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Archive for September 23rd, 2018

Text:  St. Mark 9:30-37

Our Lord spoke frequently about His suffering, death and resurrection.  He preached frequently about Good Friday, Easter morning and the Ascension. In fact all of the Scripture points to it.  If He preached frequently about the Cross, so should the Church frequently hear the Holy Spirit’s sermon.  He “…was like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter”, ‘…and upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” Since His Sacrifice and His resurrection brought us peace and His wounds healed us, is reason enough to hear the preaching often and gladly.

Three times in the middle of Mark’s Gospel, beginning at 8:31, 9:31 and 10: 34, the Lord prophesies of His death and resurrection, and in other places as well. The Lord’s death and resurrection is the model or the paradigm of our lives in His, as we are forgiven and cleansed as His own is the Gospel. This paradigm, the Gospel, “…is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Rom. 1) This sermon, this paradigm is “for salvation” for faith and flowing forth is discipleship.

In the cartoon strip, Agnes Day, the two sheep are talking about the disciples after the 2nd passion prophecy, discussing who’s the greatest:

comic

Amen!  Christ’s death and resurrection is the only thing that makes discipleship possible!  We’ve probably all heard that dreaded cliché, “There is no ‘I’ in team”.  Actually there are whole bunch of “I”s in team and that’s the problem!  And none of us wants to cut the I out!  Discipleship is not about merely cutting the “I” out. The reason that is dreaded cliché because we can’t do it and more to the point:  we don’t want to.  Discipleship is about the death of the Old Adam and the rising of the new man is Baptism. I heard a sermon this past week in which the preacher said that God will forgive the blackest, most sinful soul. No, no!  Not God will forgive, the Lord has, the Lord has forgiven the most sinful soul! This is why His scars, His crown of thorns, His, “It is finished” can strengthen us if but contemplated and prayed.

If the Lord will forgive, then we are waiting for a future event. If the Lord will only forgive when I repent, then the Lord is dependent upon me to make a decision.  Like a child, we are dependent upon HIM to receive us as His child, forgiven and freed!  We do not repent to be forgiven, but we are forgiven so we can repent. This is clearly His will for all the fallen children of Adam. If the Lord will forgive, then we do not know an important Biblical word “is”.  The Lord is our salvation. The Lord’s forgiveness through His Son is the rock of our salvation. This is My Body.

His forgiveness is reason for all the seasons of our lives.   We need to hear the Lord’s sermon of His being killed and risen many times. We look to the gentle lamb of God who personally pointed the way to the Cross for His apostles.  They didn’t understand it, couldn’t wrap their heads around it. “Grace flows from (the Lord) not on those who attempt to earn it, but on those who confess their need for it. The Spirit-empowered response is then to share it.” (Dr. Reed Lessing from his commentary on Jonah)

He wraps us in His steadfast love and mercy. Forgiven and repentant sinners need not only the comfort of the gentle and slaughtered Lamb of God, His death as bore our sin but  the second enduring and eternal comfort:  He is risen! Pr. Johann Gerhardt preached:

  • “Just as His death is a sacrifice for our sin, so also His resurrection is a victory over our enemies.

  • Just as His death is the lowest depth of His state of humiliation, so also His resurrection is the beginning of His state of exaltation.

  • Just by His death He showed Himself to be a true Man, so also in His resurrection He was mightily shown to be the true Son of God (Rom. 1:4)

  • Just as His death is our life, so also His resurrection is our awakening from death.

  • Just as our old man should be crucified and put to death along with Him, so also our new man should arise with Him to a new life (Rom. 6: 3-6)”

“Just as our old man should be crucified and put to death along with Him, so also our new man should arise with Him to a new life (Rom. 6: 3-6)”   Baptism is our given way of life in Christ Jesus.  The disciples thought in terms of comparison that is pride, not humility:  I love Jesus more than you.  I found Jesus first.  We don’t know what it is they were saying but James certainly spells out the results of such pride in the Church: bitter jealousy and selfish ambition. We see pride in the world in the daily pomp of the world:  bitter jealousy and selfish ambition, wisdom that is from below earthly, unspiritual, demonic: quarrels, fighting, murdering, coveting. We cannot make friends with the world to further the way of the Lord. We have been cleansed in Baptism to further the way of the Lord. No wonder James wrote and the Holy Spirit inspired:

Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 

I certainly cannot receive a child if I am trying to be the greatest and especially spiritually! The Lord wills all the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve to be saved and come to the knowledge of His Son!  An apostle, and a disciple, certainly cannot receive a child when “bitter jealousy and selfish ambition” is in my heart!  I cannot receive a child when my prayers are spent on my passions! When it’s about MY spirituality, we certainly cannot receive Jesus and the Father. Then I am looking to me, not to Thee Lord Jesus. The Lord has paved the way home with His blood, sweat and tears to relieve our fears by redeeming us from the old way of life in the world. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?  We need to oppose even ourselves and our desires.

It is true as James wrote that we resist the new man in Christ when the sinful heart is filled with “bitter jealousy and selfish ambition” (James 3:14), which causes hostility, quarrels and conflicts, even among those who are fellow members of the Body of Christ. This should not be so!. Rather, God “opposes the proud” with His Law, in order to humble them unto repentance; He “gives grace to the humble,” in order to exalt them by His Gospel of forgiveness (James 4:6–10). This true “wisdom from above” is found in the gentleness, mercy and peace of our Lord, Jesus Christ, who humbled Himself and sacrificed Himself for the salvation of sinners (James 3:17). How we need to hear of Good Friday and Easter in Pentecost!

 “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.”

 Jesus knew something about children as He was a child, born of the virgin Mary. He knew the frailty of children when King Herod killed the male children in Bethlehem. The Church’s discipleship is receiving a child and if the Church cannot do that, we can’t receive the Child, the Son of God and God the Father who sent Him.  Receiving a child in Jesus’ Name is receiving Him and Him who sent Jesus: His Father. This is Christ’s mission and so His Church’s mission as well.  Jesus humbled Himself to be our Savior, and in His sermon of His Passion, we can do as He did:   humble ourselves before the Lord as His own so He can exalt, lift us up in the humility of the Lord’s wisdom. “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”  In the Name of the…

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