Skip to content

Pruned To Be Fruitful!

Click here to listen to this sermon.

Good Shepherd Jesus!

Click here to listen to this sermon.

More Easter Blessing From the LORD!

Click here to listen to this sermon.

Death & the Grave Have Lost Their Grip

Click here to listen to this sermon.

What Passion!

Click here to listen to this sermon.

Jesus Serves! And So Do You!

Click here to listen to this sermon.

St. Mark 10:(32-34), 35-45

Jesus is in the lead.  On the road.  Not to the Final Four.  But the road headed for Jerusalem.  The vibes He’s giving off are scaring the living daylights out of his followers.  Others are amazed.  Everyone hanging around Jesus senses that something dire is about to happen.

Jesus takes the twelve aside.  And for the third time He tells them what He’s up to.  He is on His way to the dreadful exodus spoken of by Moses and Elijah at the Transfiguration.  This third sermon is the most vivid. 

“Look, we are going up to Jerusalem,” Jesus says.  And what will happen?  Jesus explains:  “And the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and will deliver Him to the Gentiles.”  And there is more.  Jesus continues:  “And they will mock Him and spit upon Him, and scourge Him, and kill Him, and three days later He will rise again.”

Pretty straight forward.  Jesus pulls no punches.  And yet James and John want to put as much distance as they can between themselves and what Jesus has just preached.  After hearing this third passion, death and resurrection sermon they make the most bizarre request.  “Jesus, let’s not talk about all this negative stuff.  How about being positive for a change.  Like GLORY.  Yes, GLORY!  When all this bad stuff is over put one of us on your right and the other on your left.” 

James and John don’t get it.  “All right sons of Zebedee,” Jesus says, “are you able to drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized.”  And incredibly when the two say:  “Sure Jesus!  No problem!” Jesus lets out a long, resigned breath and says, “O . . . kay; that’s exactly what you’re going to get.  I’m into suffering, death, and resurrection here.  Nothing else.  But this business of who gets what seats is not my job.” 

Well the other ten apostles have been listening.  They’re no better than Zebedee’s sons.  Feel left out.  As if they’ve missed out on positions of power and glory in the Lord’s kingdom.  James and John will be the CEOs of Kingdom of God INC. and they’ll end up being the gophers.  And so the ten are angry with James and John for trying to bring prestige and primacy to themselves and leaving them out. 

Jesus ignores all this foolishness.  He presses on to the main subject.  The only subject.  “Boys,” He says.  “It’s time to forget all this nonsense about having seats and positions of power.  I haven’t called you for that.  If any of you wants to be great, you’ll have to be a servant of all.  If any of you wants to be first, you’ll have to be a slave to all.  Why?  I’ll tell you why.  Because the Son of Man came not to be served BUT TO SERVE and to give His life as a ransom for many.”  

Jesus is all about that.  Service.  A divine service.  Offering His Body as the atoning sacrifice for the sin of the world, for yours, mine, and the twelve.  This is so incredible that it bears repeating.  Jesus came not to be served but to serve!  A Good Friday service of salvation for the world as He hangs on the tree of the cross!    

Would you try to stop Him?  Sprint ahead of Him in order to put up a stop sign, detour sign or a roadblock on the road to Jerusalem?

Jesus won’t let you.  Nothing will stop Him.  Not even the power and glory moves by Twelve.  He’s going to Jerusalem.  He’s bullish on being the Savior and doing His Savior job. 

You can choose not to understand Him.  You can even choose not even to believe in this Jesus who resolutely sets His face to Jerusalem to do a Good Friday.  And if that’s the case you only have yourself to blame for your final hellish destination of damnation. 

But I’m here to tell you that Jesus went and did a Good Friday Jerusalem on the cross.  For you and your salvation as the Suffering Servant.  He drank the cup of God’s bitter wrath against your sin on the cross.  He was baptized into the agonizing death that your sin earned.  Suffering Servant Jesus is the great high priest who offers His Body as the sacrificial lamb that takes away the sin of the world.

You are ransomed.  Bought with a price.  By the holy and precious blood of Jesus.  Every sin has been answered for.  Yes, even those that you’ve committed like James and John in kicking in the teeth of anyone who stands in the way of your being great and first.  Death is defeated.  Satan and hell conquered.  And His promise that He made to Israel through Jeremiah and to you is so incredible:  “I will remember your sins no more.”

And so today Jesus comes.  Not to be served by you.  But to serve.  He rolls up His sleeves and shows you His wounds.  He gives you a seat at His Table.  As High Priest, Host, Butler, and Food the Lord Jesus gives you His Body and His Blood for you to eat and drink with the bread and wine.  “This cup is the new testament in My blood which is shed for you for the forgiveness of your sins.”    

Forgiven.  Ransomed.  Redeemed.  Saved.  In Jesus.  He is your greatness.  He is your glory.  He is your Servant, Suffering, Crucified, and Risen Savior! 

His Good Friday salvific service (winning forgiveness for you) and His service of the Lord’s Supper (giving that forgiveness with His Body and His Blood) bears much fruit in your life.  Where?  In your family, community, this congregation and the world. 

Your life looks like Christ’s!  You are to be like Christ in the world!  In what way? Well, you too live not to be served BUT TO SERVE!  To live your faith-full life in sacrificial service to others.  Honoring authority (parental, civil, and churchly).  Protecting life.  Leading a sexually pure and decent life in what you say and do.  Loving and honoring your spouse.  Improving and protecting your neighbor’s possessions and income.  Defending reputations.  Explaining everything in the kindest way.  And being content with all that God has given you.  

Remember how Jesus said it?  “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant.  Whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.”   

What joy! 

In the Name of Jesus.     

What A Command! What A Promise!

Click here to listen to this sermon.

St. John 3:14-21

In the OT reading, Israel was going through one of her typical grumbling outbreaks. Griping against God and muttering against Moses.  Petulantly ungrateful for the manna God provided. Peevishly ungrateful for the refreshingly cold H2o that gushed out of the rock.  [Sidenote:  St. Paul says that the rock was Christ! 1 Cor 10!] Israel needed to be repent-ed and faith-ed.  Consequently, God sends a plague of fiery poisonous snakes.  Snake-bitten Israel was!  In agony.  Dropping like flies.  Imagine serpents crawling all over the place just waiting to strike and put their venomous fangs into your flesh.  Outside the tent.  Inside the tent.  In the sleeping bag.  In the pots and pans.  Everywhere!  With no end in sight!    No animal control  to call either!  And you thought a 21st century virus was lethal.  It’s like a horrible nightmare!    

Again, the plague of serpents was given to repent and then faith Israel.  And it did!  Thanks be to God!  It was like a mini Lent before there was Lent!  Israel confessed her sin to Moses.  And Moses prayed to God for Israel.  And lo and behold God provided a remedy.  An unique remedy for this one occasion.

A bronze serpent on a wooden pole!  A visible and physical sign with a specific divine promise: “Anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.”  Incredible!  The cure looks like the disease itself! A serpent of all things! One hears snake and all one can think of is the hellacious tragedy of Genesis 3! However, here at this particular time God commands Moses to put an image of a snake on a pole!  And He gives the one time promise:  Look at it and you will live.    

So it’s worth repeating.  It’s an important Biblical principle that you need to know.  It’s God’s modus operandi!  When God attaches His Word to something, especially His promissory Word, He’s giving a gift.    And that’s precisely what we have here.  The Lord says: “Have a gaze at the bronze serpent on the pole and be healed of your toxic snakebite!”   The promise was there, located for certain FOR YOU.  God always wants His promises to be believed.   

So, if you’re an Israelite burning up with fever, shaking uncontrollably, blurry eyed with a deadly snakebite, and about ready to die, you don’t say,  “What do I need such a silly snake on a stake for? I can do without.  I’ll try my own snakebite kit.” That’s not how faith talks!  Faith says:  “Amen!  Thank you!  May it be to me according to your Word!”  Unbelief talks like this:  “Hey Moses!  I don’t like snakes! They give me the heebie jeebies. Look at the snake and live? That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard!  No thanks! You can’t be serious!” Faith, on the other hand, does what the Lord says to do and believes what He promises to give!  Faith goes out of its way to fix its eyes on that bronze snake and its ears on God’s promise because it was the only way to survive.  God promised.  Faith and God’s promises always go together.

That takes us to John 3.  The words of Jesus.  Check it out!  “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life.”

Lifted up!”  He’s preaching His own Good Friday death on the cross and its benefits – eternal life. He is stapled to the wood.  He is lifted up on the pole for the life of the world. All who look on Him through the “eyes” of faith have eternal life.

Now, just like the Israelites in the wilderness, all of humanity is “snake-bitten.” Genesis 3!  There, the devil, took the form of a serpent and tempted Eve to inject the toxic poison of his lie. The lie that God is not true to His Word. The lie that God doesn’t mean what He says. The lie that we can be pretend divinities in place of the one true God.  The lie that we can call the shots when it comes to good and evil.  The lie that we can be the masters of our own destiny. The lie that we can disobey God and that we won’t die as a result. Eve bit, Adam bit.   

Consequently, the serpent Satan bit and sunk his deadly poison from his fangs deep into our humanity! Humanity died that day. Adam and Eve were dead to God and to each other – hiding, ashamed, blaming, self-justifying. The poison not only invaded them. It was passed on to their children. Every son and daughter of Adam is infected with the serpent’s poisonous venom. No generation is skipped. Not you.  Not me. Each of us is born with the contagion coursing through our humanity. The apostle Paul says, “You were dead in trespasses and sin.” Not sick, not weak, not troubled, not struggling or even hanging on for dear life. Snake-bitten dead.

How do you cure a deadly case of the satanic snake bite?  You need a shot of anti-serum. Anti-serum comes from one who has been exposed to the poison and survived.

And that’s Jesus!  God made Him, the sinless Son, as He bore the sin of the world in His body, to be sin for you.

He became your sin, so that in Him you might become the righteousness of God.

He was cursed with the curse against your sin. He was damned for you. He was exposed to your sin and death.

Jesus took the full hit for you. The wrath of God. The temptations of the devil. The judgment of the law.

He went down to your grave, and He rose from the dead. He conquered your death in His death.

He is the anti-serum of death. Like the bronze serpent on the pole, all who believe in Him are healed of death and have eternal life.

God loved the world – the cosmos — in this way: He gave His only-begotten Son to die for it. He raised His Son up on a cross one dark afternoon we call Good Friday. It wasn’t a bronze image He lifted up on a wooden pole.  He lifted up His own Son in the flesh in that cruel and bizarre death that many people would rather look away from. An empty cross, they can abide (unless it’s on a county seal or a government building). But not a crucifix, that instrument of torture. Who can look at such a thing? What kind of religion is it that lifts up such a banner with pride and says, “Behold, your Savior and King”?

But I’m here to tell you that as Jesus is lifted up on the pole you have right before your eyes the exquisite and magnificent love of God. He loves the world to death in the death of His Son. God loves by giving His Son for the life of the unloving, unlovable world. This is the God who is loving to the loveless, forgiving to sinners, who justifies the sinner in Christ. The God who is willing to be bruised by the serpent in order to crush his head.

There is hope for this snake-bitten world of ours. Jesus was raised up on the Good Friday cross – and makes this unthwartable promise. “whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

And with Jesus there is always more.  More promissory Words.  There is His Word of promise hooked with the water of Baptism – the giving of God’s divine and saving name (Matthew 28); forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit (Act 2:38) – the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3) – and the wonderful promise “whoever believes and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16). 

There is also the oath of Jesus’ Good Friday forgiveness in the preaching of the gospel (Mark 16) and the speaking of His forgiveness with His full authority according to His promise in Matthew 16 and Matthew 18 and John 20.  “Whatever you loose on earth is loosed in heaven.”  “If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven.”    

And even more – the medicine of immortality given with His promise as Jesus Himself feeds you with the bread His Body and with the wine His Blood.  He says it is: “given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” 

Yes, look on Jesus through faith-full eyes and live forever. He is your healing, your strength, your life, and your salvation.  He promises! 

In the Name of Jesus.  Amen

Jesus Came to Preach!

Click here to listen to this sermon.

Matthew’s Gospel: Part One

Click here to listen to this Bible class.

Healings, Exorcisms and PREACHING Part 2

Click here to listen to this program.