Monday, April 15, 2024

Sermon for Easter 3: "The Body Matters"

 + 3rd Sunday of Easter – April 14th, 2024 +

Series B: Acts 3:11-21; 1 John 3:1-7; Luke 24:36-49

Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church

Milton, WA



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


Every week we confess these words together: I believe one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.


Every week we confess these words together: I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ…who was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary…and was made man.


Every week we confess these words together: I look for the resurrection of the body and the life of the world to come.


Today and every week we confess that the body matters. God the Father has fearfully and wonderfully created you in the body. God the Son has graciously redeemed you in the body with his own body. God the Holy Spirit – in water and word and promise – has made your body his temple.


And one of the many blessings of Jesus’ resurrection that we celebrate in these 7 weeks of Easter is that to our Lord Jesus the body matters.


The body of Jesus crucified and risen…matters. In Jesus’ death and resurrection, your rescued and redeemed body matters to Jesus. In Jesus’ death and resurrection, your neighbor’s body matters to him too.


Don’t think – like some have and still do – that flesh and blood and skin and bones are not beneath God. That he’s only concerned with the “spiritual”. No. Just the opposite. For God spirituality is physical and physical things are spiritual: (A few examples…). God loves matter. God loves the human body. God the Father created you. God the Son saved you. And God the Holy Spirit holies you. All in your body.


And Jesus does all of this through his in-the-flesh, crucified, and risen body. The Christian faith is physical, material, tangible, fleshly because we have a physical, material, tangible, fleshly God who became man to save you in his body. Scripture teaches us, and we confess this great and gracious mystery made flesh and made fact: Jesus is God and man. 


The same body he stood in as he appeared to his disciples in Luke 24. 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.” 


The body of Jesus that he shows his disciples is the same body that was conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary for you. Was zygote and a blastocyst for you. Was growing in her womb for nine months for you. Was born for you.


The body of Jesus that he shows his disciples is the same body that was baptized for you in the Jordan River. In the flesh he was tempted for you. fasted for you. Hungered for you. In the body Jesus walked the dusty roads of Judea. Slept under the stars. Touched the dead bodies and raised them. Put his hands on sick bodies and healed them. 

The body of Jesus that he shows his disciples is the same body that ate and drank with tax collectors and prostitutes and disciples. The body that said take and eat, this bread is my body; take and drink this cup of wine is my blood. For you. The body that then sweat drops of blood. Was ripped open by whips. Bruised by fists and clubs. Soaked in sweat and spit and blood. The body that was pierced by nails. By thorns. By a spear. In his body he bore our sins – yes, all the sins that we commit with our body, and our mind, and our thoughts too – he bore it all in his body on the cross. The body that – like our body one day will – died and was buried. 


The body of Jesus that he shows his disciples is risen, glorified, alive again from the dead…and yes, still a human body. Jesus is and now always will be God and man. Though he keeps his scars. He is known by the scars. 

Luke 24 is yet another round of Jesus’ show and tell for his disciples and for you. He spoke peace. He created and still creates faith. Into the disciples’ fears and ours. Into the midst of their doubts and ours. He speaks, “Peace is with you.” And there he was. God’s peace. In the body. Standing there. Showing them his hands and his feet. And to top it all off, a little fish fry. “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them.

Jesus’ resurrection was in the body. And His body was raised. Death no longer holds him can touch can lord it over him. 


And In Jesus’ death and resurrection, your rescued and redeemed body matters to Jesus as well. Jimmy Buffet once famously sang, “You treat your body like a temple; I treat mine like a tent.” “My body, my choice we hear.” Both are wrong. It is wrong to idolize our bodies. And it’s wrong to denigrate and destroy what God created. Your body is not an amusement park. And we are not autonomous. 


Our bodies matter to Jesus. And in our bodies we do both good, and evil. With our eyes we see someone in need…and with our eyes we look with lust upon a woman or a man. With our feet we walk to help our child or grandchild up from a fall on the playground…and with our feet we march to the beat of our own selfish drums. With our hands we write birthday cards or fix a leaky faucet…and with our hands we text or type words that cannot be unsent, unseen, or unsaid.


Scripture teaches us: your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God…You are not your own,  for you were bought with a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body.


Your body matters to our crucified and risen Lord Jesus who died in the body for you, and paid for all your sins of the body, eyes, ears, mind, feet, hands, tongue. Jesus rose in the body for you. That in him, you too will rise from the dead in the body. Your body is not a shell. You are more than a sack of meat in motion. You are not an accident. Your body matters to Jesus so much that he took on a human body to live, to suffer, to die, to rise – all in the body – to redeem, rescue, and restore…and one day resurrect your body. 


In our Lutheran graveside service the pastor prays these words over the casket. “May God the Father, who created this body; may God the Son who by His blood redeemed this body; may God the Holy Spirit who by Holy Baptism sanctified this body to be His temple, keep these remains to the day of the resurrection of all flesh. When you will walk in the body, resurrected, before the Lord Jesus in the land of the living. And he’ll show you the same hands and feet and scars he showed his disciples as he welcomes you to the feast.


The body of Jesus crucified and risen…matters. In Jesus’ death and resurrection, your rescued and redeemed body matters to Jesus. In Jesus’ death and resurrection, your neighbor’s body matters to him too.


Jesus sent his disciples in the body to preach with their mouths. To care for the widows and orphans and poor with their hands. And our Lord sends you in the body to care for the body of your neighbor as well. John’s epistle goes on in 3:18, Little children, let us not love only in word or talk but in deed and in truth.


Our Lord has given you eyes to see the needs of others around you. Heads to think critically and imagine creatively. Arms to embrace in joy and sadness. Hands to hold another at the bedside or in a moment of panic. Fingers to pick up the phone to call or prepare a meal for a brother or sister in Christ. Legs and feet to go and carry you as you buy groceries, and walk with grandkids, or share the gospel with someone you know who does not know Jesus. 


Our Lord Jesus has given you a body. A body which is redeemed, rescued, and one day will be resurrected from the dead…because of all that Jesus did and still does in his body for you. With his body he was born for you. Lived for you. Suffered. Died. Was buried for you. In the body he rose from the grave for you. and today, and every day until he returns, Jesus is with you just as he promised. Here in the bread and the wine. Here in his blood, and in his body. Given for you.



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


Monday, April 8, 2024

Sermon for Easter 2: "Peace and Forgiveness"

 + 2nd Sunday of Easter – April 7th, 2024 +

Series B: Acts 4:32-35; 1 John 1:1-2:2; John 20:19-31

Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church

Milton, WA



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


Jesus breathes on His disciples. How’s that for a welcome?! You’re behind locked doors, scared out of your wits, the women have reported Jesus is risen and then, all of a sudden, Jesus appears out of nowhere. Well, not out of nowhere. Out of the grave. But He’s no ghost. No figment of their collective imaginations. No hallucination.  “Look at my hands; my side.”  He is real.  He is alive. He is risen!  And risen Jesus can do whatever He wants to. Locked doors and lowly bread and wine are no problem for His crucified and risen body.    


Jesus doesn’t wait for an invitation. He enters. “Peace be with you.” The Hebrew word is “shalom.” Shalom is a blessing and a greeting all at once. Shalom is harmony, wholeness, everything in its place.  All is well. Genesis 1 before the fall: very good. “Peace (Shalom) I leave with you, my peace (my Shalom) I give to you.  Not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”


This is exactly why Jesus is sent by the Father. That’s what Jesus’ death and resurrection mean:  peace for His disciples and for you. For the Father is well pleased by His obedient, Crucified and Risen Son. His sacrifice has restored life, to His disciples, to you, to me.  Sin, death and the devil are defeated. You are redeemed. You are loved. You are at peace with God and God is at peace with you in those precious wounds. Jesus is sent from the ark of the heavens, a flesh and bone dove, to bring peace through His flesh and blood on the cross.  


“As the Father has sent me to Shalom the world to Himself, even so I am sending you.”  And when Jesus said this he breathed on the disciples – a little Pentecost - the big one is coming, 50 days after Easter.  The God who once breathed life into Adam’s dusty lungs, the God who breathed upon the waters of creation and parted the Red Sea waters, the God who breathed life into the valley of dry bones now breathes on His disciples.


“Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”


Have you noticed that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are always together?  At His Baptism.  Good Friday. On Easter. At Pentecost. In his Church. In the Word.


Jesus is born to breathe our toxic, sin poisoned air, to suffer, die and give up His breath on Good Friday – suffocated by sin - so that he can breathe new life into our lifeless graves by rising from His own.  From the disciple’s panic room to His people huddled in His Church, wherever they are gathered, whatever fear, doubt, confusion or sin you are struggling with - Jesus gives his breath of life to his people.  


Jesus doesn’t leave His church gasping for forgiveness.  If the church is going to preach and proclaim, she’s going to need breath; and if you as Christians are going to give a reason for the hope that is within you (1 Peter 3:15), you need mouths to speak, words to declare.  You need Jesus’ breath. His life. O Lord, open my lips and my mouth will breath out your praise.       


Jesus ordained His apostles by this breath. Jesus gives them authority to do what God alone can do - forgive sin. He gives an Office.  A Spirit-breathing, life-giving office.  A preaching and hearing office.  Given to forgive and retain sins.  That’s what God calls pastors to do. That’s what the church is for: a wind tunnel of the Holy Spirit, bringing you forgiveness, from Jesus to through his appointed means to you.


That’s the hard part for us - understanding and believing that the Spirit is at work in lowly, ordinary, daily stuff of creation. Words. Water. Bread and wine. Fellow sinners. 


Thomas gets a bad reputation. But honestly, we’re far more like Thomas. So often for us, seeing is believing. A friendship that reconciles after a huge argument? An end to constant illness? A politician who keeps their promises? Nothing to worry about or be anxious over?  Sure. I’ll believe it when I see it.  


Problem is, believing isn’t always seeing. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). God masks Himself. Jesus looks, lives, and dies like a man – yet faith says, “Jesus is Lord.”


You go about your daily work, sweat, labor, toil – not always whistling while you work – yet faith says, “This labor is holy, divine work, for I am God’s instrument for the good of others.”


We get sick, lose jobs, loved ones die, we hurt, cry, suffer – yet faith says, “I am a child of God, Baptized and loved by Him.” And nothing and no one can snatch you out of his pierced hands.


Believing is not seeing. To believe is to confess that God is where God seems not to be, to confess that God is good when God seems to be bad, to confess that what is really real is not what you see, but what you hear. 


Just like our twin, Thomas, we want something real. He throws down a gauntlet for Jesus. The ultimate reality show: “So you think you a dead man can rise from the grave?”  “Just let me see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side or else I will not believe.”


Thomas may have been many things – stubborn, hard-headed, confused, and most of all unbelieving – but John never uses the word doubt. All the other disciples didn’t believe the women’s report at first either. But only Thomas gets the name - doubting Thomas. And yet, thank God for Thomas. St. Gregory once said, “More does the doubt of Thomas help us to believe than the faith of the disciples who believed.” Jesus takes the triple-dog-dare. Gives him hard proof.  “Go ahead, Thomas; read my wounds like Braille; put your finger here; place your hand in my side.  Do not disbelieve but believe.”


“My Lord and my God.”  That’s the kind of confession that only the breath of the Lord can create. Our Lord did not condemn him. He gave him flesh and blood peace. Peace be with you, Thomas and all of us, his twins.


This is how our Lord works. He takes your doubt, your unbelief, your sin and death and He makes it His own.  He gives you the kind of peace that knows that no matter how great your sin, Christ’s love – His peace – is greater.  Jesus’ breath creates believing for you as he did for Thomas.


What Jesus did for Thomas and the disciples after the resurrection, He does for your every Sunday until He returns.  Jesus speaks peace.  This Crucified and risen Jesus still blusters His holy breath upon His church.  He calls and sends pastors to announce His holy absolution into your ears.  He pours out his body and blood from those holy scars to fill the chalice.  The Spirit hovers over the waters of Baptism to make you a new creation. In His Church, by His Spirit you get to see and touch and hear the Crucified and Risen Lord.


We’re not given to see or touch the way Thomas did. “Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet believe.” But we get a beatitude from Jesus. Blessed are you. 


For these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:31)

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


Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Sermon for The Resurrection of Our Lord: "Faith Founded On Fact"

 + The Resurrection of Our Lord – March 31st, 2024 +

Series B: Isaiah 25:6-9; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11; Mark 16:1-8

Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church

Milton, WA



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!


In 1770, John Adams (future president, then, a lawyer) was called upon to defend British soldiers who had been involved in what became known as the Boston Massacre. One of his famous quotes from that trial… “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” 


In the 1950’s there was a weekly TV show that followed Sergeant Joe Friday around Los Angeles as he tracked down clues, interviewed eyewitnesses, and examined evidence. One of his famous quotes in the show: “just the facts, ma’am.”


Now perhaps you’re all wondering…what do John Adams and Detective Joe Friday have to do with Easter Sunday? I can tell you in two words: facts and faith.


Jesus’ death and resurrection for you is a matter of fact and faith. 


Jesus’ resurrection is a matter of fact because it is a fact of history. It is the pivotal fact of history. It is the hinge upon which all of human history pivots and finds its meaning. It is a matter of fact as any other fact of history, from the Egyptians to the Roman Empire. Jesus’ tomb is empty. The body of Jesus is risen from the dead.


Jesus’ resurrection is also a matter of faith because everything we believe in rests on the fact that Christ was put to death one Friday afternoon outside Jerusalem; he died for our sins and raised for our justification three days later. 


Think about it in the form of a question. What’s you’re the foundation of your faith in Jesus? Not our feelings – those come and go, and go up and down. Not our sincerity – we could be sincerely wrong after all. Our faith is not founded on our faith. And it’s not some kind of fairy tale we all each other and then nod in agreement like we’re all in on the joke. No, your faith is founded on facts: Christ died. For you. Christ rose. For you.


We believe because Jesus rose from the dead. Jesus’ death and resurrection is the foundation of your faith. Your faith is founded on these facts:


Fact: Christ died for your sins according to the Scriptures. Christ was buried. Christ was raised from the dead on the third day according to the Scriptures.


Fact: The tomb was empty. The burial linens were folded and neat. The guards were bribed to say the disciples had stolen the body.


Fact: The women came to Jesus’ tomb expecting to finish the burial job. The angels bore witness: He is not here; he is risen…just as he said. 


Fact: The risen Jesus appeared in the flesh to Mary Magdalene. He appeared to Peter (Cephas) and the twelve disciples. 


Fact: Jesus was seen by Thomas who cried out in faith founded on fact: “My Lord and my God.” Jesus appeared to the two Emmaus disciples. He ate grilled fish on the seashore with seven more disciples. And sometime in those 40 days after his resurrection, Jesus appeared to over 500 brothers at one time, to James, and finally to Paul on the road to Damascus.


Fact: The good news of Jesus’ resurrection that was delivered to Paul, and which Paul delivers to us was not written down like one of those games of telephone played by a bunch of middle-schoolers hopped up on Mt. Dew. Not at all. The disciples and gospel writers are credible eyewitnesses (or close associates of them – Luke and Mark). They were sane, sober, rational people. They went from not believing that Jesus had risen from the dead (even though He had told them this would happen) – to believing. They had everything to lose and nothing to gain from their testimony. All but one of the 12 died professing and confessing the faith founded on the fact of Jesus’ resurrection. 


Fact: The people in power, the religious authorities, the Roman rulers, Pontius Pilate, the chief priests and scribes had a vested interest in a dead Jesus. They had motive. Means. And opportunity. To produce the corpse of Jesus and parade it through the streets of Jerusalem on Sunday night and Monday morning. But they did not. Why not? Because there was no corpse. Jesus had risen from the dead, just as He had said.


Facts indeed are stubborn things. But this fact – the death of Jesus on a Friday afternoon  and his bodily resurrection on a Sunday morning – this fact is not only stubborn. It’s true. And it saves you.


Think for just a moment of the opposite. If this is not true. If Christ did not rise from the dead. Then I’m wasting my time here and yours. Then our faith is in vain. Then the New Testament and apostles are all liars and so are we. If Christ isn’t raised, our faith is futile, worthless, a waste of time. And worst of all, if Christ is not raised, we still have sin and death to deal with all on our own.


But, remember and rejoice this Easter morning that facts are stubborn things. Facts are saving. Your faith is founded on this fact: Christ died for you. Christ rose from the dead bodily for you.


And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. 


And when you doubt or despair of these facts, or of your faith. Remember and rejoice that your faith is founded on these facts, not your feelings, not your sincerity, not your anything. Your faith rests entirely in the hands of Jesus who was crucified for you and who rose from the dead for you. Just the facts, ma’am. And here they are once more. 


Because Christ is raised from the dead we believe that we too shall rise with new and improved bodies. Jesus is the “first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep,” Jesus’ bodily resurrection is the preview and down payment of our own resurrection on the Last Day. 


Because Christ is raised from the dead, we believe that there is genuine bodily life after death. We don’t just float on in heaven as spirits or memories or some kind of force. What is buried a physical body will be raised a spiritual body designed for eternal life with God.


Because Christ is raised from the dead, you are justified before God. His sacrifice is sufficient to cover all your sins. His “it is finished” from the cross holds. His word is true, His promises are certain. When He says, “Whoever lives and believes in me will never die forever,” this is as certain as Jesus risen from the dead is certain.


Because Christ is raised from the dead, Death has lost its power. On the cross, Christ became the sinner for us all. And now in the resurrection, He is the cure, the antidote, the medicine, the anti-serum to the sting of Death.


Because Christ is raised from the dead your faith today, tomorrow, and every day, is founded on this fact: Christ Jesus died for you. Christ Jesus rose from the dead for you.


Alleluia. Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia!


A blessed Easter to each of you…


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





Thursday, March 28, 2024

Sermon for Good Friday: "Numbered with the Transgressors"

 + Good Friday – March 29th, 2024 +

Series B: Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Psalm 22; Hebrews 4-5; John 18-19

Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church

Milton, WA



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


There have been many weeks in the history of the world. There have been about 103,688 weeks since the first Good Friday. Holy Week is the greatest week in all the weeks of history since the first week in Genesis. Not since the 7th day when the Lord God rested from all his labors had there been an 8 days like these 8 days we call Holy Week. The Great Week. The week leading up to the day leading up to the hours on a Friday afternoon outside Jerusalem, when Jesus was numbered with the transgressors. 


There are 39 books in the Old Testament; 27 in the New Testament. There are 1,042 pages in the Scriptures. Ever book, every prophet and apostle, every page of every one of these books, in one way or another, is a testimony of Christ who saves sinners and dwells with sinners…for Good Friday Jesus was numbered with the transgressors. 


On Good Friday the truth is inescapable: Christ dwells only among sinners. And this is the way it has been since his birth for you. For this reason he descended from heaven, where he dwelt among the righteous, to dwell among sinners. This is why we call Good Friday “good.” Meditate on this love of his and you will see his sweet consolation. The good news of Good Friday is that Jesus dwells only among sinners. That Jesus was numbered with the transgressors. And he did this for you.


Long ago, Isaiah the prophet foretold this good news of Good Friday. 


But he was pierced for our transgressions;
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
    and with his wounds we are healed.

because he poured out his soul to death
    and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
    and makes intercession for the transgressors.


And what Isaiah foretold, Jesus fulfilled. When Jesus began his public ministry, was known for eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners. Sinners like Matthew. Zacchaeus. And many, many more. Sinners like you. Like me. As Jesus traveled around Judea and in the homes, and at the table of Jew and Gentile alike, he was numbered with the transgressors. Jesus quickly gained a reputation. 


When the Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”  And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”


This is the good news of Good Friday. That Christ dwells only among sinners. 


Jesus was numbered with the transgressors. 

When Jesus told his parables of the lost coin and the lost sheep and the two lost sons in Luke 15, Luke tells us how the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” 


The Pharisees meant that as an insult, but it’s not. It’s the truth. And it was incredibly good news for those who had ears to hear. And it still is. “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” Thank the Lord he did…and still does! Jesus was numbered with the transgressors. Amen! He was for you. 


For if Christ does not dwell with sinners, we are without hope. Lost. Alone. Dead. End of story. 


But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Jesus dies for you, not when you have it all together, but when you’re completely broken and falling apart. Jesus rescues you not when you’ve been good little sheep following the shepherd, but when we, like sheep have gone astray. Jesus went to the cross to redeem and rescue you not on your best day, but at your worst. Yes, our sin is great, but Jesus is a greater Savior than you are a sinner. 


This is the good news of Good Friday. Christ dwells only among sinners. Jesus was numbered with the transgressors…for you, and for all your transgressions. 


When Jesus entered into Jerusalem, he was numbered with the transgressors who shouted Hosanna! Blessed is he comes in the name of the Lord!


When Jesus was in the upper room with the disciples, he was numbered with the transgressors who – to the man – denied that they would deny him. And yet he took the bread and the cup and gave them – as he gives you – his body and blood for your forgiveness.


When Jesus was praying in Gethsemane, he was numbered with the transgressors who fell asleep as he prayed, who betrayed him, who arrested him, who hauled him off to trial in the wee hours of the night.


When Jesus was brought before Pilate and Herod and the crowds he was numbered with the transgressors as they cried out: “Crucify him! Crucify him!”


When Jesus finally made his way to the cross, there once again, and up on the hill for all the world to see, Jesus is numbered with the transgressors. For you. Two criminals on the cross, one on each side, and all the world’s transgressions – yours and mine – there with him. And there, God made him who knew no sin so that in Jesus you would become the righteousness of God. There, Jesus was numbered with the transgressors…for you. He was lifted up on the cross for you. He was crucified for you. He cried out, “it is finished” for you. He bowed his head for you. He gave up his spirit for you. He was taken down from the cross, laid in the tomb, and rested on the 7th day for you. 


It is good news on this Good Friday…that Christ dwells among sinners. And it is good news that we will hear again on the third day. That Christ rose from the dead for sinners. That Christ lives and reigns for sinners. And that now and every day until Christ returns or he calls us home, Christ dwells among sinners.



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: "Blood Is Life"

 + Maundy Thursday – March 28th, 2024 +

Series B: Exodus 12:1-14; 1 Corinthians 11:23-32; Mark 14:12-26

Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church

Milton, WA



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


We’ve all seen the Red Cross slogans plastered across city buses, websites, and bulletin boards.


Save a life. Give blood.        Give blood. Give life.


There is a deep biological truth in these slogans. Your body needs blood to live. Without blood you die. To give blood is to give life.


And yet, for you who know the Scriptures, you can see an even deeper physical and spiritual truth in these words as well. You need blood to live body and soul. Without the blood of Jesus we die. When Jesus gives his blood, he gives you life. When Jesus sheds his blood he saves you, body and soul.


Whether intentionally, or unintentionally, the Red Cross echoes one of Scripture’s ancient promises: the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life. (Leviticus 17)


What the Lord said in Leviticus he repeats throughout Scripture. Life is in the blood. Life is saved by the blood. Blood makes atonement. Blood covers sin. Cancels debt. Blood is poured out and death passes over. If the Bible were a body, the beating heart at the center of it would be the life and blood of Jesus. Anywhere you cut the pages of Scripture (Luther) it’ll bleed the blood of Christ. Every book, chapter, and verse; every prophet, promise, and preacher are vessels and veins, Christ’s cardiovascular system, pumping, coursing with his life – always flowing out of and back into the heart of the Scriptures: Christ crucified and risen for you. 


The story of the Bible is the story of blood. Real blood. Flesh and blood. The blood of sacrifices made for sin. Until the day when the blood of the God-man was shed for all sin. The whole Bible pulses with Jesus’ death and resurrection, carrying lifeblood from the wounds and limbs of Jesus to you.


The story of the Scriptures is the story of God saving your life by giving blood. When Jesus gives blood, he gives you life.


When God covered Adam and Eve, naked in guilt and shame, he did so by the shedding of blood. So the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. An animal slain. The innocent for the guilty. There was life in the blood. 


When God made a covenant with Noah after the flood – before he put his bow in the sky as a sign of his promise – there was shedding of blood. Sacrifice. A life for a life. Life in the blood. 


When God made a covenant with Abram the sacrifices (heifer, goat, turtle doves) were all cut in half, he gave life and his promise by the blood. Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” And he believed the Lord, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. Life. Inheritance. Righteousness. All by the blood.



When God struck down the Egyptians and rescued his people from slavery and bondage, he did so by the shedding of blood. The Passover lamb was sacrificed. Blood and life in the lamb.


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.


Year after year, Passover after Passover. Sacrifice after sacrifice, God’s promise to give life by the blood. In the tabernacle, and later the temple it was spoken: “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.” The Scriptures beat in tune with the rhythm of God’s compassionate, gracious heart. Until one day an angel appeared to Mary and told her something marvelous.


Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 


Within Mary’s womb, not far from her own beating heart, God himself made His home with us. He would be as, Adam said of Eve, truly flesh of our flesh and bone of our bone…and blood of our blood. With one great, important exception. In his flesh and blood no curse of sin was found, for he is holy, innocent, without sin. In the Jesus’ blood, in the blood of the God-man, there is our cure. When Jesus took on human flesh and bone and blood, he did so to save you. And when Jesus gives blood, he gives you His life.


He is the lifeblood of this night we call Maundy Thursday. When Jesus sheds his blood he saves you, body and soul. And when Jesus took bread and wine that night of the Passover, that night of the first Lord’s Supper, that night before he shed his blood on the cross, he did something old and new all at once. Up until that night, God had said not to eat or drink of the blood of the Passover lamb. Why? Because Scripture was waiting for the day – this day, this night – when the Passover Lamb would give his flesh and blood for you to eat and drink for the forgiveness of sins.


And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” 23 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. 24 And he said to them, “This is my blood of the[c] covenant, which is poured out for many.


When Jesus gives you the bread he gives you his flesh. When he gives you the cup he gives you his blood. Real blood for real sinners from a real savior with real bread and wine for the real forgiveness of sins. When Jesus gives his blood he gives you life in body and soul.


Here is your life. Life in the blood of Jesus. He gives blood. He gives life. Given and shed for you.


Tonight, when Jesus gives you his body and blood for the forgiveness of all your sins… When Jesus sheds his blood he saves you, body and soul.


For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for[f] you. Do this in remembrance of me.”[g] 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.



A blessed Maundy Thursday to each of you…


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

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Sermon for Lent Midweek 5: "Lead Us Not Into Temptation...But Deliver Us From Evil"

 + 5th Lenten Midweek – March 20th, 2024 +

Genesis 3:1-8; Matthew 4:1-11

6th and 7th Petitions of the Lord’s Prayer

Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church

Milton, WA



Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.


There’s a game that I imagine most of us have played, or at least heard of playing, at family events or youth group gatherings. Pictionary. It’s a simple game. There are usually two teams. A dry erase board (or chalk board if you’re old school). A box or hat with things written on the paper. You pick your piece of paper. You walk to the board and you begin to draw. Now, for the details of the story, let’s say this is Bible Pictionary. And the words you have to draw say this: the Christian life. 


What do you draw? What shape might you begin to sketch? How do you illustrate the Christian life? 


Some would draw a line, like a Ford Motors assembly line because they (wrongly) think that the Christian life is one of constant improvement and increase. Some would draw a trophy because they (wrongly) think that the Christian life is all about success and triumph and winning. Some might even draw a ladder because they (wrongly) think that the Christian life is about our climbing, striving, ascending to God. 


But then you think (rightly) of the picture the Scriptures give you of the Christian life. You might even think of passages like Romans 7. 


“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate…For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing…So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! 


And then you pick up the dry erase marker and all you draw on the board is a simple circle. In the Scriptures, the picture of the Christian life is not a Norman Rockwell painting. It’s not a Thomas Kinkade landscape. It’s much more like the picture of Dorian Gray. Or, perhaps something easier to picture…a World War 1 battle scene with trenches and mud and blood and smoke and death and warfare all around.


The Christian life is shaped like a circle because, beginning on the day of your baptism until the day Christ returns or you die and he calls you home, you are, all who in Christ are, dying and rising. Like Paul in Romans 7, there is a daily civil war raging within each of us: the old Adam and the new man in Christ. And that battle rages until Christ returns or, you die and he calls you home. Like Paul in Romans 7, we are constantly surrounded by enemies: not just the devil and the fallen world – though they certainly are our enemies: For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness.


That’s true of course, but Paul also points the finger at the enemy within himself. Within you. Within me. This is a trustworthy saying: Christ Jesus came to save sinners, of whom I am the chief.


Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! 


If the Christian life is more like a circle of daily dying and rising, of daily confessing sin and receiving forgiveness, what we need is not an assembly line or a trophy or a ladder. What we need is rescue. Deliverance. If our Christian life is a battlefield, what we need is a Warrior King to step into the breach, pull us out of the mud and the blood and death and fight for us. 


That, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, is what we have in the Lord’s Prayer (the 6th and 7th petitions) and that is who we have in the Lord Jesus. He gives you these words to pray. He promises to hear you. He leads you not into temptation, but arms you to bushwhack through it. And is there when you fall to pick you back up again in his forgiveness and carry you on and on and on. He is the one who delivers you from evil, from evil in the world, from evil within, and from the evil one.


In the 6th petition, Jesus teaches us to pray to him with the temptations we face now – and temptations may look and feel different for each of us, but we all have them. Like Paul there’s always a thorn in our flesh of one kind or another. So we pray: take my temptations away. Keep me from pursuing them. Whatever you do, Lord Jesus, don’t let me have my way. My desires. My will be done my kingdom come. But yours. Tie us tightly to your promises like Odysseus to the mast of his ship, and fill our ears with the wax of your word, that we might escape the sirens’ song. And when we fail – not if, but when, forgive us our trespasses. 


Lord Jesus, guard and keep us so that the devil, the world, and our sinful nature may not deceive us or mislead us into false belief, despair, and other great shame and vice. Although we are attacked by these things, we pray that we may finally overcome them and win the victory.


And you know what, he does. In the wilderness, Jesus defeated the devil for you. In towns across Judea Jesus cast out demons for you. On the cross Jesus crushed your enemy, the dragon, underfoot. In your baptism, not just the day – but each day – Christ Jesus defeated the devil; in that sacred pool he and continues to drown the enemy within as well. In Jesus all temptation you face – the ones you’ve escaped and the ones you’ve fallen into – they’re all overcome by Jesus.


He delivered you from evil on the cross. He ran, head first, feet first, and hands first into the fray, into the mud and the blood and death to save you. He delivers you still. You are armed for the fight with his word and prayer. You are clothed in the armor God in baptismal battle garments, that can douse the fiery arrows of the serpent. You are fed and strengthened and forgiven in the body and the blood of Jesus. 


And though your adversary prowls about like a roaring lion, he is no match for Jesus the Lion of Judah who has delivered you. Who delivers you now already in his word and water and body and blood. And he will deliver you once again when he returns or when you die and he calls you home. In Jesus there is no evil – from the devil, the world, or within our own sinful flesh – that can harm you. 


14 For… we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.


Lead us not into temptation. Rescue us from temptation. And deliver us from evil. We pray in this petition, in summary, that our Father in heaven would rescue us from every evil of body and soul, possessions and reputation, and finally, when our last hour comes, give us a blessed end, and graciously take us from this valley of sorrow to Himself in heaven. 


And he will. One day the circle will be broken. Jesus will replace it with something better than a picture. You’ll look and all you’ll see is the Lamb on the throne for you. 



The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in + Christ Jesus to life everlasting. Amen.