Saturday, March 27, 2010

Lent 6 - Facing Life with Jesus –Facing Triumph through Defeat

Almighty and everlasting God the Father, who sent Your Son to take our nature upon Him and to suffer death on the cross that all mankind should follow the example of His great humility, mercifully grant that we may both follow the example of our Savior Jesus Christ in His patience and also have our portion in His resurrection; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever.

Introduction: Our Savior Jesus is not only God’s eternal Son and His sinless Son, but He also shares our humanity completely, except, of course, without sinning. On two occasions during His earthly ministry the Scriptures report that He was moved to tears.

One occasion was at the death of His dear friend Lazarus recorded in John 11:35. The other, was when He beheld the city of Jerusalem, the city which from the days of King David had enjoyed God’s particular blessing and mercy, but whose history had been marked by rebellion against God. The tears that flowed from Jesus’ compassionate eyes are tears that still flow today as our Savior sadly views people like those living in Jerusalem who have rejected his mercy and will have to endure God’s wrath because of their unbelief. The tears of Jesus also warn us against such apathy or unbelief.

1. Apathy is reflected in one’s use of God’s Word and Sacraments.

A. In His Word God offers forgiveness and grace earned by Christ’s suffering and death.
1. Through His prophets God had given His Word to His people in the Old Testament; through this Word and by means of the sacrificial system of the Old Testament the people were directed to trust in the promised Savior who was to come.
2. Through the Word and Sacraments God points us today to the Savior who has come and who has paid our debt fully with His own sacrificial blood.

B. But many take God’s Means of Grace lightly despising the promised forgiveness offered to us there in the Word and at the Communion table and in Baptism.
1. Jus consider the history of Israel. It was marked by apathy and rebellion against God. The people assumed that “going through the motions” of religion would satisfy God but all it left the people was with a cold formalism and a hollow outward shell.
2. We also must so guard against the mistaken notion that mere religious rituals can benefit us spiritually.

Transition: God gave us His Word and Sacrament so that He might distribute to us today the benefits of our Savior’s atonement – forgiveness of sin, life, salvation. But those who despise these Means of Grace will not only forfeit the benefits, but will finally bring upon themselves God’s punishment.

2. Continued misuse of God’s Word will result in condemnation.

A. God will punish those who despise His Word of grace.
1. Because of their misuse of God’s Word the Lord Jesus warned the people in Jerusalem that God’s wrath would come. (Vv.43-44)
2. We see that this all came about in time in the course of human history. In the year 70 AD God through the Romans carried out this threat by destroying His “holy city” thoroughly.
3. Today, Jesus warns the people, “He that does not believe the Son will not see life, but God’s wrath remains on him.” (see also John 3:16-18)

B. But in His mercy God gives people opportunity to repent.
1. He gave Jerusalem forty years to repent before allowing Rome to sack and burn the city.
2. Today, the Lord is still patient ‘not willing that any should perish.’

Conclusion: Today the Lord Jesus still weeps tears when He encounters apathy and unbelief. His tears are not tears or anger, but of deep compassion. He loves us all. He suffered and died for the sins of all. God defend us from apathy and unbelief and give us true faith in Christ our Savior as we use His Word and Sacraments through which He bestows on us all the spiritual blessings earned for the world by His suffering and death.

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