Incredible! God’s power to save YOU IS THE WORD OF THE CROSS!
Epiphany 4 Trinity Lutheran Church
29 January 2017 Murdock, NE
+ Jesu Juva +
1 Corinthians 1:18-31
Did you catch what the apostle Paul said? I’d better repeat it since some of you were nodding off (we can hear you snore!) and still others were trying to get the ushers’ attention in order to give hefty contributions to the “Retire The Pastor Fund.” What Paul writes is really incredible. Mind blowing and mind-boggling. Salvifically changing your life. Salvationally staggering. Listen! He says: “FOR THE WORD OF THE CROSS [that’s the preaching of it] is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved IT [the Word of the cross] IS THE POWER OF GOD.”
So I ask you after hearing those words. What is the power of God? Divine power to save you? Hmm? THE WORD OF THE CROSS! The preaching of the cross. The proclamation that the Jesus who hangs crucified and dead on the tree is God in the flesh come to save sinners. Jesus – Immanuel — hangs there – the divine One – bearing all your sin – getting damned with it. As 2 Corinthians 5 preaches it: “In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them … For our sake he [God] made him [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” As Galatians 3:13 proclaims it: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.” As Ephesians 1:7 tells it: “In Jesus we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses according to the riches of his grace.” Or as Jesus Himself preached it in Matthew 5 today. Time after time He proclaimed you “blessed.” Yes, you’re blessed because He says so. His words of blessing do and give what they say!
The Jesus who speaks the blessings in Matthew 5 has done a Good Friday. On that day all the work that needed to be done to save you, me and an entire world full of sinners was accomplished. Done. “It is finished,” He categorically proclaimed. The salvation of sinners job won! Only by Him! Only by the crucified!
So, when it comes to salvation, who needs to be preached? Who is the star of the salvation show? You? What you do? What you don’t do? No way! The text says: “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” Boast about what Jesus has done on the cross for you. Stop bragging about you and your accomplishments. Don’t brag about who you are. Don’t blow your own horn.
Don’t even try to justify yourself BEFORE GOD. Don’t follow the lead of the world. I know. I know. Most do. After all, that’s how the world works. It’s called self-justification. It’s what people do 24-7-365. Self-justification is the wisdom and power of the world. In Paul’s day the Jews demanded “signs.” Greeks sought “wisdom.” Both signs and wisdom tried to put God in a headlock, a full nelson. As if He owed you because of “signs” and “wisdom.” But I’m here to tell you that “signs” and “wisdom” had no use of the crucified Jesus. Signs and wisdom made repentance of sin and faith in Jesus unnecessary. Today’s best thinkers, the most piously religious and the intellectually elite are no different.
However, what the world calls wisdom and power is really foolishness in God’s eyes. In fact, if you insist on justifying yourself, you will earn yourself a one-way ticket straight to hell because it’s all about you, not Jesus. Self-justifiers have no use of Good Friday Jesus. Self-justifiers want nothing to do with His divine crucified Body or His divine Blood that poured from that nailed-to-the-tree-Body!
That’s hellaciously sad. Because SELF-JUSTIFICATION IS ALL ABOUT SELF-DESTRUCTION! Really it is. After all, when it comes to salvation – justification before God — Jesus Christ must be preached. Only Him, not you. Jesus is the suffering Servant. He came not to be served but TO SERVE and give His life as a ransom for many. He single-handedly is the SIN BEARER! Jesus is the Savior! No-one else is! Christ crucified on the cross and the preaching of that Jesus is the power of God that saves sinners. This is why Jesus sends preachers. That is why Jesus sent me to you here at Trinity. I have been sent by the Lord to preach the “word of the cross.” I am here to tell you categorically and unequivocally that Jesus died FOR YOU! He answered for all your sin. He alone has won your salvation.
This pleases God. Week after week, month after month, year after year, I do what Jesus sent me to do. I preach Jesus! The crucified and risen Jesus FOR YOU and for your salvation. Paul says: “It pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.”
That’s precisely why St. Paul declares that Christ crucified is, “the power and wisdom of God.” “God chose what is foolish in the world [that’s Good Friday Jesus] to shame the wise. God chose what is weak in the world [that’s Good Friday Jesus] to shame the strong. God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, SO THAT NO HUMAN BEING MIGHT BOAST IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD.”
Salvation like creation is God’s work. His cup of tea. In which He “chooses THINGS THAT ARE NOT” and gives them life and salvation.
Now, in just a few minutes the word of the cross will be preached by you. Yes, you! When you go to the Sacrament, eat, drink and say your “Amen.” As often as you eat the bread that is His Good Friday Body and drink the cup that is His Good Friday Blood “YOU PROCLAIM THE LORD’S DEATH UNTIL HE COMES,” (1 Cor. 11:26). In other words, as you eat His Body and drink His Blood you cling to Him as your Savior and preach to this congregation and to the world THE WORD OF THE CROSS. That what He says is true: He died FOR YOU and all your sin is forgiven. Heaven is yours.
Jesus is the wisdom of God for you.
Blessed are you!
In the Name of Jesus.