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Jesus Came to Save Who?

September 15, 2013

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Proper 19 (Pentecost 17)                                 Trinity Lutheran Church

8 September 2013                                              Murdock, NE

+ Jesu Juva +

1 Timothy 1:12-17

Look at him!  Good grief!  Did you read his credentials?  Have you had a good look at his cirriculum vitae?  It will shock you.  Blow you away.  Let’ me fill you in.  The man’s been a “blasphemer,” a “persecutor,” and a “violent man.”  What a trifecta that is!

Better scratch him off the call list.  Would you consider such a deadbeat loser to be your pastor?  Would you have any use for such a man here at Trinity?  Of course you wouldn’t!  You’d be grumbling and mumbling.  Gnashing your teeth, clenching your fists and stomping your feet!  And I don’t blame you one bit.  We’re all scandalized and outraged.

After all, this Paul has slandered God and God’s Word!  Would you put up with that?  He has hunted down Christians (including perhaps some of your own relatives and friends) for confessing Jesus as Lord.  Persecuted them.  Jailed them.  Separated Christian wives from their husbands – Christian parents from their children.  Even murdered them making many widows and orphans.  He loved to put the screws to the church.  He took pride in such violent behavior.

This Paul is just like the so-called moderate Muslim rebels in Syria today who terrorize the remaining remnant of Syrian Christians with the totalitarian demand to convert to Islam or be made shorter by a head.  Paul was deeply delighted and gave his wholehearted approval when that dangerous preacher of Christ named Stephen was stoned until his skull was brutally crushed beyond recognition and his limp body lay graveyard dead in the pool of his own blood (Acts 8:1)!

Talk about an arrogant SOB!  Talk about crimes against humanity!  And against God!  You don’t get much more big time sinner than this Paul character!  He’s worse than those chiseling, cheating, skimming off the top tax collectors and yes, even worse than those … well, you know … the Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, Syndey Leathers strumpet and streetwalking kind of girls!  This Paul is the nastiest!  Most awful!  Bottom of the barrel!

So who in the world let this “sinner” into our church?  Someone’s asleep at the wheel!  Someone’s a brick short of a load!  Who’s the fool that invited such a scumbag over for dinner?  Who’s the dufus that nominated him to be a pastor?  Who’s the idiot that dared to put such a reprobate into the office of the holy ministry?

That “dufus,” “fool,” or “idiot” is none other than … the Lord Jesus Christ!

Leave it to Jesus!  He’s the one who has good use for such a sinner!  He trudges after the lost sheep until He finds it.  He gets out his flashlight, flips over all the seat cushions, looks in every nook and corner of the house, meticulously searching for the one lost coin until He uncovers it.  Good Shepherd Jesus, goes after this blasphemer, this persecutor, and mass murderer until He found him!  Saved him!  Lugged and tugged him into the faith and into the church.  Even dared to put him into the office of the holy ministry!

And then Good Shepherd Jesus calls you and me, his neighbors and friends together for a big blow out party in order share the joy!  “Rejoice with me,” the Savior shouts!  “Come join the festivities!  Dinner’s on me.  So are the drinks!  Belly on up!  Can I light your Cuban?  All heaven has broken loose on the earth because I have found my lost sheep – my lost coin – the very weighty sinner named Paul!  He’s been repented!  Turned!  To me the Savior!  Every one of the angels in heaven is just thrilled!”

So is Paul!  And I hope you are too!  I think you will be bursting with all of heaven’s joy when you learn what the Lord Jesus has done for Paul and for you – sinners just like him.  Listen.  Pastor Paul explodes with enormous joy:  “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, putting me into the holy office in order to serve as a pastor in the church.”

The Lord knows what He’s doing.  Really He does.  You might call Paul a bad fit for the church.  Like trying to force a square peg in round hole.  But not Jesus!  “Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man,” Paul states, “I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief.” You got that right Paul!  Talk about being an ignoramus!  Talk about the unbelief!  You had it in spades!  You had it perfected!

The Lord saw nothing in Paul but a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a sadistic man.  Nothing loveable in Paul.  There wasn’t anything in Paul that could beneficially change his disastrous and damnable relationship with the Lord.  So the Lord does the unthinkable!  The absurd.  The ridiculous.  He does what is salvationly unlikely, silly and ludicrous.  He has mercy on Paul!

 

Jesus pulls out all the salvation stops!  Goes for broke!  He ups and forgives Paul.  Of everything!  Every wicked thing he’d ever done!  Jesus dies to all the sin scorekeeping.  He has the divine blood and the scars to prove it.  He showers Paul with His Good Friday favor.  “The grace of our Lord was poured out on me super-abundantly, mega richly,” Paul declares, “along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.  Faith in Christ Jesus that saves me.  Love that flows faith in order to serve my neighbor as I do my work in the office of the ministry.”

Then, typical Christian preacher that he is, Paul lets rip a magnificent, categorical sermon.  He just can’t help himself.  After all, he was lost but now he is found.  He was dead but now he is alive – in Christ.  Check it out.  What joy!  “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance.”  “Trustworthy saying” – well, then it has to be from the Lord Himself.  Paul will emphatically proclaim the Lord’s teaching.  And this Pauline sermon is preached precisely for you.

Are you ready to hear it?  You are?  Good.  Here it is.  “Here is a trustworthy saying that is to be believed with all your heart:  Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst – the absolute foremost.”

Would you dare to exclude yourself and your sin from Jesus?  If you are, then I beg you not to do that.  After all, primary sinner Paul is also primary example of Christ’s divine forgiveness.  Jesus’ mercy is for sinners!  The sum of His ministry is to forgive sinners!  Christ’s entire forgiveness for Paul is also Christ’s forgiveness FOR YOU – SINNER.   Jesus didn’t exempt any of Paul’s sin or yours from His atoning sacrifice on the cross.  What Jesus did for Paul counts for you too.  Most certain and sure is this:  “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”  Paul, the world, and you!

What a salvation it is.  Incredible!  It blows the mind!  Sinless, pure, holy, divine and eternal Jesus associates, fellowships and hangs with sinners – with the ungodly – with the toxic, impure, lethal and contaminated sinners.

However, He does more than just associate with sinners.  He actually takes in His body their sin, Paul’s sin, your sin, and the world’s sin as well as all its damnation as MAXIMUM SINNER!  “He who knew no sin was made to be sin,” (2 Corinthians 5:21)!  Hung on the cross bearing all sin He was cursed and made to be a “curse,” (Galatians 3:13).  Behold: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” as He becomes THE FOREMOST SINNER AND IS COUNTED AS SUCH ON THE CROSS!  “Numbered with the transgressors”“bearing their iniquities” just as Isaiah prophesied long ago (Isaiah 53:11, 12)!  Crucified Jesus is reckoned as the blasphemer, the persecutor, and the violent man and Paul is set free – forgiven!

The good use that Jesus has for Preacher, Pastor Paul is to proclaim that what Jesus did for him, He also did FOR YOU! “I was shown mercy,” Paul says, “so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus used me as an object lesson of His unlimited patience for those like you folks here at Trinity who believe.” 

“Here is a trustworthy saying — Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”  In Christ Jesus you – the sinner — are saved.  “The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost,” (Luke 19:10)!  This is most certainly and most incredibly true!  Come to the Sacrament today and receive the salvation won for you.  Eat and drink Christ’s Good Friday sacrificial Body and Blood with the bread and wine and trust His unthwartable promise:  “Your sin is forgiven.”   

 

All sin forgiven — the Lord Jesus has good use for you too.  In the world.  In your community.  In you home and congregation.  The vocations where’s He’s put you for the Christ-like sacrificial service of denying yourself in order to show and give love for your neighbor as:  father, husband, mother, wife, son, daughter, brother, sister, employer, worker, citizen, church member, grandparent or student.

“Now to [Jesus the God-man who saved sinners] the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever.  Amen.”

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