Sermon Text: Luke 12:49-56
Sermon Day: August 18th, 2013; Proper 15
Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Savior, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. AMEN! Our text for this morning’s sermon is taken from St. Luke’s gospel account the 12th chapter.
Beloved in the Lord,
The Christian life is one that is lived by faith. Faith’s object is the Word of God, written, proclaimed, splashed, and distributed. It is the Word that surely and certainly enlightens the heart and soul of those whom the Spirit has quickened giving sight to the blind and understanding to the simple. At times the Word hurts as God’s Law burns against our sins. At times the Word soothes aching hearts as He washes away the stains we’ve earned. At times this Word sets hearts afire, kindled with divine love for both God and our neighbor. At times this Word encourages the weak-hearted with the assurance of our adoption into Christ despite what we see in our members and feel in our inner most depths.
Faith clings to the Word – even when the Word is not what we expect or what we want to hear. This morning, the Word of Jesus is not exactly what we want to hear. Nevertheless it is the Word we are given and therefore it is a Word that is good for us. What is this Word? This Word is a Word of fire being cast, baptism being received leading to division and unrest in the world, even in our families. “I came to cast fire upon the earth . . .I have a baptism to be baptized with . . . “Do you think I have come to bring peace on earth? NO, I tell you, but rather division.” Let’s be honest, these are not the most comforting words – but they are the truth, they are Words we need to hear, Words meant to keep us focused on what is good, right, and salutary rather than the words that surround us day in and day out which are intended to lead us away from Christ and the certainty of our salvation.
Now the fire is His cross. And the baptism is one of Blood. There is division because the world has turned everyone to his own way. Following our own way we have followed our heart. And the human heart is not what we think it is – it’s not holy and it’s not good, not the kind of good God in His holiness demands. The human heart is full of sin. This is true of my heart and its true of your heart. This is true of the oldest and most pious among us as well as the youngest and most innocent in the ways of the world. That which is born of flesh is flesh and the heart of our flesh is contrary to the Spirit of our God.
Thus because of sin there is division between humanity and our Creator. Those divided from God find harmony with the rest of the unbelieving world. There is a sort of “evil peace” between unbelievers. Walking together on the broad path is easy. It’s what the human heart wants. It often feels good and there’s little if any desire within us to fight it. We don’t want to fight it. We’re tired of fighting. We’d rather avoid fighting. We’re told to be more tolerant. We’re encouraged to be our better selves. Yet our conscience tells us something’s not right, something’s definitely wrong. Looking all around us we see brokenness, pain, and suffering. We feel lonely, abused, manipulated, and violated. Everyone seems to be against everyone else – everyone is following his own heart, his own broken and depraved heart and it’s not good.
Many have risen up offering false comforts. “They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. They say continually to those who despise the Word of the Lord, “It shall be well with you; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall befall you.” They make lots of money. They’re cool. They’re hip. They gather large crowds. They seem to make sense. They use the bible. They speak the Lord’s Name. But in reality they make things worse – for they are merely rearranging the chairs on the deck of a sinking Titanic. “Here, have a seat. Don’t worry. Take a load off. Be a peace. Admire the view. Enjoy the journey. It’ll all be over soon.” Indeed, it will all be over soon. And then , unless one repents and believes the gospel, unless there is a division from the World, the suffering and loneliness will never end.
Beloved, a fire must be cast! A baptism must happen. Unless there be a division all will suffer in hell. The cross must be suffered and blood must be shed that all who believe be saved from the perils of their sin. Take these words to heart! Jesus speaks them for you, that you not lose sight of your eternal destiny simply because you would rather not suffer division from this hell bound world. Yes, beloved, take note and fix your heart and mind upon Jesus, the author and perfector of your faith. Hear how His heart burns for your salvation. Listen as He is compelled to pour out His love for you, receiving a baptism of blood that you receive a baptism of the Spirit and of Fire through water and His Word.
For this He came.
For the World He was given.
For you He suffered.
For your sins He died.
For your forgiveness He bled.
For your iniquity His back was striped.
For your nakedness He was stripped.
For your shame He was mocked.
For your wandering He was fixed with nails.
For your eternity He was abandoned.
For your death He was buried.
For your resurrection He was raised on the third day! Your Sin atoned for. Your Death destroyed. The world overcome and Satan crushed. All are now divided by this sign, this cross – those who believe and those who do not, those who are saved from their sins and those worriedly watching the view from a sinking ship as they listen to Joel or Joyce on their Ipod’s.
Dear Christians, you have been graciously placed within the Ark of Christ’s Church. This ship will never sink. Though the storms of this world rage against her, though the peoples of the nations plot vain things, though we continue to be plagued with the brokenness of our own hearts, the frailty of our own flesh, though all beset against her, the course has been plotted. Our eternal destiny is secure. For this holy Ark is firmly set in the waters of her baptism into Christ.
Therefore, “don’t listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes.” Don’t look around you. Don’t look within you. Don’t look to your friends nor to your family, for you have been separated from the multitudes trudging the broad path and you have been united to Christ – His death and His resurrection in the waters of your baptism. The fire of His gospel enkindles your heart. His baptism has become your baptism. With His cross you have been crossed. With His blood you have been redeemed. Nothing is to matter more than Christ and His Word for you. For nothing is surer or more certain than that which proceeds from the mouth of God. By this Word we Christians live and move and have our whole being. It is the object of our faith and the desire of our Heart for this sure and certain word gives us Jesus – the lover of our souls!
So, then beloved, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? (Rom 8:35 ESV) Certainly Not! For these are of this broken world! These are temporal and will pass away. The whole world will pass away, but not the Word of the Lord. For the Word of the Lord endures forever.
Beloved in the Lord, the storm has passed. The cross He has borne for you and me and the world. The thunder of God’s law has rumbled. The fire of His wrath bolted from the sky. Now comes the rain – now pours forth the gospel. Behold the clouds in the sky! The gospel hovers above pouring the grace of our God from heaven above to earth below. Faith clings to the Word and echoes the psalmist, “My soul longs for your salvation; I hope in your Word” (Psalm 119:81). Hoping in the Word you join the great cloud of witnesses that have gone before you. You are surrounded by them. You are a part of them. Being knit into the mystical body of Christ, joined to the communion of saints, your eternal welfare is made manifest right here, right now in Word and Sacrament. You may be divided from the multitude of unbelievers, but you are united to the whole heavenly host who praise God night and day, offering up thanksgiving for the tender mercy Jesus has purchased for them through His death and resurrection. Indeed, these are . . . good words for us today. AMEN!
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your heart and mind through faith in Christ Jesus. AMEN!