Trinity 4 – June 18th and 19th, 2016 – Luke 6:36-42
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit +
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit +
Well folks, who are you supposed to hate and be angry with and blame this week? It's been a terrible past few weeks for justice and order in society, and the outrage cycle's been working overtime. The Stanford rapist with his pathetic sentence, the vile shooting in Orlando, alligators, and all of this in an election year, where if you don't vote for the candidate I like, you will bring about the end of the free world. Where will you place your outrage? What sort of angry cries will you make publicly to show that you care? Don't you see, we have to do something! There is wickedness, there are bad people out there! Blame! Boycott! Ban! That’s the chatter of the world – that’s what the talking heads tell us. And it’s also what we end up thinking, it can be how we approach things closer to home. Did you hear about what he did…well, I never. Oh, you know what she is like. I can’t believe they would be so stupid. We have been trained with an “eagle” eye to scope out flaws and errors, to beat people down for them, to shun them, to belittle them – and maybe even to crush them.
“Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not and you will not be condemned; forgive and you will be forgiven, give, and it will be given to you.” What is your life to be, oh Christian? What is your day to look like? What is to dominate your thoughts – mercy or condemnation? Forgiveness or judgment? You see, when our Lord says that we are to be in the world but not of the world, He is not speaking merely to abstaining from vile and gross and open sin – it’s not merely “Don’t kill, don’t have affairs, don’t rob banks”. He is calling you away from the world, away from the way the world thinks, away from the way the world operates. He is calling you away from a life where the solution is judgment and condemnation.
Let us be honest. We love judgment, we love condemnation. As long as its someone else getting judged and condemned. As long as it's the “bad” guy getting it. The bad guy. That's a loaded term. Think of it this way: if we watch a movie, don’t we want, don't we expect the bad guy to get it in the end? We don't want the bad guy to apologize; we want a spectacular death scene and the hero to ride off into the sunset. Now, I'm not going to knock movies, but the problem is we end up treating real life, our neighbors this way. We label them “bad guys” - and we love their comeuppance, we love folks getting what they deserve. We’ll even use that language – I hope they get what they deserve, I hope they get what’s coming to them – with nary a though about what we ourselves by rights deserve. The self-righteous indignation flares up – we view ourselves as better than them, less worthy of condemnation, and so we are willing to dish it out, to hope for the worst for them, to just let them have it with both barrels. Take that, you miserable sinner! “For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” Do you see how poorly the world and our flesh train us to live? The sinful worlds tells us that if we just get a bit more condemnation in, then suddenly we can fix the fall – then people won't be “bad” - they'll be “good”... just like me. How stupid is that?
Christ tells us a parable. “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?” Do you not realize, o Christian, that you yourself are a sinner? That by the strict judgment of God's law, you are the bad guy? It’s not that you are wise and know everything and have everything figured out, and thus you can tell people how it ought to be and smack them down when they don’t listen. Do you not realize that you too are blind? That the flaws you see in them you yourself have? “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.” We listen to the ways of the world, we let the shrill and angry guide and shape us into being shrill and angry, we let the judgmental and condemnatory teach us to judge and condemn because we are not in fact above them, we are not better than them… even though we so often think we are. We fall in to the same traps as the rest of the world, the same sins. And in fact, not just the same sins – sins more vile than theirs. “How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.’” The speck of your neighbor, or the log of yourself? The dust particle floating through the air, while ignoring the beam of wood as big as the the supports of our Church? This is the depiction, the description of who we are according to our sinful flesh, what the world tries to shape us and mold us into being. Harsh and full of condemnation and disdain – and yet worthy of condemnation and eternal disdain ourselves.
“Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” Yet what of God? What is His approach? Thankfully, God is not out to get you. His ways are above our ways – and while we in our earthly wisdom love punishment and destruction, the foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of man, and this is for your own good. Your Father in heaven is merciful to you. He has sent Christ Jesus to take up your sin, to bear the weight and shame and guilt of it all upon the cross, to suffer and die for you, in your place, in your stead. And now there is no more judgment left, no more condemnation left. Now there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus – that’s how Paul puts it in Romans. Our Lord Jesus here is not merely going off on a finger wagging law kick here, telling you what you yourself need to do. If that were the case, we would all be without hope, for we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. But Christ Jesus has come, and He has borne the weight, the punishment of your sin in your place. God is merciful to you, and so Christ was judged in your place, He was condemned on account of your condemnation – and all the judgment in the world, all the condemnation in the universe is used up on Him. What then is left here? Remove the judgment and condemnation from these verses and what do we hear? Nothing but mercy and forgiveness. While the world shouts at you, “Judge, condemn, dish out punishment,” Christ steps in, and He says, “I have taken all that on Myself, and for you only mercy and forgiveness remain.”
And this He pours into your lap, this He gives you in good measure, overflowing, full, pressed down without any little air pockets of sin not covered. You are forgiven, forgiven in full. You are baptized, and all your sin is washed away. You are forgiven, for Christ and Him Crucified is proclaimed to you here, now, today. You are forgiven, for Christ has shed His blood for you and gives it to you in His Supper – this is reality. He has called you out of the darkness of the world into His marvelous light. He has made you to be not the world’s disciple, but His disciple. “A disciple is not above His teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. Be merciful, as your Father is merciful.” Christ Jesus is your Lord and He has purchased and won you from Sin, death, from the power of the devil. Christ has rescued you from this loud braying world with His precious blood – and He is now your Master, your Teacher. And He will make you to be like Him. When the world yells around you with hatred and anger and vengeance and destruction, when the world would blind you with all this – He calls out to you again, and He fixes your eyes upon Himself. Even as He Himself was condemned, left to hang upon the cross to die, He called out Father forgive. And He trains you, trains you to be like Him.
How does Christ train us; what does Christ do to us? “How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.’” Christ knows sin – He was nailed to that log in your eye, the log of the Cross. He bore your sin, He knows it far better than you do – He took it up from you even before you were born. He has taken it away from you, He has forgiven you. And now, with the log out of your own eye, you see clearly. You see clearly not to condemn, not to decry how terrible it is that these people keep getting specks in their eyes. You see clearly so as to forgive. The Son of Man came into the world not to condemn the world, but that it might be saved through Him. Likewise, you who have Christ as your brother by the gift of baptism, who participate in His Body and Blood, you dorealize that the only reason you even know of any of your neighbor’s sin is so that you will love them and in mercy be able to forgive them, be able to restore them, be able to proclaim the realities of Christ to them? You are forgiven, and so now you are forgiveness people. You have been mercied, and so now you are mercy people. This is the reality, this is what Christ's Church is. You’ve been in the world with its junk and hatred and anger all week – step away from that for a moment, forget all that, and remember who Christ says you are. You are forgiven – that is the great reality, greater than anything you saw on the news or in your neighbor last week, greater than anything you will see in yourself in this week to come.
And so dear friends, it is true, you and I are indeed poor miserable sinners, and by rights, we deserve nothing but condemnation. But God in His mercy has chosen not to condemn you – Christ Jesus your Lord deals with condemnation for you upon the Cross. You are out of that business now. Rather, you are forgiven, redeemed, sanctified by Him. And yes, the world, Satan, even your sinful flesh will try to make you forget that, try to sucker you back into their condemning games. And often enough they will succeed. But you are forgiven, that is the great truth, and one day Christ will come again, and that truth will be all that we see. Come quickly, Lord Jesus! Amen. In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.