satan’s prison. Consider, too, the trials that you may be facing, or will face. We will all go through them. John faced imprisonment and death. You will also face crosses of your own. Do you think that you are so strong that you can bear them on your own two feet? You are not, and besides your hope is misplaced. Do not find it in yourself.

How poor we are? How pitiful our situation? Can God forgive such a one as me? Could it be that God has given up on me and abandoned me to suffer on my own? Is God really a gracious God, and is He gracious to me?

Luther said, of all the works that Jesus did, of which He quoted from Isaiah, the greatest one is not that the blind receive their sight, or that the lame walk. The greatest work is that He preaches the gospel to the poor. And isn’t that true!

So you, the poor and those struggling with doubt, Behold, the Lord and His gospel for you: He is indeed the Coming One foretold in the Old Testament, who came in love for you for your salvation. He is also the Righteous One, who clothes you in His perfect righteousness. He is also the crucified One, who has atoned for all your sins, and saves you from your sinfulness. He is also the Risen One, who gives you newness of life and life everlasting. He is also the Ascended One who is with you always even to the end of the age. He is also the Returning One who will come again and take you to Himself in eternal joy.

Thanks be to Jesus, from whom we have this precious and certain gospel to comfort us, strengthen us, and quell our doubts. 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.

Categories
2019 Sermons Advent

Advent 2 – 2019

Sermon – Luke 21.25-36

Lord God, heavenly Father, by Your Son You have revealed to us that heaven and earth shall pass away, that our bodies shall rise again, and that we all shall appear before the judgment seat: We beseech You to keep us in Your Word by Your Holy Spirit; establish us in the true faith, graciously defend us from sin and preserve us in all temptations, that our hearts may not be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, but that we may ever watch and pray and, trusting fully in Your grace, await with joy the glorious coming of Your Son, and at last obtain eternal salvation; 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.

25 “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring;

 26 “men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of heaven will be shaken.

 27 “Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.

 28 “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”

 29 Then He spoke to them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees.

 30 “When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near.

 31 “So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near.

 32 “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all things take place.

 33 “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.

 34 “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly.

 35 “For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth.

 36 “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Lk. 21:25-36 NKJ)

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

Dear fellow redeemed,

The apostles were gathered together with Jesus, and all of a sudden they saw Jesus ascend to heaven. The apostles lifted their heads to watch Him go, and then a cloud received Jesus out of their sight.

With their heads still raised, two angels appeared among them and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”

Jesus who was taken from view by a cloud in His ascension, will in a cloud come with power and great glory.

And when the signs of His coming point to His coming on that Day, like a fig tree pointing to the coming of summer, they ought to look up and lift up their heads.

So in these days between Jesus ascension and His return, what are we to do? Look down, or look up? In what way shall we live our lives?

The meaning of the angels message to the apostles was basically, “Jesus will return, so you will have work to do! And the Holy Spirit will prepare you for this work. Do the work of the ministry! Do as Jesus commanded, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all things that He had taught you. Also break bread with one another in the holy Sacrament of the Altar, for Jesus said, “Do this.” And encourage the people in the good works that are the fruits of their faith. In this way you will prepare them for Jesus’ return, so that when He draws near they may confidently lift up their heads and welcome their Redeemer.”

So too, we must keep our heads down (and I don’t mean to be worldly), we are to be about the faithful use of the ministry, and the life of love that flows from the faith the Holy Spirit has created and nourishes in us. And in this way we will be prepared to look up and lift up our heads for the end of the world and Jesus’ return.

For you are redeemed. That means you have been bought back. The holy and precious blood and innocent suffering and death of Jesus Christ was the purchase price to save from your fallen condition and from the curse of the law for your sin, by which you belonged rightfully to Satan and his kingdom. You are redeemed from the futile ways of the fallen world. You have been saved from this generation, which is those who remain in sin and unbelief and rebellion against God. For this generation will remain here until Christ returns, but they will pass away, just as the heavens and the earth will pass away. Therefore you have become strangers here. You remain in the world, but you are not of the world. Rather you are of Christ, sons and daughters of God, heirs of the new creation which is perfect, incorruptible, where you shall dwell with God forever. Your inheritance will never pass away.

And so we do not look to heaven to find the source of this redemption and life. But we turn our heads down here, where Christ says He will be. We hear the Word, repent of our sins and believe the gospel of Christ’s free forgiveness for you. We receive the Sacrament of the altar. We make use of the ministry which Christ established and sustains for the nourishment of His Church, which He redeemed. You know Christ has redeemed you and forgiven you all your sins, and won for you a glorious righteousness that justifies you before God. And desiring these things, you don’t look up to heaven for them. You go to your Bible. You go to the pastor and hear Him speak to you, “I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” You go to the altar, and receive the body and blood of Christ given and shed for you.

And as the Redeemed of Christ, we know that our true and better portion is with the Lord in the life to come. We look forward to His coming to take us to Himself. Yet, we remain in the world, and live as Christ’s redeemed in the world. Since we are redeemed from our sins, from selfishness, pride, and greed, and given new life of righteousness and love, we then live as God’s redeemed and holy people in the world, and in the places in which we live. The love He has shown to us, we reflect and show first to our fellow believers, and then also to the world. In your homes, in your workplace, at church, at the store, wherever you are, we show the love of Christ to others, keeping the commandments in fear and love for God.

And in this way, keeping our heads down here in the ministry of the gospel, and living in love and service for our neighbor, we live heavenly minded and are ready for Christ’s return.

But beware, for down here all around us, and at all times are things to weigh us down. There are the cares of life and vices that would distract us and consume us. Our sinful flesh might lead us to drunkenness, sexual immorality, greed, and other vices, that we eventually be consumed by these things, that we may no longer be repentant of these, no longer seek the forgiveness of Christ and amendment of life, until we again are members of this generation that will be condemned. Or there are the cares of life, family, money, sports, health, work and so on that would also consume us and weigh us down that the treasures of this fleeting life become more important that the treasures in the life without end. How pleased is the devil, when we come up with so many excuses for missing church, and leaving our Bibles unread?

Those weighed down by these vices and cares of the world, the people of this fallen generation, will not be lifting up their heads when they see that this broken world they so loved is literally falling apart. It will be a terrifying time for them as the heavens are shook and the laws of nature break apart, and when Christ comes their heads will be bowed down in dread and shame.

So repent lest you be weighed down also by the vices and cares of this life, and thus be caught by Jesus unprepared. Repent, because Christ has redeemed you, and saved you from this generation, and from the corruption of the world. The heavens and earth will pass away, but the word of the Lord will not pass away. And so look down here. These are the sure and certain words of everlasting life: “You are forgiven all your sins.” Here is the meal that gives you everlasting life: Take and eat, receive the body and blood of Christ given and shed for your forgiveness, partake of the wedding feast of the Lamb that continues forever.

Keep your eyes down here, and look around you at your neighbors, whom God has called you to love and serve.

God has blessed us with this life as His redeemed, the baptismal life, the life of repentance, and live lived under Christ’s continual forgiveness and righteousness.

And so then, when we see the creation falling apart, it will be terrifying. And even now we are seeing some of it with death, decay, and wickedness increasing around us. We are not surprised. This world must pass away. But that means that Christ is near! With Christ’s forgiveness and righteousness, with clean consciences, and confidence, we will look up, lift up our heads, for our Redemption draws near! God will make all things new, and we shall enjoy our eternal home with Him. 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.

Categories
2019 Sermons Advent

Advent 1 – 2019

Matthew 21.1-11

Let us pray: Lord God, heavenly Father, we thank You, we bless and praise You forever, that You sent Your Son to rule over us poor sinners, who for our transgressions justly deserved to remain in the bondage of sin and Satan, and that in Him You gave us a meek and righteous King, who by His death became our Savior from sin and eternal death. We beseech You so to enlighten, govern and direct us by Your Holy Spirit, that we may ever remain faithful to this righteous King and Savior, and not, after the manner of the world, be offended by His humble form and despised Word, but, firmly believing in Him, obtain eternal salvation; 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.

Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples,

 2 saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me.

 3 “And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say,`The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.”

 4 All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying:

 5 “Tell the daughter of Zion,`Behold, your King is coming to you, Lowly, and sitting on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.'”

 6 So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them.

 7 They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them.

 8 And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road.

 9 Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David! `Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ Hosanna in the highest!”

 10 And when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, “Who is this?”

 11 So the multitudes said, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.”

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

Dear fellow redeemed,

The king is coming! What is he coming to do? My family and I just finished reading the Hobbit together, so kings and kingdoms have been on our minds. The book revolves around a journey led by Thorin Oakenshield, who is a descendant of a line of kings, going to Lonely Mountain. His purpose: to reclaim for himself and his people the kingdom in the mountain and all the treasure within that had been stolen by the dragon Smaug many years earlier.

We read about kings in storybooks and also in history, and they make for interesting stories. Our Scarville Lutheran School uses “The Story of the World” for history and there they learn the stories of kings throughout the world. Some kings were benevolent. Some were cruel. And so when you heard that a king is coming, it is an important question to ask: What is he coming to do?

Kings have power and might. They have armies and riches. They are important people and they do important things.

Is he coming to wage war? Is he coming to take us into exile? Is he coming for diplomacy? Is he coming to assert his power? Is he trying to gain the favor of his people? When a king is coming, something big is likely to happen, so we should know what is the purpose of his coming.

This is the purpose of Advent. “Advent” is the Latin word for “coming”. The King, Jesus, our Lord, has come and is coming to us now, and will come again on the Last Day. We need this Advent time to consider the purpose of His coming, so that we may rightly celebrate His birth this Christmas, that we may receive Him as He comes to us today, and that we may be ready to receive Him when He comes again in glory.

So, to help us understand the purpose of the King’s coming, we consider our Gospel reading today.

Jesus is coming. The people confess he is the Son of David. He is of the royal line of David. He is also the one promised to the house of Judah as our Old Testament reading states. He is from the line of Judah. Jacob when blessing Judah, said, “The scepter shall not depart from Judah” (Gen 49:10). Here Jesus is that descendant who holds that scepter and rules forever.

What is this King of David’s line coming to do? God had given David success in battle, destroying enemies that threatened Israel. Through David, God established Israel as a great and free nation. So here is David’s royal Son, is He coming back to reclaim this land that was once free under David, now under the control of the Romans? That’s what many thought at that time.

But the manner of His coming tells a different story. If He was coming to start a revolt, and free Israel from Roman control, He wasn’t coming equipped. There were no mighty steeds, no army, no flexing of worldly power. Rather He rode in a lowly manner, sitting on a donkey.

Yet, as the prophecy says, “Your King is coming to you!” He is coming to the daughter of Zion, that is to the Jewish people. He is coming to accomplish something big! The song the attending crowd sang from Psalm 118, tells us, “Hosanna” which means “save us, now!” This is good news! He’s coming to save! Were the daughters of Jerusalem ready for this king? The King is betrayed into the hands of soldiers. Will they stand by their king? The King stands trial before Pilate, but He isn’t showing the ruler who’s boss. Will the daughters of Zion confess His name? The King is crucified on the cross. Will they give allegiance to Him? The King dies. Will they continue to hope in Him? This is the way the King came. This is how He comes for the daughters of Jerusalem. This is how He comes for their salvation and the salvation of the world. Did they understand His purpose!? And how He will achieve it? The salvation He came to accomplish was salvation from the condemnation for our sins. The way this lowly prophet of Nazareth would do it was by His death-the sacrificial death for us all. As lowly and humble was the coming of this King, there is nothing greater any king of history has accomplished. He has won the world’s salvation, and established a new kingdom of peace with God, of righteousness, of grace, and of truth, and He has risen from the grave to rule this kingdom.

The Advent of His birth was to accomplish this saving work. That Advent has come and gone. But now your King comes again to you. Do you know His purpose and in what way He arrives?

Again, He comes to you to work something great! Not to make you mighty and powerful in the world. No, the manner of His coming tells a different story. He comes to you through the lowly means of His Word and through His Sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.  Through these He comes that He may grant to you faith by which you receive the forgiveness of your sins that He won for you in His first Advent. In this way He makes you children of God, members of His eternal kingdom.

But is His coming too lowly for you? Naaman thought washing in the Jordan 7 times is too simple, the water too plain to be healed of his leprosy. He thought that healing must be a difficult undertaking, some grandiose work. Is the waters of baptism too lowly and simple of a thing to think that God would work such great things in you? But that is how He said He will work. Is the message of His cross foolishness to you? Is it an offense? Do you think that you can do better with your works? Do you think that God would be more pleased with your works that through the death and resurrection of the King of Grace, His Son?

Or is He still too scary of a King, one who will be your judge and condemn you? Surely on the Last Day He will come in judgment, but today, He comes lowly and in mercy to save you, and to be your gracious king.

The fact is, Jesus is exactly the king we need. We are poor miserable sinners disqualified to be in the presence of God, and He is the King who was crucified and is risen for sinners that we may be forgiven of our sins and be given life in His heavenly kingdom. And so we rejoice in His Advent on Palm Sunday. We look forward to the celebration of our Savior’s birth. And we receive today, by faith, our King as He comes to you in His Word of forgiveness and His Holy Supper. That is why we sing, “Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.”

This is the answer to our petition in the Lord’s Prayer, “thy kingdom come.” The kingdom of Christ comes to us, when the Holy Spirit creates faith in our hearts, to receive our Savior King, Jesus Christ. By faith we are justified, clothed in His righteousness. By faith, He who comes to us in the Word and Sacraments, enters our hearts and rules there! Amen.

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