Sermon Matthew 28:16-20 – Installation of Rev. Derrick Brown at Our Saviour Lutheran Church of Vernal, Utah – June 10, A.D. 2018
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Ordinations and Installations are great events filled with joy. Today you can rejoice. The Triune God is keeping His Word just as He always has. He said He would supply workers for the vineyard and at this eleventh hour He has given you the gift of a pastor. He has shown you favor in sending a man who confesses the faith once delivered to the saints – a man who is under orders from God and sent by Him to serve you as God would have you served.
The Gospel lesson from Matthew 28 is the text where Christ institutes both baptism and the Office of the Holy Ministry. We know the phrase “words of institution” well from the Lord’s Supper, but there are many other things that God institutes with His Word. The Pastoral Office, or the Ministry is one such thing and you will hear this text and also the one from John’s Gospel as to Christ Jesus Himself setting up the office of ministry in His Church.
Too often this text gets used to make sure that you do something. The Great Commission. An innovative interpretation from the American Baptist missions days of the 19th century. Do you know what these verses were interpreted as before that? They were Christ’s Word for the Church by which He gave her ministers and also commanded the tasks given for ministers to do. Baptize. Preach. Teach. Absolve. Commune. This is what you will hear in the Installation Rite in just a few minutes.
This text is meant to be Gospel for you. To misapply it in such a way as to make you the do-ers of it is to do a disservice to God’s Word. We Lutherans love the Scriptures’ teaching of Law and Gospel. This verse is both depending on who you are. For you this verse is gospel, what God does for you by instituting the Office of the Ministry and now as you see if filled by this man for your sake today.
When Luther teaches in his Small Catechism about the church he gives only two vocations in the church – preachers and hearers. You are hearers. Your pastor is a preacher. That’s God’s given order. Each has their duties. Your duty is not to baptize or to publicly teach – that is given to your pastor. Your pastor is duty bound before God to do those things for your congregation’s sake. Pastor Brown is duty bound to Christ to make disciples by baptism in the name of Triune God of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and then to teach them all things – that includes things like those found in the best summary of Christ’s teachings found today – the Small Catechism – Ten commandments, Apostles Creed, Lord’s Prayer, Baptism, Keys and Confession, the Sacrament of the Altar, daily prayers, and the table of duties. That includes all of Christ’s teaching.
Christ says that all authority in heaven and on earth is His. Pastors do not have all the authority. They only have authority in doing what Christ has sent them to do. They only exercise that authority when they do those things in the way that Christ has commanded. Making Disciples. Baptism, Teaching, Preaching, Absolving, Communing. Christ has the authority. That means even among you hearers Christ is the authority. Yes, He has bestowed upon you a royal priesthood that speaks His praises and provides for gathering today. Yes, He has worked through your congregation to call this man here to serve you. But as you will make vows today, Christ has put you under orders as hearers to care and provide for this man and his household. Your support of him glorifies the Triune God who has sent him. It makes his service to Christ and to you light and free and joyful.
It is good especially for you living in Utah to have this text today. It teaches the Christ has all authority. It also teaches that our God is three persons and yet one God. The whole of the Trinity is confessed by St. Matthew as the Spirit reminded him of these words of Christ. Baptism is to be in the name of the one true God, that is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Not three gods but one god. Against all perversions there stands the truth taught throughout all Scripture plainly in those words. This is the truth you must confess over and against all devilish lies that corrupt and deceive. For to give up the Trinity is to give up salvation. This text teaches us about Christ’s work as well. He has authority in heaven and on earth because He is both true God from eternity and also true man, born of the virgin Mary. As true God He has assumed the human nature into himself so that He is both God and man, two natures and yet one Christ. And this Christ was the sufficient sacrifice for all sins by being true God, and also because he is true man he is able to be our substitute in shedding his holy, precious blood in his innocent suffering and death for us. And this sacrifice of Christ is complete – Christ by His death has made satisfaction for your sins. The teaching of salvation by the works of anyone but Christ Jesus, or that Christ’s work has to be completed by something you do is evil and not Christian. This is fundamental in the Scriptures when it teaches salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone. This faith in Christ is counted to you as righteousness, for when you believe you are received into favor, your sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake.
So way back then and over there Christ has done this for you. And His Word teaches that the forgiveness of sins, all sins, is granted to a person when they believe in Him and trust His completed work. And yet Christ has done more – He has appointed a way for that good news of His completed work to come to you here and now – the ministry of teaching the Gospel and Administrating the Sacraments was instituted – so that through the Word and Sacraments, as through instruments the Holy Spirit is given who works faith where and when it pleases God in those that hear the gospel – the gospel that God, not because of our work, but because of Christ’s work and for His sake justifies those who believe that they are received into grace for Christ’s sake. Christ sends pastors – and this day sends you this pastor, to use the instruments of the Holy Spirit, Word and Sacrament – that you would believe in Jesus and receive salvation by God’s grace. He has done this for you and for others whom He will gather to you. Do you see how today is a joyful day for you? Today God sends a man to preach the forgiveness of sins to you. He sends a man to baptize new members and to remind you of your own baptism. He sends a man to absolve you both publicly and privately. He sends a man who will use the medicine of the Sacrament of the Altar to cure and care for your bodies and souls. Dig through Scripture and see that God has only promised to work through these things and nothing else – and so the pastor given to do these things for your sake is also a great gift.
Pastor Brown – you have orders. Those orders are things you have to do. You have been trained, examined, and now called to this place to do just that. The Spirit Himself has made you a teacher in Christ’s Church. This is a high calling and not to be taken lightly. As a preacher you also need to remember that you first are baptized. This calling is high, but you are called by the name God gave you in Baptism first. You have brother pastors to hear your confession and pronounce the absolution. You too receive the sacrament of the altar for your body and soul. You too have the forgiveness of sins by faith in Christ. And because of that forgiveness from Christ, you are free to serve these people. The works you do as pastor flow from the justifying faith that God has given you as a baptized child of God and the command and institution that Christ has spoken.
And as you work as a pastor you have many promises of Christ who is present in the ministry. Today among the many other verses you will hear, hear this – Christ says I am with you always, even unto the end of the age. Your work, not matter how lonely it may seem at times, no matter how unnoticed, or how thankless it may be – it is a work in which Christ our Lord is with you. He has said so – right there in the text. He does not depart from the Ministry but is always involved with it… and He has all authority. If the one having all authority has promised to be with you as you baptize and teach and observe all things – then you have nothing to be concerned about but to strive to be faithful in the calling that Christ has called you. There is nothing or no one on this earth that is greater than Jesus Christ who is with the pure preaching of the Word and right administration of the Sacraments.
Rejoice today children of God. God has heard your prayers. He who has been faithful for all these years continues to do so. He sends you a pastor to call your own and to care for as your own. The very things of God – the Word and Sacraments – that this man will give to you have no equal on this earth. What can possibly compare to the full and free forgiveness of sins? Nothing. And Pastor Brown – there is nothing on this earth more treasured than the work of God through these things of God for these dear children of God. A noble task indeed. God grant you faithfulness to receive your new pastor and the teaching of the Lord and God grant you faithfulness in your preaching, teaching, baptizing, absolving, and communing these dear children.
In the Name of Jesus. Amen.