Tuesday, April 7, 2015

“Numbers of Hope-153” (John 21:11)

S-1491 RS/3B 4/05/2015 Hymns: (O) #; (S) #370; LS #146; #314; #155;

Texts: Psalm 118:1-2, 15-24; Isaiah 25:6-9; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11; Mark 16:1-8; John 21:1-14

Theme: “Numbers of Hope-153 (John 21:11)

9th sermon in sermon series on “Numbers of Hope

(Bring a fishing pole to the pulpit)

So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn.” (John 21:11)

Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! (3X) People of the cross, it has been a long journey that you and I have taken. We packed our bags, put on our sandals, carried our lunch and traveled up the hill to Jerusalem. Throughout our journey the Lord of heaven and earth has been our guiding light of hope as we followed Him from His triumphal entry on a donkey to being lifted up on a wooden cross. We have tagged along to the Upper Room and witnessed His great humility as He took on the role of a slave and washed the disciples’ feet including Judas. We listened attentively as He celebrated the Passover and instituted the Lord’s Supper. With sadness, we heard of Judah’s betrayal and Peter’s denial.

We have gone along to Gethsemane and saw Him in anguish praying for the Cup of Suffering to be lifted up. And then…then, we saw Him dragged by the High Priest’s guards and taken to Caiaphas’ house. We huddled about the fire as we listened to all of the accusations and charges against Him. We saw Him beaten, bloodied and bruised. We beheld Him, spit upon, stripped and scourged. Early on Friday morning in the Praetorium, we heard the shouts of the people “Crucify Him! “Crucify Him!” We followed Him as He carried His cross to Golgotha, and there we heard the pounding of the nails driven into His hands and feet. We heard Him crying out to His Father saying, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” “I Thirst”, “It is Finished!” “Father, into Your hands I commit My Spirit” and at His death we heard the centurion confessing, “Truly, this was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:39).

We saw two Pharisees—Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus take His body of the cross, wrap and buried body I n a borrowed tomb. All of the disciples hid for fear of the Jews that their Leader has been taken away from them. All their hopes and dreams seemed to have been dashed.

Throughout this journey, by the Holy Spirit’s power we have shared together the Numbers of Hope—Living Hope based on the death and resurrection of Christ. We spoke of these numbers that gives us eternal hope40, 12, 70, 7, 969, 144.000, 30, and 3. But that was then…

But today, while still dark, we gather at the empty tomb with the women and hear the glorious proclamation of the angel on that first Easter morn: “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; He is not here!” (Mark 16:6). Today, the Holy Spirit reminds us of the necessity of Christmas, the magnitude of Lent and the Victory of Easter. God became man that mankind might be brought to God. PAUSE.

Today, we consider another number as the disciples return to their former trade—fishing. As they are out fishing, Jesus appears and prepares a meal for them. They didn’t recognize Him on the shores at first. But He invited them for breakfast and asked them to bring some of the fish they caught. Peter, the one who denied Him 3 times grabbed the net and brought the fish on land and there were 153 fish. This too, is our Number of Hope.

Like all the numbers we have considered throughout this Lenten journey, today’s number is one of those glorious numbers that shows again and again that God uses everything in this world for the good of His bride—the Church.

153 fish were in the net. Do you think that John included this number in his gospel by accident? Absolutely NOT! This shows that Christ is in the details. The 153 fish represents the number of languages spoken at the time Jesus’ rose from the dead. The number 153 is the number of hope that brings the gospel to all people...it is the only cure for death, for human hurts, for the hopelessness in life and for the endless tragedies of History...Jesus.

Jesus is the answer to every dilemma, to every disaster and to every adversity. The risen Lord Jesus removes your doubts, forgives your sins, comforts your souls and open heaven’s gate. Jesus is the hope in the midst of hopelessness, the help in the midst of helplessness and offers heaven to those who are hell-bound. PAUSE.

Let me illustrate: Martin Pistorius was a normal, active and happy child. At age 12 he came complaining to his mother that he had a sore throat. An unknown illness left him wheelchair bound and unable to speak. He spent years unable to physically or verbally communicate, though his mind was fully intact. After 12 years in a vegetative state, he came back to life.

For 12 years everyone around him thought he was done. They called him the “Ghost Boy”. He was visible but no one noticed him in his vegetative state. He never spoke a word, never moved his eyes, mouth, hands or feet. Many told his family to put him in an institution which they did until one nurse noticed a slight movement in his eyes. By God’s grace they taught him to communicate via a computer and he told them his thoughts and ordeal.

In His book he writes: “God has always been there for me. In fact…Had it not been for God’s hand, I would not be where I am today. I am sure of that. If I stop and think about everything that happened to me and the odds of not only surviving but coming back to life, there is no doubt in my mind that this could only have happened through divine intervention.”

This is the story of the Resurrection. Jesus on the third day rose victoriously from the grave. Number 153 gives us hope because it is the gospel in action touching lives and changing lives forever. The gospel is the life-blood of the Church of Christ. Christ is helping us to tell the story of hope to those who are trapped in their sins and don’t know Him yet.

This should be our desire also. The desire to share with others with boldness the hope we have in Christ. As Paul explained in the middle of his discourse to King Agrippa, “…I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am—except for these chains” (Acts 26:29).

Yes, beloved, through the wood of the cross, joy truly has come into all the world: the joy of sins’ forgiven, death defeated, Satan crushed and love’s unconquerable triumph. The cross is our God saying: “You can’t make Me hate you! I love you and forgive you in the blood of My precious Son!”

To Satan we might be ghost boys. But to God we are very visible. He is here walking, guiding and guarding us from every harm and evil. As He was with the disciples on the shores of the Sea of Galilee He is with us here too. As He gave hope to the disciples in the 153 number so He fills our hearts with the same living Hope. Christ Jesus cared for them and gave them what they needed at that moment. He is here also today. He is here caring for you and giving you everything you need. In His body and blood He gives US everything and more than we could ever need in this world—the everlasting joy that leads to eternal life. PAUSE.

On this Easter Sunday, remember the beauty of the Biblical numbers—they give us hope. The number 153 gave hope to the 11 disciples on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, that they took the gospel to the ends of the world. Because of their message there are more 153 languages today that know of the saving name of Jesus—the God-Man crucified for the sins of the world. Because of their message of HOPE, there are over 2.5 billion people in the world claiming allegiance to the One who was crucified and risen—Jesus Christ.

With great joy on this Triumphant Day, I, as your Pastor, say to you and encourage you to regularly read and study Scripture, so you know that God would have you place your hope in Him alone. Not in the things you have or the things you know. But only in the One who is the great mathematician and author of the Numbers of HOPE Jesus Christ.

This is the hope given to the disciples on the beach in Galilee and given to us today as we stand by the empty tomb and here the glorious message of the angel, “He is not Here! He is Risen as He said!” For this reason, as the people of hope—hope in the Giver of Numbers—Jesus Christ, we, with gladness, boldness and joy say to one another Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! Amen.

Now the peace…


“Numbers of Hope-3” (Mark 14:30)

S-1490 GF/3B 4/03/2015 Hymns: (O) #342; 179; (S) #159; LS #146; #314; #155;

Texts: Psalm 22; Isaiah 53:1-11; Hebrews 14:14-16; 5:7-9; Mark 14:26-31; 15:33-41

Theme: “Numbers of Hope-3 (Mark 14:30)

8th sermon in sermon series on “Numbers of Hope

Jesus said, ‘Don’t be so sure. Today, this very night in fact, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times…’ And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, ‘Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.’ And he went out and cried and cried and cried. Mark 14:30; Matt. 26:75 (The Message).

Beloved children of the heavenly Father from front to finish, the Word of God is absolutely true. Every Word written for us is in accordance to the will and Divine Master plan of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. That is why Jesus is always right. He is the One person no one should ever bet against. Therein is our hope. He knows all things. He is all-powerful. He always keeps His Word. He is trustworthy, reliable and dependable to the nth degree.

Saint Mark, who is speaking on behalf of Peter, tells us that in the Upper Room discourse with His disciples, after the Lord’s Supper and before the Garden of Gethsemane agony, Jesus had predicted a series of events that would take place.

The disciples would all fall away from Jesus this night.

The Shepherd would be stricken—His flock scattered.

He then predicted His resurrection and return to Galilee.

Peter, feeling secure, safe and strong enough to contradict Jesus said to His Lord and Master, Even if they all fall away because of You, I will never fall away. In one sentence Peter contradicted Jesus and put himself above the other disciples.

Unlike Nostradamus, (middle ages self-proclaimed prophecy maker), Jesus gives pinpoint predictions. He tells Peter, “Truly I say to you that this very night, before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.”

Not knowing when to stop, Peter continues to dig a deeper hole. He tells Jesus, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny you.” The rest of the disciples caught up in Peter’s bravado all said the same thing. However, in a short period of time they would all turn tail and run to save their own hides! The helter-skelter out of control events would send them scattered and running for their lives.

For Peter a series of bad things happened. He fell asleep in the Garden of Gethsemane, unable to pray for Jesus in this terrible hour of need. Then when Jesus is arrested Peter takes his sword and lops off the ear of the servant of the high priest. Jesus picks up the ear providing miraculous instantaneous surgery and restoration. Suddenly as the disciples looked around and saw they were inches away from martyrdom, they cut and ran. PAUSE.

Peter feeling bad about his desertion, tried to follow Jesus from a distance. It is an age old problem following Jesus from a distance. He would eventually see His Lord bloodied, beaten, and battered. Along the way a series of bystanders would finger him as one of Jesus’ disciples.

With vigor and force he denied Him before them all. Mind you, not once, not twice, but three times on separate occasions. His Galilean accent was giving him away. The third time he was so fearful he began to curse and swear, “I do not know the Man!” Immediately, immediately after the third denial his heart skips a beat, his lungs stop breathing and his eyes are bewildered at the sound of the rooster crowing.

And Peter, the strong and boisterous disciple was crushed. He cried and cried and cried—weeping bitterly for his lack of courage, lack of fortitude, lack of faith and trust; for having contradicted His master and Lord, Jesus Christ who for the past 3 years has proven Himself again and again that He knows all things.

Three has been considered the number of unity, of accomplishment, and of the universe—time, space, and matter. Throughout the Bible it shows up with familiarity and force. We have Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We have the saddest story of the fall of man, as the devil, Adam and Eve 3 in all rebel against God. There are 3 Patriarchs—Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. 3 guests visit Abraham. Israelites were to observe 3 feasts a year (Passover, Pentecost and Booths Deut. 16:16). Jesus spoke with Job 3 times. Rehab hid the Israelites for 3 days. There are the 3 sons of Noah and 3 daughters of Job. There are 3 cities of refuge to show us that Jesus brings us the HOPE of eternal refuge. He provides a place for our stupidity. Jesus walked with His disciples for 3 years. 3 are in the inner circle of Jesus’ disciples (Peter, James and John). He said in 3 days He will rebuild the temple. Paul prays 3 times when he has painful thorn in the flesh. Moses’ mother conceals her son for 3 months. The Ark of the Covenant stays at Obed-Edom’s house for 3 months. Mary stays at Elizabeth’s home for 3 months. Paul resides on the Island of Malta for 3 months. The people followed the Savior for 3 days without food. Today, on this 3rd day He feeds us. On Calvary’s hill there are 3 crosses at 3 p.m. the Son of God dies.

In the opening chapter of Genesis God is manifesting Himself in a 3 in 1 movement. The Spirit hovers. The Son sends forth light. The Father creates. Together they say, “Let us make man in our image.” So the three-in-one God creates a three-in-one human being made up of body, soul, and spirit. At the end of the gospel of Matthew the Risen Savior tells us to baptize people into One name but 3 persons: Father, Son, and Spirit. As Prophet, Priest, and King Jesus sets forth this glorious message to be taken to the ends of the world.

For portions of three days Jesus is in the belly of the earth fulfilling prophecy similar to Jonah who was in the belly of a fish for 3 days. On Good Friday from 12:00-3:00 pm there is 3 hours of total darkness. At that same moment (3:00 pm) Jesus wills Himself to die at the precise time the Passover Lamb is being sacrificed. So profound is all of this that St. Paul spends three years in Arabia rethinking his whole worldview, replacing salvation by works with salvation by grace through Jesus. In Ephesians 1:3-14 there are twelve verses that make up this one sentence in the Greek where Paul does a Trinitarian salute to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. PAUSE.

Beautiful people of God know the Scriptures and hold them dear, for there is so much for us to learn and believe. The term “On the third day” is a metaphor throughout the Bible beginning with Jesus’ miracle of turning water into wine as well as the day He rose from the dead. Whether the rooster crowing, Jesus dying, or Jesus rising from the dead, the number three signals unity, accomplishment, fulfillment, and hope—living Hope. Not a sparrow falls, not a nation rises, and not one event takes place in this universe that does not in the end come under the rule and reign of Jesus.

For us on Good Friday Jesus was willing to be denied. For us on Good Friday He was crucified. For us on Good Friday He willingly died. For us on Good Friday He was glorified. For us on Good Friday He accepted His lot at the will of His Father so that we can be part of the great throng without number. He was denied so that you would not be denied His forgiveness and salvation. He died so that you would never die.

The same Savior who spoke of Peter’s denial spoke of His resurrection and reunion with them in Galilee. May both passion predictions increase our hope, confidence, and joy! Even on Good Friday Jesus is Lord. The rooster obeys. The devil makes his worse mistake. The grave overreaches. Death claims a victim it cannot hold! And through it all and more, Jesus unceasingly works everything together for our good. Yes even a beaten and bloodied Jesus dead on a cross and laid in a tomb is used for good! Because we have a God who can do this miracle and more, there is hope. On the third day...the three denials are overcome so that we could be baptized into the name of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Now the peace…


“Numbers of Hope-30” (Matthew 26:14-16)

S-1489 MT/3B 4/02/2015 Hymns: (O) #388; (S) #370; LS #146; #314; #155;

Texts: Psalm 130; Zechariah 11:7-14; 1 Corinthians 11:23-29; Matthew 24:14-25; 27:1-4

Theme: “Numbers of Hope-30 (Matthew 26:14-16)

7th sermon in sermon series on “Numbers of Hope

Question: What is the most treasured possession you have?

“Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver Him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray Him.” Matthew 26:14-16

People of the cross, tonight we are bystanders in the Upper Room in Jerusalem. As you are standing in the shadows listening and observing, I want you to look closely at the figure in the center of the room—Jesus. In the middle of supper Jesus does something totally unexpected. Taking off His outer garments He goes around the table washing the disciples’ feet one by one, the way the lowliest slave in the household would. It is a demonstration of His absolute humility, love and care-a demonstration He will repeat for the whole world the next day on the cross not with towel and basin, but with His hands and feet pierced with nails and with His blood issuing from His pierced side and brow.

This night was one the disciples would NEVER forget. It is a confusing, confounding and depressing night! Their Lord and Master washes their feet like a slave He tells them the unthinkable that one of them will betray Him and another deny Him and He will meet His fate on the wood of the cross. He told them it was coming, but they couldn’t see it right before their eyes! What a confusing, confounding, and depressing night!

That night the disciples will behold the depravity of man and the delight of God. They will see on display the lawlessness of man and the love of God. They will see the gruesome heart of man, and behold the grace of God. They will see the darkness of man, and the light of God who reveals His plans to bless His people for which He came to save them…by giving Himself as the ultimate sacrifice on the hewn cross of Calvary.

This night we are drawn to Jerusalem and into the Upper Room to see, hear and learn the love of God the Father in sending His Son to be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver. PAUSE.

Saints in Christ, it was Shakespeare who said “That ingratitude is sharper than a serpent’s tooth.” The old Serpent from Genesis three with venomous desire was still going after the children of God. Tonight, this evil foe had hooked Judas to perform one of the most treacherous and traitors deeds in history. And yet, Jesus loved Judas and the eleven till the very end.

His unconditional love did not cease. Therein is our hope as we think about the number 30. For thirty pieces of silver the Lord of heaven and earth is sold, betrayed, and made the pawn of a bribe. The august leaders of the Sanhedrin had changed from the Supreme Court of the law to a supreme court of lawlessness. They were willing to do anything to silence Jesus and put Him to death.

We must also remember that Jesus loved them—He loved them until the end. Upon the cross as history’s Great High priest Jesus would pray for them...“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Let it be known among us that these religious leaders knew what they were doing. They had no idea they were being used by the devil, doing the very bidding of the one who had seduced Adam and Eve into sin, rebellion, darkness, and lawlessness.

The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil observed St. Paul. The religious leaders were fearful not only of losing power but also money. Jesus’ second clearing of the Temple threatened the plush income of at least nine thousand priests.

When Judas asked the religious leaders the question saying, “What will you give me if I deliver Him over to you?” They chose carefully their response. They offered Judas with a shameful pitiful amount, “Thirty pieces of silver.”

Exodus 21:32 made clear that “thirty pieces of silver” was the price of a slave, or the price for two donkeys. Moreover, that amount was the going rate for some 1500 years earlier. So Jesus was worth, in their perverted minds, the price of a slave from 15 centuries before.

Martin Luther said that one drop of Jesus’ blood was worth more than all the treasures this earth could offer. Tonight we receive Jesus’ body and blood in the Lord’s Supper because of a meal Jesus instituted on the night He was betrayed—for thirty pieces of silver. Thirty becomes a number of hope for us because it reveals Jesus steadfast love for all mankind even in the midst of the wrecked betrayal. It becomes a number of hope because it implicitly reveals that Jesus kept the law of God perfectly in our place even under the most adverse circumstances.

Anyone who has ever been betrayed knows the deep hurt. And to be betrayed for the price of a slave—the low price of a slave from 1500 years before—was triple insult. Any of us at this point would have been tempted to say, “To Hades with you all! I am going to call down the holy wrath of my heavenly Father upon the whole lock, stock, and barrel of you all.” Instead, Jesus loved them to the end, even knowing ahead of time He would be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver. After all, that is what Zechariah had foretold in the O.T. reading. PAUSE.

For 30 pieces of silver the life of Jesus is purchased. For the price of a slave, Jesus is sold. This price is paid by the corrupt officials in the hope of silencing and putting Him to death. But they fail to see that these 30 pieces will change our lives forever—we, who have been slaves of Satan and sin; in Christ, become free and blood-bought children of our loving Savior.

Ironically, the 30 pieces of silver weighted about 12 ounces. Jesus would endure this insult to bring about salvation for the 12 tribes of Israel, the 144,000 number that no one could count. We noted in our last sermon, we as the Israelites through being baptized into the body of Messiah Jesus are part of that number. For us, Jesus endures the 30 pieces of silver to turn it into salvation for the 12 tribes, symbolized beneath the surface by the 12 ounces of silver. That is the nature of Jesus, constantly working everything together for the good of His redeemed.

You should also know that the 30 pieces of silver was equivalent to about 120 days of wages for a common worker. Mary Magdalene who anointed the feet of Jesus saved up a whole years worth of wages to purchase the expensive perfume she used. Ironically, Mary worships at the feet of Jesus, just as Moses did at the Burning Bush and Joshua did just shortly before the walls of Jericho coming down. Moses, Joshua, and Mary Magdalene—all connected in their worship of the anointed One. Mary, by the power of the Holy Spirit, understands not only that Jesus must die for the sins of Israel, but she understands far more than the religious leaders of Israel, the worth of the Holy Son of God. She evidently caught on early what the disciples missed...what the wise men alluded to...that Jesus was born to die, specifically for the Jews first and for all nations.

Her hope was built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness. Thirty is a number with many facets: The children of Israel mourned for 30 days when Aaron died and when Moses died. It is, of course, a number for betrayal as well as for the perfect and triumphant. King David was 30 years old when he began his work as king just as Jesus was 30 when He as King began His ministry. Joseph was 30 years old when He ascended to the right of Pharaoh; Jesus was 30 years old as He began His work toward the ascent to the Right Hand of the Father as Risen Savior. Thirty is a number of 3 times 10, the 3 for the Triune God times 10 for His completed work—His completed work of salvation. If Jesus indeed is the perfect High Priest who was like us in every way except without sin, then He must go through betrayal...betrayal by His own people, the Supreme Court of religion, and by Rome and US. For we too, sadly have betrayed Him.

Beloved people of the cross, on Maundy Thursday Jesus gave to His disciples a new commandment. A Mandatum...the root word for Maundy...A new mandate I give you, that you love one another even as I have loved you. This would be a love that overcomes betrayal, abandonment, torture, humiliation, and more. Moreover, Jesus knew that He would rise from the dead and give to His disciples a great commission to bring the gospel to all people, to run the good race, and live out a life of faith.

In order to do this...they would need grace upon grace. Such grace would come in Holy Baptism, Holy Absolution, and the preaching of the Holy Gospel. But Jesus wanted to give His disciples an added gift—the Lord’s Supper. Knowing full well that many of His own disciples would suffer betrayal throughout history, on the night Jesus was betrayed for 30 pieces of silver, a price of a slave. Jesus took on the role of a slave—for US. PAUSE.

On this night we remember that Jesus willingly suffered for us this betrayal precisely because it led to the cross. There Jesus would do His deepest redemptive work and reveal to us the only love strong enough to work faith in our hearts and make us truly humans—people who through the working of the Holy Spirit take the living God of all grace at His Word. The 30 pieces of silver gives us hope because they are part of the story that leads us to the cross and open tomb, baptismal washing and the Lord’s Supper.

For 30 pieces of silver He was willing to be betrayed, so that we might be blessed. He was willing to endure the Cup of suffering to give us His Cup of salvation. He was willing to be sold for a slave’s price to make us His princess and princesses. Jesus was willing to be beaten, to give us His bounty in the blessed meal that awaits us. Therefore, I say to you rejoice tonight as you receive this sacred Meal...a Meal of love—first consecrated on the night our Lord was betrayed. Receive something worth more than 30 pieces of silver, or all the gold in the world, Jesus’ body and blood for the forgiveness of sins. Amen.

Now the peace…


“We want to see Jesus” (John 12:12-26) 20-21

S-1488 Palm S/3B 3/29/2015 Hymns: (O) #161; (S) #160; L.S. #308; #309; #315; (C) #162

Texts: Zechariah 9:9-12; Philippians 2:5-11; Mark 14:1-15:47

Theme: “We want to see Jesus” (John 12:12-26) 20-21

Question: “How well do you see?”

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia. The text for Palm Sunday is from John: “Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus’ (12:20-21).

People of the Cross, you who have been purchased with the crimson blood of the Savior, thanks be to our Creator God who gave us eyes to see. The eyes are a part of the body that are most remarkable. They see color and detail. They can sense depth and distance. The eye is a creative miracle of the creative Miracle Worker. But sometimes we need more than our natural eyes to help us see more clearly.

Whenever I go out deer hunting, I use binoculars to help me see farther and better. With age, I have needed glasses to help me see better. Many of us use either glasses or contact lenses to help us see better.

Now, I am going to ask you to help me demonstrate my point. I will not impose on those of you wearing contact lenses, but will ask any of you who are wearing glasses to kindly remove them for a few moments... How well do you see without the aid of your glasses? Probably not well. You wear glasses or contacts to see better and more clearly.

In today’s Gospel we meet some Greeks who have come to Jerusalem during Passion Week to celebrate and observe the Passover. These devout and God-fearing Greeks had a request for Philip, Sir, We have a great desire to see Jesus.” Jesus was the object of their desire.

The questions we need to ask the Holy Spirit to help answer are these: 1. Why did they ask Philip and 2. Why did they want to see Jesus?

1. Perhaps they approached Philip because he was from Bethsaida, which bordered their own Gentile towns; and because Philip was not a Hebrew name. Maybe he even spoke Greek. Philip then asked Andrew to help him and together they took the inquiry of these Gentiles to Jesus. And,

2. More than likely these God-fearing Greeks had heard many reports about Jesus, including the recent news that He had raised Lazarus of Bethany (John 11) from the dead. Like the Ethiopian eunuch of Acts 8 and the Gentile centurion Cornelius of Caesarea of Acts 10, these Gentiles trusted in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and wanted to be near Him and know Him better. They had heard of the God who had done mighty things, and now right there before them is that Man who was bringing the Messianic age to fruition. PAUSE.

We don’t know much about these God-fearing Greeks, they probably attended synagogue worship in their home towns and regularly traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate festivals. But when they came to worship at the temple, they could only go up to the court of the Gentiles. There was a wall separating Gentile worshipers from the rest of the temple area & they could not go past it.

Despite this restriction, these God-fearing Greeks had a desire to see Jesus. The apostle John presents Philip as a person like us—down to earth, not highly educated, neither did he come from a high class society. Remember, it was Philip who said to Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” He, too, wanted to see better.

What was Jesus’ response? Jesus mildly rebuked Philip, saying, “Don’t you know Me, Philip, even after I have been with you for a long time? Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). Nonetheless, the Holy Spirit was at work in Philip, a simple, ordinary man who is used to further the kingdom. He was chosen by Jesus to be one of His disciple. The Savior of mankind delights in His children and equips them for the work in His church to share the great news so that others might see Him and know Him better.

In His divine wisdom Jesus deliberately chose Philip. This act gives hope to you and me. Philip was certainly a common man, but the Lord Jesus Christ chose him as His apostle. In mercy and grace, God delights to do great things with ordinary people. He chooses the nobodies of the world and makes them somebodies. We ourselves were nobodies, but God chose us, and being baptized in His name we become somebodies special—His own treasured possessions. PAUSE.

What a blessing it is for us to be brought here by the Holy Spirit, to see with eyes of faith what these Greeks saw. They saw the Savior of mankind in person. They had a desire to behold Him who is the heaven-sent Savior. They wanted to know that they have a place at the table with Father Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and so do we.

Yet, many times our eyes don’t see the majesty of the Divine Son of God. We don’t see because we choose not to see like Paul the Apostle. Remember he was a Hebrew scholar. He read and knew the Old Testament well, but wouldn’t accept the truth that this Man—Jesus, is the Messiah.

With fervor Paul went out on a mission not to save people, but to enslave them into the rules of man. He didn’t go out to share the love of Jesus, but to silence Him. On this mission Jesus met and opened his eyes by removing the scales that hindered him to see clearly. Once the scales were removed this man, became one of the greatest missionary and preachers the world has even known. We have 13 Epistles (letters) penned through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit by his hand in the Bible telling us of the great doctrines of salvation, justification, sanctification, adoption into the family of faith, the story of redemption, and glorious resurrection all through Christ’s mighty power.

Read his Epistles and you will see Jesus more clearly, more wonderfully and more amazingly, because the Lord in mercy removed the scales from his eyes. Like Paul, we too have had our eyes opened. In the waters of Baptism we died to sin and received new life. In Baptism we who were enemies of God became friends of God. We who were blind now can see and can see so clearly! We confess that without Jesus there is no life and there is no resurrection.

We hear this and our bodies ache with longing, a possibility too good to be true. We’re hungry. We’re thirsty. We long for the bread of life—bread that truly satisfies. To see him. To see Him face to face. The intimacy of the encounter—as our gaze meets His and we are drawn into those refreshing waters, our eyes swimming in His.  We long for the embrace of God, our participation in the eternal love of the Father, Son, and Spirit. We long for the Son of Man to come in all His glory.

By the grace of God, we are richly blessed like the Greeks of old who see Jesus. We see Him too. We see Him in His Word, and in His simple Means-water, bread and wine. Oh, we see Him, not with glasses, contact lenses, or binoculars, but by grace through faith worked in us through the Holy Spirit.

The God-fearing Greek had a desire to see Jesus and so do we. But did you know that Jesus has a desire to see you? Indeed He does! He saw us in our sins. He saw us as people heading to hell without Him. He saw us wallowing in the mire of sin without a chance to get out of it. He saw us destined to spend eternity without any hope of freedom and slaves in the clutches of the devil.

Yes, He saw us as we are—poor, miserable, outcasts sinners without an opportunity to live in peace and joy with Him. So He did more. He came to earth as a humble man, lived the perfect life as He constantly looked to the love of the Father to sustain Him. He permitted the powers of His day to beat Him, bruise Him and bludgeon Him. He permitted the power hungry to drag Him, defile Him, and degrade Him. He permitted the solider to smite Him, strike Him and spit upon Him. He permitted them to place a crown of thorns on His head and crucify Him to death on a Roman cross. He did all of this so that we can see His love for you more clearly.

But He still did more, on the third day He rose again to make sure that you and I, poor miserable sinners will rise again from death to life. Just like the Greeks saw Him, just like the disciples saw Him after the resurrection, just like the women saw the tomb empty and saw Him in person, so do we today. We see Him here in His Word and in His Sacrament.

Thanks be to God, that the One who created our eyes has opened them up for us to see. And we have seen who this Jesus is! In the strength and power of the Holy Spirit, w e leave here and share what we have seen and heard so that others might see Him and believe. Join me in thanking the Lord for opening our eyes to see Him now and always. Amen.

Now the peace of God…