Posts Tagged ‘Freedom of a Christian’

 Sermon for the 5th Sunday after the Epiphany, 8 February, 2,015/Text:  St. Mark 1:  29-39

A song lyric by the Rolling Stones:


Please allow me to introduce myself
I’m a man of wealth and taste
I’ve been around for a long, long year
Stole many a man’s soul and faith
And I was ’round when Jesus Christ
Had his moment of doubt and pain
Made damn sure that Pilate
Washed his hands and sealed his fate
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name
But what’s puzzling you
Is the nature of my game

 Can you guess his name? The song’s title  is, “Sympathy for the Devil”.  The singer is the devil. Jesus knows the devils and the demons game up close and personal.  Some 4 times in this short Gospel lesson the demons are mentioned.  Jesus knows the devil’s game:  it’s you, even the Rolling Stones knew the devil’s game (and probably better than many a Christian!):  to steal “many a man’s soul and faith”. In the Bible study at the Mayflower I pointed out that sin is separation and a woman remarked, I never heard it put that way.  Separation is also the devil’s game, to wrench us away from the Lord with temptation and sorrow and doubt.  Illness likewise is like demonic possession:  sickness gets us off by ourselves.  Sickness is almost always a quarantine.  When sick, what’s the one thing you want the most?  Yes, to do everyday something.  Simon Peter’s mother-in-law was burning with fever.  She could not get up.  Jesus takes her by the hand and lifts her up.  The word in Greek can also be translated, raised, as in resurrected.  She then went about her vocation as a mother and hostess.  Jesus touches her.   Sickness separates us from others while sin and the demonic separates us from God and then each other.  The chasm between us and God is great and Jesus came out to bridge the terrible gulf and conquer the abyss of hell.

 “Do you renounce the devil?  Do you renounce all his works?  Do you renounce all his ways?”  Those are the questions in the Rite of Holy Baptism in the Evangelical Lutheran Church put to the baptismal candidate.  The same questions are asked in eastern Orthodox church at a Baptism and then the priest instructs the person to be baptized to spit upon the devil.  I like that:  spitting on the devil and in the Church!  The Church needs to spit upon the devil.  Too many church bodies don’t spit upon the devil and let the devil’s vile spit of false Bible denying doctrine lavish them in sin and ruin. He lures people first with his niceness. After all Lucifer was an angel, a spiritual being, brimming with God’s good creation, an angel of light.  But he is finally a terrorist, bent in upon himself, using religion as pretext for his own lusts. The last verse of today’s Gospel is  the Lord went preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.  Congregational life and demonic possession goes hand in had. When the Lord sets us His house, Satan sets up his, but the two houses do not form a treaty or marry. As the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians:

14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,

“I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them,
    and I will be their God,
    and they shall be my people.
17 Therefore go out from their midst,
    and be separate from them, says the Lord,
and touch no unclean thing;
    then I will welcome you,
18 and I will be a father to you,
    and you shall be sons and daughters to me,
says the Lord Almighty.”

And still be steadfast to proclaim to them that the kingdom of God is at hand, His hand, His nail-imprinted hand to save sinners and unbelievers as He has you and I.

 Jesus was not puzzled by the devil’s game at all. Jesus came not to puzzle about the devil but knowing his game to muzzle him.  Jesus has NO sympathy with the devil but for men and women possessed Jesus has perfect sympathy, “sym-patheo”. literally “to suffer with”. When the devil comes a knocking don’t answer that door but pray, Lead us not into temptation and deliver us from the evil one.. You cannot dialogue with the devil.  Devil and his evil is cast out, muzzled, renounced and rejected, but even that is not enough, for by our own strength we can stop devil and evil. IF we try  we are only fooling ourselves but not the evil one. Remember those questions at a Baptism are prelude to the Baptism itself, the door of Jesus Christ opening the reign of heaven to you and to me.  When the devil says you are not good, you are not holy, you should have more in life, you’ve been gypped by life, just pray to the Lord and pray:  But I am baptized!  I am Christ’s.

Satan, hear this proclamation: I am baptized into Christ!

Drop your ugly accusation; I am not so soon enticed.

Now that to the font I’ve traveled, all your might has come unraveled,

And, against your tyranny, God, my Lord, unites with me!   (“God’s Own Child, I Gladly Say It”, #594, Lutheran Service Book)  

The Door’s been opened and the Lord has come in and you to the Lord.

 All of the town of Capernaum came to the door of Peter’s home at sunset and Jesus healed the sick and cast out demons. The folks in Capernaum wanted what Jesus was giving, at no cost, except the cost to Him. Here was Jesuscare: sheer grace for the burdened, free and freeing.  Jesus had already begun bearing the sin of the world.  He began bearing the sin of the world from His birth. It took the Lord 6 days to create the heavens and earth but it took Him 33 years to save us.  As Isaiah foretold the government would be upon is shoulder fromthe get go.Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, preached John:  taking away the sin of the world right then and there. This was to fulfill what is written in Isaiah 53: Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.  Healing, saving, loving is the essence of the Lord for His people.  Poor Peter’s mother-in-law, it is sunset and the whole town is at her door and  Jesus was at the door of that home turned into the Church that evening.  As the Lord said, I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.  The huddled masses were at the door yearning to be freed. We think sickness of the body is more terrible than sickness of the soul. He did not heal every sick person in Palestine for He came out, as He put it to preach, to preach the Gospel Word to free from  the terror of the sickness of sin, bind the strong man and free man trying to save himself when he cannot.

 After that evening, Jesus goes to bed then gets up early, before rise of sun to pray. In a sense He retreated. He seems to have planned to this.  Maybe the door at Peter’s house was also a battle line.  The Lord had been fighting the enemy, the terrorists of soul and body.  He was spiritually tired. His coming out into the world for the life of world was about Him and it was centered on His Father’s Word who said of Him, This is my beloved Son. This is what the Liturgy, the Divine Service is all about:  It’s about the beloved Son of the Father.  This is a way of looking at the Divine Service and all the services of God’s House:  a retreat every Sunday morning, away from the battle line.  Jesus, true man, needed to be with the Lord.  He was tempted in every we are, yet was without sin, yet was bearing already your sin and mine.  He needed to pray.  Too many times worship services are conceived as about us.  No.  A retreat is not about more about me and us, but more and ever more about the Lord, more about Jesus. The Lord has given Word and Sacrament for one purpose to proclaim through them of Christ, This is my beloved Son.  The one door is open and all who enter into will find a Father’s welcome and freedom from their sin.  He touches us with bread and wine, His body and His blood as He Himself has done so in His House.  We all need to retreat from the battle lines.  And it is not Peter’s mother in law serving the Lord, but the Lord serving us:  in the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Now the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, guards your hearts and minds in Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.


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And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”-Revelation 19: 9

Intro:  The appointed New Testament  lesson for this day in the Daily Lectionary (LCMS) is Ephesians 5: 15-33.  The quote below is from Martin Luther’s Letter to Pope Leo X.  Many Lutherans would be surprised by Luther’s direct opening to, “Leo my father”.  What follows has been entitled Freedom of a Christian. The whole piece is instrumental in understanding the faithful reading of Law and Gospel in Scripture.  You can find a translation here. The quote below is a great commentary on today’s New Testament reading.

“The third incomparable grace of faith is this, that it unites the soul to Christ, as the wife to the husband; by which mystery, as the Apostle teaches, Christ and the soul are made one flesh. Now if they are one flesh, and if a true marriage– [112] nay, by far the most perfect of all marriages–is accomplished between them (for human marriages are but feeble types of this one great marriage), then it follows that all they have becomes theirs in common, as well good things as evil things; so that whatsoever Christ possesses, that the believing soul may take to itself and boast of as its own, and whatever belongs to the soul, that Christ claims as his.

If we compare these possessions, we shall see how inestimable is the gain. Christ is full of grace, life, and salvation; the soul is full of sin, death, and condemnation. Let faith step in, and then sin, death, and hell will belong to Christ, and grace, life, and salvation to the soul. For, if he is a husband, he must needs take to himself that which is his wife’s, and, at the same time, impart to his wife that which is his. For, in giving her his own body and himself, how can he but give her all that is his? And, in taking to himself the body of his wife, how can he but take to himself all that is hers?

In this is displayed the delightful sight, not only of communion, but of a prosperous warfare, of victory, salvation, and redemption. For since Christ is God and man, and is such a person as neither has sinned, nor dies, nor is condemned,–nay, cannot sin, die, or be condemned; and since his righteousness, life, and salvation are invincible, eternal, and almighty; when, I say, such a person, by the wedding-ring of faith, takes a share in the sins, death, and hell of his wife, nay, makes them his own, and deals with them no otherwise than as if they were his, and as if he himself had sinned; and when he suffers, dies, and descends to hell, that he may overcome all things, since sin, death, and hell cannot swallow him up, they must needs be swallowed up by him in stupendous conflict. For his righteousness rises above the sins of all men; his life is more powerful than all death; his salvation is more unconquerable than all hell.

Thus the believing soul, by the pledge of its faith in Christ, becomes free from all sin, fearless of death, safe from hell, and endowed with the eternal righteousness, life, and salvation of its husband Christ. Thus he presents to himself a glorious bride, without spot or wrinkle, cleansing her with the washing of water by the word; that is, by faith in the word of life, righteousness, and salvation. Thus he betrothes her unto [113] himself “in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies.” (Hosea ii. 19, 20.)

Who then can value highly enough these royal nuptials? Who can comprehend the riches of the glory of this grace?”

Christ, that rich and pious husband, takes as a wife a needy and impious harlot, redeeming her from all her evils, and supplying her with all his good things. It is impossible now that her sins should destroy her, since they have been laid upon Christ and swallowed up in Him, and since she has in her husband Christ a righteousness which she may claim as her own, and which she can set up with confidence against all her sins, against death and hell, saying: “If I have sinned, my Christ, in whom I believe, has not sinned; all mine is His, and all His is mine;” as it is written, “My beloved is mine, and I am his. (Cant. ii. 16.) This is what Paul says: “Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ;” victory over sin and death, as he says: “The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.” (I Cor. xv. 56, 57.)

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