Cruce Tectum

Cruce tectum, hidden under the cross, a blog for Epiphany Lutheran Church, Dorr, Michigan

Location: Moscow, Idaho

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Third Sunday in Advent

Third Sunday in Advent (C)

December 13, 2015
Text: Luke 7:18-35

            John asks the question on everybody’s mind.  Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” (Luke 7:19; ESV).  Everything rides on the answer to this question.  John asks from the dungeon where he sits in chains.  He will lose his head for preaching Jesus.  So he just wants a little assurance that this isn’t all for nothing, that it’s worth it in the end, that the Gospel is worth dying for.  And that Jesus is, in fact, the Savior who will deliver John and all who believe the Gospel from death.  Truth be told, this is your question, too.  Oh, you don’t ask explicitly, out loud, like John does.  You don’t have the guts for that.  Then others may not think you’re a good Christian.  You don’t even admit the question to yourself.  Because then you’d have to acknowledge you have your own doubts about whether you’re a good Christian.  But there it is, that nagging question.  Is Jesus the One?  Should I really risk it all on Him?  Is He worth dying for?  Will He deliver me from death?  Sin?  Hell?  Because it would be a lot easier to forget this whole Christianity thing and get as much as I can out of this life now; eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.  In many ways it would be easier to believe there is nothing but what can be seen and experienced here and now.  Then there would be no accountability.  Then there would be no limits, no commandments.  No God means I am the god of myself.  Repent.  Snap out of it!  If that fantasy is true, then everything is meaningless.  Which is exactly what Satan wants you to believe.  Still, the question is important.  It is the question of Advent.  Is Jesus the One?  Is He the Savior?  Or should we look for another?  Should we seek salvation somewhere else: Our own works, our spouse, our family, our job, our president, education, environmentalism, wealth, power, pleasure?  Should we rot in a dungeon and lose our head for Jesus?
            Interestingly, our Lord does not answer the question directly.  He tells John’s disciples to report back what they had seen and heard: “the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have the good news preached to them” (v. 22).  Then He adds a benediction: “blessed is the one who is not offended by me” (v. 23).  Blessed is the one who is not ashamed to be shackled and feel the cold of flashing steel for my sake.  For yes, this is all worth it John.  Your life and your preaching, your suffering and your death, are not in vain.  Jesus does not answer the question directly, but John would get the message loud and clear.  Jesus is doing all the things Isaiah prophesied He would 750 years earlier: “The Spirit of the LORD GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor” (Is. 61:1).  “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy” (35:5-6).  Jesus does what God promised Messiah would do.  So you tell me, John.  Am I the One?  What does the Word say?  Jesus points John to the Word.  And so He points us.  The Word preaches Jesus into our ears and hearts and souls.  The Word answers the question.  If this is what Jesus does, should we look for any other?  Can our family or our job do this?  Can politicians deliver this?  Can all the power or money in the world buy this?  No.  So look no further. 
            And notice that all the miracles Jesus does physically for the suffering during His earthly ministry, He does for us spiritually now, and will do for us bodily in the resurrection.  Now, this is not to deny that miraculous healings happen today.  In fact, every healing we experience is a miracle.  It’s a gift from Jesus.  We’re just too used to it to notice, “Oh, I didn’t die from that cold I had last week.  Praise be to Christ!”  We’re a lot more like the nine lepers who went away than we are like the Samaritan who returned to give Jesus thanks (Luke 17:11-19).  But don’t miss how Jesus is performing all the miracles He did in His earthly ministry upon you as you hear His Word.  He heals you of the disease of sin, the plague of death, and He casts the evil spirits out of you.  You who are born in spiritual blindness: He opens your eyes and gives you spiritual sight, as we confess in the Small Catechism: His Spirit calls you by the Gospel and enlightens you with His gifts, so that you see Christ as your Savior even though He is hidden from your eyes.  The Word turns the lights on for you.  You who are lame: He sets you on your feet and gives you to walk in the way of His Word.  You whose sin eats you up like leprosy: He cleanses you with His Blood.  He bathes you in His Baptism and administers the medicine of immortality in the Supper of His Body and Blood.  You who are deaf: He opens your ears to hear His living voice in preaching and Scripture.  He raises you who are spiritually stillborn, born dead to Him… He raises you to new and everlasting life in a spiritual rebirth by water and the Word.  And you poor (and you are poor!  You have nothing with which to buy God’s favor and get eternal life!)… you poor to this day have the Good News preached to you, the Good News that Jesus is your Savior, that He has come for you.  And that is the greatest miracle.  Jesus loves you, oh sinner.  Jesus died for you.  Jesus is risen for you.  And by the preaching of that Good News, you believe in Him, and so you have Him.
            What He does for you spiritually now, He will do for you bodily on the Last Day.  Your Body will be raised without disease, without injury, without any affliction.  Perfect sight.  Lame men leaping like deer.  Skin soft and clear.  Perfect hearing.  Eternal life.  Death will be no more.  The miracles are a picture of the resurrection.  Every miracle is a Promise that comes to pass in Jesus who was dead, but now lives and reigns forevermore. 
            It is a scandal, this Gospel.  For John and Jesus come in weakness.  John is the King’s herald.  Yet he does not come in splendid clothing and royal luxury.  He comes in camel’s hair and leather, eating locusts and wild honey.  He does not preach in palaces, but in the wilderness.  He does not roll out the red carpet and invite you to a royal ball.  Instead he invites you to a bath of repentance and the forgiveness of your sins.  And he points you to Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away your sin.  John at least looks like a prophet, but Jesus looks like a nobody.  He has no form or majesty, no beauty that we should desire Him (Is. 53:2).  Among those born of women there is none greater than John.  Yet the One who is least in the Kingdom of God is greater than he.  And that can only be Jesus, who becomes the least and the last, who suffers the rejection of the chief priests and scribes and Pharisees, who is a friend of tax collectors and sinners, who suffers the accursed death of crucifixion for them and for you.  He is forsaken of the Father there, hanging naked on the cross.  And you can’t get any lower or lesser than that.  This He does for you.  And for this reason He is the greatest.  He wins the Kingdom of God by purchasing it with His own blood.  He does it to make you His own.  He dies so that you live.  Does that answer the question?  Should you look for any other Savior?  He’s done it all.  For you.  The answer Jesus gives, to John’s question and to yours, is His death on the cross, and His resurrection from the dead.
            This generation does not like the answer.  “This generation” in the Scriptures is always those who belong to this life and this world.  In other words, it is unbelievers.  You see, this kind of Gospel… crazy preachers in the wilderness, Saviors who suffer and die… this isn’t something this generation can understand.  In this world, Ivy League professors hold forth wisdom, and Superman saves.  But that is not the way of Jesus.  This generation calls the tune and we do not dance.  We do not rejoice in what this world rejoices in.  We do not mourn what this world mourns.  “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not weep” (Luke 7:32).  Why are Christians persecuted in the world?  Why does our own media mock us?  Why do our own elites laugh at us?  Because they can’t understand us.  They can’t understand the Gospel.  They can’t understand Jesus.  They can’t understand the cross.  We will never win in the court of political correctness.  No matter which political party is in power or who sits on the Supreme Court, the Church must suffer, as did her Lord.  That’s life under the cross.

            But “wisdom is justified by all her children” (v. 35).  What on earth does that mean?  Wisdom is God’s plan of salvation in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  Really, wisdom is Jesus Himself.  And wisdom’s children are those who believe in Jesus.  You, and all sinners who believe in Christ, are born of wisdom.  You declare wisdom to be right… you justify her.  You declare her to be true.  Now, this is the complete opposite of this generation’s rejection of Christ and the Gospel.  For the time being, it appears as though this generation has won the argument.  After all, they are in power, or so it seems.  But what happens in the End is that everything is turned on its head.  As it turns out, the elite of this generation ruled at God’s bidding, the very God they have rejected.  And wisdom’s children who suffered in this life?  They rule.  You rule, with Christ.  The suffering was from Christ, for your good.  And it cannot be compared to the glory you will have then.  It is hidden now, as wisdom so often is.  But not then.  Then every eye will see.  And so will you.  It’s hard to remember that now.  Even John had his doubts, his “what ifs.”  Such is the weakness of the flesh.  But hear the Word of the Lord: “the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have the good news preached to them.  And blessed is the one who is not offended by me” (vv. 22-23).  In hearing the Word, you know.  Jesus is the One.  There is no other Savior.  He lived for you.  He died for you.  His risen and lives forever for you.  He still eats and drinks with sinners.  He eats and drinks with you.  He who has ears to hear, let him hear.  In the Name of the Father, and of the Son (+), and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.           


Anonymous Anonymous said...

A joy to hear, read & reread. Thank you for posting your sermons, Pr. Krenz.

1:33 PM  

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