March 25, 2015, 6th Wednesday Lenten Service
Sermon by Pastor Emeritus Paul G. Eckert
Sermon text - Luke 23:32-43
Three weeks ago we talked about Judas betraying Jesus for 30
pieces of silver, willing to lead into Gethsemane enemies of Jesus who
wanted to make sure that they arrested Jesus and not a wrong person.
Why would Judas do that? At least a part of the answer is that he
had a problem that went back before the betrayal. The problem was
that he loved money and was a robber, a thief. John in his Gospel
mentions that in connection with an incident when a woman used
expensive perfume to show her love for Jesus. John writes: “One of
(Jesus’) disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him,
objected, ‘Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the
poor? It was worth a year’s wages.’ He did not say this because he
cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the
money bag he used to help himself to what was put into it.”
That is the background for the betrayal by Judas. But that wasn’t
the last connection Jesus had with a thief. There also were two thieves
who were crucified with Jesus. Both of them mocked Jesus at first, as
the Gospel of Matthew tells us: “The robbers who were crucified with
him, also heaped insults on him.” But, as we hear in our text, one of
those robbers or thieves later became a believer in Jesus and then heard
this wonderful promise from Jesus’ lips:
“I TELL YOU THE TRUTH,
TODAY YOU WILL BE WITH ME IN PARADISE.”
I PARADISE WAS LOST.
1. There was a Paradise.
a) God’s Word tells us, “In the beginning God created the
heavens and the earth.” Politicians may not want to acknowledge
God’s creation when most people seem to believe in evolution.
But we believe God is the Maker of heaven and earth.
b) And God’s Son, Jesus, whom we see on the cross in our text,
was there at the creation, as Scripture tells us: “In the
beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word
was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all
things were made ---.” What was made included the first Paradise, the
special garden into which God placed Adam and Eve.
2. Obviously that Paradise was gone in our text . (33)
When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified
him, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his
a) Instead of seeing a paradise, we see a killing place, a place
called Golgatha or the Skull, whose appearance was far from
that of a paradise garden.
b) Here there was abuse and mockery from people and from both
thieves, and a terrible dying was in process.
3. We know what explains all of this.
a) God had given Adam and Eve the opportunity to show their
love for Him and His creation by giving only one prohibition:
not to eat from one tree. They failed, and stopped being
b) Then Paradise was lost. A sinful world was ahead.
4. We know what that means.
a) The world now has criminals, like the two on crosses here.
b) Pain, sorrow and dying are here - for all of us sinners.
c) No Paradise here, not for anybody, and none in sight at all.
II COULD PARADISE BE RESTORED?
1. Jesus here spoke of such a place. (43)
Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with
me in paradise.”
a) Clearly Jesus mentioned such a place. It exists.
b) But where is it? You don’t see it on any map. Going to
Mapquest for directions won’t help. And the sin that lost the
first Paradise is still in the world. Proof of that is not only two
thieves on crosses, but prisons loaded to overflowing, and
constant police reports of crime. Want more proof? Death!
2. What can you and I do about this?
a) How many sins did it take Adam and Eve before they lost
perfection? One! How many sins do you and I have to have in
our lives before we fall short? One! Scripture says, “Whoever
keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of
breaking all of it.” (James 2:10)
b) Add to that the fact that we all are already sinful from birth.
3. Obviously we can’t restore Paradise.
a) Restore furniture, a burned down building? Sure.
b) But we can’t come close to restoring or gaining Paradise.
4. Could forgiveness be the answer? (34)
Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they
a) How many sins do we have? How many when we didn’t
even know the wrong we were doing? The answer is plenty,
just like the two thieves on the cross, like the soldiers at the
cross, like the many who rejected Jesus and thought it was
the right thing to do.
b) For all of those and our sins Jesus gives the only solution:
“Father, forgive them.” Amazing! Don’t reject that in unbelief.
c) But is this really possible? How can our heavenly Father
forgive us, not hold our sins against us? Listen to His Son!
III YES, JESUS PROMISES US PARADISE!
1. The promise goes back to the first Paradise.
a) After Adam and Eve fell into sin and could do nothing about
it, God promised a Savior from sin in these words spoken to
the old evil foe, the devil: “I will put enmity between you and
the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your
head, and you will strike his heel.”
b) Yes, on the cross Jesus was really getting struck, taking all of
the punishment for our sins, so that He could crush the
condemning power of sin, so that He could promise us
2. Don’t meet His promise with unbelief.
a) Adam and Eve had not believed God when He warned them
not to disobey Him. That unbelief resulted in sin and loss.
b) Today too unbelief, rejection of God’s love, will have to hear
Jesus say, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the
eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Mt. 25:41)
3. Instead believe, and be saved. (42)
Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your
a) This thief believed, turned to Jesus, now saw Him as the
promised Savior, as the One who had a kingdom, a kingdom
He had left to come to this earth to be our Savior.
b) In such faith he could look forward to the promised Paradise.
4. This promise, like all of God’s promises, will be fulfilled. (43)
Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with
me in paradise.”
a) This thief died. But what a wondrous thing for him when he
opened his eyes and saw the glories of Paradise.
b) In the last book of the Bible we are assured that this applies
also to you and to me. We are told: “He who has an ear, let
him hear what the Spirit says to the churches (note: that includes St.
Jacobi church). To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat
from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.”
c) Can we be sure of that? Jesus’ resurrection from the dead
“Today.” When will your “Today” be? I’ll add a personal note
here. Next month I’ll be 84 years old. So it might not be too long
before I hear Jesus saying to me, “I tell you the truth, today you will
be with me in paradise.” Some here might beat me to that time.
Some of you will be waiting a longer time.
Here is an example from two funerals last Saturday. One was that
of John Miller who had long been a member of St. Jacobi. He was 87
years old when he heard Jesus say, “Today.” The other was that of
little Kaleb Fredrich who was born, was baptized and became a child
of God, and at the age of only a few hours heard Jesus say to him,
“Today you will be with me in paradise.”
But whenever, whether hours or years, thank our gracious God that
true believers in Jesus, the Son of God, can look forward to hearing
Jesus say, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in
Monday, March 30, 2015
March 28-30, 2014
Pastor Timothy J. Spaude
Text: Mark 11:1-11
“THE KING OF GLORY!”
1. The King of Glory knows.
2. The King of Glory goes.
3. How shall we meet Him?
Mark 11:1-11 (NIV 1984) “As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples,2 saying to them, "Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here.3 If anyone asks you, 'Why are you doing this?' tell him, 'The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.' "4 They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, 5 some people standing there asked, "What are you doing, untying that colt?" 6 They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. 7 When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. 8 Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. 9 Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, "Hosanna! " "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"
10 "Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!" "Hosanna in the highest!" 11 Jesus entered Jerusalem and went to the temple. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.”
Have you noticed how people seem to want or need something or someone to root for? Think about it. Why does professional and college sports generate so much interest and money? Why do we have March Madness and rabid fans who paint their faces? Why do we have such a vested interest in how the Packers or Brewers do or get excited about a golf or tennis player or the Olympics? And if sports isn’t your thing, do you find yourself watching a particular television show and wanting a certain character to come out on top, your favorite to be the Voice or the next American Idol? Today we celebrate Palm Sunday. The King of Glory comes riding into Jerusalem. Here’s someone to root for. Someone to cheer for.
Something that jumps out at us right away is the fact that the King of Glory knows! “As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples,2 saying to them, "Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here.3 If anyone asks you, 'Why are you doing this?' tell him, 'The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.' "4 They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, 5 some people standing there asked, "What are you doing, untying that colt?" 6 They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go.” The fact that God knows everything that will happen before it happens is called God’s foreknowledge. As true God Himself Jesus knew everything that would happen before it does. Can you imagine having that ability, knowing what will happen before it does? What would you use that ability for? I guess it doesn’t matter because we don’t have it. But Jesus does. He doesn’t use that foreknowledge to correctly pick the Judean Powerball numbers. He doesn’t use it to place a bet on who will win Rome’s Super Brawl in the Coliseum. All that would have done is gained money. No instead Jesus uses His foreknowledge to advance the plan of salvation. He wants to gain you for God. He tells His disciples exactly where to find a colt the foal of a donkey and to get the owners to allow them to take it without calling the village police. He does this to fulfill prophecy so people would know who He is. He does this because it is time for Him to finish the work of salvation. Because the wages of sin is death He needs to die. And although this is all God’s plan it’s going to look like it was done to Jesus. To get the ball rolling the chief priests and religious leaders needed to be upset enough to push for death. That would happen when they saw the King of Glory come and be acknowledged as the King that He is. The King of Glory knows. He knows all things. He knows exactly what will happen to Him and what riding into Jerusalem will start.
And He still goes. Can you think of something that you knew was going to be unpleasant but you had to go through with it? Maybe a major surgery? Maybe something unpleasant at work? Do you remember how you felt? Jesus is true God. He is also true man. He knew what he was moving toward and while a movie like the Passion of the Christ can visually portray the physical suffering Jesus went through there is no way to portray the spiritual suffering that is the punishment for sin. No director knows that. Those in Hell cannot escape to tell us. God knows. Jesus knew and He went anyway. “When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. 8 Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. 9 Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, "Hosanna! " "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"10 "Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!" "Hosanna in the highest!" 11 Jesus entered Jerusalem and went to the temple. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.” The King of Glory goes. Look, brothers and sisters, how valuable you are to God. The last hymn we will sing today ends, “Ride on, ride on, in majesty, in lowly pomp ride on to die.” That will be our cheer for Him. The King of Glory goes no matter the cost.
Now how shall we meet him? You just heard how He was met in Jerusalem. The people there found ways to honor Him. They used their own coats as his saddle blanket, never mind the donkey sweat that would get on it. Some put their coats on the ground for the donkey to step on. I hope that’s all that happened. Others spread palm branches and waved them as our children did. Others called out words of praise to Jesus. Hosanna! That means “Save now!” He’s the one who comes in the name of the Lord. That’s how they met Him.
How will we? What happens when the President enters a room? How about when the judge enters the courtroom? People stand. It’s a way of showing respect and honor. How about when a player has a remarkable game or plays through adversity? What happens when they come off the field or court? A standing ovation. Now at this point in our lives we don’t get to see Jesus physically or visibly. He won’t come riding down Forest Home Ave on a donkey. We won’t be able to do the exact same things as the Palm Sunday crowd. Yet Jesus is with us. He promised that when we come together in worship, even just 2 or 3, there He is in the midst of us. Our praising Him here is important and meaningful to Him. But there is another important way for us to remember. As the news teamed descended on Los Angeles to cover the Sweet 16 basketball action the ones from Wisconsin were looking for Badgers fans. “Not too many around here yet,” was the report on Wednesday. “Badger fans are starting to pull into town,” was the report on Thursday. How did they know? How could they tell? It’s what they were wearing, right? Badger red.
Besides honoring our Palm Sunday King by prioritizing praising Him in worship we can honor Him with the way we live during the rest of the week. No, there’s no special Jesus color to wear. I’m not suggesting we all have “I cheer for Jesus” t-shirts. We can still let people know that we do. By the words we choose to use and not use. By the ways we let our conversations leave doors open for people to ask us about Jesus. By using the palms of our hands to do good for others. By the way we extend kindness and compassion to one another. By being good neighbors and hard workers. In this way Jesus is also praised.
He is the King of Glory. No one else is as important to us as He is. Just imagine how radically your life would change if your favorite team no longer existed. Do you know what would happen to us if next year there was no NFL season and no March Madness? Well, we’d probably have a little more money, a lot more time to use for other things and maybe eat a little better too. What if there were no Jesus? Thank the Lord we don’t have to answer that one. Jesus is the King of Glory. We’re glad to root for Him and let’s do our best to let everyone know we’re proud to be on His team. Amen.
Thursday, March 19, 2015
March 18, 2015 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: John 12:23-27 “I TELL YOU THE TRUTH” “IF ONE DIES IT PRODUCES LIFE FOR MANY!”
MIDWEEK LENT 5
March 18, 2015
Pastor Timothy J. Spaude
Text: John 12:23-27
“I TELL YOU THE TRUTH”
“IF ONE DIES IT PRODUCES LIFE FOR MANY!”
John 12:23-27 (NIV 1984) “Jesus replied, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. 27 "Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.”
I’m going to be a little mean right now and get you thinking about sweet corn. Corn on the cob. Oh that’s a summer favorite in Wisconsin, isn’t it?
Can’t you just taste it, that first bite of locally grown sweet corn doused in butter and with just the right amount of salt? The kernels popping in your mouth! How do you eat yours? Do you go across the cob like a typewriter? Do you start in one spot and eat it all around? Do you how many kernels of corn are on the average cob? The average cob has about 16 rows with 40 kernels in each row. Do the math and you are over 600. All of those kernels came from one. Maybe that picture will help you grab Jesus’ picture as the “I tell you the truth” statement of Jesus that we look at today is “If one dies it produces life for many.”
A little background to our text. It’s during Holy Week, after Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. News about that must have spread because some Greeks, probably converted to the Old Testament faith, were in town for the Passover festival. They came to Jesus’ disciples with a request. “We would like to see Jesus.” The message was passed to Him. But instead of directly addressing that request Jesus replied, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” While that might seem like a strange answer to a request for an audience it actually makes perfect sense. If these Greeks wanted to see Jesus then they would see Him for the reason He came, to die. But that death would not be random and meaningless but planned and with purpose and results. “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “if one dies it means life for many.” That’s the point of his picture. He used a kernel of wheat. I used a kernel of corn. If just one cob grows on a stalk the “death” of one kernel produces life for 600 more. But Jesus wasn’t talking about corn or wheat and seed producing. He was talking about Himself and giving spiritual life.
As the holy innocent Son of God Jesus deserved to live and never die. The wages of sin is death. No sin means no death. But if Jesus didn’t die in the place of sinners then no sinners could live spiritually and eternally. Unless a kernel falls to the ground and dies, it remains a single seed. Let that kernel, fall, “die” and be buried then it produces many seeds. Think of what that means! Jesus could have avoided the cross and lived in perfect harmony with the Father and the Spirit but He chose you. Jesus could have avoided Hell but He wanted you next to Him, with Him, now and forever. Can we appreciate that people of God rejoice in it and live it and not just on our terms? You know our weakness. We want Jesus there at our wedding and to have those weddings in Jesus’ house but then later don’t want Him around as we mistreat, ignore or yell at our spouse. We want our kids to be joined with Jesus in baptism but then later teach them that fellowship with a mattress, or a hobby or a sport is more important. We want Him there at our side in time of trouble, but pretend He’s not there when we are getting ourselves in trouble. Jesus didn’t die for us to be our part time Lord. He wasn’t temping. He came to give us life and He didn’t shy away. "Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.” Out of death came life.
And now that life for us means death, death to our sinful natures. “The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” Let’s be honest. We love our lives. We may not like everything about our lives. We may not like our health or our jobs but we love our lives. Let me rephrase that. We love ourselves. We may not like our height or weight or looks but we love ourselves. It’s all about me. What is in my best interest is what matters most. That’s what we are by nature. Selfish. You see that right away in babies. “Wah—I’m hungry. Feed me. Wah—I’m messy. Change me. Wah—I’m uncomfortable. Hold me.” Hold a naked baby after giving them and bath and you know what they will do? They will pee all over you without even blinking an eye. Might even laugh. They don’t care that they messed you. Their need came first. I remember one time when our daughter Jamie was just under a year old we took our first family vacation to Port Aransas, Texas, a little place on the Gulf of Mexico. I was holding Jamie in our little rental. All of the sudden she throws up all over me. Warm and sour on my face, my neck, my chest. Does she apologize? No. And Chris, Chris just starts laughing. I’m covered in vomit and she’s laughing. What about me? Did you notice something? Real easily each of us was about ourselves. I suppose Jamie couldn’t help it but I’m wasn’t worried about why she’s sick just that it’s all over me. And why is it always so easy to find humor in someone else’s discomfort. We do that all the time. We do that in much worse ways. We want others to like us so we make snide remarks to tear others down. We criticize what others do or don’t do and justify our own weaknesses. The measure of what is good and right is what I like, what I want. It’s all about me. That’s life according to the sinful nature.
But things change with Jesus. By giving us new life we have the ability, yes the responsibility to put to death our sinful nature each and every day. New life means death. New life in Jesus helps us to see that living life all about me isn’t living at all, it’s dying, separating ourselves from the one who loved us. Living life that’s all about Jesus is real living. Imagine living your life with the ability to shoo away the Devil and his temptations as easily as a fly. Imagine living where you celebrated, cheered and whooped louder than your chosen team winning in March madness at the death of a believer because your only thought was for their joy at being with Jesus and you didn’t have to deal with your own sorrow. Imagine living each day with that “I served someone and it makes me feel good” feeling all the time. Wouldn’t that be awesome? We get that when we put to death our sinful nature. Now we know it likes to come back. We know it will try to exert its influence again and again but the day is coming when the Lord will kill it off for good. To keep us fighting the battle while we wait for that day Jesus said, “Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.” With life comes death.
Now I know I began today whetting your appetite for fresh sweet corn. Maybe I made your mouth water or teased you a little bit with the thoughts of summer. Jesus’ words have us thinking about something much better, something that won’t end like summer does and sweet corn season does. He’s got our eyes on heaven. I tell you the truth. One has died and that means eternal life for us. Thank you Jesus. Amen!
Monday, March 9, 2015
March 7-9, 2015
Pastor Timothy J. Spaude
Text: 1 Corinthians 1:22-25
“WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?”
1. Jews look for signs.
2. Greeks look for wisdom.
3. Americans look for…
4. Christians look for Christ crucified!
1 Corinthians 1:22-25 (NIV 1984) “Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.”
Wants versus needs. Have you noticed how often those choices come up? In important areas of our lives we are presented with the option of going for our wants or our needs. It’s that way with money. Hopefully you all have established a home budget or spending plan for the money God gives you. Financial experts will tell you to check your wants versus your needs. What you need is food but what we might want is fast food or restaurants. What we need is appropriate shelter but what we want are brand new granite counter tops, Jacuzzi tubs and 4 car garages. You have to make a choice. Food is like that too. What we need is nutritious foods like fruit and vegetables, protein, the right kind of fats. What we want is Snickers and Doritos and craft beers. A choice has to be made. Time is like that what we need is an appropriate amount of sleep and to get our work, housework, homework, yard work done. What we want is to watch TV and play video games. A choice has to be made. And have you noticed how often we really aren’t very good at making the right choices? How often wants get put before needs? There are some consequence for those wants/needs decisions we make. They can affect our financial well being, our health, our performance.
The stakes get a lot higher when it comes to spiritual needs. Everybody has a God sized hole in their heart. It needs to be filled with the one true God of the Bible who reveals Himself as the Savior God. Often it’s filled with something else. Let’s keep those needs/wants ideas in mind as God’s Word forces us into a self examination question. What are you looking for?
God had the Apostle Paul write the words of our text as part of his letter to the congregation in Corinth. It was made up of Jewish believers and non Jew, Gentile, Greek believers. What were they looking for? “Jews demand miraculous signs.” For proof that someone really was sent from God the Jews demanded miraculous signs. You heard that in our Gospel reading. Actually they were supposed to look for certain miraculous signs that the Messiah had come. God had said in prophecy that when the true Savior came He would make the lame walk, give sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf. All those things Jesus did. But the Jews demanded more. Why? Because he wasn’t the kind of savior they wanted. What they needed was a savior from sin. What they wanted was freedom from the Romans. So they rejected the signs Jesus gave them and refused to believe. This putting wants over needs led them straight to Hell.
Let’s move on. “Greeks look for wisdom.” At the time Paul wrote this the Greek influence called Hellenization was still in effect. People wanted to be like the Greeks. They valued wisdom. So many of the ancient philosophers that are still admired today were Greeks: Plato, Socrates, Aristotle. Here are a couple of their gems. “The energy of the mind is the essence of life.” “Happiness depends on ourselves.” I think you can tell from those samplings that the wisdom of the Greeks was to look at self as the solution to everything. What they needed was God as their solution but what they wanted was themselves as the answer. So they rejected Jesus as the Savior who lived for them and died for them. This putting wants over needs led them straight to Hell.
Now we don’t live at the time when Paul wrote to the Corinthians nor do we live where they did. We live now. We live in America. What is it that Americans are looking for? In your bulletin you see a listing of some of the characteristics most often seen in different generations of Americans. These things are not true for every single person born in those years but are typical of most according to sociologists. Did you notice that only one of those generations typically puts others above self? Only one of those generations is really accepting of authority and so would be inclined for instance to accept the authority of the Bible? Only one is really good at commitment? It happens to be the one that spent the most time living when Christian influence was the strongest. As that influence has waned Americans have become more and more about self so that I’d say what Americans look for is success for themselves. Americans want to be part of the fastest growing company driving the best selling cars dressed in the most popular fashion cheering for the winningest teams. What Americans need is a Savior from sin. What they want is success. The result is that even though visible Christian churches as a whole are trying to reach out to more and more people using all kinds of innovative ways and all the technology available 20% of the American public, and 30% of adults under 30, are religiously unaffiliated according to a recent poll. That makes the fastest growing religion in America—non religion. This putting of wants above needs leads straight to Hell.
And now we come to the important part of our text. It begins with one of God’s little big words. Little in size, big in importance. It’s the little word “but.” “But we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.” But is a negative coordinating conjunction. It tells you a contrast is coming from what was talked about before. Jews and Greeks look for the wrong things, but, but we, Christians are different. We look for Christ crucified. To those who were first and foremost Jews that was a stumbling block. They wanted an earthly king to defeat the Romans not a King who looked like He was defeated by the Romans, put to death on a cross. To those who were first and foremost Greeks this teaching that you needed someone else to save you, that it would not be worked out by man was foolishness. But, but to those who were first and foremost Christians, whether they were Jewish Christians or Greek Christians Christ crucified is the power and wisdom of God combined. His way of providing our salvation is so wise, a perfect God man to be the substitute. Who would of thought of that? And the power of God! By Jesus’ sacrifice all sins paid for. No man’s strength could accomplish that.
I guess the question for us here is who are we and who will we continue to be. Americans first or Christians who happen to be American. Will we go with our wants according to our generational stereotype or our needs as sinful human beings? As noble as the ideals of the Traditionalists are law and order and the good old days won’t get you to heaven. But Jesus will. As ignoble and selfish as the ideals of the rest of the generations are entertainment, fun, things and me won’t get you to heaven but Jesus will. Christ was crucified for you. That’s what we need. A Savior to live in our place and to die in our place. Christ crucified. God’s wisdom and God’s power together.
It’s clear from the trends in our American generations that the Devil is working very hard to keep all eyes off of Christ. He is tricky in the ways he works slowly to undermine the Bible’s authority. He is tricky in the ways he gets people to put themselves first and to put fun and entertainment above all else, to get bored with the old, old message of the rugged Cross on which Christ died. But we don’t have to fall for those tricks. Money people, dieticians, time managers all say that if you want what you need making the right choices gets a whole lot easier. So what do you want? What are you looking for? By the power of the Spirit today we say, Christ Crucified. Let’s stay that way. Amen.