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Fourth Sunday of Easter

April 13, 2008

Fourth Sunday of Easter           Trinity Lutheran Church
13 April 2008                               Murdock, NE

+ Jesu Juva +

1 Peter 2:19-25

“For you have been called for this purpose.”  Called for what purpose?  You mean I have a purpose in life?  Yes, that’s right.  And you don’t have to call Dr. Laura or try to get on Dr. Phil to find out.  You don’t even need to buy the latest edition of “O” magazine.  Why?  Because the blessed apostle Peter has already told you. 

Would you like to hear it again?  Would you? Really?  All right.  If you insist.  But I warn you.  His answer is shocking.  Scandalous.  Downright foolish.  You may just decide to abandon your baptism.  Leave behind being a sheep for good.  Stray from the Good Shepherd’s flock to avoid any more  get real sermons like this from Peter.  Or it may just do the opposite.  Peter’s Holy Spirit filled words may just be the ticket for you today.  In other words, kill your old Adam or old Eve and then raise you up to live in faith toward Jesus and love for your neighbor.  Or as the text says it:  “to die to sin and live to righteousness.”   

All right.  Enough suspense.  The sermon’s front porch is long enough.   Time to enter into the house.  So I’ll get right to the point.  Here is the purpose for which you, the baptized, have been called by God Himself:  TO SUFFER!  And not only that.  But to suffer PATIENTLY!  And most especially when you suffer for doing what is right in life!

It’s one thing to sin and then suffer the consequences of your sinning.  You know, like when you betray a friend, you lose a friend.  When you cheat on your taxes, you pay the penalty or go to jail.  When you commit adultery, you lose your spouse.  When you don’t do your work, you get fired.  When you miss curfew, you get grounded.  Skip practice and you don’t play in the game.  We all get that.  Those are no brainers.  But to endure suffering even when you’ve done what is right?  And to do it patiently?  Yes.  Yes indeed.  I’d better let Peter say it again.

“For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a man bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly.  For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience?  But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.”    

You help and support your friend.  But the friend betrays you.  You pay your taxes.  But the IRS still audits you and harasses you.  You remain faithful in your marriage.  You do everything that can possibly be done to keep it together.  And yet, the divorce papers are filed.  You do your work.  And yet, you get the pink slip.  You make curfew.  But Dad and Mom still ground you.  You practice extra hard.  But still no playing time.   

And what are you called by God to do?  Suffer it.  Patiently.    Even if you haven’t sinned?  Even when you’ve done what is right?  Yes.  Suffer it.  Patiently.  Let it be what it is.  “For you have been called for this purpose.”

This is what the Christian life looks like.  You live not for yourself.  In good times.  In bad times.  In whatever the times.  Your purpose in life is to quit thinking about yourself all the time.  Your rights.  Your needs.  Your wants.  Your desires.  And if that means suffering, even when doing what is right, then so be it.  Trusting, that the Lord is with you to take care of you.  That He will use it for your good.  

After all, Peter says that, “Christ also suffered for you.  He left you an example to follow.”  He never sinned.  Always did what was right.  In word and deed.  Never a foul word even from His mouth.  And what happened to Him?  Reviled.  Beaten.  Crucified.  And not one time did He return evil for evil.  “While being reviled He did not revile in return.  While suffering He uttered no threats.” 

All the while Jesus, “kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously.”   He left all the justice and righting the wrongs to His Father.  Jesus refused to live for Himself.  He claimed no rights.  Instead, He trusted His Father even when He suffered all kinds of evil.  And most especially while sinners said:  “Here, I’ve got a hammer!  I’ve got some spikes!  I’ve got some wood!  Let’s hang Him!”  All Jesus says is:  “Father, forgive them.” 

He lets the injustice and evil perpetrated against Him be.  He takes – He bears — all the sin committed against Him . . . for you!  “He himself bore our sins in His body on the cross.”  

“By His wounds you are healed.”  Healed with His forgiveness that flows from His wounds. 

Indeed.  Behold the good that was given through Jesus’ suffering for you.  Now you have a life.  Dying to self.  Faith in Jesus.  Living for others.  And sometimes that takes the shape of suffering even when you done the right thing.  This is a holy life.  It’s pleases God greatly.  Because your trust is in Him and not yourself.   

Aren’t you thankful for Peter’s words today?  His Holy Spirited words do two things for us today.  First, puts our old selfish and idolatrous Adams and Eves to death.  We die to our sin because Jesus died for all of it once for all in His Body on the Tree.  Second, we are raised from the dead in the likeness of His resurrection to live a new life.  That’s the life of faith in the reviled, suffering, and crucified Jesus who died for us and who buried our sins in the black hole of His death.  It’s also the life of suffering patiently.  Entrusting everything (even that suffering as well as our dying) to the Father who judges righteously.  Jesus then gives us the freedom and room to live for the sake of others and not for ourselves. 

And as Peter’s Holy Spirit-filled sermon has its way with us today, we who are like straying sheep, “have returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of our lives,” Jesus Himself.  Jesus is certain.  Jesus is sure. “He himself bore your sins in His body on the cross.  By His wounds you are healed.”  

In the Name of Jesus.  

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