Tag Archives: Son of Man

The World’s thinking is wrong, not the Church’s Mark 9: 30-37 First St Johns September 20, 2015

[For the audio version of this sermon please click on the above link]

We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all who are more concerned with the thinking of Jesus and His Church then the world’s said … AMEN!

It has been a challenging week for me, frankly the last few months have been very challenging. In the last week I’ve had to minister to the survivors of five different deaths. This is never an easy part of being a minister/chaplain, you have to look people in the eye; spouses, children, siblings, and tell them yes, this is a tragedy, but God is with them to comfort them. As a minister I have to be that skin and bones, physical representative of Christ in front of them, as I have to when we gather to worship. Of course the most difficult was the passing of our brother John Klahod, who in the short time that he returned to First Saint Johns has made his mark. He and Barb have regularly attended Bible study, Barb helps so much as a greeter and with the parish visitor and on the Altar Guild. John served as the church vice president. They have been very supportive and encouraging through all the changes that God has guided us through as a congregation in the last few years.

Jesus wasn’t political in His thinking, despite popular beliefs, Jesus wasn’t too concerned about who He offended or upset. Just a few weeks ago we read where Jesus told people straight up, you have to eat My Body and Blood. Lots of people picked up and left right there. I’d bet you, Judas or maybe one of the more pragmatic disciples took Jesus aside, “What are you doing? We can’t afford to have people walk out like that! You have to be more political, more tactful.” When he preached in his hometown of Nazareth, people took offense at his preaching. Who is this guy, they asked? We knew Him when He was a little boy, we know His mother and father, his brothers and sisters still live here. And hey we know how He was born … Come on, Mary and Joseph weren’t even married when He was born. Oh yeah, who is this guy to tell us that He has fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy of the coming Messiah? He’s not anything special.

Jesus wasn’t political or tactful, it’s not that He didn’t care, He cared desperately. But He wasn’t, and isn’t running a public relations firm. He was and is trying to get us to trust in Him, to conform to His image, not ours, not the worlds. God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit are vastly different than the rest of the world, polar opposites. The reason the church has gotten to where it’s at is because it has tried over the last hundred years to conform to the world’s view. That’s not what we’re here for. Certainly that’s the way the disciples are acting. Jesus is pushing ahead, back to Capernaum. He has a sense of urgency! Why? We’re told earlier in this pericope: “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.” His ministry in Galilee is ending, Jesus is now on His way to Jerusalem and to the Cross. There is no time to play, important things are happening. World changing events are about to happen, events profoundly effecting everything man knew and trusted up to that point. The lives of these men and a lot of others in the world and through history are about to be profoundly changed. We as Christian disciples should have that sense of urgency about us. We talk a lot about Supreme Court decisions and Congress, how things seem to be spinning out of control. But we do very little and live in fear that if we boldly proclaim Jesus and His church that we will offend. Then we the disciples are yapping about who will be the greatest! They have no idea what will happen to them. They are so sure that they will be covered in worldly glory. Oh, you better believe that they all “know” how this is going to play out. Peter has flat out pronounced who Jesus is. “You are the promised One, you are the Son of God.” Peter knew that, the Father had put that in Peter’s heart and given Peter the privilege of declaring that Jesus was the One who would deliver the world. But He had first hand experiences to bolster his pronouncements. He had just seen Jesus transfigured and the Father declaring who Jesus is. He had been with Jesus when He had healed at least hundreds of people, raised people from the dead, fed thousands, teach the most profound understandings that anyone had ever heard, that no one in the history of the world had ever taught. But you can bet Peter was involved in who would be the greatest.

Our Savior, God the Son Jesus has done and continues to do so much for His people. He doesn’t do it to be popular, He doesn’t do it for glory and power. He is glorified in Heaven. We profess every week that He sits at the right hand of God the Father, from the most powerful perspective in the universe, all creation. But He doesn’t do it in order to be popular, the guy who is there to be everyone’s buddy. He tells us hard truths and He doesn’t back down from them. Have to tell you, if someone like the rich young ruler showed up for worship, telling me what a great and pious guy he is, I might suffer a little of the world’s thinking, about how he could help this church do great things. Jesus wasn’t impressed. Really? You’re just all that and a bag of chips? Well this is what you need to do. All that great wealth and influence you have, you just go out there and give that to all those people who are truly in need, come back here and then we’ll talk. Well you know what happened, the rich young ruler, packed up his stuff and rode out of town, probably thinking; “there’s no way I’m giving up all my wealth, who does that guy think He is?”. Oh you can bet he was offended. I can imagine what kind of feedback I’d get as a pastor if I confronted someone like that who showed up for worship. Paul puts it best in our epistle reading: “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?” Enmity seems like a benign word, but it means, hatred, hostility, animosity. We worry so much about being popular and not upsetting, at the cost of standing up for Christ and His Church.

It is not offensive to witness to Jesus and His Church. What is truly offensive is what you say and do that ignores Jesus. The disciples were just so obsessed about worldly glory and right after Jesus had told them, “I’m going to be betrayed and killed!” It offends Jesus when the things you say and do ignores Him and are for your glory in the world, to people who don’t even know Jesus.

The disciples are still all caught up in the traditional view of the Messiah and what they think He will do to restore the worldly kingdom. If you look at the chart included in your bulletin, we’re caught up in what the world thinks Jesus should be, not what He truly is. Jesus has been showing them and telling them what the truth is, that the Kingdom of Heaven is what matters to our eternal life. He’s just told them He will be delivered up and killed. The disciples seem to be thinking: “Oh we don’t want to hear that! That’s too upsetting, that ignores my world view and I’m just not going to think about Jesus being killed. I’m going to live in the world where this whole Jesus thing will make me powerful and popular. They will discover that what happens to Jesus’ disciples doesn’t result in earthly popularity and power. His disciples find that they are shunned, rejected and killed by the world. The world, like the disciples in this pericope, chose to be offended by the reality of Christ’s Word and chose to live in their own world, that will never come true and can actually result in them being cut off from Jesus and true, eternal life in the resurrection.

Take a hard look at your witness, are you more concerned with the opinion of those around you, or your witness to the hard reality of life as a disciple of Jesus?

The peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amin and Shalom.

Those who are weeds/tares have chosen to be weeds/tares First St Johns, July 20, 2014

We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who are the good seed of Jesus said … AMEN! It has become trendy even in the circles of Christian evangelicalism to sort of pooh-pooh the idea of Hell. The “how could a “good/holy/loving God”, take your pick, send someone to Hell. Let’s look at today’s Gospel reading. It’s very simple. How someone can ignore the meaning is Bible “cherry-picking”, that is, “I believe and/or take out of Scripture what I “like”, that tired standard of the world, what I “like” is good, what I don’t like is “bad/wrong” and then I make up my own theology. Jesus straight forwardly answers the disciples question: “’The Son of Man’, i.e. Jesus, sows the good seed which is the sons, and daughters, of the Kingdom. Those who are saved, those who are pre-destined by God’s sovereignty to eternal life in the resurrection. The field is the world, that is Jesus has put those who are saved in the world, those who are baptized in the Name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who take the Body and Blood of Jesus, who hear the preached Word, those who are part of the church of Jesus. “The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil.” Jesus goes on to say: “The Son of Man will send his angels and they will gather out of His kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers and throw them into the fiery furnace.” Now we could construe from this phrase, that it is Jesus who is actually making the decision, I don’t know sort of a Santa Claus, who’s naughty and who’s nice kind of thing. He’s not! He has planted His world, He has decided in His sovereignty, and if you want to discuss that word further ask me after worship, but in His sovereignty He knows who is saved. He has given faith to those who have been chosen, they have faithfully acted according to His will, which does not mean perfectly but in our weakness, but they act faithfully to serve Him, to worship Him, to be baptized. They know that they are saved by virtue of His sacrifice, the propitiation/payment that He has made for them on the cross, His atoning death and they are those who are saved. They are the ones taken out of the world, who are judged before the throne to be saved, not by anything they have done, but entirely by what Jesus has done for us and they are placed into the New World, the New Jerusalem in the resurrection to eternal life in Him. Those who have rejected Him, have chosen to live life according to their will, made themselves their own “god” their own idol, have lived according to the standards of the world, they have made their decision and the angels that Jesus sends are only acting according to their will. The “weeds” of the world have chosen to be outside God’s will and therefore are separated into condemnation.
God tells Isaiah: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.” What does that statement remind you of? … The Book of Revelation, Jesus says, “I am the Alpha and Omega”. What does He mean by that? He’s just reciting the Greek alphabet? No! Language has letters, everything is contained in the alphabet, and He is everything from beginning to end. Is there anything that exists that God did not have a hand in creating? No! Therefore He is everything. Jesus refers to Himself as Alpha and Omega in three separate passages of Revelation (1:8, 21:6 and 22:13) Jesus does this for emphasis, that is make no mistake, I am all things, I am the entirety of creation, I make the calls, not anyone else. The weeds of the world, however, have chosen to believe, mistakenly, that somehow they have added to that divine alphabet, that somehow they should be added to that all encompassing everything that God truly is. The wheat has been planted by the Son of Man, He knows His wheat. To use another parable He knows His sheep, He is sovereign, in His sovereignty He has chosen those who will be saved, they are right there planted in the world. The enemy, Satan, has sovereignty over those who have chosen to remain outside of God’s will. They have chosen to exclude themselves. Why? Because they think that they are sovereign, that they make the calls, that they should decide how they live, how that wheat field or that pasture of the world should be and they act accordingly. They don’t necessarily do it to undermine God, they frankly don’t care about God, it’s not about Him, it’s about them. Or they reject God, He didn’t play according to their rules, so for some bizarre reason, they think that they should have the right to have things play out according to their will and they make it clear that God is not welcome and they will decide how things should play out. Either way, they live as if God did not exist or did not matter and as if they matter most. Sound familiar? Yea, that’s part of our confession and absolution. Oh sure, we who are saved can act that way and often do. That is sin! What’s the difference between the wheat and the weeds or tares? The wheat knows that they’ve sinned, they know that they have violated God’s will and as we do at the beginning of every worship, lift up their confession to God, acknowledging that we have sinned against Him and we ask Him for forgiveness. The weeds/tares, they’re attitude is “ahhhh”, this is what I wanted, this is the way it should be and I am what is important and so it should be my way. Is that “good fruit” is that God’s will, is that the way it should be in God’s field, in His flock? No! In our salvation we follow God’s will, we turn to Him for guidance and when we don’t do His will, we lift it up to Him in repentance, ask forgiveness and in His graciousness He gives us forgiveness. We are fully forgiven, we are fully sanctified, fully justified, in summary we are fully saved. Why? Because we were all A-J squared away God-wise and we should be forgiven? No! Because in the crucifixion of Jesus who died for the sins of the entire world, we are forgiven in His sacrifice. We are put back into that relationship that the Father intends to have with us. Because we are not, perfect, sweet, little Sally Sunshines who just follow every rule on the playground? No! Believe me, I do not have people describing me as sweet, peaceful and perfect. But what I am is saved in Jesus. I do continue to grow and am guided according to His will, saved in His sacrifice. I do not try to make myself to be the judge of everything. I trust Him to do that. I’m not some naïve cupcake who decides that everything is beautiful, I know perfectly well that I am in the world and among weeds/tares. Jesus tells me in this passage that it’s not my job to rip the weeds out, I don’t even know who the weeds are. He tells me to be faithful to His will “go therefore and make disciples baptizing in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” No doubt, I will reach out to some who are weeds and they have chosen for themselves to make the world what they want it to be and ignore God’s will. I don’t want that, I would never wish anyone to be condemned, to be and I quote; “thrown into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” We’ve talked about that, they are there because they have chosen to separate themselves from God and so they are separated. They are weeping and as I’ve said, really wailing in anger, gnashing their teeth in anger screaming at God. Why? Yes, because they are in pain, but also because the Father refused to let them be God. “I am a jealous God” God refers to Himself that way seven different times. God makes it clear, I AM God, no one else is and the Father will guard His position without compromise.
He is jealous for His people, that’s a good thing. We like to make that word a negative, it’s bad to be jealous, but I think it’s great. Because the Father is jealous of me, the wheat that He planted, He protects me, He saves me. He loves me so much that He sent His only Son to die for me, so that I can be His possession, a possession that He is jealous of and will not share with anyone or anything else. I’m not a weed, I know who God is and I am His ever lasting child. And so are all of you who know Christ as your Lord and Savior, He is jealous of you. He is God and there is no one besides Him.
The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Shalom and Amin.