Sermon Text — Mark 10:1-16
October 4, 2015
Sermon Audio —
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 10th chapter.
Beloved in the Lord,
What is Good?
You have heard it said, “What’s good for the goose is good for gander.” James tells us that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (Jam 1:17 ESV) What is good comes from God and because it comes from God what is good does not change. But humanity is not content with what is good. Wanting to be like God our first parents chose for themselves their own goodness. Heeding the wrong voice they chose the wrong fruit from the wrong tree. Sin entered the world and with sin death. Sin is not good. God alone is good. Sin is not from God but from the devil, the world, and now even our own sinful nature. God’s goodness leads to life. The wages of sin is death. Sin and death undo God’s goodness in our midst. Sin and its wages is nothing short of a divorcing of humanity from God and one another. God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16 NKJ). Divorce is not good.
In our text this morning the Pharisees ask Jesus about divorce, not because they were actually concerned with the goodness of marriage but because they were trying to trap the Lord. Their question was an attempt to get Jesus to call good what God’s word says is bad. Later in the house the disciples were calling bad – the bringing of children to Jesus – what Jesus says is good. At the root of both was the issue of what is good and what is bad.
This is the issue before us today. Shall we call good what God says is bad? Shall we follow our instinct or God’s Word? Shall we adapt God’s Word to our experience or shall we amend our lives in conformity with God’s Word. What is good for us? What is bad for us? And what implications does such good or bad have for our daily living, for our marriages, our families, our children, our very souls?
Divorced with the World
When we look at our world we see the consequences of humanity’s confusion all around us. When we look at our families we feel it in the depths. Our world no longer discerns what is good as God reveals goodness. Our culture has embraced sin as an alternative “good”. We have taken it upon ourselves to redefine words and institutions, words and institutions that have bonded cultures and societies together since the foundation of the world. Truly it is a brave new world when we can no longer say what a thing actually is, when we can no longer call a baby a boy or a girl at birth based on what is observed but now, as some would like it, society must wait until the child decides for themselves.
Truly it is a brave new world when we can no longer say as a society that a child being raised by their father and mother is not only good but best for the child.
Truly it is a brave new world where talk of sexual purity seems out of place in public discourse and losing one’s virginity is viewed as a rite of passage to be accomplished before graduating high school!
Truly it’s a brave new world that cannot discern life in its infancy and even protects with the full force of law those who terminate that life before and after birth.
Truly it’s a brave new world that divorces children from sex, sex from one man and one woman in marriage, and marriage from parenting. Such sin stems from a divorce of what is good from truth and what is true from God our creator.
And we who are called Christian are not unaffected by such “bravery”. We have fallen to temptation. No longer do we save ourselves for marriage but we participate in the world’s rites of uncleanness. We have suffered our share of divorces. No longer do we refuse divorce for the sake of our children but have accepted the world’s premise that the kids will be okay. We have given in to social pressure. No longer do we reject alternative sexuality nor are we horrified by the slaughter of so many innocents but we sit idly by allowing the world to dictate what is good for themselves. In truth, we have surrendered to fear; fear of being ostracized by friends, fear of inexperience and immaturity, fear of financial burdens, fear of ridicule, fear of being called puritans, or old fashioned, or homophobic. We’re more afraid of those who can hurt our reputation than we are of God who would have us hear Him speak absolution over us and raise us up to be faithful doers of His Word. We have soiled ourselves with the world exchanging what is good for what is seemingly practical, what is true for what is contemporary, what is holy for what is common.
The Bridegroom loves His Bride
In the midst of all such sin, Jesus stands calling out to His beloved, calling sinners to repentance, call you and me and the whole world to Himself, to what is good, right, and salutary. The Pharisees looked to the Law of Moses, not for truth, not for goodness, but for loopholes! They wanted a way around God and His goodness given in Marriage. They wanted God to justify their divorces. But God hates divorce and rather than allow His dearly loved creatures to indulge in that which leads to death Jesus takes His hearers, you and me and any who have ears to hear, back to the beginning, back to Genesis.
In the beginning God created them male and female. And in the beginning God said that it is not good for man to be alone. What is not good for Adam is not good for Eve. What is not good for them is not good for you or anyone else for that matter. What is not good is not redefined as such but is made good through God’s giving good gifts. God gave Eve to Adam. God gave marriage to humanity. Marriage between one man and one woman is good! The one flesh union is good! Children are good! Marriage is good for man and its good for woman and it is better than okay for their children. It’s best for children!
In His giving of Eve to Adam the Lord gives us a picture of His giving the bride to the bridegroom, of His giving the church to Jesus. For Jesus is the greater Adam, the perfect Adam, the Adam who resisted temptation and stood against the devil and all his works and all his ways. Rather than seize for Himself what the world says is good, Jesus surrendered Himself to His Father’s will on your behalf. He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a Cross. Jesus therefore is not the best man, He’s the perfect bridegroom. To save His bride He gives Himself in love. He sleeps the deep darkness of death and relinquishes His will for the greater good of Humanity. From His side pours forth blood and water. Water to give new life and regeneration to His bride, and blood to nourish her until the day of their consummation. There on the tree Jesus Himself pays the dowry owed for His bride’s nuptials. For we are but poor miserable sinners, forsaken by the father of lies, unworthy of such devotion on the Lord’s part and unable to offer Him anything but praise and thanksgiving. He is our Kinsman redeemer. We are His redeemed. Through His death He cleanses us from the stains of our sin. Through His resurrection He undoes the death our strength and merits have warranted. With death undone there is then only life and all goodness and truth for those who believe and share His death and resurrection in baptism.
The Bride’s Refuge
You are His baptized. Beneath the waters you died with Christ and filled with His Holy Spirit you have been raised with Christ. You did not choose Him but He has chosen you, sealed you with His cross, named you with His Name. He did not choose you for your looks, your works, your fanciful prayers or pious dress. Jesus did not come for the well but for the sick, not for the righteous but for sinners. All that the Pharisees knew was the Law and their standing before God in its light. Jesus is honest about the Light of God’s Law. There is no one who does right, no one who seeks after God, no one who understands the divine mysteries. This the Law shows perfectly. And in light of Law we see that we are among those divorced from God and our neighbor because of our sins. The Law is good and holy, but it is not a means for our justification. What the Law was unable to do God did for us in the sending of His Son. Jesus has come for sinners, for the broken, the divorced, the orphaned, for adulterers, fornicators, and the sexually immoral, for the sodomite and the effeminate for you and for all. And His coming is not one for judgement and condemnation but for mercy and reconciliation. Jesus does not call you to Himself in order to chastise but to absolve, not to damn but to save. He and His blood are the antidote to sin’s wages.
Thus the Church is a place of refuge where the weary find rest and the weak kneed are strengthened. Here, as we are gathered together around the throne of Christ, the Savior Himself is present in order to be merciful to you, to wash away every spot, stain, and blemish that He to present you to Himself as one who is clean and pure. What you were is seen only in the light of the Law. What you are is heard in the Word of the Gospel. Jesus delights to be in the midst of sinners. He rejoices to draw near the least of these for He calls you brethren. His presence if given for your good. And if it’s good for the goose it’s good for the gander. If it’s good for you it’s good for your children and if for you and your children then it’s good for all who afar off.
This place is not a place to find affirmation. Jesus is not present to praise you. He’s here to forgive you. This is a place of absolution. This place is not a place to find condemnation. Jesus calls you and all people out from the under the condemnation and now for those who are in Christ Jesus there is therefore No condemnation. For all who believe and are baptized have been set free from the Law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1 ff.) Your burden has been carried by another. Your debt has been paid in full. Every jot and tittle, every iota of the Law has been accomplished by Christ and far exceeds that of the Pharisees. In Christ you are full to the brim, your cup runs over. God has reconciled Himself to you. Reconciled to God you have been reconciled to your neighbor. You are truly born again unto newness of life, even eternal life!
Witness to the World – Dazzling the World with God’s Goodness
Beloved in the Lord, you have heard it said, “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.” Christ is the measure of goodness and He is the good and perfect gift having come down from the Father of lights to win your salvation. Christ teaches what is good, not just for Christians, as though we are some sort of special race, but for all people, that all come to know the salvation of our God. There is no goodness apart from God. And this goodness is revealed to us in His Word. His Word is truth. And the truth will set you free. And free you are beloved, free to be faithful, clinging to Christ alone for salvation, and free to love and serve your neighbors. Therefore do not darken the light of Christ by abusing such freedom but glorify God in your bodies. Let the light of Christ dwell in you richly that the world may see your good works and be dazzled by the beauty and joy that flow from the goodness of the Lord. You are Christ’s witnesses to the world. The world does not know God and refuses to listen. But they world does know you. Though they may not listen as we would like, they are most certainly watching. Let us show them what love is! Let us display the power of God’s forgiveness in our lives by forgiving others. Let us honor and not defile the marriage bed. By upholding our vows and refusing to divorce let us serve as living epistles of Christ to the world. By delighting in the joys of family and children, by not fearing but boldly embracing God’s goodness let us return our thanks for His good gifts and bring our children to the Lord, not once at baptism but throughout their life. Let us dazzle the world, not according to the standards of a Law we cannot perfectly keep, but according to the riches of His grace which has been lavishly poured out upon us through the preaching of the Gospel and the giving of the sacraments. Let the World see true beauty in the living of righteous lives! Let the world hear about God’s goodness in Christ crucified! Let the world know that our Lord has been raised for them. For in Him is life, and this life is the light of the world! This is most certainly good, for me, for you, for all. AMEN!
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your heart and mind through faith in Christ Jesus. AMEN!