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Prove It!

Sermon: “Prove It!”

Lectionary Series C; Second Sunday of Easter

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Gospel Reading: John 20:19-31

 

Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. 

The proof is in the pudding. Likely you have heard that line, but do you know where the line came from?

National Public Radio once reported that “the proof is in the pudding” is a new twist on a very old proverb. The original version was “the proof of the pudding is in the eating.” And what it meant was that you had to try out food in order to know whether it was good.

But it should also be noted that the word ‘pudding’ itself has changed. In Britain, pudding meant more than a sweet dessert. Back then, pudding referred to a kind of sausage, filling the intestines of some animal with minced meat and other things - something you probably want to try out carefully since that kind of food could be rather treacherous.

So, over the years, the original proverb has evolved. The original was the proof of the pudding is in the eating. It was shortened to the proof of the pudding, and then here in America, it morphed again to the proof is in the pudding. Apparently, the proof of the listening is in the correcting.

Proof. We might find the origin of “the proof is in the pudding” to be rather grotesque and graphic when we consider the kind of food it originally related to. But, that all being said, the proof that Thomas demanded was also rather grotesque and graphic.

Thomas demanded that he not only see the marks of the nails, but he also demanded to literally place his finger ‘into’ the mark of the nails, and place his hand ‘into’ his side…otherwise he would not believe. 

Thomas wanted Jesus to prove it. Prove His resurrection. He didn’t just demand visual proof. He also demanded physical proof. He wanted to know beyond all shadow of a doubt that there was ‘proof in the proverbial pudding,’ that Jesus had indeed been physically raised from the dead…that this was not just some spiritual reality…that it was completely and totally a legit bodily resurrection of the dead.

What audacity! What arrogance! Who does he think that he is, to deny the claims of his fellow disciples, to not trust their testimony? 

This is where Thomas gets his nickname: Doubting Thomas. His demand for proof sets him apart as supposedly the only one in that room who didn’t believe. But is even that the truth? 

The truth of the matter is that Thomas wasn’t there the first time Jesus came into that room with the doors locked. We don’t know where he was at the time, and it really doesn’t matter. What matters is that the others had been given proof of the resurrection. They had seen Jesus with their own eyes. Likely they had touched Him as well, since Jesus had invited them to do so in the account in the book of Luke. Thomas didn’t get any of that. 

Have you ever said, “Prove it!”? Have you ever demanded proof, be it visual and/or physical? Have you ever heard someone share news with you, and think it is too good to be true? Have you ever doubted the testimony of someone else?

What about with the testimony of God’s Word? Ever doubted what was written in those sixty-six books of the Bible? How about God’s love and care for you? Ever doubted that to be true? Ever demanded proof, because you were a bit unsure, a bit uncertain?

Thomas gets quite a bad rap time and again, but are we unlike him? Or could each of our nicknames be preceded by the word “Doubting?”

Whether it is Satan burdening us into thinking that our sins aren’t forgiven, or perhaps it is our own weakness of faith, or maybe it just seems like the whole world is crashing down all around us. Whatever it is, it is natural to have our doubts. It is natural to demand proof that God’s love and care for us in the darkness of this world is true.

But just because it is natural, does not mean it should be a pattern for us to follow. A steady diet of doubt and demands would only lead to despair and denial of all that is true.

If Thomas would have touched Jesus and then said, “No, I need more proof. I still can’t believe it,” then, likely it would have led to his own loss of faith. And that is why God directs us again and again to His Word.

His Word is the proof that we need. No, it is not physical evidence like we may crave at times, but the Word is proof nonetheless. It is the testimony of those that were present at that time. All Scripture is God-breathed. The Bible is literally the Word that became flesh and dwelt among us. And there within those pages is a love story that is written just for you. It is written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name (John 20:31).

The pages of Scripture literally are drenched with God’s love and care for you. And there within those pages here today, God provides you something additional that you can cling to in your times filled with doubts and demands. He gives you the testimony of the physical proof of the resurrection of the dead and the life everlasting.

You see, what we are given today is an added dimension that was likely never thought possible by the other disciples who had already seen Jesus. As Jesus came into the room that second time a week later, and Thomas was there with them, He delivered on Thomas’ demands. It was not because He had to, but because Jesus wanted to. He gave Thomas, the other disciples, and us, the proof that the Prince of Peace was alive and well in physical form.

Everything Jesus said would happen had come to fruition. His very flesh, which Thomas was now touching was the very evidence, the proof of God’s love for him and God’s love for you. He doesn’t go back on His Word. He delivers. He always has, and He always will. And now, it could not be denied. He had done what was thought impossible. He had done the unthinkable. Jesus was alive! The celebration of Easter continued on as Thomas declared, “My Lord and my God!”

That is our proclamation as well…Not because we have seen the Lord with our own eyes or felt the inside of those nail marks or where the spear entered his side. No, we proclaim that proof of the peace that passes all understanding in a different way.

When we come to the Lord’s Supper, we ‘proclaim’ the Lord’s death until He comes again. Into our very mouths, under bread and wine, is the very body and blood of the resurrected Jesus. 

Easter is all about what is real…our Savior's forgiveness, peace, hope, joy, and eternal life. God gives us the same assurance He gave to Thomas, for “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).  

So, bring your doubts, bring your demands, and place them before His altar. Take and eat. Take and drink. This is physical proof of God’s love and care you, from this day until the Last Day. And with the resurrected Jesus in you, when that day comes, you will not be held in the grave, because He could not be held in the grave. (Pause)

Interestingly enough, tradition holds that the one once known as “Doubting Thomas” took the Gospel of Christ to the subcontinent of India. He was later martyred and buried there after witnessing to the Indian people. Though there is no way to actually verify this, it is interesting to note that today there exists a group of Christians known as St. Thomas Christians in southwestern India. They trace their roots to having been evangelized by the disciple Thomas. Whether true or not, tradition would hold that the one who demanded such audacious proof eventually went on to proclaim the proof of the resurrection of Jesus, and there are still believers in that proof to this day.

We come to this day as benefactors of such a testimony that has spread throughout the entire world. But more so, we come here today as benefactors of the One who delivered the proof…the One who walked through a wall to meet those disciples in their fear and doubt…the One who walked from Jerusalem to Calvary bearing our cross…the One who died our death for our forgiveness…the One who walked out of His own tomb alive and well…the One who loves and cares for you beyond measure…beyond all doubt. 

There is not-a-one of us here who has not had our doubts and demanded proof like Doubting Thomas. There is also not-a-one of us here who can believe in Jesus and His resurrection on our own. The good news is that, despite our doubts and demands, God graciously gives us the faith to believe what we can’t on our own.

At your baptism, there, in the water and the Word, God gave the physical proof of His love for you, as He gave you the faith to believe that all He has said and done is most certainly true.

As it says in the meaning of the third article of the Apostles’ Creed: “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith.”

It is in that faith, that you and I join with Thomas in confessing the truth of the resurrected Christ in saying: “My Lord and my God!” It is in that faith, that you and I join with Thomas in boldly proclaiming this truth to others. It is in that faith, that you and I share hope and teach Christ so that all may know without a doubt the resurrection proof we proclaim this day: “Alleluia! Christ is risen!” “He is risen indeed! Alleluia!” In Jesus’ name. Amen.

The peace of God which surpasses all human understanding guard and keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

Easter Festival Sermon

Sermon: “The Place of the Resurrection”

Lectionary Series C; Easter Festival Service

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Gospel Reading: Luke 24:1-12

 

Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. 

The Place of the Resurrection. It was a garden…not far from the place of His crucifixion. It was possibly an orchard, perhaps with trees that would bear apples, peaches, mangoes, plums, or any assortment of fruit which is grown in that region of the world. More than likely though, it served as a vineyard to produce grapes. Needless to say, it was a place where one would expect things to grow and flourish.

That is exactly what happens to both the faith of those who believe and what happened to the church. The life of the church, our life of faith, and all the fruits of faith grow and flourish from the resurrection.

There among that garden, there was a hollowed out cleft in a rock. In front of that rock, there was a hewn channel in the ground so that a disk-shaped stone could be rolled to seal the tomb’s entrance. 

The stone was several feet in diameter, and it was thick enough to keep out any curious animals. It would have taken several men to move it because of its weight.

We are told about two of those men. Joseph of Arimathea was the first we hear about. He was a member of Council, known as the Sanhedrin. These were seventy lay elders, which included the chief priest and the scribes. They functioned as the legal experts in Judaism. Joseph of Arimathea was secretly a follower of Jesus as he was looking for the kingdom of God.

Nicodemus was the second man we hear about who was involved in the burial of Jesus. He was the one who had come to Jesus by night and had struggled to understand how a man could be born again when he was old, only to have Jesus share with him about baptism, and that ever famous Gospel in a nutshell… “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…”

          Joseph, in great courage went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate granted him this request. So, together, with 75 pounds of a mixture of myrrh and aloes that Nicodemus had brought, together they wrapped his body in a linen shroud that Joseph had bought. 

          Gently and carefully, they laid Jesus’ body on the burial bench in the tomb owned by Joseph that he had cut out himself. 

          Inside the tomb, there would have been a square pit, surrounded by stone benches. To one side, one of those benches would have served as the burial bench for the deceased to be laid upon. The other benches would have been for mourners to come and sit as they grieved the death of their loved ones. Behind those benches where mourners would sit would be open compartments known as kokhs. This would be where the remains of other loved ones would be placed once the decay of the corpse had taken place. In the case of Jesus’ tomb, those compartments would have been empty, as we are told that it was an unused tomb.

          Since Friday before 6pm, this had been the place of Jesus’ burial. Likely all around in the garden were footprints, perhaps the remains of a fire, maybe even weapons…all left behind by the soldiers the Jewish religious leaders had placed as a guard to ensure that the body of Jesus would not be stolen.

          This was the Place of the Resurrection. What was normally a very somber place, a place where mourners would gather to pay their respects to the deceased, was now anything but normal.

          The women who had seen where the body of Jesus had been lain had completely expected to find it just as they had left it that Friday evening. For within their hands, they carried spices that they had prepared to ensure that the body of the deceased would not smell as it entered into decay. They expected to find a dead body. Who knows what their plan was to do with the stone?

          But it didn’t matter. That stone that would have taken several men to move… had now been rolled away from the tomb. The place where Jesus’ body had been lain now was completely open. 

          It didn’t make sense. How was this even possible? This is not how they had left things the night before. The night before, everything was just as it should have been. The body was inside. The tomb was shut.

          Yes, the Place of the Resurrection was a place of Confusion. The women saw that the tomb was now open, and so they went in. Ducking inside, they looked and could not fathom what they saw. There…was…no…body.

          Instantly their minds must have rushed to the worst conclusion. We have only to speculate. But recognizing their perplexity (as our text tells us), they had only one conclusion to make: His body must have been stolen. Anything else would have been outside the realm of reality. Sure, they believed in the resurrection on the Last Day, but anything more would have been completely and utterly out of bounds.

          So, as they stood there disheartened and in disbelief, they were met with two unsuspecting visitors…men in dazzling apparel. Where had they come from? How could this be? Were their eyes playing tricks on them? The confusion must have only become compounded.

          But confusion was instantly met with clarity. Yes, the Place of the Resurrection is a place of Clarity. With their heads bowed to the ground as they were filled with fear, they were met with a question that has become the cornerstone of Christ’s resurrection for centuries: Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.

          What? What did they just say? Was it possible? Had the impossible really happened? Had the One they had placed their hope in for all this time done the unthinkable?

          The men in dazzling white continued to provide clarity on the entire situation, almost pealing back the veil that was over their confused eyes. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.

          The text goes on to say right after the men in dazzling white stop speaking: And they remembered his words… It is almost like you can see them saying, “Ahhhh…yes, we remember. Now it is all starting to make sense. Everything He told us would happen to Himself has come to be. Everything that was ever prophesied about Him has come to fulfillment.”

          News such as this could hardly be contained. After all, people don’t rise from the dead on a daily basis. This good news of great joy just had to be shared. With no confusion now hindering them, and clarity of the entire situation burning within them, they just had to go and tell others about this.

          Yes, the Place of the Resurrection had now become a place of Confession. As the women remembered his words, they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and all the rest.

          Just think what that must have been like. No doubt they must have interrupted each other several times as each of them were trying to recall all of the details of their most recent exciting find. The disciples probably had to stop them several times and say, “Please, one at a time. We know you’re excited, but what did you say? Jesus isn’t there?”

          That’s right, here in the Place of the Resurrection, and even in our text today, there is one thing missing, one very important piece. Jesus is not in the text. 

          For those of us longing for Jesus here on this Easter morning, this may come across as a bit Confusing. After all, isn’t that why we are here…to receive Jesus? Now you are telling me that He is nowhere to be found.

          Yes, that is what this text is telling you. It is inviting you to do what the women did by that tomb…to have that ah-hah moment of Clarity. The words of those men in dazzling white are for you and me too. He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you…

Have you ever been somewhere or seen something that just caused you to stand there with your mouth wide open because it was so overwhelming? The Place of the Resurrection ‘is’ that place…and not because of the place itself, but because of the message the angels proclaimed there…and the fulfillment of God’s promises they told those women to remember.

Remember how he told you. Jesus does come today. He comes to you in His Word. Remember how He told you that He would not abandon you here in this place. Remember how He told you that He would come and save you. Remember how He came as a babe born in Bethlehem and took on your flesh. Remember how when He was tempted as you are, yet without sin. Remember how He suffered, how He bled, how He died. Remember all of that. He did that for you. Remember how He said that would not be the end of the story, that the ‘rest of the story’ was still yet to come. Well now it is here, and it all took place here at the Place of the Resurrection.

          This place where bodies are peacefully laid to rest has become the launching pad for all the hope we have in this life. This place has become the location where resurrection of the dead and the life everlasting are now reality. This place has become the location where death couldn’t hold Him and the grave couldn’t keep Him. This place has become the location where your death and mine is swallowed up in victory, because He is not here, He has risen. (Pause)

          But as wonderful as this is for us, we are told that there were those that didn’t at first believe. When the women confessed to what they had seen and heard, those listening didn’t believe what they were saying…all except one. We are told that Peter went…actually He ran, looked in, saw the linen cloths and marveled at what had happened.

          Today, here at the Place of the Resurrection, you are invited to join those women and Peter and marvel. Marvel at an empty tomb, and see that things are just as they should be, just as He told you. Jesus is alive!

          If you come here in any way doubting Jesus’ love for you, wondering if your sins could ever be forgiven, wondering if there is any hope moving forward, look no further. See what they saw. “He is not here, He has risen.”

          From the cross to the empty tomb, this was all part of the journey Jesus took to go and prepare a place for you. From heaven to earth, from life to death…and then back again…He did it all for you. 

          But like those who didn’t believe when the women told them the good news of great joy, we are mindful of the many who still live in Confusion, who still lack Clarity and a Confession of the crucified and risen Christ. 

Now is our time, as we gather here at the Place of the Resurrection, to Share Hope and Teach Christ with a Confused world. We share what we have been given to share so that they may see with Clarity what we see and Confess here on this day and every day to come until He comes again: “Alleluia! Christ is Risen!” “He is Risen indeed! Alleluia!” Amen.

The peace of God which surpasses all human understanding guard and keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

(We join in singing our verse of response of Now All the Vault of Heaven Resounds…Please Rise.)

Good Friday Sermon

Sermon: “The Place of a Skull”

LSB Series C; Good Friday

Friday, April 15, 2022

Gospel Reading: John 19:17-30

Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. 

The Place of a Skull. In Aramaic, we know it as Golgotha. In Greek, it was simply Kranion, where we get our word for Cranium. In Latin, it is translated as Calvary.

This was a place of death. A place where the most heinous of criminals would be sent to die in the most awful way. It was a place where those passing by would clearly see what would happen to them if they chose to forego following the law of the land. 

If only the blood could cry out from the soil in that somber place, since this was most likely not the first crucifixion that had taken place in this location. What stories would it have to tell of the agony that had been endured there? How many had died there? We do not know. 

The Place of a Skull was not much a mountain at all. It was more of a small, yet rocky rise to a plateau of sorts just outside the Damascus Gate on the north side of the city of Jerusalem. When you looked at this so-called mountain from the right angle, there in the stone, you could see how this place had gotten its name.

The Place of a Skull. Facial features of two eyes, a nose, and perhaps a mouth seemingly hewn out of the stone face by natural erosion. Indeed, this place was befitting its name. For there in that rock face was the image of a skull.

A Skull. All that remains as the head of a corpse finds its way into decay. As the flesh deteriorates and the dryness of death sets in. Yes, this place had been given its name for a reason.

A reason that Jesus became all too familiar with that first Good Friday. Immediately after Pontius Pilate’s conviction, having washed his hands of Jesus, He was sent to die. Carrying His own cross. Whether it was only the horizontal cross beam known as the patibulum or the entire cross, we do not know. And though it was only six hundred yards from the place of Jesus’ conviction to His crucifixion, with how much blood Jesus had lost, the journey was far too much for Him to continue on.

It is the journey that is now known as the Via Dolorosa, or translated, the Journey of Pain. It was indeed that. Having been struck by soldiers, scourged across His back, a crown of thorns forced upon His brow, and now to have to carry the cross, the pain must have been nearly too much to handle.

The cross beam alone was approximately 80 pounds. The entire cross would have nearly reached 300 pounds. Either way, knowing how much He had already endured, those 600 yards must have seemed liked 600 miles. It was indeed a journey of pain only to reach the Place of death…the Place of a Skull.

Once there, soldiers would have secured His body on the cross. Some crosses had a seat of sorts on them. Where this may have seemed to be an act of mercy, giving the victim something to rest their body on, it would actually lengthen the time of suffering before death. 

Once the body was placed on the cross, nails would be strategically driven into the flesh to ensure that the victim would not bleed out. This was again to lengthen the time of suffering. So, the feet would likely have been angled to the side and the nail driven in that way, instead of through the front facing portion of the feet.

The Place of a Skull was a place where there was suffering and death, and everyone knew it. People passing by were given a clear spectacle of the severity of Roman rule and what it meant to stand up to the nation that controlled them.

Though we like to think that Jesus was crucified on the top of Golgotha, it is more likely that He was killed in front of it, along the road. If looking on toward the cross, the image of the skull would have been in the background. 

By being close to the road, everyone who was walking by would have easily been able to read the inscription above Jesus’ head.

The inscription was yet another way for Pilate to put the Jews in their place. It was common for the charge of the criminal to be posted above them. Likely the two other criminals crucified to Jesus’ left and right also had similar inscriptions.

However, Jesus had a most uncommon inscription, derived from the mind of Pilate himself. If the Jewish leaders wanted him to kill a king who was a rival of Caesar, then he would kill a king. So the inscription stated: “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” It was written in three languages, Aramaic, Latin, and Greek, to ensure that as many would see it, would be able to read it. What Pilate had written, he had written.

There from the Place of a Skull, in the other accounts of Jesus death, we are told that those passing by hurled insults at Him. What did they say? We don’t know. But we all certainly know that the line “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” is an all out lie. Like salt on the wounds that lie open for all to see, those insults stung. Those words hurt.

Likely only a couple of feet off of the ground, a hyssop branch was raised to Jesus’ mouth to unsatisfactorily quench His thirst before His life drew to a close. It would be near the end of His time at The Place of a Skull. The end of time that all of humanity had long awaited, and yet completely rejected. As Jesus hung there, rejected by all, for all to see, He uttered the words that echoed throughout the land and in our lives even today. “It is finished.”

There on The Place of a Skull, Jesus gave His life for you and for me. There with His very life, He did what He had come to do. Ever since the fall in the Garden of Eden, He had promised that this would happen…that this would be the result because of our sin. 

It’s because of our sin, that He endured that 600 yard walk of shame. It is because of our sin, that He carried that cross…our cross. It is because of our sin that He was nailed to that cross. It is because of our sin that He endured the insults and the shame. It is because of our sin that He breathed His last. It is because of our sin that He died. It is because of our sin. 

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed (Isaiah 53:4-5).

Because of what Jesus did on The Place of a Skull, we are now at peace with God. He did so willingly, lovingly, and voluntarily. And in doing what He did, there at the Place of a Skull, He crushed the skull of the serpent Satan once and for all. Just as had been foretold in the Garden of Eden, so it had now come to fruition. Sin, death, and the devil himself had been defeated.

We gather on this night to recall what took place at that most holy place. Though we were not there, we can take comfort in that what happened those two thousand years ago happened for us. 

Our God saw us in our state of sin, doomed only to death and damnation, and in love, He sent His Son. For God so loved the world that He gave…He gave His only Son. 

See His cross before you this night. Rejoice and give thanks to Your God for all that He endured there at The Place of a Skull.

For there at the Place of a Skull, Jesus secured a place for you in the halls of heaven. It is just as Jesus said earlier in John: Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a ‘place’ for you? And if I go and prepare a ‘place’ for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also (John 14:1-3).

From the ‘Place’ of a Skull to securing your ‘place’ at His side for all eternity. That is what Your Savior has done here on this night that we call Good. With His holy and precious blood shed on Golgotha…on Kranion…on Calvary…He has won forgiveness, life, and salvation…all for you. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

The peace of God which surpasses all human understanding guard and keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

You Are Not Alone

Sermon: “You Are Not Alone”

LSB Series C; First Sunday in Lent

Sunday, March 6, 2022

Gospel Reading: Luke 4:1-13

Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. 

You are not alone. That was the theme of the conference that Pastor Andrew and I just recently attended. This conference is known as Best Practices, and it all takes place at a large church and school known as Christ Church Lutheran in Phoenix, Arizona. 

While there, it was easy for us to know that we were “not alone” as there were over 100 presenters, over 100 exhibitors of various ministries, over 400 volunteers to put the conference on, and over 2,000 church workers and lay leaders from all over the country in attendance.

The three day conference was indeed a source of encouragement and fulfillment as Pastor Andrew and I were given the chance to learn and grow in our pastoral field and grow in relationship with others in attendance. On behalf of both of us, we would like to thank the congregation for your support of us as pastors to have opportunities like this to continue to learn so that we might better serve you as pastors. Thank you! (Pause)

You are not alone. That is the theme of this sermon for today as we consider Jesus being tempted by Satan in the wilderness. You are not alone. That is the theme as we consider the nature of being tempted in general. You are not alone. That is the theme as we consider who fights with us and for us against the old evil foe. You are not alone.

Let’s begin with the temptation of Jesus.

There Jesus was. He had just been baptized in the Jordan River by John the Baptist. The heavens had been torn open. The Holy Spirit had descended on him in bodily form, like a dove. The Father’s voice from heaven had declared, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

The Spirit then led Jesus out into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan for forty days. Forty days with no food, no less. Many of us can’t imagine life without food for forty minutes (at least I can’t). Jesus went forty days, all the while being tempted head-on by Satan.

The text records for us three of those temptations.

The first temptation: “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”

The second temptation: After showing Jesus all the kingdoms of this world, Satan said, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will.”

The third temptation: After taking Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple in Jerusalem, Satan said, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself from here, for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike foot against a stone.’”

In rapid fire succession, Satan showed that he is both relentless and he is fearless. He showed no regard for Jesus’ identity as he called it into question. He had no problem lying as he promised Jesus the kingdoms of the world which were not his to give. He had no problem piece-mealing the Word of God for his own pathetic purposes. 

There are simply no limits to his deception, not even with Jesus. So, it is no wonder that Devil means: The Accuser, the Slanderer, the Adversary. Like a prowling lion, he seeks to devour anyone who stands in his way. And that includes Jesus.

Hungry though he may have been, Jesus did not buckle to the barrage He endured from the wicked one. Like a seasoned general in the armed forces, His combat tactics were a force that wouldn’t be reckoned with. Relying on His identity as the Son of God in the flesh and the Word of God who became flesh, He stood up to the old satanic foe who has sworn to work us woe, and just like He did in the Garden of Eden, Jesus showed him who was boss.

No matter how hard Satan tried to defeat Jesus, he was simply no match for the King of kings and Lord of lords. 

“It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’”

“It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.’”

“It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

Like a bout in the boxing ring, one…two…three, Satan was down for the count…until another opportune time…until he would face a beat down for the ages. (Pause)

But where does that leave us? We are here having endured yet another week of worldly assaults from the old satanic foe. We are bruised, battered, scarred, and scraped. We have each been tempted in a myriad of ways.

We are tempted to think of ourselves more highly than we ought. We are tempted to think of ourselves less than we ought. We are tempted to click on a site that we know we should not. We are tempted to say that word or that name we know we should not. We are tempted give up going to church like we know we should. We are tempted to give up going to church from our first fruits like we know we should. We are tempted in many and various ways, and it never, ever stops.

Now to be clear, being tempted is not sinning. But as we come into the House of the Lord today, we have nothing to be proud about. We have only to admit that we have fallen to temptation, that we have failed in our thoughts, words, and deeds. Unlike Jesus, we have not been successful through the onslaught of temptation. 

Like a fish attracted to a lure with a hook, we have taken the proverbial bait; hook, line, and sinker; more often than we would like to admit. And it is always easier for us to fall to temptation when we are alone, when no one is looking. Isn’t that the truth? Yes it is. Yes, ever since our baptism, what has become apparent is that there is only one thing we are really good at…and that’s sinning. (Pause)

Today’s text delivers good news to those who struggle with temptation, fall to temptation, and find themselves steeped in sin. You are not alone.

You are not alone as you wander in this wilderness of temptation and sin. See here today that Jesus does not hesitate to engage the old evil foe on your behalf. He enters into your wilderness wanderings with His very own body and blood.

Where the temptation is too much for you to handle, He wins the war with you and for you.

Scripture tells us: “We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15)…And… “Because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Hebrews 2:18).

See here today that you are not alone when you are being tempted. The same Jesus who went into the wilderness to take Satan on, head on, is the same Jesus who is your help in time of need. He does not abandon you to endure the attack on your own. 

Think of it this way. Imagine you are playing on a playground when all of a sudden the school bully comes up and starts to pick a fight with you. You know you don’t stand a chance, but there is no way of escape in sight. When all of a sudden, Muhammed Ali, taps your shoulder and says, “I got this.” The school bully looks at their new opponent, starts crying, sucks his thumb, runs away, and starts crying for his mommy.

Now far be it for me to place your hope or mine in Muhammed Ali, but I hope you see the point. When you face temptation on your own, you don’t stand a chance on your own. And that’s the point of this text. You and I need help when we are being tempted.

You and I can’t save ourselves. You and I can’t stand up to the old evil foe. You and I are no match for Satan. Jesus, the Christus Victor, as He is known, is the only One who can and does defeat sin, death, and the devil once and for all.

And that is what He did. Our text today serves as a foretaste of the feast to come. In a matter of weeks, the darkness of defeat will fill the land on the Friday that we call good. But it was by His death, that He conquered death. There He was all alone, forsaken by His own Father. And yet, it was by His death, that the devil was taken down once and for all. “It…Is…Finished.” One…two…three. He is down for the count.

And now, because of His victory on Mount Calvary, you can call upon His name, pray, praise, and give Him thanks…because He is your help in every time of need. No matter the temptation, you are not alone. 

And just look around you. You are surrounded by fellow saints, brothers and sisters in Christ who are here to encourage you as the war wages on. No one here is without sin. No one here is immune to temptation. So, everyone here can be a source of strength and support as we face the old evil foe.

And all the while, the Christus Victor is here with you. So, don’t be afraid. Call upon His name. Pray as He has taught you, with great boldness and confidence: “Lead us not into temptation. But deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever.” You…Are…Not…Alone. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

The peace of God which surpasses all human understanding guard and keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen

“The Skins God Provided Adam and Eve”

Sermon: “The Skins God Provided Adam and Eve”

LSB Series C; Lenten Midweek Series: “Sacrificial Death”

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Old Testament Reading: Genesis 3

Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. 

Sacrificial Death. That is the theme of our midweek Lenten series this year. Over the course of the next six Wednesdays, you will hear of six sacrificial deaths that point to the death of Jesus Christ, the ultimate sacrifice.

Death is all around us. It is everywhere. It envelops us. We look in the newspaper or turn on a local radio station. We read and we hear of obituaries, the latest people who have gone the way of death. We turn on the television, and countless segments are on various forms of death: accidents, sickness, murder. We drive down the road only to pass by a cemetery. Death is all around us. It is everywhere. It envelops us.

Consider the ashes upon your foreheads tonight. Ashes were used by the people of the Old Testament when it was a time of mourning. Death had reared its ugly head, and so people would put on sackcloth and ashes and mourn the day of death. The sign of the cross on your forehead is an instrument of death. The sign itself reminds us that we have died with Christ and so we will also live with Christ. But first, there must be a death. A death to Christ on Calvary. Then, a death to the Old Adam of sin within us. The Old Adam must be drowned. And not just once, but daily. Yes, death is all around us. It is everywhere. It envelops us.

That was the case for Adam and Eve. They had disobeyed God’s command. They had disregarded His love and care of them in exchange for a piece of fruit promising them what they could not have: to be like God. We hear the echo of the serpent’s words in our own ears every day. “Did God really say that? Did He really say that?” The deceiver is constantly at work…Prowling like a roaring lion…Casting his doubt…trying to drive people into despair…All with the ultimate goal of death and faith’s destruction. 

It only took one bite. One bite and a world filled with the light of perfection was cast into the darkness of destruction. It was only one bite, but that is all it took. We know that too. We know it well. Only one sin separates us from God. That is what sin does. It separates us. 

Adam and Eve felt that separation as the shame filled their hearts and minds. Instantly, their focus went from all of God’s beauty around them to looking down. Looking down in shame. Looking down and beholding what they hadn’t before. They were naked. Naked and ashamed.

Like all of us when we sin, our first inclination is not to confess. Our first step is not to admit that we are wrong, repent, and then go and sin no more. No, our first inclination is to hide. Cover up the sin, and then hope to God no one notices. Hope to God that we can get away with it, and then everything will be alright…or so we think.

That is what Adam and Eve thought as they hurriedly wove fig leaves together. Frantically they tried to figure out what they would do, what they would say if they were questioned for their actions. With no good resolve in order, they stayed hidden. Hidden in their sin.

Hiding in sin is a dangerous place to be. Isolation is where the devil does his dirtiest work. It is where he convinces us that there is no hope, no chance of any sort of peace ever again. It is where he gets us to despair and longingly look to him as if he could ever provide us what we need. But he can’t.

Instantly, that is what Adam and Eve found out as their consciences weighed heavy as they heard the sound of the Lord walking in the cool of the day. As they heard Him call out, no doubt their hearts raced, their hands grew clammy as they clung to each other instead of reaching for their Lord.

After a blame game for the ages, where Adam pointed at Eve, and Eve pointed at the serpent, it became ever so apparent what had happened. Sin had entered the world. And with one sin came death. A word that was no doubt foreign to Adam and Eve as they heard it. They had never been exposed to death. And now they were being told, that was their penalty. And not just for them. In what we now know as original sin, it was the penalty for all generations to come. (Pause)

The penalty that would be theirs to bear. It would be ours as well. But they, and we, would not be left without hope. God had a plan, a perfect plan. He would send from the offspring of Eve a descendant who would crush the head of the serpent once and for all. And He would come and He would sacrifice Himself in a death for all ages. 

This was the promise that Adam and Eve and their descendants would cling to as they journeyed away from Eden. Eve quickly found out that she would have pain in childbirth. Adam found out that there would be pain and hardship as he worked the land. But they would not be left without protection from the Lord.

God would clothe them. Whether it was an animal that had died instantly after the fall, or God killed the animal, we don’t know. All we know is that there was a shedding of blood and they were covered in animal skin.

Now the scorching heat of the sun would be staved off by the clothes provided by God. The thorns and thistles that Adam would find as he tilled the land would not pierce him near as much. God had given him exactly what he needed as he navigated the land.

And for as much as these skins would serve as their provision and protection, they would also serve as a reminder. As one commentary put it: “By this clothing, God imparted to the feeling of shame the visible sign of an awakened conscience, and to the consequent necessity for a covering to the bodily nakedness, the higher work of a suitable discipline for the sinner” (Keil and Delitzsch, p. 66). 

In essence, these clothes from God would serve as a reminder that they had indeed sinned. They had separated themselves from God. So every time they looked down and they saw God’s provision of skins for them, they could see their need for repentance, and their need for a Savior.

Death was all around for them. It was everywhere now. It literally enveloped them as they beheld the skins given to them by God. 

But, for as much as these skins were a reminder of their sin, they also served as a reminder of their forgiveness. As Psalmist writes: Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is ‘covered’ (Psalm 32:1).

These skins given to them by God would remind them of being covered in His forgiveness…in His righteousness, and these skins would help them look forward to the One who would come in their skin…in their flesh and blood.

As we gather here on Ash Wednesday, we spend the next several weeks focusing our attention on the One who covered Himself in human skin for us. Humble, meek, and, mild, He came as a babe born in Bethlehem. Yet it was not long and that skin that covered Him was being torn away by the metal fragments and bone shards in the whips of the Roman soldiers. It would not be long and His skin would be pierced for the sins of the entire world. 

What Adam and Eve looked forward to as they looked down and saw the skins that God had given them is exactly what we look back to here in yet another season of Lent.

This is a time where we once again behold that death is all around us. It is everywhere. It envelops us. And like Adam and Eve found, there is absolutely nothing that we can do about it. Like those skins that Adam and Eve wore, it is God who provides for us as well.

He provides for us the clothing we need to survive unto eternal life. In baptism, He clothes us with a robe of Christ’s righteousness. In the water and the Word, we are redeemed by Christ the crucified. And in that moment, He takes us from mourning in ashes to looking forward to dining at His table forever.

For that is what we also do here on this night. We who are surrounded by death, literally enveloped by it, are given a foretaste of the feast to come. With our skin covered in His blood and clothed in His righteousness, we see before us that He has provided everything that we need. His body broken for you. His blood shed for you. 

For just as God provided for Adam and Eve, so He has provided for you and for me. Though death may envelop us as we live in this world of sin, we look forward to the return of Christ Who swallowed up death in victory for us…once and for all. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

The peace of God which surpasses all human understanding guard and keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

Listen to Him

Sermon February 27 – Transfiguration – Luke 9:28-36 – Listen to Him

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and savior Jesus who loved you with his life Amen. 

Have you ever had a time when you though that no one was listening to you? Maybe you’ve been telling your child to clean their room for quite some time and your child simply replies, “Yeah I will mom. Or Yeah I will dad.” But sometime has passed and the room is still messy just as it was before. Or maybe you’ve asked your spouse to put away their clothes or clean up after themselves. But it seems no matter how many times you ask your words seem to be falling on deaf ears. Or perhaps you’ve been in a serious conversation with someone and suddenly as if the words coming out of your mouth don’t matter anymore, you can visibly see the mind of the person you are talking with leave the conversation and instead of listening to you and what you have to share, they are simply thinking of the next thing they will reply with. This I believe affects us all. 

Listening. It’s a challenging thing to do. Studies show that we only listen at about a 25% efficiency. Our brains are so massively complex that we are constantly learning, constantly adapting, constantly anticipating what will come next. It’s almost as though we race ahead of the conversation to the finish line because we assume we know what will happen next before the words are even spoken to us. If that’s not all, often we don’t listen long enough because we get distracted by all that is going on around us much like the Dug, the dog from the Pixar movie UP. Russel and Carl have stumbled up on Dug and Dug begins talking to them because of the collar he is wearing. Dug talks and talks and talks about tracking down a bird and ever so briefly he pauses and says, “Squirrel” looking off in the distance distracted from the conversation he was just having with Russel and Carl. 

Pixar movies aside, we all are constantly inundated with voices filled with information calling us to listen. You wake up in the morning and turn on the TV to watch the news and listen to the various voices speaking to you. “Buy this.” “Pay attention to this event that took place.” You drive to work or to school and play the radio listening to the various voices that are giving out all sorts of information about things going on in the world either locally or globally. And boy oh boy is there plenty of eye-opening news going on as we see the challenges that we, and the world continues to face due to outcomes of sin. With all the voices swirling around us, calling us to listen, to pay attention to them, it’s easy to get bogged down in the life we are living. Distracted from who we are called to listen to with all the voices, all the information begging, screaming for our attention it’s easy to find ourselves downtrodden and depressed over all that is going on around us.

I imagine that the disciples felt much the same way. Do you ever wonder if they thought about what they were signing up for when Jesus approached them, calling them to follow him? Do you ever wonder if they thought about the cost of following Jesus?  Seeing how Jesus was received by the chief priests and teachers of the Law, do you ever wonder if they thought, well maybe this isn’t for me. Maybe I followed the wrong guy. Well regardless of whether they shared those thoughts, the disciples continued to follow Jesus. And that wasn’t entirely easy all the time nor did it always make the most sense. It all started when Jesus posed to them the question, earlier in Luke 9. “Who do the crowds say that I am?” There they had it. Jesus brought to their attention the various voices that they were listening to. The various voices that may have been influencing what they thought of Jesus. Nevertheless, Peter replies, “You are the Christ of God.” Looking back at them Jesus replies by commanding them to not say a word about it and then he goes on to say how the Son of Man must suffer many things, how he will die and on the third day be raised again. Stopping there you can almost picture the perplexed faces that were staying right at Jesus. What did he say? Did I hear him correctly?

Then Jesus demonstrates the cost of following him. Denying oneself, picking up your cross daily and following him. Mind you this was before Jesus had gone to the cross itself so you can imagine the struggle to understand what their beloved teacher was telling them to do. Eight days pass from that point and Jesus heads up the mountain to pray. He takes with Peter, James, and John with him. While he was praying, his face was transfigured, and his clothes became dazzling white. Appearing with him were the great prophets of old. Moses, the one who led the people of God out of Egypt out of the house of slavery. And Elijah, the prophet who was taken by God and never experienced finality of death. 

Now Peter and the other disciples, though they had been sleeping couldn’t help but stay awake at the sight of the bright light seeing the glory of God as it was manifested in Jesus and those with him. Suddenly Peter has an extreme desire to go camping and so he offers to make 3 tents. Now right in this section, we see an interesting side of the humanity of Peter. When Luke writes, “—not knowing what he said.” We all have moments like that don’t we. Moments where we speak so quickly where we allow our mind to fill in the blanks, to race ahead to the finish line before we’ve actually listened to all that is taking place in front of us with the people we encounter every day. Maybe it’s because we are too busy, to bogged down with the overbooked lifestyle that we don’t have the mental or emotional capacity to actually listen or genuinely care about who ever it may be that we are conversing with.

While Peter was saying a cloud came and overshadowed them and fearfully they entered the cloud and heard a voice coming out of the cloud saying, “This is my Son, My chosen one; listen to Him!” And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent. They didn’t really know what to think about the event that just took place. They didn’t know what they had witnessed and so silently they stewed over it. What did it mean? Maybe listening with only 25% efficiency was much the same then as it is now. 

Transfiguration, the event that is celebrated in the church year, yet it challenges us deeply as we try and categorize a teaching that we can take from this event. But at the end of it all, I don’t know if we entirely can. I don’t know if we can label this as a “live better” passage because at the end of it all, after the words from the cloud were spoken, all we find is Jesus alone. And I suppose that is really all we need and really all that matters.

At the end of the day, that’s where we find Jesus…alone. The disciples would continue to follow him, hearing various parables on life and how He himself brings about the kingdom of God, witnessing the miracles, the healings, the raising of the dead, the casting out of demons. They would follow him to the night in which he was betrayed, the night where he went up to the mountain to pray, the place where the darkness of sin enclosed around them as the disciples fell asleep on him once again. They woke up not to the bright light of the glory of God shining like the sun around them, but to the faintly flickering torches as the soldiers came to arrest Jesus and put him on trial. Strike the shepherd and the sheep will scatter and they did.  

He was delivered then, over to death. He was tried, convicted, and condemned as a criminal sentenced to death. Death that he would endure on the cross. There on mount calvary as people gathered around him to witness his death, there he hung with two others, it wasn’t Moses and Elijah this time but two other criminals. There he would die. And through his death, just like Moses delivered the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt, even more so Jesus through his death on the cross did he deliver you, me, the entire world from slavery to sin, death, and the power of the devil himself. And not only that, just as Elijah did not experience the sting of death, even more so Jesus broke death’s power. He broke it to smithereens as the grave could not hold him and he rose again from the dead declared then to be the son of God in power by virtue of that resurrection. All this he did for you. And all that he gifts to you. At the end of the day, we find Jesus alone. And that, brothers and sisters, that is enough. 

Amidst all of the chaos brewing and stirring in the world right now. Amidst all of the various voices that are calling for your time and attention. Amidst all of the challenges you may be facing in life with family, friends, work, or the world. Amidst all of those days when you feel overwhelmed with task at hand and rather than looking to others for help and support you deem to go it alone. Amidst all of the time spent listening to all that is going on in the world. All that your life might becalling you to listen to and be distracted by. Amidst it all and at the end of it all, when the clouds clear and the fears whatever they may behave subsided there is Jesus bearing it all in himself for you.

That…that is all you need. Listen to him. Amen.

May the peace of God which surpasses all understanding guard and keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

The ABC's - Pastor Mussell

Sermon 1 Corinthians 15:1-20                                    R is for Resurrection

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who loved you with his life amen and so be it.

My son Will is 4 months old, almost 5, so naturally he is excelling at so many things. Drooling for that matter is one thing. Attempting to roll over is another, he hasn’t quite got there but he is trying to figure it out. Talking, laughing, and screaming in shear joy are others. Needless to say, and as I have been told before, Anna and I are only just getting into the beginning stages. Oh can I imagine the changes that are going to take place and the joyful noise that is going to happen as Will continues to grow. As many of you may know books are important for the development of the brain in young minds. We have many, but one, in particular, is enjoyable to read for its simplicity. Sometimes, it’s the simple things that provide the most comfort. Sometimes, it’s the simple things that provide the most clarity. The book is easy. It’s about the ABC’s, I mean how much simpler do you get than that?  A is for…. B is for…. C is for… D is for… You catch the picture. It’s so simple. It is part of the fundamental building blocks for the English language and from it you learn your reading, your writing, and I guess you can throw arithmetic into the equation too. 

The letter of 1st Corinthians addresses a whole manner of issues in the church of Corinth. Issues that still we, as the church today, still face and struggle with. The issues fluctuate from very earthly in manner to challenges with the very gifts that we have been gifted from God himself.  Divisions amongst believers attributing it do following one apostle over another, or being baptized by one pastor over another. Divisions about how the church should be ordered. Which people should be cared for first, those who have been here the longest, or those who are new to the faith. Sexuality and the whole host of promiscuity that is promoted to provocate a promiscuous life-style and life acceptance…sound familiar? Lawsuits and disputes among one another as believers, the body of Christ. Principles for marriage as the unity of man and woman before God giving a proper picture of Christ and the Church giving himself up for her. Cleansing her through the washing and the word. The proper way of love given and established by the One who is love and demonstrates the deep dimensions of his desire for you and all people to be saved as it is written, God wants all to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. 

He talks about those unmarried and the very own idolatry that both the Corinthians struggled with and we struggle with today. The deep desire to demand what we deem undeniable. As though we are the potter and God is the clay. As though we are the creator and he is the creature and he needs to meet the demands of the people in order for them to live the good life. The life that services their deep seated desires. He addresses the Lord’s supper and the challenges that they were having with it. As it seems great factions were dividing up the congregation through the work of the devil and the demonic forces yet at large in the world. He calls to their attention the great gift they have been given in this holy meal one that not only demonstrates, but also promotes unity as the body of Christ coming to receive his body and blood which is give and shed for the forgiveness and remission of your sins. Among other things, he touches on order for worship as the church calls the pastor to lead the church just as the man ought to lead his very household. 

Throughout all of this, all of these topics, all of these challenges, Paul links it together with Christ. He is the lynch pin that holds all things together. In the exhortations and the admonitions, the one thing that Paul continues to make clear is most basic understanding, of the faith, is Jesus Christ crucified and resurrected. It is the spiritual milk that Paul refers to in 1 Corinthians 3. It is the basic alphabet that the whole faith is understood from.  Everything, and I mean everything, rests and falls on this one thing. It is the foundation of the whole universe. It is the foundation of our very being. Every inch of the universe is touched by this very fact that Christ was crucified and raised for you. 

A is for Adam from whom came sin and death. B is for boys and girls who are given daily breath. C is for Christ who rescued the whole world. D is for death, sin’s punishment unfurled. E is for eternal life in Jesus with him forever. F is for forgiveness of sins now and forever….

Now I’m not going to recite to you the ABC’s, though if you would like something of the sort you will find a small half sheet hand out focusing on the ABC’s of faith. I tried to make them as simply as possible with the wording, and the rhyme. I’d recommend using them to help teach the faith, literally give you the words of faith we speak through the ABC’s, to your children. This also provides you with the basic language to speak and know the language of faith founded on the crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Paul therefore not only commends the Corinthians but also you. He commends you to hold fast to the word, the basic message of the Christian faith that Christ died in accordance with the Scriptures, more so that he was raised in accordance with the scriptures. He lays the story of the events after Christ’s resurrection from the dead leaving his own voice to be influenced and heard last so as only to demonstrate who the message he has is coming from. He calls this message the first importance. If you would hear nothing else today, hear this. R is for…resurrection as Christ has been raised from the dead. Christ died for your sins as he and the Scriptures said he would. He was buried in a tomb, taking your sin with him and he rose again from the dead, defeating sin, death, and all the power of the devil for you for all time. That message is for you. It’s no joke. 

No doubt Paul was met with some challenges. He was met with some opposition. And he lays that out for us as well. He lays it out in such this way. If Christ wasn’t raised from the dead and we don’t believe, well then, this conversation, and this sermon has just been a gathering of people listening to a guy talk about the ABC’s for 20 minutes. If Christ is raised from the dead and we believe in him. We receive the gifts of eternal life and the resurrection from the dead and if you don’t believe in him, well then you have another, far more terrible thing coming than the death that we will all experience in life at one point in time. If Christ wasn’t raised and we believe in him, then we are in quite a bit of trouble because our faith is futile and we are still living in our sins and nothing in this life we have ever done for that faith has mattered. In point of fact, Paul says we are the ones who are to be most pitied.

The fact of the matter is this: Christ was raised for you. It is the fundamental building block of the Scriptures. All Scripture points to Christ and his work. It’s something we have confessed with our lips time and time again. It’s the message that we have constantly been given day after day to share. It’s the very reason we speak of Christ. We share the hope we have in Him and by doing so teach of His complete work. We confess this on the weekly basis confessing the creeds and as we joined together just a few moments ago as _____________ was joined into the family of faith through the waters of Baptism I believe in the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Or as we join in confessing the common faith through the words of the Nicene creed…I look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Either of these foundations of faith are founded on the God who did something in our history. He named and claimed you as his own and he stepped into the sin-filled world steeped with divisions amongst family members, disunity amongst the church, idolatrous demands of our own self-serving interests, and disastrous outcomes from the powers at be in the world and deigned to die for you and for all. 

Not only that, he was raised. Solidifying the guarantee of his great victory over those powers. That is victory over sin, death, and the devil. This message is for you and for all. It is the fundamental ABC’s of the faith. It’s a message that we are called to share. To teach it to your children, and your children’s children.  Let them know not greater love than Christ and him crucified and risen for them. Though it may be basic, spiritual milk from which we are fed daily. It will foster a faith that can be nurtured and cultivated into mature adulthood always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for the reason for the hope that is in you, doing that with gentleness and respect, trusting always in the Lord as his Gospel goes out from my lips, from your lips, from your children’s lips, it goes out to accomplish the purpose for which the Lord sent it.

Jesus Christ was crucified for your sin and raised for your justification. It’s the ABC’s. It’s as simple as that. Amen.

And may the peace of God which surpasses all understanding guard and keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

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