Seventh Sunday aft. Pentecost
Our Savior Lutheran Church
Pagosa Springs, Colorado
July 30, 2000
(There are lots of ways that we honor important people in our nation. When the judge enters the courtroom, everyone stands up until he or she sits down. When the President of the United States walks into a room a band plays “Hail To the Chief”. When John Elway ran onto the turf at Mile High Stadium, people would cheer as for no one else. At the end of an exemplary performance at a play or a concert, people offer a standing ovation. But what is the honor of God’s prophets? Is it the public acclaim accorded them when they speak? No! Often they were not even listened to and frequently they were dismissed. Sometimes they were even killed.
Today it’s not so different for those who speak God’s Words for Him. Pastors are the butt of nearly as man jokes as lawyers. Ministers have been falling in the credibility poles over the years. But we’re certainly not alone. Jesus had the same problem. In our Gospel today, and in the parallel texts in other Gospels, we read that Jesus visited His hometown of Nazareth and announced the fulfillment of the long awaited prophesy about the coming of the Messiah. Was there cheering in the synagogue? Was there a celebration in the streets of Nazareth? No! Instead they tried to kill the Lord of Life.
I. NOT EVERYONE WANTS TO HEAR WHAT GOD HAS TO SAY.
A. People really don’t want to hear the truth about sin.
1. I understand that…who wants to be told they’re bad?
a. And yet, to deny that fallen humanity is inherently evil is to deny the very
evidence in front of our faces.
1.) If man isn’t evil, then why don’t we stop killing each other in war after war and never seem to figure it out that no one wins a war…everyone looses.
2.) If man isn’t sinful, then why are all our prisons and jails filled to capacity and we have to keep building more?
3.) If man isn’t sinful, then why do we continually have to struggle with ourselves to stop doing what we KNOW we shouldn’t do?
b. No, the reality of being a sinner does not have mass appeal, but it does have mass application…everybody is one!
2. Since nobody likes to hear they are a sinner, the prophet who calls their attention to the fact is dismissed from their hearing.
a. “I don’t go to church because I don’t want someone telling me what I have to do.”…He doesn’t want to hear the truth about his sin!
b. I don’t go to church, because the church is full of other people who are as bad as I am and I don’t want to be with a bunch of hypocrites!”…He doesn’t want to admit that if he attended, then he’d be a hypocrite too!
c. “I don’t go to church because the Pastor is no better than I am and he wants to keep everybody else in line!”…He’s absolutely right about the fact that the Pastor is no better, but he’s dead wrong that all we pastors want is to make people behave better!
B. People really don’t even want to listen to Good News from God.
1. That certainly happened in today’s Gospel lesson:
a. Jesus revealed Himself to be the long awaited Messiah…and they
wanted to throw Him off a cliff!
b. Now no one’s ever tried to kill me over one of my sermons, but I have
heard of a few pastors who were fired over a sermon!
2. You see, the problem with the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that it
demands the abandonment of human pride.
a. We prefer to think that we can work hard and save ourselves!
b. We like to think that we have all the resources necessary to make our
lives and our relationship with the One who has created us jus fine…but we don’t because we are sinners!
3. That reality hasn’t stopped us from trying in vain to please God by playing the
“ledger book game” with God.
a. We prefer a solution that requires minimum effort for success in pleasing
God…we want a 51 percent solution.
b. We reason, “If I can just manage to work hard enough to have at least 51 percent of the actions in my life to be good enough, then God has to reward me with salvation…No He doesn’t!
c. God doesn’t demand that we be 51 percent good…His demand is that we be holy, perfect, without flaw…because only then can we stand in the presence of a holy, perfect and flawless God.
d. Human effort, no matter how sincere or vigorous cannot achieve what God demands!
4. And yet, we are so reluctant to listen to God’s Good News!
a. How is perfection attainable? Jesus announces that the Messiah has
come to meet the demands of holiness, perfection and flawlessness on behalf of mankind!
b. So, of course, we want to throw Him off a cliff! (Lk. 4:17-21)
II. LISTENING TO GOD, YOU SEE, CAN BE DANGEROUS TO OUR INDEPENDENCE!
A. The problem is: If God is really speaking through His prophet, then there is a
clear implication that everybody better listen!
1. And if God is speaking, then we’d better understand that what God has
to say can’t be so easily dismissed!
2. And if what God says can’t be easily dismissed, we might have to let Him
change our lives!
B. You see, we have been created by God, and we have been redeemed by God so we
are in a position of being His people.
1. That means that we are NOT independent creatures who may do as we please.
2. God not only made us, but He has paid dearly for our salvation…He bought us twice!
a. Here is the price of our souls…the life of God’s only Son Jesus the Christ.
b. No other price can be paid which is sufficient:
1.) Not any amount of human effort.
2.) Not any other life of any other religious leader. (Acts 4:12)
3. The life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is God’s singular act of
redemption for all mankind…There are no other alternatives!
a. Here is the truth: We may not believe as we please.
b. We may not invent our own plans of salvation…God has already done that and no one else’s manmade plans will suffice!
III. AND NOW WE HAVE THE HONOR OF BEING GOD’S PROPHETS!
A. You see, the honor of the prophet is not that his voice is heard, but that he honors
the One who gives the message of Christ crucified and risen, by speaking the message!
1. At Pentecost, God bestows on all His Church, the power to witness as a prophet using His Word and Sacraments…His means of grace for the world.
a. With the gift, comes the responsibility.
b. Gifts, you see, are given to be used, not neglected.
2. We are not responsible for producing results with our message, only to speak it.
a. Herein is our obligation.
b. Herein is the honor of the prophet!
B. We seek the approval of God, not of men.
1. That is the way of the prophet…the one who speaks listens to the One who
sends him, not to the approval or disapproval of those he addresses.
2. We do so, not to earn status with God, for through Christ our status is already perfected…We serve God because He has loved us and because we are His…What else would be more important?
CONCLUSION: In the Roaring Twenties, a slick lawyer nicknamed Artful Eddie became deeply involved in crime with notorious gangster Al Capone…One day he went to the authorities and informed on Capone, knowing that he would pay a dear price for his betrayal. Why? Because he didn’t want his son to grow up to be a criminal. Eddie was later gunned down with two shotgun blasts to his body. Did it pay off? Yes. His son Butch, later attended the U.S. Naval Academy and was the first Naval aviator to be awarded the Medal of Honor. Today, because his father was will to die for his son, we mention his name often, you see, the City of Chicago named their International Airport after him…O’Hare International airport. Our heavenly Father has died for us and granted us the honor of being His prophets in a dark age of spiritual ignorance. When people mention us, let it be our Father’s name which first comes to their lips! In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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