Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Lent Midweek 6 Sermon

Midweek 6 - April 13, 2011
The Lamb of God Who Suffered Scorn
Psalm 22:6–8

“Lamb of God, pure and holy,” we sing. That’s what we call Him, this Savior who is our King. But not everyone would second our praise. Many in our community are not thinking of Jesus tonight, and if they were to think of Jesus, they would not likely call Him the pure and holy Lamb of God.

It was the same at Calvary. Those who passed by hurled insults at Jesus that day, shaking their heads and mocking Him: “‘He saved others,’ they said, ‘but He can’t save Himself! He’s supposed to be the King of Israel! Let Him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in Him. He trusts in God, or so He says. Let God rescue Him now if He wants Him, for He said, “I am the Son of God”’” (Matthew 27:39–43).

Scorn. That’s what it was—pure scorn, outright ridicule of God’s anointed, contempt for the Messiah of the Lord. It is astounding how Jesus could tolerate such blatant mockery; yet He bore that scorn unflinchingly. We sing about it in our hymn: “ever patient and lowly, Thyself to scorn didst offer” (LSB 434).

It will not always be that way, of course. One day every eye shall see Jesus as He is, when He comes in glory. Then every knee shall bow, unbelievers, too, will finally be forced to admit before the awesome judgment throne that Jesus Christ is Lord, though for them it will be too late. The true identity of Jesus remains hidden until that day. Only faith can see in this Man of Sorrows the true Son of God, Light from Light and very God from very God. There is a dramatic contrast between who Jesus truly is and what He appeared to be during His earthly ministry.

That is why Jesus suffered scorn. On Palm Sunday throngs of people welcomed Jesus into the royal city of Jerusalem with triumphant cries and hailed Him King, saying “Hosanna to the Son of David.” Strangely enough, five days later many of them no doubt were in the jeering mob that mocked and scorned Him. “Oh, so He’s the ‘King of Israel,’ is He? Let’s see Him come down from the cross; then we’ll believe in Him,” the crowds cried.

But Jesus didn’t, did He? Jesus could not come down from the cross because He would not. He was bound and determined to carry through with God’s cosmic plan to rescue and ransom a fallen world. Not even hell itself could deter Jesus from His chosen mission to offer Himself as the innocent sacrifice for all our sin. He is the Lamb of God—and tonight we remember that He is our Lamb who endured the scorn of men to win the final victory.

You and I don’t tolerate scorn very well. We are so interested in protecting our rank and status that we have grown accustomed to laying low; we don’t want to stand out in the crowd. We usually knuckle under fairly quickly when our reputation is at stake. We don’t want to lose face, and we would do almost anything to protect ourselves.

We are quite reluctant to let our lights shine in the darkness of an unbelieving world because we fear the scorn of skeptics. It’s unpopular to take a stand on moral issues in an age where a “live and let live” attitude is expected, where people choose their own lifestyle and give no thought as to how that compares to the holy commandments of God. In such a moral climate it’s unpopular to stand for common decency and order, moral purity, marital faithfulness, integrity and truth. When you take such stands you are considered weird, you just don’t fit in, and very quickly you find yourself on the outside looking in.

And what happens then? After getting hurt a few times by the cutting remarks of others, you shut up. You let vile and foul expressions go unchallenged. You look the other way when people live as though there were no God. You remain silent when God’s holy name is defiled and abused, when His Church is scorned and ridiculed. You just don’t want to pay the price.

That is the way it goes among us. We can’t tolerate the abuse, so we remain silent rather than bearing testimony to what we know is right. We wink at sin and go along with the crowd. Sometimes we even set aside our hesitation and join in, all because we cannot stand the scorn.

Thank God it was not so at Calvary. Our Savior bore the insults and mockery of His enemies that day just as bravely as He endured the bodily torture inflicted by the soldiers. All that was child’s play compared to the unimaginable agony of the Father’s wrath that Jesus endured because He bore our sin. The fury of God against a scornful world and all its sin was unleashed fully upon His beloved Son, because Christ carried all our sins upon His sinless back that day He died. If just one sin can send a soul to hell and call forth God’s fierce anger, think what Jesus endured as He bore the sins of all humanity in one fell swoop.

Yet this is the measure of God’s love: that He would go that far, not sparing His only Son but freely giving Him up for us, for you and me, for one and all no matter who we are or what we have done. And Christ’s death earns us the forgiveness for the sins of which we are ashamed, including all those times we have caved in under pressure and were not willing to pay the price of ridicule or feel the bite of scorn.

As it was with David, so it was with Jesus upon His cross. “I am a worm and not a man,” wrote King David, “scorned by men and despised by the people” (Psalm 22:6). That is the way it went for David for much of his life: hunted by his enemies and rejected by his people because he did not look like who he actually was, a king. They took David for a pipsqueak of a man, a herder of sheep, some backwater boy—not the Lord’s anointed, the rightful king of Israel. Many times David was under attack and his life was in danger. No wonder, then, that in this psalm David called out to the Lord in anguish, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Why are You so far from saving me?” (Psalm 22:1).

That was only dress rehearsal for what happened centuries later on the hill called Golgatha, the place of the skull. Here the Light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of His people Israel hung in open shame and degradation, nailed on a cross to die a horrific death. Abandoned by most of His friends and scorned by all His enemies, among Jesus’ words from the cross were those of David: “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46). So low had Jesus stooped in His redeeming love that God His loving Father abandoned Him and turned His back on Him in righteous fury against our sin.

Yet this, too, is the measure of His love for sinners like you and me. So deep was His sorrow, so sharp His pain, so bitter His despair that Jesus understood Himself to be subhuman: “I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people” (Psalm 22:6). In these words we catch the sarcasm in the gloating eyes of the temple authorities; we glimpse the triumphant contempt of the Pharisees. We can almost see their poisoned, mocking lips and their conceited, wagging heads: “He trusts in the Lord; let the Lord rescue Him. Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him” (Psalm 22:8). They thought they had the last word that day at Calvary, but they did not.

Jesus’ mocking and jeering enemies did not see the whole picture. That humiliating death He died was more than it appeared to be. He truly was the Son of God, though He looked more like a worm than a man. Jesus truly was the head over all things for His Church, though He looked more like a fool than a King.

That is the way it remains to this very day. All those who know Jesus by faith confess Him to be both Lord and God, but those who reject Him go on mocking Him, for they do not see Jesus as He really is. He is actually God wrapped in human flesh, but only the eyes of faith can see that. Many people today think of Jesus as one more religious guru among others: Muhammad, Confucius, Buddha, Jesus—take your pick.

You can call Jesus “Teacher,” and there is little reaction. But call Him “God” and you will be jeered and mocked because the world despises everything the Creator treasures. That is the way it is in this fallen world, and so it will remain until Jesus comes again in glory to bring down the curtain on this created world and usher in the kingdom yet to come.

Christ’s gifts are real, wrapped within those means. Forgiveness, life, and salvation we call those gifts. But these means are not some religious gibberish. The Gospel that is preached to us is the very power of God for salvation to all who believe. When the called servants of Christ say, “I forgive you all your sins,” they are forgiven. Such forgiveness is as valid and certain in heaven as if Christ had spoken to us Himself. When we are washed in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, that water is not plain water. It is water included in God’s command and promise. Because of the Word of God wrapped within that water, Holy Baptism is a gracious bath of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit. When we eat the bread of the Holy Supper and drink the cup of the Lord in that sacred Meal, we show forth the Lord’s death until He comes. It may look like bread and wine, but that bread we break is a communion in the body of Christ, and the cup we bless is a communion in His holy, precious blood. All this is for the forgiveness of our sins.

We should not take these gifts for granted, for they come with a high price. The very Lamb of God suffered the scorn of men and the wrath of God to deliver these gifts to us in this place. So we keep coming to receive them, then we leave to live our lives made whole and new out there, where we are called to love God in our neighbor.

Sermon for Lent 5 April 10, 2011

5th Sunday in Lent
April 9-10, 2011
Genesis 22:1-24

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen

The Lord promised, “One who will come from your own body shall be your heir. Look toward the heaven, and count the stars. So shall your offspring be.” And Abram believed, and it was credited to him as righteousness. Sarah grew impatient. So Hagar was given law, of the Sinai to come, of bondage. Thus Ishmael and his seed would be the trouble and persecution of the children of Abraham.

At ninety-nine, still childless with Sarah, Abram continued to hope in the Lord. The foolish sign of circumcision was given, wherein Abraham, and his son, Ishmael, and all the men of his house, were to have their foreskins removed by knife's edge. The promise was renewed, “You shall be a father of many nations, and you shall be called Abraham. I will make you exceedingly fruitful. Also I give to you and your descendents after you all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.” And Sarah shall bear to you a son, Isaac, at this set time. A fool-hearty sign, a promise of nations from one who remains childless, and a child from one beyond children; and yet the knife falls, Abraham believes, and Sarah laughs.

And the Lord did for Sarah as He had spoken. She conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time which God had appointed. And the promise was made flesh. And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the child, his name was called Isaac, the name given by God before he was conceived in the womb. Sarah pondered all these things in her heart, and Isaac increased in wisdom and stature.

Then one early morning, Abraham saddled his donkey and split the wood for the burnt offering. Once he had believed the promise without a son, and now he believes despite His only son's certain death. He took two of his servants and Isaac, and together they journeyed to the foot of the mountain. Three days they travelled, Abraham having decided what he must do, relying on the promise of the Divine Majesty- trusting that He who gave birth to Isaac out of a worn out womb, would likewise raise Isaac from the grave. Twenty-something Isaac uncomplainingly does his father will. On the third day, only two continued - aged Abraham with his wrinkled face and fragile skeleton, and athletic Isaac with his powerful muscles and broad shoulders.

The wood for the sacrifice was loaded upon the broad span of the only-begotten, and the will of his father was revealed in the fire and the knife. Bound together in the bond of love, nearly as one-being, the two went together toward the mountain of sacrifice. As the time of sacrifice neared, the child's eyes were opened while the servants slept, and he questioned: “My Father! the fire and the wood and where is the animal. but your will be done.”

And in the hot afternoon sun, when they had come to the place, the wood was set in place, and the son was bound upon it. His life could not be taken from him, for he was the stronger man, and yet he laid it down, submitting to the father's will, to suffer as the death of all his descendents, to be raised again from the ashes of the grave, that the father's offspring would be more than the celestial bodies of the heavens, that theirs would be the promised land, the land flowing with milk and honey.

And there was no rescue, no Angel of mercy ready to save, for I am not talking about Isaac. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of Promise made flesh, the long-awaited Seed of the woman, the Coming One, the Savior of all the nations, of Whom God had spoken to the snake:

I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heal.

And Adam believed, together with Seth and Enoch and Noah, with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, with all the faithful of Israel who looked for the long-awaited Savior.

And when the fullness of time had come, the Lord did for Mary as He had promised. She conceived and bore a son. And the Word became flesh. And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the child, His name was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb, for He would save His people from their sins. And meloncholied Mary pondered all these things in her heart, and Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men.

Jesus is the ram caught in a thicket by its horns, the Lamb of God Who was bound in Isaac's place, Who travelled uncomplaining the way toward suffering and death, carrying the world's sins upon His shoulders, quietly doing as His Father bid Him. But as the day of sacrifice approached, He opened His eyes and mouth in prayer while the disciples slept, beseeching, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass. Your will be done.”

He died the death from which Isaac was rescued, and by the foolish sacrifice of the Father's Only-Begotten you too are rescued from sin and death and Satan and hell. For in the hot afternoon sun, when they had come to the place of the skull, the wood was set in place and the Son of God was nailed upon the accursed tree. No one could take His life from Him, but He gave it freely, submitting to the will of His Father who had forsaken Him, that He quench the Father's fiery wrath. And He gave up His Spirit crying out, “It is finished.”

The atonement for your sins is finished, accomplished, completed. There is nothing left for you to do, for the sacrifice of our Lord is all-availing, perfect. He suffered and died in the place of mankind, to be raised again from the tomb by the glory of the Father, that the children of God would be raised from the dead at the Last, that theirs would be the promised land, the land flowing with milk and honey, the heavenly Jerusalem where you are forever seated at the Heavenly Feast which never ends.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Daily Readings for April 24-30, 2011

Daily Readings for April 24-30, 2011
April 24 Easter: Job 19:23-27; 1 Cor. 5:6-8; Mark 16:1-8

April 25 Easter Monday: Exodus 15:1-18; Acts 10:34-41; Luke 24:13-35
April 26 Easter Tuesday: Dan. 3:8-28; Acts 13:26-33; Luke 24:36-48
April 27 Ex. 16:13-35; Heb. 10:19-39
April 28 Ex. 17:1-16; Heb. 11:1-29
April 29 Ex. 18:5-27; Heb. 12:1-24
April 30 Looking forward to Second Sunday of Easter: Acts 5:29–42; 1 Peter 1:3–9; John 20:19–31

Ezekiel 37:1–14; 1 John 5:4–10; John 20:19–31
The Wounds of Christ Give Us Life

“For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood” (1 John 5:7). These three point to Christ and flow from Christ. Jesus shows His disciples His hands side, from which blood and water flowed, saying “Peace be with you.” He presents the wounds which turn our fear to gladness and which restore us to the Father. Jesus breathes on His disciples and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:23). His breath, His words are Spirit and life. They raise up our dry, dead bones and give us new and everlasting life (Ezek 37:1–14). Christ now gives His ministers to speak His forgiving, Spirit-filled words to the penitent in His stead. Our Lord continues to come to His people, presenting His wounds to us in the Sacraments of water and blood. He bids us to touch His side at His table, to receive His risen body and blood in true faith, that believing we may have life in His name.

Daily Readings for April 17-23

Daily Readings for April 17-23, 2011

April 17 Zech. 9:9-12; Phil. 2:5-11; Matt. 21:1-9

April 18 Isaiah 50:5-10; John 12:1-23
April 19 : Jeremiah 11:18-20; John 12:24-43
April 20 Isaiah 62:11-63:7; Luke 22:1-23; 42
April 21 Maundy Thursday: Exodus 12:1-14; 1 Corinthians 11:23-32; John 13:1-15
April 22 Good Friday: Isaiah 52:13-53:12; John 18:1-19:42
April 23 Holy Saturday: Daniel 6:1-24; 1 Peter 3:17-22; Matthew 27:57-66


Exodus 12:1–14; 1 Corinthians 11:23–32; John 13:1–15 (34–35)
Let Us Love One Another, as Christ Jesus Has Loved Us
“For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26). By eating His body and drinking His blood, we proclaim to all the world that Jesus is, indeed, our Passover Lamb (Exodus 12:1–14), who was sacrificed for us on Calvary. In Christ, the Lord remembers us in mercy and remembers our sin no more; He forgives us all our iniquity. With such love, he “loved His own who were in the world,” and even loves us “to the end” (John 13:1). As He washes us and feeds us in love, let us love one another, just as He has loved us (John 13:34).

Isaiah 52:13—53:12; 2 Corinthians 5:14–21; John 18:1—19:42
Behold the Lamb of God, Who Takes Away the Sin of the World

Jesus, the Lamb of God, is led to the slaughter of His cross as the sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the world. “Despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3), He is the righteous Servant who justifies many by His innocent suffering and death. He bears our griefs and carries our sorrows; He is wounded for our transgressions; He is crushed for our iniquities; He suffers our chastisement, so that “with His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:4–5). As the Son of God, He fulfills the Law for us in human flesh, and so fulfills the Scriptures (John 19:7, 24). For in Christ, “God was reconciling the whole world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them” (2 Corinthians 5:19).

Isaiah 25:6–9; 1 Corinthians 15:1–11; John 20:1–18
Christ’s Resurrection Brings Us Life

“In Adam all die.” For we are all participants in the sin of Adam, who rebelled against God in the garden and brought the curse of death into the world. But “in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22)). For He was faithful to His Father and destroyed death on the holy tree. Jesus, the Second Adam, now walks in the garden in the cool of the day and reveals Himself to the daughter of Eve (John 20:1–18). The risen Christ brings not the curse of death but the blessing of life, the resurrection of the body. He leads us through the baptismal sea to new life on the other side, conquering our mortal enemies in its depths (Exodus 14:10—15:1). In this way our Lord Jesus wipes away the tears from all faces. For He has swallowed up death forever. Let us therefore be glad and rejoice in His salvation (Isaiah 25:6–9)!

Job 19:23–27; 1 Corinthians 5:6–8; Mark 16:1–8
Christ’s Resurrection Means That We Will One Day Be Raised

“Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Corinthians 5:7). By the shed blood of Christ, the Lamb of God, eternal death has passed over us. Now we pass with Christ through death into life everlasting. For Christ the crucified One is risen! The stone has been rolled away from the tomb, revealing that the tomb could not hold Him (Mark 16:1–8). Now our Redeemer lives eternally to save us from sin and Satan and the grave, and we can live in the sure hope of our own bodily resurrection with Christ. “After my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God” (Job 19:26). Feasting on the living Christ, who is our meat and drink indeed, we boldly say: “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? . . . But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:54–55, 57).

Daily Readings for April 10-16

Daily Readings for April 10-16, 2011

April 10 Exodus 1:1-22; Mark 14:12-31

April 11 Exodus 2:1-22; Mark 14:32-52
April 12 Exodus 2:23-3:22; Mark. 14:53-72
April 13 Exodus 4:1-18; Mark. 15:1-15
April 14 Exodus 4:19-31; Mark. 15:16-32
April 15 Exodus 5:1-6:1; Mark. 15:33-47
April 16 Exodus 7:1-25; Mark. 16:1-20


Matthew 21:1–9 , John 12:12–19, Zechariah 9:9–12, Philippians 2:5–11

The Cross and Passion of Our Lord Are the Hour of His Glory

“Behold, your King is coming to you . . . humble and mounted on a donkey” (Zechariah. 9:9–12; Matthew. 21:1–9). Our Lord rides in this humble fashion because He is entering Jerusalem to humble Himself even to the point of death on a cross (Philippians 2:5–11). His kingly crown will not be made of gold but of thorns, the sign of sin’s curse. For His royal reign is displayed in bearing this curse for His people, saving us from our enemies by sacrificing His own life. The sinless One takes the place of the sinner so that the sinner can be freed and bear the name “Barabbas,” “son of the Father” (Matthew 26 and 27). It is at the name of this exalted Savior, Jesus, that we bow in humble faith. With the centurion who declared, “Truly this was the Son of God!” (Matthew. 27:54), we are also given to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:11).