Monday, March 31, 2008

There's always a first time

For the first time all four #1 seed teams are in the final four. May the best team win.

Time in the Word - March 31 –April 5, 2008

According to God’s Plan
Easter 3
March 31 –April 5, 2008

On the Third Sunday Of Easter, we consider the response to the resurrection. In the Gospel, the two followers of Jesus did not recognize the risen Christ until the breaking of bread. Three thousand people responded to Peter’s sermon dealing with the cross and resurrection with repentance and baptism. In the Epistle we are told that because of the resurrection, the living Word, we are born anew in love and faith. Psalm 116 harmonizes with the theme of response: “What shall I render...?” The Prayer and Hymn continue with the resurrection theme.

A Daytime Collect for Eastertide

Almighty God the Father, through Your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ You have overcome death and opened the gate of everlasting life to us. Grant that we, who celebrate with joy the day of our Lord’s resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by Your life-giving Spirit.

Monday, March 31, 2008 – Psalm 133 - The Antiphon for next Sunday’s Introit is taken from Psalm 133:1, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity.” After much conflict the people of God came together. In the world today there appears to be much conflict. How do we achieve unity? Some claim that unity comes through diversity. We find unity when we are at one especially when there is agreement especially when we consider the person of Christ.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008 – Acts 2:14a, 26-41 - The apostolic church described in this Lesson serves as a model of the true church. It is a community of faith in Christ. The church is characterized by the Word (teaching) and sacraments (breaking bread and “added to their number”). Worship was a regular activity — daily attendance at temple services and “prayers.” Fellowship was a part of their church — a fellowship in Christ, a fellowship of caring.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008 – 1 Peter 1:17-25 - God has a destiny for every person, even for Jesus. God had the cross in mind even before the creation of humanity. He knew of humanity’s upcoming fall. He knew of the disobedience and rebellion before humanity’s creation. God had a plan to restore us to fellowship before the sacrifice of Christ. It was the eternal destiny of Jesus to be the Messiah, to die, and rise again (v. 20). The question arises: If God knew in advance of humanity’s sin and the horrible death necessary on the cross, why did God bother to make us? Only God can answer that.

Thursday, April 3, 2008 – Luke 24:13-35 - Jesus was driven to the cross. He asked, “Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” (v.26). If Jesus is the Messiah, a satisfaction of God’s wrath against sin, the sacrifice on the cross was necessary. This indicates that the cross was a divine project; also it means that only God could remove the offense of sin. God in Christ satisfies his own justice resulting in God’s acceptance of us as forgiven children.

Friday, April 4, 2008 – Psalm 116:1-14 - The Psalm portion for this coming week is centered on a question. “What shall I render to the Lord for all his bounty to me?” (v.12) How can we repay the Lord when we consider all of the goodness He has showered down upon us? By offering to the Lord those expressions of devotion He desires. The Hebrew word for “goodness” occurs only here in the Old Testament but represents the same basic root as “has been good” in verse 7.

Saturday, April 5, 2008 - Mark 16:15 - Is the inspiration for the hymn “With High Delight let us unite“{LSB #483} Having experienced the Lord Jesus risen from the dead we as the people of God reach out into the world proclaiming the good news. This is the response of Easter. The early Christians simply told others “we are witnesses of these things.” Likewise we share with others the good things the Savior has done for us.

Collect for Easter 3 O God, through the humiliation of Your Son You raised up the fallen world. Grant to Your faithful people, rescued from the peril of everlasting death, perpetual gladness and eternal joys; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

O Almighty and eternal God, now that You have assured us of the completion of our redemption through the resurrection of our Lord Jesus, give us the will to show forth in our lives what we profess with our lips; through Jesus Christ Your Lord our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one god, now and forever.

A Prayer for Newness of Life in Christ Almighty God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness and put upon ourselves the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which Your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility, that in the last day, when He shall come again in glory to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

An Evening Collect for Eastertide Abide with us, Lord, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. Abide with us and with Your whole Church. Abide with us in the end of the day, in the end of our life, in the end of the world. Abide with us with Your grace and goodness, with Your Holy Word and sacrament, with Your strength and blessing. Abide with us when the night of affliction and temptation comes upon us, the night of fear and despair when death shall come. Abide with us and with all the faithful through time and eternity.

THE LUTHERAN HYMNAL © 1940 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO

LUTHERAN WORSHIP © 1982 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO

LUTHERAN SEVICE BOOK LECTIONARY © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO

PREACHING WORKBOOK SERIES A John Brokoff © 1980 CSS Publishing, Lima OH

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Winter has met its end!

Zion Friedheim Lutheran Church 1980

Zion Friedheim

A view of the church around 1980

Easter 2

Easter 2
March 30, 2008

John 20:19-31
“I demand evidence!”

Almighty God, grant that we, who have celebrated the Lord’s resurrection, may by Your grace confess in our life and conversation that Jesus is Lord and God; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Introduction: We have just celebrated the feast of the Resurrection. We rejoice with the Easter greeting, “He is risen! He is risen indeed, Hallelujah!” And yet for some, the resurrection is almost too difficult to believe. We’ve heard the critic’s charges before, “Virgins do not conceive and dead men do not rise!” How do we respond to such criticisms? To help us stand up to such criticism we have Thomas to thank. Thomas is Easter’s version of Ebenezer. “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.” Consider Thomas’ demand for evidence.

“I too must be a witness”

The claim of Jesus’ resurrection alone isn’t enough.

It defies logic. By themselves the claims are idle words. In the words of our youth, “that’s bogus!”

Without the eye-witness testimony of the appearance of Jesus visibly from the dead the resurrection remains only a myth. Talk is cheap. Only a visitation of the resurrected Lord could convince Thomas.

Without Jesus’ appearance to Thomas personally He would not be considered a legitimate apostle. “Why Thomas?” some could argue. “Why was he not granted such an audience with the risen Christ?”

Could we really believe his word? Would we trust Thomas if he were to say, “I’ve never seen Jesus alive from the dead, others have, but not me.” We can almost hear that critical, cynical, response. “Ya, Right!”

Transition: Thomas needs to be a witness. He must examine the evidence with his own eyes.

II. “I must see His marks.”

There are plenty of false Christs in our world today. Each is a creation of man’s own wild imagination and dream. These false Christs are not the Jesus of the Bible.

Upon seeing Jesus’ hands, feet, and side Thomas became convinced of the resurrection.

Illustration: Have you any scars on your body? They tell a story. A hand that went through a storm door, a shine that got scrapped reminds us of past events. Jesus’ scars tell the story of redemption.

Thomas could now know that the same Jesus who suffered and died is the same Jesus who rose from the dead. He could see the scars. The scars on Jesus’ body which Thomas saw with his own eyes are comforting for you. This guarantees complete redemption! His wounds guarantee that He suffered for you, that He took your sins to His own body. His resurrection guarantees that your sins, though they are many, are gone. The resurrection proves that forgiveness is granted. The resurrection assures us that eternal life is your destiny and reality.

Transition: Thomas needs to be a witness. He must examine the evidence with his own eyes. Hearing his testimony these words are joy and bliss for you.

III. These words are for you.

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed;”

Seeing is believing. This was necessary for the 1st Century disciples and believers.If they saw Him dead they would have to see Him alive visibly.

So convinced where they that each disciple, that with the exception of John, each would die for only one claim; “we have seen the Christ and we are witnesses of these things!”

“…blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” We don’t have the “advantage” of being 1st Century eye-witnesses.

We therefore place our trust in the evidence provided in Sacred Scripture by those who were eye-witnesses of these events.

This is why Jesus walked the earth for 40 days after the resurrection.
40 is the number for completion –
40 days/nights it rained at the time of Noah
40 years the Israelites were in the desert
40 years David reigned as King over Israel

The appearance of Jesus alive visibly for a period of 40 days is enough for you to trust in Him.

Conclusion: John begins His Gospel with Jesus first miracle. Changing water into wine was the first of Jesus’ miraculous signs which Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee. John remarks that Jesus performed these miracles “so that His disciple put their faith in Him.” {John 2} Notice how John concludes His gospel, “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written 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 20:30-31}

Zion Friedheim Lutheran Church

Zion Ev. Lutheran Church
10653 N - 550 W
Decatur, IN 46733

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Sunrise

Acts 10:40-43
The Resurrection is the Keystone of the Arch of Faith

 “O God, you gave your only Son to suffer death on the cross for our redemption, and by his glorious resurrection you delivered us from the power of death. Make us die every day to sin, so that we may live with him forever in the joy of resurrection.”

Introduction: People need to realize and appreciate the indispensable place the resurrection holds in our Christian faith. If Christ did not rise, there would be no gospel. If Jesus did not rise, our faith would be futile. We need to face the fact that not all believe in the resurrection. What would happen to our faith if there were no resurrection? The resurrection is the keystone in the arch of Christianity. All the early disciples could say is summed up in verse 39 of our text, “We are witnesses of these things…”

 If there were no resurrection —

I)       There would be no preaching of the gospel — v. 42; “He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that He is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead.”

II)    Peter tells Cornelius and his friends that God raised Jesus from the dead. A very devout Roman centurion, Cornelius, sends for Peter to preach to him and his friends.

III) Peter reviews the ministry of Jesus including the crucifixion and resurrection. It is to be noted that Peter says God raised Jesus; he did not raise himself. Note also Peter explains that the risen Christ did not appear to people in general, but a few chosen ones whom he commanded to preach the Good News.

IV) There would be no Jesus to judge — v. 42.

A)    The life, death, and resurrection have cosmic dimensions. Jesus is the Savior of all humankind, not for any specific group, nation, or race.

V)    Though Jesus was Jew, though the Jews rejected Him, though the Romans crucified Him, Jesus suffered, died, and rose again for the entire world.

VI) This emphasis is seen in the lesson, “judge of the living and the dead”

VII)          Easter gives an imperative to share, witness, and evangelize — “Go and tell.”

VIII)       There would be no forgiveness of sins — v. 43; “All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

A)    The key to it all is the resurrection to which the apostles testified.

(i)     Because of the resurrection, the apostles were commanded to preach the cross and resurrection.

B)    Jesus is therefore proclaimed as judge of the world. Through him, forgiveness is offered to all believers. Without the resurrection as the keystone, the arch of the Christian would fall. Paul taught that if Christ had not risen, our faith would be in vain.

C)    Luke assures us that God is the one responsible for Jesus: his coming, death, and resurrection. The cross and resurrection were not the work of Jesus, nor of man. This was solely God’s work of grace in saving the world. God sent Jesus, the Word, to earth (v. 36), anointed Jesus as Messiah (v. 38), raised him from the dead (v. 40), commanded the disciples to witness to the resurrection (v. 42), and ordained Jesus to be the judge of the world (v. 42).

Conclusion: The message of Easter is the message of the Risen Lord, of his triumph over sin and death. It is a permanent message of hope for Christians and for humankind. On the third day God raised him to life…We are His witnesses. It is to Him that all Prophets bear this witness. Christ is risen. Indeed He is risen. Let us rejoice and praise the Lord of glory.

Easter Festival

Easter Festival
March 23, 2008
John 20:1-9
The Sign of the Tomb

Introduction: The tomb is no proof of the resurrection. The body of Jesus could have been removed and destroyed. The empty tomb only says, “He is not here.” The tomb is a sign of the resurrection. At Christmas a sign was given of the incarnation — “And this shall be a sign to you. You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” Faith in the resurrection is not based on the empty tomb but in the living presence of Jesus. Yet an empty tomb speaks volumes for you and me today.

What the tomb signifies.

I)    Empty tomb — signifies the resurrection. This Gospel deals with the empty tomb. There is no explanation by an angel. There is no appearance of the risen Christ. Two men and a woman find emptiness and the abandoned grave clothes. The empty tomb in itself is no proof of the resurrection, for anything may have happened to the corpse to cause its disappearance. The empty tomb is a sign of the resurrection. It is a negative witness to the resurrection. It has significance only in the experience of the living Christ, the positive aspect of the Easter account. While our faith in the resurrection is not based on the vacant tomb, it does indicate that our faith is based on concrete, historical reality. It also says that Jesus did not rise only spiritually, but physically. The crucified body became the glorified body.

II)    Grave clothes — signifies that Jesus is alive. Two Disciples, Peter and John

A)    Observing the grave clothes – Three Greek words describe the scene.

1)   They saw the grave clothes – blepo- They were seen with “general sight.” The grave clothes were there as plain as day.

2)   They beheld the grave clothes  - theoreo – They were able “to scrutinize” what they saw.

3)   They saw – horao – Upon seeing they were able “to perceive with understanding”

B)  What is it that convinced Peter and John that Jesus had been raised from the dead? Answer: “grave clothes.”  If we had been there with Peter and John would we have seen what they saw? Would we have seen the aftermath of Jesus struggling to get up because of the linen wrappings? Ans. Not at all!

1)   Undisturbed grave clothes – Greek. keimena “to store in place”

2)   Raised a spiritual body – I Corinthians. 15:42-44 ‘So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: t is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.’

3)   Napkin — signifies that the resurrection was peaceful and planned. We are given in this Gospel only circumstantial evidence — empty tomb, grave clothes, and napkin. These constitute concrete evidence of a risen Christ. Do you need more evidence?  There are also countless eye witnesses, individuals who time and again encountered Jesus alive from the dead. For a period of 40 days Jesus walked, talked and ate with His disciples so they could truly know that He was alive from the dead.


(a) The Resurrection of the body of Christ is one of the most central and fundamental doctrines of the Christian Faith – I Corinthians 15:14,17. And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.

(b) The Resurrection demonstrates how Jesus’ own predictions were fulfilled – John 2:19-22  Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spoke of the temple of his body. When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.

(c) The Resurrection was the main subject included in the gospel message throughout the book of Acts. [1]

(d) The Resurrection guarantees our justification – Romans 4:5; But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness;  Romans 3:26; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

(e) The Resurrection points to a new mode for all believers – I Corinthians15:20, 23; But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.

Conclusion: The resurrection is not a myth, a faith, nor a figment of the imagination. It is not a story manufactured by disappointment and disillusioned disciples. The faith is grounded in facts. It happened in time and space. It is the core of what we believe for we truly are Easter people.

+Soli Deo Gloria+
[1] (Acts 1:22; 2:24, 31,32 ; 3:15,26; 4:2, 10, 33; 5:30; 10:40; 13:30, 33,34, 37; 17:3,18,32; 23:6,8; 24:15,21; 26:23) Turn and Read: Acts 1:22; 2:24,31,32

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday Mid-day

John 19:16
Finally Pilate handed Him over to them to be crucified

Introduction:  Hanging on a cross - suspended between earth and heaven - the Son of man suffers – as no one has ever suffered – before or since. Stricken, smitten and afflicted see Him hanging on that tree – He hangs there - for you and for me. 

We have come to the end of our series – Jesus I will ponder Now. Today we witness Jesus as He offers Himself as a sacrifice for the life of the world.  The old song sings: 

I.    Make me see thy great distress, Anguish and affliction,

A.  The distress of Jesus is one no one has ever experienced.  The physical torture was tremendous. But even greater was the spiritual torments He received. On that bloody and cruel cross Jesus was abandoned by God and by men.

B.  Thus the Savior’s affliction and anguish was the highest cruelty. The wrath of an angry and offended God was poured out on the Son of man on a hill called Calvary. Heaped upon Him was a double load.

1.   He suffered as no man should.

2.   He suffered innocently the righteous for the unrighteous.

Transition: Jesus suffered great distress, anguish, and affliction. He suffered in time so we could be in bliss with God eternally.

II.  Bonds and stripes and wretchedness, And Thy crucifixion;

A.   Mel Gibson’s movie the “Passion of the Christ” is a vivid portrayal of the Roman style of execution called crucifixion. It is a rendering of what took place in Jerusalem during those short three hours on Good Friday. This movie is an apt depiction of what crucifixion was really like. No wonder the world feared the Romans! No wonder some still today can not bear to see this film. No wonder the Romans had a law which read: “Roman citizens may not be crucified.” The scourging, whippings and beatings Christ endured was pure violence.  

B.   And yet, Gibson’s film is not “gratuitous violence.” To the contrary - there is a higher good which comes from the sufferings and the passion of the Christ.

1.   Your sins, oh man, are gone. Your sins are buried in the tomb of Christ never to be seen again.

2.   He separates them as far as the east is from the west and He remembers your sin no more.

3.    There is now no more condemnation for those who are in Christ who was crucified. This is why we call this day Good Friday, for on a Friday - in time - the Son of God suffered to set you free.

Transition:  Why mark these sacred hours when Jesus the Christ suffered? Why does every faithful Christian church station a cross prominently?  What it the significance of the cross? They hymn reminds us…

III.   Make me see how scourge and rod, Spear and nails did wound Thee,

A.   It was a human who transgressed God’s law. When the Father said, “Of all the trees you may eat. But of the tree in the midst of the garden you will not eat, lest you die.”

B.   It was a human who believed the lie when the tempter said, “you will not die, for the Lord knows in the day that you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God knowing the difference between good and evil.”

C.   It was a human who disobeyed God and ate of the forbidden fruit.

D.   Therefore it had to be a human who would suffer in your stead. Jesus, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a human mother became the Father’s only attempt and the only hope for the human race to be free from sin. There is no other plan. There is no other way. There is no other hope except through Christ. This is what prompted St. Paul to write, “I determine to know nothing among you save Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”   

Transition:  What is the significance of the cross?  The hymn writer sums it up in thirteen powerful words.

IV.  How for man Thou diedst O God, Who with thorns had crowned Thee.

A.   Sacred Scripture is quite clear. “There is salvation in no one else save Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”

B.   Here we see that great exchange God’s mercy and forgiveness purchased at the cross of His own Son! “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

C.   “No other child, no other Savior, Can ever help this sinful earth. Then take the Gift the Father sent us. And spread the Story of His Birth.” That’s what our children said to us this past Christmas Eve. Good Friday assures us of a Merry Christmas! The birth of a baby means the death of a man – and that miserable death has saved us!

Conclusion:  Come now; come weary sinners, come to the foot of the cross, for all things are now ready!

+Soli Deo Gloria+

Good Friday

John 19:25
“The Women in Fearful Devotion”

Introduction: Hanging on a cross, suspended between earth and heaven the Son of Man suffers. All have left Him, except for a few women and one lone disciple. We approach the scene of the cross.

I)       The Setting

A)    Three significant women stand here.  When all his disciples, except John, have forsaken Him, they continued their attendance on Him.

1.      First, there was Jesus’ mother.  Now was fulfilled Simeon's word – spoken to her when He was eight days old, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul.[1]

2.      Her cousin and the mother of James are there.  Some of His relations and friends are with her. They stood by the cross, as near as they could get. Why are they there? Are they there for Him, for His mother, for themselves?

3.      Mary Magdalene out of whom Christ had cast seven demons is there. Jesus never gave up on her. How could she give up on Him?

B)    Each had a reason for being there, they were not deterred by the fury of the enemy or the horror of the sight; they could not rescue Him nor relieve Him, yet they attended Him, to show their love for Him. His disciples had hid from Him, they could not, and they would not abandon Him.

1.      Mary had given Him life – Jesus was her son, He was human. His torments were her tortures; she was upon the rack, while he was upon the cross; and her heart bled with his wounds; and the reproaches fell on those that attended him. Now He is bearing the sins of earth.

2.      Jesus is still “family” all had abandoned Him, Mary’s cousin will not.

3.      For Mary, this Jesus had not abandoned her when she hit rock bottom. How deep is your friendship, your love? Jesus is bearing the sin of men, who will watch and pray? His disciple could not? Will you on this most holy night?

II)    Action

A)    Much they did not understand. On the mount of Transfiguration, why were Moses and Elijah speaking to Him? “For He was teaching His disciples and telling them, "The Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him; and when He has been killed, He will rise three days later. But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him.”[2] When He was but twelve years old, what was it He had said to them after they had searched for three days, “didn’t you know I must be about My Father’s business?”[3] Then there were His strange teachings concerning being a servant, sacrifice, supplication, submission.  

B)    They were wrapped in fear. His life was coming to an end. What was in store for them? They knew of only two realities; He whom they had followed was being crucified. Their hopes had ended. There were no tomorrows.

C)    Yet, in this bleak and lonely hour they clung to what they knew-Christ. Even in His agony, suffering, cruel and vicious death they would not forsake Him. He was their only hope - even if it meant His death – they could not deny Him.

III) Counterparts for  today

A)    There are many who do not understand all they should. Could the death of a condemned criminal offer atonement? Could His life and sacrifice really save you? Could His vicious death give you life and peace?

B)    They manifest much fear. With good reason – at the time all they knew was their present situation. So it is today - if we do not look beyond the cross all is lost! A pagan asked, in all seriousness, “They killed your leader, why do you call it “Good Friday?”  We call it good because we look to Sunday! We are in fact, Easter people.    

C)    We only need to cling to Christ for this is all we have. If we cling to Christ we receive the gifts of God.    No more separation from God.  Now we are at peace with God.  The wall of separation has been broken down.  The commandments no longer condemn us.

Conclusion: All of creation watched as Jesus Christ, the Lord of Glory, suffered in wretched agony on the cross for six hours.  With His dying breath He mad the proclamation, "It is finished!" Do you really believe Jesus' last words?  Do you believe that the price has been paid once and for all, or do you trust in something else? Do you believe Jesus' words, or are you hoping to merit Heaven through some rite or ritual or some work of your own making?  Would you be willing to turn from these vanities and trust in His death as the final payment for you sin?  It is finished! says Jesus.  It is finished! The Scriptures have been fulfilled.

+Soli Deo Gloria+
[1] Luke 2:35

[2] Mark 9:31-32

[3] Luke 3:

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Manudy Thursday - Mid- day

John 13:30
As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.

Introduction:  In his St. John Passion J. S. Bach paints for us a picture of the arrest of Jesus which will trigger a series of events. These events will bring about the greatest travesty of justice – yet, at the same time these events will usher in the greatest demonstration of the Father’s love and faithfulness; faithfulness to His promise, faithfulness to His fallen children. For us; to receive the Father’s pardon, the Son of Man would have to be arrested, tried, crucified and killed.

Following the Passover celebration Jesus’ disciples sang a hymn. As they departed from the upper room John mentions - it was night.[1]  Jesus Christ the sinless Son of God is about to suffer for the crimes and sins of men.

I.  “Christ through whom we now are blessed - knew no evil doing.”

A.  In Christ we truly are blessed.

1.   Blessed to know Him, blessed to be known by Him.

2.   Blessed to have a relationship with Him.

3.   Blessed to be brought into His family – the Church.

B.  We are blessed because of Christ the sinless Son of God.

1.   He knew no sin. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”[2]

2.   Yet He became sin for us. “At the right time Christ died for the ungodly.”[3]

3.   He became a curse for us. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us-- for it is written, "CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE "-- [4]

4.   That we might become the righteousness of God through Him. “He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification and redemption; therefore, as it is written, ‘Let him who boasts, boast of the Lord’.”[5]

Transition: Christ the perfect holy Son of God blesses us. Our blessing came at the time of Jesus’ arrest when it was night.

II.  “Him at night they did arrest - like a thief pursuing.”

A.  His arrest happened at night.  “As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.”[6]

1.   His arrest happened at night when the crowds who had come for the Passover festival would not so easily witness His arrest.

2.   They arrested Jesus at night so they could hold a quick and speedy trial.

B.  Like a thief they pursued Him.

1.   How ironic – He who had committed no treachery becomes a wanted man; a thief, a criminal, a villain, a man they must pursue.

2.   The enemies of the Christ will stop at nothing at having Him eliminated. It was necessary for this to happen they would argue. It was necessary for one man to die for the nation. “Now Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it was expedient for one man to die on behalf of the people.[7] The leadership had had their fill – He must be eliminated.

Transition:  Having made His arrest His trial is set.

III. “Led before the godless throng - falsely was convicted.”

A.  Christ was convicted falsely.

1.   Two witnesses came forward. “Many false witnesses came forward. Finally two came forward and declared, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.”[8]

2.   Finally, the High Priest came forward and charged Him. “The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” “Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied.”[9]

B.  These leaders stirred up the crowd for a conviction of convenience. It served their end.

1.  “Then the whole assembly rose and led him off to Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, “We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Christ, a king.”[10]

2.   “So Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?”  “Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied.  Then Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd, “I find no basis for a charge against this man.” Pilate said “I find no fault in this man.”[11]

3.   But they insisted, “He stirs up the people all over Judea by his teaching. He started in Galilee and has come all the way here.”[12]

Transition: Having achieved their goal of a conviction the council will send Jesus to His death – But first He must be handed to the guard.

IV.  “Laughed at, scoffed at, spat upon, - as the Word predicted.”

A.  The guard will make sport of Him.

1.   They want to publicly humiliate Him. “Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they struck him in the face.”[13]

2.   They want so show their utter contempt for Him. “Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.”[14]

B.  This was all predicted for us in Sacred Scripture.

1.   “He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee:  ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ”[15]

2.   “Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth…”[16]

3.   “He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!  Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself”.[17]

Conclusion:  After the Last Supper, events in our Lord’s life moved rapidly-- His prayer in Gethsemane, betrayal by Judas, arrest, mock trial, painful beating, the trudge to Golgotha and execution. Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world.  Whoever follows Me will have the light of life and will never walk in darkness.”[18]  The events of Golgotha snuffed out the human life of Jesus, the Light of the World, as even creation was dark when He suffered.

Jesus, the innocent victim is sentenced to death – a death He did not deserve – yet a death He will bear for your salvation. In this most blessed Sacrament which He instituted before His arrest you receive the tokens of His sacrifice – His body, broken - His blood, shed - that you might receive absolution and clemency for your offenses. O Christ, Thou Lamb of God, You take away the sin of the world, have mercy upon us and grant us Your peace.

+ Soli Deo Gloria +

[1] John 13:30

Maundy Thursday

1 Corinthians 11:23-34
“The Perpetual Nature of Communion”

Introduction: Something truly new and different is happening as Christ our Lord institutes His Supper. We call it the Last Supper because it was the Last supper, which Jesus ate before His arrest, trial and death. It can also be referred to as the Lat Supper because, at last, after this supper, something new is taking place. In establishing this Holy Communion Jesus is presenting to us a new covenant in His body and blood.  Holy Communion certainly is a truly new covenant.  This new covenant speaks of the work that we accomplished in Jesus Christ.

“This do” –do the same thing “in remembrance of Me”

A command; “do this.” The Old covenant = “this do and live” It was a covenant of regulations disciplines and rules. It was based on strict obedience. It was motivated by fear; fear of reprisals, fear of failure, and fear of offending a just and holy God.

Yet it could not stand the test of every man for no one is capable of following the decrees and dictates of a holy God.  For this reason our good and gracious Father set forth a place that at just the right time His Son, our Savior, would break into time and space to offer up Himself a good and perfect sacrifice. This was accomplished when Christ instituted His Supper “which is given and shed for you for the forgiveness of all of your sins.”

The new covenant = “live and do this.”  The benefits of the new covenant, celebrated by Christians in this wonderful Sacrament are the fruits of Christ’s righteousness. He gives to us the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation. We are now free to live as the children of God.

A reason behind the command “to remember Me” Because of this freedom, this new life that is offered by Christ, we are now strengthened to will and to do the will of our heavenly Father. Obedience no longer becomes a burden. It becomes a blessing and an opportunity to serve God in righteousness and purity.

Transition: Everything we will ever need of the Savior is offered in this meal

We hear much today about changes in religion to make it “relative”.

Christ evidently didn’t envision any other way. Under the Old Covenant each generation had too pass down to the next one how the sacrifices we to be carried out. If they failed to teach their children how the sacrifice was to be performed the entire custom would be lost in one generation. The hope of forgiveness, restoration and peace would be lost forever.

These sacrifices had to be frequent because people repeatedly sinned. As there were sacrifices named for specific sins, these sacrifices could only last but once. There was but one sacrifice for each offense. When a subsequent offense occurred, another sacrifice had to be offered if people were to have their sin atone and their conscience stilled.

He has provided salvation for all time. He was offered once for all. There is no need for repeated sacrifices for Christ the Lamb of God was slain once on the bloody and cruel cross of Calvary for the sin of the entire world. The announcement of John says, it clearly for us, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”  If Christ has truly taken the entire world’s sin to Himself – no other sacrifice is necessary.  The benefits of this all sufficient sacrifice comes to us every time we partake in this wonderful meal.

Conclusion:  This meal is truly a celebration of the new things God is making in us. It a new covenant - a covenant of His mercy and grace. It is a feat of victory of our God who has done all things well for His glory and our good. Come, come weary sinners, come to the foot of the cross, for all things are now ready.  

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Palm Sunday

Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church-Friedheim
Celebrating our 170th Year
Chartered February 25, 1838

A 21st Century Parish with a 1st Century Faith
Acts 2:42

Palm Sunday
March 16, 2008
Matthew 21:1-11

Today is the beginning of Holy Week. It is a time when we walk with the Savior observing His arrest, trial, passion, death and burial. The events which lead to His death of course was His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The small details of Scripture are not accidental or even incidental.  Everything is done for a reason and with a purpose. One of the small details of Palm Sunday is the animal involved, the donkey colt on which Christ rode. This animal is not at all incidental to the story. The donkey was a burden bearing Animal.

Almighty God, you sent your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, to take our flesh upon him and to suffer death on the cross. Grant that we may share in his obedience to your will and in the glorious victory of his resurrection.”

The Roman military road which led from Jericho to Jerusalem was about seventeen miles long and climbed three thousand feet. It passed through Bethany (where Jesus stayed six days before the Passover, (John 12:1-10) and nearby Bethphage ("house of figs"), which lay on the southeast slope of the Mount of Olives, then crossed over the mount and the Kidron Valley and entered Jerusalem (v.1). 

Jesus sent two disciples ahead to Bethphage to fetch the animals. The ride on a colt, because it was planned by Jesus, could only be a deliberate act of symbolic self-disclosure for those with eyes to see. Secrecy was being lifted.

I.        Donkeys were…

A.     Not for status but for service. The quotation is from Zechariah 9:9. Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem!  See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.  A donkey was sometimes ridden by rulers in times of peace. (see Judges 5:10; 1Kings 1:33).

The Jews would have certainly understood Zechariah 9:9 to refer to the Messiah, often in terms of the Son of David. Therefore for those with eyes to see, Jesus was not only proclaiming his messiahship and His fulfillment of Scripture but showing the kind of peace-loving approach He was now making to the city.

B.     Donkeys were used not for battle but for burdens, as `they are even to this day.  How fitting that Jesus should be sitting on such a beast of burden for He offers His life for the sins of the world. This is what John had predicted in the desert when he proclaimed Christ. “The next day John saw Jesus coming to him and said, ‘Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’.” (John 1:29)

Transition: Donkeys were beasts of burden, quite a perfect reflection of Christ’s ministry.

II.     They are a perfect reflection of Christ’s ministry.

A.     He came to bear people’s burdens warn down by sin and strife.  

1.      Strife due to living in an imperfect world filled with sickness, war, strife, etc.

2.      Sin, which is the root ill for all men, is what Jesus came to eliminate.

B.     Jesus came to bear the ultimate burden – the burden of our sin.

1.      Sin of omission – when we had the opportunity to do good but failed. Where we could have prevented evil but chose not to get involved.

2.      Sin of commission – offenses against God and our neighbor committed in thought, word and action – only one conclusion can be claimed – we are guilty before God and our neighbor.

Conclusion: The Son of Man the Prince of peace appeared on that first Palm Sunday to offer Himself for the life of the world. Today we offer our praise and we journey with Him as He offers up Himself for the sin of all and for your salvation and life.

 + Soli Deo Gloria +

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Lent 6 mid-week, mid-day

Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church-Friedheim
Celebrating our 170th Year
Chartered February 25, 1838

A 21st Century Parish with a 1st Century Faith
Acts 2:42

Mid-Week Lenten 6-Mid day
March 12, 2008
John 19:37
They will look on the one they have pierced


When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the prince of glory died
My riches gain I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride

The Passion of the Christ has been our focus through the sacred music of Johan Sebastian Bach these past three Wednesdays.  We turn now to our final chorale – it is simply a prayer - that we may be one in Christ.

Help O Christ Thou God’s own Son
Through Thy bitter anguish
That our wills with Thee be one
Zeal for evil vanquish

I.     We pray that our Will - may be one in the same as Christ’s. This we pray every time we pray the 3rd petition of the Lord’s Prayer – “Thy will be done” – Lord!

A.  How is this done?

1.   God’s good and gracious will is done among us by Himself – not us!

2.   Specifically, when God breaks and hinders every evil counsel and will which would not let us hallow God’s name nor let His Kingdom come.

3.   Those forces we contend with are the will of the devil, the world and our own sinful flesh.

B.  God’s Good and gracious will is...

1.   To strengthen and preserve us steadfast.

2.   Keeping us faithful to His Word and faith unto our end. “Fear not, little flock, for it is Your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom”       -Luke 12:32

Transition: We pray that the Father’s will might be done in us. Viewing Christ’s Passion we render Him our thanks and praise.

II.  Our focus thus is on Christ and His Cross

On Thy death and its true cause
Contrite thoughts will render

A.  When we consider all that Jesus endured - His suffering, agony and bloody sweet we cry out for the Father to have mercy upon us.

1.   With the beggar we cry, “Jesus, Master have mercy on me!”-Mark 10:47

2.   Or, as the Kyrie would remind us; “Lord, have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord, have mercy.”

3.   And, in the words of the Agnus Dei; “O Christ Thou Lamb of God, that takest away the sin of the world have mercy upon us and grant us Thy peace.”

B.  And we thank Him!

And though weak and full of flaws
Thee our thanks will render

1.   Thank You Jesus, that you have taken away my guilt and my sin.

2.   Thank you Jesus, that You prayed; “Father forgive them for they know not   what they do.” -Luke 23:34

3.   Thank You Jesus, who gave Stephen the strength to pray; “Lord do not hold this sin against them!” –Acts 7:60 For this is how we ought to pray.

Conclusion:  As we have pondered Christ’s holy Passion during this Lenten journey may we be moved to pray;

Grant that I may willingly
Bear with Thee my crosses,
Learning humbleness of Thee,
Peace mid pain and losses.
May I give thee love for love!
Hear me, O my Savior,
That I may in heaven above
Sing Thy praise forever.

 + Soli Deo Gloria +

When I survey the wondrous cross from The Lutheran Hymnal Concordia Publishing House St. Louis, MO © 1940

Jesus I will Ponder Now from The Lutheran Hymnal Concordia Publishing House St. Louis, MO © 1940

Mid-Week Lent 6

Isaiah 50:4-9a
The suffering servant
God’s servant suffers for us - redemption through suffering

The Sovereign LORD has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught.  The Sovereign LORD has opened my ears, and I have not been rebellious; I have not drawn back. I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting.  Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame. He who vindicates me is near. Who then will bring charges against me? Let us face each other! Who is my accuser?  Let him confront me!  It is the Sovereign LORD who helps me.  Who is he that will condemn me?

Prayer of the Day

Almighty God, you sent your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, to take our flesh upon him and to suffer death on the cross. Grant that we may share in his obedience to your will and in the glorious victory of his resurrection.

The Lord’s servant faces suffering confident of His help. This pericope constitutes the third of the servant songs in Isaiah. The Lord’s servant hears His voice and is therefore fortified with determination to suffer mental agony in terms of ridicule, false accusations, humiliation, and shame. He suffers confidently because the Lord will vindicate, help, and pronounce him innocent.

For Jesus, death did not come only by physical torture. Probably the mental, emotional, and spiritual suffering were greater. Pilate was amazed that Jesus died so early. The pain greater than the physical dealt with his heart. In our lesson the Servant suffers shame and disgrace: the pulling out of his beard and spitting in his face. The depth of Jesus’ non-physical suffering was seen in his cry. “My God, why?” It is the only word of the cross reported by Matthew and the only word given in the original tongue, Aramaic. As we consider God’s dealings with His people we see Him sending His own dear Son as a suffering servant.

We consider tonight the real hurt of the cross.

I.        Cry of loneliness — “forsaken.”

A.   The suffering of the Messiah was not only physical but mental and emotional. This may be a worse form of hurt — hurt feelings. The servant, as a faithful follower of God, endures shameful treatment. His enemies pull out his beard and spit in his face. Jesus endured this form of suffering: the soldiers dressed him as a king; the superscription above his head; crucified between two criminals; exposed naked before a crowd; taunted and mocked, “If you are the Son of God....”

B.   The Servant is successful in taking the suffering because of his confidence in God’s presence and help. God was near and ready to help. Though God allows suffering, he sustains the sufferer who suffers for his sake. When Jesus cried, “My God, why?” we sense the trauma and tragedy of God’s apparent withdrawal.

II.     Cry of misunderstanding — “why?”

A.   Why? Why did Jesus have to be abandoned by God?  It was necessary for Him to fulfill all righteousness. This started on the day of His baptism when He entered the arena becoming our substitute. If you and I are to gain reconciliation to the Father He will have to be abandoned by God and forsaken by men. For Him to win our salvation it is necessary for Him to be rejected. 

B.   Because Jesus came down to the humility of the cross, Jesus was raised in exaltation. They are two sides of a coin. Jesus taught that he who humbles himself shall be exalted, and the reverse also applies. During Holy Week we watch Jesus stooping to the lowest level by dying a criminal’s most horrible death, and on Easter he is raised to glory.

His exaltation will not be complete until every knee shall bow and every tongue confess him as Lord.  Jesus emptied himself of his pre-existent glory, majesty, and power that he might fit into the confines of a human being. Though he was the Son of God, he surrendered his divine attributes for the finitude of man.

III.   Cry of alienation of sin — “me.”

A.   Jesus’ suffering was personal. It was happening to Him - personally. He was suffering as no one ever had suffered or would suffer. His torments were real - as they would be real for you and for me. He suffered every conceivable pain that you could ever suffer. He took this suffering personally for it was for personal reasons that He took your sin to Himself. 

B.   Jesus’ suffering, the pains which He endured He did for you personally. St. Paul reminds us, “For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) Christ was treated as if He were a sinner. He became the object of God's wrath and bore the penalty and guilt of our sin.  God made Him to be sin for us!  He never had a sinful attitude or did a sinful act. "In Christ" believers in some sense actually share the righteousness that characterizes God himself. Thus St. Paul will write, “It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. (1 Corinthians 1:30)

Conclusion:     God’s servant suffers willingly because of His trust in God.  The Servant is successful in taking the suffering because of his confidence in God’s presence and help. God was near and ready to help. Though God allows suffering, he sustains the sufferer who suffers for his sake. When Jesus cried, “My God, why?” we sense the trauma and tragedy of God’s apparent withdrawal.

 + Soli Deo Gloria +

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Lent 5

Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church-Friedheim
Celebrating our 169th Year
Chartered February 25, 1838

A 21st Century Parish with a 1st Century Faith
Acts 2:42

Lent 5
March 9, 2008
John 11:17-45
“I am the Resurrection”
Who Is This Man who is Going to the Cross?

Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. The raising of Lazarus sets the stage for Jesus’ entering Jerusalem for His passion and marks the conclusion of His public ministry. The raising of Lazarus was the last straw that caused the religious authorities to act. They had to do something quickly to rid society of the menace of Jesus who, through the raising of Lazarus, earned tremendous popularity and notoriety. There is nothing new about Jesus’ power to raise the dead, for he had already raised several people. In this story we see the reaction of Mary, Martha, and the people; the humanity expressed in Jesus’ weeping; the power of Jesus’ word; and the teaching of His being the resurrection and the life to all who believe.  The raising of Lazarus shows us the power of life over death as Jesus has an Encounter with a dead man: life, eternal life is the outcome.

In this powerful encounter the Evangelist gives us the meaning of suffering. In this passage, illness and death are considered means by which God is glorified. When we are ill, God’s healing reveals his glory. When we are dead, God’s raising us, like Lazarus, is for the glory of God. In the resurrection, the glory of God’s power is manifest. This offers hope to the afflicted, for they are assured of God’s help.

Jesus is a full human who has the capacity to feel the hurts of friends. He shares the sorrow of Mary and Martha. He weeps with Mary over Lazarus’ death. He expresses his love for his friends. Jesus did not really need to cry, for he knew what he was going to do in the raising of Lazarus. Yet, human as He was, He was caught up in the situation and identified with his friends.

Eternal life is a present possession. It is not life after death, nor life after life, but life during life. Jesus emphasized the present life — “I am the resurrection and the life.” This quality of life begins at the moment of faith in Christ. It is not a natural endowment, but a gift to those in Christ. We do not wait until death to go to heaven for life. We are given eternal life before death. If we do not have it before death, we will not have it after death.

God did not speak nor work independently. He was one with the Father and the Father gave him his power to heal. Before raising Lazarus, Jesus prays to thank God for hearing and answering his prayers. It was God who worked and spoke through him. The distinctiveness of Jesus was his unique oneness with God.

Through the media, William Schroeder, who was recuperating from receiving an artificial heart, was seen and heard receiving a phone call from then President Reagan. It was a great honor, an unforgettable experience, to get that phone call. Suppose you, like Mary in the text, received a call from Jesus. That would be even more wonderful, would it not? To you Martha is saying, “The teacher is here, and is calling for you.”

Outline: Your response to Martha’s message —

1. Who is calling? None other than Jesus!

2. Whom does He want? None other than you!

3. Why is He calling me? To comfort you, to share your sorrow, to express His love.

+Soli Deo Gloria+

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Mid-week Lent 5 Mid-day

Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church-Friedheim
Celebrating our 170th Year
Chartered February 25, 1838

A 21st Century Parish with a 1st Century Faith
Acts 2:42

Mid-Week Lenten 5-Mid day
March 5, 2008
John 19:23-27
Jesus I will Ponder Now

Introduction: Hanging on a cross suspended between earth and heaven Jesus bore our sins in His body. In the midst of His cruel agony He provided for His mother’s care. John records for us the Savior’s word of dying concern. “When Jesus saw His mother, there and the disciple whom He loved, standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.From that time on this disciple took her into his home.” How beautifully Bach relates these events.

I.  The death of Jesus was complete. “He of everything took heed In His hour of dying.”

A.  All sin was paid for by Jesus’ vicious death.

1.   There is not one sin left unaccounted.

2.   The payment is marked: “paid in full!”

B.  The proclamation of the cross is what frees us.

1.   It is good news.

2.   It is the power of God.

II.  On the cross Jesus singles Mary out for attention. “Caring for His mother’s needs on His friend relying.”

A.  He calls her “woman”.

1.   A desire to spare her the hurt of “mother.”

2.   He imparts a proper perspective – Mary will have to be saved like anyone else. She receives no dispensation!

B.  He turns her over to John.

1.   From that time on he became her son.

2.   He provides for her taking her into his own house.

a.    By way of history John will be the only disciple not to be martyred.

b.   He will be exiled to the island of Patmos. – Revelation 1:9

III.   By this act of love Jesus demonstrates the proper regard for family. “O man, do all things aright love God and thy neighbor.”

A.  Jesus summed up the life of the Christian when He taught us;

1.   “Love the Lord Thy God with all your heart, soul and all your might This is the first and greatest commandment.”   - Matthew 22:37

2.   “And the second is like it. Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and Prophets hang on these two commandments.” -Matthew 22:38-39 There is no commandment greater than these.

B.  “To love Him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”  - Mark 12:33

IV.  Through Jesus’ example expressed to His mother He demonstrates a deep concern for others. Thus Bach concludes tonight’s hymn verse with these words; “Die then without pain and fright rest from care and labor.”

A.  We can leave this world in death without pain or fright.

1.   Christ bore our sins in His own body on the cross so that we will not have to suffer the terrors of a guilty conscience.

2.   We receive Christ’s peace as He has secured for us peace with God.

B.  Thus we rest from care and labor.

1.   Luther possibly put is best when, in the conclusion to his morning and evening prayers he wrote: “Into Thy hands I commend myself [placing] my body and soul and all thing [into Thy care]. May Your Holy Angel [Spirit] be with me that the wicked foe may have no power over me.

2.   This moved Luther to conclude in the morning the Christian should: “then go joyfully to your work” and in the evening we rest confidently: “then go to sleep at once and in good cheer.”

3.   Here is evidence of a clear conscience; not based on what we do but rather on what Christ has finished. Our salvation is complete. We can rest in peace because our Father is at peace with Jesus’ work. At the cross and empty tomb Christ’s mission was accomplished!

Conclusion: Jesus showing compassion and care for His mother and His dear disciple has shown us how we too must act. Of the seven words Jesus spoke from the cross half of His last words are concerned with others. May His words and actions so move us to will and to do His good pleasure.

+ Soli Deo Gloria +

Mid-week Lent 5

Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church-Friedheim
Celebrating our 169th Year
Chartered February 25, 1838

A 21st Century Parish with a 1st Century Faith
Acts 2:42

Mid-Week Lenten 5
March 5, 2008
Ezekiel 37:1-14
The valley of dry bones - God brings life out of death
The life out of death

LORD and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”  I said, “O Sovereign LORD, you alone know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD? This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.’ ” So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone.

I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’ ” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army. Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: O my people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you, my people, will know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken, and I have done it, declares the LORD.’ ”

Prayer of the Day

Almighty God, our redeemer, in our weakness we have failed to be your messengers of forgiveness and hope in the world. Renew us by your Holy Spirit that we may follow your commands and proclaim your reign of love.

Ezekiel preaches the Word to the dry bones of Israel and they come to life. Ezekiel is a prophet to the exiles in Babylon. This Lesson comes from the section of the book that depicts a restoration of Jerusalem and its temple. He sees the Hebrews in exile as dead in hope because they are separated from the holy city and temple. God commands Ezekiel to preach to the dead bones and the Spirit brings life to the bodies. Through the preached Word, the Spirit of God brings new life and hope to a defeated, exiled people.

Introduction: On Sunday morning when you step into the pulpit, do you see a valley of dry bones? Such was the question posed by a gifted preacher to a class of young seminary students. How do we view the church today?  God showed Ezekiel a whole nation living in a valley of bones. They were physically alive but their spirits were dead because of lack of hope in a time of captivity.

God’s people can be dead in spirit — lack of vitality, energy, interest, and enthusiasm. Obviously the need is for revival - the church needs revival - that she might serve Christ and build the kingdom on earth. According to the text, new life comes from the Spirit in the Word of God. In dealing with His people God is able to bring life out of death.

As we review God’s gracious dealing with His people we see how the church can be revitalized from dead bones to living bodies. How is this done?

I.        Hear the Word — do you really listen to the Word preached, proclaimed, read and taught?

A.     The Spirit is the creative power of God. By the Spirit the universe was created. The Father spoke the word and all that exists came into being.  His Spirit is identified with his Word — The Father spoke, “Let there be light” and light appeared.  In Ezekiel’s account the Spirit causes the dry bones to live again.

B.     But the Spirit comes to the bones through the prophet’s preaching the Word of God. Here we see the power of the Word to create new life, for with the Word there is the Spirit. But the Word must be preached. Out of a faithful preaching of the Word, the Spirit creates new life in the dead bones of God’s people.

C.     From the explanation of the 3rd Article we read, ‘I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called my by the Gospel.”

D.     From the 2nd Petition of the Lord’s Prayer we read, “The Kingdom of God certainly comes by itself without our prayer, but we pray in this petition that it may come to us also.

E.      God’s kingdom comes when our heavenly Father gives us His Holy Spirit, so that by His grace we believe His holy Word and lead godly lives here in time and there in eternity. 

Transition: How does revival come to the church today? It comes when we hear God’s Word. It comes when we daily read His Word.

II.     Read the Word — private daily reading of the Bible.

A.     We can have both death and life in us. Though dead, we can live, and though living we can be dead. There is one type of life — existence, the physical, natural, earthly life. It is the life of the flesh which results in sin and death. St. Paul said, “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.” (Romans 7:18)  But then Paul continues…” but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members.” (Romans 7:23)  Our sinful nature and our new nature are constantly at war with each other.  How do we feed it? Do we feed it with all matters of sin? Or do we saturate it with the Word? 

B.     There is possibly another life; one with God lived in faith.  This life is a product of the Spirit received at baptism. Through baptism a person is born again in the Spirit, adopted as the child of God, and now lives in the Spirit of righteousness. The new person knows he is related to God, because the Spirit witnesses to our spirits that we are God’s offspring. When we connect ourselves with God’s Holy Word the power of our baptism takes hold of us once again. “What does baptizing with water indicate? It indicates that the Old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and that a new man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.”

Transition:  How does revival come to the church today? It comes when we hear God’s Word. It comes when we daily read His Word. It comes when we taste the Word through the Sacrament.

III.   Taste the Word — the Word comes visibly in Holy Communion.

A.     What is the benefit of eating and drinking the Sacrament? These words, “Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins, show us that in the Sacrament forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation are given us through these words. For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation,”

B.     How can bodily eating and drinking do such great things? Certainly not just eating and drinking do these things, but the words written here: “Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” These words, along with he bodily eating and drinking are the main thing in the Sacrament. Whoever believes these words has exactly what they say: “forgiveness of sins.”

Conclusion: The raising of the dead bones of Israel came through the preaching of the Word.  Through Ezekiel’s preaching of the Word, the dead people come to life. Jesus in His ministry brought Lazarus out of the tomb with his words, “Lazarus, come out.”  The raising of Lazarus gave the religious leaders an immediate cause to plot Jesus’ death.  Jesus identified himself as the resurrection and the life, and offers eternal life here and now to those who believe in him.  The prophecies of Ezekiel predict what Jesus will fulfill.

+Soli Deo Gloria+

Sunday, March 2, 2008


Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church-Friedheim
Celebrating our 169th Year
Chartered February 25, 1838

A 21st Century Parish with a 1st Century Faith
Acts 2:42

Lent 4
March 2, 2008
John 9:1-41
“I am the Light of the World”

God of all mercy, by your prayer to heal and to forgive, graciously cleanse us from all sin and makes us strong.”

The Fourth Sunday in Lent was formerly known as Laetare Sunday, taken from the first Latin word of the Introit, Laetare, meaning to “rejoice.” We are now half was through the season of Lent. The second half of Lent begins in a lighter mood in preparation for the depth of sorrow coming in the Passion. Today’s three Lessons harmonize on the theme of light, vision, and insight. Samuel is given the insight to see that of all the sons of Jesse, David was the one to be king. Paul exhorts Christians as children of light to walk in the light of goodness. Jesus brought spiritual vision to the man healed by blindness. We pray in the Prayer that we may be cleansed from the darkness of sin that we may be children of the light which is Christ. From the light of spiritual vision, for the cure of our spiritual blindness, we can rejoice — Laetare!

In Jesus’ day and in many respects, even today - the popular view was that sin caused suffering. It was held that sufferings were the direct result of a specific sin. In the case of the man born blind, the disciples asked, “whose sin” caused the handicap. Was it nature or nurture? Was the poor man the product of his environment? Or, was a person to be blamed for his condition?  Was it his parents’ sin or was it his own?

Jesus’ response is telling. He answered that no one sinned in this case. Some suffering is caused by sin, but in this situation the Savior asks us to understand a new concept - we should see suffering as an opportunity for God’s healing.

Jesus comes to the rescue when a person is rejected. Because of his defense of Jesus, the healed man was excommunicated, ostracized, and cast out, a penalty next to death. From henceforth no one was to have any dealings with this man. When man comes to his extremity, Christ comes with compassion and support. Here is an insight into Jesus’ love for the downtrodden and oppressed.

Debby Boone’s 1977 hit song “You Light Up My Life” refers to the boy or girl who lights up the other’s life. The lyric appeals to people’s basic needs.  We want someone to light up our lives that we may have love and happiness. If a lover can light up a life, how much more can Jesus Christ, the Light of the world, bring light, love, joy, and truth to a person! In the Gospel for this day, Jesus becomes the light of a blind beggar.  

In the Gospel lesson for this morning Jesus has an encounter with a man born blind. We are given insight by the power of the Spirit to give us vision.

Today we see how Jesus can light up your life.

I.        Light up your darkness — V. 40. “Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?”  We may be blind and not know it.”

A.     Before we can come to the light, we must be aware of our need of light. There is the dualism of light and darkness. Christ is the light and the world is darkness. Darkness may at times overcome the light. Jesus sees his upcoming death as the hour of darkness. Thus, he must work now while there is light. The light shall ultimately conquer the darkness of evil. The book of Revelation portrays heaven as a place where there is no night.

B.     Jesus Christ is the very source of that light. This we confess in the words of the Nicene Creed.  Jesus Christ is “the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds, god of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance (made of the same stuff as)  with the Father…

Transition:  Jesus lights up your darkness – He also gives light to see.

II.     Give light for you to see — V. 5. “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

A.     Light to see who you are — V. 2. “His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”  Only Christ who is “the cloudless Sun of joy”[1] is the only one capable who can disperse the darkness of sin and error with the true light of truth. God our Lord and Master is not some monster, enthroned in the heavens heaving lightning bolts at naughty children and all the “dirties” of this world –arresting and convicting those who get out of line or misbehave badly.

He is not content with merely punishing those who commit sin. His desire is to destroy sin completely.  He’s more serious about your sin then you could ever be!  He has devised a plan by which our sin has been dealt with once and for all. He bore our sin in His own body on the tree and then buried them forever in His tomb. Your sins will never see the light of day for they are forgiven and gone forever.  To receive the Savior’s gracious favor and to see the Father’s face has been accomplished by Jesus Christ the righteous One. There is but one word for us to ponder – Repent!

B.     Light to see the meaning of life — V. 25. He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” Because Jesus healed the man on the Sabbath, the Pharisees could not accept Jesus as a man from God. In their view, a man of God does not break God’s laws. Was this Sabbath law the law of man or of God? For Jesus, human values were higher and of more importance than legal matters. Man has a priority next to God, and laws are to serve the needs of man.  In contrast to the light of the healed man, the Pharisees are in the darkness of sin and unbelief. They are divided. Some claim He comes from God. Others reject Him because He dare to heal on the Sabbath.

C.     Light to see Jesus is the Savior — Vv. 35-37.  Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”  “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.” Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.

This man born blind receives physical and spiritual sight. It takes a whole chapter to tell the story of how Jesus brings spiritual light to a man born blind. The actual miracle is told in a few verses, but the healing gives an occasion for Jesus to bring a man from ignorance to truth, from being an agnostic at best to becoming a person of faith. We see the formation of faith: from “the man called Jesus,” to “a prophet,” to “a man from God” to “the Son of Man.”

Blindness is a terrible condition — life full of darkness. Close your eyes and imagine living with this handicap the rest of your life. I can remember a number of years ago we took the children to tour Mammoth Cave. We entered into a huge room and the tour guide explained to us that he would turn out the lights in the cave for us to get a sense of total darkness. Although the lights were off for just a few seconds the experience still lingers – the experience of total darkness, a “darkness that could be felt.” (Exodus 10:21) A darkness that suggests for us of God’s wrath and judgment.   God is light and gives the light of vision to His children.  While physical blindness may not be a problem, there are other forms of blindness spiritual that are worse.

People need to know how Jesus Christ can give them perfect vision that they do not stumble nor fall in life’s journey. This is the message the Savior has given to you – not to get people to behave, not to get people to live purpose driven or successful lives, but for them to meet Jesus – the light of the world. 

+Soli Deo Gloria+

[1] Lift Up Your Heads Ye Mighty Gates stanza 3  The Lutheran Hymnal © 1940 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO