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. Luke’s gospel account the fourth chapter (Luke 4:16-30).
Beloved in the Lord,
The Fulfillment of Scripture
Anointed for us and bearing the Father’s delight Jesus makes His way to Nazareth. Thirsty souls await the good wine He has to give. Hearts long for the gladness that comes with God’s presence and God’s Word and God’s mercy. Thus going to Nazareth, Jesus goes to Synagogue for Jesus goes in order to preach. God’s goodness, you see, is connected to His Word. The blessing Jesus has to give is given through the Word. Where there is no Word there is no blessing and thus there is no Jesus. For wherever Jesus goes He goes to preach, to give the good Word, and sprinkle hearts with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
And so, entering the synagogue Jesus speaks the good Word from Isaiah.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.
Jesus preaches Isaiah and then Jesus preaches Himself. “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” In Jesus, Isaiah’s God is made manifest. In Jesus Isaiah vision is incarnate. In Jesus Isaiah’s Word is fulfilled. Wherever Jesus preaches the Word He fulfills the Word. He is the Word, the Word in the beginning, the Word with God, the Word who is God, the Word of the Prophets, the Word set before your hearts this morning just as He was before the people of Nazareth. What they heard we hear today. What was for them then is for us now. They marveled . . . at first.
Is this not Joseph’s Son (Rejection)
“Is this not Joseph’s son?” Their marvel quickly turned to anger as they rejected His sermon. They would not have Jesus as their God, not God in the flesh, not this Jesus the son of Joseph! And as pious as Old Adam seems, Old Adam isn’t very tolerant. Old Adam will not tolerate the teaching of Christ. So their marveling turns to anger as their Old Adam stumbles. And then their anger turns to rejection, their rejection turns to violence, and their violence chases Jesus away. That was a close one. Old Adam is allowed to survive another day . . . but . . . it is another day without Jesus and any day without Jesus is a lost day, a bad day.
Beloved, it is in our fallen nature to want to be God. This is original sin working its way in our hearts and in our hands. Wanting to be gods we want to be independent, we want to be free, we want to do it ourselves. This is what we mean by our old Adam. Old Adam is our sinful nature that wants to be god.
Jesus’ word doesn’t allow such things. You see beloved, Jesus’ word is both forgiving and captivating, it is both enlightening and blinding, liberating and oppressive. For Jesus’ Word is forever and always against what our fallen nature wants. Jesus is forever and always against our sinful selves, against our old Adam, therefore also against our desire to be “independent do it yourself gods.” Thus today’s therapeutic moral deism – the idea that God can help me reform my morals through methods, therapy sessions and spiritual exercises – is under God’s oppressive Word. The Word of God’s law is meant to crucify my heart not reform it. It’s meant to kill not improve. It’s meant to drown and not comfort. It’s no surprise then that old Adam isn’t too happy with such words.
Thus, rather than chase old Adam to the waters of baptism and drown him there through repentance and the Word of God, we prefer to let our sinful selves press on. We like old Adam to keep his head just above the waters. Talk of our sin makes us uncomfortable. We prefer to be comfortable. Isn’t that why most of you, nearly all of you neglect the gifts given in private confession and absolution. Confession makes you uncomfortable! Or maybe you’re too pious for such things, as though absolution were only for BIG sins, sins you can’t deal with on your own, the sins today’s therapy, methods and spiritual exercises can’t control. If Old Adam survives . . . you won’t. There is no hope in a self-help, independent do it yourself god. To go that route is no different than chasing Jesus out of the synagogue, out of your heart, and trying to go it alone. Going it alone, however, leads to hell. So, don’t go it alone! Don’t chase Jesus away! Don’t allow your old Adam to survive! Repent and turn to Jesus!
Both Jew and Gentile at the Cross
Jesus has come to put down your old Adam. By one man sin entered the world and death through sin. What Adam brought to creation was destruction. What you deserve because of your sin is death. What Jesus brings is resurrection. But there can be no resurrection without a death. So Jesus is come to die. He passes through the angry crowds of Nazareth, because as the fulfillment of Scripture Jesus must make His way to Jerusalem. There is a hill destined from the time of Abraham chosen for Him, a tree upon which He will be caught. Upon that Hill, hanging from that tree Jesus will work wondrous and marvelous things. He will suffer. He will bleed. He will cry out. He will be mocked. He will be rejected. Jews shall curse Him and Gentiles shall toss lots for His clothing. Jesus will hang naked, derelict and still. As the bearer of your humanity He will bear your curse. As the anointed of God He will suffer your death. As the Father’s Son He will earn your salvation and cover over your sins with Holy Blood, HIS HOLY BLOOD. Jesus will do for you and me and all people what we cannot do for ourselves. He will pay for your sins. He will take away your sins. He will put your sins to death by His death. He will destroy the destruction wrought by Adam and the serpent. Death is undone with His undoing. Sin is washed away with His passion. What once was shall be no more! With Jesus things are made new and making things new He brings old things to an end, a bloody end. Old Adam dies, is crucified in the crucifixion of Jesus and is buried forever as Jesus leaves him there in the tomb, Himself raised from the dead as the New Adam, the conqueror of sin, death, and devil. What once was is passed. The Old is gone. What is now is forever today! The New is risen, redeemed, resurrected!
Adoption as Sons (baptism)
He is such for you . . . if you would receive Him. As such for you He would forgive you, enlighten you, liberate you, and pour into your hearts the favor of God your creator. He would make you sons instead of rebels. He would show mercy instead of wrath. For this is His heart toward you, and me and all people. It is not Jesus you should chase away. It is not the Word you should neglect. It is not Old Adam you should comfort! No beloved, repent and receive the adoption as sons! Return to your baptism; that holy and precious font of grace and mercy! Recall God’s favor shown you when the water poured over your head. Remember the Spirit’s descent to your heart, how you were marked as one redeemed by Christ the Crucified.
You are no longer old, but a new creation in Christ. You are no longer sinner, but saint covered in the blood of Jesus. You are no longer like the world destined for eternal destruction, but you have been joined to a heavenly communion, born again, born from above, whose destiny is a place near the glassy sea, where the kings of the earth bend the knee and lay their trophies before the Lamb who has redeemed them with His blood.
You are redeemed! Chase the devil away! Repent of your sin! Turn to Christ who is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. Come to confession and absolution. Set before the Savior all that is old. Bare your heart and do not be anxious. There are good gifts to be given!
Heed the Word!
Receive the Word!
Believe the Word!
Cling to the Word!
For where the Word is preached, heard, and believed it is also working godly works on your heart. No therapy needed. No methods to be exercised! For, Jesus isn’t about reformation but resurrection, not moral improvement but rebirth, not the removal of dirt from the flesh but the pledge of a good conscience towards God. Jesus is about your salvation
Beloved in the Lord, every day that you are hearing God’s word, believing God’s Word, receiving God’s Word, and clinging to God’s Word by faith is a day that God’s Word is working on your heart and in your life. Such days are when the Lord is fulfilling His Word in you. And when Jesus is fulfilling His Word in you that day is a good day. Today would be such a day for you . . . if you believe it. Believing it today then makes every day a good day, for every day in Jesus and His Word is a day in the Lord’s favor. It’s a liberating day, an enlightening day, a new day for a new people. AMEN!
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your heart and mind through faith in Christ Jesus. AMEN!