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Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!

Disclaimer

Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Blessed Is He Who Comes in the Name of the Lord - February 24, 2013 - Second Sunday in Lent - Text: Luke 13:31-35

The goal in most sporting events is for one team to outplay and outscore the other team, in other words, to defeat them in the game. The goal in most labor disputes, as each side looks at the dispute, is for each side to get their own way, which means one side wants more pay and benefits and the other side wants more work, output and profits. We live in a world and in a country where there is constant competition. People race to get in line first at the bank or grocery store. People race to get home from work. Christians race to get out of church early to beat the other Christians to Luby’s. People buy the newest cell phone, the newest Ipad computer, the newest car. People build bigger and better houses. Often we call this behavior, “keeping up with the Joneses.” Very often our goal in life is to stay one step ahead of the competition and everyone is competition. Well, let me tell you, we are no different than our ancestors. Even in Jesus’ day too many people were constantly looking out for “number one,” meaning only for themselves.

This morning we see more of the shenanigans of the Pharisees. The Pharisees were pretending to want to “help” and “save” Jesus by warning Him about Herod. They approached Jesus with some startling news, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you” (Luke 13:31b). How nice of them to want to warn Jesus so that He might get out of town and not be killed by Herod. At first glance it looks more like they are Jesus’ friends than His enemies.

The problem with the Pharisees is that they constantly broke the first commandment, “You should have no other God’s before me.” Dr. Luther gives us the explanation for this commandment as, “we should fear, love and trust in God above all things.” Thus, whatever or whoever we fear above all things truly is our God. In the case of the Pharisees their fear was a fear of man rather than a fear of God. Jesus was rather popular with the people and that was making it hard for them, since, in essence, they were afraid of the people. If God was their God, that is, if God the Father in heaven was their God, then they would have been more concerned about His will than about their popularity with the people.

The Pharisees approached Jesus, not out of concern for Him, but because they wanted just to be rid of Him. If He was not around then maybe the people would forget about Him and maybe He would not be so popular and maybe they would be more popular and people would listen to them. So here, under the guise of wanting to help Jesus, wanting to show that they really do care about Him, they are warning Him that Herod is out for His blood. If Jesus would leave, this would accomplish both their “show” of concern and the getting rid of Jesus.

What about us? What about you and me? Of what or of whom are we afraid? Are we more concerned about our own popularity or doing what is popular, or are we more concerned about doing the will of our God? Are we more concerned about being perceived as being tolerant or about proclaiming the truth of God’s Word, that God does not tolerate belief in anyone or anything other than Himself and that He does not tolerate sin? Are we more concerned about what other people think of us or about what God thinks of us? Are we more concerned about our lives on this earth, our time in this world, or our eternal existence in heaven? Are we more afraid of other humans or God? Yes, all of these are First Commandment question.

In our text we see that Jesus is not afraid. He calls Herod a fox, because He is sly, cruel, and destructive. Herod is the one who had Jesus’ cousin and forerunner, John the Baptist, beheaded. Herod is the one who married his brother Phillip’s wife even though this was wrong and it was a sin. One of my Bible Dictionary’s says this about Herod, “His administration was characterized throughout with cunning and crime, intensely selfish and utterly destitute of principle” (Unger’s Bible Dictionary p. 472). Yes, Herod was a fox.

Even though Herod is so great a sinner, even though Herod might be out to get Him, Jesus is not afraid of Herod and will continue to do the work He came to do, until it is finished, until He reaches His goal. And His goal is to save the world. Our sin separates us from God and our sin is ever before us. We show our idolatry in that we are more afraid of others than we are of God. We are more interested in our own concerns than those of God and we see this in how we live as well as in the decisions we make. Yes, our sin separates us from God and left in our sin we would be doomed to die an eternal spiritual death in hell.

Jesus goal is to save all people, thus His goal is to die. We see Him allude to this goal in our text when He says that, “for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem!” (Luke 13:33b). The only way Jesus could have been any clearer would be to outright say, “I will die in Jerusalem.” From creation and the fall into sin by Adam and Eve, and from His physical birth into this world, Jesus had the cross ever before Him. Ever since the Garden of Eden, the eternal spiritual death penalty of hell has been hanging over us and Jesus goal is save us, in other words, His goal is to die, to die, once and for all, the eternal spiritual death penalty for us, for you and for me, so that we might not have to suffer eternal spiritual death, but so that we might have life, even eternal life with Him in heaven.

And so, Jesus is grieved. He is grieved over the sins of His own people, the children of Israel. He is grieved because they have not lived as they were asked to live, instead they have constantly rebelled against Him. Instead of fearing God they have feared other nations. Instead of fearing God they have feared each other. Instead of fearing God they have gone running after other gods and idols. And Jesus is grieved because of their sins. His goal was to gather them together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings in order to protect them, but they were not willing, instead they refused, resisted, and rejected Him.

Jesus is grieved not only for the sins of His own people, but the sins of the world as well. He is grieved because the world does not live as it is asked to live, instead it constantly rebels against Him. Instead of fearing God the people of the world fear other people. We see this in the competition of national and world powers, in the wars and rumors of war which are happening around the world. Instead of fearing God the people of the world fear each other. Instead of fearing God the people of the world go running after the other false gods and idols of this world. And Jesus is grieved because of the sins of the world. His goal was to gather them together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings in order to protect them, but they were not willing, instead they refused, resisted, and rejected Him.

Jesus is grieved not only for the sins of His own people and the sins of the world, but our sins as well. He is grieved because we do not live as we are asked to live, instead we constantly rebel against Him. Instead of fearing God we fear other people and what other people might think. We fear losing our status in society, we fear losing our positions of power and influence, and yes, even in the church we fear losing our perceived positions of status, power and authority. Instead of fearing God we fear each other. We see this in the competition among Christians, constantly working at odds with each other, pointing the finger at who is not doing what and who is doing what, instead of working together. Instead of fearing God we go running after the other false gods and idols of our own world. And Jesus is grieved because of our sins. His goal is to gather us together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings in order to protect us, but too often we are not willing, instead we refuse, resist, and rejected Him.

Jesus goal is the salvation of all people, of all places, of all times. His goal is to save you and me. He will accomplish His goal, and He did accomplish His goal. As we journey with Him through the Gospels we see that He did signs, wonders and miracles as “proof” of His divinity, that He was the Messiah. Jesus is the one promised in the Old Testament. He is the one who came to do all things for all people. He came to fulfill all the Old Testament promises and prophecies. He came as the embodiment of Israel, to do all things, all that the whole nation of Israel could not do, He came to do perfectly. He came as the embodiment of all people, even and especially, He came to do for us, for you and for me, what we are unable to do, live perfectly according to all His commands and decrees. Yes, Jesus is the Messiah, He is who He says He is.

Not only do we believe Jesus because of the signs, wonders and miracles He performed, but we also believe Him because He is His own authority. We believe Him because He says He is our Savior, our Messiah. We believe Him because the Holy Spirit has given us that faith through the very means He has given to give us faith, His Word and Holy Baptism. It is especially through the Bible which is God’s Word, a word of authority that we are given faith and so we believe Him and we “fear, love and trust in Him above all things.”

Jesus took all our sins upon Himself and suffered and died the eternal spiritual death penalty for us, in our place. He died that we might live. He is faithful and just. We see His justness in the fact that the wages, the cost, the price for sin was paid. The price for sin is eternal spiritual death and He is the one who died the eternal spiritual death penalty for all people. We see His faithfulness in the fact that what He did He did because of His love for us and His promise to us, His promise to save us from our sins, His promise first made to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

What is your goal in life? Is your goal in life defined by the things of this world? Or is your goal in life defined by things above? Is your goal in life defined by what or whom you are afraid, the things or people of this world? Or is you goal in life defined by your fear, love and trust in God above all things? Rest assured my friends, Jesus’ goal was to save you and He accomplished His goal, thanks be to God. My prayer for each one of you is that the Lord will continue to work through His Word and Sacraments to give you all His good gifts and blessings, forgiveness, faith, strengthening of faith, life and salvation and that He will continue to work through these means to guard and keep you in faith and by the power of the Holy Spirit, also working through these means, to guide you into a life lived to His glory. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.

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