Saturday, October 28, 2017

Reformation Sermon

Reformation Observed – John 8:31-36 – October 28th and 29th, 2017

In the Name of Christ Jesus +
What defines a Lutheran? Here we are on Reformation weekend, remembering how 500 years ago Martin Luther nailed the 95 theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg – it’s a time for reflection, so what defines you? What makes a Lutheran a Lutheran? What makes this congregation different from all those other ones out there? Is it merely that this is where your grandma and grandpa went? Is it merely that this is where the nice, successful people happen to go? Or do you even think sometimes that you are a Lutheran because we Lutherans got it right, unlike all those other folks? No. None of that is what defines a Lutheran. What shapes a Lutheran, what shapes our worship here is this: we not only can be, but are wrong, and we know it. What shapes a Lutheran is the knowledge that we need to repent, that we need to be reformed and reshaped by God.

Consider our text. Here in the Gospel of John we have Jesus having a discussion with some pious Jews who believe in Him – and yet, there comes a hiccup. So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in Him, “If you abide in My Word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” A great statement, a famous one – the truth will set you free. And yet, the reaction of these folks is… off. They answered Him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ’You will become free’?” And here the trouble comes in. As a question – how did you define a Jew? What made a Jew a Jew? Too often they viewed things in terms of their birth – we are children of Abraham. Sort of like saying “we’re good Germans”. They viewed their family lineage with pride – same thing can happen today. But they missed the point, they forgot who they were. In fact, what they say here is utterly foolish. “We have never been enslaved to anyone!” They forgot who they were.

Think back to Exodus 20, where God gives the Ten Commandments at Sinai. He doesn’t just start with the first commandment – rather this is what God tells the Jewish people: “I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me.” Who are you, Jewish people? You’re the people that God rescued from slavery in Egypt – that’s how you are defined. That’s your identity, that’s why you celebrate Passover. You are the people whom God rescued… rescued from slavery in Egypt, rescued from the Philistines by the hand of judges and finally by David the King, rescued from exile in Babylon. The Jewish people were constantly getting enslaved – in fact, even as they speak these defiant words to Jesus, they were basically conquered and enslaved to the Romans. And they should have had no problem admitting they were enslaved – because they were the people of the God who frees the slaves, who rescues them.

When Jesus brings up the idea of being set free, this isn’t anything new. It’s all over the place in the scriptures, it’s one of the major themes of the Old Testament. To “redeem” someone in the old testament was to buy them out of slavery and set them free. For a Jew to say “we’ve never been slaves to anyone” is as idiotic and bizarre as an American on the 4th of July saying, “Independence? Bah, we’ve never been under anyone’s thumb.” It is utterly stupid – I would say it makes no sense… but actually it does. Just a very sad sense. The Jews there who were talking to Jesus forgot who they were in relation to God. Rather than seeing themselves as poor people who often got into trouble but are rescued by God, they puffed themselves up, they elevated themselves. We don’t need God, we don’t need this truth to set us free, because we are great and good and wonderful and don’t need any help from anyone, thank you very much.

Jesus responds to them. “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” No, you are slaves, you are slaves to sin. And the same can be said of us. I used to think when I was little that if I just tried hard enough, maybe I could go a whole day without sinning. Yeah. No, not going to happen. Especially when you stop defining sin as just the big, bad, gross stuff. No, when we consider sin the way the Scriptures do, when we consider that we are to be perfect as our Father in Heaven is perfect – and not just perfect in what we do, but perfect in thought and in word, as well as in deed now – eh. No, every moment of every day, we are sinful, we are full of sin. Even right now, sitting here in Church – have we done this perfectly? No, wondering minds, callous and cruel thoughts flittering in and out, distraction and disdain. Behold your sin. Understand that you are sinful. Accept that this sin is something you will have to struggle with and fight against your entire life – that’s Thesis number 1 of the 95 – “When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said "Repent", He called for the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.”

That’s where we as Lutherans start. The acknowledgment not just that we have happened to do some bad things (but we’re better now), not just that we sometimes sin; rather, we are sinful, full of sin, and that as long as we live, every minute of every day, our entire lives, we need to repent. That over and over again, we are wrong. We take sin, our sin seriously. And that’s what shapes and defines Lutherans. Our Roman friends – The Church is never wrong, when the Pope makes the official decree from the seat of Peter it cannot be wrong. Or our Eastern Orthodox friends – when the bishops gather in council and agree, they can never be wrong. Or the protestant folks who think that if they just keep growing in the Spirit they’ll stop sinning, or let's not talk about sin because it's depressing; let's just be affirming instead! All a denial of reality, all a denial of the fundamental problem. I have sinned in though, word, and deed by MY fault. And I can’t fix it. Of myself, I am a slave to sin.

“If you abide in My Word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” I can’t fix it, but Christ Jesus can and does. This too is part of your identity as a Lutheran – you are a sinner, but you are a sinner who hears the Word of God, and that Word makes you to know the Truth. Now when we hear Jesus say “the Truth”, He’s not just talking about facts that are correct and accurate. He’s not just talking about being able to win at bible trivia or what have you. Just a few chapters later, Jesus says, “I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but by Me.” Do you want, O Christian, to be set free from sin, do you want your sin forgiven, do you want everlasting life? Then there is only One who can do that – and that is Christ the Crucified. Christ Jesus, the spotless Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, who sheds His Blood for you upon the Cross – He alone, Christ alone can set you free and free indeed. But How does Christ set you free? He, Christ Jesus, is the Truth - “If you abide in My Word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” The Holy Spirit takes the Word, the proclamation of Christ Jesus and His death and resurrection for you, and with that Word He makes you to know Christ, and He sets you free from sin. It all happens by the Word of God. Just as in the beginning all things are created by the Word of God, so too, in your life now, forgiveness and salvation and eternal life are given to you by the proclamation of Christ and Him Crucified, and we look no place else. As Hebrews proclaims, Let us fix our eyes upon Christ Jesus, “the founder and perfector of our faith.” Christ Jesus, who starts our faith and preserves it, the Alpha and Omega as Revelation puts it, the beginning and the end, the all in all. Everything drives to Christ. The Word points us to Christ.

And yet so many care little for this Word of God that points to Christ. It’s what we just sang, “The Word they still shall let remain, nor any thanks have for it.” People will ignore the Word, they will ignore Christ. They will look to their traditions, or to their own thoughts, their own feelings, their own hearts. We're constantly tempted that way too. That’s the way things have gone since the fall – since we were first tempted away from the Word… “did God really say”? But here is the reality for you. God has come to you by His Word. That Word has been preached and is being preached to you right now. God took water and tied it to His Word of Truth and Life and washed you in it in His baptism. He will take His Word and tie it to Bread and Wine and give you His own Body that was crucified and His own blood that was shed for you – and why? Because He knows your sin, He knows your struggle, but He will not abandon you to sin and death. Luther’s hymn continues, “He’s by our side upon the plain with His good gifts and Spirit.” He is with us now in this battle plain of life, this constant struggle against sin, with us by His Word, by His Baptism, by His Supper, by the Spirit that makes us to hear and believe - I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him – of course not, for everyone who sins is a slave to sin… but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened with His gifts of baptism and preaching and absolution and the Supper, sanctified and kept me in the true faith. He is by our side, now, even in the midst of this fallen world. And you know what – this world is hard and ugly, and we ourselves often act hard and ugly too. We need not deny it, or pretend otherwise. Why? And take they our life, goods, fame, child and wife – though these all be gone – though everything in this life fall to pot, though we be shown to be the poorest and most miserable of sinners – our victory has been won, been won by Christ Jesus. The Kingdom ours remaineth. When you abide, when you remain in Christ’s Word – there is nothing that can be done to you or by you or against you which changes this truth. Christ Jesus is King, His Word is truth, He is Truth, and He says you are free and forgiven in Him. The world, the devil, our sinful flesh always strive to distract us, to tempt us, to lead us away from this truth, but God in His mercy and by the power of His Word and Spirit continually calls us to repentance, makes us to repent. Dare I say, He reforms us. That is what we celebrate this Reformation Day – that though we often are wrong, Christ Jesus is always right and pure and holy for us, and He is faithful and just to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. All glory be to God alone – in the Name of Christ Jesus. Amen.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Trinity 18 Sermon

Trinity 18 – October 14th and 15th, 2017 – Matthew 22:34-46

In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit +

Always putting Jesus to the test! Always trying to trip Him up, always trying to get Him to say something strange, to do something weird. How tiring it must have been for Jesus to deal with these Pharisees. He was constantly hounded by them – and yet how does He respond? Does Jesus respond in anger? Do we see Jesus in our Gospel lesson jumping up and down and throwing a fit? No, with patience He not only answers the question of the Pharisees, but He also shows them the question that they need to be asking. Let’s look at the Q & A that Matthew records for us in the Gospel lesson this morning and see what we learn.

But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. Here Matthew refers to just before our text – the Sadducees liked the first five books of the Bible but didn’t believe in the resurrection – thought that was just myth, hooey, hogwash – like many of the “educated” today. And they came up and were trying to trap Jesus, and Jesus shows them that He will raise the dead. God doesn’t raise people, you say? Then why does God say to Moses “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Issac, and the God of Jacob?” Is God the God of the Dead? - Oh no, God raises the dead, in fact, that's the Messiah's main job. Now, the Pharisees were the Sadducees' main opponents, so when the Sadducees fail, the Pharisees get together and they decide that they are going to tangle with Jesus. So they get together, they confer, they chat – and they come up with what they think is a doosey for Jesus.

And one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question to test Him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” This is a classic trap question. It's a set up. You make a person pick between multiple good things and then hammer them for whichever they don't pick. Which of your kids do you love the most? What's more important, Baptism or the Lord's Supper? Well, what's wrong with my family? These are questions to which there is no good simple answer – if you try to give a simple answer, you are in trouble. They can bite your head off if they want to. Pick one of the commandments Jesus, and then we’ll complain about whatever You don’t pick. That’s the set-up, that’s the trap. Pick one Jesus, and we’ll accuse you of not respecting the all the other commandments. This isn't an honest question – it's a question looking for a fight.

But Jesus doesn’t play along. And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.” So do you see what Jesus does? I’m not going to pick one of the ten, I’m not going to let you trap me – rather I’m going to let you know what all the commandments really mean. Love God. That’s the commandment, that is the summation of the entire law. And it is – Jesus points out the simple truth that any and every sin is just an instance or a place where we don’t Love God. We choose something else, we follow something other than His Word, we sin. And my, that happens often, doesn’t it? You see, God’s Law isn’t a checklist of things to do – Alright, I came to Church this morning, that means I don’t have any other gods and I’m honoring the Sabbath day – wow, two down, see how wonderful I am! No, God’s law is about the attitude you are to have, about what motivates you to act. Is it the Love of God? Whenever your motivation is something other than simply God’s Love, be it earning praise, worrying what other people will say, desiring to prove yourself better than your neighbor, then you are sinning. Period. As the Catechism puts it, you're fearing, loving, and trusting something other than God. Jesus points this out – whenever we put something above God – we sin. And this means we sin a lot, basically constantly, even in the nice things we do. Jesus, with His answer, rips our eyes off of our own sense of righteousness and instead shows us our lack.

And a second is like it – “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. And just in case these Pharisees were going to attack Jesus for ignoring His neighbor, for ignoring commandments 4-10, He cuts them off. Note what Jesus says. This second commandment, it’s like the first. In fact, it really is just an extension of the first. If you love God, then you will love your neighbor. Why? Because that’s what God created you to do. That's what He gave you your neighbor for. So your love for God is chiefly and primarily shown in how you treat your neighbor. We know this. How do we demonstrate our faith, how do we show the World out there that we love God? By how we love them. The purpose of Church, of this Worship isn’t primarily, isn’t first and foremost to demonstrate your faith – This service is about God’s Word, about Him giving us forgiveness and strength and life – that’s the primary purpose of Church. Where we show God that we love Him is by what we do when we walk out those doors, by the love that we show the people whom God puts into our lives. But you see what this means, don’t you? The great and terrible warning that Jesus speaks here. When you don’t love your neighbor, you stop loving God. When you treat your neighbor with scorn – that’s sin, that’s not loving God. When you gossip, when you harm your neighbor’s reputation – that’s sin, that’s not loving God. Our Lord says, “Whatsoever ye hath done to the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” When you hate your neighbor, you are hating God. Plain and simple, no way around it.

On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets. Every command we see in Scripture, every instruction, every piece of Godly advice is simply an explanation of these two commandments. Here, this is how you Love God. Here, this is how you Love God by loving your Neighbor. These are the commandments that should be before us whenever we make a decision – how am I showing love, how am I loving God and my neighbor in what I am going to do. What God wants us of us isn’t mysterious – it’s not some dark hidden secret, it’s quite clear. Love God, love your neighbor – even love the ones that don’t love you.

Well, there's some wind out of my sails. I do not love like God's Law demands. The Law just reminded me what a jerk I actually am, in spite of the I'm so great tales I like to tell myself. That's what the Law does – it reveals our sin. When we look at our actions under the light of God's simple Law, we see how they are lacking, how they fall short of what God wants of us. I don’t love God with my whole heart – I don’t love my neighbor. I’m a greedy, selfish, nasty little fellow, who sins constantly in thought, word, and deed – and I brag and boast about the little that I do! Good night! When I consider what I do I ought to cower in terror of God Almighty. If left with just the Law, that's where I'd be stuck. But then Jesus asks His Question.

Now, while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?” They said to Him “The son of David.” He said to them, “How is it then that David in the Spirit calls Him Lord saying ‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at My right hand, until I put Your enemies under Your feet.’ If then David calls Him Lord, how is He his Son? Do you see what Jesus does – alright, enough talk about your lack – let’s put the focus on Me, the Christ. Here we see Jesus ask a question to teach and instruct, to prepare them so that they would understand. The Christ, the Messiah, He will not be just an earthly king – He won’t be focused on the political power you dream of. The Son of David will also be the Son of God and David's Lord; the Christ will be True God and True Man, begotten of the Father from all eternity, born of the Virgin Mary. Jesus points them to Himself, to the mystery that He is both God and Man, that He is indeed the Lord of His own Earthly ancestor.

So the question becomes for us, why? Why does Jesus ask this specific question this way? Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven. That’s why. Jesus is pointing out to these Pharisees who He is and what He is going to do. The Christ is not just simply a man, not just a fellow down the street, but He is also God Almighty. And why does God Almighty take on human flesh? Because in order to save mankind from sin, a Man must fulfill the law – there must be some Man somewhere who is righteous, who actually does fulfill the Law, who Loves God with His whole heart, who loves His neighbor as Himself, who shows them the greatest love in that He lays down His life for them. The law must be fulfilled, or we must die despairing. That’s the way it is – if there is to be any hope for humans, then a human must fulfill the law. And that’s what Jesus does. God takes it upon Himself to fulfill the law in our place. And indeed, Christ completely and fully does the law – not for Himself, but for you and me. The wages of sin is death – the Law demands punishment and death for your violation – and out of His great love for us Jesus fulfills that as well. Jesus goes to the cross, Jesus says “I will pay the penalty – if man is to be punished, then I will be punished.” Upon the cross He pays for our sin, takes up our punishment – and in return He gives us His life. All His Love, He gives to us. All His righteousness, He gives to us. We now have His righteousness. When God sees us, He sees us Holy and redeemed, spotless and blameless – because He sees His Son. We are Baptized into Christ, and all that belongs to Christ is truly ours now as a free gift.

Do you see? Jesus asks the question that we need. We need a Savior, we need a Christ who is both God and Man to win us from sin and give us His own righteousness. His question brings us to Himself, Jesus’ question focuses us upon His Cross and His salvation. Rather than trying to trap us and embarrass us, Jesus teaches us and shows us the Gospel, holds on to us with His Love, so that we would see and understand who He is. This is what He always does – He calls out to us sinful folk and brings us to Himself, so to give us forgiveness and life everlasting, indeed to give us Himself and all that He is. Take and Eat, Take and Drink. Behold the goodness of our God, who loves even us sinners, and makes us His righteous saints. All praise and Glory be to Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns forever and ever. In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Trinity 17 sermon

Trinity 17 – October 7th and 8th, 2017 – Luke 14:1-11

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit +
So in today's Gospel, we get two stories, two times when people watch each other, look them over. We start with the Pharisees watching Jesus, and then Jesus watching the Pharisees. And the thing to note, my friends, is how these are two radically different approaches to life – they form a striking contrast – one that we should learn from, one that we should benefit from. So, let's work our way through our text and see what we see, shall we?

One Sabbath, when [Jesus] went to dine at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees, they were watching Him carefully. And behold, there was a man before Him who had dropsy. Alright, so do you see what's going on? Jesus gets an invite to come to Sabbath dinner – which was an honor. And being a good Jew you didn't work on the Sabbath – everything had to be prepared beforehand, and at dinner you didn't really do much. You sat and talked about the Word of God together. That's the way it's supposed to go. Yet this time, this big-wig Pharisee invites Jesus to his house for the Sabbath meal – but he does so with false pretenses. They are going to be hard at work on the Sabbath examining Jesus, seeing if He will mess up some how. And to make it more likely that Jesus “messes up” - oh look, here's a fellow with dropsy. Drospy was basically what they called any nasty swelling disease, where there's massive fluid retention and things like that. And the fellow with dropsy isn't a Pharisee – he doesn't belong there, this isn't his crowd. He just happens to be there, right in front of Jesus. And the Pharisees are all side-eyeing Jesus – so what are you going to do there Jesus? Are you going to work on Sabbath – because then we can complain about how you worked – naughty naughty naughty. Or will you ignore the fellow – then we can complain about how you are a lousy healer. It's a trap.

Well, Jesus isn't one for just taking a trap – He likes to flip them around. And Jesus responded to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?” Jesus knows it's a trap – that's why he “responds” to the lawyers and the Pharisees. I see your trap – so I'll throw the ball back in to your court. How do you folks want to play this – do you want me to heal or not to heal? “But they remained silent.” Of course they do – because they are worried, terrified that Jesus will get on their case no matter what they do. Do you see their fear – they think Jesus is just as petty and mean as they are, and they are worried that He'll get the high ground in all their petty games. They can't spin it to their advantage. So they have to be silent.

Then we get one of the most matter of fact accounts of a healing ever. Then Jesus took him and healed him and sent him away. Go on home, you don't want to be here – go rejoice with your family. Now let me get back to these Pharisees here. And he said to them, “Which of you, having a son or an ox that has fallen into a well on a Sabbath day, will not immediately pull him out?” Jesus brings up a simple question – emergency acts were allowed on the Sabbath. You didn't plan work – but if crazy stuff came up, you take care of it. But here's the thing – And they could not reply to these things. The Pharisees were the super-Jews of the day – they went above and beyond the Law, just to make sure that they never came close to “breaking it”. They had a ton of extra, man-made rules about the Sabbath to try to stay out of that situation. So if they agree with Jesus that emergencies can be tended to on the Sabbath – they admit that their rules go beyond what God has said. And if they disagree, they show themselves to be loveless and hateful. Their plan to eyeball Jesus has ended in abject failure. They can't say anything – they are silenced.

Well, mostly silenced. The Pharisees do what most groups do when an uncomfortable truth is spoken – they ignore Jesus and go back to their meal. We'll just leave Jesus there and carry on as normal. Now He told a parable to those who were invited, when He noticed how they chose the places of honor... They ignore Jesus and go back to normal – which means there is all sorts of jockeying for places of honor and prestige – I want to move in closer to the most popular person there, who can I squeeze in between and the like. We see this all the time whenever someone popular or powerful shows up – people start swirling around trying to get into better position. And the Pharisees had left Jesus alone – which is a dangerous thing to do – and Jesus sees all this flittering and fluttering around, and suddenly He starts to talk. And imagine every head suddenly swinging toward Him – cause they had forgotten He was there. When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, 'Give your place to this person.' Then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, 'Friend, move up higher.' Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

Oh, this is fantastic on many, many levels. What does Jesus do when He ends up watching the Pharisees? First, and on the simplest level – He just puts them back on track. I hope you noticed that Jesus did not just invent this idea, this parable on the spot. He's riffing off of, He's expanding on Proverbs 25 – our Old Testament lesson. He's talking about and expanding upon Scripture – which was the point of the Sabbath meal. Folks, we aren't here for posturing, or putting folks up or putting folks down – we were here to enjoy good food while we delight in God's Word. So let's talk about the Word, folks! Jesus calls them away from themselves and their own pride, and rather He focuses them upon the Word.

However, the super neat thing Jesus does is He shows how He is the Messiah. Now – wait a minute, how in tarnation is Jesus teaching that He is the Messiah here with this parable. Remember, Jesus is playing off of Proverbs 25 – this is a famous Proverb – the Pharisees would be expected to make the connection – they knew their Old Testament much better than we do. Proverbs 25:6 begins “Do not put yourself forward in the king's presence...” The King. A Proverb written by Solomon – the Son of David. And yet, Jesus shifts it – when you are invited to a wedding feast. Over and over, both in the Old Testament and in the New – the Kingdom of God is likened to a wedding feast. The classic depiction of God's relationship to Israel was of a husband and wife – so Jesus is basically saying “I'm the King, the wedding feast is coming – I'm the Messiah”. This is textbook Messianic preaching. I'm the Messiah, and I am here, and you guys shouldn't bother trying to posture and strut in front of me – you should be humble, you should repent as John the Baptist had preached.

But it's better than that. This parable is all about Jesus – and we can tell by the last sentence – For EVERYONE who exalts himself will be humbled, and HE who humbles himself will be exalted.” Did you catch it? If you're doing a simple contrast about life, you use the same subject in both parts of the sentence. You do this or you do that. Everyone who does X and everyone who does Y. But that's not what Jesus does. It's a contrast between everyone who exalts themselves and the One, the singular One, the only One, who truly humbles Himself. Yes, Jesus is the Messiah – and you know what the Messiah does? He doesn't come to put everyone in their place, He doesn't come to strut His stuff. He doesn't come to be the giant Queen Bee that makes everyone buzz around Him. Nope – His goal, His job, His delight is to bring in the wedding feast of the Lamb, to look at fallen sinners and call them into the eternal feast that has no end, and in order to do that – He has to take away your sin. And so Jesus is the One who will humble Himself by going to the cross and who will be exalted on the third day when He is raised from the dead.

Do you get the difference in approach? The Pharisees are utterly self-centered – watching Jesus just so that they can try to one-up Him in the pecking order. And they can't, so then they start to ignore Him. Then Jesus is watching the Pharisees – and if He wanted to read them the riot act, He could. Jesus could have laid into them and made them feel two inches tall. But that's not what He does. When Jesus looks upon these Pharisees, these folks who have specifically invited Him there just to hurt Him – He points them to the Word, He points them to Himself as the Messiah who longs to invite them up higher, to call them to be with Him forever.

So here's the thing. The world loves to look for weakness, but it does so for a very evil reason. When the world sees weakness or tragedy, it casts blame, makes political speeches, laments how other people are ruining the world. The world will use your weakness against you – and if we are honest, we too are tempted to use other peoples' weakness and flaws against them. But that's not what Jesus does. To be sure, Jesus sees you. He even sees you with all your warts – all of them. He sees you with with all your sin and wickedness, even the ones you try to ignore, even the ones that leave you speechless. But here's the twist. Jesus isn't seeking to crush you – no, He sees your sin to take it from you and place it upon Himself. That's what He did at your baptism – that was a promise to you that every drop of sin had been washed off of you and washed onto Christ Jesus – who would take it to the Cross for you. Jesus rescues you from the well of sin and death. He dives right on into your sin and goes to the Cross. Then, He rises from the dead and He calls you to His Supper to strengthen your faith and help you to show love to your neighbor. While the world is full of people watching everyone in order to place blame, to get political advantage, all that sort of junk – that's not a game Jesus is interested in playing at all. His goal, His focus is being your Savior no matter what happens in the world. And that He is. Simple. Period. Jesus sees you not to cast blame upon you, but to take way your sin, to say to you, “Friend, come up higher with Me for all eternity.” In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit +