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Trust Only in Jesus!

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Pentecost 21           Trinity Lutheran Church                                  14 October 2018     Murdock, NE

 

+ Jesu Juva +

 

Mark 10:17-22

 

Well, well, well! Isn’t this something? A seeker!  He comes to Jesus!  Can’t get any easier than that!  Calls Jesus “good.”  Double bonus round!  He’s morally good.  Triple bonus round! He’s no Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey or Bill Cosby. In addition, he works hard.   Earned all that he has without robbing from others or defrauding them.  Speaks well of people. Remember, he called Jesus, “good.” Honors his parental units and the civil authorities. Doesn’t sleep around! This guy is squeaky clean!  Somebody invite him to attend our congregation! Moms, you’d let your daughters bring this hard working and clean-cut guy home for Thanksgiving!  Sure, he’s no Brad Pitt! And he’s certainly not a Chris Pratt or a Shawn Mendes! But beggars can’t be choosers! Can they ladies? When it comes to eye candy he’s not that bad!

 

Then comes quadruple bonus round!  He’s religious! Spiritual! He not only knows them but he’s seriously into the Ten Commandments.  Been that way all his life. He’s a doer. Talks the talk but he also walks the walk.  Let’s not just invite him to attend Trinity let’s make him a member of Trinity ASAP! In fact, let’s ordain him on the spot and let him preach. He’d be a heck of a lot better than the preacher you’ve got — being so religious and all!

 

Now it’s time for this wonderful, delightful, hunk of a young man, to put the finishing touches on his eternal welfare.  Has his affairs with others in order. Now it’s time to make sure that he and the Big Man Upstairs are OK. Or that the Man Upstairs is OK with him.  And so the hunk asks Jesus the salvation question. “What must I DO to inherit eternal life?”

 

Holy cow!  Who’s doing the verb in his salvation question?  “What must I DO?”  With the question he insists on being the head honcho.  As if he’s in the salvation driver’s seat. He seems to be a salvation control freak.  He’ll do it. “Just tell me what to do Jesus!  And I’ll do it! I can do it! Give me the principles!  What must I DO? Tell me! Hurry up! I’m waiting! I’m a moral mover and a spiritual shaker!  I make conglomerate business deals! I get things done! In fact, I’m just about ready to close a blockbuster deal with the Roman Colosseum big wigs trying to buy lions, elephants, pythons, and baboons from North African merchants for the circuses at Rome!  So speak up Jesus! What must I DO to inherit eternal life?   I’ll get right to it and I’ll leave you alone so that you can do your helpful ministry. Thank you for your time!”

 

He’s blind to the fact that eternal life is a gift.  Eternal life is an inheritance – therefore it is a gift.  But he insists: “Good Jesus, what must I DO to inherit eternal life?”  He’s bullish.  Obstinate! He’s a do-it-yourself kind of guy!  Even when it comes to salvation!

 

Jesus goes to the heart of his do-it-yourself religion.   Jesus says: “I’m here to help you son.  Your religiosity is quite impressive!  However, your über-spirituality lacks something.  Here’s what it is. Sell all your stuff. All of it.  Liquidate all your assets and bank accounts. Turn it all into cash!  Add it all up. What is the total? Thousands? Millions? Impressive.  Now, give it all to the poor. Use your wealth to help people. Sure, you won’t have all your stuff but you’ll have heavenly treasure / eternal life by trusting in Me.  Learn a new spirituality! Learn a new religion!   I’m the Giver. You are the receiver.”

 

“I’ll take care of you.  Not only now but forever.  I promise. One of these nights, a Passover night, a night when I’m betrayed, I’ll hand out my last will and testament.  I’ll spell it out this way. Bread and wine. With the bread My Body. With the cup of wine My Blood. The new testament in My Blood. All for you.  All sin forgiven. Pure gift. No strings attached. In order to put my last will and testament into effect I will die on a Friday afternoon that my disciples will call ‘Good.’”

 

“When it comes to the salvation job young man, here’s the deal:  I’m the only game in town! I’m the only ticket you need for heaven!  The salvation verbs belong to Me! They are my doing! I achieve salvation.  For all!   I will say when IT IS FINISHED. And I will dish out all of salvation’s benefits.  I am the Lord your God! The eternal life inheritance is my gift to you. It’s standing right before your very eyes!  So, come along! Follow Me! Be given to exclusively by Me! I’ll take care of you! Now and forever!”  

 

And the hunk jumps at the PROMISE OF SALVATION that Jesus just gave!  Right? Nope! His jaw hits the ground! His eyes look down at the dirt. And he turns and walks away!

 

He won’t be given to by Jesus!  Jesus won’t let him do anything to get eternal life.  That’s a complete let down and turn off for a dyed in the wool salvation activist. A do it yourself spiritual community organizer.  He was all hyped up about doing the salvation job himself. Even enlisted “good” Jesus’ advice.  “Sell everything, give it all to the poor, and then trust Jesus?  Lose everything? Lose my life? No way! Not a snowball’s chance!”

 

He trusted his stuff.  He feared, loved, and trusted in his wealth and possessions but not Jesus.  If he unloads all his stuff . . . well . . . he just can’t take that chance.  Won’t trust Jesus alone! Sola! Can’t. Even if he ends up with that snowball in . . .! Well, you know. He’s just like the old Israel to whom Amos preached in the Old Testament reading.

 

What about you?  Are you ready to walk away from Jesus today?  He’s here! Right before your very eyes in His Word and Sacrament!  With the whole enchilada of salvation! As pure gift! He is among you as one who SERVES. Serves you with salvation.

 

What do you fear, love, and trust above Jesus?  What hinders you from trusting Jesus’ promise to take care of everything both now and forever?  What idol forbids you from following Jesus? From receiving gifts from Him? Is it property? Wealth?  Sports? Your old Adam? What hinders you from being served by Jesus?

 

Whatever the idol is — it will crack and break under the pressure you put on it.  Your idol can’t handle all your fears, love and trust. Your concerns. Your guilt. Your sin. Your eternal life salvation.  Oh yes, the idol promises you heaven. But it can only deliver hell. It promises life but it can only bestow death.  It claims to be your god but it lies.

 

Jesus doesn’t.  He tells the truth.  He is the Way, the TRUTH and the Life.  “I am the Lord your God.”  That’s His promise.  He gives Himself entirely for you.  With all that He is and all that He has.  Reconciles you to the Father with His Blood.  The Father is not angry with you. He does not hate you.  He loves you for Christ’s sake. Forgives you for Christ’s sake.  Gives you eternal life for Christ’s sake.

 

You are saved in Christ.  He is your Lord. God FOR YOU!

 

You don’t have to sell everything and give it to the poor.  That was Jesus’ way of dealing with that particular hunk of a religious young man that you don’t want your daughter to bring home now for Thanksgiving dinner!  But in Jesus and His promise of salvation as gift to you — you are free to use your property, wealth, or possessions in service to other people in need.

 

And who’s that?  Well, that’s your family, your congregation, your community, your country, and the world.  What you have is all from the Lord. He gives you all your stuff not to turn it into an idol.  But to use it all as gifts for others! So that you can be a blessing to others.

 

Died for by the Lord Jesus, you are His instruments to use all your worldly wealth and whatever stuff He’s given you in order to help those in need and those who are helpless.  And as you use your wealth or whatever to help your neighbor you do it to Jesus. “Whatever you do to the least of these my brothers you have done it unto me,” (Matthew 25:40)!

 

Happy following Him!  He will take good care of you!  In fact, He already has! And always will!  Good Friday! Easter Sunday! Your Baptism! Holy Absolution!  His Holy Supper! Eternal life! Even now and then revealed on the Last Day for our eyes to see and our bodies to experience in the glory of the resurrection!

 

In the Name of Jesus

 

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Tuesday of Pentecost 21          Trinity Lutheran Church

9 October 2018                         Murdock, NE

 

+ Jesu Juva +

 

1 Corinthians 15:51-56

Funeral of Nancy Kersten

 

When Christians stare death in the face, even a nurse like Nancy, there is the certain and sure promise of Jesus that He is the Resurrection and the Life for those who believe in Him. Faith clings to Christ’s promise. Christ’s promise and faith go together.

 

Oh yes the “sting of death is sin.” Sin is the point of the spear that kills us. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). However, Jesus has changed all that for the believer. On the cross Jesus bore all sin and all of its hellacious damnation. As He hung on the tree Jesus with everyone’s sin – the sin of the world – Jesus took the condemnation of the law and completely endured the Father’s wrath against all sin and every sinner. Jesus took the sinner’s place. Shed His divine blood as the only atoning sacrifice that takes away the sin of the world.

 

Oh yes, the “wages of sin is death.” However, Jesus Good Friday-ly took that paycheck in your place. In Nancy’s place. Her sin, your sin, the world’s sin Jesus took in His sacrificed-on-the-Good-Friday-cross. Your salvation, my salvation, Nancy’s salvation depends on Jesus taking and answering for all sin. Otherwise, your sin and all its damnation would rest on you. So with Good Friday Jesus you, Nancy and me have been given “the free gift of God – eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord,” (Romans 6:23). To which faith says: “Amen. Thanks so much!”  

 

And there’s always more! Eternal life will be a bodily eternal life. A resurrected body eternal life! Listen to the text: “We shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised imperishable and we shall be changed.” The change is that your corpse, Nancy’s body or what’s left of it – dusty dry bones — on the last day “will be raised imperishable… this mortal body must put on immortality.”

 

How can that be? Glad you asked. Here’s why. Quite simply: Jesus! Just as He promised, He physically rose victoriously over death and the grave. Put death to death. He is the Resurrection and the Life! “Death is swallowed up in [the] victory [of Christ’s resurrection]!” The fact of Jesus’ bodily resurrection gives you the certainty that Nancy, you, me and all believers in Jesus will also be raised bodily from the grave on Judgment day. An eternal life not just in soul but also in the body! Jesus is “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep,” (1 Cor. 15:20). His resurrection ensures your resurrection!

 

Consequently, death and the grave are not the winners here today or ever. When it comes to salvation Jesus is the only game in town! His resurrection victory over death and the grave is FOR YOU! He did it FOR YOU! For Nurse Nancy! No wonder then that Nancy’s daughters wanted Mrs. Hohman to play played the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah before her funeral today. After all, Handel’s work extols Jesus’ birth, passion, death and resurrection for the salvation of sinners including Nancy.

 

“Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

 

In the Name of Jesus.

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