Friday, March 30, 2018

Good Friday Sermon: "Who is Barabbas?"

+ Good Friday – March 30th, 2018 +
John 18-19

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

Most of us have a favorite book, movie, TV show, or song we love to read, watch, or listen again and again. Why? Many reasons. But one important reason is that the more often we read, hear, or watch something, the more we notice details we hadn’t seen before.

Holy Week and the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ trial, crucifixion, and resurrection are no different.

We read the same story every year. Like monarch butterflies, we have an annual migration to Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, our source of life.

We know how the story goes. Jesus enters Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to palm branches waving as the streets echo with joy: “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest! Jesus cleanses the temple and teaches his disciples. Jesus celebrates the Passover with his disciples and makes a new and greater Passover in his body and blood in the Lord’s Supper. Jesus prays in Gethsemane, is betrayed, arrested, and tried by the religious authorities. Jesus goes to Pilate, to Herod, and back to Pilate again. Jesus is mocked, beaten, and crucified.

In each of the Gospels, the gravity of Holy Week draws us in. Everything in Scripture flows into or out of this week and all that Jesus says and does for you. This is the greatest week in all history. The Great Week of our salvation.  Every detail is important. Every word and name are there for a reason.

You have a custom, Pilate says to the chief priests and the crowds, that I should release one man for you at the Passover. So do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews? But the crowds cried out again: Not this man, but Barabbas.

Here we are in Holy Week, in the middle of Jesus’ trial before Pilate, and everyone and everything seems to be focused on Jesus. All the familiar characters of this story are there: Pilate, the chief priests, the crowds, and Jesus. But then the Gospels introduce a new character into the story, a name that sticks out.


Who is this guy, Barabbas? All four Gospels mention him by name. He’s not one of Jesus’ disciples. He’s not a sympathetic member of the religious council like Nicodemus or Joseph of Arimathea.

Who is Barabbas?

Matthew calls him a notorious criminal. John says he was a robber, or an insurrectionist depending on the translation. Mark and Luke both identify him as a prisoner from among a group of rebels who had committed murder in Jerusalem during an uprising against Rome.

Who is Barabbas?

He’s a criminal. Rebel. Murderer. So, why does this criminal, thief, thug, and murderer get his name next to Jesus in this, the greatest week in history?

Even Pilate gets it. “What evil has he done? I find no guilt in him”, he says pointing to Jesus.
Do you see the irony, the contrast between these two prisoners? Do you see how upside down this is?

Barabbas is the rightful prisoner. Barabbas belongs on death row. He’s the bad guy. He’s a rebel. Thug. Crook. Murderer. He deserves the guilty sentence. He deserves the chains. He deserves punishment. He deserves crucifixion.

Who do you want for me to release to you? Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas. Give us Barabbas.

Pilate’s soldiers approach Barabbas. They release his chains. He goes free. We know nothing of what happened to Barabbas next. Whatever he did, it seems likely that he didn’t know, and perhaps didn’t care who Jesus was. Like the other 9 lepers, it appears that he didn’t bother thank Jesus for sparing his life. But that’s ok. Jesus isn’t there to be served but to serve and give life as a ransom, for Barabbas, and for you, and for me.

Just a few hours earlier Jesus had prayed, Father if it be your will let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done. It was the Father’s will for Jesus to be treated like Barabbas, so that Barabbas (and us) could be treated like Jesus.

It wasn’t Pilate or the people who saved Barabbas. It was God’s love for sinners in his Son Jesus that saved him and saves you too.

Who is Barabbas?

I am.

You are.

We are Barabbas.

We are the crooks, the rebels, the murderers, liars, slanderers, betrayers, adulterers. We deserve the guilty sentence. We deserve the chains. We deserve punishment. We deserve death.

But God shows his love for us in this, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Jesus stood next to Pilate and took Barabbas’ place, our place too; the innocent for the guilty. Jesus became the criminal to set us free. Jesus became the murderer to save us. Jesus became the guilty one to declare us innocent. Jesus took our death to give us life. God made him who knew no sin to be sin for us.

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. He was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and by his wounds we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; We are all Barabbas. And the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

“Take me, instead,” Jesus declares. “I find no guilt in you. You are free. You are innocent. For this purpose I have come into the world. To die for you. To rise for you. To save you and give you life. Behold my cross. My life is yours. My righteousness is yours. My grace is yours. My body broken for you. My blood is shed for you. It is finished. For you. “

A blessed Good Friday to each of you…

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

Sermon for Maundy Thursday: "The New Passover"

+ Maundy Thursday – March 29th, 2018 +
Exodus 12:1-14; 1 Corinthians 11:23-32; John 13:1-17, 31-35
Redeemer Lutheran, HB

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

Sometimes a meal is more than a meal, more than nutrition, energy, and stomach-growling prevention. Sometimes the meal takes on a life of its own. Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Sunday dinners with family or close friends. The final meal of an inmate on death-row. A wedding reception and the cake. Eating is often about far more than eating.

On their last night in Egypt, during their last hours of captivity, the Israelites partook of a meal that was far more than a meal. It was a simple menu. No garnish or flourish of culinary excellence. Nothing was chosen for its nutritional content or its outstanding flavor pallet. In fact, one item was chosen precisely because of its bad taste. The Israelites ate bitter herbs, for the task-masters had embittered their lives for centuries, daily grinding them in slavery. As cows chew their cud, the Israelites were to chew these herbs, year after year, as an edible token of the bad taste left in their mouths from the acidic years in bondage.

Unleavened bread was also on the menu. Unleavened because Pharaoh would oust them from his land before the yeast had time to work its way through the dough. It was the bread of affliction. Eaten in haste because they left Egypt in haste, before Pharaoh changed his mind yet again. They ate the unleavened bread on their feet. It was the original fast food, yet sacred. Israel had to eat and run.

The bitter herbs were a dish of remembrance, and the unleavened bread anticipated their hasty departure. So, too, the main course, the roasted flesh of the sacrificial lamb. A meal that was more than a meal. The lamb was for them now, but it also pointed them to something yet to come. The roasted Passover lamb was a present, tangible sign that an innocent victim had been slaughtered in their stead, only a few short hours before. The Angel of Death would pass over their homes, sparing their firstborn sons, while passing into the homes of unbelievers, leaving a trail of blood in his wake.

Above and around the entrance to the homes of the faithful was painted the blood of the Passover lamb. It was a crimson hieroglyphic which translated into one saving message: “Pass over, O angel. God’s child lives here.” As the Israelites tasted the meat, they knew that neither they nor their sons would taste death. Their Good Shepherd had prepared a table before them in the presence of their enemies, a table that gave them light and life as they walked through the valley of the shadow of Egypt.

The Passover lamb, the Paschal lamb was a meal that bestowed YHWH’s present promise and blessing and, looked forward to his future blessing. The Passover lamb proclaimed a message that extended well beyond that night, and beyond the many Passover celebrations to come. Indeed, the whole meal – the bitter herbs, unleavened bread, and roasted lamb – this entire meal was an edible prophecy. This meal foretold a promise that they could sink their teeth into. It promised that what the Israelites were eating was but an appetizer, a foretaste of the feast to come.

Sometimes a meal is more than a meal. So it is tonight as well. We have simple eating and drinking, but it is far more than eating and drinking. Here is a table where the things of heaven are brought down into the things of earth. Here is where God comes down to us in our bondage to sin, not to kill his enemies, but to deliver us, to place his sacred body and blood into our mouth.
Once again, God feeds us, his people, his new Israel. Only this time, Jesus is the Passover Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Once again, YHWH dwells with his people and spreads a table in the midst of our enemies. Once again, YHWH uses the ordinary things of creation to make his New and better Passover. Bread. Wine. Nothing to win you a Food Network Allstar award.

Once again, God wraps himself in the disguise of utter simplicity and ordinariness to save you. Water. Words. Bread. Wine. Suffering, Crucifixion. For you.

Take, eat, this simple bread is his body. It is the body of the Lamb who was not passed over but passed under the knife for you. Jesus passed under the court of the Sanhedrin, the sentence of spineless Pilate, the soldiers’ whips. Jesus passed under the beams of his cross, our guilt, shame, and all the evil this world could heap onto him. Jesus passed under the Father’s verdict over our sin – guilty for you. He who knew no sin became sin for you. No knife slices his throat open, as the Passover lambs of the Old Testament, but “nails, spear, shall pierce him through, The cross he bore for me, for you.”

Behold, the Lamb of God skewered on the beams of that cruel tree, all the flames of hell and God’s wrath, add to that the firewood of our iniquities, leapt up beneath this perfect sacrifice. Take, eat. This is my body given for you. Taste and see that the Lord. The Lamb of God, is good for you. So good, in fact, that in eating this meal, you are what you eat. Forgiven. Alive. Free.

Take, drink, this simple wine is his blood. It is the lifeblood of the Lamb given and shed for you. He gave his blood for you when he was already 8 days old. He gave his blood for you as he prayed in Gethsemane: Father, if it be possible to let this cup pass from me, nevertheless, not my will but yours be done.” He gave his blood for you as the whips tore into his muscles and the thorns stabbed his brow, and finally when the spear breached the dam of his flesh to spill his blood and water and fill every chalice and font of his church with his life given for you.

Take, eat. This is the body of Christ. Take, drink. This is the blood of Christ. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 

Sometimes a meal is more than a meal. For here is a meal that takes on a life of its own, or, rather, that takes the life of its maker, and gives it to you. And in taking this meal into yourself, you take on his life as your own. You Passover from death to life.

A blessed Maundy Thursday to each of you…

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

Thursday, March 22, 2018

5th Midweek Lenten Sermon: "Jeremiah and Jesus"

+ 5th Midweek Lenten Service – March 21st, 2018 +
Jeremiah 31:31-34

Image result for i will remember their sins no more

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

Growing up, there was a fluorescent light in the basement that seemed to have a mind of its own. Sometimes it would turn on right away. Other times – usually when I was looking for something important – it would seem to take forever to turn on.

If you’re like me, our memory seems to work the same way most days. One moment we can remember the name of our 5th grade teacher and the next we’re struggling to remember that guy who said that thing in that one movie, you know the one right?

One moment we can remember every detail about the day, hour, moment, and what the weather was like when you met your spouse, and the next you can’t remember where you put our keys down when you came inside.

One moment we can remember any number of grievances against someone, and the next we have trouble remembering anything we could have possibly done to offend or hurt anyone else.

In the Old Testament, Israel had their own memory issues as well.

By the Red Sea, Israel praised YHWH for their deliverance from Egypt. But in the wilderness, they grumbled against YHWH, rebelled against His word, and forgot the Lord.
In the time of the Judges, YHWH raised up one leader after another to deliver and rescue his people. But they rebelled and rejected YHWH; everyone did what was right in his own eyes, and they forgot the Lord.

In the days of Israel’s kings, YHWH anointed David his chosen servant, cleared Israel’s enemies from their borders, promised to build a temple through David’s son, Solomon, and promised David that One would come from his family who would reign on his throne forever. But Solomon’s wisdom turned to folly, filling his home, the Lord’s house, and all Israel with idolatry. Israel’s worship turned from YHWH to false gods. The kingdom divided and king after king, with few exceptions, forgot the Lord.

Later, when Israel was in exile and captivity in Babylon it would have been tempting to think. “Here we are in a foreign land, far from our home and the Lord’s house in Jerusalem. We’re all alone. Perhaps we’re better off dead. We broke the Lord’s commandments and he no longer remembers his covenant. We forgot the Lord and the Lord has forgotten us.”
It’s true. Israel forgot the Lord more times than they could remember, but the Lord never forgot his people. YHWH always remembered his holy covenant, his oath he had sworn to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He remembered covenant he made with Noah, Abraham, David, and Israel.

Through his prophet Isaiah, YHWH declared to Israel…

I formed you; you are my servant; O Israel, you will not be forgotten by me. I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you.
Through his prophet Jeremiah, YHWH spoke to Israel to remind them time and time again.

“I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

This was Good News for Israel. And it is Good News for us too.

After all, we have a lot in common with Israel. We’re quick to forget our faults and slow to forget anyone who has sinned against us. But memory issues aren’t the real problem. Like Israel our spiritual amnesia is much deeper – not in our head, but in our sinful hearts. If you, O Lord, kept a record of our sins; if you, O Lord, remembered all our sins, who could stand? None of us. Like Israel, we have rebelled and grumbled against the Lord. Each of us has done what is right in our own eyes. Like David we have lusted in and murdered in our hearts. Like Solomon we have failed to fear, love, and trust in God above all things. We have forgotten the Lord.

But the Lord has not forgotten you.

The Covenant YHWH swore to Abraham he makes with you as he makes you his own child in holy Baptism. As many of you as are baptized into Christ have put on Christ. And if you are Christ’s, you are Abraham’s son, heirs according to the promise.

The son and king YHWH promised to David was born for you in the city of David, a true Shepherd King who laid down his life for you on the cross. “I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.”

The yearly remembrance of the Passover has been replaced by a greater feast of remembrance in Jesus’ body and blood. In bread and wine, body and blood, Jesus remembers his holy covenant with you, his sacrifice for you, and we receive his forgiveness, life, and salvation.

“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind.

The covenant of Sinai that we, along with Israel, broke and failed to keep, God has kept for you. All its demands have been fulfilled and kept in your place.

 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah,  not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord.  For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

The Lord who knows all, sees all, and remembers all, promises to forget our sin; it is remembered no more. It is gone. All of it – our sin, guilt, doubt, sorrow, and death – it’s all on Jesus.

The Lord who sent Jeremiah and the prophets to Israel sent his only-begotten Son to die for you. You are not alone. You are not forgotten. The Lord remembers you, as surely as he promised the thief on the cross next to him.

“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Truly I say to you, “Today you will be with me in paradise.”

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

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Chapel Sermon for CU Irvine: "Signs and Promises"

+ CUI Chapel – March 20th, 2018 +
John 4:46-54

Image result for Jesus heals the officials son

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

We often hear stories of lost hikers or people trapped in the rubble after an earthquake or tornado who wait to hear the rumbling engine of a rescue vehicle, the welcomed sound of a helicopter, or a voice calling out for survivors – any sign that rescue is near.

When we, or our loved ones are sick, we look to a doctor, surgeon, or nurse to give us a good diagnosis and proper treatment – a sign of healing and restoration of health.

Even stories that take place in fictional cities like Gotham City or Metropolis, people look to the sky for the Bat-signal or the Man of Steel soaring through the clouds – a sign of hope in dark times.

The unnamed royal official in John 4 looked for a sign too. His son was ill. Death was near. He had heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee. He had heard that he changed water into wine at the wedding at Cana. And now he was in Capernaum. So, he did what any father would do. He went to Jesus and asked him to come and heal his son.

Speaking to the Galileans around him, and the man he said: Unless you see signs and wonders you will in no way believe.

Now at first, we might think, “Wow, that escalated quickly. The man comes to you for healing for his son and you rebuke him? That seems a bit harsh, Jesus.”

But when we look at Jesus’ words a bit closer, we see there’s more going on here. As John reminds us at the end of the Gospel, “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples which were not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

When Jesus responds to this royal official, he’s not saying this Galilean will believe only if he sees signs and miracles. Jesus isn’t rebuking this royal official’s lack of faith or weak faith in seeking a miraculous security blanket.

Rather, Jesus’ response is a promise and a call to faith in Him, the giver of the sign. He is the one who performs signs and wonders, just as he did for Israel in the Old Testament. The same Lord who poured out water from the Rock in the wilderness turned water into wine in Cana. The same Lord who fed Israel with manna, bread from heaven fed the crowds declaring himself the very Bread of Life. The same Lord who commanded Moses to lift up a bronze serpent on a pole and save Israel would himself be lifted up on the cross to save all people.

So, Jesus promises, and he calls this man, the Galileans, and us to believe in him. Jesus’ words and signs reveal who he is and what he has come to do. Jesus’ words and signs open our eyes to see where his signs and words lead us, to his death and resurrection, the greatest sign of all. Jesus’ words and signs bring us from death to life, just as they did the for the official’s son.

Sir, come down before my child dies.

Jesus said to him, “Go; your son lives.”

By Jesus’ word, this man’s son was healed. By Jesus’ word, his son passed from death to life. By Jesus’ word, this official believed Jesus and the sign he gave.

Three times in this story it is declared, “Your son, your child lives”. As Jesus will declare a few verses later in John 5, “As the Father raises the dead and makes them alive, so also the Son makes alive those whom he wills…whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life…he has passed out from death into life.”

That’s the sign: healing. Restoration. Resurrection. From death to life. It is a familiar sign. One which Jesus himself performs. Just as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so too will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for 3 days and 3 nights. From death to life. Jesus lives.

And in him, you are healed. You pass from death to life. You live. Jesus has signs for you too. Simple, ordinary tap water combined with the living water of God’s Word, baptizing you in the Name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, washing your sin away, bringing you from death to life. Ordinary words spoken by a fellow sinner that are filled with Jesus’ authority to forgive sin. A rather plain, ordinary looking piece of bread and wine become Jesus’ body and blood given and shed for you.

Like that royal official, Jesus gives his word and sign to give you faith. Like his son, you are brought from death to life. And you live.

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

Thursday, March 15, 2018

4th Midweek Lenten Sermon: Israel and Jesus

+ 4th Lenten Midweek Service – March 14th, 2018 +
Numbers 21:4-9
Redeemer Lutheran, HB

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

We often hear stories of lost hikers or people trapped in the rubble after an earthquake or tornado who wait to hear the rumbling engine of a rescue vehicle, the welcomed sound of a helicopter, or a voice calling out for survivors – any sign that rescue is near.

When we, or our loved ones are sick, we look to a doctor, surgeon, or nurse to give us a good diagnosis and proper treatment – a sign of healing and restoration of health.

Even stories that take place in fictional cities like Gotham City or Metropolis, people look to the sky for the Bat-signal or the Man of Steel soaring through the clouds – a sign of hope in dark times.

As we heard in Numbers 21, Israel needed sign as well. Only they weren’t plagued by a natural disaster, they weren’t sick with a bodily disease, and they weren’t surrounded by villains or enemies. The worst enemy Israel faced in the wilderness was Israel.

 “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.” 

YHWH gave them the Passover sacrifice. YHWH led them through the Red Sea on dry ground. YHWH destroyed Pharaoh and his hosts. YHWH fed Israel bread from heaven. YHWH opened the rock to quench their thirst. YHWH gave sign after sign of his love to his people. Still, Israel grumbled and spoke against God and Moses. They forgot YHWH and his promises. They despised YHWH’s gifts. They despised YHWH himself.

So the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died.
God’s sign of warning did the job. The Law did its work. The people of Israel came to Moses and confessed: We have sinned against YHWH and against you. Pray to YHWH, that he might take away the serpents from us.
Israel finally spoke the truth. They confessed. They had sinned. So have we. God sends the fiery serpent of his Law to us as well: If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. Israel asked Moses to intercede for them, to be their mediator. They prayed for a sign of rescue, hope, and healing. Like Israel, we cry out, Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.
And here is what’s always surprising and astonishing in this story. YHWH doesn’t smite Israel from the sky with lightning. Nor does he consume Israel to an ash heap in his holiness. Yes, he sends a judgment and a warning in the form of the fiery serpents but even then, he provides a sign, a signal of hope, healing, and rescue.
Moses prayed for the people.  And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.”
God provided a sacrament - a bronze serpent on a wooden pole. A visible sign with God’s promise: “Anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” How can bronze do such great things? Certainly not the bronze, but the Word of God in and with the bronze serpent which did these things. It had the promise of God’s Word attached to it – whoever looked on it would live.
Still, it’s a rather strange sign, don’t you think? Why a serpent? Most of us have some level of ophidiophobia, or fear of snakes. Usually serpents are gross, slippery and slimy; bad news. Just like Slytherin in Harry Potter or Smaug the Dragon in The Hobbit.

That the Lord chose a bronze serpent was no accident. The Lord used the disease to cure the disease. The Lord used the bronze serpent to defeat the fiery serpents. It’s similar to how an antidote or an anti-venom is made; antibodies are collected from one who survives the poison.

And in our case, the poison is strong and deadly. Israel was snakebitten, and so are we. Humanity has been since Adam and Eve listened to the snake instead of God back in Genesis 3. We are born snakebitten. Dead with the venom of the Law coursing through us. “The sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the Law.” That’s our condition from the greatest to the least of us. But God has provided the cure, a cure that looks strangely like the disease. His Son on the cross, dying a cursed death. He looks condemned by God, stricken, smitten, and afflicted, and He is, in our place, for us all and for our salvation.

This is how God loves this snakebitten world. He doesn’t simply love it abstractly and in general. “Oh, nice world, I love you.” He loves in the world in His Son, Jesus Christ, true God of the Father, true Man of His mother, born of woman, born under the Law, to take on the sting of death and become for the world the anti-venom for snakebitten humanity.
On the cross YHWH displays his sign, his signal of hope, healing, rescue, and salvation for Israel and for you. The prophet Isaiah foretold this sign centuries earlier:
In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious….He will raise a signal for the nations and will assemble the banished of Israel, and gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. (Isaiah 11:10-12)
On Good Friday, the Lord puts his signal high on a mountain top for all the world to see. Look on Jesus crucified and believe. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up,  that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

he Father didn’t send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to be condemned for the world. His condemnation is our acquittal; His death is our life. He came to be judged – one Man for all men, for all of humanity. He came to be lifted up and to draw all to Himself into His death. As in the one man Adam, all sinned, all die, all are condemned, so in the one Man, the second Adam, Jesus the Christ, all are forgiven, all are justified, and all live. As Moses lifted up the bronze serpent in the wilderness, so the Father has lifted up the Son on the cross that whoever looks on Him with the eyes of faith, trusting in that bleeding, broken, dying Son of Man, has eternal life.

Jesus’ crucified is your antidote. No wonder the early the church fathers called the Lord’s Supper “the medicine of immortality.” Here is the cure for death and the curse of sin. Here is strong medicine that heals, saves, and forgives. Jesus’ body given into death; Jesus’ blood given for your life. The Lord who provided Israel with a sign and a sacrament in the wilderness provides you his sign and sacrament still: his very body and blood, living bread from heaven. Living water that flows from his side to the font for your cleansing. His Word and promise of life.

Here is your sign. Here is your hope, healing, and rescue – in the cross of Jesus who was lifted up for you. Here is your antidote in Jesus’ word, water, body and blood. Look here, eat, drink, and live.

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

3rd Midweek Lenten Sermon: Moses and Jesus

+ 3rd Midweek Lenten Service – March 7th, 2018 +
Exodus 20:1-17
Redeemer Lutheran, HB

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

Every day, everywhere we go, in everything we do there are rules, instructions, laws to give order to life, provide safety and protection, and for well-being. As the old song goes, you can’t outrun the long arm of the law. Local, state, and federal governments give us laws; through just and good laws God does damage control on his fallen creation. Parents give their children rules and instruction, through whom God teaches us discipline, provides for our daily bread, cares for our body and life.

Our Lord also gives us his Law directly and most clearly in his Word, just as he did for Moses and Israel on Mt. Sinai. We call them the 10 Commandments.

You shall have no other gods.
You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.
Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
Honor your father and your mother.
You shall not murder.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s manservant, his maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

Through his Law our Lord gives us a curb and a limit to our sinful behavior. He disciplines and instructs us in the way we should go. And our Lord gives us his Law like a skilled physician gives a thorough medical exam. God’s Law shows us our sin. God’s Law shows us our need for a Savior. God’s Law gives us the proper diagnosis. And it’s not good:
The wages of sin is death.

Whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.
God gives us his Law, not to be a big bully or a buzzkill, but because he loves us. Listen to the first words God spoke to Israel when he gave them the 10 Commandments.
I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
Before YHWH declares his Word of Law he declares again who he is and what he has done for Israel. YHWH is their God. He redeemed them by the blood of the Passover lamb. He delivered them from captivity in Egypt. He rescued them at the Red Sea. He is their dear Father and they are his dear children.

And so are you. Like Israel, you are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb of God who has taken away your sin. Like Israel, you have been delivered from captivity to sin and death and are set free in Jesus’ death for you. Like Israel at the Red Sea, your enemies of sin, death, and the devil were drowned, and you are rescued in the Exodus of Holy Baptism.

Like Israel, God gives us his Law because he loves us. Each of the 10 Commandments is his way of providing for us, protecting us, and gives us the Law for our good.

In the 1st commandment, the fountain and source of all the others, God gives us the gift of himself.
In the 2nd commandment, God gives us the gift of his Name, presence, and blessing.
In the 3rd commandment, God gives us his holy word and a holy place to receive his holy gifts in water, word, body and blood.
In the 4th commandment, God gives us the gift of order and authority in the family, society, and church.
In the 5th commandment, God gives us the gift of life.
In the 6th commandment, God gives us the gift of the one flesh union of marriage, the gift of man and woman created in his image.
In the 7th commandment, God gives us the gift of stuff, earthly possessions used to serve in our vocations and delight in God’s creation.
In the 8th commandment, God gives us the gift of a good reputation.
In the 9th and 10th commandments, God gives us the gift of contentment in what he provides for us.

Like Israel, our Lord gives us his Law for our good. Problem is, our old sinful flesh – the Old Adam – does not look at God’s Law as a gift for our own good. We do not rejoice in God’s Law. We don’t like to be told what we can or can’t do. We don’t like to be told we’re wrong or have wronged someone else. Because most of all we don’t like the truth. We sin because we’re sinners. We’re sinners because sin has completely infected our hearts so that we do not fear, love, and trust in God above all things. Like Israel, we grumble and complain that life was better in slavery. Like Israel, we rebel against and disobey God’s Law. Like Israel, we are judged and condemned by the Law, and deserve only punishment.

And like Israel, the Lord has another word for us. A word of promise, peace, and pardon. The Lord doesn’t give us what we deserve. Jesus is judged in our place. Jesus takes the condemnation of our sin upon himself. The punishment we deserved Jesus bore for us. The Law that we cannot keep, Jesus keeps for us. His death on the cross is for you. And so is his keeping of the Law for you.

Jesus perfectly fears, loves, and trusts the Father for you.
Jesus uses, honors, and calls upon God’s name for you.
Jesus kept the Sabbath day and made it holy for you.
Jesus honored his earthly father and mother, as well as the Heavenly Father, for you.
Jesus helped and supported his neighbor in every physical need for you.
Jesus led a sexually pure and decent life in all he said and did for you.
Jesus never stole a thing, yet was crucified between two thieves, for you.
Jesus bore no false witness against his neighbor for you.
Jesus did not covet for you.

His keeping of the Law was for you. His perfect live was lived for you. It counts for you, as if you had kept all the commandments. As Jesus says in the Gospels, he did not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it, to keep it, to cross every T and dot every I for you.
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
For though the wages of sin is death, the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

He was delivered up for our trespasses and was raised for our justification.
In Jesus, Mt. Sinai no longer thunders and threatens. On Mt. Calvary Jesus paid for our debt, took the punishment of the Law upon himself, and hung all the Law around his neck for you. And now, Mt Zion is in view.

And now in Jesus…you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

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