Sermon — Rev. Tony Sikora — Epiphany 3

Beloved,

This week’s sermon lends itself to Life-Sunday. I pray it is a blessing for you.

Pr. Sikora

 

Hope Lutheran DeWitt MI

Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. AMEN! Our text for this morning’s sermon is taken from St. Mark’s gospel account the first chapter (Mark 1:14-20)

Beloved in the Lord,

Men who love to Fish become Fishers of Men who love

Holy Scripture teaches us that “God is love”[1]. And a loving God does not forsake His beloved. “God so loved the World that He gave His only-begotten Son”[2]. In Love God gives Jesus. Jesus is the manifestation of God’s love to the world and for the world. Loving the world Jesus loves men, women, and children. He loves with God’s love. He loves with perfect love, love that never ends, love that never fades, love that goes above and beyond what is expected, even above and beyond what is commanded. He loves humanity to the end.

Loving Humanity, Jesus calls His disciples. Last week Jesus called Philipp and Philipp called Nathanael. Both heard the Savior speak their name and both followed where He led. This morning, the Love of Jesus is calling once more. First He calls Simon Peter, then Andrew. Walking a little farther he calls James and his brother John. With each call ears are opened and nets are dropped. Vocations are exchanged and fishermen become fishers of men. God’s love bears fruit. Disciples are born.

These men will be the Lord’s messengers, His apostles. They will learn what it means to love as they watch Jesus love the poor, the uneducated, the sick and the infirm, the lowest of the low even the richest of the rich. They will learn love and then be sent out to bear its burden sharing the love of God with those around them, whoever crosses their path. In this way God’s love, the Love made flesh, is made manifest to the nations, even to you and me.
Men use and Abuse one another “Life Unworthy of Life”

But men do not love as God loves, nor even as they promise. Ever wanting to be like God, Adam’s children all too often imitate Adam’s sin. At the root, in the very depths of our heart, is our innate desire to be God, God over our own lives and in truth, God over the lives of others. “Seeking to be like God Adam and Eve failed to be what God had created them to be, creatures who live under His blessings and favor.” Thus they rejected reality and sought after an illusion. Falling into sin, Adam and his children have fallen, not only from grace, but from love. With hearts turned inward love’s perversion turned man against man. No longer receiving from God, humanity now manipulates, uses, abuses, and takes from his neighbor.

Under the illusion of autonomy we tend to think that we are the masters of our destiny, that we can control not only our future, but even the future of those around us. Such control inevitably results in one man’s power being used against another man, or a woman, or children.

But our lives are not our own, never have been. Life came to us as a gift. “You were not self-created. Your body was formed in the body of another. In other words, the life you have came to you from outside of yourself; it came as gift apart from your willing it”[3].

All life is a gift, ours as well as our neighbors’. And the Lord commands, “Love your neighbor as yourself”[4]. Love is commanded because love is lacking. We do not love as we ought. Instead we deem certain men of greater worth than others. A woman’s will takes precedence over a child’s life. A nation’s identity is permitted to snuff out a whole race of people. The imperfect, the defected, the handicapped, sick, infirm, poor, those with downs syndrome, those who society says are less than, are often deemed unworthy of our love, and therefore unworthy of life. When men love this way, men love like beasts, and not humans, not as God’s dearly loved creation.

All Humanity is created for life, not merely a biological existence that exerts itself on and over others, but life that is eternal, life with God here in time and for eternity, life that is fearing, loving and trusting in the Triune God above all things, life that exerts itself in love toward and for others rather than against others and for self.

Humanity is Worth the Blood: “You have been bought with a price!”

This love is made manifest in Jesus. Holy Scripture teaches us that God is Love and in God’s great love for the world; for humanity, for you and me, He sent His Son Jesus. In sending His Son, God sent His heart. Jesus loves not as the world deserves, for He loves without any merit or worthiness in me. Jesus loves as the Father loves. And it’s His love which gives humanity its worth.

In and of ourselves we are worth much less than we think. We are sinners. But Jesus loves sinners. These men whom Jesus called – they were sinners. The people whom Jesus hung around with were all sinners, all despised by the world around them. Jesus sought out the sick, the poor, the handicap and the “less than” of the world. And who isn’t “less than” what we ought to be? Therefore Jesus seeks you as well. He has come for the sick. He draws near the sinner. He touches the imperfect. He embraces the little ones. He raises the dead and brings liberty to those bound in Adam’s curse.

Jesus loves the little children, the old ladies, the grumpy old men, the stubborn teenagers, the rowdy attention deficit 8 year old, the invalid on his matt, the blind man, the deaf woman, the ignorant souls, the simple-minded. He loves those on their death bed and especially those being formed and fashioned in the womb.

Jesus loves the weakest and lowest and sickest and the smallest and the simplest and the meanest. He loves perfectly and He loves to the end. He loves with arms open wide and hands pierced through! He loves with bloodied brow and riven side. He loves into death, even death on a cross. Why? Because He loves you and refuses to let you fall into hell. Love sacrifices for His beloved. Love is crucifed for the unloving. Love is dead and buried. But love is raised on the third day, because true love, God’s Love, love made manifest in Jesus cannot die forever and now, can never die again. Love triumphs over sin, conquers death, and destroys the hatred of the devil.
Humanity has dignity, worth, and value

Now, because Jesus loves us, because Jesus loves them, because Jesus loves all – all human life is a gift. And that life, that gift, is not to be judged by its quality; whether it’s a good life, or a healthy life, or a productive life, or even a life of burden to others. No, beloved. A gift is not to be judged by its inherent value. Such a gift is to be judged by the giver of the gift. For the goodness of a gift is not found in the gift itself – gifts can be less than perfect. A man born blind can still praise His creator for the gift of life. It is the giver of the gift that is to be adored. For the gift – no matter what we think of it – is good because our Good God has given it in love. Our God gives good gifts even when they are less than perfect gifts.

These good gifts are to be received with thankfulness and with praise. These gifts are to be cherished, cared for and protected. Therefore every child conceived, be they healthy or not, with 10 fingers and 10 toes or not, be they a downs baby or not is deserving of life – most especially eternal life given through holy baptism. And such life is worthy of our love and compassion, and protection. Why? Because each and every human life is worth the blood of Jesus.

Fishers of Men Love with Christ’ Love

Beloved in the Lord, Holy Scripture teaches us that God is Love. Loving the world, loving you and me, God sent His Son to suffer, die, and rise again from the dead. His life, death, and resurrection gives value, dignity and worth to your life and to your neighbor’s life. Therefore, the love God has shown to you is now for you to show others. Where Adam and Eve took from the wrong tree seeking to be like God, God now gives you the fruit of another tree that He may conform you to the image of His Son. From this tree come gifts of mercy, forgiveness and love, gifts purchased with the very blood of the Son of God, gifts given freely by grace to be received through faith.

Eating and drinking of the resurrected Christ you are taught what it is to love as God loves. To love is give of self to others. Jesus loves you and gives Himself into you. Receiving His love you in turn give love to your neighbor, whomever crosses your path. Your vocations are given new meaning because your vocations have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. Now, your labors can be labors of love to Christ your savior, and to your neighbor. Now you can bend low to serve. You can humble yourself to obey. Your efforts carry the heart of God into the world and for the world. In this way, you also are fishers of men. AMEN!

 

The peace of God which surpasses all human understanding keep your heart and mind through faith in Christ Jesus. AMEN!

[1] 1 John 4:8
[2] John 3:16
[3] Pless, John T A small Catechism on Human Life, pg. 12
[4] Leviticus 19:18

About Norm Fisher

Norm was raised in the UCC in Connecticut, and like many fell away from the church after high school. With this background he saw it primarily as a service organization. On the miracle of his first child he came back to the church. On moving to Texas a few years later he found a home in Lutheranism when he was invited to a confessional church a half-hour away by our new neighbors.

He is one of those people who found a like mind in computers while in Middle School and has been programming ever since. He's responsible for many websites, including the Book of Concord, LCMSsermons.com, and several other sites.

He has served the church in various positions, including financial secretary, sunday school teacher, elder, PTF board member, and choir member.

More of his work can be found at KNFA.net.

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