Wednesday, November 16, 2011

“You Have Been Called” (1 Peter 2:19-21)

S-1252 4th SOE/3A 05/15/11, (O) 204, (S) LSB #483, (C) # 49

Text: Acts 2:42-47; 1 Peter 2:19-25; John 10:1-10

Theme: “You Have Been Called” (1 Peter 2:19-21)

Question: “Do You Know Your Calling?”


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for our 4th Sunday of Easter is from the Epistle lesson: “For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been CALLED, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in His steps” (1 Peter 2:19-21).

In Nomini Iesu

Most Beloved in the Lord, while visiting my father in the old country, two of my cousins stopped by for a specific purpose—to bid us come to the wedding of their family members. They came carrying the invitations and after handing them to us said, “Our family would be honored to have you at this wonderful occasion!” Even I received an invitation to be part of this wonderful celebration of my second cousins.

Today, St. Peter stands among us here and hands us an invitation, not to a wonderful and joyous celebration to a wedding, but to a life of suffering and sorrow. Peter tells us this is our calling to suffer for being Christians just as the Savior did Himself and left us an example to follow in His footsteps.

Now my beloved, can you imagine a newspaper add with these lines: Wanted, any person, young and old, male and female to come be part of out team. The job is hard and the journey is long. You will be persecuted, hurt, mocked, laughed at, humiliated, spit upon, beaten and suffer much. How many people do you believe will apply to such an ad? Probably not many in their right mind.

But that is precisely, what Peter tells us. This is our calling as the Redeemed children of God. Our lives as Christians is not a life of ease and trouble-free, but a life of ridicule, a life of rejection a life of sorrow and suffering.

Shortly after the Resurrection of Jesus the Apostles began to spread the Good News. In Acts chapter 4 while Peter and John were doing a good deed in Jerusalem healing a lame man, they were brought to the Sanhedrin for questioning about what they were doing. They threw them in jail and threatened them not to speak of the Resurrection or of Jesus Christ. However, “Peter and John answered them, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard (Acts 4:19-20). In the next chapter the disciples are once again brought to the council of the Jewish leaders: Listen to the discourse please: “And when they had brought them [disciples], they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, saying, We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.’ But Peter and the apostles answered, We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging Him on a tree. God exalted Him at His right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him’…When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them...they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to SUFFER {emphasis added} dishonor for the name. (Acts 5:27-41). Did you get it these former fishermen who have been called by the Gospel now consider suffering a great joy. PAUSE.

Even, Paul the great preacher and proclaimer of God’s good news suffered much for being a Christian. On the way to Damascus to persecute the church of Christ he was converted by the Lord, Jesus Christ Himself and was called into a fellowship with Him. This is how Dr. Luke describes the calling of Paul: “Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, ‘Ananias.’ And he said, ‘Here I am, Lord.’ And the Lord said to him, ‘Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.’ But Ananias answered, ‘Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.’ But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine to carry My name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. Listen closely please: For I will show him how much he must SUFFER {emphasis added} for the sake of My name’” (Acts 9:13-16).

Paul’s calling was a life of suffering. We know how much he suffered for the cause of furthering the Gospel. Listen to his catalogue of life of hardship for the sake of Christ His Lord. “But whatever anyone else dares to boast of—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast of that. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they offspring of Abraham? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness…” (2 Corinthians 11:21b-30).

From the prison cell, just before he will lose his head on the chopping block, Paul writes one final letter to the Church at Philippi exhorting them and encouraging them: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4). Paul tells us to rejoice even in suffering just like Peter does. But it is so hard for us to remember this is our calling.

As Christians living in the 21st century we have lost this understanding of our calling. There are many other, far more pleasant aspects of our vocation as Christians that we would focus on. And this change on focus, we concentrate on ourselves—how we can earn more money, rather than serving the Lord and His Church. Sadly, the Church has failed in its message to exhort the believers in their calling to suffer with Jesus for the sake of His Gospel. We should remember that we are in the world, but not of the world. As we live our lives as the chosen and called people of God suffering is an inescapable part of our faithfulness. Jesus never promised a rose garden, but did tell us we will face persecution, hardships and suffering for His sake. We are not above our Master who suffered brutally on the cross of Calvary.

We ought to develop this sense of calling. As the baptized children of God we have been called by the Gospel just as Dr. Luther said in the explanation of the third article of the creed: I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith; even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth…” We have been called to a life of service and suffering. Peter put it this way: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (1 Peter 2:9-10).

In our Gospel reading today, we are told by the Good Shepherd, Jesus that those who belong to Him Hear His call and follow Him. Yes, you are His little sheep. You hear His voice as you gather often in this field eating His ever living Word and drinking from the fountain of eternal water. Here in this place not only does He call you to be His very own, but He equips you to be used by Him in spite of the fact that we might suffer.

Each and every one of us here today have been called—called to be a light to a dark world. Called to be the voice of hope and help to the helpless and hopeless. Called to be the arms of mercy and compassion to those who are struggling in life; called to be an instrument of furthering the Gospel with all of the gifts the Savior has gifted us. You have been called. Know your calling. Whatever it is you have been called to do to spread the Gospel do it in such a way that Your Father’s name might be glorified and your neighbor edified.

After all, Jesus’ call was to save us. That is why on Good Friday He fulfilled the call of suffering our death and our hell and rose on the third day to give us life eternal with Him in heaven. Oh, the joy of knowing that we have been called by the Gospel of Jesus our Savior and Lord. Amen. And Amen.

Now the peace.

Soli Deo Gloria.

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