Pentecost 23 Trinity Lutheran Church
23 October 2016 Murdock, NE
+ Jesu Juva +
St. Luke 18:9-17
Baptism of Caige Leroy Haertel
“Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them.”
Well, thanks be to God that those reprimanding and scolding disciples aren’t here today! Seriously! Uncle Jake, Uncle Adam, and Uncle Kolby would have taken them to task. The three uncles would have put to point of their cowboy boots in a specific part of the disciples’ rear ends, bloodied their noses, and blackened their eyes. And so would you. Well, maybe not to that extreme. But you know what I mean.
This really is outrageous! Can you imagine disciples – DISCIPLES OF ALL PEOPLE — giving Chris and Lyndee a feverish tongue lashing for daring to bring their little baby Caige to Jesus for holy Baptism so that Jesus would touch him and give him the gift of salvation? As if Caige had no use of Jesus or that Jesus has nothing to give little Caige! “Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them.”
Well, you’re not the only ones offended by these too-big-for-their-britches-and-know-it-all-disciples. Look who else is totally furious! It’s the Lord Jesus Himself! Mark’s account, which we heard in Holy Baptism’s liturgy today, tells us that Jesus is righteously angry (Mk 10:14) – BIGLY ANGRY — with these knucklehead disciples! I mean it doesn’t get any worse than this. Disciples doing their darndest to separate sinners from the Savior-of-sinners-Jesus! Trying to keep sins away from the Lord’s Good Friday forgiveness. Trying to keep the lost from heaven. Trying to keep those who desperately cry out, “God be merciful to me, a sinner!” apart from the Lamb of God Jesus who has come specifically to give divine mercy! Who would ever do such a thing? Would you?
You’d better not. Don’t listen to the disciples, at least not at this point in their internship. It’s always best to listen to Jesus. To let Him have the say so. “Let the children come to me and do not hinder them.” Did you hear that? Good. DO NOT PREVENT THEM from ever coming to Jesus! Or don’t ever keep them away from Jesus!
Oh, but there’s more. “Let the children come to me and do not hinder them for to such belongs the kingdom of God.” TO SUCH BELONGS THE KINGDOM OF GOD? Even the babies? Yes, especially the babies. Jesus didn’t leave them out of His Kingdom-of-God-Good-Friday dying for all sin and every sinner. Not even Caige. Jesus died for him. Like He died FOR YOU AND FOR ALL. The kingdom of God – the reign of God Himself on the earth on the throne of the cross in the crucified and bleeding divine body of Jesus — is for all sinners no matter what their age or who they are. The kingdom of God – God’s Good Friday forgiving reign — is to be delivered to all for who Jesus died. Whether they’re tax collectors or another Haertel baby.
Salvation is a pure gift. Entirely a donation. From the Lord Jesus to His sinners. He does the Good Friday dying. All by Himself. With no help from anyone, let alone you. He bestows His divine and saving name in holy Baptism. Like He did with Caige today. Caige did absolutely nothing. Caige didn’t object. He was simply given to by the Lord Jesus. Given all of Christ’s Good Friday forgiveness with the divine name hooked with the water. That’s precisely why Jesus goes on to say: “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” Did you hear that? The kingdom of God can only be received – PASSIVELY! Like the Lord Jesus giving His reign of salvation to Caige today with the Triune Name at his baptism. Again, Caige did nothing. He was simply given to. Faith is always given to. Faith speaks only of what it’s given or what it trusts. And that’s Jesus. That’s how salvation works. That’s how salvation’s delivery works.
Insist on a do-it-yourself-salvation and… well … you spoil the gift. Ruin it. In fact, you lose it! Like the Pharisee who insisted on earning salvation by being supposedly better than everyone else, “God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.” What wouldn’t he admit? The truth! He wouldn’t confess that he was a sinner that anxiously needed Jesus the Savior! And where did that get him? He wasn’t justified before God at all! The gift of salvation was spurned! It was lost.
Better hear Jesus one more time. Just so you get it salvationly straight. “Truly, I say to you,” Jesus categorically declares, “whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” Let Caige be the glorious example of that today for you. It’s all gift. Being given to by the Lord. Salvation’s achievement on the cross. And salvation’s bestowal in holy Baptism. Infant baptism is a wonderful example of what it means to be saved by grace through faith alone in Jesus.
That’s why Peter and the rest of the disciples changed their tune. They learned their lesson. No longer did they rebuke parents for bringing their babies to Jesus. Instead, they exhorted them to do just that. And one of the ways that is done is holy Baptism. In Acts 2:38-39 Peter preaches this baptismal sermon to sinners: “be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is for you and for your children and for all….” The delivery of salvation with the divine name – forgiveness and the gift of the Holy Spirit – is even for the kids! Even for Caige! Peter says that! He learned it from the Lord!
So, Uncles Jake, Adam and Kolby, keep your cowboy boots on the ground. Keep them where they belong. And as you promised today together with Caige’s aunts along with Brad and Julie, help Caige to live in and from his baptism by daily repenting of his sins. Encourage him to use Jesus every day for forgiveness and most especially on Sundays to hear the gospel, the absolution and to eat and drink Christ’s Good Friday Body and Blood in the Lord’s Supper with faith. Be examples to him of what it means to lead a holy and God-pleasing life according to God’s Word. You must do that. You promised. Do not hinder little Caige from being brought to Jesus after his baptism. Make sure he goes to Sunday School and to church regularly. Support and reinforce Chris and Lyndee in their parenting duties by listening to Jesus.
“Let the children come to me and do not hinder them for to such belongs the kingdom of God.”
Happy Baptism Day Caige! Happy living in your Baptism! Dittos to all of you here the baptized at Trinity!
In the Name of Jesus.
Pentecost 22 Trinity Lutheran Church
16 October 2016 Murdock, NE
+ Jesu Juva +
No, this is not some WWE throw down or cage match! That’s all fake. Just for kicks and laughs. Here, however, is wrestling match that is for real! Done in all seriousness. With lots at stake! Jacob wrestles with … God! Or better yet, God grapples against Jacob! Isn’t that incredible? Imagine watching this wrestling match! However, what is even more astounding is who wins. Is it God? Or Jacob? Jacob wins! He puts God in a full nelson! And incredibly God says, “I give!”
Would you dare to grapple with God? Would you even consider tussling with the Almighty? I suppose you would if you were in desperate straits. You know, like Jacob! He’s in deep trouble. It’s a severe crisis. His life appears to be at an end. His faith in God is seriously stressed. What must God think of him? When he looks back at his life it’s full of regrets, bitter disappointments, and loads of sin.
Everything’s come full circle in Jacob’s life. You remember, don’t you? When it came time for Rebekah to birth her twin boys, Esau came out first. But Jacob had his hand clenched to Esau’s heel. They fought with each other even while in the womb. Even while they made the treacherous trek through Rebekah’s birth canal!
Jacob and Esau: twins. And yet complete opposites. Esau: tough, fiery, red-hair-all-over, brutish bear of a man. Big game hunter. A man’s man. A bar room brawler. A real head knocker. You don’t mess with a dude like that! Old man Isaac favored burly Esau because his oldest son could fix the best spicy deer jerky and deep fat fry the tastiest elk steak.
Jacob, on the other hand. Subdued. Clean shaven and smooth skinned. A momma’s boy. Stays out of the bars and doesn’t hang around naughty girls. He’s a home body. Hangs out with the women in the tents. You’d call him a “girly man.”
Momma’s boy Jacob cheated his brother Esau of his birthright with a bowl of stew. And then everything came to a head when Isaac’s macular degeneration was in full swing and his senior citizen body was wearing out. As her husband gets closer and closer to the grave, Rebekah schemes. She tells Jacob to impersonate his brother and steal Isaac’s blessing that rightfully belongs to Esau the firstborn.
Esau finds out of course. Can’t keep a lie like that secret for long! He’s furious! Enraged! He makes a promise. He will get even with his brother even if he has to murder him. Pay backs are …! Well, Jacob can’t stay. When you go messin’ with Esau he looks for his Smith and Wesson. He’ll teach Jacob a lesson. Jacob has to get out of Dodge post haste! Run for the hills! Run for his life! A bounty is on his head. Esau would even “drone” his brother if given the chance!
Exiled Jacob. A fugitive. On the run. He flees to uncle Laban’s ranch way up in the north. For years while at Laban’s he labors, pulls off a few more dicey deals, gets hitched, and has kids of his own. During this banishment God does the unthinkable. The improbable. The inconceivable. God promises Jacob that he would return to his home. God promises His blessings of forgiveness and salvation. That takes us to today’s text.
Decades have gone by. Jacob is on his way home with his family and all that he has. Heads south. But look who stands in the way! Brother-That-He-Cheated-Esau is on the other side of the river! With four hundred well armed men! “He is coming out to meet you Jacob!” The gig is up! Esau will surely get his revenge for Jacob’s sins against him. Take all Jacob’s possessions and livestock. Ruthlessly murder the women and children. And then slowly get his revenge on Jacob himself.
What pressure. What stress. What angst. What a crisis! However, there’s another predicament that is more crushing. It’s this: What does God think of all this? What does God think of Jacob? That’s the biggest existential dilemma of all. It appears that God is now Jacob’s biggest problem. So all through the night Jacob wrestles with God who has taken the form of a man. God dislocates Jacob’s hip. God appears to hate Jacob. God seems to enjoy hurting him. God appears to delight in giving Jacob what he deserves.
But Jacob will not give up. He will not let go! Tenaciously he clings to God. After all, God has given Jacob promises of blessing and salvation. Yet God appears to be saying now: “Let go of me! Let go Jacob. Your thigh is hurt. You’ll be lame the rest of your life. Give up Jacob.” Jacob does not listen. “Not until you bless me!”
“Not until you bless me!” “Not until you bless me! You’ve promised! You’ve promised!” With these words Jacob wins. He has God in a headlock. It’s the full nelson of … F-A-I-T-H! And in this scuffle God gives in. The match is over. Ding the bell. God is defeated – BY JACOB’S FAITH! “Not until you bless me!” “Not until you bless me! You promised! You promised!”
Things not going so well in your life? One crisis after another? Does it seem that God is against you? Fighting against you? Acting like He does not want to keep the promises of life and salvation He’s given you? Is it a health crisis? Lost a loved one or a very good friend? Is it the crisis of divorce? Failing a test? Been betrayed? Hurt deeply by a friend or family member? Feeling the effects of sin in your life? Death staring at your door?
“Where are You God? Why do You always seem to be against me? Do You hate me?” Is that your cry? Are those your questions?
Then it’s time for another wrestling match. To call God out. To take God to the mat. Whether it takes one sleepless night or many. Whether God puts your hip out of socket or puts you in the sleeper hold. When God appears to be saying: “Let go of me, you’re hurt, give up, I’m strangling you,” faith reverses everything and pins God Himself to the mat by saying: “Not until you bless me!” “Not until you bless me! You’ve promised! You’ve promised!”
The stranglehold of faith says: “Oh, yes, I’m not worthy God. I’m a rotten stinking sinner like Jacob. But you promised God! I’m going to relentlessly hold you to your promise. With you I know there is mercy. With you I know there is forgiveness. Sometimes it doesn’t appear that way when I look at my life. But Your Son Jesus died for me. Your Son Jesus put His saving Name on me in Baptism. Your Son Jesus gives me His Body and His Blood in the Supper. You’ve promised to bring me home. To give me the Promised Land of Heaven. You’re not against me. You’re FOR ME. You’ve promised. You’ve promised. I won’t let you go until you bless me.”
That’s a hold God can’t get out of. He’s doesn’t even mind. In fact, that exactly what He wants from you. Happy wrestling with God faithful sons and daughters of Jacob.
In the Name of Jesus.
Pentecost 21 Trinity Lutheran Church
9 October 2016 Murdock, NE
+ Jesu Juva +
Baptism of Etta Ann Frerichs
What great joy today! A baptism! A divine miracle in your midst! No doubt the Lord repented and faithed you all the more. Reminding you of what He gave you in your baptism. And even more of that in today’s sermon! So I must press on! Here goes! Hang on tight! Fasten your seat belts.
Carrie Underwood’s hit song “There’s Something In The Water” is exactly right. The “something” in the water of Holy Baptism is God’s divine and all-powerful Word by which Etta Ann was given the divine and saving name of the holy Trinity. Etta Ann was given the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. She belongs to the holy Trinity. With the giving of the Triune Name the Trinity promises to be God FOR HER! Again what joy! No need to worry about what God thinks about her.
Jesus hooks His Word to the water of Holy Baptism. I said “holy” baptism. It’s holy because it’s the Lord’s! His doing. His giving. Through His Word! The Matthew 28:19 mandate and institution Word of the Lord Jesus Himself! His Word does and gives what it says in, with and under the water. Never forget that. It’s always: “holy” baptism. Just like it’s “holy” scripture. Or “holy” absolution or “holy” communion. Got it? Good.
Next, where God puts His name He’s there. To be baptized in God’s name is to be baptized by God Himself. With the giving of His divine name in holy baptism the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit promise to act and be God for the one who is baptized.
What Jesus institutes and gives is never a nothing. So Jesus bids the apostles to “make disciples of all nations by baptizing” in the Triune name (Mt 28:19). That’s not an option. He mandates it. For the delivery of His Good Friday and Easter Resurrection benefits and gifts.
So, fifty days after the Lord’s resurrection there is St. Peter. He’s doing exactly what Jesus mandates. He calls sinners to repentance (the heart of which is faith in Jesus) and to be given the gift of holy baptism. “Repent and be baptized,” Peter said. “Be baptized.” That’s the passive voice. In other words, when you’re baptized you’re simply given to. You’re a receiver of what God gives.
Etta Ann is the perfect example. She did nothing today. She was an absolute, total, complete do nothing. Jesus did everything. Jesus alone died for her. He alone atoned for all her sin. So now today the Lord Jesus gave her the gift of holy baptism. Learn this well brothers and sisters. Holy baptism, one of the ways Jesus delivers His Good Friday salvation, like salvation’s achievement on the cross is not something you do! In any way, shape or form! Did you hear that? I’ll say it again because some of you were beginning to nod off already or your minds were wandering. Just as Christ’s death on the cross is totally His work and gift FOR YOU to achieve your salvation, so BAPTISM IS WHAT GOD GIVES! BESTOWS! DONATES! Namely, His divine name (Mt. 28:19) and everything that goes with it – all the benefits of Christ’s Good Friday death. As you will soon hear from the blessed apostle Peter himself.
“Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.” Who? How many? Peter’s answer will blow your minds. Listen: “every one of you.” That matches the Lord’s mandate in Matthew 28, “make disciples of ALL nations by baptizing ….” “All” in Matthew 28. In obedience to the Lord Jesus, Peter says that “every one of you” needs to “be baptized.” Jesus died for everyone and FOR YOU on the Good Friday cross. Jesus wants all nations to be discipled through holy baptism.
Then Peter preaches the benefits of holy baptism. WHAT? DID I JUST SAY BENEFITS? Yes I did. Again, holy baptism is never a nothing. Through the water hooked with the mandate and institution Word of Jesus in Mt. 28:19 God gives you His Name. And with His name given in holy baptism come … according to Peter … “the forgiveness of sins … and the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
When you’re given the divine name in Holy Baptism, you’re given the Good Friday forgiveness that Jesus achieved for you. You are literally washed clean – purified – cleansed by the divine blood of Jesus in holy baptism. That comes with the gift of the divine name. And you’re also given the “gift of the Holy Spirit” who is the Lord and Giver of life. In other words, you are born again! Jesus says so in John 3:5. You’re born anew through the water and the Spirit. St. Paul echoes the Lord’s teaching in Titus 3: God “saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal BY THE HOLY SPIRIT.” Holy Baptism is a little Pentecost! With the divine name Jesus pours out the Holy Spirit on the baptized. And there the Holy Spirit does exactly what Jesus said He would do in John 16:14: “He [the Holy Spirit],” Jesus promised “will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”
So when you’re sins are forgiven and you’ve been given the Holy Spirit in holy baptism, are you saved? Well? Of course you are! It comes as pure gift. Not just to adults but also to the kids. Peter says so: “This promise [of forgiveness and Holy Spirit] is FOR YOU and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”
“FOR YOU.” That’s gift talk. When the Lord’s giving out His gifts He’s always saying: “Here this is FOR YOU.” Including your children. “Let the children come to me; do not hinder or prevent them for to such belongs the kingdom of God,” Jesus said in Mark 10. Jesus died for the kids too. Even the infants. One of the ways He delivers the benefits of His dying to sinners is holy baptism. You wouldn’t prevent little Etta Ann from being brought to Jesus in holy baptism to receive His Good Friday forgiveness and being Holy Spirit-ed, would you? Well, would you? Of course not! You have today’s text and it’s clear: “this promise is FOR YOU and for your children and for all.” And the Lord’s Word from Mark 16: “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.”
That promise is for Etta Ann. Teach her this Monte and Lynae. Help her to cling to the Lord’s gracious Word! That’s the something in the water that Carrie Underwood sings about. Etta Ann will need to always hear the Lord’s Word of promise given to her in holy baptism . Just like you do. And all the rest of us too! Jesus does not lie! He keeps His promises.
No wonder then that the Large Catechism rejoices in the gift of Holy Baptism in this profound way: “We must regard baptism and put it to use in such a way that we may draw strength and comfort from it when our sins or conscience oppress us, and say: ‘But I am baptized! And if I have been baptized, I have the promise that I shall be saved and have eternal life, both in soul and body.’” Indeed!
Happy Baptism Day Etta Ann!
In the name of Jesus.