Sunday, October 28, 2012

Reformation Sunday

Matthew 11:12-19 - Reformation - October 28, 2012
Preaching the Kingdom

A mighty fortress is our God, a trusty shield and weapon.  Those who trust in Him will not be disappointed.  God cannot suffer violence, after all, and so nothing can happen to God that could possibly render Him unable to keep His promises. 
We find God, that is, we flee to God, not by figuring out where He’s hiding, but by knowing where He comes to us – where He reveals Himself as our mighty defender.  God comes to us in His word and sacraments. And so we flee to Him by fleeing to these.  This means that when trouble comes, when sickness strikes and cancer spreads, when children worry us and cause heartache, and when money runs out – whatever it is – we flee to God precisely by fleeing to the forgiveness of sins.  It may not seem like the answer at the time, but that’s because we’re sinners.  And so, like the paralytic lying stuck on his back, it is the answer we need from Jesus: “Child, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven.”  And that’s what we need: good cheer, boldness and confidence toward God.  When we know the God who forgives us our sins, then we know the God who concerns Himself with all our earthly problems as well. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Trinity 20

Matthew 22:1-14 - Trinity XX - October 21, 2012
The Christian’s Robe of Righteousness

“The kingdom of heaven is like a king who gave a wedding feast for his son.”   It’s interesting here that Jesus speaks the way He does.  No one asked Him about the kingdom of heaven: what it was or what it was like.  Instead they asked Him by what authority He did the things He did (Mt. 21:23).  Who gave Him this authority?  That’s what they asked.  And Jesus responded to their insolent inquiry by telling them parables about the kingdom of heaven.  The word kingdom tends to incite images of a static government with castles and towers and a throne.  But the word for kingdom is perhaps better translated as reign.  It is an active, dynamic thing.  The kingdom of heaven is not a power structure built far away.  No, it is the day-by-day ruling and governing of God over His dominion.  More specifically, it is the reign of Christ who governs and rules our hearts and consciences by the forgiveness of our sins. 
This is the authority of Jesus.  This authority He received from His Father.  He earned this authority by bearing the sins of the world on the cross.  Jesus rules us because we are His.  He owns us.  He has purchased and won us, not with gold or silver, the way the rulers of this world buy favor and obedience and by which they manipulate their subjects.  No. But Jesus made us His by buying us with His own holy and precious blood – by becoming our servant – by paying our redemption price with His innocent suffering and death.  All this He did in order that we, as we confess in the Small Catechism, “may be His own, and live under Him in His kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness.” 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Trinity 19

Matthew 9:1-8 - Trinity XIX - October 14, 2012
God’s Authority on Earth

What’s easier?  To say to a sinner, “Your sins are forgiven,” or to say to a paralytic, “Rise and walk”?  At first, I suppose we might think that it’s easier to say, “Your sins are forgiven,” since no one can really tell if it’s true or not.  There’s no way of determining whether or not someone’s sins are truly retained or absolved when somebody says that they are.  Such a thing is invisible.  What does it look like, after all, to have your sins forgiven? 
But to heal someone – oh, that requires a power that can be scrutinized. Or to put it quite simply, you can see it.  If someone tells a paralyzed man to get up and walk around, you’ll know immediately whether the guy has any power to heal.  And who has such power, but God?  And so I guess it seems that “rise and walk” would be the harder thing to say.  We know what it looks like, after all, not to be paralyzed.  But what does it look like to be forgiven?  You can’t see the forgiveness of sins. 
But God can.