Sermon – Matthew 17.1-9 (Transfiguration – 2020)

O merciful and everlasting God, heavenly Father: We thank You that You have revealed to us the glory of Your Son, and let the light of Your Gospel shine upon us: We pray that You would guide us by this light that we may walk diligently as Christians in all good works, ever be strengthened by Your grace, and conduct our lives in all godliness; 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 after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves;

 2 and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.

 3 And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.

 4 Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

 5 While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!”

 6 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid.

 7 But Jesus came and touched them and said, “Arise, and do not be afraid.”

 8 When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.

 9 Now as they came down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, “Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead.”

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

Hear Him

Dear fellow redeemed,

It was quite a sight that Peter, James, and John had on the mountain. Jesus’ appearance changed before them, and He displayed His divine glory and brilliance. There are the two natures in Christ. It is not the character of human flesh to shine like the sun, and to emit light. We can enter into a pitch black room, and our bodies will produce no light. It will be pitch black. But the body of Christ, which is a real human body, shines like the sun, because He is also true God. The fullness of the divinity dwells in Christ. The early church fathers used to give this picture, and our Lutheran Confessions make use of it, it is like fire and iron. Iron does not have characteristics to glow. It produces no light. But it is the character of fire to glow. So that when fire is joined to the iron, it causes the iron to glow and emit light. So also, because of the union of the divine and human natures in the person of Christ, the divine attributes of His divinity, such as majesty, is communicated to His human nature, such as His body. Christ did this whensoever He willed during His humiliation, such as we see in our gospel reading. And since His ascension, His divine majesty always and fully is being revealed through His flesh.

And Peter, James, and John were in awe of Christ and His glory. They loved this sight!

It is interesting to note that they weren’t afraid of Jesus. Three years earlier, much less caused Peter to flee Jesus’ presence. Jesus gave them the great catch of fish, and Peter seeing the divine power of Jesus fell down at Jesus’ knees and said, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Luke 5:8). But now they see not just the works of His divinity, but also His divine radiance, and they are not afraid. They have come to know not only of His glory, but also His grace and meekness. For John also testified of Him, being “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). And they know that He has come in mercy for the benefit of sinners.

But they see their friend, their teacher in such glory, and speaking also with Moses and Elijah, who represent the entirety of the Old Testament. They want this to last. They want to remain in the presence of His glory.

So Peter, still showing respect to His Lord, requests the will of His master “if you wish.” But it is Peter’s desire that he build three tabernacles, one for Jesus, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.

Peter much preferred this sight over the words that Jesus spoke six days earlier, that He would “go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day” (Mt 16:21). Peter wished to remain in the glory, but tried to prevent Jesus suffering. Of course Peter didn’t learn his lesson. Peter wanted the mountaintop glory, but not Jesus’ suffering on the top of Mt. Calvary. And when Jesus was being judged under Pilate, Peter denied Jesus. And when Jesus was on the cross, Jesus and the disciples abandoned Him.

But on that mountain, the Father intervenes and turns Peter’s attention to where it should be directed: to His Word. He says, “Hear Him.” “Mark this vision you see now, remember who this is before you, this is My beloved Son, begotten from eternity. Hear His Word. He speaks of suffering, humility and death. Do not object to Him. Do not dismiss Him. Hear Him, and trust upon His Word.”

Like Peter, we want to dwell in glory. We want to see it and experience it. This desire ordered in the right way is a good desire. We want to be in heaven with Jesus. That is good. We should wish to dwell in the presence of His glory. This is was the good intention of God in creating us. But the desire for glory in sinful human hearts is easily turned bad.

There is the desire to have a connection to God’s glory, through means other than His Word and Sacraments. There’s that desire to have that mountaintop experience. Some actually go to the mountaintops, or else look for experiences in creation and seek in the beauty of creation, a connection with God. God’s creation declares the glory of God, but it gives no indication of how we stand before Him. In fact, when we think about it, being held accountable to this glorious Creator is very frightening.

Another place where the desire for experiencing God’s glory goes wrong is seen in some styles of worship. God’s Word is to be preeminent. “Hear Him” is God’s command. Music is to serve the words. But for many the music is played for the purpose of eliciting emotions, getting a person to feel God, and feel His love apart from the words. It is often the case that there is a lack of substance in the lyrics, which goes to show that they don’t matter much.

But how else does this desire go wrong? What do we wish to see in our every day lives. A happy life! We have a plan for our lives, that everything would go swimmingly. We seek to build our little kingdom here on earth. And of course, we don’t want things to go bad. We pray to God for blessings, and our daily bread. Jesus tells us to pray for this. And certainly, we are blessed with so many things by God in our lives here on earth. And we give thanks to Him for it. But it goes bad when this becomes the glory in which our hope, confidence, happiness, and comfort is grounded. For these things come and go like a mist.

Life is good, everything with God is good. Life is bad, God’s glory has departed from me. Well, this isn’t how we are to see it.

We operate our lives so much on what we see and experience, and what we want to see and experience. But when it comes to God, and our status before Him, His will for us, we ought to close our eyes and hear Him.

God’s glory on this earth wasn’t only found on that mountaintop. It was also found on another mountaintop, on Calvary. God’s glory was revealed in the crucified Christ. We can’t see it with our eyes, but God calls us to hear Him who was crucified, and there in Holy Scripture we learn, this is God’s atonement for our sins. He is defeating the devil. He is winning salvation for the world!

We need to close our eyes, and open our ears and hear Him, because we don’t see glory in our own lives, for Scripture says, “In this world you will have trouble,” and “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.

But we have the confidence

God is with us. That through faith, we are His children. His glory will not destroy us, for we are forgiven.

This word is sure. This is what Peter speaks of in our epistle reading. This is not the word of man. This is the word of God, and they have seen with their own eyes His glory. What they have heard, what they have seen, they reported. And this Word, which is God’s Word is sure! Peter was sure of it, and was willing to die for it. And we too, must be willing to bear our cross, and suffer, but we know that we have the glory of being God’s children, righteous, and forgiven, and that when our time here comes to an end, we will enter into glory, where we will live in the light and brilliance of God’s glory.

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.


Sermon – John 2.1-11 (Epiphany 2 – 2019)

Let us pray: Lord God, heavenly Father, we thank You, that by Your grace You have instituted holy matrimony, in which You keep us from unchastity, and other offenses: We beseech You to send Your blessing upon every husband and wife, that they may not provoke each other to anger and strife, but live peaceably together in love and godliness, receive Your gracious help in all temptations, and raise their children in accordance with Your will. Grant that we all might walk before You in purity and holiness, put our trust in You, and lead such lives on earth, that in the world to come we may have everlasting life, through 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.

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.

 2 Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding.

 3 And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.”

 4 Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.”

 5 His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”

 6 Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece.

 7 Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” And they filled them up to the brim.

 8 And He said to them, “Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast.” And they took it.

 9 When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom.

 10 And he said to him, “Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!”

 11 This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.

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

Dear fellow redeemed,

John the Baptist said, “He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled” (John 3:29). John is using marriage as a picture of something here. Marriage is something to rejoice in. When the friend of the bridegroom hears the bridegroom’s voice, he rejoices, because the bridegroom is coming to take the bride to himself. John is using this picture of marriage to express his joy in Christ’s appearance and ministry. For he is the friend. The Bride, the Church, does not belong to Him. But she belongs to the Bridegroom, Jesus Christ, and John, as the friend, rejoices that Jesus has come to redeem His bride, and bring sinners to Himself.

We focus on these two points today, rejoicing in earthly marriage, and rejoicing in the heavenly marriage.

Jesus, His mother Mary, and some of His disciples were invited to a wedding in Cana. These wedding celebrations were days long feasts. As part of the festivities and celebration, there was included much food and drink for merry making. These were not provided for gluttony and drunkenness, and certainly Jesus would not produce wine for the purpose of drunkenness, else He would be the cause of sin. But the food and drink are enjoyed in good conscience as part of the cheerfulness of the event.

Weddings are to be celebrated. Jesus’ presence at the wedding and the performance of His first miracle at the wedding give witness to the good thing that marriage is. He honors it and it is something for us to honor and celebrate. For God has established marriage at creation, for the good of those who enter into marriage, for the good of children, the fruit of marriage, and for the good of society, and also for a picture of the mystery of the marriage of Christ and His Bride, the Church. We ourselves know the great thing marriage is, and it is something that we honor. We might not be very pleased with some match ups. But the fact that it matters goes to show how important a thing it is, and how highly we regard marriage. We celebrate it as a good gift that God has given us.

But marriage is not celebrated in the world. For a long time, even unbelievers valued marriage, because the culture had been influenced by the values of Christianity. But now, as those values disappear, the culture has been despising marriage more and more. And we’ve been seeing this happening now for 50 years.

Boyfriend and girlfriend move in together, and they defile the marriage bed. Each day they make mockery of marriage and incur God’s wrath upon themselves. And it is no wonder that statistics show that those who live together before marriage are more likely to divorce, because they have already started with a low view of marriage. And marriage is already viewed as something that is easily disposable. Along with these, the sexual immorality, the unashamed use of pornography, the efforts to redefine marriage are the opposite of the celebration of God’s good institution of marriage, but such things are a celebration in the devil’s perverse and destructive works.

May God save us from the world’s influence. But we confess what Scripture says in Genesis 2, and what Jesus repeats, “He who made them at the beginning made them male and female, for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Mt 19:4-6). We recognize the value of marriage, and rejoice in it the great gift that it is.

But the rejoicing that is there on the wedding day isn’t always so easy to come by in later years. Excitement subsides. The days become plain and ordinary. Difficulties with money, work, health, and other things put stress on the relationships. The selfishness that is inherent in the sinful flesh of husband and wife give offense against one another.

Yet, in Christ, there is still reason to celebrate the marriage relationship. As Christ’s presence and work blessed the wedding day of the couple in Cana, His presence and work blesses your marriage each day.

The blessing, and rejoicing that there is in marriage is based on this, that Christ is the faithful Bridegroom to His Bride.

And this is the true marriage, the ultimate marriage in which we all rejoice in. John rejoiced in Jesus coming. And so do we! Jesus preaches the gospel. His disciples baptized. John’s disciples were jealous, but John was rejoicing that Jesus was on the scene drawing people to Himself. Through the miracle of Cana, Jesus shows that He is divine, true God. And He comes for His Bride the Church.

Love. A decisive act of love. He didn’t wait till she deserved it. But it came from His own heart of love. And thus God became man, so that He may give His life for her. Purchased her with His own blood, and died, that she may be His own. If He remained dead, the Bride remains alone. But He is risen to take her to Himself, that she may rejoice eternally in His presence and love.

You and I as children are members of the Bride, purchased and won from all sin, death and the power of the devil. Your sins are forgiven.

In everything, whether we are married or not. We have forgiveness. We belong to the Bridegroom, Jesus Christ.

And it is in this reality of the marriage of Christ and the Church, that we are able to rejoice continually in the gift of marriage, both in the institution, and in the specific marriage relationships we are part of. Remember the blessings of marriage. It is not based on emotions. But a gift God has given you. God’s gifts to one another. Joining together. The love that comes from the heart of Christ, gives us hearts to love one another. A decisive love, an love that acts, not waiting for that love to be earned, but to love freely. In this love, you give the gift of repentance.

Gift of repentance.

Gift of forgiveness.

We rejoice in institution of marriage.

Marriage is a gift, a blessing we rejoice in. Children rejoice in it. I love it how children act all embarrassed at the sight of parents affection for one another, but they love it. They feel safety in that.

For some, marriage has failed, and there is no return.

For some, marriage was a gift now taken away by the Lord through the death of a spouse. And its hard, but count the blessing, and give thanks to God for the blessing.

With Christ in the relationship we have reason to rejoice, even when things are difficult. In Christ we always have reason to rejoice. “Rejoice always, in everything…”

“Wine on the lees.” Bound to Him, the faithful Bridegroom.

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.


Sermon – Matthew 2.1-12 (Epiphany observed – 2020)

Let us pray: Lord God, heavenly Father, You have given us the light of Your holy Word, the guiding star that leads us to the Christ-child: Send, we beseech You, Your Holy Spirit into our hearts, that we may receive this light and make use of it for our salvation, and that we, like the wise men, when they were seeking the star, may not be afraid because of any hardship or peril, but put all our trust in Your only-begotten Son as our only Savior, devote our earthly possessions to the advancement of Your kingdom, and in all things serve Him, Your only-begotten 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 after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem,

 2 saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”

 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

 4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.

 5 So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:

 6 `But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.'”

 7 Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared.

 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.”

 9 When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was.

 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy.

 11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

 12 Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.

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

Dear fellow redeemed,

It was an interesting situation. The king of the Jews, we’ll say the lower case “k” king of the Jews wasn’t a Jew. King Herod was a Idumean, a man from the Edomites, a descendant of Esau who was the twin brother of Jacob, or Israel as we also call him.

But there is the true and proper King, big “K” King of the Jews, who had been born in Bethlehem. And He was a Jew. He comes in fulfillment of the prophecy spoken of Him by Jacob, when he said, “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between His feet, until Shiloh comes.” At the time when a foreigner is occupying the throne, a true descendant of Judah is born who will pick up the scepter.

So this Jesus, born in Bethlehem, is the King of the Jews, so the Jews welcomed His coming, and submitted to Him right? Well, no, it didn’t quite turn out that way. Some did. For instance some shepherds came to worship Him. There were some who were waiting for Him, like Simeon and Anna. But then there were these foreigners that came and bowed before Him in worship, as subjects of His, and gave Him some gifts fit for a king.

It was kind of a mixed up situation. But what is the difference when we say that Herod was the king of the Jews, and Jesus is the King of the Jews? Let’s examine.

The wise men came from the East with their mission well determined. They were looking for the Messiah, the one born king of the Jews, in order that they may worship Him and give Him gifts. The star had made them known that the child has been born, and the star miraculously guided them to Judea. How they came to know that the star was a sign for the Child’s birth, and how they knew that this Child is the king of the Jews and that they should find Him we do not know. Scripture does not say. Perhaps, the promise and a prophecy had been passed down from them the prophet Daniel, who lived a few centuries earlier. We do not know.

But it’s interesting that these wise men of the Orient, important people wherever they’re from, they go to worship the King of another people. This is much too long of trip to be making any assumptions about this King. They go believing that this Jesus, born King of the Jews, is their king, too.

The star guides them as far as Judea. And the wise men go to the sensible place, the great city of Jerusalem. And there they go to Herod, the king presently ruling over the Jews, by all sights and sounds the king of the Jews. The wisemen do not pledge allegiance to him. He is not their king. But perhaps this king would know whats going on in his kingdom, or at least have the resources to find out the location of where this “King of the Jews” is born.

But this news troubles Herod. Though Herod made vast improvements to the Temple building and other structures under his authority, he was a wicked king. He was jealous and insecure. He executed one of his wives, and had three of his sons put to death. He is responsible for numerous other unjust executions, and also for the slaughter of the innocents of Bethlehem, which took place after the events of our gospel reading. So, when he heard that a child who is called “King of the Jews” was born, he was disturbed, and immediately had ill will toward Jesus. He sent the wisemen out to find Jesus in Bethlehem, and to bring back word to him about the location of the child.

When the wisemen went on their way, they saw the star again. They rejoiced exceedingly, because it was Jesus’ star and it was showing them the way to Him. And in some supernatural way, it brought them directly to the house where the Child was. They fell down in worship of the humble Child. They honor not a king, but their king.

I wonder if we think enough of the significance of this event: this King of the Jews is the King also of these foreigners. Maybe it is because we simply grew up with the fact that Jesus is the Savior of all people, which is good.

But we should ask this question. Can we lay claim to this King of Bethlehem as our own? What does Scripture say? Jesus is the Messiah, the One promised to the Jews. Jesus is born a Jew. He is the King of the Jews. He came to His own people, to save them. But then this example of the wisemen recorded for us in Scripture resounds to us the good news that this Jesus is for the Gentiles, too. He is for you!

Paul says in the Epistle reading for today, “Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also, since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith, and the uncircumcised through faith.” God also spoke through the prophet Isaiah, speaking to the Messiah, “I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.” (Is 49:6)

He that is born “King of the Jews” is our king, too. But we are also sinners! If only He knew our filthy sins of which we’re guilty. The wretched lusts of our flesh. The selfishness in our hearts. If He knew how I treated my spouse, my parents, my siblings. If He knew how lazy I was, how apathetic I was. If He knew these things, He would want nothing to do with me.

He knows it very well, for He has bore those very sins for you once long ago. And behold the star, His star, His holy word, guides you to Him. Through it the Holy Spirit calls you to come to Jesus in faith, to come before Him and fall before Him in worship, repenting of Your sins and receiving His mercy toward you. For He is a King born for you. His cross has removed from you your sins.

He is Your gracious King. And He calls all people to Himself. If only Herod would have joined the wisemen, and acknowledged Jesus as His king.

All, Jew or Gentile, who believe that Jesus Christ is the Savior can claim Him as their King. And He claims us as His own people. He is our King of Grace, our Savior. Thanks be to God. Amen.

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

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.