Friday, February 24, 2012
Thursday, February 23, 2012
February 22, 2012
Pastor Timothy J. Spaude
Text: John 18:4-11
SURPRISING WORDS FROM OUR SAVIOR’S PASSION
“PUT YOUR SWORD AWAY!”
1. Because Jesus must go to the cross.
2. Because we must too!
John 18:4-11 (NIV 1984) “Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?” 5 “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) 6 When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. 7 Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” 8 “I told you that I am he,” Jesus answered. “If you are looking for me, then let these men go.” 9 This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.” 10 Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) 11 Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”
The cross is central. It is the central message of the Bible. It is the central focus of our church architecture. God’s word and the building are designed to keep our eyes on Jesus’ cross. It’s no surprise that our Lenten series this year strives to do the same. The Wednesdays of Lent have been traditionally used in the Christian Church to follow the Passion History of Jesus—to see His cross. This year we do that by looking at some surprising sayings of Jesus. Now it is not unusual to hear someone say something surprising, is it? For instance once when walking downstairs by our preschoolers one of them said, “Um, pastor, um, where’s your dress?” That’s surprising. I’m not sure where that was coming from. Or take this one. Whenever the pastor who supervised me for my vicar year visits our congregation he says, “Well, you’re looking good. Although there seems to be more of you.” That’s surprising. I don’t know why he would say that. I’m worried about his eyesight. Jesus’ surprising sayings have to do with our salvation. Our one for today is, “Put your sword away!” Why would Jesus say that?
We join Jesus and the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane. Judas had left them in the Upper Room to get the chief priests and their soldiers in accordance with his betrayal agreement. Jesus took the other disciples up the Mount of Olives to the Garden. He had prayed fervently to His Father. Now it was time for the next step. Notice what John tells us. “Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him.” Jesus knows! How could He not? He is the Son of God. He knows and He goes anyway. But there’s more. Look at what happens.
Picture it, if you can. There is Jesus with the 11 disciples following behind. They meet Judas leading some of the chief priests and a detachment of soldiers. They have torches, lanterns, weapons. If you are one of the disciples watching you are thinking. What is this? What is Judas doing with them? What’s going on here?
Jesus asks a question. “Who is it you want?” 5 “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “I am he,” Jesus said. 6 When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.” You know what was going on there, right? Jesus was demonstrating to His disciples and His arresters that soldiers and weapons could not force Him to do anything. Jesus would go by His choice. Jesus asked again, “Who is it you want?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” 8 “I told you that I am he,” Jesus answered. “If you are looking for me, then let these men go.” 9 This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.” Again Jesus shows His love. He’s more concerned about what would happen to the disciples then to him.
That’s when it happened. Peter stepped forward. “Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) His Lord, His Master needed help. Peter stepped forward to defend Him. And then Jesus said it, “Put your sword away!” Why? Peter was standing up for Jesus. That’s what we are supposed to do. Peter was zealous for the safety of Jesus. What’s wrong with that? At this point, everything. Jesus needed to go to the cross. He knew that. He said, “Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” The cross was the Father’s plan, not the chief priests’, not Pilate’s, not Satan’s. God’s plan. Only on the cross could God punish sin without punishing us. Only through the cross could sinners be freed from their slavery and could death be made the path to heaven. Jesus said “Put your sword away!” because He needed to go to the cross.
We must go there too. Actually we have already been to the cross. Actually we have all already been on the cross. We were there with Jesus. He was there as our substitute. He did His job. No one kept Jesus from the cross. The Devil does try to keep us from focusing the cross. He likes to do that like He did with Peter, even using our good intentions. You saw how Peter got in trouble, right? He felt he had to help Jesus. Jesus couldn’t get by without Peter’s help. Wrong. Just as wrong when we do it. For every time we try we need to hear Jesus say, “Put your sword away.” For instance Jesus does tell us to live Godly lives and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit enables us to. But that doesn’t make us better than anyone else or more worthy of salvation. So when we are smugly feeling we are in some way better than other sinners or tempted to despise others we need to hear “Put your sword away.” Jesus does give us the privilege of being His witnesses. He does tell us to spread the word. But when our witnessing is met with rejection and we are tempted to rely on something other than the Gospel message of Jesus crucified to pay for sin, we need to hear, “Put your sword away.” And when we have sinned and in repentance hear Jesus announce forgiveness in His word, the Sacrament of through another believer we don’t need to mope around for several days to prove who sorry we are. Put your sword away. Jesus doesn’t need our help in paying for our sins either. You get to live the joy of salvation.
“Put your sword away!” was the surprising thing Jesus said to Peter who was simply trying to help Him. But Jesus doesn’t need Peter’s help or yours or mine. It’s a privilege to serve Him. Perhaps though there is one more surprising saying in this part of the Passion History. It’s surprising because of who said it. When the chief priests and detachment of soldiers came to arrest Jesus, He asked them, “Who is it you want?” Surprisingly they answered, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Who is it you want? Who do you want ruling your life? Who do you want to serve? Who do you want with you every day? Whose approval do you desired the most? Today and every day let there be no surprise about our answer. Jesus of Nazareth! Amen.
Monday, February 20, 2012
February 19/20, 2012
Seminary Student Nate Buchner
2 Cor. 4:3-6
WE BASK IN THE GLORY OF HIS LIGHT!
WE BASK IN THE GLORY OF HIS LIGHT!
1. The god of this age tries to blind our hearts.
1. The god of this age tries to blind our hearts.
2. God makes His light shine in our hearts.
2. God makes His light shine in our hearts.
I’m not a huge fan of the darkness. As a kid, I even had a fear of it. I didn’t like that feeling where I couldn’t see. I didn’t like the fact that I didn’t know what was around the corner, that there may be something really bad next to me. I even remember when I was down in the basement at night, I would run up the stairs after turning off the lights so I didn’t have to be in the darkness for very long. In life though, there is a darkness that is actually worth being scared about. Actually, it’s downright terrifying. You see, without Christ, we are lost in the absolute darkness of sin. But God does not leave us alone. Thus, we bask in glory of his light. The god of this age tries to blind our hearts. But God makes his light shine in our hearts.
Corinth, the city to whom Paul wrote, had a problem. They lived in a culture which was saturated with logic. Because of this, they sometimes evaluated the Christian preachers, like Paul, based on their oratory skills. Earlier, Paul had written them a letter in which he addressed this issue. However, at the time of our letter, 2 Corinthians, many of the people still had not learned. Instead of following the teaching of Paul, who in reality taught in Jesus’ name, some were tempted to follow men called the “Super Apostles.”
These “Super Apostles” didn’t put the truth forth plainly, but used deception and trickery to make their points. They then began to judge Paul because he didn’t use tremendous logic to get his points across. For, in the verse before our lesson, Paul says, “Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” This type of attitude did not mesh with the teaching of those “Super Apostles.” They chose to add to the gospel, while Paul spoke the truth plainly.
At this point the Corinthians may have been wondering, “Paul, this setting forth the truth plainly doesn’t always seem to work! There are still a lot of people who don’t ‘get it.’” You yourselves may even be asking this question. Well, Paul then answers this question for them and for you in the next few verses. In verse 3 he says, “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.” This is quite a powerful statement made by Paul. He is reassuring the Corinthians that it is not because of his or the other Christian leaders’ preaching that the gospel is veiled.
He then further answers the question why it seems that the gospel doesn’t seem to work in verse 4, “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” What Paul tells us here is that the gospel is always powerful, and it does work. The problem does not lie within the gospel, but instead is found within the god of this age.
So then, who is the god of this age? Satan is this god. In another part of Scripture, Jesus had referred to the devil as the prince of the world. Here, however, Paul chooses god. Both the name “prince” and “god” are associated with someone powerful. But, the name “god” is even more powerful. Also, when you think of a god, it is something or someone which people follow. These are the reasons why Paul calls Satan “The god of this age.”
Secondly, Satan understands that he can’t change the fact that Jesus died to win salvation. Thus, he has to revert to “Plan B.” This is when Satan blinds men so that they can’t see the light of the gospel. And, sadly, Paul tells us that when people are blinded, they are perishing. Now, this blinding tricks people into thinking that the gospel is not sufficient enough to save us. This blinding can also deceive some into thinking the gospel is downright worthless.
For a moment, just take a look at the Gospel of our God. Think about it; what sane person wouldn’t think something more is needed? Think about how illogical the object of our faith seems to be. We believe in a God who became man. A man who lived 2000 years ago in a Roman providence in the Middle East, who came to this earth to teach us and to save us. What he said was that we can do nothing for our salvation, a teaching which goes completely against our culture where we must work in order to earn. On top of this all, since this man died, I can put my trust in him in order to get away from a bad place after life. And instead of going to this bad place, I will go to a different place where nothing bad happens? Finally, when you think about it, we have to admit that we can’t understand the logic in God’s plan. But when people try and find that logic, they begin to doubt and think that something else is needed, or they won’t even trust in God’s message at all.
Although Satan blinds unbelievers, he also attempts to blind the hearts of believers once again. He knows what both we and Paul preach, which is Christ crucified. For this reason, he tries to get our focus off of Christ and onto something else. The god of this world tempts us to try and harmonize God’s plan with our human reason. And since he can’t blind the Christ, he is forced to try and re-blind us. He asks us that nagging question, “Do you really want to believe in Christ for salvation? Shouldn’t you be doing something for your salvation?” Instead of basking in the glory of God’s light, the god of this age wants to make sure he has blinded our hearts.
However, although Satan wishes to blind us, God is working also. Thus we bask in the light that God causes to shine in our hearts. And this would not happen if God would not lead some men to say, 'For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.” Can you imagine what Satan would do if we would begin to preach ourselves instead of Christ? Whenever preaching begins to focus on something else, the devil can jump in to attack. If the power didn’t come through the word of Christ and rather depended on those who speak to you, we’d all be in big time trouble. Satan can’t stand up to Christ, but he can sure go toe-to-toe with us. We are simply jars of clay, but yet, God has given us his precious message of his glorious light.
But God doesn’t stop there; he doesn’t just tell us what not to preach. But he himself, makes his light shine in our hearts. Paul makes this conclusion when he says, “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” Think back to Genesis chapter one and what God says about the beginning of time. “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep.” Picture that. Absolute darkness. Absolute nothingness. And then, God spoke, “Let there be light. God’s voice roared out…and there was light. He, in his power, took the darkness, and he filled it with his light.
Again, imagine that utter darkness. That’s what kind of state we were in before God filled our hearts with light. And when God did this, he created light in our hearts. A light which allows us to see the glory of God. We know that although we are sinful, God chose his Son to save us. We deserved nothing, but God gave us everything. He gave, “us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” So, yes, now we have light. A light which is our Christ, the image of God. Our Christ, who showed a glimpse of his glorious light on the mountain of his Transfiguration, who laid waste to the power of Satan when he died for your and my sins on Calvary, and who showed his complete strength by dominating death and rising from the grave. And now, since God has opened our eyes with his light, we see that we are just jars of clay, that nothing special lies within us. Rather, we acknowledge the fact that our power lies in the crucified and risen Lord.
In the past, we were blinded with darkness. But, God worked in our hearts and gave us the knowledge of Christ, so that now we have his light and can see. However, this does not mean that we are on our own by any means. God continues to work within our hearts. Just as the god of this age constantly is trying to blind our hearts, so our God continually brings light into our hearts. Satan still tempts us to doubt God’s plan of salvation. But yet, every time that we hear the gospel of Christ, or partake in his sacraments, we can be sure that God is within us, strengthening the light of the knowledge of his glory. You see, in baptism Christ marked us as his own. Every day we can wake up and be reminded of Christ’s light just by thinking of our baptism. In his Holy Supper, we get to taste and see the light of Christ’s salvation. We get to partake in the body and blood of our Lord, a showing of the forgiveness of our sins. And finally, in his word, we can hear of how Christ won for us our light by dying on the cross for our sins. So then, when Satan comes around to tempt you, realize that you are not alone. He will try and veil the gospel and blind you, but God will be there also. And God will continue to let his light shine in your lives.
Without Christ in our lives, we would still be lost in our blindness, and the god of this age would love for nothing better for this to be the case. However, it is not. God has made his light shine in our hearts. He has given us the light of his Son, who has saved us from the darkness of our sins. But, this does not mean that the devil will stop from trying to re-blind us. At times like this, we see the strength of our God. We see our God who protects us to this very day and continues to give us his light, who is none other than our Christ. Our Christ, who vanquished the foe by his death, so that we may have the light of life. Therefore, we bask in the glory of his light.
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Sermon on Psalm 103:1-22 by Pastor Paul G. Eckert
The entire text is in the body of the sermon
We can speak of three special days this month: Ground Hog Day, last Thursday, February 2; Super Bowl Day, this Sunday, February 5; and then Leap Day, February 29. Two of those happen every year, and one comes every fourth year except for certain years.
But instead of talking about some things that happen only once a year at the most, let’s learn from Psalm 103 that there is something you and I as Christians should want to do every day of every year.
PRAISE THE LORD, O MY SOUL
I BY NOT FORGETTING ALL HIS BENEFITS (1-7)
1-7 Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits - who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel:
1. This is a call to worship God. (1-2)
Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits
a) The first word - Praise - could well be translated: worship.
b) Yes, we are to praise and worship God for all of His benefits,
all of the good things He gives us and does for us in our lives.
2. But can there be neglect instead of worship? (2b-5)
all his benefits - who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
a) How easy it is for us to take blessings for granted, or to credit
ourselves for them and take God out of the picture.
b) And how easy it is to put God into the picture when there are
difficulties, to blame God instead of trusting a promise He has
made to all of His people that He will make all things, also
difficulties, serve for the eternal good of those who love Him.
3. Here we should learn from history. (6-7)
The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of
a) Moses’ life was loaded with difficulties: from Egypt, through
the wilderness wandering, and up to the promised land. King
David too in the promised land of Israel had a life that was
loaded with difficulties and sin - he was far from a perfect man.
b) Yet for Moses and David, who were true and penitent
believers, God kept His promise to use also difficulties and to
turn them into benefits. And how richly God did that with the
nation of Israel. Though loaded with sinners and difficulties,
yet through them God gave the greatest benefit of all, the
Savior who is the glory of Israel and the world’s Redeemer.
4. We need this reminder. (1-2)
Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits
a) St. Jacobi Congregation, are we taking God’s many blessings
to us for granted? St. Jacobi Congregation, do we show that
by not showing up regularly in church to worship Him, by not
serving Him as well as we should with our time and offerings?
b) Each of us, is God a part of our daily lives? Do we daily pray
to Him, seek His guidance from His Word, trust Him?
c) Let us acknowledge that we too, like Moses and David and
other people, are sinners and need God’s reminder that He
wants our worship and praise for who He is, for what He
has done. And let’s not forget to thank Him that in His grace
He does forgive us who often do forget all His benefits.
II BY REMEMBERING THAT HE UNDERSTANDS (8-18)
8-18 The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But from everlasting to everlasting the
LORD’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children - with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.
1. Thank God that He does not forget us. (8-10)
a) Yes, God is rightfully angry at sin and fully aware of what we
deserve for even one sin.
b) But look at what kind of a God we have, a God who does not
deal with us as could be expected, but a God who loves people,
people who by ourselves are so undeserving of love.
The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.
2. Listen again to what this means. (11-12)
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
a) You have repented. But do your sins keep coming back to
haunt you, to make you wonder if God has really forgiven you?
b) Then look at the examples God gives about space and
distance. Because of Jesus your sins have been blasted into
space, zoomed into the horizon. They are forgiven, gone! A
similar reference in Ephesians 3 says, "--- grasp how wide and
long and high and deep is the love of Christ." Yes, so far,
out of His sight, has God removed our transgressions from us.
If the "worst sinner" present stood up here now, penitent, I
can say to him that his sins are forgiven, gone; go in peace, as
Jesus will tell us exactly that also in His Lord’s Supper today.
3. Recognize that God understands us. (13-16)
As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.
a) God knows what weak sinners we all are. But as good parents
have compassion on their sinful children, so God understands
and has compassion on us, undeserving sinners that we are.
b) It is exactly because of this that Jesus came into this world, as
the letter to the Hebrews says, "For this reason [Jesus] had to be made like His brothers in every way, in order that He might
become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and
that He might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because He Himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted." Yes, Jesus does understand us.
4. What a contrast to us human beings! (17-18)
But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children - with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.
a) We are temporal and sinners, but God is eternal and holy.
b) He fully understands us; He can and does empathize with us.
c) And His eternal love continues with all who fear Him.
III BY ACKNOWLEDGING WHAT IS DUE TO HIM (19-22)
19-22 The LORD has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all. Praise the LORD, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word. Praise the LORD, all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will. Praise the LORD, all his works everywhere in his dominion. Praise the LORD, O my soul.
1. Recognize and acknowledge His sovereignty over all. (19)
The LORD has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.
a) With what is all happening in the world it at times may well
seem that nothing is in charge, including God.
b) But whether it is turmoil or weather conditions, God is as
much in control now as He was when He showed Himself in
control from the Garden of Eden, through history, and to a
birth in Bethlehem to carry out His saving plans and purposes.
2. His angels recognize His sovereignty. (20)
Praise the LORD, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word.
a) Evil angels, evil people do not acknowledge God’s authority,
but instead spew out evil, immorality, corruption.
b) But God’s good angels acknowledge it and serve God with powerful deeds to protect us and to carry out God’s will.
3. His creation recognizes His sovereignty. (21-22a)
Praise the LORD, all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do
his will. Praise the LORD, all his works everywhere in his dominion.
a) God - not evolution or man’s thinking - created the world, the
sun and moon and stars, the farthest away heavenly bodies.
b) They still follow God’s orders, including sometimes using
weather conditions to show that God and not man is in control.
4. Let each and every one of us recognize His sovereignty. (22b)
Praise the LORD, O my soul.
a) Let’s not give our Creator and Savior God neglect or taking
for granted, or feel that He does not understand and love us.
b) May we instead gather faithfully in church to hear His Word
and receive His Supper, to give Him the worship and praise
that is due Him.
c) And may we do that in our daily lives, as families, at home, at
work, or anyplace, joyfully serving Him who served us.
Ground Hog Day, Super Bowl Day, Leap Day are not every day. But may God help all of us not to forget His benefits any day, and to make every day a PRAISE THE LORD, O MY SOUL Day.
>>> Sing Psalm 103, CW p. 105 (in place of creed)