Thursday, December 13, 2007
Texts: Psalm 72; Deuteronomy 18:14-18; Hebrews 2:14-18; Mark 10:35-45
Theme: “This Child is the SON OF MAN!” (Galatians 4:4-5)
Armour, (second in the sermon series: “What Child Is This?”).
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! The words which engage us this evening are from St. Galatians 4: “But when the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons” (Galatians 4:4-5)
Saints in Christ, tonight we continue on our journey deep into the canyon of the Word to behold with the eyes of faith, the precious truth, treasures and timely words that will lead us to know full well who is this Child called Jesus; and the role He plays in our lives.
C. S. Lewis has written many wonderful books from a Christian perspective. In the classic Narnia series, one book is called “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.” In this book, the author addresses the dilemma that faces the Daughters of Eve and the Sons of Adam as they embark on the journey to this land called Narnia. Lucy was the first to enter. Upon entering this place she meets a Faun named Tumnus, who begins speaking with her: “Good evening, good evening,” said the faun. “Excuse me—I don’t want to be inquisitive—but should I be right in thinking you are a Daughter of Eve?” “My name’s Lucy,” said she, not quite understanding him. “But you are—forgive me—you are what they call a girl?” asked the Faun. “Of course I’m a girl,” said Lucy. “You are in fact Human?” “O course I’m human” said Lucy, still a little puzzled (pp 11-12)….a little further into the book the Faun attempts to figure a way to release Lucy from his kidnapping attempt: With tears in his eyes, he speaks thus: “I’m crying because I’m such a bad Faun.”… “But what have you done?” asked Lucy…“Taken service under the White Witch.” “The White Witch? Who is she?” “Why, it is she that has got all Narnia under her thumb. It’s she that makes it always winter. Always winter and never Christmas; think of that!” “How awful” said Lucy. (pp14-16).
In this story, C.S. Lewis describes the events of the Daughters of Eve and the Sons of Adam who have been taken captives by the White Witch and kept frozen in the courtyard. And they remained that way until the right time when the Lion “Aslan” comes to Narnia and with his life frees the captives from the dominion of the White Witch.
You need not be a theologian to understand the meaning of this book by C.S. Lewis. He was describing how the devil takes hold of man—the offspring’s of Adam and Eve and holds them captive, freezing their lives in the prison of sin and bind them without ever being able to escape.
This is your story and mine and the world. On account of Adam and Eve, our world was frozen over. Sin was the fruit of that disobedience in the garden. Death was the result of that fruit. And there was no escaping it by our own efforts no matter how we try to escape WE CAN’T.
In the Garden, God promised a Seed to Eve who would come and bring deliverance. Eve thought Cain was going to be the Savior. But Cain was not very Abel. Nevertheless Eve thought (Gen 4:1) it would be a Son of Man who would be the Savior of the world. In both Genealogies in the New Testament one who is related to David would come to be the Savior—A Son of Man.
This promised Seed of Eve, David, Mary and Joseph came at the right time to redeem man from the burden and bondage of sin. At the right time He came to free us from the clutches of death. At the appointed time, He arrived at the Scene.
The apostle Paul tells us in our text this evening: “But when the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.” Just at the right time. Not before, but in the plan of God at the right time, the Son of Man came to free man. The Son of Man came to give His life as a ransom to the world.
Jesus is the only Savior as Aslan is the only one who can be the “savior”. Aslan's purpose was to give his life so others might live and live again. In the same way Christ came as a babe in Bethlehem, but “nails, spear, shall pierce Him through, the cross be borne for me, for you.”
As we ask this question “What Child Is This?” We must come to the clear conclusion that the answer, is the Son of Man. The Son of Man born of Mary, and laid in the straw of the manger. The Son of Man humbled Himself for our sakes.
As we get deeper into the canyon of the Word, it becomes clear that at times we don’t know how bad our lives are. We don’t know what terrible fate awaits us. We don’t even know the hold that satan has over us.
Look at our situation. We are in desperate need. We are constantly harassed and harried. The enemies are all around us. There are more enemies than we can count. First there are those who would kill us because we are a follower of the Triune God. Then there are the unseen forces of economic downturn, medical crisis and natural disaster that would paralyze us with fear. Then there is the enemy that the classic Pogo cartoon would point out to us. “I have seen the enemy, and it is us!” We are our own worst enemy at times. We set out on journeys in life without consulting God or even caring what He wants for us. We cut off our nose to spite our face. We thumb our nose at God.
This is where God finds us. We are in constant combat. Day by day we are at war. We need to be rescued from this death. And what does God send us? A child. When we need a warrior, God sent His Son, born of a Woman, born under Law, to redeem those of us under the Law! When we were at war, God sent us a baby. This baby, all wrapped in swaddling clothes, one who is not even able to care for Himself, is the One that is supposed to deliver us? You have got to be kidding! A warrior in diapers is no warrior at all. We are lost.
But this is no ordinary child. This One is not just the Son of Man. This One is the Son of God. Like us, this One will grow. Like us, He will face temptation. But He will overcome it. Like us, He will face satan; But unlike us, He will defeat him. Like us, He will face death. But He will be victorious over it! This is no ordinary baby. What Child is this? He is the One God sent at just the right time, to just the right place, for just the right purpose, for the right people—you and me. He has come so that we might by His grace alone become the Sons and daughter of God.
What comfort it is for us as we travel into the canyon of the Word, that we would learn the truth of Holy Scripture. For Scripture teaches us saying: “If we are children, then we are also heirs...” heirs of heaven, of life with Him forever because God always acts at the right time. His sent this heaven-sent child so that we might become the children of God.
WHAT CHILD IS THIS? He is the One promised to the virgin, who will be called Immanuel. (Is. 7:14)
WHAT CHILD IS THIS? For unto us a Child is born...and His name shall be Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, Prince of Peace, Everlasting Father, and of His kingdom there shall be no ending?” (Is 9:6-7).
WHAT CHILD IS THIS? He is the One who will bring a new heaven and new earth where the bear and lion shall pasture, the lamb and wolf lay down together, and little children will have no fear of vipers, cobras, and other animals that threatened us today. (Is. 11:6-9)
WHAT CHILD IS THIS? It is the Child who grew up to be the Suffering Servant who would die for the sins of mankind, suffer in our stead, and rise from the dead bringing life, love, light, and salvation? (Is. 53)
WHAT CHILD IS THIS? Why He is the Son of Man Your Savior and God. Amen.
Now the peace of God…
Sunday, December 9, 2007
Texts: Isaiah 11:1-10; Romans 15:4-13; Matthew 3:1-12
Theme: “God’s Desire For YOU!” Romans 15:13
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! The text for this 2nd Sunday in Advent is a portion of the Epistle Lesson: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen” (Romans 15:13).
Saints in Christ, this time of the year is the season of family. Some of my greatest Christmas memories are tied to family gathering both in the old country and the new. The trips are memorable. The gatherings are memorable. Even some of the down times are memorable. But the common denominator is family. Part of a being in a family is the joy of doing things for the people we love. We care about them and want to be a blessing to them.
During this blessed Season, our attention turns towards how we can fill the desires of those we love. Sometimes, we have to ask what their desire is. Husbands, you know what I am talking about. “Honey, what do you want for Christmas?” She hems and haws and then says, “Oh, I don’t know…” It’s a trap! You know that if you don’t come through, it will be hard on your wife and you! With kids it is a lot easier. Kids don’t have a problem telling you what they desire. When my children were little (and even when not so little) they would tell us of their desires—they would have a Wish book that is marked with their desires in red, or sometimes circled. It would be easy to identify their desire by simply reading the book or magazine.
This season of Advent and Christmas is a season of desire as well. It is all about God’s desire for you. This desire is totally different than the trapping desire of a loved one or a limitless desire of children. It is NOT about getting them the latest gadget, gimmick, or gizmos. Rather it is about something more substantial. It is all about God’s limitless, eternal desire to have you as His very own. God desires to give you the opportunity to live with Him for ever.
How do we know of this desire? Well, like my family with the Wish book, we are called to “just look at the Book!” Today we turn to the Book of Romans. What we find in these words from St. Paul that were written first to the Romans Christians and meant for us on this day, is that our God has a desire to have you as His very own. This is not a new desire. This desire is greater than the desire of kids to have their wishes fulfilled. It is a desire to love and care for you that has lasted longer than the desire you have had for your spouse. It is a desire rooted in the heart of God from before the first, “Let there be…” and it continues today unabated. Nothing can change this desire either. God’s desire was evident at the fall. When Adam and Eve sinned and ran away, God went looking for them, covered their shame with garments and protected them from the eternal death by removing them from the Garden. That wasn’t God’s desire for His people. Rather in the midst of Words of judgment, there were words of joy. In the midst of punishment there was a promise. This promise was for a Savior that would clothe God’s people in a new garment, a garment of righteousness. God’s desire to give forgiveness and life to His people oozes and drips from every page of Holy Scriptures. This is why Paul says what he says. “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have HOPE”. This hope is not rooted in what we desire. It is a hope that is rooted firmly in God’s heart. God’s desire is to have YOU as His beloved children. God’s desire is to be your God. It is God’s desire that you be freed from every baggage and burden, sin and sorrow, grief and agony, despair and death. God’s desire for the sinner—you and me, was evident in the heavenly sent Savior, who came to earth, tasted hunger and thirst, loneliness and grief and death on the cross for YOU. God’s desire is to give you the songs of praise that shout from your lips.
We in no way deserve this desire. God’s desire is foolishness to us. It doesn’t make sense that someone could love us so much. Could give us so much. Do you have any idea who it is that God desires? He desires you! Sure that makes us feel good, but YOU? ME? You have to be kidding. We know who we are. We may well be respectable looking on the outside. The world may look at us and say that we sure have it all together. Nice job. Good kids. A Member of Christ’s Church. But we know the truth about ourselves. We give a glimpse of it to those who are gathered here together in God’s house each week by the Holy Spirit. We confess that we are poor, miserable sinners. We confess that we sin daily. This daily sin is not just little bits and pieces of our life. It is in every part of our life. We know ourselves. The truth is, most of the time, we don’t even desire ourselves, let alone be the desire of God’s heart. This is God we are talking about here!! The King of the Universe, The Almighty Creator, The HOLY One desires YOU, ME—hopeless, hapless, and helpless sinners.
That is what makes this season so special. It is all about making His desires know to us. This desire is so strong that it would lead an Eternal Father to send His only Son into the womb of a virgin. This desire would drive that same Son all the way from Nazareth to Jerusalem. This desire would lead Him to exchange a Manger for a Cross, new life for death. FOR YOU!
This desire is too good to be true. But it is! We have God’s Word on it. That is why it is so critical for us to hear and read and study and immerse ourselves in this Word. It is so critical that we here at Redeemer have declared 2008 the Year of the Word. Our study does not earn us a spot in God’s heart. Our study will not allow us to do good enough that we will pass eternity’s entrance exam. Rather our study is to remind us of God’s gracious desire for us! Reading the book points us to God’s desire for us!
Every week, we are privileged to see this desire play out as people leave their homes, and come to the home of the Lord. Each week we are blessed to see God’s desire unfolds as He forgives us our sins and blesses us with His Word and Sacrament. What blessed people to gather Sunday after Sunday to learn anew of the desire of our loving Father. Here, brothers and sisters come to know the depth of God’s desire for them. As they receive and confess that desire with us each week, we are reminded just how far and high and wide and deep is God’s desire for us.
God’s desire for us is what caused Christmas. God’s desire for us is what caused Easter! God’s desire for us is what sends us out into the world to announce this desire to a world that is filled with all too many desires. Of these, C.S. Lewis said, Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition, when infinite joy is offered to us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in the slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.
But God’s desires are greater. He is not pleased with anyone being left in the mud. He offers us not a holiday at sea, but a blessed time in the arms of our Messiah, with our Savior and Lord, to spend an endless joy and peace with Him in Paradise.
The Apostle Paul speaks of the wonderful message on HOPE—faith toward the future based on what God has done in the past. HOPE is rooted in God’s heart, printed on the pages of Scripture, wrapped in cradle, nailed on a cross, and chiseled in the wounds of the risen Savior!
As we move deeper into this season, we recall that this is a season of desires. Not of our desire, but God’s. And this gives us comfort! Paul says it better than I. May the God of HOPE fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with HOPE by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen
Now the peace of God…
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Theme: “This Child is the SON OF GOD!” Matt16:13-16 (esp. vs. 16)
Armour, (first in the sermon series: “What Child Is This?”).
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! The words which engages us this evening are from the Gospel of Matthew: “When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’ They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ “But what about you?” He asked. “Who do you say I Am?” Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’” (Mt. 16:13-16).
Saints in Christ, tonight we embark on a blessed journey deep into the canyon of the Word of the Lord, to glean and grow through our discoveries. By the Spirit’s power, we will learn the truth about the man called Jesus.
Beloved in Christ, perhaps this name is known to you or perhaps not. Voltaire is a name that is well-known yet today. Voltaire was a very famous writer in the 18th century. He is well known for his writing of plays, poems, and famous sayings. He is also well-known by the church but not for his faith but for his unbelief. Voltaire was a man who wanted nothing to do with God and religion. And in his writings he often poked fun at the Church and its leader Jesus Christ.
But when Voltaire was about to die, his attitude and his story made a real change. He suffered a stroke and knew that he was going to die. He called for a priest and wanted to take back all the things that he had written and said about faith in God. He cursed his own friends who were also unbelieving and wanted him to die unbelieving. This is what is written about him when he was suffering:
“For two months he was tortured with such an agony as led him at times to gnash his teeth in impotent rage against God and man. At other times, in plaintive accents, he would plead, “O Christ! O Lord Jesus!” Then, turning his face he would cry out, “I must die—abandoned by God and of men!”
As the end drew near his condition became so frightful that his unbelieving (infidel) associates were afraid to approach his bedside. Still they guarded the door that others might not even know how awfully an unbeliever (infidel) was compelled to die. Even his nurse repeatedly said “That for all the wealth of Europe she would never see another unbeliever (infidel) die”. It was a scene of horror that lies beyond all exaggeration.
Voltaire was a well-known man, wealthy and witty, powerful and prominent. It seemed that he had all that the world could offer him. But there was one question that had never been answered in his life. That question was the one Jesus directed to Peter, “WHO DO YOU SAY THAT I AM?” (Matt. 16:15)
Voltaire lacked something—lacked the peace that comes from knowing who Jesus Christ is. We can know all things in the world. We can have all things in the world. We can know all kinds of people in the world. But if we don’t know who Christ is, that is a sad story indeed. The question is still asked today. “WHO DO YOU SAY THAT I AM?” (Matt. 16:15)
A very well-known and favorite Christmas hymn asks a similar question. In reference to the Christ-Child in the manger of Bethlehem, the hymn asks, “WHAT CHILD IS THIS?”
That is the theme for our Midweek Advent Sermon series. And this evening, we will talk about the first answer to the question, “What Child is This?” With the Help of the Holy Spirit that moved Peter to respond with this courageous and bold statement; we will look at the answer: “THIS CHILD IS THE SON OF GOD!"
I. Peter's Confession was the Correct One
Though it is a mystery to us, something that we cannot fully comprehend or explain the Bible teaches us and we believe that Jesus is both God and man. And this evening we want to review again what the Bible teaches about Jesus being True God, that is, that Jesus is the Son of God!
In the Old Testament, (our reading for this evening) a very important passage is that one we have heard again and again: “... And His Name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God…” (Is. 9:6). There we have it. God was promising that His Son, our Savior, would be True God. And so He was called in promise, “MIGHTY GOD.”
Then the angel appeared to Mary and spoke to her. “…the holy One to be born will be called the Son of God” (Lk. 1:35). And after Jesus was born, the angels told the shepherds, “A Savior has been born who is Christ the Lord” (Lk. 2:11). The Bible calls Him True God. It doesn’t mince words.
We have others mentioned in the Bible who are led to the same conclusion. We could think first of Peter. Peter said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Then we think of those beautiful words of Thomas after Jesus had risen from the dead. Remember that Thomas just would not believe that Jesus was alive until he could see Him and touch Him. Then Jesus appeared and Thomas’ response was, “My Lord and My GOD” (John 20:28). Thomas referred to Jesus as God.
We think also of that bitter and bloody night, Jesus had been crucified for the sins of humanity. By His feet stood a Roman centurion, who having witnessed His suffering, crucifixion, and death proclaimed. “Truly this was the Son of GOD” (Matt. 27:45).
Even the demons show us that Jesus was and is True God! When Jesus approached some of those who were demon possessed, they would cry out to Him because they knew that He was the Son of God and that He had control over them.
And Jesus Himself taught again and again that He was sent by the Father to be the Savior of the world and that He was True God. When He was questioned just before His crucifixion, Jesus was asked, “Are You the Son of God, then?” Jesus answered in the affirmative, “Yes, I AM!” (Lk. 22:70).
We don’t have to wonder who Jesus WAS and who Jesus IS. The Bible answers that for us: “This Child is the Son of GOD!” And Peter’s answer to Jesus was the correct answer, the only answer!
II. Our Confession is that of Peter
Today we are faced with the fact that there are many who pick the Bible apart. Many of them work their very hardest to try to show that the Bible is wrong, that it is just a book of stories. Many of them are like Voltaire; they want nothing to do with God and Jesus Christ. And yet what terrors and torment awaits them as they are dying and facing eternity!
“What child is this? This is the question that is before us and the world today. There is no greater and more important question. To get it wrong puts people in the horrible position that Voltaire found himself in. What child is this? By faith our answer echoes Peter. “Jesus the Christ IS THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD! The long-promised Savior.”
If Jesus had been only a man, He could not have been our Savior, and He could not have risen from the dead. But because He is the Savior, He became a curse for us! He died that we might live, the Just for the unjust, the Righteous for the unrighteous. Jesus, the Son of God died the cruelest death imaginable, and even beyond all imagination. Not only experiencing the torture of crucifixion, but the torment of carrying the world’s sin and being forsaken by His own Father.
During these days of Advent we remember that with Jesus’ own cross that God the Father keeps His promise. And with the death of the Son of God, our sins are paid in full: “If one man’s sin brought death to all people, we are all the more certain God’s love and the free gift of His love in one man, Jesus Christ, have been richly poured out on all people” (Rom. 5:15).
No matter what the world says then, no matter what we hear from other who would deceived us, or destroy the faith we have in Him, or deny the Word of the Lord, we confess with Peter and Martin Luther saying: I BELIEVE THAT JESUS CHRIST, TRUE GOD, BEGOTTEN OF THE FATHER FROM ALL ETERNITY, AND TRUE MAN BORN OF THE VIRGIN MARY IS MY LORD, WHO HAS REDEEMED ME A LOST AND CONDEMNED CREATURE.
“What Child is this?” Why, none-other than the Son of GOD! Amen and Amen.
Now the peace of God…