November 1, 2015 — All Saints Day
All for Nothing
Sermon Text — Mattthew 5:1-11
In the Name X of Jesus. AMEN!
Beloved in the Lord,
Our God is the God of the humble, the miserable, the afflicted, the oppressed and those who are reduced to absolutely nothing. He creates out of nothing. He calls into being what does not exist. He fills what is empty. He restores what is broken. He gives strength to the weak and comfort to the mourning. He loves the woman with no husband and the child with no parents. He comes for the sick and for the suffering. He enters the fray and speaks peace to the fearful and gives courage to the timid. He does not avoid the least of these for they are His brethren. Our Lord has united Himself with the weak that none may doubt His everlasting love. He has touched the untouchable. Cleansed the filthy. Forgiven those deserving death. There are none outside of His passion. Those who deny Him deny themselves a place in His mansion.
Thus our God makes His way to the mountain top in our text this morning. Gathered round about Him are His disciples. They are not the high and mighty of society, but rather they are the common, the ordinary, the weak and the lowly. They are every man, woman and child, they are you and me. For this morning we find ourselves sitting at the feet of the Savior who delights to open His mouth and speak His blessedness upon us.
These blessed ones are not as we suppose. They are poor in spirit, hungry and thirsty for righteousness. They have been hurt and harmed. They are meek and low. They are persecuted. They are reviled. They are mocked and slandered. They are the Lord’s saints and they are anything but superabundant in health, wealth or wisdom. They are nothing to the world and yet they are everything to the Lord who loves them. For the Lord takes great pleasure in creating out of nothing, filling what is empty, satisfying, comforting, cleansing and healing, those who recognize their depravity.
Making Something of Ourselves
Such self-awareness is not common to our fallen nature. For we are not ones to accept loss without a fight, without an effort, without some sort of attempt to justify ourselves. We are full of what Luther calls “that pernicious and pestilent opinion of self-righteousness – which will not be unclean, miserable and a damned sinner, but righteous and holy” of its own strength and merits. Human nature does not want to be nothing. You do not want to be known as lacking anything. And when such nothingness is felt Old Adam leaps into action. Where we fail, we must try to succeed. Where we are poor in spirit we must work harder to build our self-esteem. Hungering for righteousness we feast on any spiritual fad that comes our way. Thirsting we drink the sweet nectar of the world to our own detriment. Hurt and harmed our pride swells and we seek vengeance under the guise of justice or we hold grudges doubting the sincerity of their apologies. Surrounded by factions, clicks, disagreements, arguments and a whole world set in confusion, we step back, ignore our neighbors, neglect the call of Christ and give the impression that our lives are above such pettiness when in reality we’re too afraid to get sucked into the turmoil of this world. Old Adam is deluded with pride and pride is root of all evil. The road to hell is lined with those who would make something of themselves, those who would not be unclean, miserable, and damned sinners.
Think on these things beloved. For it is impossible for God to fill him who is full of his own righteousness. The proud heart must be laid low. The Lord must take the hammer of His law and shatter, break, crush and reduce the arrogant beast with its vain confidence, wisdom, righteousness and power to nothing. For our God creates out of nothing, fills the empty, and raises the lowly. It is not until the heart is lost and damned that God can find and save. So long as you’re trying to be a saint you will never be holy. So long as you deny that you are a sinner you will never be forgiven. Repent and humble yourselves before the Word of the Lord.
Salvation from Below
Salvation is not wrought from above through the strength and merits of humanity as we attempt to conquer sin in ourselves. No, beloved. Salvation comes from below. For He who rules the heavens and the earth and all that is therein, came down. He has seen our plight and did not despise our circumstances.
Though He was rich. He became poor for our sakes.
Though the bounty of the earth and the fullness thereof belonged to Him, He hungered and thirsted in the wilderness.
Though holy and just still He mourned over the inhabitants of Jerusalem and still mourns over those who will not be gathered under His wings.
Though He was wronged, abandoned, arrested, condemned, and crucified He remained silent and did not give answer to humanity’s accusations. Instead He was merciful, pleading on their behalf before His Father’s throne. Jesus did not just come down from heaven to walk amongst us, but He descended to the realms of death itself, the depths of our human existence in order to rescues any and all who believe on His Name.
His death is our reconciliation. His resurrection is our peace. His Name is our salvation! For there is no other name given among men by which we must be saved. Only the Name of Jesus. Through His passion, death and resurrection the robes we would wear in the presence of our God and King have been washed in holy blood. The unclean have been cleansed. The sinner has been justified. The miserable have hope! The dying have life in the midst of death.
Filling, Feeding, Clothing, Comforting – God for You
Remember beloved, God is the God of the humble, the miserable, the afflicted, the oppressed and those who are reduced to absolutely nothing. In this way He would be your God and meet you here below, beneath the waters of your baptism and in the shadow of His table. He does not make use of the remarkable or the glorious, not the loud nor the spectacular, but the ordinary and the common. Water and Word, Bread and Wine, Confession and Absolution. None of these are given to further pride but to meet you in humility. For the Savior Himself makes use of such means to fill and feed, clothe and comfort, reconcile and mercy, love and sustain His beloved. Through these Jesus saves you from below.
He lifts up the broken.
He strengthens the weak.
He heals the hurting.
He wipes away the tears.
He covers the shameful.
He attends to the needy and speaks tenderly to the oppressed.
Through these what was once nothing becomes something in His eyes.
What was once sinner is made saint.
What was once destined for death is promised eternal life.
What was once held captive under the bondage of the Law has been liberated by blood of Jesus.
What was once empty is filled,
what was hungry has been fed.
What was . . . is no more. What is shall remain forever for death no longer has dominion over Him and therefore no longer over you who are in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Rising from sin and Death
Thus beloved you are to harken to the Words and promises of Jesus in this place. You are not given to run off and earn your saintliness but rather you are called to gather round about the Savior and receive from Him what you cannot produce on your own. You are called to confession that you receive absolution. It is the mercy of the Lord given in Word and Sacrament that makes saints. God creates out of nothing. The saints of God know this and believe this. They put on no show of false piety. They make no pretense about their works. To be a saint is to trust in the Lord and receive from Him all goodness, mercy, life and salvation. To be a saint is to have one’s robe washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb. To be a saint is to sing in this life and the next, “Salvation belongs to our God and to the Lamb who sits on the throne!” To be saint is to be poor, hungry, thirsty, persecuted, hurt and harmed, meek and low, suffering and afflicted, in other words, a poor miserable sinner redeemed by the death and resurrection from Jesus. For out nothing our God creates. And not even death itself can break or hinder His promises spoken to you this morning. For the day shall come, this is the promise of the Lord, the day shall come when the trumpet shall sound. The Lord shall descend with a blast and the dead shall arise. You, though you die, yet shall you live because Christ lives and the life you live you live by faith and not by works. The life you live you live by the promises of God and the God who makes something out of nothing has promised to make your body of death to live and to live forever. Though the earth should consume your flesh it shall not retain you. Though the grave shall receive you it shall not bind you. You are free! Christ is Lord over sin and death! Rejoice! The Lord is God of the humble, the miserable, the afflicted, the oppressed, and those who are reduced to absolutely nothing. He is the savior of sinners and only sinners. AMEN!
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your heart and mind through faith in Christ Jesus. AMEN!