June 26, 2016 — Proper 8
Sermon Text — Luke 9:51-62
The Gospel of God is on the Move
Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Amen! Our text for this morning’s (evening’s) sermon is taken from St. Luke’s gospel account the 9th chapter.
Beloved in the Lord,
Stepping Towards Jerusalem
The gospel of our God is on the move. It is mobile, going from place to place, village to village, house to house, home to heart. Wherever Jesus goes there goes God’s Son, there goes God’s gospel. He is the good news made flesh, “the radiance of the glory of God, the exact imprint of His nature and he upholds the universe by the Word of His power.” (Hebrews 1:3) With each step Jesus tramples underfoot the enemies of humanity; sin, death and devil. No one is left out. If in Adam all sinned and death has come to us all through Adam, so also then through the New Adam many more will be made righteous. For there is no longer any distinction for all who baptized in to Christ Jesus, neither Jew nor Gentile, male or female, slave or free, infant or elderly, all are one in Christ for Christ has come for all. Coming for all means that He has come for you. Thus the gospel of our God is on the move for you. He is mobile, going from place to place, village to village, house to house, home to heart, even your heart this morning (evening).
The gospel of our God is on the movie and this morning (evening) His steps are filled with purpose. He is going to Jerusalem. The time has come for Him to be “taken up”. He will not take the easy way. Nor will He avoid the least of the world’s children. At a time when all pious Jews walked around Samaria to avoid their uncleanness, Jesus takes the dirty road and travels through Samaria. He enters their world, offers Himself, stretches out His arm to save them. He does for Samaria what he does for the world. He does for Samaritans what He does for sinners. But . . . “they did not receive Him because His face was steadfastly set towards Jerusalem.” Jesus couldn’t be for them because Jesus’ words and works didn’t fit with their theology – what they knew and believed about God.
So it is with our world. We Christians ought not be surprised by the unbelief that surrounds us day in and day out. Though the Lord stretches out His arms to save all, all to do not believe, many refuse because their hearts are steadfastly set on a false theology. The Jesus of the Bible doesn’t fit with what they know and believe about God. The Jesus of Scriptures comes to call people out of their sin and lead them to eternal life through His life, death, and resurrection. But the Jesus the world knows makes no mention of sin, issues no call to repentance, and rewards pious intentions with money, goods, fame, and affirmation. The Jesus the world loves is the wrong Jesus, a false Christ, no Savior, but an idol. Thus they remain in their sin, walking the way that leads to their eternal destruction.
James and John, they know Jesus, but not the fullness of His heart toward the world. They know their Bible. They love justice and despise wickedness. Assuming for themselves the Spirit of Elijah, they ask to call fire down from heaven to destroy the lives of these rebellious unbelievers who will not receive Jesus.
We are not immune to their passions. For the rebellious of this world do not simply say “no thank you” to Christ and His messengers but persecute the bearers of good news. “Keep your Jesus to yourselves!” they say. “Celebrate our lifestlyes” they say. “Bake us a cake” “Affirm us. Accept us. Receive us. Commune us. Marry us. Give up your traditions, your values, your worldview. Read our books to your children. Surrender your Jesus and follow ours.” They call us names like bigots and homophobes. They blame us for any calamities that befalls them, any attack against their lifestyles. Yes, beloved in the midst of our culture wars it’s all too easy for us to rejoice at their demise. It’s all too easy for us who know the bible and love Jesus to believe that their death is a good thing. It’s all too easy for us to call fire down from heaven in our hearts, fire which consumes all pity for our neighbor’s plight. We too must repent for we know not what manner of spirit enflames us.
Steps Towards Our Salvation
No matter the circumstances. No matter what calamity befalls us or our neighbor, the gospel of our God is on the move. Jesus passes through Samaria and our world neither avoiding nor despising the shame of our uncleanness. With each step He takes he tramples underfoot the enemies of humanity. His war is not with men nor against men, but with sin, death, and the dominion of the devil. Therefore He does not wage war with the sword but with Words and Works which atone for sin and liberate men from the passions of their flesh. With each step Jesus moves nearer to death bearing in Himself the wages of the world’s sin. He has not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them. He’s not come for judgment but to be a propitiation, a sacrifice offered once for all humanity; Jew and Gentile, slave and free, male and female, infant and elderly, for you and me. Compassion for the lost and love for the sinner drives Him steadfastly towards Jerusalem. When He arrives He does so on a colt the foal of a donkey surrounded by pilgrims not on a stallion followed by soldiers. When sought by the temple guard Jesus steps forward placing himself between His own and the arresting officers. This is the gospel of our God. Jesus standing between us and judgment. Beholding the Man Jesus He is condemned for all men, women and children. Hanging from the tree He hangs between all men and God as the sacrifice to end all sacrifice. His blood is shed for our atonement. His life is given for our sin. Jesus is bruised for our iniquities. His wounds are the refuge of the weak and the weary. By His stripes we find healing. God’s gospel is poured out on Calvary, His love surrendered for His beloved, His mercy lifted up for all to draw near. The Lord does not take the life of sinners but offers His own. He does not demand the death of the wicked but holds forth His Son as the One whose love conquers sin, death and devil destroying the power of all our enemies and triumphing over them when He steps out of the grave on the third day.
Peace to His Disciples
Thus the gospel of God remains on the move as Jesus walked with the Emmaus men opening the scriptures to them. The gospel of our God moved to the upper room where Jesus passed through locked doors and showing forth His hands and His side breathed on the disciples the Holy Spirit, forgiving their sins and sending them on the move with that same forgiveness to be given to the world, to all who believe and are baptized. This is the message we have heard today, namely that for Christ’s sake your sins are forgiven you. Believe this and you will live, not just today, and tomorrow but forevermore because your life has been crucified with Christ and now the life you live is no longer your own but Christ living in you. And though Christ died once He will never die again. He is the same yesterday, today, tomorrow and forever more. Because He lives you too shall live. For the just shall live by faith in the Son of God who loves you and gave Himself up for you.
Waiting for Repentance
The gospel of our God continues to move about from place to place, village to village, house to house, and home to heart. But now, Jesus does this moving about through His Christians, you and me and all who believe and have received His baptism. As He sent out His apostles from that upper room, so does He send you to your neighbors. The same Spirit breathed on them has been poured out on you through the washing of renewal and regeneration when you were baptized. He has not given you a spirit of timidity and fear but one of power and of love, one that beholds God as a loving Father who desires all men come to the knowledge of salvation through the truth that is Jesus Christ. The patience God has shown you He shows also to the unbelieving world. For our God does not desire the death of the wicked but rather their repentance. Repentance is not wrought at the tip of a sword or the threat of a bomb but through the faithful preaching of the Word. The culture wars are fought with God’s Word and the preaching of Christ crucified for sinners. You, therefore, are sent back to the world, just as the apostles were sent to Samaria and the ends of the earth proclaiming the forgiveness of sins through Christ Jesus. And you do so, not by adopting the Jesus of this world but by leading the World to the adoption as sons offered by God through repentance and faith which God grants as a free gift through the waters of Holy Baptism!
Follow Me In Your Vocation
Beloved in the Lord, this is what the Jesus of the bible has to offer sinners. He has no place to lay His head. His face is steadfastly set towards your salvation and the salvation all people. Thus our text concludes with the call to “follow me.” For the gospel of our God is always on the move as the Spirit blows when and where He wills. This morning (evening) He has willed to breathe His grace upon you and cover you with the fragrance of life. Follow Him by faith and live your life in His Spirit. For if we live in the Spirit let us also walk in the Spirit. The Spirit is always drawing us nearer to Christ and His gifts and then our neighbor with His love and mercy. Therefore beloved walk to this rail and receive your Savior’s heart. Then return to your vocation taking these gifts to your home, your house, your village and communities even to the ends of the earth, wherever the Lord should lead you. For the gospel of our God is on the move for the salvation of souls. AMEN!
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus. AMEN!