Tuesday, March 29, 2011

“Lost at the Well BUT Found by the Waterer” (John 4:10-15)

S-1241 3MIL/3A 03/27/11, (O) #149; (S) #277; L.S. 308; #301; #344 (C) #31

Text: Exodus 30:17:1-7; Romans 5:1-8; John 4:5-26

Theme: “Lost at the Well BUT Found by the Waterer” (John 4:10-15)

Question: “How thirsty are you?” 3rd in Sermon series Lost and Found


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! The text for our 3rd Sunday in Lent is from the Gospel lesson: “Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, “Give me a drink,” you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are You greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’ The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” (John 4:10-15).

Introduction: In Nomine IESU

You who are the most LOVED of the Lord, there are stories and there are STORIES. If ever there is a story of compassion, love and mercy in Scripture that grips your heart, today’s Gospel is it. Today we behold a daughter of Eve who is lost at a well. This is more than a good story to be told and retold. It is a story of profound and incomprehensible love—LOVE that sees the other’s need and meets that need, no matter what the personal cost. True love will love even when the beloved is deaf, blind, dumb, lost and even dead to the one doing the loving. When the beloved is “unresponsive”, then Jesus who is pure love acts to overcome that unresponsive blindness.

Today, John describes a most unusual encounter between a nameless, faceless, homeless, lost soul and a stranger sitting at Jacob’s well. Jesus is tired and weary. He had been walking in the Judean hills and passes through Samaria. Many Jews would avoid that part of the country like a plague. They would travel 30 extra miles out of their way so that they would not meet the Samaritans. The Jews and Samaritans have deep hatred for each other. Why such hate? In the 9th century B.C., Shalmaneser, king of Assyria conquered Samaria and deported the Israelite elite to Assyria. In their place he populated Samaria with heathen worshiping people. In time the Samaritans intermarried and adopted some of the heathen ways of worship; which of course, made the Samaritans and Jews enemies with each another.

At high noon, (when the temperatures are hovering at 130 degrees) Jesus is sitting at the well and a nameless, faceless, homeless, lost soul comes to draw water. She came seeking water to quench her thirst. She was lost without realizing it. By Jesus sitting at the well she couldn’t avoid Him.

He begins the dialogue by saying “Give me some water to drink!” She is taken back and blurts out, “How dare you a Jew talk to me a Samaritan. You know that Jews and Samaritans don’t talk to each other and besides you are a man and am a woman. That is unheard off, unacceptable in our society! And besides You don’t have anything to draw water with!” Then the sweet words of honey fall from the lips of Jesus that hot day upon the ears of this lost soul saying: Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’ Her ears perked up and she now desires this water, so that she doesn’t have to come to this well and draw water again. But Jesus’ water will not be drawn from the bottom of a hole, but from His heart that oozes with love and mercy.

From the heart of Him who is love words go forth to this nameless, faceless, homeless lost soul and probes deeper. It is as if Jesus starts on the outside and peels layer after layer until He reaches the dark crevasses of her lost heart. He first asks her to go get her husband, and she responds, “I don’t have a husband!” And Jesus tells her, “she is right, and she has had five husbands.” She is taking back that He knows so much about her. He then tells her, “that she is shaking up with someone.”

Here is the amazing love that goes forth from Him who is love to a condemned woman by society and by her own heart—that brings her comfort and peace. Here we behold Jesus finding her. He didn’t just help her get water from the well (120 feet deep) but gave her the living water that showed her she is no longer lost. PAUSE.

Her question of this stranger “Are You greater than our father Jacob who dug this well and drank from it” is answered by Jesus, Ego Eimi (Greek) “I Am” the Great I Am of the O.T. I Am the One who provided water to the Israelites in the wilderness and I Am the One who will provide water for you and every thirsty soul who comes to drink from my well will be quenched.

This is nothing but pure grace. The Apostle Paul in the Epistle lesson for today tells us “But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). This love is shown by the Great I Am who goes looking for the lost and erring.

What we learn from this great dialog and how things turn out, is that no one is that far down, that far out, that the love of God in Christ Jesus cannot reach down to the deepest well, the darkest corner, or the further portion of the world to save them! God even heard the prayer of a faithless Jew from the belly of the Great fish and answered it. Hear me well beloved in the Lord, Jesus is the One who reaches out to you in the hour of need—the coolness of the morning, the heat of the day or in the darkness of night. He reaches to you with His arms of love and compassion and pulls you to His bosom and quenches your thirst once and for all.

This stranger at the Well is no stranger after all. He is the long expected Messiah who has come to seek and to save the lost. He is the Great I Am who comes with living water that quenches the thirst of ever sinner that seeks Him out. He is even here today, seeking you out at this well to forgive you and give you His abundant provisions of love and mercy. PAUSE.

This faceless, nameless, homeless lost soul is bewildered beyond measure. At first glance it appears she and the stranger has nothing in common. Yet that is not the case. What she has in common with her Savior is what you and I have in common with Him. We are sinners, utterly lost and condemned. He is the God who truly is LOVE and who has sought us from before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4) to be His own. He would provide for her the streams of living water that is Himself (here and in Revelation 7:17). Yes, here we have a story of true LOVE. Jesus is making His way to Jerusalem for the Passover. He is the very Lamb of Sacrifice. Today we are a mere month from the Resurrection observation and celebration and just 3 and half weeks from the Crucifixion. He was not distracted from my cross, or from yours.

Distraction is the stuff of the human fallen heart. The newly freed slaves of Egypt, grumbled because there was no water that are visible to the several million exiles. They had forgotten the ten plagues and the walk through the Red Sea on dry ground, even though these are very recent events – all the love and mercy…and they are dying of thirst! The woman who had five husbands and now has no husband - she thirsts. She thinks that Jesus can give her a source of water that will take away her shame of coming out to Jacob’s Well at noon-time, rather than in the morning with the other women. She is distracted. How about you? Are you easily distracted?! Are you ashamed of past sins?! Are you hurting today brothers and sisters in Christ?!”

Jesus will give the woman water that is different from that which is hauled up from this well. He will give water from the Rock at Horeb, at the base of Sinai, in the arid desert. He creates life where lifelessness rules the day.

Jesus speaks to the woman and declares that He is The Messiah. He tells her plainly that He is there... for her. He will stay with these Samaritans another two days, and dialog with them. They will see that He is indeed the Savior of the World. Though they know this, it does not stop Him from moving forward to Jerusalem. He does not die this year, but it will be soon. He is the One who shows His great love to us in this, that while we are yet sinners, like the grumbling Exiles, like the sinful Samaritan Woman, like her friends in Sychar - He came to die - for us.

Beloved, I am telling you nothing new. It is familiar. The reason it is familiar is that He has dialoged with us and continues to dialog with us even now. Like a loving husband to His beloved Holy Bride our Groom reminds us that His love does indeed make all things new. Today you may be burdened by a thirst that cannot be quenched by anything or anyone other than Jesus. You have heard not only the testimony of others, but you yourself have heard His Word, you have dialoged with Him and you know that He is more than the Savior of the World. He is your Savior! He has been in the past, and He is yours today and for every tomorrow. He will quench your every spiritual thirst forever and ever.

Today, you who are most loved will have an encounter by the Waterer at His well. Here at Redeemer’s well Jesus offers you His body to feed you. Here at Redeemer’s well Jesus offers you His blood to quench your thirst forever. So come, come dear children so that the GREAT I AM may fill you with His gifts of love and send you away forgiven and in peace. Amen.

Now the peace…

Soli Deo Gloria.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

“Broken Trust" (Mt. 26:21-25)

S-l240 3M1L/3A 03/23/11, (O) #151 w. 1, 4, 7, (S) #428, (C) #416

Text: Psalm 37; Isaiah 12; Matthew 26:17-25

Theme: Broken Trust" (Mt. 26:21-25)

Question: “How is your Trust level?” 3rd in Sermon series Broken.. .But NOT Broke


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! The text for our 3rd Midweek is from the Gospel lesson: And as they were eating, He said, ‘Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.’ And they were very sorrowful and began to say to Him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?” He answered, ‘He who has dipped his hand in the dish with Me will betray Me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.’ Judas, who would betray Him, answered, “Is it I, Rabbi?” He said to him, ‘You have said so.’” (Mt. 26:21-25).

Introduction: In Nomine IESU

In Jesus’ name beloved children of God, it is a small word, but oh what a word. Only 5 letters, but it is a word that runs deep into our being. It is a word that sets us apart from all others and the way we behave as Christians. It is a word that runs our lives, our churches, our marriages, our country and our response to the grace of God in Baptism. The word is TRUST.

Where there is Trust there is unity and love. Where there is Trust there is peace and joy. However all of the arguing and fighting that goes on between people, occurs because people don’t trust each other. How true and yet how sad. You are seeing it played out daily in what is happening in the Middle East Libya and other countries—lack of trust.

You have heard it said: “How could you do this, I TRUSTED YOU?” You know the pain and heartaches that occurs when trust has been broken. Some of you have experienced this first hand and others have witnessed it play out in the lives of some people you know.

A couple of years ago in the city of Sioux Falls, a mother dropped her son at a Day Care Center. That same afternoon the police called the mother at work and asked her to come to the hospital. When she arrived at the hospital she discovered that the Day Care provider had broken the child’s arm. Even though the authority closed down the Day Care Center because of abuse, the mother still asked the question: “How could you do that to my child? I trusted you. You betrayed me!”

In our own town of Armour, few years back someone was hired to fix a basement job for a lady. The lady trusted this person to complete the task. However, this person swindled from her thousands of dollars. (Over $200.000). He was a thief and a scoundrel. She said, “How could you do that to me? I trust you. You betrayed me!”

A young couple got married. At the altar the husband said, “I, in the presence of God and these witnesses, take you to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until death parts us, and I pledge you my faithfulness.” Yet, shortly after the wedding ceremony, the abuse began. It started out with a coarse word on how she looked and how she walked. Then the abuse increased. It was no longer an emotional abuse, but now physical. So much so that she was shoved, beaten with a baseball bat and taken to the hospital on numerous occasions with broken arm and ribs. Often time the woman was in the hospital her body bloodied and bruised. The woman said to the police, “How could he do that? He is supposed to protect me and care for me? I trusted him and he ruined my life”. PAUSE.

Tonight, we see the BROKEN lives of many people. As we continue on our journey to Golgotha we learn that broken trust is nothing new. Travel with me to the Upper Room in Jerusalem. Jesus the Rabbi from Nazareth had been with His disciples for over 3 years. During this period He taught them many things. He taught them He had to go to Jerusalem, suffer, die and rise again. He taught them that He was the Heaven-sent Savior of the world. He taught them that love is stronger than hate. He taught them that forgiveness is better than revenge. He taught them that serving God is 24 hours of joy and blessing.

And with all of this teaching something happened that made that night a night etched in the memory of many people and labeled this man as the betrayer. That night Judas broke his trust of Jesus. That night Judas sold out His Lord. That night Judas the disciples became Judas the Betrayer. You and I might ask the question, “How could Judas do this? How could he betray His innocent Lord?” It was no surprise for Jesus. He knew ahead of time that someone will betray Him. He even told them of that night and how they would identify him.

What would make Jesus do this? His love for us! He was willing to be betrayed by the very people He came to save. This is something that we can’t even begin to comprehend. But there was only one way that Jesus could be able to do this. It was because He had implicit trust in His Father in heaven.... PAUSE.

Tim Hansel in His book, Holy Sweat wrote: One day, while my son Zac and I were out in the country, climbing around in some cliffs, I heard a voice from above me yell, Hey Dad! Catch me!” I turned around to see Zac joyfully jumping off a rock straight at me. He had jumped and then yelled Hey Dad!” I became an instant circus act, catching him. We both fell to the ground. For a moment after I caught him I could hardly talk.

When I found my voice again I gasped in exasperation: “Zac! Can you give me one good reason why you did that???”

He responded with remarkable calmness: “Sure...because you’re my Dad.” His whole assurance was based in the fact that his father was trustworthy. He could live life to the hilt because I could be trusted. Isn’t this even more true for a Christian? Tim Hansel, Holy Sweat, 1987. Word Books Publisher, pp. 46-47.

Jesus was able to fall into death without fear because He had an unshakable trust in His Father. From the cross He cried, Father, into Your hands I commit My Spirit!” Hear these words tonight dear saints. Hear them and know that Jesus knew He could trust His Father in life and death. His Abba was there to catch Him as He fell in death. But He did more than catch Him. He accepted His obedient sacrifice on our behalf and raised Him from the dead.

It is this sacrifice that makes our trust in God possible. If God would not spare His own Son for us. and would not forsake Him into death, will the same Father, OUR Father, leave us to hang? NEVER! Our Father is there for us. We can trust Him. He even remains there every time we in disobedience wander from His Word and will. While we may not be trustworthy, our Father is!

It is this trustworthy Father, who is shown to us by a trustworthy Son who was willing to be betrayed for us that then inspires this truth about trust....

Trust is found only in the Cross of Christ. All other sources of hope will disappoint. Remove the cross from Trust and all you are left with “Rust” (cf. Matthhew 6:19-20, treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust may destroy). Trust is broken because we are broken. He has remained faithful... forever. He saw our brokenness even before the foundation of the world, knowing Christ, not as mentor or helper, but as Savior in our Flesh, brother who substitutes Himself totally (Totally Reliable Under Sin’s Test) for us. Do we disappoint? Yes! Does a faithful husband or wife fail to put their beloved first, all the time? Absolutely! Do good parents still lose their temper unnecessarily at their beloved Children? Without doubt! Must we confess our sins daily to the One who alone is able and faithful to hear, to receive, to forgive, to release, and in all that to love us? Absolutely!

“Is it I?” You bet IT IS you! The precious Father poured forth, without measure, the full wrath in payment for all your sins on His Only-Begotten Son. Are you guilty? Yes... and no! Yes, it was your sin that betrayed His trust. No, you are free, for He bore the full weight and payment for that sin. Jesus became the “Greatest of Sinners” as “He who knew no sin, became sin for us, in order that you and I might become the righteousness of God, in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

“Is it I?”... who has received mercy and grace, peace with the Father, peace with my brothers and sisters, all because He, my Brother, who wore my flesh, who wore my sin, took it all the way up the Via Delarosa, the way of suffering up Golgotha's heights? Yes, yes, it is I! In that calm assurance that He has indeed proven to be Totally Reliable Under Sin’s Test has done so for you. Even so, Amen.

He is this for you! AMEN

Now the peace of God…

Friday, March 18, 2011

“Broken Vessel” (Mark 14:3-9)

S-1239 2MIL/3A 03/16/11, (O) #151 vv. 1, 3, 7, (S) #143 v 1, 3 10, (C) #416

Text: Psalm 32; Exodus 30:30-33; Mark 14:1-9

Theme: “Broken Vessel” (Mark 14:3-9)

Question: “Do you play it safe?” 2nd in Sermon series Broken…But NOT Broke


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! The text for our 2nd Midweek is from the Gospel lesson: And while He [Jesus] was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as He was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over His head. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, ‘Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.’ And they scolded her. But Jesus said, ‘Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to Me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have Me. She has done what she could; she has anointed My body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her’” (Mark 14:3-9).

Introduction: In Nomine IESU

You who have known and tasted the wondrous love of God, tonight’s sermon is a radical one. One that will make you squirm in the pews, makes you uncomfortable and challenges you in your walk of faith as a Christian. This is no ordinary sermon, but one that will cause you to inquire what does the Lord require of me as His child.

The setting is in the sleepy town of Bethany. It was Holy Week – just a couple of days from Jesus’ arrest, trial and crucifixion. The guests include Jesus and His twelve seasoned disciples, Lazarus whom He had recently raised from the grave and others. They were at the house of Simeon the Leper who had been healed by Jesus. What takes place next is radical indeed.

Mary the sister of Lazarus walks into the room full of men—which was unheard of in those days. In her hand she is carrying an alabaster flask a very expensive perfume. She breaks it and pours it ALL on the head of the Savior. All of a sudden the room is filled with the fragrance of the finest aroma. She drenches her Savior and Lord with the finest imported Nard.

The moment of truth came when Mary in her own heart-felt joy couldn’t hold herself back. Whether she has experienced a miracle like her brother or like Simon, she knows the heart-changing life-saving miracle of God’s grace in Her Savior, Jesus. Did she plan this moment? Did she think about it as she followed her home-making sister, Martha, and helped her carry food, to the home of Simon? Was this pre-meditated? Or did the Spirit of God move her heart until she just had to do it?

Mary reveals her heart-felt thanks to her Savior, by not only giving the finest perfume, but herself as well. She didn’t play it safe. She gave all—all that she had and all that she was. PAUSE.

All of a sudden the voice of reason enters the room. All begin to complain about the waste of such an extravagant outpouring of love not in words but in action. They complain about her boldness to showing her love with such a gift. Others are thinking that it is too much, almost a waste to give up a year’s wages and to pour it out from one vessel of perfume.

Judas Iscariot spoke for his fellow disciples: “Why this waste?” he demanded. None of the disciples could believe their eyes. Just like that: Snap. Pour. Gone. The gift she gave—the Nard was imported, all the way from India. It isn’t cheap. This expensive vessel was worth 300 denarii, more than a year’s wages! By today’s standards it was worth forty five thousands of dollars! And the disciples didn’t like it. They played the “safe game.”

It’s hard to argue with the disciples. They had common sense and even their Master’s own teaching on their side! They were being wise, fiscally responsible, and spiritual. They wanted to do the right thing! They were “compassionate conservatives.” But MARY, the liberal, knew no limits, couldn’t offer a word of explanation. It was as if she had just thrown thousands of dollars into the flames. It was as she was stealing food from the mouths of starving children to fuel her reckless waste!

They knew how to play it safe, and to do what God wants, in controlled and careful ways. BUT, on this night, Jesus rebukes the disciples and us. Why? Like the disciples, we like to do what is reasonable and frugal and controlled. We’re uncomfortable with sudden extravagances like Mary’s. Doesn’t seem smart to give away everything, so we give only as much of our time and energy and resources as we can spare, and we consider that a great feat.

But what are we saving our time and our money and ourselves for? Playing it safe may win us points with our insurance company, but it leaves Jesus unimpressed. Is there a single instance in the entire Scriptural record where God praised someone for playing it safe? Abraham, Moses, Gideon, Elijah—God didn’t let them get away with caution and taking life easy! The faithless servant in the parable who buried his one talent was rebuked! (Mt 25:26) The rich fool who was taking life easy and had his future perfectly planned out and his retirement secured was condemned! (Lk 21:20) And in Revelation, Jesus tells the lukewarm church at Laodicea that He is spitting them out!

God is not pleased when His disciples play it safe. The twelve failed Jesus that night at Bethany. They blew it again at Gethsemane when they did the safe thing and ran for their lives! At Golgotha, only John managed to make a brief appearance. It was dangerous to be there, right? Could get a guy killed right! But GOD is NOT impressed with our caution, when we hold back and save ourselves for another day. The disciples were wrong. Mary, the “liberal”, was right.

Jesus took Mary’s side 100%. Mary was completely vindicated! Jesus definitely didn’t say: “Well now Mary, Judas has a point. Let’s not get carried away here. Don’t do anything extreme like this again, okay?” NO—there was none of that speech. This was not an issue of neglecting the poor. Jesus’ whole ministry proves His love and concern for ALL people, rich and poor alike. There was nothing to be carefully considered. It was simple. This was an issue of a broken container. It was a matter of a vessel that was broken and now could only be used completely with nothing held back. PAUSE.

How about you my beloved in Christ? God doesn’t want you to play the “compassionate conservative.” He doesn’t want you to play it safe. He wants you to be bold and courageous. He wants you to give all that you are and have. Yes, you heard me right. He wants you to give Him 100% of all that you are and have. So why not sell all that you have and go to the mission field. Why not quit working and go back to school and become a DCE, or head to the seminary and become a pastor, or go across the street and visit with your next door neighbor and invite them to church.

Why not invest yourself in the youth of our congregation? Why not dedicate yourself to their spiritual growth, to their development as life-long servants of Jesus? Why not stay a little longer this evening and visit and care about your brothers and sisters in Christ and help in the kitchen. Why not become a Sunday School teacher, a youth group leader, Midweek teacher or Vacation Bible School this summer?

This is a hard lesson this evening. I am not here to bail you out with words of comfort. The life of a believer is never comfortable but moving and doing for the glory of God. Living the life of a broken vessel will demand much of you. It won’t be smart, or easy, or safe. So don’t arrive at your funeral with unused energies, hoarded hours, and stockpiled resources. Spend your time, energy, talents, and resources NOW in service to Christ and His people. Don’t play it safe, don’t be the compassionate conservative, don’t do anything because it is the most feasible and least expensive. But be what God called you to do.

Mary may not have been thinking about Jesus’ burial. But Jesus uses Mary’s wonderful example of love to point the thoughts of all in this house to what was ahead. He had already told His disciples what He would face, the rejection, the mocking, the scourging, the crucifixion, and His burial. Since this dinner takes few days before the Passover it would be the Saturday before Palm Sunday. That means, the very next day Jesus would ride into Jerusalem on a donkey. Anyone getting close to Him would still notice the aroma of Mary’s perfume, and likely, even as His body was taken from the cross on Good Friday, the scent of Mary’s perfume would still be present in Jesus’ hair.

For it was on Good Friday that the Savior gave us His all. He was the broken vessel on the cross. His blood was poured out as the blessed perfume for all the world. His broken body for the sins of humanity. His life offered for the least, last and lost. And His grave becomes the door to the place where the stench of sin is overcome.

Dear friends, can we ever over-react in thanksgiving and giving praise to our Lord? Can we ever be too extravagant in how we would show this thanksgiving?

In one of our hymns we sing: “Take my silver and my gold, Not a mite would I withhold …” And,“Take my love, my Lord, I pour At Thy feet its treasure store; Take myself, and I will be Ever, only, all for Thee.” (TLH # 400, stanzas 4, 6)

We don’t give back to our Lord as if to pay Him back for what He has done for us. Our Lord’s great work of saving us was and is His free gift to us, a gift we receive by faith. Rather, our response to our Lord comes from a heart that simply says, “Thank You, Jesus! Thank You, and let me show my thanksgiving in this way …!”

May the Holy Spirit continue to use us—all of us for His glory and honor Amen and Amen.

Now the peace…


Sunday, March 13, 2011

“Lost in the Garden, BUT Found by the Gardener!” (Genesis 3:8-9).

S-1238 FSIL/3A 03/13/11, (O) #658; (S) LSB #744; LS #522; #200; #383; (C) #649

Text: Genesis 3:1-21; Romans 5:12-19; Matthew 4:1-11

Theme: “Lost in the Garden, BUT Found by the Gardener!” (Genesis 3:8-9).

Question: “Have you ever lost something valuable?”1st in Sermon series Lost and Found


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! The text for our First Sunday in Lent is from the OT Lesson: “And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the Garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the Garden. But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’” (Genesis 3:8-9).

Introduction: In Nomine IESU

You who are the most treasured possession in the sight of the Lord, Jesus the Lamb of God, consider all the places where the “lost and found” items are gathered: school, church, gym, work, and convention hall. Having been lost they are gathered. Sometimes when we go looking for our items they are there and sometimes are not. When we find our lost item we are elated and joyful. But when our item is lost we are saddened and disappointed.

But what happens when Man is lost, who seeks him? Who will go looking for lost man? Where will they look for the man who is lost? The answer to these questions and many others are found in the greatest book ever written—God’s Holy Book—the Bible. In this love letter we hear such comforting and wonderful promises. The prophet Ezekiel tells of God’s grace saying: “I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak.” (Ezk. 34:4). Dr. Luke paints the most vivid picture of Jesus looking for the LOST, by giving us the parable, of the lost coin, lost sheep and lost son (Lk.15). And again we are told: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost (Lk. 19:10).

But nowhere do we see God searching for lost man as is in our reading this morning. Listen again to Moses please. “And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the Garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the Garden. But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’” Here you see God Himself intervening to save lost humanity from the eternal damnation of hell and death.

From this we learn that it is God who goes looking for the lost. God is the One who relentlessly pursues the lost. God looks everywhere for His lost, beloved creation. God loves His creatures the ones made in His image and seeks them out before they destroy their lives by eating from the Tree of Life. God gets involved in the act of seeking and saving that which is so precious to Him—Adam and Eve and you and me.

Here you behold the Gardener looking among the trees and bushes for lost Adam and Eve. They are in hiding. They have broken the Law of God. They have sinned. They have done what He said they shouldn’t and now they run for cover. Not only that, but they try to cover their nakedness and shame.

But the gracious and caring Gardner doesn’t leave them alone to their demise and death. The merciful Gardener seeks them out, calling them by name; to protect them because He loves them unconditionally in spite of what they have done. PAUSE.

In the cool of the day the God of the universe walks in the Garden and speaks to the first man Adam and continues to speak to man today, because He is a living God.  You and I are blessed to worship our living God who has conquered death for us by sending His Son Jesus to find us. In these verses we see God’s very first question to man: “Where are you?” God asked this question to Adam, not because He did not know where Adam was, but rather because He wanted Adam to recognize his lost condition and terrible situation.

God created man to have an intimate relationship, constant fellowship and eternal life with Him.  At some point after God created him, Adam fell in sin and lost this fellowship, this relationship and the promise of Eternal life.  He could no longer be in the presence of the holy and just Lord.  This is why Adam was hiding.  God, however, is merciful, compassionate and gracious and wants to restore this lost fellowship and relationship. This is why God looked for him and asked him: Where are you?” Those of us who are far away from the presence of the Lord are also like lost Adam because we try to hide from the presence of God.

Being lost happened in the life of Mary, who came to a garden, a garden tomb; to anoint the dead corpse of her beloved Teacher. She came with the oils and spices to hide the stench of decay, to cover up death. She was alone. It was not “Adam where are you?” but “Lord, where are You?” She asked the question that our sin nature demands to be answered, “Dear God, where are You?” His answer is the intimate one of Resurrection and sure hope in the face of human fear and pain.

In the most intimate Psalm (as I call it the Ultra-sound Psalm) David said: Where shall I go from Your Spirit?  Or where shall I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, You are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me” (Ps. 139:7-10). And the answer? NOWHERE! We may hide from God, we may think we can stay away from His presence, but He, out of love for us, will not leave us. He seeks us out so that He may save us from the eternal destructive forces of evil and death.

Yet, we try often. We try to hide behind closed doors. We try to hide in our bedrooms? We try to hide in the dark places where the light of the Gospel is absent. We try to hide in bushes of our own making and cover our shame just like Adam and Eve did. But God loves us a lot. He cares for us and will seek us out. He will not leave us alone—but sent His Son, His only Son to save and to seek that which was lost—on the cross of Calvary.

This is the fulfillment of the promise given to Adam and Eve in the Garden when God spoke saying: I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel” (Gen. 3:15). This is the reason the Lord continues to seek us lost and condemned creatures because He promised to save us.

It is important to hear the voice of God in the Garden. The Gardener is calling even today. He continues to call sinners to come to Him and receive His blessings. He calls them to restore them to a blessed and wonderful relationship and fellowship with Him. PAUSE.

“I heard Your voice in the Garden, and I was afraid.” Were the words of Adam when He heard the voice of God in the Garden! After disobeying the command of the Lord, suddenly Adam’s eyes were open to the fact that his flesh was exposed.  Adam was in sin.  He could no longer be in the presence of the Lord.  In spite of that, Adam still had hope—he heard the voice of the Creator God in the Garden.  There is also hope for people today.  God knows your situation too. He wants to deliver all from that situation just as He did for Adam, and as He does for us.

He also knows our other needs.  Each of us has different needs, and God speaks to us with answers that fit these specific needs.  Regardless of the situation, the solution is provided by the Lord Himself. He gives us the Holy Spirit to hear His voice when He calls. He is speaking today, yet many do not hear, because in the world there are many noises that prevent them from hearing.  This is what occurs physically when we expose our ears to loud noises for a long time.  We begin to lose the ability to hear, and can eventually become deaf.  The same thing applies spiritually.

Therefore, we cannot hear God’s voice in the world. We can only hear Him in a special place like where Adam was in the Garden.  The Garden talks about the presence of the Lord.  It was the place where the trees clustered together.  There were not only trees, but also flowers and birds and animals.  The Garden is a beautiful place, which spiritually speaks of the Church where man is gathered and the gifts of the Holy Spirit blossom like flowers.  Only in the Body of Christ can we hear the Lord speak.  Only there can our needs be satisfied. Only through Him can we find solutions to our deepest problems.  He rescues us through His Son’s death on the cross of Calvary and the empty tomb.

Today, the Gardener is searching for you. Today, the Gardener is calling for you. Today, His voice of forgiveness is shared with you. Today, the Gardener comes to you with His peace offered in simple humble means—water, wafer, wine and Word. Today, the Gardener takes you back again and covers your shame and says to you, “You were once lost but now are found by Me.”

No wonder, that the sermon hymn (Amazing Grace…) has become a favorite to many. Therefore, with great joy having heard the voice of God in the Garden, let us rise again and sing once more the opening stanza of this comforting hymn and thank God our Gardener who has found us lost creatures.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found, Was blind, but now I see. Amen. And Amen.

Now the peace…


Thursday, March 10, 2011

“Broken Heart!” (Psalm 51:17).

S-1237 Ash Wednesday/3A 03/09/11, (O) #323; (S) #143 v 1-3; LS #151 v 1-2; #388 (C) #416

Text: Psalm 51; Joel 2:12-14

Theme: “Broken Heart!” (Psalm 51:17).

Question: “Have you ever experienced a broken heart?”1st in Sermon series Broken…But NOT Broke


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! The text for our Ash Wednesday is from the Psalm of David: The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Ps. 51:17).

Introduction: In Nomine IESU

It is all a matter of the heart. Anyway you look at things; you must look at them through the lens of the heart. The heart is sensitive, tender, and easily broken. The heart is what makes your body clicks and what makes your heart aches. The heart is where it all begins and where it all ends. So on this Ash Wednesday, we contemplate the words of David in his penitential Psalm as we deal with a Broken Heart.

David the man who loved God, a man after His own heart – (1 Samuel 13:14) wrote this Psalm with a broken heart after the sinful act he had performed with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband. In brokenness David writes this Psalm of repentance and restoration. He acknowledges his guilt (v. 2-4). He begs for the cleansing that God alone can do (v. 7). He requests restoration of his broken life, broken heart and broken relationship with His heavenly Father (v. 17). He is begging the Almighty Father to take His broken heart and mend it again and make it new.

Tonight, as we gather in the presence of Him who is Holy, Just and Righteous, we beg the same thing. Because there is not one among us here who has not, or is now experiencing a broken heart. In a sinful and broken world, life does that to us. Hearts are tender things. They are easily bruised, and easily broken. I know from being your pastor for the past 17 years that you experienced it. Everyone has. Maybe you found out what a broken heart was back in Middle school when your dream of being a part of a certain group of kids or being a star in a particular sport but it didn’t come to pass. Perhaps it was in high school that you tasted the reality of a broken heart when your feelings of caring for another were met with rejection or even ridicule. Or perhaps, your heart was crushed when your spouse left and divorce became part of your life. Maybe it came at the Dr’s office when the announcement came, “So sorry IT IS CANCER! There is nothing we can do.” (I’m speaking of personal experience here about my father’s news) Or maybe it was when your life’s partner was called home unexpectedly and your heart fell to pieces. Hearts are sensitive things, aren’t they? A relationship can make your heart soar on the wings of joy—and a relationship can break a heart mercilessly.

But the truth of the matter is that our hearts are not only vulnerable to broken relationships, but are broken by the ravages of sin. Probably nothing brings more heartache to a parent than the realization that his own bad choices brought suffering to his children. And it is certainly heartbreaking to watch an individual with great talent and potential squander her gifts and fail to use them. It’s devastating when people you love and care for make foolish decisions—it breaks your heart. It’s such devastation when you look deep within your heart and find there the ugly, unwanted stain of sin—SIN in all of its manifestations. Sin breaks our hearts; it breaks God’s heart and those we love. We are crushed by own failure—laid low by sin and know the pain and hurt that our hearts experience. Our Father, yes, Father, He has a heart that breaks because of our sin, the way we have squandered His gifts, His grace… that is why He sent His Only-Begotten Son to the Cross. Dust we are, to dust we shall return…. And… and He, breathes anew into that dust the breath of life (cf. Gen 2:7)!} PAUSE.

This is why tonight we find ourselves in the house of Lord observing Ash Wednesday. After all, this is not really a fun day because we are reminded of sin and the consequences of sin—death; your own and those around you. On Ash Wednesday, we are encouraged and indeed exhorted to look inward—at least for as long as you can endure it—and see what actually lives in your own heart. And when you are honest at what you see, you recoil in disgust and distaste. No one knows your heart like you—except God. Despite your best efforts to put a good face on things, you know the reality—don’t you? My father-in-law would often say, “You can fool yourself, you can even fool some people, but you can’t fool God.” Oh, how we try. But deep down in the dark crevasses of the heart lies and lives SIN.

Sin is functioning far too freely. Its reach extends far too deeply. You begrudge the good fortune of others. You resent the joys that are denied you but enjoyed by others. You lust for what is not yours, and neglect what is yours. You reject what God gives you to do and insist that there must be something else to life. You see the suffering of others and turn away. You try to do what’s right, but you always fall short; you never quite measure up. You see it all, there, in your own heart, and your heart breaks. It breaks in shame, regret and sorrow. It breaks for what could have been and is NOT. It breaks at the staggering cost of sin. Ash Wednesday is all about broken hearts. And the truth of the matter is this: BROKEN HEARTS AREN’T FUN!

A broken heart hurts. A broken heart aches continually and unrelentingly. A broken heart can even manifest itself in physical symptoms and suffering. A broken heart takes huge amount of energy and it is taxing. No one wants to deal with a broken heart. So, when a heart breaks either because of a relationship that has gone sour, or from the high price of sin, we try to stop the pain and end the hurt; we try to fix the broken heart. I know that is my approach. I am an avid fixer. Give me a problem, and I’ll do my best to solve it. Give me something broken and I’ll try to fix it. It’s not a bad approach when it comes to toys and appliances or appointments. But it doesn’t always work. It’s particularly difficult lesson to accept that we can’t fix everything. It is very difficult in a marriage when a spouse is not concerned with fixing things, but for her mate to hear her heartache and care for her needs. She wants a man who loves her and listens to her instead of fixing it. I’d rather fix the problem! So, I look at a broken heart the way you probably do; they are just one more thing that needs fixing. And that’s wrong BIG TIME.

David tells us in this psalm “a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise A broken heart; that is what God wants. Listen to me saints in Christ, God is looking for hearts that are broken and bleeding, crushed and crumbled, tattered and torn. He doesn’t want hearts that have been patched up with a band-aid. He doesn’t want them fixed up. He wants them broken. In other words, He wants you to come to Him with honesty and humility. He wants you to enter His presence as you really are—broken heart and all. Just like the note in your bulletin. “God can heal a broken heart, but He has to have all the pieces.”

But that is so hard to do for us fallen creatures. It’s hard to leave a broken heart alone. We think that God surely wouldn’t be interested in getting a messed up, broken and bleeding heart from us. So we try to piece it, patch it and put it back together ourselves. We try to show Him that we are strong enough to do it without His help and care. We try to fix it and take the pain away.

This is not what the Lord wants from you. He doesn’t want your fixed up and fastened heart back. He wants it broken. Don’t go looking for new relationships to cover up your pain. Don’t try to compensate for your sin by piling up an impressive stack of really good deeds. Don’t try to salve a wounded heart by getting revenge on the one who hurt you. Offering God a heart with a patched up job is on the order of a husband giving his wife a broken vase that has been repaired with Elmer’s glue and duct tape. It’s repulsive! It’s tragic! It’s sad! How futile and pathetic it is when we try to fix our broken hearts. It can’t be done. You can’t put back what is destroyed. Don’t mend your broken heart. God will ONLY receive hearts that are broken.

It’s time to stop playing the blame game. It’s time to stop pretending. It’s time to be honest with God about Sin and its consequences. We have all fallen like a big oak tree at the sight of temptation. We have all given in because we thought we could get away with it, or we deserve it. But tonight, we are exhorted to come in mercy crawling to the God of all grace who asks us to come to Him just as we are.

The Prophet Joel put it this way in our reading tonight: rend your hearts and not your garments. Return to the Lord Your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love” (Joel 2:13). David understood this well. God is not interested in a quick fix but in the truth. David confessed his sins saying: “Against You, God, You only, have I sinned, and done what is evil in Your sight.” (Ps. 51:4). But then the merciful and compassionate God utters words of healing. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”(Ps. 51:17) David begged the Lord to cleanse him with Hyssop. These words point ahead to the fulfillment of the OT sacrifices: The ONE sacrifice of Christ whose heart broke for us on the cross so that our broken hearts might be healed.

This blessed reassurance and promise is to you and to me and to every struggling, broken-hearted sinner. God will not cast away anyone who comes to Him with a broken heart and broken spirit. Through His Son Jesus Christ, we all are seen like sheep without a shepherd, helpless and destitute, with nowhere to turn, but to a gracious God. But our Good Shepherd calls out to His sheep, and He says, “I Am the Good Shepherd. I have laid down My life so that I can give you a new heart. I died carrying your guilt, your brokenness. I shed My blood so that Your every sin from wrong choices in your life are now covered. And I, the risen Christ, have destroyed all the powers of brokenness, of death, of disappointment, of heart-ache. I am with you!”

Beloved in the Lord, on this Ash Wednesday know this truth: David’s sin was covered as he believed the promise of the coming Savior. Our sins and brokenness are covered by the Savior who has come that we might have life and have it with every gift and blessing that the Father in heaven gives to those who turn to Him.

Don’t let the world fool you. Don’t let Satan steal your joy. Don’t let your past sins crush you down and crumble you. Remember well, yes our hearts are broken, but we are not broke. Remember the reason Jesus came. He came to take away our sins and open the gates of heaven for us in His death and resurrection from the grave. And as such we know the blessed assurance of the truth that is beyond any shadow of doubt. God can and does take what is broken, especially broken heart. He makes and remakes that heart into a new heart, a heart filled with His grace—filled with His joy—filled with His love—the love of Christ. Your God promises to make your heart new and He has. Amen.

Now the peace of God…

Sunday, March 6, 2011

“I Was on the Mountain” (Matthew 17:1-9).

S-1236 Transfiguration Sunday//3A 03/06/11 Hymns from LSB (O) #415; (S) #414; (C) #416

Text: Exodus 24:8-18; 2 Peter 1:16-21; Matthew 17:1-9

Theme: “I Was on the Mountain” (Matthew 17:1-9).

Question: “Have you ever been on a mountain?”


This sermon will be preached in FPDNP. The preacher is John the youngest of the disciples and part of the inner circle. However, will not be dressed except with the Alb and stole.

Introduction: In Nomine IESU

The first time I met the Rabbi from Nazareth, I was helping my father Zebedee and my older brother James mend the nets before we were going out fishing on the Sea of Galilee. My father was a great fisherman and our business was growing with our partners Peter and Andrew.

On one of those beautiful sunny days while working the nets, the Rabbi Jesus called me, my brother and our partners to follow Him and He promised to make us fishers of men. Right there and then, I, and the others left the nets, the father and mother I loved and the town I lived in and followed Him… I learned a great deal from Him about the Kingdom of heaven.

He taught me so much and opened my eyes by teaching the Scriptures like no other Rabbi ever did. It seemed when He spoke, He was speaking to me the very Words of God. I loved hearing Him speak because His Words brought so much comfort to my young heart and mind.

Once, I had witnessed Him perform in our neighboring town a most unusual miracle. At a wedding I and the rest of His disciples were all present; the family ran out of wine. Without making a big fuss or embarrassing the groom He changed water into wine. I will tell you I was amazed and didn’t know what kind of man He was and the power He had. All I knew is that I wanted to be with this Rabbi because He was different and I wanted to learn from Him as much as I could.

Many times I heard Him say: “He had to go to Jerusalem, (the big city where the temple was) and there He would suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests, and teachers of the law, and be killed, and on the third day be raised to life.” This was a new teaching which I didn’t understand till later; much later…I will tell you about it very soon! Can you wait?

Few days after Rabbi Jesus spoke about what would happen to Him in Jerusalem, He invited me, my older brother James and our fishing partner Peter to go with Him up the mountain to pray. I felt privileged to go with Him. I followed Him up the mountain. But by the time I got up to the top, I was exhausted…but not the Rabbi. He went alone for a long while and prayed. I didn’t hear what He was saying, but I knew something was on His mind.

While I was somewhat nodding off, I thought my eyes playing a trick on me. My Rabbi’s face began to shine, and all around Him a bright light radiated, and in the midst of that light, two men - Moses and Elijah appeared and they spoke to Him about all that was to happen to Him in Jerusalem. Somehow, I don’t know how, somehow I knew who they were, these other two, Moses and Elijah. It was thrilling! I was so humbled!

Dazed and in amazement I looked intently on the face of Jesus which was brighter than the Sun. His whole being changed from the inside out! I couldn’t believe my eyes (rub eyes). Was this a trick? What was happening here? What did I, John, just witness! While thinking about this, a cloud came over me my brother James and Peter. Together we heard, yes we did and I heard it: I really heard it!—this booming voice saying: “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased, listen to Him!” right there and then, I fell to the ground in fear and trepidation. I didn’t know what was happening. But something unusual just took place on that mountain, and I was an eye witness to it.

While still shaking from fear the hand of my Rabbi came upon me. He spoke saying: “Rise and have no fear.” Though, I was afraid, He calmed my spirit. It was a power like I had seen Him use on others as He spoke and they were healed of blindness, made able to speak, to walk, even to rise from a death bed. Now that same voice spoke, “Rise and have no fear!” and I was lifted up, and fear… it left me! Then He also told me not to say anything about this until after He rose from the dead. Have no fear! Wow!

I came down the mountain with Him and followed Him wherever He went. For 3 years I witnessed Him again and again do some mighty miracles. Lovingly, caringly and gently He healed some from blindness, others from leprosy, others He caused to walk and still others He raised from the dead. What a blessed time I had with my Rabbi Jesus.

After I had been with Him for 3 years, I went with Him and the other disciples to Jerusalem. He sent Peter and me to get a place ready for the Passover meal. That night He told me things that I will never forget—He again said, “He would be betrayed into the hands of the Jewish leaders and they would put Him to death but He will rise again”. His words had the same force they did up on that mountain where He spoke with Moses and Elijah, and then to me: I still didn’t understand what He was saying.

From the Upper Room I went with my Rabbi to another mountain, and there again, (rub my head and face) I hate to admit it I fell asleep while He went to pray off in a distance. By the look on His face and the sweat coming from His brow, I knew something was on His mind. That night on the Mountain of Olives in the Garden of Gethsemane He prayed and three times I fell asleep. He loved me, prayed for me, watched over me… and I… I slept! Three times!

But then I was awakened by the noise of soldiers coming, the lanterns burning and voices speaking. Right then, the soldiers of our High Priest grabbed Him and took Him. I followed in the distance and couldn’t believe what I was witnessing and hearing as they took Him to Caiaphas’ house. They mocked Him, spit on Him, pulled on His beard and then they slapped Him on the face. While I was still warming myself by the fire, I heard the sad and terrible news—they condemned Him to death.

But why? What has He done? This Rabbi taught like no other. He loved like no other. He gave like no other. Besides, He has never done any evil. He has never sinned. He has never done anything except teach the truth about God and His Kingdom. He taught the truth in the streets, in the Synagogues and the Temple. I couldn’t understand why they wanted Him put to death.

Early the next morning they dragged Him to Pilate’s Palace and He too, condemned Him to death by crucifixion. This can’t be happening. Something is wrong. I was afraid to speak up. I was afraid to say something to the High Priest, the soldiers and the crowd. I am sad to say, I stayed in the distant and watched in silence. 

After Pilate gave the orders, the soldiers grabbed Him and began the march to another mountain—Golgotha. Again, I was there on the mountain. I watched from a distance. You won’t believe what they did to Him. First they made a crown of thorns and pushed into His skull and blood began to drip down His face, on His beard, His garments and into the dusty soil. Then they stripped Him naked and laid Him on a huge rough beam. One soldier grabbed one hand and pulled it as hard as He could and took this huge nail and drove it into His body. Blood gushed out everywhere. I was hurting for Him, but He didn’t make any noise. Another soldier grabbed the other hand and did the same. I heard the hammer come down and again I saw the blood gush out. I was weeping. And still a third soldier drove a spike into His feet. PAUSE. 

They lifted the cross high on the mountain and a sign was placed above His head, “JESUS OF NAZARTEH KING OF THE JEWS”. I came closer and stood by the cross and watched Him intently. Then He spoke, not in anger but in words that have helped me many times in my sinful nature. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!” I also heard Him say, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” And then I remembered the Psalm of David that taught what will happen to the promised Messiah. I slowly began to understand

As I stood on that mountain, darkness descended upon the Land for 3 hours like none-other I have ever seen. I heard Him speak yet again, “FATHER INTO YOUR HANDS I COMMIT MY SPIRIT!” And finally He spoke these words—oh, the words I heard Him say “IT IS FINISHED!” And with that He bowed His head and died. I cried to see my Rabbi dead at the hands of the Jewish leaders.

Some of my acquaintances Joseph of Arimathea along with Nicodemus took His body and laid Him in a tomb. What a sad day that was for me—the saddest I have ever witnessed and lived. But then a most amazing thing happened three days later. Word had come to me that the Messiah, my Rabbi had been raised from the dead. I didn’t believe the news. So I ran as fast as I could and Peter ran behind. I was a little faster because I am younger and stronger and got to the tomb first. It was open and no one was there.  

Was this a trick? Did someone steal His body? What was happening here? What did I, John, just witnessed! BUT THEN, in the evening while I was huddling behind closed doors with the others from fear of the Jews, He came. Yes, the Rabbi from Nazareth and spoke the most beautiful words. “Peace be with you.” Oh, how I needed to hear those words for my troubled heart. That same voice, that same reassuring voice that healed the sick; that raised the dead that caused crippled limbs to be made whole had just healed me, had just forgiven me. “Peace be with you!” and so it was – His voice, His Words, He Himself, He filled me with Peace! 

From the Glorious Mountain, to Gethsemane’s mountain, to Golgotha’s mountain I was there. I will tell you that it was an unbelievable journey of comfort and joy to my heart, because I learned that Jesus was more than just a Rabbi from Nazareth, more than a good Teacher, but He was and is My Savior and Lord who died for my sins and rose again to give me life eternal. Oh, thankfully, humbly I was with Him on the mountain. 

John leaves without saying a word.