Genesis 28:10-22

Psalm 115:1, 9-18

Romans 5:1-11

Mark 8:31-38



“Extreme Sacrifice”

 

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

 

Let me present to you two scenarios. The first, you see a man pointing a gun at another's head and you know you can save the other, but it will cost you your life. The second, you see a man pointing a water gun at another's head and you can prevent the man from getting soaked, but just like the first it will cost you your life. Now whereas I wish no one to truly die, that is not the point of the two scenarios, the point is such, if you were going to die which of the two scenarios would you choose as for the reasoning for your death? Would you die for the one who doesn't need to be saved or die for the one who does need to be saved? Obviously, we would choose to die a meaningful death, where through our loss of life the life of another is preserved.

 

The reason for this image is because of a confusion associated with Paul's second letter. He writes, “For one will scarcely die for a righteous person.” What does he mean by this? If I was to choose who to die for, either a person who is good or a person who is evil, I would die for the sake of the one who is good, but that is not the point of Paul's words, of God's Word. In our confusion, we may read the letter of Paul to mean that no one would dare give up their life for the sake of someone who is good. In our confusion, we counter the statement and beg to differ. We may say, that quite the opposite is true, who would dare give up their life for an evil person? Well of course Christ would give up His life, and radically so for an evil person. Paul himself says this is so in our second reading, again from Romans 5, “God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” So what did Paul mean when he said that no one would dare die for a righteous person?

 

Let me answer with a question, what was the purpose of Christ's death? Usually when we think of giving up our lives for others we think of dying so that others may not die. In America, there are two primary reasons why people give up their lives, the first is to preserve life, the latter is to preserve God-given freedoms such as the freedom to speak anything no matter how crazy and offensive, the freedom to practice your faith no matter how much the culture hates and disagrees with your faith, such as Lutheranism, and many many other God-given freedoms. Now usually we defend these freedoms primarily for those who are not evil, and I mean evil in a strong sense and not merely evil. But these are all reason for dying for someone. So back to the question at hand, what was the purpose of Jesus' death?

 

He died, to set us free from sin, to cleanse us of our wickedness, to absolve us in the eyes of God the ultimate judge, to make us spotless, to open the gates of Heaven to us, to provide eternal salvation, to make us righteous. He died to make us righteous. That is the purpose of his death, and because that is the purpose why would he give such a death for those who are already righteous? If the purpose of your death is to make someone righteous then you will never dare die for someone who is righteous, yet Christ died for all of mankind. What does that say about mankind? It means that no one is righteous, or at least no one can make themselves righteous. No one has obeyed the Law, all has failed, therefore all are evil, and none are righteous. Each and everyone of us are evil wretched rags, and that is why Christ died for you. That is why he gave himself on the cross. Because no amount of works will ever save you, you cannot save yourself, So Christ went to Hell, died a most horrific death, a most extreme sacrifice so that you wouldn't have to suffer the consequences of your sins. We didn't save ourselves, Christ did, thus the reason why, in our second reading, it begins with the words, “we have been justified by faith,” and again, “Through Him we have obtained access, by faith, into this grace in which we stand,” and again, “we have now been justified by His blood.”

 

We are not saved by works but by faith alone in Him who saves us. For Christ did not save us, forgave us, sanctify us, justify us, make us holy, make us righteous, because we were already righteous. No, Christ saved us, forgave us, sanctify us, justify us, make us holy, make us righteous because we were ungodly, sinners, evil, in desperate need for Christ to shed his blood.

 

This is why we rejoice, we rejoice because Christ made the ultimate sacrifice so that no one would have to die for their own sins. Christ who is the sacrificial lamb, a living sacrifice, is the ultimate sacrifice that could be provided for forgiveness. He is a once and for all Sacrificial Lamb; that is if you continue to have faith in Him or at least come back to Him. It's a good thing he didn't listen to Peter who rebuked Him for even suggesting that He must die. Had Jesus not gave Himself up on that horrendous cross, there would be no forgiveness, no salvation, no keys to heaven, no resurrection. And speaking of resurrection, let me get there, but first, two points.

 

First, as Lutherans, do we not price Law and Gospel? Why do we need both? Is it true that with Christ we don't need the Law? Far from it, for Jesus himself said He did not come to abolish the Law but to fulfill it. Therefore the Law still stands. So why do we need the Law? Without it, the Gospel is meaningless. The Law opens your eyes to the fact that you are a sinner, and that you can't do anything about it because no matter what you do you keep on failing. But the Law also, by pointing out or sins points us also to the means of rectifying our sins, it points us towards the cross. The Gospel has meaning because the Law is pointing us towards it. Remember, Christ died to make us holy, thus we need to realize we are not holy in order to receive Christ's gift of holiness.

 

On top of that, Martin Luther himself tells us that he wishes we all live with contrite hearts, hearts full of sorrow. Why? That sounds just plain old bonkers and depressing. Why intentionally live sorrowful? Why? Because you are a sinner; by yourself, you are unholy and unable to reach heaven. The culture teaches us self-esteem and to lift ourselves up and to prize pride and vain glory. Christ teaches you, through the Law, and so does Lutheranism, to run away from self-esteem and pride and vain glory and to accept reality. What reality? The reality that you are a sinner and a failure, yet, despite that, Jesus gave himself up as a sacrifice, on that terrible tree so that you may receive grace.

 

And second, as Lutherans, our whole theology is centered on what we call the Theology of the Cross. The Cross is the absolute center of our entire theology. All points towards the Cross. Law and Gospel, centers on the Cross. Everything in the Bible is pointing towards the Cross. Even our church calendar points towards the Cross with Good Friday being the center of the church calendar and, I would wager, the most Lutheran of all Church Festivals.

 

This leads me back to the resurrection. Why do we celebrate Easter? Because he has risen! But why is that amazing? Because he was first dead! What gives Easter meaning? Why, Good Friday. It's the same as Law and Gospel. Without Law, Gospel is meaningless. Without Good Friday, Easter is meaningless. Without Jesus' honorable and most extreme sacrifice, there would have been no resurrection. To celebrate Easter but not Good Friday, would be like lifting up the Gospel while shooing away the Law. It would be like receiving God's sanctification while saying we were never, nor are, sinners. It puts to shame Christ's sacrifice.

 

As we proceed through this season of Lent I ask that we do not put to shame Jesus' sacrifice, that we do not shame the Father who lost His only Son to His creation for the sake of His creation. Let us remember that we are sinners; that we are the reason why Christ had to die. And instead of looking away from the cross and its blinding glory, let us face it boldly accept reality.

 

1) We are sinners.

2) We cannot save ourselves.

3) Christ did die.

4) Through faith in Him, and His sacrifice, Salvation is ours.

 

Let us pray,

 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, We are sinners, and because of our sins we were doomed to Hell, yet you forgot us not and graciously gave up your one and only true Son on the Cross, to die for our sake, so that we would not die for our sins but live eternal life. Help us to cherish this gift and to never shame the ultimate sacrifice that you and your Son gave for our sake. In your most Holy name we pray, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

Genesis 22:1-18

Psalm 6

Romans 8:31-39

Mark 1:12-15

 

 

“What the Devil”

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

 

        I know that many of us goes about our daily lives and every now and then we will slip out a curse, or, even worse, say the Lord’s name in vain. It has become such a regularly thing to do that we usually don’t think anything of it. You stub your toe or you hear something outrageous and you may say something that may go along the lines of “Dear Lord” or “Jesus Christ” or “Holy …” In of themselves, just saying “dear Lord” or “Jesus Christ” are good things, I mean I begin prayers every now and then with a dear Lord, and I obviously invoke Jesus’ name quite a bit through our service, to include this one.

 

        No, the problem is using the Lord’s name in vain, or any of His names. To treat His name as an empty prayer or oath, or to treat His name as a curse, are all sinful things, and not minor sins at that. We are talking about God here, your creator, of whom nothing pales in comparison with regards to power and might.

 

        Can you guess how offended he is each time you curse with His name on your tongue and lips? Now some may say, “God, offended! Bah, He’s bigger than such petty things.” He listed, “though shall not use the Lord’s name in vain,” as His third commandment. And if we know anything about sin, we acknowledge that God despises all sin, even this one, which is a direct sin against God Himself. I ask you this; would you use your own mother’s name as a curse? Would you use your own spouse’ name as a curse? Would you use the name of your pet in vain? I hope not. Now who is more important: Mother or God; Spouse or God; Pet or God? Of course God is more important, so treat His name with the respect that is due to Him.

 

        On the flip side, whereas I am against curses and empty words of oaths, I’d rather you use the Devil’s name in vain; to sin against the Devil; to make a laughing stock out of Satan. Again I rather you not curse or use empty words, but I am not against turning Lucifer into an eyesore that we mock and give absolutely no respect. Yes I understand you may be tempted to use the Lord’s name in vain, it has become a habit or you are surrounded by others who use the Lord’s name in vain and you might get laughed at if you say something less sinful. It just comes out. Breaking the habit in of itself may turn into an ordeal.

 

        Throughout or lives we will indeed face many ordeals, such as Trails or Temptations. Now with regards to these ordeals they come in various sizes and frequency, their impact can be massive or negligible, their rate of occurrence can be frequent to the point that they become background noise or so rare that they standout like a peacock when such ordeals do occur. They could be acute ordeals or chronic ordeals. Now a lot of the ordeals faced in scripture are the acute type, but most of the ordeals we face are chronic. Now anyone in the medical field would tell you that whereas both acute and chronic injuries and pain are bad, the one to fear is chronic, why because it may become so a part of you that you just accept it and never bother seeking aid. Which is more dangerous to the ear; a loud sudden noise or a not-so-loud pulsing noise? The later because whereas both are damaging, the later can be tuned out and thus lead to worse damage.

 

        Chronic Temptations are bad because we come to accept them in our lives and don’t treat them like things that are damaging. These frequent miniature temptations we have come and go and they slip our mind until they come again the next day, ever so slowly creeping into our lives and influencing our perceptions. The culture is filled with these chronic ordeals, and one such is being tempted to use the Lord’s name in vain.

 

        Now we should not confuse Trials with Temptations. Temptations are a thing of the Devil, Trails, on the other hand, are a thing of God. For example, in today’s first reading in Genesis, God is providing Abraham with a trial; sacrifice your one and only son, Isaac. Abraham listened and obeyed, and almost did what was commanded, but God stopped him and provided him with a ram to replace Isaac. God was tested Abraham, and Abraham proved that he was obedient and faithful.

 

        As for Temptations, there is today’s Gospel, where Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness. Now whereas the other Gospels go into depth on this event, Mark only gives one sentence. It is the shortest retelling of Jesus’ temptation story. Jesus was in the wilderness for forty days, and, oh-yah, he was tempted by Satan. End of story. I can imagine Satan reading the Book of Matthew and nodding his head to the account given of his attempt to tempt Jesus, skipping all the other things Jesus did in the Book of Matthew, and then opening the Book of Mark, reading this one line and saying out loud, “Oh, come on!”

 

        We know that Jesus was tempted, but the act of only giving one line to mention it in Mark’s account is a direct snub in the face of Satan, it is like spitting in Satan’s face and saying there are much more important things to mention. Mark is not giving Satan the time of day here, sure the Devil is mentioned, but ever so quickly; this way Mark could focus on other things. He had better things to do, such as telling us Jesus’ amazing proclamation, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the Gospel!”

 

         There are much better things to talk about, such as Jesus is indeed here, celebrate for time has come for all of Scripture to be fulfilled through the Sacrifice of the Lamb of God which takes away the sins of the world and has mercy upon us; and through His sacrifice has brought the Kingdom of God to us, it is here. All we have to do is repent and believe, have faith, true faith, in Him.

 

        Did Satan succeed in tempting Jesus? No. If Satan himself can’t tempt Jesus, what can? And did not Jesus come for each and every one of you? If Satan could not separate Jesus from you, what can? Nothing! As it says in Romans, “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

 

        Nothing can stop Jesus in fulfilling his mission, not Satan, not anything. He cannot be tempted. Instead, using words from our closing hymn, He is our Mighty Fortress, our sword and our shield victorious. He breaks the cruel oppressor’s rod, and will always win salvation gloriously. He is our champion, elected by God Himself, the Lord of Hosts. And through Him though hordes of devils fill the Land, we tremble not, unmoved we stand, for they cannot overpower us; God’s judgement must prevail. And never forget, God fights by our side and arms us with weapons of the Spirit, and no matter what the Devil does to us and takes away from us, even life itself, the Kingdom is ours forever.

       

        So we will face our trials and temptations, some big, others little; some acute, others chronic. But despite what life throws our ways, never forget Our Lord who defeated Satan. Rely on Him, rather than yourself. Believe in Him rather than yourself. And, as we proceed through this season of reflecting and repenting, let us not use the name of our defender in vain, but rather make a laughing stock of our Greatest Enemy, the Loser known as Satan.

 

Let us pray,

 

        Dear Heavenly Father, help us to reflect on you and your never ceasing love which cannot be held back by anything, not even Satan. Help us to reflect upon our own sins which we do commit. And fill us with the courage to lean on Jesus as we struggle against our own temptations. In your most holy name we pray, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Job 7:1-7

Psalm 147:1-12

1 Corinthians 9:16-23

Mark 1:29-39



“Healer of our every ill”

 

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

 

By now many of you may have come to realize that this world we live in is full of pain, it is not an easy life. We walk about and witness or experience loss, fear, distress, betrayal, lies, despair. We walk around and witness or have experienced war, split families, destruction, loss of freedoms, unjust punishment. We walk around and witness or have experienced injury, loss of limb, sickness, memory loss, failing body parts, aches, and eventually death. In such a world, hope may seem fleeting, and others may warn you not to give in to hope because all that will do is lead to a much harsher fall into depression. Many have given up. Many have chosen to join the pain and contribute to it. Others try to find meaning in this world and are lead to false idols and false prophets.

 

Just the process of aging should be a clear indicator that life is not fair, and full of pain. As wisdom increase, the body starts to deteriorate and fall apart on you. Things stop working, strength fails, and the dust from which you came becomes visible as you start the process of returning to dust. With this age comes aches and pains, lots of medication, the increased need for medical experts, and a myriad of other things.

 

And if aging hasn’t opened your eyes to fact that this life is full of misery, maybe injury and sickness will. The permanent loss of a limb hits people really hard; falling ill to life threatening diseases opens to us the reality of true bodily pain; and let us not forget the mental conditions that makes life so much a struggle.

 

The world we live in is indeed filled with misery and pain. And in today’s readings, we hear from Job is no stranger to pain. He lost his family, his friends turned on him, he lost everything, and his body became the very visage of pain. The pain drove him mad and led him to proclaiming how he wished he was never born. He cried in turmoil and angrily shouted at God, “Why?” Job is no stranger to pain, and though what we face may be nothing compared to the pain Job felt, we know pain too.

 

Each and every one of us has witnessed some form of pain. Each and every one of us has asked, “why?” Each and every one of us has thought that something in this life, which happened to us, was not fair. And as we grow up, we come to acknowledge that Life is indeed not fair, it doesn’t give you a fair hand, it doesn’t go the way you planned, and no matter what there will always be struggles.

 

We all suffer our own ills, whether that is in mind, body, spirit. We all have our struggles, and thorns in our sides that remind us of this fallen world we live in. Some more so than others. Yet, despite all this pain we live in, despite the fact we live in a fallen world, are we truly alone in our struggle? Is not there a God who heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds, who gathers outcasts, who lifts up the humble, who provides for us?

 

I am reminded of a hymn found in our blue hymnal, WOV, called, “Healer of our every ill.” Some of it goes as such… Now this hymn is not about mere physical healing, but of all ills. Our Lord, Jesus Christ, doesn’t just heal the sick, he also casts out demons. But He doesn’t just cast out demons; he also gives us peace and hope that surpasses fear and sorrow. But he doesn’t just give us peace and hope; he also fills our hearts with his spirit which is the full of comfort. But he doesn’t just do any of this; but he does many more things for us such as opening our eyes beyond this world of pain to see the amazing fullness of God and His promise of Salvation, shifting our eyes away from seeing just the darkness of this world but also the light of God. He provides us with his grace and mercy, fills us with love and understanding, and leads us with strength and power to overcome this miserable existence and instead, March in the light of God, loving Him and passing on His love to each other.

 

Jesus may be the Lord of Lords, and the King of Kings, but he is also greatest of all Healers. His unconditional love towards us all, his overwhelming compassion, and his amazing miracles surpass all understanding.

 

This world may be a fallen one full of sin, enslaved by Satan himself, and because of that we, who are under original sin, are already condemned. Thus when Jesus came into the world he came not to condemn it, we are already condemned. No, He came to save it, to heal it, and he did so by dying on that cross. He healed and casted out demons along the way, but that was not his mission. He came to give up his life, to take on all of our pains, our suffering, our sins. He came to conquer death, conquer Hell, and to conquer the dominion of sin. He came to once and for all heal us from our every ill, and give to us the promise of everlasting bliss, everlasting peace, everlasting joy, everlasting happiness, and everlasting life void of suffering. This was the promise he made through the cross; that through Him, heaven can be yours, and though you walk through the valley of death, you fear no evil because He is with you, His rod and His staff they comfort you.

 

 

Let us pray,

 

Dear Heavenly Father, you gave us your Son as a willing sacrifice in order to save us from our sins and the tyranny of Satan. Your sacrifice was made not to condemn us, but to free us and provide us with peace. Guard us we pray, and use us so that others too may be able to experience your salvation. In your most holy name we pray, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

2 Kings 2:1-12a 

Psalm 50:1-6 

2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2 

Mark 9:2-9 

“From Baptism to Transfiguration” 

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

How many of you remember my sermon on the Baptism of  our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ? On that day, which kick  started the season of Epiphany, we read in the Gospel how after  Jesus was baptized the heavens opened and the Spirit  descended like a dove and voice was heard, proclaiming, “You  are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” The sermon I  gave not only reflected on this revelation provided by God the  Father, but also on others who had their own epiphanies, such as  the wise men who journeyed to see this Christ Child and Peter  who, through the help of the Father, proclaimed Jesus was Christ. 

The Sermon was all about epiphanies, whether our own or of  those in the Bible, reflecting on the fact that the only reason why  we get these Aha moments, realizing that Jesus is Christ is  because God the Father and/or Holy Spirit revealed this to us.  Peter proclaimed that Jesus was Christ not because of the flesh,  but because God the Father revealed this to him. And we, as  Christians, proclaim that Jesus is Christ not because of our own  abilities, but because of the Holy Spirit which fills us with faith and  understanding. In the Small Catechism, Luther writes, “I believe  that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus  Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called 

me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and  kept me in the true faith.” So, whereas we are incapable by our  own devices, through the help of God we are capable of  proclaiming Jesus is Christ, of having our own Epiphanies. 

This is what the season of Epiphany is all about, having our  own aha moments, remembering the time when the lightbulb  clicked within us and how the Holy Spirit gave us the ability to  have faith in God, and how as Christians we are instructed by  Christ to be instruments providing the Holy Spirit to those who  have yet to have their own epiphanies. It is also for this very  reason that we begin the Season of Epiphany with the Baptism of  our Lord when God the Father proclaims for all to hear, “You are  my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” 

Now what is interesting about that sermon I gave is this, I  said, “To those listening, to those who witnessed this event, God  is practically telling them, ‘Listen, this is my Son.’” Why is that  interesting? Well, let us read today’s Gospel, particularly verse 7,  “And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the  cloud, ‘This is my beloved Son; listen to him.’” Listen, this is my  Son… This is my beloved Son; listen to him. To be frank, that was  not intentional, yet it is remarkable how we began the Season of  Epiphany with God the Father proclaiming, “You are my beloved  Son,” therefore it is only befitting that we conclude the Season of  Epiphany with God the Father proclaiming once again, “This is my  beloved Son; listen to him.” 

Once again, God the Father is revealing to us, not just to  Peter, James, and John, but through Scripture also us, that Jesus 

is indeed His Son. We cannot believe this on our own, therefore  we need the revelation which comes only from God to provide for  us what can only be a miracle. The miracle of proclaim Jesus is  the Son of God. God the Father is revealing this to us once again,  and just like the baptism of His Son, God the Father reveals this  in an equally, in not more fantastic and amazing, fashion. 

With the Baptism He revealed His Son by parting the  heavens, and descending His Spirit like a dove and proclaiming  for the whole crowd, and there was a crowd, to hear. Now, as for  the transfiguration, though there was no crowd, that is not  necessary for, even Jesus said not to reveal what happened until  after He has rose from the dead. But what did happen? The was a  cloud that brought with it the Father’s proclamation, the  appearance of Moses and Elijah of all people, and one more  thing… what was it? Oh! How could I forget; the transfiguration of  our Lord! Where Jesus, “was transfigured before them, and his  clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could  bleach them.” 

A quick question about this transfiguration of our Lord; did  Jesus became more perfect at that moment? Jesus transfigured  into a cleaner and more perfect radiant white signifies His deity,  His divinity, His Godliness. But did he become more perfect, more  divine, during the transfiguration? Is he not already perfect,  sinless, wholly God? Yes, he is! So did he become more perfect?  No. So what happened? Was his perfection, which he already  had, revealed through the transfiguration? Was his transfiguration  a variation of God’s revelation?

To the disciples, during their daily activities, Jesus must  have seemed to them to be a mere human. The Holy Spirit did  reveal many things to them, and it is obvious that Jesus was at  the very least a great prophet. Yet His persona was, well, very  human. And that was intentional, but because of the folly of  human reason, every now and then the disciples became forgetful  of who Jesus really was. They had their share of epiphanies, but  without the Holy Spirit continually revealing to them that Jesus is  Christ, their views of Jesus will revert back to before their  epiphanies. Before the transfiguration, Jesus appeared as a mere  human, but through the transfiguration the perfection of Jesus’  divinity was revealed. And it was this revelation that terrified the  three disciples and made them talk, and look, like shell shocked  bass fish, not knowing what to say, only to blurb out, “Rabbi, it is  good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and  one for Moses and one for Elijah.” I can imagine how the  disciples, as they walked down the mountain, mumbling to  themselves, how idiotic they must have sounded and wished they  said something better. 

I’m almost reminded of the many examples, whether real or  fictional, of young teenagers talking to their crushes and how they  say some of the most ridiculous things. You know what I’m talking  about? You get so flustered, and you have no clue what to say,  you can’t find the words, and you tell yourself just spit something  out, and in the end you end up embarrassing yourself. It happens  to the best of us, were we get shell shocked with a most amazing  yet terrifying opportunity and feel that we most absolutely have to  say something. That is what happened to the disciples. Here’s  Moses, Elijah, and Sparkles Jesus. What do I say, what do I say? 

Let me make a tent for you… huh. Lucky them, God the Father  saved them from their own embarrassment, and proclaimed his  message, though the disciple’s words must have made Moses’  and Elijah’s day. Oh, well of all the things you could have said,  

that is, well, most interesting. 

After this proclamation, the cloud, the prophets, and the  radiance of Jesus disappeared, and all was back to normal. 

Epiphany is coming to a close, but that does not mean we  should stop proclaiming the good news, assisting in the  epiphanies of others, and thanking God for the epiphanies we  ourselves have obtained. Let us not forget the message of  Epiphany, but instead proceed throughout the rest of the church  calendar proclaiming for all to hear Grace of our Lord Jesus  Christ. 

This year of all years, this is a message we need to hear, a  reminder that no matter what happens, Jesus is still Lord, that He  still watches over you, and His Kingdom will have no end. This is  also a message that those who do not know Christ need to hear,  so that they too may have a light in their lives despite the dark  gloom that overshadows us today. And in years to come, no  matter what we face, good and bad times, times of struggle and  times of complacency, that we forget not that Jesus is Christ, and  that we not only hold firm to our epiphanies, but also assist in the  epiphanies of others. 

There will be many more storms we will face. And whereas I  have no clue what the future holds, do not lose hope. Never lose 

hope. For God knows the future, and I have faith that God will  lead us through every storm we may weather, for through the  cross we know of God’s never ending desire to continually save  the world through His only beloved Son. 

So we may choose to walk the path of the discouraged, or  we could walk the path that leads towards everlasting life, faith,  hope, and love. The path that has indeed been revealed to us by  God the Father and God the Holy Spirit; the path, the way, the life  which is God the Son, Jesus Christ Himself. He is the way, let us  never forget this, but let us continuously be reminded of this  revelation. 

Let us pray, 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, you have revealed to us your Son in  his most perfect splendor through the transfiguration, that Jesus is  not just some mere Man, but that He is indeed your Son, God the  Son. Help us to never forget this, and guide us through your Spirit  so that others may so too realize the divinity of Jesus. We pray in  your most holy name, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Sermon by Pastor Chris Boyd

 

Deuteronomy 18: 18-20 

Psalm 1 

1 Corinthians 8: 1-13 

Mark 1: 21-28 

“Have You Come To Destroy Us?” 

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

There is a song that is well made musically, that is incredibly  catchy, and entertaining. The catchy part goes as such, “War,  huh, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing.” Catchy, yes, but as  a Soldier I find it completely horrible. Why? Whereas war is  terrible and I wish it not to ever happen and would desire all  means of addressing conflict to be utilized before such, once all  means are exhausted what are you left with? The problem is, we  live in a world full of evil, and sometimes you must go to war to  combat evil. If you don’t, after exhausting all peaceful means of  conquering said evil, then in the end evil flourishes. War, what is it  good for? Conquering evil, obviously. So yes, as a Soldier, I  disagree with the message being conveyed. 

Now, every now and then, we will sing a hymn that portrays  us as Christian Soldiers, with Christ the Lord as our Captain  leading the charge against evil, but the war we fight is a different  war. Here is the thing, did Christ come to condemn the world? Did  He come to destroy the world? No, He came to save the world,  but save it from what? He came to save us from the evil tyranny  of Satan that has enslaved us in his domain of Sin. Jesus came,  fighting a holy battle, a higher form of war, against Satan in order  to set us free from the clutches of the Devil, his demons, and 

death itself. And we as faithful followers, are led by Him in this  most holy war as Christian Soldiers who strikes the hearts of men  with the Sword, which is the Word. And as we wield the Word as  our weapon, we wear the armor of God which protects us from  the fire arrows of the Devil. We do all this so that, our fellow  brothers and sisters are saved, rescued, and turn away from  Satan and towards God. 

Now we may be Soldiers of Christ in His ongoing war  against Satan, but Christ has already won the War, and when we  strike the hearts of men by proclaiming the good news, it is not us  that saves, but the Word, which is Christ, that saves each and  every individual, who breaks our chains, who welcomes us into  the family of God, protects us from the influence of Satan,  continues to forgives us, and at the last, when we meet Him in  heaven, says, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” 

Though the imagery I used is of wars and battle, what are  we really doing? We preach, baptize, teach, worship, and spread  the good news. That is what we as Christians do. With regards to  the holy mission given to us by our divine commander and chief,  we are not commanded to conduct a much different war, not one  where we strike down unbelievers for their sins, but one where we  save unbelievers from their sins. The war we fight is not against  each other, but against the Devil that torments the hearts and  minds and twists many into committing horrific things. The true  enemy is Satan, Sin, and, in the end, Death. 

So when Jesus came, did he come to destroy us? No. We  are not the enemy. But he did come to destroy demons, and that 

is what the title of my sermon alludes to. For in today’s Gospel,  while Jesus was teaching in the synagogue, a man with an  unclean spirit, a demon, cried out, “What have you to do with us,  Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who  you are – the Holy One of God.” 

It’s interesting, how demons know who Christ is, but we  humans are incapable, by ourselves, of acknowledging Him as  the Holy One of God. Demons know who he is, and will proclaim  it, they believe He is Christ, but their belief is dead faith for they  neither love nor trust nor desire Christ. Instead, they fear Jesus  because they know what His presence means to them. A holy  Crusade against Satan’s domain is about to commence, and they  will lose. “Have you come to destroy us demons? Have pity on us, Jesus. Allow us to continue to treat your people in the way we  deem fit. Ignore our crimes against humanity. Turn your eyes  away from the demonic hold over the hearts of your creation.” I  can imagine the many demons trying to find a way to survive the  coming war and maintain some control over humanity. But God  had had enough, and came to die on the cross to fulfill Scripture  and save us all from Satan’s grasp. Jesus fought the War, and on  the cross He won the war. 

Now whereas Christ did indeed won the war once and for all  on the cross, from our perspective it appears as if we are still at  war and struggle with sin. We are still born with original sin, and,  though we are saved and sanctified through the blood of Christ,  we are still sinners who continue to sin. We still sin, as Christians,  against our fellow brothers and sisters, and cause strife within our  church communities. We attack each other, bear false witness 

against each other, envy each other, lust over others, act all  puffed up, allow others to continue sinning against others in our  presence, etc. Each and every one of us is still a sinner, and each  and every one of us struggle with our own thorns. I for one am no exception, for I am an evil wretched rag who does not deserve  heaven or an ounce of Christ’s Salvation. But regardless, Christ  died on that Cross for me and provided for me the means of  salvation. 

And then there are false prophets, who, according to  Deuteronomy, “presumes to speak a word in my name that I have  not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of  other gods, that prophet shall die.” They will indeed die, like all  other sinners, on account of their sins. I have seen and read of  many of pastors and priests who blasphemed against Christ,  preaching a false doctrine that goes against Scripture, all of whom  committing heresy against the church. Some abused Scripture to  proclaim that which clearly contradicts Scripture such as  proclaiming that Jesus is not the Son of God, or that we should  pray in the name of false Gods like Zeus or Allah or Brahma, or  even teach that faith does not save you but only certain actions do. Such pastor’s may indeed be Christians, but what they do is  just another example of sinning against fellow Christians. 

Yes, from our perspective, the holy war seems on going, but  I ask this. Did Christ die on that cross for all sins that was  committed or did he die on the cross for all sins? When He died,  did he die for all the sins that have already been committed, or did  he die not only for that but also for all sin to include that which had  yet to be committed? He died for the sins you committed before 

you became a Christian, He died to free you from Original Sin, He  died for the sins you did indeed commit after you entered the  family of God all the way up to this point, and He died for the sins  you will commit in the future. He died for all sin, therefore He won  the war already on that cross. 

The demons knew this was going to happen; they knew what  it meant that the Holy One of God was on earth. This is why the  unclean spirit asked if Jesus came to destroy them. For Jesus did  not come to fight a war against the world or against sinners, but a  war against sin itself to save the world and sinners. He came to  save you. He came to protect you. And not just for each and  every one of you, but also for all people. He did this all for your  sake. And as Christian Soldiers, we are guided to assist Him in  providing the much needed salvation for all others, so that  through faith in Him, they too might be saved. 

Let us pray, 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, you gave us your Son as a willing  sacrifice in order to save us from our sins and the tyranny of  Satan. Your sacrifice was made not to condemn us, but to free us  and protect us. Guard us we pray, and use us so that others too  may be able to experience your salvation. In your most holy name  we pray, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

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