Grace and peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen.
In many a great businesses and organizations there is a culture of “Lead by example”. The Army, for example, actually grades their subordinate leaders in how well they lead by example in order to better foster a desired culture. Say a company prizes humbleness, then a CEO may lead a life of humility at their company and through such actions encourage their employees to do likewise. Or say you have a Boy Scout group, and the scoutmaster wished to foster a troop culture of masculinity, just like the creator of Boy Scouts intended, then said scoutmaster would be reliable, protective, firm, a steady rock, etc.
All of these are but examples in how groups of people would utilize their authoritative structure to not only demand a certain culture but to also initiate the fostering of said culture by leading from the top, leading by example.
Within the Church, such a desired model exists between her people and the figurehead, God, Himself. We say what would Jesus do, or how has the Father reacted in similar situations. We don’t just listen and obey their commandments, or attempt to, but we observe the actions of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit throughout Scripture and try to model our lives after their “leading by example”. And God encourages this; be Godly, be like the “Holiest of All that is Holy”, be like He who is perfect and has done no wrong, model your life after Him so that you may be more like Him. But what has he done?
Jesus gave himself up on the cross, died, gave up his life, so that through Him, we may receive the means of Salvation through faith in Him. For we are dreadful sinners who deserve to go to Hell and nothing we do, by our own devices, can earn us a ticket into Heaven, but through the Grace of God, Jesus died on the Cross so that he could take on our sin and shove it into Hell. Someone had to go to Hell. Jesus said he would go to Hell, so he willingly, knowingly, took on all of our sin, suffered death, and suffered Hell, so that through Him we would not suffer Hell. He took on our sins, thus, through Him, we are forgiven of our sins, and through this forgiveness we are made clean, washed of our sins, so that we may enter Heaven.
Yet this gift was not forced on us, it is a gift. What that means is that you must accept the hand from which this gift comes from. Not all are forgiven, but all who believe in Jesus and only Jesus are indeed forgiven. For he says that if you have faith in Him and repent of your sins then He will take on your sins so that you would not have to; there are no other conditions, in fact there are no conditions at all because Jesus wants to give us forgiveness, but will not force it on us. He wants to free us from the chains of sin, not put us in new chains of forced forgiveness.
Speaking of chains, in the past I mentioned chains a lot in reference to our enslavement to sin under Original Sin, but there is another meaning to the word chain. For the purpose of this Gospel and Sermon, I wish to use the other definition of chain in reference to what most would understand as, “the chain of authority.” In order to lead by example there needs to be a chain of authority, and within the Church this chain of authority begins with God.
So what in today’s Gospel is Jesus trying to impress upon us? What culture is He desiring to foster through this “chain of authority” and “leading by example”? Forgiveness. Christ is instructing a culture of forgiveness, and he does so by opening our eyes to the fact that God Himself forgave you first, and thus you must do so too for your brothers.
Peter asked how many times a day should he be willing to forgive someone. When is enough enough? Is seven enough? Not seven, but seventy seven; in fact, not even that, there is no limit. If anyone is repentant then forgive them their sins. And if they keep on coming back to you, as long as they are truly repentant then you must forgive them.
Pastor please forgive me from doing this and that.
Again!? I just forgave you an hour ago for exactly that.
I know, but I did it again. I’m terribly sorry, I promise I won’t do it again, honest to God, I mean it this time.
You truly mean it?
Then you are forgiven.
One hour later… Pastor I did it again.
Ok, I’ll forgive you again.
So Jesus tells Peter that you must continually forgive your sinner, as long as they are repentant, but continues onward with a parable. In this parable, Jesus tells us of a King who forgave the entire debt of a servant who repented and asked for debt forgiveness. Then his servant goes out to another servant who also debt, but far less. The lesser servant does the same as the first, begs for forgiveness, but instead of forgiving this servant acts wrathfully. The king is then angry at his servant and throws him into jail. The point of the parable is to show that God is forgiving and if you are repentant then he will forgive you your entire debt, but that he also expects you to act like him and to treat your brothers and sisters in the same fashion. And as Christians we know with sure certainty that God has indeed forgiven us our sins by looking at the Cross. Thus should we not also observe Jesus’ example? Should we not observe his forgiveness? And, in reference to “leading by example” and “the chain of authority”, should we not also observe this, what I would call, “Chain of Forgiveness”?
On an interesting note, here Jesus is comparing sin to debt, which is a comparison I make very often. God demands perfection, thus a good action, in the eyes of God is a net zero; whereas sin is a net negative, where you incur debt. Nothing you do will resolve this debt back to a net zero because all perfect actions are already net zero’s, they are already required. Anything positive must be above and beyond perfection. So as a sinner, you are racking up a lengthy debt and nothing you can do will ever make that debt go away and bring it all to a net zero. Yet here is Jesus saying as long as you have faith in me, I will provide for you debt forgiveness. A lovely picture, which is present throughout scripture showing us that we are save by faith alone and not by any amount of good works, which is Pelagianism, a heresy denounced by the Roman Catholic Church during the first millennium.
So this “Chain of Forgiveness”, Jesus has forgiven us and demands that we follow his example and forgive our brothers. How many times a day? As often as your brother repents; continual forgiveness. And what if they are not repentant? Well you may forgive them, but the requirement to forgive is attached to repentance. For if a person comes to you truly sorrowful of their sins and wishes to change their ways then you must forgive them just as Jesus first forgiven you. That is what is meant when I say, “Chain of Forgiveness”.
For the history of Israel is a history full of God’s wrath and forgiveness. God doesn’t change his mind like humans, willy-nilly; nor does God give forgiveness like candy during a parade. Because of our sins He is wrathful, but is swift to forgiveness if we repent. Jonah went to Nineveh, well he was forced to go there, and preached that God was going place his wrath on them. The King and all his subjects repented of their sins, and, to Jonah’s dismay, God forgave them and relented of His anger.
What am I trying to say? Let me begin with this, whereas God is gracious and merciful, swift to anger and swift to relenting of his anger, He does not cheapen His grace; he does not hand out forgiveness like some rich man who throws money at every single cause without looking up to see if the causes are good or nefarious. Now do not be mistaken, this does not imply that God does not withhold his grace to only those who are repentant, only that He does not cheapen His grace, and above all else He will never withhold His grace to those who repent.
Because of this, we should do so too. We should be swift to forgiveness to those who repent, just like God who is swift to forgiveness when we repent. But we should not cheapen this grace. Why should we not cheapen grace? If you remember last week, I gave a plethora of examples why, but this week I’ll reflect on Bonhoeffer. When asked how the Church allowed the Nazi party to exist, Bonhoeffer, knowing through experience, said that the Church allowed the Nazis to exist because they cheapened Grace. His quote goes as such, “Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.” Basically, when you cheapen grace, you allow evil to flourish.
So how do we not cheapen the grace of forgiveness? Maybe the first step is to, in a loving fashion, help each other realize our sins, and, as Christians, when we acknowledge our sins we are lead towards repentance, and because we repent of our sins we forgive each other. This does not mean we look for sins nor arbitrarily say someone committed a certain sin such as the wolves-in-sheep-clothing who preach that all white people are guilty of racism and need to repent (which is anti-Christian in of itself and is sinful for it is bearing false witness, is technically a form of racism, and breaks at least on top of my head three of the articles in the Augsburg Confession). What this means is that when a brother or sister does sin against you, you help them realize their sin so that they may repent and so that they may be swiftly forgiven and so that the weight of sin would be lifted. For even if we are not aware of our sin, the weight of our sins can still be felt and our soul will be weighed down by the Guilt and Shame of our sins, but through forgiveness, not only are we released from our sins but also the guilt and shame that comes with sin.
So forgiveness is a beautiful thing, and know this, through your faith in Jesus Christ, you have been forgiven, and as loving Christians, let us walk in the example of Christ, forgiving each other.
Let us pray,
Heavenly Father, through you our debt is forgiven and the doors to heaven are open. We ask that you embolden us with your loving generous Spirit so that when we approach our repentant siblings in Christ we forget not your forgiveness but act in similar fashion. In your most holy name, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit we pray, Amen.
"Saints, But Still Sinners"
Thank you Pastor Chris Boyd!
Grace and peace to you my Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Amen.
Let me begin with this, You are Saved. You are indeed Saved. Through Christ and only through Christ, each and every one of us is Saved.
Now let me ask, what does that mean? It means that through Christ you have been forgiven and are now Saints, not because of anything you have done but because of what He has done. No amount of good works or merit or following the Law led you to becoming a Saint, for by our own devices none of these are possible, but because you are now Saints through Christ you are finally capable of doing works that are deemed, in the eyes of God, Good.
Yet, just because you are a Saint does not mean you are incapable of sinning or that the Law no longer applies to you. Christ forgave us our sins and broke the chains that forced us into sin, but he did put us into new chains that force us not to sin, but gave us the free will to choose on our own to follow or turn from God. Thus, though we are Saints through Christ, we are still sinners in need of the constant forgiveness from Christ and the Eucharist, the daily bread, which spiritually satisfied our aching hearts.
I am reminded of an odd theology that sprung up during the reformation with great popularity only to be rightly denounce as utter heresy. This heretical line of thinking, unfortunately, still exists today: If you are saved then you cannot sin. Such an odd thing, for it implies that after your baptism nothing that comes out of you is a sin. The first consequence that comes to my mind of this theology is: what if you do sin and know you committed a sin, does that mean your baptism was invalid? Guess we might as well rebaptize. What if you lost your faith? Does that mean your baptism was invalid? Goes we might as well rebaptize. What if you were unable to affirm your faith in cases such as infant baptism? Guess we might as well rebaptize. Such a line a thinking is detrimental for it leads us into questioning our own baptism, which is not an act of Man, another heresy, but an act of God.
Last week I preached about things of Man and things of God; Baptism is most definitely a thing of God, and no amount of sin you commit will ever desecrate this sacred act that God did on your behalf. This is why we baptize infants, because it is not a thing of Man but a thing of God.
Another consequence to this heretical belief is that you ignore the sins you are committing.
I'm perfect, I can't sin.
But you just sinned.
No I didn't.
But what about...
Hush, I'm a Saint, I can't sin, every action I do is Good.
I guess, it's not enough that the Bible, through 1 John, clearly states, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
A similar misunderstanding includes the belief that because Christ forgive us our sins then the Law has been abolished. There's no longer the Law, therefore there is no longer sin; as a Christian, all my actions are acceptable... this is no different then the heresy I just mention for both basically state that because I am a Christian I can do anything, I can do no wrong, and anything I do is acceptable. Wrong. Christ came not to abolish the Law, nor to add to the Law, but to fulfill the Law. The Law still exists. Sin still exists. You are still a Sinner. And Sin is still bad, evil, against God.
Yet, despite all of this, God has blessed us through the Church a most amazing revelation, you are not alone in your sin. For were as the Church is an assembly of Saints, for through Christ, and only through Him, we are all Saints, it is also an assembly of Sinners. No one in the Church is perfect except the Head, Christ, but because we are of the Church and through Christ brothers and sisters, we are not alone in our imperfection. We look out for each other, we point out each others' sins, we help lift each other up, we forgive each other, and we remind each other of Christ who is in our lives.
In our first reading, Ezekiel, God is basically telling us that if He says that something is a sin and we do not warn our fellow brother or sister that what they are doing is a sin then blood is on our hands. But out of love toward our brother and sister, if we see them live a life of great sin then by warning them and preaching scripture to them they may see the errors of their way. And if they don't turn from their sins, you would prove yourself a loving Christian and blood is not on your hands.
And in the Gospel of St Matthew, that when a brother or sister in Christ sins against you you let them know, though at first in private. It is not a thing of the Church to allow our brothers and sisters to wallow in sin, for if they sinned against you then they are creating a divide almost as if they, a brother, are lost to you. But as members of the one Holy united catholic, which means united, Church we desire union, thus, if your brother listens to you and repents of their sin, they you have truly gained your brother back. And if they don't, you bring in more members of the church, slowly, not jumping the gun, all for the sake of union, and if they still don't listen then you expand to the Church, then the Deans, and then the Bishop. But before all of this, the first thing you do is talk in private, so as to not hold this sin that was committed against you in your heart and to swiftly allow your brother the chance to repent.
But what if after all this they still don't listen? Then you treat your brother as if they are Gentile or a tax collector. That is not to say that you ignore them or treat them like lepers, but you treat them with even more care and by preaching the Word to them even more so, for they are a lost brother, but through the Word, hopefully, they will be found.
All of this is done out of love for our brothers and sisters in Christ, for whereas we love the sinner, and all of us are still sinners, because we love the sinner, truly love that is, then we also hate the sin. In fact, if we were to accept the actions, the sins of the sinner, then that would be the same as truly hating the sinner, for no one who truly loves a sinner would accept said sinner's sins.
But that sounds judgy. It does. But what about when Jesus said, “thou shall not judge”? Boy do you sound like a politician. Whereas Jesus did say that, there is more to what he said and you are taking his words out of context. This is what he said in Matthew, chapter 7, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” Basically, Jesus is not saying do not judge your brother, but you should be willing to judge, and if you aren't willing to be judged then you should not be judging others. In fact, proclaiming, “thou shall not judge” at others who are judging is in of itself an act of judging for you are judging those who judge. Remember the heresies I mentioned in the beginning of this sermon? Those are the people who would say, “how dare you judge me.”
Now I am not advocating for a malicious form of judging, nor a human/worldly form of judging. All I'm preaching for, in accordance will Scripture, is that we love our neighbor, and through such love, we have a genuine concern for our Christian brothers and sisters while warning each other of our sins, not to put people down but to lift each other up in the name of the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Thus, through the grace of God, I pray that as the Church, we continue to walk with each other as Saints. And, as Sinners, help each other out as we walk together in the light of the Father, accepting His forgiveness and cleansing through the Blood of the Son, and accepting the blessed union of the Church through the Holy Spirit, “for where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am also.”
Sermon for 9/06/2020
Pastor Chris Boyd Sermon Sunday 9/06/2020
Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen.
“Who do you say I am?”
Throughout the Old Testament, there are many who have proclaimed God. They proclaimed His might, His power, His creation, they proclaimed who God is. The prophets did this on behalf of God who first proclaimed Himself to them. The Judges did this. The Kings did this. In fact King David did this so much that we have an entire Book filled with songs of praise to our Lord, Psalms. There is no shortage of holy proclamations about our Father in Heaven.
In the New Testament, the tradition continues, and Paul, the author of many of the letters found in the New Testament, was no stranger to proclaiming the greatness of the Father. He, like his many predecessors, glorified the greatness of the Creator and His awesome power and grace and mercy. But Paul went one step further; in Romans he proclaimed this:
“ 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to [even] them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.”
Paul went one step further and proclaimed quite clearly that all believe in God, that there is no such thing as a true atheist, but rather those who choose to exchange the Truth for a lie. In a sense, he is proclaiming that all are secretly like the prophets in that all are subconsciously aware of the greatness of the Father. Yet, because of the complete corruption of sin within our lives we have given up what God has made obvious and instead chose to make for ourselves gods and serve these creations whether that is dumb idols or even humanity itself. Out of human narcissism, even though we know God, we pretend to be wise and thus prove ourselves to be fools.
It is because of this complete corruption of sin that many of us choose to follow the great lie. It is because of this complete corruption of sin that many don’t want to see the Truth, can’t see the Truth. It is because of this complete corruption of sin that for many it is almost as if a veil has been placed over our eyes and what we see is not the whole world. This is why Jesus tells Peter that it is not out of flesh and blood that he proclaims Jesus as Christ. Flesh and blood has been completely corrupted by sin and though all may know of God, we can’t even fathom a piece of God. We may know a little bit about God, a mere awareness may be all that we have, but this corruption has locked us away from seeing the whole Truth, the ability to see that Jesus is Christ.
Then, this man of Nazareth shows up and performs miracles, and teaches with such brilliance and knowledge of Scripture. He speaks and there is authority behind his words. This man must truly be a great man. Many may perceive him to be this John the Baptist that they heard about. Others may believe this is Elijah back on earth, descended from Heaven. And still others may perceive him to be Jeremiah or another prophet. But God? No, who in their right mind would claim he is God and truly believe it sincerely in their hearts? Jesus may be a great man, but he is still a man; plus, God is God.
There is an impossibility to proclaim Jesus is God, that Jesus is Christ. We are spiritual incapable of proclaiming this, not because of human ineptitude but because of the chains of sin which force us to not recognize this. We may all know of God, but sin prevents us from acknowledging the depth of God, most especially that Jesus is He. It is impossible for us. It would take a miracle for us to make not that mental leap, but spiritual leap to acknowledge the divinity of Jesus. We, by our own devices can’t make that leap, for we will fail, but, by the grace of God, and only by the grace of God, we may succeed.
Through flesh and blood we cannot proclaim Christ as Lord. It is only through the Holy Spirit, which proceeds from the Father, can we truly believe, have faith, and loudly proclaim Jesus is Christ.
This is why Jesus tells Peter, after proclaiming that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, that, “flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in Heaven.”
A miracle did happen that day, Peter proclaimed Jesus is Christ, and he truly believed the words that he said. He didn’t do this from his own will, but God’s will. For on that day, Peter was truly blessed. God the Father gifted him with a revelation and it is because of this gift, not because of his own will, that Jesus also blessed Peter with his name, which means Rock, “for on this Rock I will build my church.” Outside of being the first of the twelve disciples, there was nothing special about him, just like there was nothing special about the Hebrews and Israel, but God still gifted him with faith and it is because of this faith that Jesus gives him the name Peter and proclaims that Peter, who proclaimed Jesus, would be the strong foundation that the church was to be built upon.
Yet Christ said a most curious thing after proclaiming this, he told his disciples not to tell anyone else. Why? The reason is two-fold. The first is because of sin which would block others from understanding, leading to misunderstanding and even generating hatred that could lead towards the untimely deaths of the disciples. The other is because Christ had yet to die for the sake of our sins. But after His death and resurrection, Christ null and voids this command and instead commands his disciples to proclaim the Good News, that Christ has died for our sins and that through him and his glorious resurrection we are indeed saved.
Thus, after his resurrection, through this Great commission, Jesus Christ has opened the means of Salvation. That through the proclamation of the Gospel, the Holy Spirit may enter into us and provide for us the miracle necessary to have faith and believe that Jesus is Christ, and, through this faith, have Salvation.
And because today is a communion Sunday, we see this through the Daily Bread, this Holy Sacrament, for whereas through our flesh and blood we not only can’t believe in Jesus Christ, but also can’t maintain our faith, through His flesh and blood, through the bread and wine presented here today we are blessed with the spiritual sustenance necessary to maintain our faith in Jesus Christ.
So who do you say Jesus is?
Do you say Christ? If you say Christ, and you sincerely believe this and have faith in the promises he has made, then let it be known you are indeed saved. I say again, if you proclaim and have faith that Jesus is Christ, then let it be known the reason you can say this is because you are saved.
Let us pray,
Dear Heavenly Father, you are great and amazing and above all things. Through you we are truly blessed, for you have gifted us with your Son who died on the cross for our salvation, and you have gifted us with your Holy Spirit who provides for us the faith in your Son who is Christ, our Redeemer, Savior, Lord, and God. In your Name we pray, Amen.
Pastor Chris Boyd, Sermon for 9/13/20
Grace and Peace to you my Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Amen.
Have you ever been around a person whose emotions could suddenly switch on you, where at one moment they were happy and all of a sudden they do a hard flip and become very angry? Now I’m not talking about someone whose emotions changes frequently, I’m talking about someone who is capable of these hard switches. It catches you off guard, doesn’t it? Now, what about a person whose emotions rarely changes and has a good head on their shoulders, but retains the capacity to make these hard switches. They are usually calm, and then they are all of a sudden angry. Such anger would throw us off and make us wonder what just happened? What set this usually calm person off? Did I do something wrong? What happened?
A personal example, when I was in college training to be an officer, as a senior, I was inspecting my fellow younger Soldiers as they conducted leadership training through obstacle lanes. I’m on a raised platform overlooking multiple individual courses, each with their little huddle of Soldiers, one appointed as the graded leader of said course. And as I was overlooking I hear from one group, their leader talking in a raised voice and with some choice language. This Soldier is a friend of mine and usually does not act this way; he is usually kind and mild mannered, but now he is acting belligerent. I guess it was either the lack of food or the stress of being graded, but his conduct was shocking.
After seeing this, I responded by also raising my voice and ordered this Soldier to calm down, to stand down, to cool his head off. If seeing this Soldier’s conduct was shocking, my reaction must have been a hurricane; for after I said that, the whole field went quiet. The said Soldier most especially was quiet, and went to the side and cool his head off. Eventually, training continued as usual.
After this exercise, my Lieutenant Colonel told me in her office that that was the first time she has ever seen me visibly angry and raise my voice. She was in shock too, for here is an inspiring chaplain who is usually shy and quiet mannered projecting his anger at a Soldier who is acting up. She was glad that I had this authoritative side, but she honestly had no clue I had it in me.
It is this kind of incident that Peter finds himself in Scripture. Just minutes ago Jesus is praising Peter for acknowledging that Jesus is Christ. Jesus proclaims that the Father has truly blessed Peter, that from here on out Peter was to be the Rock on which Christ’s Church was to be built on, that the keys to heaven were Peter’s, and that he was giving the power to bind and loose. Jesus said all of this, and in a matter of minutes Jesus called Peter Satan!
What happened? What caused this extreme shift in emotions? One minute he praises Peter, the next he calls Peter Satan. And imagine the emotions Peter is experiencing? Probably fear and shock. What happened?
Right after Jesus praises Peter, he starts to talk about his death. After hearing this Peter couldn’t take it anymore, pulls Jesus to the side, and starts to rebuke his Rabbi, his Master, his God. It is because of this rebuke that Jesus responded with such vicious anger, “Get behind me, Satan!” Now when Peter pulled Jesus to the side he did so out of the kindness of his heart. He had concern for his Lord who is talking about how he must suffer and be killed. Peter loved Jesus deeply and did not want to see him depart, let alone suffer. Peter truly had good intentions, but what about the famous quote, “the path to Hell is paved with good intentions?” Just because Peter had good intentions, just because he acted out of love, does not mean his actions were truly Good, Godly even. In fact they weren’t. We know this because Jesus told Peter that his mind wasn’t set on things of God, but on things of Man, and it is because of this mindset that Jesus said, “Get behind me, Satan!” The fact that Peter had good intentions does not mean much. The fact that Peter acted out of kindness and love does not mean much. The fact that Peter wished for Jesus not to suffer but live does not mean much. Peter was still a puppet of Satan; Satan, who was using Peter in order to move Jesus away from fulfilling his role, fulfilling Scripture, and obeying His Father’s commands. Jesus had to suffer and be killed, it was foretold in Isaiah, and, instead of setting his mind on human things, he set his mind on Godly things and was obedient to his own death.
I am reminded of the multiple times in Scripture, for example from our reading in Romans, where we are told to live in the world, but not of the world, or, “Do not be conformed to this world.” To be conformed to this world is to act and think upon the things of Man. Such things that are worldly, things that are of Man, humane things, includes the desire to see others not suffer, to protect each other, the desire to see one’s neighbor or family or teacher live. There are many things that are worldly and appear to be good. But that is just it, they appear to be good. For what if your desire to prevent someone you love from suffering prevents them from fulfilling their desire to proclaim the Gospel? What if your desire to protect someone inhibits their desire to worship God and receive the Sacraments? What if your desire to save someone’s life hinders their desired ability to obey God? In such cases, these good intentions are not things of God, but simply things of Man, and if said someone was Jesus then he would most certainly say, “Get behind me, Satan!”
Jesus had a mission, He was sent not only to teach and to perform miracles, he was sent to fulfill Scripture by dying a most horrific and painful death so that through his suffering and death he may take on all of our sins and shove them into Hell. He died for our sins so that we may not die for our sins. He went to Hell, so that we won’t go to Hell. Someone had to pay for our sins, and Jesus came to be the innocent slaughtered Lamb sacrificed so that we wouldn’t go to Hell but instead live in Heaven with Him the now and forever Risen Son.
So when Satan spoke through Peter, trying to get Jesus off this mission, to disobey God, of course Jesus was furious. But he was also furious for Peter’s sake. For when Peter thought he was acting out of love, he was acting as a pawn of Satan, but Jesus who was acting out of anger was acting out of true love towards His servant. Jesus just blessed Peter, and now Satan is abusing His most trusted ally on Earth. Thus, for Peter’s sake, Jesus was furious and commanded Satan, not Peter, to go away. Get out of the one whom I building my Church on!
It is so interesting how in a matter of minutes both God and Satan spoke through Peter. One time God speaks through Peter, proclaiming that Jesus was Christ, the next Satan is speaking through Peter trying to save Jesus from his fate. The first was a thing of God, the other a thing of Man. But speaking of things of God, what is a thing of God? Jesus says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” What does this mean? Quite simply, to follow and embrace and obey God no matter the cost. Such a thing is truly a thing of God for this means you are willing to give up your life for God’s sake, or that you have what the world would view as an extreme form of courageous faith; the extreme courage to stay true to your faith even if that leads to death; the courage to go through trials and tribulations such as the ones Job went through and still hold on to your faith in God and follow Him.
Jesus took up his own cross and died so that we may be saved through Him. In like manner, we must be willing to embrace the cost of following in Jesus’ footsteps. If we truly wish to set our minds on things of God we must be willing to deny ourselves and, like Jesus, be willing to carry our own cross, even if that means dying for Jesus’ name sake.
Such a thing is scary, I understand, as a Chaplain I talk with Soldiers quite a bit about death and the willingness to die in order to preserve the freedoms of all Americans. And as Christians, to look death in the face without fear, to do such while following God, such is a daunting task. So I understand the fear.
There is a cost to following the Gospel and obeying God. We don’t preach a Prosperity Gospel, unlike some conmen. No, we preach a costly Gospel, one that is hated by the world, one that is mocked whenever a preacher or laity die, one that leads many a great men to their deaths. Stephen was stoned to death for his faith. Nero, ruler of Rome, ordered a mass genocide against Christians. Christians are ruthlessly killed for their faith today by, for example, Islamic extremists or Marxist regimes. Throughout history there are many a Christians who went on mission trips and died from some foreign disease, knowing full well that they most likely will get such a life threatening disease. One, for example, is St. Damien the Patron Saint for Leprosy, Outcasts, and Hawaii, who in the late 19th century conducted a mission trip to the Kingdom of Hawaii, before it became a state, to spread the
Gospel and to help treat those suffering from leprosy. At that time the Kingdom forced quarantined all who had leprosy, through an act in order to prevent the spread, on one of the islands, believing the illness of being fatal, incurable, and highly contagious. In response, Damien volunteered to be a missionary to this island of Hawaii, to serve the colony of leprosy, knowing full well he would contract it. And he did, but that did not stop him and he boldly continued his mission work till his death due to said leprosy.
So there is a cost to boldly following God, but know this, no matter what happens to you because of your faith, whether that is through virus or violence, Jesus the Lord our God who obeyed the Father unto death on the cross for our sake, and rose from the grave, will never leave you nor forsake you but continue to bless you, save you, and open there doors to eternal life in Heaven for you.
Let us pray,
Lord God, we come to you with humble hearts asking that you provide for us the amazing courage to not only deny ourselves, but to take up our own crosses to follow you and your every commandment regardless of the cost, for we wish to be conformed not by this world, but by your will and to have our minds set on Godly things. We ask this in your most holy name, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen.
Scripture Readings for June 21st
SCRIPTURE READINGS FOR JUNE 21, 2020 PENTECOST 3
LAY READER: Linda Holcomb
THE FIRST LESSON: 1st SAMUEL 16:1-7
THE WORD OF THE LORD
16 The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go. I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.” 2 And Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears it, he will kill me.” And the Lord said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ 3 And invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do. And you shall anoint for me him whom I declare to you.” 4 Samuel did what the Lord commanded and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling and said, “Do you come peaceably?” 5 And he said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Consecrate yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice.” And he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice. 6 When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him.” 7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
HERE ENDS THE READING OF THE FIRST LESSON
PSALMODY: PSALM 139:1-18
P O Lord, you have searched me and known me! C You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.
P You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. C Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
P You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. C Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.
P Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? C If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
P If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, C even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.
P If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” C even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.
P For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. C I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
P My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. C Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
P How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! C If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.
THE SECOND LESSON: HEBREWS 4:12-14
THE WORD OF THE LORD
12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Jesus the Great High Priest. 14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.
HERE ENDS THE READING OF THE SECOND LESSON
THE GOSPEL: ST. MATTHEW 7:21-23
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’