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Twenty-Second Sunday after Pentecost

October 24, 2010

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Click here to listen to this sermon.

Twenty-Second Sunday after Pentecost / Proper 25                                                                                     

24 October 2010                                   

 

Luke 18:9-17

 

Two men are in church.  And the differences between the two couldn’t be any more glaring.

 

One, a certain Mr. Philip Pharisee, let’s call him, is a winner! What an outstanding citizen!  We’d roll out the red carpet for Mr. Philip Pharisee.  We’d accept him as a member here at Trinity in a heartbeat.  No questions asked. 

 

Philip Pharisee is squeaky clean.  He doesn’t sleep around, wouldn’t take candy from a baby, earned everything he has honestly, faithful to his wife, children and buddies.  And to top it all off Philip Pharisee is very religious.  He takes his religion seriously.  Can’t call him a hypocrite.  He goes without food twice a week.  He puts his money where he mouth is:  a ten percent tithe right off the top to God.  And while at church he gives thanks to God for his life:  “God, I thank you that I am not like others are, greedy, unjust, adulterers – and I especially give you thanks that I’m not like that deadbeat over there!” 

 

And that deadbeat over there is, let’s call him, Tax Collector Harry.  What a loser!  A traitor!  A crook!  He works for the hated Roman occupiers.  Harry bleeds his fellow Jews dry by overcharging them on their taxes.  He skims the cream off their milk money and pockets it.  He’s become quite a fat cat.  A big time broker.  And a morally corrupt one at that.  Tax Collector Harry pulls off one Eliot Spitzer after another.  Call girls galore at his beck and whim!  Why, we’d show Harry the door wouldn’t we?  Even as Harry was prays:  “Lord be merciful to me a sinner.”   “Ushers!”

 

But not Jesus.  He’s come for all.  Both Philip the Pharisee and Tax Collector Harry are losers.  Both are sinners.  And so are you and I.  But only Harry goes home “justified” before God. 

 

Why?  Because Harry confesses the truth about himself and about the Lord.  He’s a sinner.  A dead, damned sinner.  Who has nothing to offer in the salvation job.  He’s nothing.  But the Lord Jesus is everything for him.  Mercifully everything!  “Lord, be merciful to me a sinner.”  Tax Collector Sinner Harry’s only hope is in the Lord Jesus who raises the dead!  Who justifies the ungodly.  Who dies while sinners are still in their sin.  Even him – a horrible sinner.    

 

Philip the Pharisee, however, pulls up his chair to God’s table, whips out a pack of cards, accordion shuffles, and says:  “Want to cut?  I’m in the middle of a winning streak!  How about Acey-Ducy?”  And then Philip the Pharisee deals God a two of fasting and a king of no adultery.  See what I’ve done!  And especially what I haven’t done!      

 

But the Lord won’t play that game.  He’s into giving gifts.  Especially the gift of salvation won at the cross for sinners.  Philip the Pharisee would be better off standing with Tax Collector Harry who lost his deck of cards a long time ago.  In other words:  “Die Philip!  Die to everything that you would offer as a winning hand in a game of salvation!”    But he won’t.  Won’t confess that he’s a sinner.  Insists on dealing himself a winning hand and therefore putting the Lord Jesus under an obligation.  And so, Jesus is irrelevant for him.  Jesus, crucified and risen is a nothing for him. 

 

What about you?  What about me?  Well, it’s time for all of us to repent.  Time to confess the truth about ourselves.  And about Jesus.  We are sinners.  Totally.  Total sinners that deserve a total damnation.  The complete wrath of God. 

 

But Jesus is the Savior.  Totally!  He is all Lord.  He took every single one our sins.  Shed His blood on the cross to atone for them all!  He endured God’s wrath against our sin in His body.  He took our damnation as He hung suspended on the tree.  He did all this for you.  For me. 

 

Jesus is everything when it comes to salvation.  We are nothing.  And so we pray:  “Lord Jesus, be merciful to me a sinner.” 

 

And Jesus answers the prayer with His promises.  “I’m delighted with you!  I died for you!  I’m the only ticket when it comes to salvation.  I baptized you into My death and resurrection.  My Good Friday death is yours.  It counts for you.  My resurrection proves that I don’t keep score with your sin.  All is all forgiven.  I’ve torn up all the sin score sheets.  I don’t do that kind of bookkeeping.  Gone out of that business.  And if that isn’t enough, then here – here’s my very Body and Blood that I gave into death for your salvation.  Eat it.  Drink it.  You truly are forgiven.  So go on home.  You’re justified before God.  I promise!” 

 

In the Name of Jesus.        

 

From → "C" Sermons

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