Setting Sinners Free!
Reformation Sunday Trinity Lutheran Church
25 October 2015 Murdock, NE
+ Jesu Juva +
Incredible words. An off the charts Reformation Sunday sermon. Shocking and scandalous in many respects. What you never expected to hear. However, it is precisely what the church needs to hear all over again. What you Lutherans that celebrate the Lutheran Reformation must hear and take to heart. To be repented and faithed. Repented of your sin. Faithed for salvation only in Jesus. It takes Jesus to preach a sermon like that. He is the Lord after all. What He says is a salvation at stake sermon. It begins like this: “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”
Jesus is in to discipling. All in! He wants disciples. He will have disciples. Disciples of Jesus do not abide in or hang on to their own words BUT TO JESUS’ WORD! When your words are nothing and Jesus’ Word is everything you know the truth and that truth will set you free. OK. So far so good, right? You can go along with that, right?
The kicker, however, is which word of Jesus are you to abide in? Hang on to? To be a true blue Jesus-disciple? That’s when the rubber hits the road. When things really get dicey. The Jesus answer will surprise you. You’ll be taken aback. You’ll be short of breath. You’ll swallow really hard. You may even begin to sweat!
Jesus categorically declares that when you remain in His Word you will know the truth and “the truth will set you free.” Set you FREE? Really? With those words Jesus categorically asserts that you are NOT free. That you are … enslaved, imprisoned, incarcerated. In shackles, fetters and chains. That you need to be set free!
That really … well … offends you, doesn’t it? Hurts your sensibilities. Your pride. Your manhood. Your womanhood. So you go on the offensive. Get right in Jesus’ face, wag your finger and inform Him that you’re a proud and patriotic American. You let Him know ever so firmly and emphatically that your fathers are George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan and that you have never been in bondage to anyone! How dare you say, “You will be set free”!
It does seem a little outrageous, doesn’t it? Beyond impolite. Downright rude and despicable! It’s just so far out there! Sounds as if Jesus gets His talking points from the Donald Trump campaign.
Jesus doesn’t back down. He doubles down. It’s all about His word not yours! Remember? So Jesus tells it like it is. The truth. The whole truth. Nothing but the truth. “Truly, truly I say to you, whoever commits a sin is a slave to sin.”
Do you get it now? St. Paul put it this way in the Epistle today: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Ro 3:23). Jesus will have you as His disciple as you abide / remain in or hang on to this truth: YOU ARE A SINNER! YOU ARE UTTERLY ENSLAVED TO SIN! IN TOTAL BONDAGE TO IT! “Truly, truly I say to you, whoever commits a sin is a slave to sin.” That’s the Jesus word! It is the truth. Jesus has to tell you this truth!
Why? Well, it’s because, you, slaves to sin are always in denial. In 24-7-365 spin mode. Perpetually justifying yourselves as well-intended, mostly good, freewheeling, honest, never –hurt-anyone-kind-of-folks. Self-centered. Curved in on yourselves. So, when you’re in denial you don’t need who? Yes, that’s right: Jesus the Savior! So Jesus unmasks you. He brings you low. Reduces you to nothing. Puts the justification of the self and you the sinner to death with His Word: “Truly, truly I say to you, whoever commits a sin is a slave to sin.”
A Jesus disciple abides / remains or hangs on to this truth. So a Jesus disciple says: “Amen. It’s true! I am a sinner. A slave to sin.” A Jesus disciple prays: “I’m nothing Jesus. You’re everything. Jesus, please save me.”
That’s precisely what you get with Jesus! Salvation! The Epistle from Romans puts it this way today: you sinners are “justified freely by God’s grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,” (Romans 3:24). Redemption that is only and totally in Christ Jesus. That’s His bloody Good Friday death. FOR YOU. Shedding His Blood to atone for your sin. You are “propitiated,” that is to say, covered with Jesus’ divine blood “to be received by faith.”
Through the Blood of Jesus you are emancipated. Set free! Busted out of the prison house of sin and death. No longer slaves but a son in the divine family mansion. “The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever,” Jesus says. You’re the son! The son who is given the inheritance of salvation!
That’s when Jesus gives another categorical Word of promise. It is what Jesus disciples remain / abide in and hang on to by faith. It’s this promise: “So, if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
This is the ultimate truth. You are sinners. Jesus died for sinners. Jesus died for you. Jesus is the “righteousness of God” as God’s pure gift of salvation FOR YOU in His Good Friday dying. This sets you free from trying to save yourself. To justify yourself by what you do or don’t do.
When it comes to salvation, you don’t pay attention to yourself. Your undivided is on Jesus. When it comes to salvation, Jesus does the verbs. What He says He does. What He does He says. From the cross He said: “It is finished.” And it was! The salvation job FOR YOU accomplished.
In a few minutes Jesus will promise you sinners the salvation He won for you on the cross. He promises that He gives His Body and His Blood with the bread and wine FOR YOU and for the forgiveness of your sin. What He won for you on Good Friday, He now delivers — with His Words! The Lord’s Supper is Jesus’ way of saying: “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Happy being a disciple of the Lord Jesus.
In the Name of Jesus.