Resurrection Lutheran Church Holy Week Schedule


April 2              Palm Sunday Service


April 6           Maundy Thursday Worship

                                 7 PM Service


 April 7                     Good Friday

                 Passion Walk at St. Thomas at noon


            St Thomas, Port Clinton 7 PM Tenebrae Service



April 9                    Easter Services

                        7:02 AM Sunrise Service at

                    Miller Ferry Dock, Catawba Island


9:00 AM Worship at the church (Holy Communion)

Exodus 17: 1-7 Sunday, March 12, 2023

Psalm 95

Romans 5: 1-11

St. John 4: 5-42


“Living Water”


Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen.


As I read Psalm 95, which as a song ought to be sung rather

than spoken, I am reminded of a chant I and many of my fellow

pastors and seminarians sing every morning we gather in worship

to conduct Matins. On page 131 of your green hymnals – please

open up your green hymnals to page 131 to see what I’m referring

to – on page 131 you see Morning Prayer, aka Matins. When

morning worship is conducted not on Sunday, this is the liturgy we

use. If you turn the page to 132 you see a song which goes by the

words of Psalm 95. I will sing this psalm for you...

This song is very uplifting and quite reverent. It is a call to

worship, thus why it is traditionally sung in the beginning of the

first worship of the day. It is a call to a certain mindset that we are

to hold on to for the rest of the day. And it is a call to what a

proper Judeo-Christian lifestyle looks like; remember this is a

psalm so not only is it sung by Christians but also by Jews.

Imagine a choir of church leaders standing before a

community singing this psalm. They begin by calling the masses

to sing alongside them, to not merely listen but to participate in

the message. They begin by calling the masses to join in shouting

the joy we do indeed have to the Lord who is our rock and our

salvation. And if the message isn’t clear, because poetry requires




you to say the same thing multiple times but in various different

ways using different words, the choir begins by calling the masses

to raise psalms of thanksgiving before His presence.

But why do we reverently and loudly as one heavenly body

lift up our psalmic prayers to the Lord? Why, because He is

indeed a great and amazing king who neither human nor human

made god can compare to. He has made all and in doing so has

provided all good things for us. And in reverence to His might, we

are to bow down to Him and to Him alone. He is our God and we

are His sheep. We faithfully follow Him, and He lovingly takes

care of and protects us. A good shepherd does not take care of

his sheep because it follows him, for if a sheep was to walk away

the good shepherd would search and rescue the lost sheep.

Instead the sheep follows the good shepherd because they know

he has already provided for them. So too is our relationship with

our King and Savior.


This psalm is just filled with joy and righteous respect, and is

a very simple model to live by; to be merry in the Lord whom we

love and revere. Yet, there is another half of this psalm not

included in the beginning call to worship. It reads,

Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the

day at Massah in the wilderness, when your fathers put me to the test and put

me to the proof, though they had seen my work. For forty years I loathed that

generation and said, “They are a people who go astray in their heart, and they

have not known my ways.” Therefore I swore in my wrath, “They shall not enter

my rest.” (Psalm 95: 7b-11)




Come on King David, we had it so good and you just had to ruin

this uplifting psalm with this downer; remember most psalms are

written by King David.

The thing is we ought not only to love the Lord our God but

to also fear Him. If we love Him but do not fear Him then we will

naturally devolve into a society that encourages sinful activities

and punishes those who use the Word of God to expose sin for

what it truly is. Sounds familiar? We need to both fear and love

God, and thus while we merrily lift up our voices to the rock of our

salvation we should always remember the consequences of going

astray. God’s Word leads us both toward something desirable and

away from something undesirable.

This is where the latter half of psalm 95 comes into play, for

it provides an actual historical account to help remind the Jews

and all Christians what we ought not to do. And what is that? Do

not harden your hearts in the same way the Hebrews did at

Meribah. Our forefathers, the now rescued Judeans, have seen

multiple signs from God, ten plagues and the splitting of the red

sea none the lest. Yet, this detestable generation put God to the

test. On account of this for forty years God loathed them and

withheld the promise land. On account of their hardened hearts,

God in His wrath said, “They shall not enter my rest.”


This is what Psalm 95 elaborates, but let us dive into the

story itself, Exodus 17. The Israelites had just crosses the Red

Sea in chapter 14 and received manna from heaven after

complaining in chapter 16. Moses hasn’t even gone up to Mt Sinai

to receive the Ten Commandments, that’s chapter 19, and once




again the Israelites are complaining. I thought this was sturdy folk,

that’s obviously wrong. Do these people even know how to

provide for themselves? Do they not know how to search for

water or hunt or make shelter? According to the accounts of

Exodus it appears they either don’t know basic survival skills or

they have become brattish expecting God to just give them water

if they are thirsty. They are like a dumb sheep that follows a

shepherd expecting the shepherd to hand feed them all while

ignoring the plentitude of good grass at their feet and the crystal

clear stream just meters to their side.

Their whining and complaining towards God after He quite

literally rescued them from complete slavery irked Him so much

that He punished them to live in the wilderness for forty years. Oh

you’re going to complain about a lack of water and threaten to kill

my prophet Moses? Fine, you’re grounded. No promise land filled

with milk and honey for you for forty years. Congratulations,

instead of thanking me for rescuing you from totalitarianism, you

complain because you find yourself in a wilderness, your reward

is forty years of more wilderness. Play stupid games; win stupid


Maybe this way the forty years of suffering will teach them

how to endure suffering instead of complaining, and the

endurance will generate within them character so that they may

became a sturdy people, and their character produce hope and

joy which recognizes that God is present and wants to provide.

And eventually that does happen, for after forty years of suffering

in the wilderness, God’s people came out stronger.




The trouble is all they had to do was ask God and He would

provide. In fact, even though they complained, because God did

not want them to die He did provide water. But because the

people decided to test God and quarrel with Moses to the point

that they were threatening Moses’ life, God punished them and

even named the location two different names: Meribah which

means quarrel and Massah which means test.


If only the people of God during the days of Massah was like

the women at the well. Now that is a person who has character

and is made of sturdier stuff. Do you ever wonder why she was at

the well all alone instead of during the usual hour when all the

towns people would gather to get water. Traditionally, one would

get water during the morning or evening when it was cool. But this

lady, alone, is getting water during the sixth hour which to us is

high noon, during one of the hottest hours of the day, a time when

it is guaranteed she would not trouble others. She must be of

sturdy stuff if she gets waters during high noon. But again, why

does she wait till then? It is because, as Jesus noted, she has

committed the sin of divorcing multiple times, remarrying four

times, and is now staying with a man whom she isn’t even

married to. Because of this she is a stain upon the city Sychar, so

she gets her water at a different hour.

Yet when Jesus notes this she isn’t perturbed, she knows

what she is doing is wrong, but is filled with joy. She is a sinner,

and she owns up to that, but she still has faith in the coming

Messiah. So when Jesus says that He is the Messiah and that He

has living water which will quench all thirst, she runs to the city

and proclaims the Good News. Christ has come, and I believe this




because he knows my sins. This lady has suffered long and she

has endured this self-inflicted suffering. Yet, this endurance has

produced character within her as she does not hide from her sins,

and this character has produced hope which exploded out of her

one Jesus proclaimed Himself Christ to her. She was so excited

that she left her water jar behind. The Israelites complain over a

lack of water, but this Samaritan is so happy with this good news

that she leaves behind her precious water.

Unlike the Israelites of old whose bellies dictated their faith

and was most concerned with quenching their thirst, this lady

found something more precious than water. She found a source

of living water that quenched her thirst far better than any natural

water on earth. She was so filled with life even the townspeople

believed her testimony. She was practically shouting for joy the

rock of her salvation. And we go round circle, back to Psalm 95.

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our

salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful

noise to him with songs of praise! For the Lord is a great God, and a great

King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the

mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the

dry land. Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord,

our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the

sheep of his hand. (Psalm 95: 1-7a)

Let us pray,

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; as

it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

February 26, 2023

Genesis 2: 15-17; 3:1-7

Psalm 32

Romans 5: 12-19

St. Matthew 4: 1-11


“Satan’s Trickery”


Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen.


The greatest trick Satan ever pulled on humanity is

convincing us that he does not exist. This is a phrase I hear quiet

often from other theologians and I agree with it. Now, it’s not like

he hides himself. In fact, he quiet boldly expose to all of humanity

his ever present existence. He has infiltrated every facet of

society, and still more so in certain areas. This is a given, for

Satan is an evil tyrant who is never satisfied. Filled with greed and

pride, Satan tries to gain control of everything. His fingerprints are

everywhere, and thus, to those who has eyes that see and ears

that hear, the presence of Satan is blatantly obvious.


Yet, on account of our fallen human nature, Satan has

tricked us into seeing good where there is evil and evil where

there is good. He places a veil over our eyes and clay in our ears,

thus making us blind and deaf to reality. And as such with our

senses dumbed we fail to see Satan’s touch and end up falling for

his tricks without fail every time. We are like a person going

through an intense obstacle course blindfolded, but is convinced

that they are not blindfolded. Unless we receive aid from

someone who sees or unless someone removes the blindfold

from our eyes, we will always fail the obstacle course.




This is the trick the Devil has played on Humanity. For

through the fall he has claimed ownership of us and all that we

produce, all while convincing us that the devil is a myth and we

are in complete control of ourselves. We are like a bird in a cage

who thinks that the cage is for protection. We are like a citizen in

an evil tyrannical government who thinks the force coming to our

rescue is actually an invasive army. We are like the prisoner in

love with the captor.

As such, with our minds controlled by Satan, slaves to his

domain of sin and death, we do and think things that are not in

line with scripture. Sometimes we think we are pleasing God only

to see a frown upon His face. Sometimes we act wrongly while

thinking that our actions are scripturally sound. We believe

ourselves to be in the right, only to see God angry with us. Why

are you angry Lord? What have we done to displease you?

In the end Satan’s trickery has caused us to go against God,

maybe even commit acts of blasphemy or unwittingly heresy as

we do Satan’s will, believing them to be God’s will. But this is not

something new. Ever since Adam and Eve ate of the Tree of

Knowledge, Satan’s first trickery upon humanity, we have lived a

life dictated by Satan.


What’s worst is we believe we have free reign, or at least

deserve it from God! Satan not only has convinced humanity that

he is not our slave master but he has also convinced us that God

is trying to be our slave master. Wrong! Satan is our evil tyrant

and God is the knight in shiny white armor coming to our rescue.




Christ is Humanity’s prince charming, come to rescue us, the

damsel in destress, from the fiery dragon of hell which is Satan.

But, again Satan has tricked us into thinking that in him we are

freeman and that God is trying to arrest us into His servitude.


We see blatant examples of this as many throughout each

civilization get angry at God for a particular commandment,

believing that God is trying to put them in a box. But that is the old

Adam in us, the slave to Satan, the sinner speaking. As slaves to

Satan we are more than free to do that which is sinful, in fact we

are encouraged and lifted up by the masses when we do such.

Yet, Satan does not allow us to do that which is void of sin, but he

plays a trick on humanity so that he doesn’t have to force us to

sin, but rather brainwashes humanity to believe that sinful conduct

is absolutely amazing. And as such, we who are addicted on this

satanic drug known as sin would naturally get angry at God who

is trying to save us from the drug known as sin while also showing


us that there is so much out there other than this destructive self-

debilitating drug.


There are so many options out there beside this singular

attractive yet corrosive option trenched in sin. But Satan prevents

us from seeing this. He allows us to see and believe many things,

but every belief allowed by Satan is not true; there is no truth in

the knowledge that Satan allows us to have. Thus, with those who

are still slaves to Satan, aka worldly, yet have good intentions the

following quote from President Reagan is quote true, that is if you

replaced the word “liberal” with “worldly” or “unchristian”:




“At any time you and I question the schemes of the do-

gooders, we’re denounced as being against their


humanitarian goals. They say we’re always against things,

we’re never for anything. Well, the trouble with our liberal

friends is not that they’re ignorant, it’s just that they know so

much that isn’t so.”


This is the trouble we have all faced for all have been born in

original sin and thus, even though we have been sanctified by

Christ, we are in constant need of His sanctification and

forgiveness and His Body and Blood because we are still sinners.


On account of being a sinner, because we ate of the tree of

knowledge, we know a lot of things, and we truly believe

ourselves to be in the right with regards to such. Yet these things

we know are all false for truth can only come from God and the

sinner in us will always deny God. Therefore our humanitarian

acts, if done outside the will of God, are all done in vain.


But it doesn’t always have to be that way. Even those who

are not aligned with Christ want to do good, or at least have good

intentions. This is why Luther encourages all to always think of

others as if they had the best of intentions. Yes what they did

might be a sin, and that is still wrong, but that does not mean they

had bad intentions. Those who are slaves to Satan want to do

good, it’s just that Satan won’t allow good to exist nor will he allow

us to understand what good really looks like. This is one of the

many reasons why Christ came to us, to free us from the lies of

Satan and show us the truth while also giving us the means to

finally do the good we have always desired to do.




If you have an unchristian friend who commits a sin and

does not understand that their action is a sin, do not get angry at

them but instead be patient. If anything, get angry at Satan

because it’s Satan’s fault that your friend can’t comprehend their

actions to be sinful. So instead, if you truly love your friend, be so

bold and courageous to speak of the Good News that Jesus

Christ came not to condemn your friend, as Satan would want

them to believe, but that He willingly died so that your friend might

be saved and live eternally.

I mentioned earlier about how Satan is greedy. He already

has the entire human civilization under his thumb before Jesus’

death, what more could he want? Why not also God Himself?

When Jesus was being tempted, after failing twice to trick Jesus,

Satan proceeded to tempt Jesus with the fate of Humanity. “All

these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Satan

knows that Jesus loves all of humanity and it pains Him to see us

enslaved under Satan’s foot. He also knows that the height of

love is to willingly give up one’s life to save another. Satan is

trying to tempt Jesus by basically telling Jesus that all of humanity

will be saved, all you have to do is give yourself up.

Now the trick being played here is that if all of humanity was

placed under Jesus’ authority, but that Jesus was under Satan

then we would still be enslaved for we would still be under Satan,

just with a mediator present. In this scenario the only that

changed is that Satan now has humanity and Jesus under his

control. Jesus was not going to be tricked by this, He’s too

stubborn to be tricked for He is the author of the first




commandment which He will faithfully keep, “I am the Lord your

God, you shall have no other gods.”

If anything Jesus played a trick on Satan for He knew why

He was there and that His mission, to save all of humanity, was

going to succeed.


So though Satan has played a horrific trick upon all of

humanity, there is comfort in knowing that he has never

succeeded in tricking Jesus, but instead has been tricked by

Jesus for through Jesus death all who have faith in Him are no

longer slaves to Satan.


Let us pray,

Dear Heavenly Father, grant us the patience to always

preach the Good News, the wisdom to discern Your Truth from

Satan’s lies, and the faith to always follow our Savior who can

never be tricked. In Your most

Genesis 12: 1-4 March 5, 2023

Psalm 121

Romans 4: 1-5, 13-17

St. John 3: 1-17


“Lifted Up”


Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen.

“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help

come?” Psalm 121:1.


This world is filled with pain, agony, and misery. We walk

each day and it would be accounted as a miracle if we did not

experience at least one kind of displeasure before we rest our



We get assailed by tormenting accusations; many of which

are self-inflicted. We feel pain creep up a part of our body; pain

that chronically is our sure companion. Doubt withers away our

strong foundation and even our faith gets momentarily cast aside

as catastrophize cease us; loss inevitable wrecks what little

foothold we have as we sink into the abyss of misery. Our despair

becomes complete as all hope is lost and nihilism entrances our

already fragile minds.


People sin against us and our enemies takes away

everything little by little: our food, our home, our good name, our

health, and our freedoms. Yet, it is usually our own sin that

destroys us from within as we wrestle with our own moral

dilemmas; not knowing our left from our right.




In such agony, we cry out in pain, our anguish and anger

burst out with a bellowed howl. We may not know to whom we

direct our upward cry, but with tears and frustration we lift up our

eyes to the hills wondering if there is any aid that can possibly be



The heights of the old temples do our eyes rest. The ivory

pillars of our betters and their eyes of vane justice do we seek,

only to see equally empty windows likewise looking upward. All

the works of our hands are vanity. All our attempts at bettering

society are vanity. All our humanly-given aid is vanity, for all are

looking upward and all are crying out in pain. We the world is

suffering under the weight of our own sins, and thus we in unison

cry out how long will this pain last. From where does our help



And though our faith do quiver, as our eyes cast upwardly,

we see above the empty eyes of our betters, and still above them

the eyes of mournful angels, we see the eyes of a kind king

whose crown rests upon His feet. It is not works that looks up, but

it is our faith that looks up to thee, our most beautiful Lord. In our

misery we lift up our eyes, but our flesh has caused our eyes to

look no further than our ivory temples. In our misery we lift up our

eyes, yet our spirits rejoice as the Spirit continues our upward

gaze to meet the Savior’s.

No longer do our aching hearts crumble as we meet the

warm and loving face of our Redeemer. We may shed tears and a

pressure felt in our sinus. We may get a stab of pain in the crown

of our heads as an overwhelming emotion wells up inside of us.




But this tear-felt emotion which meets the love of God springs

forth not out of sadness but a wellspring of joy.

We see the help from our Lord, a help that asks nothing in

return, and our bottled up wretchedness is released. The flame of

hope that exudes from the Son softens our icy exterior which is

desperately retaining the exhausting flood. And yet, with our walls

slightly lowered on account of the initial sigh of relief we may feel,

the pressurized flood charges out of us and all our cares can no

longer be hid.

What greater love can one feel, what greater hope can one

have, what greater faith can one grasp on to than that

experienced by the one who sees the face of God?

Our eyes look up to the hills, asking for help and what do we

see? The Lamb of Calvary do we see: a body frail, torn by thorn

and nail; a pierced side from which blood and water flows; a face

marred by dripping blood and labored breath; and yet eyes so

benevolent we are put at perfect rest.


This Lamb, our propitiation, our sacrifice for our sins, asks

for nothing but our faith and in return He promises to takes on all

that assails us. To the ungodly He looks upon with compassion as

He tells them that He will be their righteousness. To the wicked

He looks with kindness and says, “Father, forgive them for they

know not what they are doing.” To the heavy laden He is gentle

and lowly of heart telling them that His yoke is easy and His

burden is light. To the poor in spirit the Lamb of God reminds us

that He came not to condemn us for we are already condemned




but to save us all. He sees the captive and proclaims He has

come to set us free.


He knows we are weak. He knows we suffer. He knows

every sin we have committed and will commit. He sees the deep

depravity of our hearts but He does not look upon such with anger

or wrath. Instead He is filled with grief over our sorry estate. He

sees the path we tread and the end result of our path. He is

begging us to turn around as we closer to the edge of the cliff that

leads to Hell. He sees us teetering on the edge and as we are just

about to lose our footing He reaches out to us and saves us while

taking the fall in our stead.


Jesus with His Law is like a drill sergeant whom we always

thought was mean and insufferable. But during training, for we are

but little children still learning to walk by faith, while learning how

to throw a grenade we pull the pin to our grenades ready to throw

it over the barrier only to drop it down to our feet. We stand

paralyzed at the grenade about to explode and see charging at us

our drill sergeant not with his usual apparent anger but with abject

fear. The drill sergeant throws us like a ragdoll over the barricade

to safety, and immediately puts his body over the grenade.

When we gaze upon the tattered body of our Savior know

this; every scar that He carries and bruise that He bears was

originally yours. He has willingly taken on your sins, your grief,

your shame, your burdens, your cares. He has willingly taken on

all these freely out of abundant unconditional love. The wound of

sin that was your death ticket has been taken by Christ who said I

will carry this heavy burden so you won’t have to. And in




exchange, the light burden Jesus carried, a burden so light it lifts

the bearer up to heaven, this light burden which is Jesus’ is given

to us. Our heavy burden which leads to perish is taken on by

Christ who then gives to us His light burden which lifts all who

believe to eternal life. He died so that we might live eternally.


He does this not for the godly; for those who work by the

Law and wish to be saved by the Law will receive their due. But

we who are ungodly and have no hope in the salvation through

the Law can be rest assured for Christ came down to earth for us.

He came to save the ungodly and wicked, the evil and

degenerate. The lost and the hopeless He came to save. The

criminal and the outcast, salvation He is to them. Tax collector,

politician, prostitute, murderer, all alike, it matters not, for He died

on the cross to save you of your sins regardless of who you are.

Is it the godly who look up to the hills will misery weighing

them down? Far from it! It is the one who sins who looks up

begging for mercy and grace. And to the one who looks up and

sees the face of God, not on account of who they are but only on

account of their faith, God justifies and makes righteous.

Our eyes may be lifted up to the hills and find the

horrendous Hill of Calvary. We may continue to lift our eyes up

and see the beginnings of three crosses. Our eyes lift higher and

are tormented by the image of three dying such a gruesome

death. But if our eyes just lift up ever so slightly on the lamb who

was lifted up on the cross and see His face then all despair will

perish. Sorrow will be wiped away and every tear from our eyes




as well. Any concern we carry will be lighten and the mercy and

grace we desired provided.

The cross may cause us pain, for the way Christ had to

provide for us this blessed peace reminds us of the sin we once

carried, and we like Peter do not want to see the one we love

pass away. But if we look beyond the pain associated with the

cross, never forgetting the cross, we see Christ and the wonderful

gift He is currently and will forever provide for us.

Let us pray,


Dear Heavenly Father, in our pain our eyes look up to you

for help. We thank you for the assurance we have found in you

and are blessed by your unconditional grace. In your name we

pray: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Deuteronomy 30: 15-20                                                                         February 12, 2023

Psalm 119: 1-8 (Aleph)

1 Corinthians 3: 1-9

St. Matthew 5: 21-37


“Inner Motions”


Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen.


You’ve all heard the statement from Jesus Christ that it matters not what enters your mouth but what comes out regarding sin. At first glance one might think that Jesus is merely speaking about eating and speaking. That it is not a sin to eat foods outside the kosher laws, of which God did indeed give to the Hebrews, but what we say may be a sin. Yet if looked closer one may come to the root of what Jesus was really saying for there is more depth to this lesson. At the core of this lesson what Jesus is trying to tell us is that it is not the outside motions that makes the sin but the inner motions. For us fallen humans, sin is not something that enters into us but rather bubbles out of us. We generate sin within ourselves and our actions are a reflection of the wrestle between God and Satan upon our hearts.


A statement that helps us understand this goes as such, a work is considered good based on the absence of sin. This is the Augustinian Catholic, i.e. Lutheran, approach to good works. For a work is good not because of the outside motions, things we can observe, but solely on the inner motions, that which is in our heart. If you do an action, it matters not what it is, and sin is in your heart when you do such an action then it is not good.


Now if the outer action is objectively, and obviously so, evil then that is proof that there is sin in the heart. But if sin is not present in the heart then there is no way the person will produce that which is objectively evil. In the end it all begins with the heart.


So let’s say I was to raise a family, or pull weeds from the church garden, or clean my house. Did I do a good work? Maybe. If I was to clean my house but sin is in my heart then I did not do a good work. But if I was to clean my house and sin was not in my heart then my work is indeed good. Therefore, with regards to good works, it matters not what the work is but rather what is in my heart.


Now one may say, are you claiming that it is possible for murder or thievery or dishonoring one’s parents to be good works? No. It is impossible to murder without sin in my heart for it is sin that led me to murder. It is impossible to steal without sin in my heart for it is sin that led me to steal. It is impossible to dishonor my parents without sin in my heart for it is sin that led me to dishonoring my parents. Things that are already considered sinful in Scripture cannot be produced if sin is in your heart for all such are a result of the sinful inner motions.


It is for this reason that we do not believe that good works has a play on our salvation. For it is through and only through salvation, i.e. the forgiveness of sins, that we are capable of doing that which is void of sin.


Before Christ all have been subjugated completely by the tyranny of sin. Original sin at conception has completely corrupted us and solely on account of this fallen human nature, no one short of God Himself is capable of producing one singular action that is void of sin. It’s not that all have sinned, but rather none has done well. We may obey the Law, but inside our hearts we still sin. And what makes this worse is that we can’t help it. We are all conceived slaves to sin and through our own might cannot set ourselves free from these burdensome chains. Our souls are subject sin; that’s the heart of it. And as such, to follow one’s heart is to unfortunately follow sin. No instead, one should follow God and the cross, to let His Word and Law be printed upon our soul and to bow down to it. 


Therefore, show me a person who without the help of God claims to have received salvation on account of his good works and I will show you a liar.


All have failed; which is why God provided salvation through the cross in the first place, because he knows we need His help. The cross was provided not for those who merit forgiveness, for none have merited forgiveness, but is for those primarily who do not deserve forgiveness. And what does this forgiveness do? It takes away our sins and makes it so that through the cross we can perform one act void of sin for the sin that originally have been present has been taken through faith by Jesus who died on the cross. Therefore good works is impossible before salvation, but possible after salvation.


So why do I say all this? In today’s Gospel, as Jesus concludes the Sermon on the Mount, talking about anger and lust and divorce and oaths, the core of His message is to focus on the inner motions.


Yes, when it comes to determining if the outer motion is a sin, it can be quite obvious. But not so obvious when it comes to the inner motions, for whom outside of the person in question and God Himself knows what is boiling within their heart? So the message Jesus gives us is a very personal message for only you and God above can determine if anger and lust lingers in your heart. Therefore, God is personally speaking to you regarding sin, let’s go one step farther.


God says though shall not commit murder, an outward action, but let’s go one step farther. I say to you to not have unrighteous anger in your heart, for if there is no sin within you then would you have the desire to murder? One step farther; so don’t just do the outer motion that is objectively evil, but also rid yourself of the sinful inner motions that causes you to consider the objectively evil outward motions. Again, one step farther.


It is better that you reconcile with your brother than it is to have anger toward them. If your brother has something against you, is it not better that you find peace and put to rest the ill will? No good can come out of an unresolved wedge for either you or the other will be harmed. The sin within your heart will bubble up and lead to outward sin. But he who is reconciled has put to rest the inner sin. And where there is peace there is also grace and mercy.


Now the same also applies to lust. You have heard rightly that you shall not commit adultery, an outward motion, but I say to you take it one step farther, to rid yourself of lust, an inner motion. Before Christ the Jews understood adultery as an action, but after this message they realized that you don’t need to do anything to commit the sin of adultery. You can just have lust in your heart and the sin has been committed. But where there is no lust is there adultery? There is no adultery, for adultery is a result of lust, both the inner and outer forms of adultery result from lust. So take it one step farther, focus not only on our outward actions but the thoughts and emotions within.


And even the part about divorce is about inner motions. Let me explain. God does not separate holy unions. So when you divorce your wife you are forcing her to commit a sin against you who is still her husband. You have separated yourself from her and she will naturally start to lust over other men as she tries to fill in this hole you have forced upon her. You see, whereas boys growing up tend to fantasize over glory through battle, girls grow up fantasizing over love and relationships with marriage as the goal. Women desire to love and be loved and to ultimately have a blessed union, so when you divorce your faithful wife, you are causing her inner motions to seek love elsewhere, which sadly is a form of lust.


And the last section in our Gospel reading, oaths. I ask, is God against oaths? The answer is no for Scripture says that you shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn. Therefore it is false oaths per se that God is against. But Jesus says go one step farther, to act in a way where oaths are not necessary. For what is an oath? An oath is a binding contract claiming you will do something. The reason for oaths is because we are sinners who neither trust each other nor are capable of keeping our word unless under penalty. We need oaths because our sinful inner motions need to be bound by a self-proclaimed threatening promise. So one step farther, with the help of God, rid yourselves of these sinful inner motions so that giving oaths become obsolete. When you say I will do something, you will do it. No oath is necessary for you are true to your word.


So in the end, as Christians, who have received through the grace of God the capacity to do that which is void of evil, not on account of who we are for we are not special but wholly on account of Jesus’ death upon the cross, Jesus Christ has given us a task: to take one step farther and focus not on our outward motions but rather with the help of God our inner motions.


Let us pray,


Dear Heavenly Father, we ask that you continue to provide for us your gifts of the Holy Spirit and the sanctification through the cross so that we in humble service may do your will and act in a manner you find pleasing. In your heavenly name we pray: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

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