Sunday, January 15, 2012

Epiphany 2 Sermon: "Speaking of Jesus"

+ 2nd Sunday after the Epiphany – January 15th, 2012 +
Text: 1 Samuel 3:1-10; John 1:43-51

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

            Our Lord speaks. And we listen. The Word of Lord comes near and we are made servants. That’s the life of all disciples; the rhythm of worship. It’s the way we pray as David teaches us in the Psalms: “O Lord, open my lips; and my mouth will declare Your praise.”
            That’s the way it was for Samuel, the boy-prophet. He could have easily been listening to that popular Christmas carol on his iPod: “Do you hear what I hear?”
            “Samuel, Samuel,” the Lord called out. Three times.

            Eli couldn’t hear however. He wasn’t deaf. The Lord was not talking to Eli. Visions and prophesies were rare in those days. That’s worth noting – there is such a thing as a famine of the Word of God. Amos said the same thing. Just look at Lutheranism in Africa.

            Anyhow, even though Eli was losing his eyesight, he was not blind to the ways of the Lord. He clearly saw through his ears what Samuel was reporting. By the third time Samuel interrupted his slumber, Eli told Samuel, “Go, lie down, and if he calls you, say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.”
            So that’s what Samuel did. He went back to bed. Laid down his head. And the Lord came and stood, calling out: “Samuel, Samuel!”
            “Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.” That’s the Lord’s way of doing things. Faith is born by what is heard. The people of God see things through their ears.

That’s the way it was for Jesus’ first disciples too. Jesus spoke: “Follow me.” And Philip followed.

            Philip listened. Samuel listened. But what about you? Do you have ears to hear the Word of the Lord? Or will you mute the messenger? The question is not whether anything good can come out of Nazareth but whether anything good can come into our sinful deaf and dumb ears. Your ears are plugged. God’s Word falls silent on crusty, wax hardened ears. We sinners have perfected the art of selective listening: gossip, slander, doubt, words of anger and hatred towards our fellow Christians. And that’s just the 2nd Table of the Law. We are good listeners when it comes to hearing our own voice. But not when it comes to listening to the Lord above all things. So much for the 1st Table of the Law.

            Notice that Samuel didn’t listen to his own voice. There was no “little voice inside” – it’s not to say there aren’t little voices around…you probably just shouldn’t be listening to them. No, it was the Word of the Lord who spoke to Samuel. He was persistent with him. Three times.
            He’s no less persistent with you. He’ll break through your ears: sometimes with the thunder of Sinai. Sometimes with the whisper of Elijah. But always outside yourself. Always through His Word. Always through His Son, Jesus. For in many and various ways God spoke to his people of old by the prophets, but now in these last days, he has spoken to us by His Son.
            Your ears are like that rocky soil Jesus talked about with his disciples. There is no such thing as ears that hear – not without Jesus opening them. And there’s no such thing as good soil, that is, until Jesus plants his Word in your ears and His promise grows, creating life and faith out of nothing. Our Lord speaks. He opens our ears. And we listen. God’s people see through their ears.

            That’s the first job of a prophet or an apostle or a disciple or a Christian…listen up. Hear this!
            So, Samuel became a prophet through his ears (Just like Mary became the Mother of God). A mouthpiece of the Lord. And whoever hears the prophet hears the Lord. In the years that followed Samuel’s calling, YHWH made him into a great man. Through Samuel, YHWH delivered Israel from her enemies. Through Samuel, YHWH anointed both King Saul and King David. King David is best known for his greatest Son…The Son of David, the greatest king of the nation of Israel. Jesus, the King of Kings.

            That same Word of the Lord that stood before Samuel and called to him and all the prophets long ago also came in human flesh. Now you can put a face to that voice. The face and flesh of Jesus. “Come and see” – just like Nathanael says. For us Jesus hears the Father’s voice: “This is my beloved Son, listen to him.” He obeys for us who have been disobedient. He opens his ears for us who had closed ears and gives us ears to hear his Word. He even listens on our behalf.
            And more than that speaks on our behalf. He’s always bending the Father’s ear. “Remember your covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Remember my blood shed for them. Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” He is your Advocate. Your great High Priest. Your mediator. He lives to speak and fulfill the words of Samuel, “Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.”
            Jesus hears the Father’s voice. And He speaks for the Father.  Whoever has seen Jesus has seen the Father. And whoever has heard Jesus has heard the Father. That was Samuel’s vocation. Prophet. Mouthpiece. Megaphone of God’s Word. Just like Jesus told his disciples later: “He who hears you hears me.”
            His name fits his calling. Samuel means: “God has heard.”   Through Christ, you are all his beloved Samuels. Hearers of His Word. Read. Mark. Learn. Inwardly digest that Word as it comes to your ears. And today as it comes to your mouth as well.

            The Good Shepherd has laid down his life for the sheep.  “My sheep hear my voice,” Jesus promises. “I know them. And they follow me.” Samuel did. Philip and Nathanael did. And so do you – in Baptism through the forgiveness of sins to the Altar.
            You may only see water from the sink…but what do you hear? “I baptize you in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” You may only see another sinner standing in front of you…but what do you hear? “In the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus, I forgive you all your sins.” You may only see bread and wine…but what do you hear: “Take eat; take drink. This is my body. This is my blood – broken and shed for you for the forgiveness of your sins. God’s people see with their ears.

            We celebrated Christmas. Now we celebrate Epiphany. A season to hear the Word of the Lord revealed and made known among us. To come and see the Word of the Lord in action: in the Scriptures; in the Font; at the Altar – for you and for your neighbors.      
            Here can you echo the disciple’s message: “come and see.” And their words ring true. Come and see Jesus in bread and wine for you. Come and see Jesus consecrating all water for Holy Baptism by his Baptism. Come and see Jesus healing, teaching, and standing before you with his Word: “Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.” Listen to your neighbors pleas for mercy.

            For as much Epiphany is a season for speaking - Our Lord speaks. We listen. It is also a season for listening. It is a season for all God’s Samuels. The question is, once we listen, will we speak so that others may hear? Will we echo the disciple’s words to our neighbors, friends, co-workers: “Come and see.” Come to church with me. Join me tonight at Bible study. Come and see Jesus. He is here. And he is here for you.

            Come and see with your ears: Christ was born for you. Christ lived for you. Christ suffered, died and rose for you. And now he continues to speak to you. Speak, Lord, for your servants are listening.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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