Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sermon for Pentecost 10: "Mountains of Forgiveness"

+ 10th Sunday after Pentecost – July 28th, 2013 +
Series C: Genesis 18:17-33; Colossians 2:6-19; Luke 11:1-13

In the name of + Jesus. Amen.

Jesus was no stranger to Mountains. Just 40 days old, Jesus was brought up to the temple mount fulfilling the Law for you. In the wilderness, Jesus was brought up to a mountain by Satan, defeating temptation for you. The Sermon on the Mount – Christ’s teaches you. Mt. of Olives – Jesus prays for you. Mt. Tabor – Jesus was transfigured for you as he talked with Moses and Elijah – fellow mountain men – about His coming exodus (death) in Jerusalem on another mountain. And He prayed the prayer we hear in Luke’s gospel today.  “Father, if it be your will let this cup pass from me. But nevertheless not my will, but yours be done.”
 And it was. The Father’s will was done upon…you guessed it…a mountain. Not a green hill far away. But Calvary. Golgotha. The place of the skull. Mount doom. A mountain where heaven and hell collided, where life and death contended. Jesus was buried in the avalanche of our sin. Covered by mountains of our guilt. But that mountain of death caved in from below. Christ erupted from the grave – an Easter volcano, spewing forth resurrected light and glory and life.
The stone was rolled away. The tomb was empty. Jesus is alive. Resurrected. Calvary was conquered and along with it your sin and guilt and death. All of it buried in Jesus’ tomb. Jesus moved on to another mountain near Bethany. There he ascended for you. And now he sits enthroned in crucified and risen glory on the throne of Mt. Zion reigning and ruling over you in mercy and grace.
You’ve heard a lot about mountains this weekend. Fitting really since we’re up here in the mountains. Throughout the Scriptures, Christ does some of his greatest work on mountains, from Sinai to Calvary to Zion. Prayer is one of those great works. And right prayer – just like right worship – begins with receiving.
And so we receive from the Lord, his prayer. The Lord’s Prayer. Prayed of course…on a mountain (notice a pattern here?). So let’s take a a short trek through the Lord’s Prayer. I think you’ll find – as I did reading this text again this week – that each petition is fulfilled on Mt. Calvary.
Now before we begin, one word must be said about the prayer in Luke as compared to Matthew. It looks and sounds different doesn’t it? Why is that?  Some cry out: “See the bible is full of contradictions!”  But that is most illogical. It makes more sense to say, “Jesus taught this prayer on more than one occasion, as he did with many other teachings.”
So…When you pray, say:
Father, Hallowed be your name.
That’s remarkable! Amazing! Shocking! outrageous. Jesus tells us to address God as “Father.” Jesus has placed us into the same relationship with God that he has. But we don’t deserve to be called sons. We were rebellious children. Wayward sons – like the prodigal in Luke 15. But Baptism changed all that. Something just as remarkable happened in those waters. You went in a son of Adam and you came out of the water as God’s own child. You’re adopted. Born from above by the water, word and the Spirit. And all of Christ’s gifts – forgiveness, righteousness, eternal life, daily resurrection, cleansing, adoption – comes from Christ’s death and resurrection, poured into the water. That makes Baptism your death and resurrection.
In exchange for our rebellion Christ was the obedient, faithful Son. For our wayward, sinful lives, He offered up his perfect life and sacrifice for us. All on a mountain, where the holy One became unholy to make us unholy ones holy. His name is cursed and mocked and blasphemed so that your name might be hallowed. Now in Baptism you have a new name – saint, the holy ones. Holy in Jesus’ Name.
Your Kingdom Come…
Christ is born as a king and dies as a king but in unexpected humility and lowliness. A servant. A sacrifice. A king of suffering and death. In Greek mythology, Zeus, the king of the gods dwelt on Mt. Olympus. In order to please him you had go up. Ascend. Achieve. Be a hero.
It might be tempting to treat Jesus the same way: Treat Jesus like a strict school master: mind your teacher, get a sticker. Throw pencil erasers at his back is turned – and you’re busted. And this is how all of the world’s religions – all of them except Christianity – look at questions like salvation and eternal life. You must clip on, climb up, use every carabiner and cam available to start your climb up to God. Better get started, it’s a long way to the top…

But that’s Christianity…In the NT, Jesus comes down. God gets close to you. Infant close. Flesh and blood close. Bleeding. Sweating. Weeping humanity. Dying on the cross. That’s the kind of King you have in Jesus: He lays down his life for his lawless subjects and then gives you the kingdom.
What a relief! You don’t have to hike a mountain to pray or throw ten virgins into the fire to assure God’s favor. You don’t need a mountain top experience to get close to God. Jesus’ kingdom comes to you every Sunday in Divine Service. See your king, riding on the humble means he gives us: sinful pastors announcing absolution to fellow sinners. Water, word, bread and wine. These are Jesus’ royal decrees. And Jesus is really the only royal child worth getting worked up about. Jesus is your King – crucified, risen and ascended. And wherever Jesus is there is the kingdom of God. Long live the King!
Give us each our daily bread…
Are we praying just for bread here? No. Everything. He who did not spare his own son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Does that mean that our daily food comes because of Jesus’ death on the cross? Yes. You’re telling me that I have house, home, family, shoes, clothing, good and faithful spouse and good weather and all those things Luther lists in the Catechism all because Jesus rose from the dead? Yes, that’s exactly right. Our heavenly Father does all this – and more - out divine goodness and mercy without any merit or worthiness in us.
But there’s more; Jesus gives us daily bread on our table…and his. At Jesus’ altar the earthly and the heavenly collide in a spectacular feast. Bread is Jesus’ body. Wine is Jesus’ blood. Simple words forgive your sin. Jesus brings Mt. Calvary to you in this holy supper. Give us this day our daily Jesus.
And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us…
Debt – we’ve heard that word in the news a lot lately. Luke uses this word here (as does Matthew in Mt. 6) just like he does in the parable of the unjust steward, to describe an unpayable, insurmountable debt. If calculable in dollars, our sin would make even our national debt look like a child’s piggy bank. That’s how our old Scroogish sinful nature works, hoarding and piling up our twisted treasures – each and every one of our sins held tightly, my precioussss. But it’s fools gold. We sit on a throne of lies. Once we’ve proclaimed ourselves king of the hill, the Law points out that we’re sitting on a dung heap and our house is built on sinking sand.
Who can scale Mt. Sinai unscathed? Not you. Not me. But there is one. Jesus knows no sin. He is blameless. He kept the Law, every last word, every last letter. But Jesus didn’t keep the Law for himself. Every last little, “do this,” is done for you. You are his dearest treasure.
And here’s the blessed irony. Although Jesus could scale Sinai without a scratch, he lets those two tables of Sinai granite bury him in your sin and death. He lets the mountain of our sinful debt come crashing down on him in bloody agony. It all happened on a mountain… “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.”
You have been forgiven much. Now, go in love and forgive much.
And lead us not into temptation…
Temptations come in many forms. But most of them one thing in common: pointing us to ourselves. But what does Jesus do when tempted? Does he look to himself? No. He clings to the Word and promises of the Father. And He overcame temptation for you. He defeated the devil for you on a mountain. He died for you on a mountain. He emptied hell and the grave of its power for you. 
So now, when the devil comes and hangs your sin in your face like a dirty diaper, say to him, “So what, devil. I admit it. Those are my filthy, stinky, rotten sins…and here are a few more you forgot to mention. But they’re not mine anymore. All my sin belongs to Jesus, so you can take them all up with him. For he suffered and made a satisfaction on my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Where he is, there I shall be also.” 

Welcome to Mt. Zion.

In the name of + Jesus. Amen.

No comments:

Post a Comment