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The One Thing Needful

July 17, 2016


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Pentecost 9 (Proper 11)         Trinity Lutheran Church

17 July 2016                              Murdock, NE                                                                                                                                                                        +Jesu Juva +


Luke 10:38-42


Busy. Busy. Busy. Crazy busy. Deadlines. Quotas. Smartphones. Chores. Campouts. Cookouts. Name the athletic practice or game. Endless housing projects. Running here. Running there. At breakneck speed. Faster and faster and faster. Dizzy. Woozy. Lightheaded. Exhausted. No wonder one of the biggest hits of 2016 is from the Twenty One Pilots “Blurryface” album called “Stressed Out.” The kids know the lyrics by heart. “Wish we could turn back time, to the good old days. When our momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out.”


Busy can be good. After all, idle hands are the tools of the devil. However, busy can also be the devil’s delight. Because busy forbids you from observing the Sabbath Day to hear God’s Word. No. You give busy total control of your life. You give busy permission to be the lord of your life. As if busy is your salvation.


So you’re all terribly busy. Busy. Busy. Busy. If you’re not busy, then you think something has gone terribly wrong. So you stay 24-7-365 frantically and hysterically busy.


It’s time to repent. To repent of everything that you allow to distract you from being in Jesus’ presence and hearing His Word in the Sunday divine service. The Third Commandment speaks to this.


What if I start to do what many Christians do on Sunday? What if I only show up periodically? Only when I have nothing else to do? Like maybe four to eight times a year. You expect me to be here every Sunday. Well, God expects the same from you. Third Commandment, remember? Otherwise there is not much point in my being here. Not much use for Preacher Kuhlman unless you come to hear the sermon he preaches.


I assume (and you know what they say about those that assume) … I assume that baptized Christians who say they love Jesus and say they trust Him for their life and salvation will naturally want to be in His gracious presence. There is no greater gospel presence of Jesus than in His Name, Word, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. When Addison Mae was baptized in the Triune name today, she was baptized by Jesus Himself. And with His Name He gave her the very salvation that Good Friday achieved for her and for all. So the Small Catechism is bang on! We should fear and love God so that we do not despise preaching and His Word but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it. In all the various ways it comes to us.


Now in the text, Martha is frenetically busy. Furiously sweeps the floors. Feverishly cleans the toilet and sinks. Sets the table. Stirs the pots. Bakes the bread. Roasts the lamb. Puts the kettle on. You wouldn’t blame her one bit. In fact, you’d pitch in. Give her a hand.


In the corner of your eye you notice Mary. She’s not doing a bloody thing! She’s a DO NOTHING! Just sitting on the floor at Jesus’ feet. Quietly being given to by the Lord. His Word goes into her ears.


Meanwhile the pots and the kettle boil over. The bread burns in the oven. The dog pulls the roasted lamb off the kitchen table. You and Martha come storming through the kitchen door. Fire is in your eyes. Steam blows out of your ears. “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Here I am working my fingers to the bone while you and my sister chat endlessly. Seriously Jesus! Lay down the law! Tell her to help me! She needs to start pulling her weight around here!”  


In all her busyness, Martha completely loses sight of why she is working so hard. She was supposed to be serving the Lord. And what a great joy that should have been. But all she could see was the work that needed to be done and that she was the only one doing it. Her busyness robs her of the joy of Jesus’ gracious and giving company. It robs her of peace with her sister.


Martha was so concerned about serving Jesus that she forget what was most important. And what is that? It’s this. Are you ready? IT’S JESUS SERVING HER! So, Jesus turns and speaks to Martha. “My dear Martha. Look at you. You’re so anxious and troubled about many things. And for what? I didn’t come to your house to be served. I CAME TO SERVE YOU! TO BE WITH YOU AND YOUR SISTER! You’ve been so busy, we haven’t had a chance to sit down and talk. Pull up a seat next to your sister right by my feet. Just take a deep breath — rest for a while — and listen. MY WORDS ARE SPIRIT AND LIFE. That’s the good thing your sister Mary has chosen. The one thing she and you need the most. There’s no way I’m ever going to take that away from her. Not even if you demand it!”


Do you see what’s going on here? Who gives Jesus the highest worship? Martha with all her busy-ness? Or Mary by doing nothing? IT’S MARY! She’s the true worshipper! She worships Jesus in Spirit and in truth as she receives the Word of the Lord in her ears! Totally passive to what He gives. Hearing the Lord’s Word! That’s faith! That’s the highest worship of Jesus!


Mary offered Jesus nothing but her presence. She inactively and quietly sat at His feet and received His Word! Like Addison in her baptism today. She was a Do Nothing. A TOTAL DO NOTHING! Only a receiver of what Jesus gave her. HIS SAVING NAME! That’s the worship Jesus wants. That’s the worship He’s after. With Mary, Martha and all of you! Jesus will never say or do anything to chase you away.


So now I’ve come full circle and it’s time to clinch the sermon. I’ll do it this way. Psalm 46 declares that, “the nations rage, the kingdoms totter … the earth melts.”   The world is a colossal mess. Syria. Paris and Nice, France. Turkey.  Our country is in meltdown mode in every respect. Fort Hood. San Bernadino. We’re witnessing the slow death of Western civilization. Your house is all a clutter. Work on your desk is piled to the ceiling. Voice mails and emails runneth over. The kids are late for practice. The calves have gotten out of the pen. Cows need to be fed. The yard needs to be mowed. Weeds have taken over the garden. Work. Work. Work.


God tells you what to do about all this in Psalm 46. It will blow your mind. I pray that it will even repent you. He says: “Be still, and know that I am God.” Did you hear that? I don’t’ think you did. Hear it again: “Be still, and know that I am God.” In other words, take some time out of your busy schedules and let Him be God FOR YOU in the promise of His Word that proclaims that Jesus died FOR YOU. That Jesus forgives you. That you are very precious to Him.


Brothers and sisters, I’m here to tell you that the one thing you need – the one thing that will not be taken from you – is to sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to His Word, most especially on Sunday mornings.


This is the very good position that Jesus hung on the cross to win FOR YOU. He’s here every Sunday in His Word and Sacrament. He was here giving Addison Rae His saving name in Holy Baptism. He is here with His promise that the bread and wine is His Good Friday Body and Blood bestowing forgiveness, life and salvation. He will not let anyone or anything take that away from you. Work, business, recreation, hobbies, sports – everything else can wait.


First and foremost, you must sit at Jesus’ feet and hear His Word. The most important activity of the Christian – of the baptized believer – is really something you’re not doing – a non-activity. It is hearing! It is the Lord putting His words into your ears. Giving you His forgiveness as He puts His most holy Body and Blood into your mouths. You’re just passively given! Again, the Lord Jesus sent me to tell you that THERE IS NOTHING MORE IMPORTANT, NOTHING MORE CENTRAL FOR YOUR LIFE THAN THAT!


This is precisely why Jesus says, “Come to me and I will give you rest.” REST! Sabbath! The day you rest from your frantic, frenetic busy-ness to rest in Jesus’ word! In the Bible the Sabbath was God’s weekly reminder that salvation is not by works but by faith. Salvation is not by you being busy, but simply trusting in God’s promise of mercy.


Brothers and sisters, your busy-ness doesn’t impress Jesus one bit. No matter how much running around you, it will never be enough. Jesus didn’t come to be served BUT TO SERVE! TO GIVE HIS LIFE AS THE ONE AND ONLY SACRIFICE that atones for all your sin! Jesus doesn’t need your service. You need His divine service.


Think about all the amazing gracious things Jesus does for you Sunday after Sunday. At the beginning of the service He absolves you. Categorically declares that He answered for all your sin and won’t count them against you. He turns the key that opens wide the gates of heaven to all that repent of their sin and trust His word of forgiveness. He preaches His Word to you. He feeds you with His own death defeating and salvation bestowing Body and Blood. He gave Addison Rae the washing of new birth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.


This is where the feet of Jesus are for you to sit at! Yes, in the divine service you sit at the divine feet that walked dusty roads to proclaim the good news of God’s kingdom. You sit at the feet that John the Baptizer was unfit to tie a sandal. You sit at the feet that were pierced with spike for your salvation. In the divine service you get to be like Mary. Sitting at Jesus’ feet. Listening. Resting in His word of salvation.


Busy? Anxious? Stressed out? Here’s what you need to do. Sit down. Relax. At the feet of Jesus. Every Sunday in the divine service. Third Commandment, remember? That is a Word of Jesus in which you as a Christian delight!.


In the Name of Jesus.

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