Sinners For Whom Jesus Died!
Seventh Sunday after Pentecost Trinity Lutheran Church
12 July 2015 Murdock, NE
+ Jesu Juva +
The Lord sends preachers. Preachers preach the Lord’s Word. What the Lord gives him to proclaim. That’s all a preacher’s good for. Nothing else. The preacher’s words had better be what the Lord sent him to preach. Otherwise he’s an unfaithful and false preacher.
That’s a no-brainer, right? Of course.
Well, what’s not so much a no-brainer is exactly or precisely what the preacher is sent by the Lord to preach. What faithful preachers are given by the Lord to preach can be quite unnerving, shocking, and outrageous sometimes. Right out of the chute the preacher applies the plumb line of God’s Word to you. The preacher plumblines you by using God’s Word to speak the truth. Sometimes that makes your knuckles white, your teeth grind, your eyes roll or your feet stomp.
The first truth from preachers is this: no matter who you are (prince or poor man / Wall Street or Main Street / city slicker or country bumpkin)– you’re not plumb! You’re crooked. Out of line. You don’t measure up. In other words, you are a sinner who needs to confess your sinful condition and sin. You need to repent. Tell the truth! You’re a sinner. You’ve sinned. You’ve destroyed your relationship with God. You’ve earned God’s wrath and a one-way ticket straight to … well … that’s right … hell. Not because God wants that but BECAUSE YOU INSIST ON IT – even over Jesus’ Good-Friday-dead-divine-sacrificed-on-the-cross-body!
Amos preached that same truth to Israel and her king Jeroboam II. All Israel from top to bottom had sinned. All Israel had rejected the Lord and worshipped false gods. She looked for all her good and all her help from money, property, investments and sundry stuff. Other preachers like Amos called Israel and her king to repentance. But they would not hear of such an outrageous thing. Repent? Really?
Israel refused to confess her sin but most of all Israel refused to hear or receive something more important. What in the world could that be? Well, if you’re not a sinner – if you haven’t sinned, then you have no hunger or desire for the forgiveness of sins that the Lord’s preachers are also sent to preach and bestow.
Imagine that! Not wanting the gospel from the Lord! Having no use for the Lord’s mercy. Not even a smidgen of hunger for the absolution that goes like this: “In the Name of Jesus I forgive you all your sin.” Not wanting that, of course, is the height of unrepentant unbelief. So preacher Amos spoke for the Lord when he proclaimed: “I will spare them no longer. All of Israel’s religious and political greatness will be destroyed. Israel will be no more.”
Such preaching didn’t go over well as you can imagine. Israel’s political and religious big wigs were outraged. Amos was dressed down, mocked, ridiculed and ordered to “get out” of Dodge (“Bethel” really) PDQ! Or else! Israel would not be repented. Israel would not be faithed. Israel would not admit to her sin. Israel refused the Lord’s salvation given through the forgiveness of her sins.
Preacher John the Baptist, in the long line of preaching prophets, like Amos, spoke the truth of God’s Word to powerful prince Herod and his royal bed partner. Remember? John called the mighty prince and his regal lover to repentance! To turn Herod and his so-called imperial “wife” away from their naughty, idolatrous sin, turn them to Jesus for salvific forgiveness, and then joyfully lead them to live holy lives according to God’s Word – you know – like the Sixth Commandment.
Why such preaching to Herod by John the Baptist? Well, Herod, way ahead of his time, defined marriage any way he wanted to. He did what pleased him. “Transitioned” if you will. Check it out!
Herod married his brother Philip’s wife, Herodias, while Philip was living and while Philip was in point of fact still married to Herodias. TLC, “E” Entertainment, HBO, Showtime, ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX would all be frothing at the mouth to turn Herod’s progressive lifestyle into the highest rated reality TV show of all time. The Kardashians – Khloe, Kourtney, Kim and the step Dad once known as “Bruce” had nothing on Prince Herod! Diane Sawyer would book Herod for an exclusive and groundbreaking made-for-television interview in order to reveal Herod’s courageous “big love” and how brave he was in helping to break through society’s oppressive and bigoted views on traditional marriage.
First Commandment? Sixth Commandment? Not even on Herod or Herodias’ radar screens! After all, Herod and Herodias preached their own sermons to themselves with their own made up words. Their words were better words than the Lord’s. It went something like this: “We love each other. As long as you love each other and yourself that’s all that matters, right? As long as what we do is done in love, we can do anything we want, right? What people do in the privacy of their own royal bedroom is nobody’s business, right?”
Well … no! And that was John the Baptist’s point! “Herod and Herodias! You’ve sinned in this matter. You need to repent. You need to turn from your sin.” But they would have none of the Lord’s word from John’s preaching.
How dare John call them sinners! How dare John tell them that they were sinning! Herodias was furious and she held a gregarious grudge against him. She waited patiently until she could finally get rid of the preacher. Herod, however, kept John around for entertainment purposes. Sadly, the entertainment consisted of a drunken blow out birthday bash, a skanky belly dancer AKA Herodias’ daughter, and preacher John’s head getting severed from his body and then paraded around on a platter to the delight of her highness Herodias and the shock of even the most wasted at the birthday bash.
Most of Israel, Herod, and Herodias despised Amos and John’s faithful preaching of God’s Word. Refused to face the fact of their sinful condition and their sin. No repentance. So they had no need and had no use of whom? Yes, that’s right, the Savior Jesus, the Christ. No faith. Tragic. Deeply catastrophic. Salvationly disastrous. Hellaciously calamitous.
Now, let’s bring this sermon down the home stretch and finish with a flourish. These Bible stories are written for your instruction. Are you willing to be instructed? You are? Wonderful. All right. Here goes.
So what about you? Will you pull an Israel? A King Jeroboam II? A Herod? A Herodias? Will you do the unthinkable and fully deny that you’re a sinner. Will you do the unspeakable and lie by declaring: “I don’t and haven’t sinned”? Will you too want to be rid of such troublesome preachers like Amos and John the Baptist?
You’d better not. Don’t spin. Don’t justify. Don’t excuse. Confess the truth. You’re a poor, miserable sinner. You’re sin-sick to death! Malignantly full of this illness! You’ve sinned against God not only by what you say and do but also in what you desire and how you think. It goes to the very center of your being. Consequently, you deserve God’s temporal and eternal punishment. That’s the truth. Examine your life according to the Ten Commandments and you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about.
So, FOR YOU, dear sinner, I’m here to tell you that this is not the end of the story. There’s more. It’s the gospel. The good news of salvation. Jesus died and rose FOR YOU! Jesus is the Savior of sinners who are out of plumb. Who don’t measure up. Who are way out of whack? Every one of them: Israel, Jeroboam II, Herod, and Herodias. Including and especially you! FOR YOU there is total and complete forgiveness in the divine Body and Blood of Jesus that suffered, bled and died on the cross.
Here’s how St. Paul, perhaps the greatest preacher ever, put it: “In him [Jesus] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses according to the riches of his grace,” (Ephesians 1:7).
Yes, you’re a sinner. Join the club. It’s the truth. God bless you for admitting that. But Jesus is greater than your sin. There’s no sin too big for Him! You are forgiven. You are saved in the precious bloody wounds of Good Friday Jesus. I’ll put the finishing touches on this sermon by once again applying St. Paul’s powerful preaching of the gospel FOR YOU. You are included in this preaching. Listen. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places … In him we have obtained an inheritance having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will … In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it to the praise of his glory,” (Ephesians 1:3, 11, 13-14).
In the Name of Jesus.