Saturday, May 28, 2016

Proper 4

Proper 4
Luke 7:1-10
May 29, 2016
“Four statements concerning a great faith”

What does it take to have a great faith? Jesus, upon encountering a Roman Centurion remarks “I have not found such great faith even in Israel” (V. 9) How can this be? Let’s consider four statements pertaining to a great faith.

I. A statement or word of merit. The Centurion remarks, “I don’t deserve to have you come under my roof...

A.     This man had a great faith for he had a realistic view of Himself. He knew that he was a sinner and that he deserved nothing from Jesus. Luther put it this way in his explanation of the 5th Petition of the Lord’s Prayer: “We pray in this petition that our Father in heaven would not look upon our sins, nor on their account deny our prayer; for we are worthy of none of the things for which we pray, neither have we deserved them”.[1]  But then he concludes: “but that He would grant them all to us by grace; for we daily sin much and indeed deserve nothing but punishment. So will we also heartily forgive, and readily do good to, those who sin against us”.[2]

B.     A great faith requires all to acknowledge our own unworthiness before God. “...for we daily sin much and indeed deserve nothing but punishment” No one can make excuses for their sin. We can’t blame it on our environment. We can’t claim duress, or temporary insanity. Of all the things that we own it is our sin, which is our own personal possession. A great faith acknowledges sin and confesses it before God. Denial is not an option. Confession is mandatory.

Transition: A great faith requires a statement of merit. Confession is an obligation. We also need a statement of worth.

II. A statement or word of worth. The Centurion continues “I do not consider myself worthy

A.     The prodigal son prayed, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in thy sight and am no more worthy to be called thy son. (Luke 15:21)  Jacob, as he prepared himself to meet Esau after a long separation filled with years of hostility and separation prayed to the Lord: “I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness You have shown Your servant...” (Genesis 32:10a)

B.     How should you and I pray? We pray: “Almighty God, our Maker and Redeemer, we poor sinners confess unto Thee that we are by nature sinful and unclean and that we have sinned against Thee by thought, word and deed. Wherefore we flee for refuge to Thine infinite mercy, seeking and imploring Thy grace for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ” 2

Transition:  A great faith requires a statement of merit, it requires a statement of worth, it requires a statement and a word of convenience.

III.  A statement or word of convenience. “Don’t trouble yourself

A.     Acknowledging and confessing his own sin and unworthiness this Roman Centurion teaches us an important lesson. When we approach God we must pray “Thy will be done Lord, Thy will be done.”

B.     Prayer cannot be used to manipulate God or to force our will upon Him. We are but mere beggars before God. The man knew that he stood guilt before the Lord of life. There was no merit within him. A great faith realizes that we are obligated to God – that He is not to be used merely to satisfy our latest whim or fancy.

C.     The amazing thing about the grace of God found in Jesus Christ is that he grants us His perfect will in spit of our sin. Jesus reminds us: “Which of you father, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Sprit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:11-13)

Transition: A great faith requires a word or statement of merit, of worth, of convenience and also a word of trust.

IV. A statement or word of trust. “But just say the word and my servant will be healed

A.     Faith is trusting. Luther commenting on the power of baptism in our lives remarks “it’s not the water indeed that does this, but the word of God, which is in and with the water and faith, which trusts such word of God in the water. For without the word of God the water is simply water and there is no baptism. But with the word of God, it is a Baptism, that is, a gracious water of life and a washing of regeneration in the Holy Ghost as St. Paul says, Titus, chapter third: [According to His mercy He saved us] By the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy ghost, which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying! [3]
It is the word of God which places these great blessings into Baptism; and through faith, which trusts this word of promise, we accept the forgiveness, life and salvation offered in Baptism and make theses blessings our very own.

B.     Faith is believing. Faith is taking Jesus at His Word. Faith is the assurance that the Holy Ghost is working faith in us and thus creating in us new spiritual life.

Precious Jesus, I beseech Thee, May thy words take root in me; May this gift from heaven enrich me. So that I bear fruit for Thee! Take them never from my heart. Till I see Thee as Thou art, When in heavenly bliss and glory I shall greet Thee and adore Thee.”[4]

[1]  The 5th Petition Luther’s Small Catechism © 1943 Concordia Publishing House St. Louis, MO
[2]  The Confession of Sins from The Lutheran Hymnal © 1940 Concordia Publishing House St. Louis, MO
[3] The Power of Baptism Luther’s Small Catechism © 1943 Concordia Publishing House St. Louis, MO
[4] Speak, O Lord, Thy Servant Hears, from The Lutheran Hymnal © 1940 Concordia Publishing House St. Louis, MO

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