What Do You Expect?
Fourth Sunday after Pentecost Trinity Lutheran Church
6 July 2014 Murdock, NE
+ Jesu Juva +
A young man once declared: “I gave Christianity a shot for a while. Got baptized, joined a congregation, went to church and all that jazz. But it didn’t do anything for me.” “What did you expect it to do?” the Pastor asked. The man answered: “I anticipated my life to be changed for the better. No more problems. Peaceful. No troubles. Free from worry and fear. I fully expected all my personal difficulties to vanish. I expected all my prayers to be answered. And I really supposed that the sins that always troubled me and constantly beleaguered me would be no more.”
You can relate can’t you? Been there done all that.
But did the young man expect to rise from the dead to eternal life with God? No. That would be expecting too much. Here’s what he said: “I figured that if Christianity failed in the little things, then how could I expect it to succeed in the big things.”
Well folks, I’m here to tell you that the divine work that God does in Jesus – SAVING YOU – by daily putting the old Adam to death and daily raising up the new creation spelled F-A-I-T-H in the death and resurrection of Jesus IS A HIDDEN WORK.
Listen carefully. God’s divine salvific work FOR YOU is hidden under apparent utter weakness, defeat and failure. God’s salvific work FOR YOU is hidden under the incredible and intense suffering in Jesus’ divine Body on the cross. Veiled under the gory, brutalized and dead divine Body of Jesus is the working out and the achievement of your salvation. The divine ONCE FOR ALL salvation winning battle against all your big time spiritual enemies: sin, death and the devil. There, on that Friday we all call “Good,” all your sin is answered for. Death is put to death. Satan’s head is crushed. That’s salvation. Done all FOR YOU! Concealed to the clueless and yet revealed to you that are baptized into Christ’s death.
So you’re a Christian. You belong to that crucified divine Jesus. You are saved. Salvation is yours. By faith only in Jesus.
So now what? Well, here’s one of the most incredible things about being a Christian – a died for and baptized believer in Jesus. Lo and behold, in your flesh the old Adam (your sinful nature) remains. You’re still a sinner! Right? Good grief, I hope you don’t deny that! You’re a sinner until you physically die and they put you six feet under.
Consequently, your Christian life now until you breathe your last breath is all about living on the battleground. In a war zone. Daily warfare. Combat. Conflict. Against your sin and against your sinful nature! The life of the baptized Christian is the daily search and destroy mission of the old Adam. Confessing your sin. Admitting the truth. And using Jesus as the Savior for your sin.
So, if you’re getting the gist of what I’m saying, one of the most important facts about being a Christian is that God – who saved you in the Good Friday death of His Son – lets you, the Christian, continually struggle with your sin. To fight against it. Battle it. Put it to death. Daily! And then use Jesus’ promise of forgiveness in the absolution, sermon and Lord’s Supper against your daily sin. Brothers and sisters, when that’s happening you’re living in the power and strength of your baptism into Christ’s death for you!
So, the Christian life is just the opposite of what we hear on TV and the radio. It’s not all happy, slappy, clappy 24-7-365. Don’t get me wrong. There are joys. There are happy days. But the Christian life is not WITHOUT STRUGGLES HEARTACHES AND PAIN! The baptized life also includes the daily, excruciating, life and death struggle with and against your old Adamic sinful nature.
This is the Christian life about which Paul speaks. “The good that I want to do – I DON’T DO! The evil that I don’t want to do – I DO! [cf. Galatians 5:17]. As a Christian I want to do God’s will. I rejoice and delight in God’s Ten Commandments but when push comes to shove I don’t do it. I end up living only for myself. I make myself like God. I worship myself. I listen to my words, not God’s. I trust myself, not God. I think I’m better than everyone else. I hurt the people closest to me by what I say and do. I’m short and hot tempered. Rude. Quarrelsome. I hold grudges. I won’t forgive. I give in to all kinds of immorality. The good that I want to do – I DON’T DO! The evil that I don’t want to do – I DO!”
Welcome to Christianity folks! Welcome to the constant battles of the Christian life! Welcome to living in and from your baptism into Christ! What in the world did you expect? This is the daily and incessant struggle for you as a died-for and redeemed-by-the-divine-blood-of-Jesus-Christian, isn’t it? You bet it is! So, again I ask: What does this mean? It means that there is war going on within you. Death vs. life. Old Adam vs. Christ. So that you, in the way of the blessed apostle Paul cry out: “O wretched man that I am. Who will rescue me from this body of death?”
And there’s only one answer that holds. Only one answer that is certain and sure. “Who will rescue me from this body of death?” Well, the answer’s a no-brainer. Listen to Paul’s answer: “Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
That’s the Jesus Christ of the Cross and the Empty Tomb. This is the Lord Jesus whose divine death wins your forgiveness and cleansing and whose divine resurrection wins your eternal life with God.
Now today, hear again Jesus’ promise to and FOR YOU. “Come to me.” “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened in your battle against your old Adamic nature and all your sin. Come to me all you who are burdened by your sin – the sin that you don’t want to do but keep on doing anyway. I will give you rest. Rest in my Good Friday Wounds. In my Good Friday Blood!”
Daily you, as the sinner, feel the pressures and expectations of the Law, the Ten Commandments. Daily you, the sinner, experience the crushing burden of your sin. You know the daily weariness of never being able to do enough. You feel the overwhelming weight of the Law that always demands more and better, higher and higher, purer and holier. You see the death that the Law brings. It’s etched in the lines of your faces, the aches in your heart, the pains in your back, and the conscience that gives you no sleep.
Jesus, however, with all His wounds showing, comes to you with His invitation and promise. “Come to me.” “I will give you rest.”
Don’t you think it’s time for that? Of course it is! It’s time to be mature Christians. A mature Christian rests, that is, passively DEPENDS totally and completely on Jesus in his daily battle against his sin and old Adam. So, I beseech you brothers and sisters, come to Jesus. Yes, you! I’m talking to you. You who are weary from your failed attempts at contemporary religion, spirituality and perfectionism. Come to Jesus, you who are burdened by guilt and fear, by broken lives and broken hearts. Come to Jesus, you whose hands are heavy from self-imposed or self-chosen works and whose backs are scoliosisly bent from incessantly trying to carry to load of your life all by yourselves. Come to Jesus, you the despairing and depressed, the addicted and the abandoned. Come to Jesus and He promises to give you rest.
Jesus is gentle and humble of heart. He does not come to condemn you but to forgive you. To free you. The burden Jesus bore on the Cross was your burden. The weariness that He carried was your weariness. The death He died was your death. So, receive His yoke, laid on you in your baptism and learn from Him. Learn what it means to live before God in the freedom of Jesus’ death and resurrection. In Jesus you have a gentle and humble Savior who promises rest and refreshment. His yoke is the gospel – the promise that you’re always forgiven for His sake. Because He died FOR YOU. To cover you and cleanse you with His Good Friday Blood.
So, come to Jesus and rest in Him. Rest in and from the baptism He’s given you. Where He washed and purified you. Where He gave you the new birth of the Holy Spirit to do daily battle against your sin and old Adams. If you’re not baptized, don’t you think it’s time? I beg you, don’t put it off any longer. Come talk to me and let’s start working toward getting baptized. Live in and from your baptism into Jesus by giving your faith-filled “Amen” to the absolution, the preaching of the gospel, and the divine promise of your total and complete forgiveness in the reading and bestowal of Jesus’ last will and testament, the Lord’s Supper.
Bottom line. Come with your sin and be forgiven. Come with your weariness and all your burdens and be refreshed. Come to Jesus every Sunday to hear, eat and drink, to learn and to live. Jesus’ yoke of forgiveness is easy. He and His Word of absolution are truly refreshing and life giving. And it’s all FOR YOU.
No need to despair or give up on Christianity.
“Who will rescue me from this body of death?” “Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
In the Name of Jesus.