Saturday, April 21, 2018

Sermon for Easter 3: "Teaching and Eating"

+ 3rd Sunday of Easter – April 15th, 2018 +
Series B: Acts 3:11-21; 1 John 3:1-7; Luke 24:36-49
Redeemer Lutheran, HB

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

Some of life’s most important lessons happen around the dinner table, at meals with family or friends, or at church. We learn manners, polite conversation, current events, economics; we share each other’s’ joys and sorrows; we laugh and cry; we tell stories of our day at school, work, or something funny saw or read; we pray and read the Scriptures together. Listen to someone’s meal-time conversations long enough, or reflect upon your own, and you’ll quickly discover some of what is most important.

Our daily lives are full of this pattern of teaching and eating. And so are the Scriptures.

Teaching and eating were the heart and center of the Passover in Exodus. As the Israelites ate the bitter herbs, the unleavened bread, and the roasted lamb they learned of the bitterness of their captivity, the haste of their impending escape from Egypt, and of the lamb who gave his flesh as food and sacrifice. The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt. YHWH spread their tables and painted their doorposts with signs of his promise, presence, and peace. 

Teaching and eating were a part of Israel’s life in the wilderness too. As the Israelites gathered and ate bread from heaven, Moses taught them. The Lord said to Moses, “I have heard the grumbling of the people of Israel. Say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. Then you shall know that I am the Lord your God.’” The same Lord who revealed himself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave his personal name of YHWH – I AM WHO I AM – provides for his people teaching and eating. A sign of his promise, presence, and peace.

Jesus continues this same pattern of teaching and eating throughout his life and ministry. He is the divine meal and lesson planner, whose teaching and eating always points to the heart and center of his journey –his death and resurrection for Israel, for you, and for all.

When Jesus begins his public ministry in Luke 5, the Pharisees ask him, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners”. Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Teaching and eating revealed who Jesus was, a Savior for sinners.

When Jesus fed the five thousand in Luke 9, he began to teach his disciples that The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” Teaching and eating revealed what Jesus would do to save us, to suffer and die in our place.

When Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem in Luke 19, he found Zacchaeus, the tax collector sitting in a tree trying. Zacchaeus hurried down from the tree, went home, and prepared a meal in his house and Jesus went with him. And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house. Teaching and eating revealed that the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

When Jesus gathered his disciples for Passover in Luke 22, he taught and ate the Passover with them. It was old and new all at once. The bitter herbs, unleavened bread, and roasted lamb were all there. Yet, Jesus taught them something new in this eating and drinking. A New Covenant. A New Testament in his body and blood. Teaching and eating revealed his promise, presence, and peace.

Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood, shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.

This is the teaching and eating we so desperately need. For without Jesus’ Word and without the food he provides in his body and blood, we are starved, empty, and consumed by our sin. Apart from Jesus’ teaching and eating we are left like Adam and Eve with a belly full of food and a heart full of sinful desires, but a life empty of God. Like the Pharisees, we are full of ourselves. We have lived as if God does not matter, as if our neighbor doesn’t matter, and that we matter the most.

Like the Emmaus disciples, the Lord must open our minds, eyes, hearts, and ears. The Lord must teach, feed, and reveal himself to us. And he does. In his teaching and eating.

“Peace to you!” Jesus declared to his disciples at Emmaus.

“Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 

Peace to you, our Lord says today.

These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”  Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures,  and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead.

For his disciples. For the world. For you.

In his teaching and eating Jesus revealed his promise, presence, and peace to his disciples at Emmaus. Only at the end of the road, as they reclined at the table with Jesus, as He took the bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them – only then did they recognize him. As their teeth closed on the bread Jesus gave, their eyes were opened.

Jesus’ teaching and eating revealed the God who clothed himself in their sins that he might cover their nakedness and ours with his grace and forgiveness. They saw that he who knew no sin had tasted death for them, and for you. They understood that Jesus revealed himself in the Scriptures and the breaking of the bread.

So it is for you today. By His Word and by His Meal, Jesus makes himself known to you.
Jesus is your Passover Lamb sacrificed to set you free from captivity to sin and death.
Jesus Passover Lamb whose blood forgives you from all sin.
Jesus is the bread of heaven, whose flesh and blood are given for the life of the world, for you. Eat, drink, and live.
Jesus still eats and drinks with tax collectors, and sinners – with each of us, here at his table. Today, salvation has come to this house, for you in Jesus’ teaching and eating. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost, to save you and feed you. For all the days and hours we have lived for ourselves, Jesus lived not for himself but for you. For all our sinful thoughts, words, and deeds that devour us, Jesus swallowed up death forever for you. For all times we’ve fed our passions and desires, Jesus digested our sin and condemnation. He drank the cup the Father placed before him, for you.

And now for you there is a meal which is stuffed full – not of condemnation and wrath – but full of God’s grace and salvation.

Today, the Emmaus miracle repeats itself. Today Jesus’ promise of forgiveness, life, and salvation are here for you in his teaching and eating. Today Jesus is present for you in the Scriptures and the breaking of the bread, just as he was at Emmaus. Today Jesus declares to you as he did his disciples: Peace be to you in my teaching and eating. The peace of Jesus in his body and blood for you.

Today our Lord opens our eyes, ears, hearts, minds, and even our mouths, to taste and see his death and resurrection for you in his teaching and eating.

A blessed Easter season to each of you…

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

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Sermon for Easter Sunday: "No Foolin'"

+ Resurrection of Our Lord – April 1st, 2018 +
Series B: Isaiah 25:6-9; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11; Mark 16:1-8
Redeemer Lutheran, HB

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

Alleluia! Christ is Risen! (He is Risen indeed! Alleluia!)

Some days it seems like the calendar has a sense of humor, doesn’t it? Almost like it’s playing a prank on you. We’re used to this in Southern California. It’s the first day of winter and the Santa Ana’s are blowing, hottest day on record. It’s the first day of summer and June gloom covers the beach like a wet blanket. It’s Easter Sunday and it’s April Fools’ day.

“Joke’s on you, Christians,” some will say. A fools’ day for anyone who’s foolish enough to believe in a fairy tale. Jesus is no different than leprechauns or the Easter bunny. Wise up, don’t be a fool.”

Not a lot has changed over the centuries. Jesus was thought a fool in his day too.

As Jesus began his earthly ministry the Pharisees questioned his disciples: “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” How foolish.

Nazareth, his hometown, rejected him too. What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands?  Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. What a fool that boy’s become.

When Jesus cleansed the temple, the Jews asked for a sign. Jesus gave them one. Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. It’s taken 46 years to build this temple, and you will raise it up in three days? Who are you fooling?

The Pharisees said the same thing on Palm Sunday when Jesus rode into Jerusalem to palm branches waving and shouts of Hosanna! You see that you are gaining nothing. The whole world has gone after him. Fools, all of them.

Pilate’s soldiers, too, joined in the mockery before Jesus’ crucifixion. They clothed him in a purple cloak, pressed a crown of thorns upon his head, and placed a reed in his hand. Hail, King of the Jews! King of fools.

Even as Jesus hung on the cross, the scribes and chief priests could not contain their cruel jest. He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Christ, the King of Israel come down from the cross that we may see and believe. A fool’s death for a fool.

And the truth is, if Christ is not raised, then we really are fools, and not just on April 1st.
As St. Paul boldly declares: If Christ is not raised from the dead, then our preaching and our faith is in vain. If Christ is not raised from the dead we’re all liars.; we’re all wasting our time here this morning, and we’re still in our sins. They would all be right, but for one important, historical fact.

Christ has been raised from the dead. Christ is risen!

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time

On the cross, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are. On the cross, God was rejected for us who had rejected him. On the cross, God made him who knew no sin to become sin for us. On the cross God became the fool for us rebels who have foolishly wandered.

The word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. In these foolish ways of God you are saved.

Jesus ate and drank with sinners and tax collectors for you. And he still does today in bread and wine with his body and blood.
Jesus was rejected by his hometown for you.
Jesus let the temple of his body be destroyed and raised up again three days later for you.
Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday for you; a rehearsal for his Good Friday procession to the cross where Jesus bore the shame and mockery, the lies and ridicule all for you, where Jesus took our foolish shame, pride, our sin and death and made it his own for you.
Jesus was crucified for you. He would not come down from the cross to save himself, but stayed there to save you. Jesus rose from the dead for you to bring you with him.

Indeed, the weakness of God is stronger than men. And the foolishness of God is wiser than men.
Today we hear the Good News that the women were not on a fool’s errand that first Easter morning. Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified one. He has risen. He is not here!

Today ours is not a fool’s hope in a fairy tale, but faith founded on fact. Eyewitnesses saw Jesus crucified, dead, and buried on Friday afternoon and alive again on Sunday. Credible eyewitnesses. Sane, sober, rational people who did not initially believe that Jesus had risen from the dead even though He had told them this would happen. They had everything to lose and nothing to gain from their testimony.

Today Jesus’ tomb is empty, the devil is the fool; the power of the Grave is a joke; and Death is put to shame in Christ’s resurrection.

Today we rejoice and laugh at the jaw-dropping wonder of the once-dead God who strolled right out of his grave, and one day, will call us out of ours as well. Today we celebrate the greatest punchline of all time. After all, the key to a good joke is the surprise ending, the twist no one saw coming. And nothing is more surprising than what we celebrate today.

Christ is risen. And death is dead.
Christ is risen. And your sin is covered.
Christ is risen. And the tomb is empty.
Christ is risen. And the angels rejoice.
Christ is risen. And you live forever.

Christ is risen. No foolin’.

A blessed Easter to each of you…

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