Printable PDF: 7-25-2021 Pentecost 09 Sermon
The Three-fold Benediction Pentecost 09 Sermon July 25, 2021
Numbers 6:22-27 Pastor Myrl Wagenknecht
22The Lord told Moses 23to speak to Aaron and to his sons and to tell them to bless the Israelites with these words: 24The Lord bless you and keep you. 25The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you. 26The Lord look on you with favor and give you peace. 27In this way they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.
The Aaronic blessing is very familiar to us because we use it after many of our worship services and Bible classes. Through Moses at Mount Sinai, the Lord God told Aaron as high priest that this was the way he was to bless his chosen people, the Israelites. This was the way to put God’s name on these people. The priests were to label Israel God’s People. The Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would identify himself in this THREEFOLD BENEDICTION. In this blessing the Father blesses and keeps them; the Son blesses and is gracious to them; the Holy Spirit blesses them and gives them peace.
- The Lord (Father) blesses and keeps us.
God blesses by giving us life. Since the Apostles’ Creed begins “I believe….” Martin Luther properly explains the First Article in the first person. I believe that God made me and all creation and that he gave me my body and soul, my eyes, ears, head, hands, feet, and all the members of this body.
I also believe that God blesses me and preserves me by giving me food and drink, house and hope, property and goods, spouse and children, and all that I need to keep my body and life. He guards and protects me from all harm and danger.
All this God does not because I have earned or deserved it, but he richly and daily cares for me purely out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy; for all this I ought to thank and praise, serve and obey him.
- The Lord (Son) blesses and is gracious to us.
God the Father so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son to save us from our sins. God the Son blesses us with redemption. I believe that the Lord, the second person of the Trinity, the Word made flesh, and Angel of the Lord, the suffering Servant, the Messiah came in human flesh. I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten from all eternity, and also true man, born of the virgin Mary, is my Lord, my Savior, my Redeemer.
I was a lost and condemned creature, so Jesus purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and the power of the devil. He redeemed me not with gold or silver, or platinum or diamonds, but with his holy, precious blood and with his innocent suffering and death. He went to the cross for my eternal salvation.
All this the Lord Jesus did that I should be his own. The Father made me to be his. The Son restored me to be his own. He bought me to live under him in his kingdom, to be a sheep in his flock, to be a member of his Church. Now I am to serve him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness. You may not see this righteousness and innocence in looking at me, but God says I am justified. He declared my sins forgiven. He put his Name on me in baptism and since that baptism, pastors have blessed me with this Aaronic benediction. This everlasting blessedness means that just as he has risen from death and lives and rules eternally, I too will live with him in heaven eternally.
No wonder Luther ended this explanation with the exclamation, “This is most certainly true!”
- The Lord (Holy Spirit) blesses and gives us peace.
I need the Lord the Holy Spirit because I cannot by my own thinking or choosing believe in Jesus Christ my Lord nor come to him, so the Lord the Holy Spirit working in full harmony with the Father and the Son, has called me by the Gospel. By this means of Grace, either in Word or Sacrament, he has enlightened me with his gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith. This is what I believe about the Trinity. This is how the Lord blesses me.
But it is not just for me. In the Nicene Creed we say, “We believe…” The Third Article explains that what the Spirit did for me, in the same way he calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. In this Christian Church he daily and fully forgives all sins to me and all believers. This Church is the workshop of the Holy Spirit. The tools are the Gospel in Word and Sacraments. The product is God’s Chosen people, the new Israel, the real descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The triumphant climax of the work of the Holy, Holy, Holy Lord is on the last day when he will raise me and all the dead and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ. This is most certainly true!
In addition to the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed we have a third creed: the Athanasian Creed. This gives us a very clear description of the Trinity. God is one God; yet God is three persons. Pick up your hymnal this week and read it on page 132. The Father is Lord. The Son is Lord. The Holy Spirit is Lord. But there are not three Lords but one Lord. The Father is Eternal. The Son is Eternal. The Holy Spirit is Eternal. Yet there are not three Eternals, but one Eternal.
The true God is Triune, the Great I AM, YAHVEH, Jehovah. This is the God who appeared to Moses at the burning bush. This is the God who told Aaron and his sons to bless his people. This is God who as the Father so loved the world he had created and though we rebelled against him, he sent his Son to redeem us and gave us his Spirit so we would believe in him and have everlasting life. This is most certainly true! Amen!
Please stand –
The Lord, God the Father, bless and keep you.
The Lord, God the Son, make his face shine on you and be gracious to you.
The Lord, God the Holy Spirit, turn his face toward you and give you peace.
Printable PDF: 7-18-2021 Pentecost 08 Sermon
Pastor Clark ~ Mark 6:7-13 ~ July 18, 2021 ~ Pentecost 8
TRUST CHRIST WHEN YOU GO
7Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits. 8These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. 9Wear sandals but not an extra shirt. 10Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. 11And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” 12They went out and preached that people should repent. 13They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.
Dear friends in our Savior Jesus Christ,
The weather has been pretty uncomfortable this past week or so. While I would never want to live anywhere else, we all understand why people like to get away from the desert at this time of year. When you go on vacation, there are certain things you need to take into consideration. Are you flying or driving? Are you staying in a tent, a hotel, with other people? Every trip is a little different.
As Christians we know heaven is our home. That means while we are here, we are “just visiting.” We are strangers and foreigners here. Jesus tells us we have considerations on this “vacation.” The greatest one is simply this: TRUST CHRIST WHEN YOU GO!
- Don’t over pack. (verses 7-10)
We can better understand what that means as we see the instructions Jesus gave his disciples when he was sending them out. 7Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits. 8These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. 9Wear sandals but not an extra shirt. 10Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town.
The Lord told his disciples what to take when they went to do his work. No food, no suitcase, no change of clothes, no money, and they weren’t supposed to make any reservations at the Palestine Holiday Inn. They could take the sandals and clothes they were wearing and a staff to protect them from wild animals on the trip. That was all. For anything else, they would trust the Lord to provide through the very people they served.
Jesus was sending his disciples out on their vicar year in their first taste of public ministry. While most of us here are not in the public ministry, we are all witnesses of Jesus in this world. It is our most important purpose. We witness to our families, our friends, and even strangers. We never stop being witnesses of Jesus. So what should we be taking with us “on our vacation?”
The first time I took a foreign trip, the people who arranged the trip were good enough to send a packing list. Some of the things were obvious. Some of them were things I never would have thought of. But the instruction I appreciate most was the same instruction Jesus gave his disciples; don’t over pack.
We are prone to do that! I heard a commotion out on Palmaire a couple of years ago. It was a homeless lady moving her worldly belongings. She was pulling a shopping cart with a strap behind pulling some other kind of cart like a caboose. She would move this cart up half a block, then leave it and go back and push another shopping cart until she caught up with the first. She had a lot packed for a homeless person.
So what does that mean for you and me? It’s not quite as clear as it was for the disciples. Is it possible that we are spending so much time accumulating stuff and activities that we have forgotten what we are all about? We can have other baggage, too – anxiety, anger, a lack of priorities? These are things of which we can repent, so we don’t over pack. Our time here on this earth is not about preparing to do God’s work: it’s about carrying it out. Let’s be about our Father’s business. Forgot something? Trust Christ to provide.
- Adjust to local circumstances. (verses 11-13)
The reason he wants us to pack light is that he wants us to focus on the work we are sent here to do. What is it really? 11And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” 12They went out and preached that people should repent. 13They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.
The disciples may have seemed ill-prepared and unprotected as they went out. But these simple men had God’s powerful word. The success and failure of their trip was based solely on telling people what they knew about Jesus. In many instances the Lord opened hearts through their message. In others people would reject their message and thus reject Christ. If that happened, they were to shake the dust off their feet.
Shaking the dust off of their feet was a spiritual symbol that this was a place that was marked for destruction. Jesus tells us about this in Matthew 10:15: Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.
What they did was purely a matter of trust. They had to trust that Jesus would provide for them. They also had to trust that his word was powerful enough all by itself to change peoples’ hearts.
That is our experience, too. Heaven is our home because Jesus has won it for us. We have that through trust in what he has done. That trust is not just that we will go to heaven. It’s also that when we share God’s word with our children so that they grow up to know Jesus, or when we share the soothing balm of his love with someone injured by loss, or share the light of his Word with people lost in darkness, that it will accomplish what he expects. He has privileged you and me to share it whatever the circumstance. He has also promised to bless us and our hearers.
Dear friends, even if you don’t go on a vacation, you are still going somewhere this summer. Follow the directions he has chosen so that you stay plugged into the power of his word and receive his powerful blessings. There are lots of other ways to go, but none have power. Christ’s path always does. Trust Christ! No other travel agent will do. Amen.
Printable PDF: 7-11-2021 Pentecost 07 Sermon
David R. Clark ~ Mark 6:1-6 ~ July 11, 2021 ~ Pentecost 7
WE SEE JESUS FOR WHO HE REALLY IS
1Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. 2 When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. “Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? 3 Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. 4 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” 5 He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 He was amazed at their lack of faith. Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
This might seem like a silly question to some of you, but I’ll ask it any way. Who is Jesus really? I ask this question because I’m pretty certain that people who talk about Jesus don’t always know the answer. They often see Jesus for who they want him to be rather than who he really is. Jesus didn’t come to make you a better employee by laying down certain principles for you to do a better job. Jesus is not an ATM machine, come to make you wealthy if you only believe in him enough. Jesus is not a politician or the head of any political party even though both like to claim him at times. So how do we know who Jesus really is?
- As we recognize his authority. (1-3)
The short answer is we don’t have to guess. 1Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. 2 When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. “Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? 3 Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.
Jesus was famous (or infamous). He was the hometown boy made good. You might expect that people would be excited when he came back to Nazareth. These people knew him when he was a child. They knew Mary and Joseph. They knew his siblings. They may have had furniture Jesus helped build as he was growing up. They were sure they knew who Jesus was.
And then he taught in the synagogue. But when he spoke, he didn’t speak like a carpenter’s son. He spoke with authority, in a way that was much different than what they were used to. Their reaction was: “who does he think he is?”
As nice as it is to have the hometown boy come and preach his first sermon, having him be your pastor is completely different. Think how difficult that would be. He has to correct you or when he shows you the Scriptures, say something you struggle with, what then? That would be hard for most people.
But this wasn’t any hometown boy. It’s Jesus.
Do you see Jesus as he is? For some we might say he is someone we grew up with. For others he is a fond memory from Sunday School or Christmas Eve. Others may say they rely on him, but only the way you rely on a plumber when you have a leak. Is that who Jesus is?
He is your Good Shepherd. He is also your judge. He is your loving brother but he is also commander of all the holy angels. He is the one person in this life you cannot do without, one from whose lips comes the only truth in all of creation. Here is that truth. He, and he alone, is your greatest need because you have rebelled against and ignored your God. He, and he alone, is the only one that can save you from that rebellion, that sin and the death sentence that comes with it. He is your Savior who is worthy of all glory, honor, and praise. He is the authority over truth and over morality. That is who Jesus is.
- As we respond to him. (4-6)
So what happens when people don’t see him as the authority? 4 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” 5 He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 He was amazed at their lack of faith. Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village.
Being in his hometown wasn’t the best. It was the worst. Because they didn’t see Jesus for who he really was, it was impossible for them to do the right thing. If the weird kid down the block became your doctor but all you could see was the weird kid down the block, it wouldn’t matter what medical advice you got from him. You probably won’t listen to it even if it’s absolutely correct.
That was the people of Nazareth. That’s the way they looked at Jesus. It wasn’t because they were confused or had a difference of opinion. Their real problem was they didn’t see Jesus for who he really was. We also call that a lack of faith. Jesus was never going to be their Savior as far as they were concerned. They were so familiar with Jesus that they couldn’t see him for who he was. So Jesus went where people listened.
There is an old saying: familiarity breeds contempt. We are all susceptible to this temptation of Satan. We can be so familiar with Jesus that we can stop listening with our ears. When we stop listening with our ears, we stop listening with our hearts. When we stop listening with our hearts, we stop responding. That’s what happens when people refuse to love Jesus and live for Jesus. It isn’t a perception problem. It’s a heart problem.
Brothers and sisters, let us repent of our clogged up spiritual ears. Clogged up ears lead to clogged up hearts which leads to clogged up lives. Let us repent of being so familiar with Jesus that we stop listening to him and putting into action what he says. Let us once more find in Jesus the words of eternal life as people thirsting for truth in a desert of lies. Jesus is our greatest need. Jesus is our Savior. We live for him as he lives in us. Amen.
Printable PDF: 7-4-2021 Pentecost 6 Sermon
Pastor Mark R Jacobson Pentecost 6 (July 4, 2021) Mark 5:21-24a, 35-43
21 When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. 22 Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. 23 He pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” 24 So Jesus went with him. 35 While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?” 36 Overhearing[a] what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” 37 He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. 38 When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. 39 He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” 40 But they laughed at him. After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). 42 Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. 43 He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.
THE SWEET SOUNDS OF FREEDOM IN CHRIST
The sweet sounds of July 4th, can you already hear them in your head? The bursting of fireworks in air? The crackling of firecrackers on the ground, the piercing sound of bottle rockets? Maybe you can even hear the fizzling of sparklers. Patriotic music is on all the radio stations today and if you do some channel surfing you will certainly find a patriotic documentary with great historical quotes and dramatic reenactments of events. All of these sounds: the fireworks, the music, the documentaries are sweet sounds of freedom we enjoy as Americans. The Gospel appointed for today, the 6th Sunday of Pentecost, also has some sweet sounds, sounds that clearly convey the freedom we as Christians have in Christ.
“Don’t be afraid, just believe.”
In the Gospel a prominent man named Jairus wasn’t feeling very free. His 12-year old daughter was more than sick. She was dying and there was only one thing Jairus could do about it. Jairus could look for Jesus. And what a happy coincidence! Jarius found Jesus. You can see the desperation of Jairus in his falling at Jesus’ feet and you can hear the desperation in his pleading voice, but don’t let all his desperation distract you from his confidence. Jairus has faith. There is no indication that this healing is a hunch, that it might work. Jairus assumes it will work. Come and do “A” so “B” is the result. “Put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” “So,” as the gospel writer tells us in an unremarkable way in verse 24, “Jesus went with him.”
Time is of the essence here. If there had been an ambulance, Jairus would have been yelling to step on it. But the crowd was like our Phoenix traffic and in that traffic was a woman who did not pull over to the side of the road. This woman is what the gap in our Bible verses is all about. We don’t know her name, but we do know her desperate need. She had been hemorrhaging blood for as long as this little girl had been alive, a chronic illness. And this woman doesn’t want to stop Jesus or even talk to Jesus. Like Jairus this woman has faith too. She believes if she only touches Jesus her chronic illness will get better and she is absolutely right. She touches Jesus and she gets better immediately. She doesn’t think Jesus would notice, but Jesus notices and Jesus holds up traffic to talk with her.
We don’t know how long they talked, but we do know in verse 35, “While Jesus was still speaking (to this woman), “some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. ‘Your daughter is dead,’ they said. ‘Why bother the teacher anymore?’” Talk about a punch in the gut followed up with an upper cut to the chin.” Daughter’s dead. Ouch! Don’t bother Jesus. Double ouch!
Have you suffered those kind of punches? Catastrophic news about your family and tempting thoughts that God can’t help you, that you are bothering him? Grief counselors talk about 5 stages of grief. Denial: This can’t be happening to me. Bargaining: If I do this, God will do that. Then there is anger and despair. Our sinful nature wants to blame someone. We might blame ourselves for not do something different. We might blame others for not helping our situation. We might blame Jesus for letting a bad thing happen to us. Our sinful nature causes us at times to feel hopeless. If you know something about feeling angry and hopeless, listen to this: “Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, ‘Don’t be afraid; just believe.”
We hear “Don’t be afraid” a lot in the Bible. We heard it last Sunday and we hear it this Sunday. We hear those words, “Don’t be afraid,” spoken by angels every Christmas and Easter. And every time we hear those words, “Don’t be afraid,” in the Bible it’s because the only rational response that makes sense is to be afraid. Jairus is afraid he will never see his daughter again and based on what Jairus has just heard from some people, that fear is rational and makes sense, but Jesus says, “Don’t be afraid, just believe,” and that is what Jairus does. By following Jesus even when all the evidence suggests not to bother with Jesus anymore Jairus learns and understands what it means to have faith in God.
Faith is always a miracle (an act of God), but faith as a miracle of God is all-the-more evident when all the worldly evidence would point against having faith. No one on earth lives in continual peace. Nothing grants us immunity from occasional heartache and feelings of hopelessness. Where is your help at those times? What will keep you from giving up hope in seemingly hopeless situations? What will keep you from getting angry at God or others or even yourself? At times, the only thing that will keep you following Jesus are those sweet sounds of freedom, “Don’t be afraid, only believe.”
“The child is not dead but asleep.”
For Jarius those words hint at a possible resurrection, but the crowd is not thinking resurrection. The crowd disappears. When Jesus enter the home of Jairus and said, “The child is not dead but asleep,” the professional mourners broke out in laughter. Jesus wasn’t joking and Jesus wasn’t trying to soften the blow to Jairus with empty words. Sleeping better describes what happens when the body, like a tent is packed away after camping, just waiting for the next trip. When believers in Jesus die, the holy angels carry the souls of God’s children to heaven and place them in the tender arms of the Savior. They are safe and surrounded in glory, they live and reign to all eternity. At the same time their bodies, but only their bodies, “rest in the earth, eagerly awaiting the words of Jesus when he returns on the Last Day. We look at life as a steady progression and that is why the people laughed and still laugh. Jesus looks at life based on how life turns out in eternity. That is why Jesus says asleep.
Jesus talks to the dead girl as if she is alive and the gospel writer wants his Greek readers to hear the original sweet sounds as they were spoken by Jesus in Aramaic, “Talitha koum!” Later Jesus will wake up his dead friend Lazarus in the Greek language, “Lazare, doiro echo.” No matter the language, the most beautiful sound will be the wake-up call Jesus gives us and all believers on the Last Day.
Our section closes with some housekeeping matters. “Jesus gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and he told them to give her something to eat.” Apparently, death can make you hungry. The little girl was not limited to a liquid diet. She needed lunch and Jesus made sure she got that too. Jesus takes care of all needs, great and small. No matter is too big for Jesus and no matter is too small for Jesus either. Another matter had to do with the cover-up. Jesus did not want the word to get out about this miracle. Strict orders. Jesus would rather have had the news be that the little girl was sleeping, but now she was awake and feeling better. Jesus didn’t want this good news to get in the way of THE good news.
The good news is Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Good News is God made Jesus who had no sin, to be sin for us so that through faith in Jesus we might have no sin, only the righteousness of God. The Good News is that though Jesus was rich with heavenly glory, yet for our sakes Jesus became poor with the debt of our sins so that we through his poverty experienced on the cross might become rich with heavenly glory with him. The good news is spiritually we were once like Jairus. Our sin should have us face down on the floor, pleading for mercy. Imagine that! Also, imagine this reality. Our God has been merciful to us and has forgiven all our sins through faith in Jesus. What a sweet sound!
There will be many sweet sounds of freedom in the air today. Enjoy them! Enjoy all of them. At the same time, also enjoy the sweet sounds of freedom we have as Christians. God has forgiven all of your sin. As certainly as Jesus lives so also will you live. Don’t be afraid, just believe. Amen.
Printable PDF: 6-27-2021 Pentecost 05 Sermon
Pastor David R. Clark ~ Mark 4:35-41 ~ June 27, 2021 ~ Pentecost 5
ESSENTIAL ANSWERS WHEN WE FEAR
35That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” 39He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. 40He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” 41They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
Dear brothers and sisters one in faith,
You get up at the usual time and do your usual morning routine. It’s a little rushed, but not too bad. There’s gas in the car, homework is done, and no lunches are left in the refrigerator. The traffic is heavy, but not bad. You drop the kids off at school. Then you hear a 12-story building in Miami collapses for no apparent reason. Or a disturbed man is driving down Loop 101 shooting people. Or your phone rings with the results of medical tests and the doctor says, “You need to come and see me.”
How many times haven’t we looked back and said something like this… “The day started out normally enough…”
Every single person on earth suffers this way. And because we cannot control when or what happens, it often leads to fear. Have you ever felt yourself drowning in fear?
- Don’t you care if we drown? (verses 35-38)
That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
The Sea of Galilee would be considered a lake for most of us in the U.S. It is considerably smaller than our many freshwater lakes and much, much smaller than the Great Lakes. But it is the largest repository of fresh water in all of Palestine. There is a high ridge on the east side (Golan Heights). So when weather changes it is possible for the Sea of Galilee to become dangerous very, very quickly.
That’s what happened to the disciples. The storm was so bad that the boat was filling with water. The disciples, some of whom were experienced fishermen, started to fear. They had seen storms like this, and they knew they usually didn’t end very well.
They did have Jesus there. They had seen him do miracles. They knew he had the power to change things, but he just slept. How do you sleep when your boat is taking on water? Finally, they didn’t think they were going to make it, so they woke him up. “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
There is a little (or not so little) control freak inside each of us. We have to be able to pull all the strings, know all the answers, count the cost. As a matter of good stewardship, God does expect us to use all of the resources he has placed at our disposal. Friends and family, medical personnel, our government, and our church are all there to help and be a resource in their own unique way. Making good use of them is a responsibility God expects us to carry out when it comes to living our lives and solving our problems.
But there are times when that isn’t enough. There are times when the doctors can’t seem to heal, or the pastor can’t help the marriage we have been taking for granted for years. Then what? What do you do when you find yourself drowning in fear? Do you find yourself wondering where God is? In those moments when it is obvious that we are not in control, when we cannot affect the outcome, what about them? We have Jesus, too, but do you say, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
- Do you still have no faith?
Here is how much Jesus cares: (39-41) He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
Jesus takes out the remote control for all of creation and presses the pause button. Suddenly everything is calm. The crisis the disciples were sure was going to end in tragedy is over. Just like that! No more wind. No more waves.
Jesus follows up this simple act (for him) by seizing upon this as a teaching moment. He sounds a little dismayed to me. The thing that had made him so tired is that he had just spent the day teaching. If you look at the section in Mark 4 before this you will see there are four parables Jesus had taught about faith and the power of God’s word. So, maybe it’s not a surprise that he says, “Do you still have no faith?”
Brothers and sisters, “Even the wind and waves obey him.” He is the Creator of all. He has power over all. Creation is not the limit of his power, only a sample of it. In other words, his power is much greater than that.
The opposite of fear, as Jesus points out, is faith. Faith means faith in his power, faith in possibilities. It means that God could have turned the planes back from the twin towers and could make you wealthy beyond imagination in the blink of an eye or cure your terminal disease. Faith also means faith in his wisdom. Sometimes that means he will allow tragedy to come into our lives. We won’t always know why. Children never like it and rarely understand when we tell them they are not allowed to do something that we know is not in their best interest.
That’s where faith comes in. Faith is knowing that even though we don’t understand, he does. Faith means bowing to God’s reasons and God’s time line. They are always better. We put our faith in the power of prayer. We put our faith in the power of his Word. We do this because we also put our faith in his love, the love he has shown us in all creation, in his Son, and our redemption. Even when we have cause to fear, we trust in God’s power.
Being a Christian means being people of faith. It is faith in what Jesus has done and what Jesus will continue to do for us. Do not be afraid. Do not be uncertain. Believe in what he says. In the midst of our greatest fears, our faith is in Jesus. Amen.
Printable PDF: 6-20-2021 Pentecost 04 Sermon
Pastor Jacobson Pentecost 4 Sermon June 20, 2021 Mark 4:26-34
26He said, “The kingdom of God is like this: A man scatters seed on the ground, 27and while he sleeps and rises, night and day, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. 28The ground produces fruit on its own: first the blade, then the head, then the full grain in the head. 29When the crop is ready, he swings the sickle without delay, because the harvest has come.” 30Then he said, “To what should we compare the kingdom of God? Or with what parable may we picture it? 31It is like a mustard seed, which when sown on the ground is one of the smallest of all the seeds planted in the ground. 32Yet when it is planted, it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches so that the birds of the sky can nest under its shade.” 33With many similar parables he continued to speak the word to them, as much as they were able to hear. 34He did not speak to them without a parable. But when he was alone with his disciples, he explained everything to them.
LOOK AT THE KINGDOM THROUGH GOD’S EYES
How would you envision the kingdom of God? Pearly gates? A white-robed army of saints and angels singing, “Alleluia!”? Christ the King in the middle, sitting on his throne? This description is how the Apostle John describes the kingdom of God in heaven in his Revelation. This kingdom of glory looks amazing, but Jesus in the Gospel appointed for today describes the kingdom of God that is on earth and this kingdom of God, not a kingdom of glory, but a kingdom of grace, looks like a farm.
- We see the planting, but God sees the harvest.
Farmers don’t wear white, and if farmers do wear white, their white clothes won’t stay white for long. There are many sounds on a farm. You know what the cows and the roosters say. The cow says, “Mooo,” and the rooster says, “Cock-a-doodle-do.” They don’t sing, “Alleluia!” There’s also a distinctive smell on the farm, and we trust that smell is not also in heaven. Farming has changed over the last 2,000 years, but the essence of farming is still the same as Jesus describes it in his parable. 26He said, “The kingdom of God is like this: A man scatters seed on the ground.”
The man in this parable or story is Jesus. The seed is God’s Word, namely the gospel or Good News of Jesus Christ. The ground is the human heart. The farm is how Jesus describes his preaching and teaching ministry. This farming description, then, would also apply to our preaching and teaching ministry. Pretty simple stuff, a 3-step process: One person has the gospel message. That persons shares the gospel message with another person. The gospel message is received by that person who hears it.
We see this planting. We see this planting right now as I preach this sermon. We see this planting as the Pastors and Elders hand communicants the four elements of Holy Communion, the body and blood of Christ in, with, and under the bread and the wine. We see this planting when we have a baptism, and today in the 8:00 service we have a baptism.
Jesus continues, “27and while he (the farmer) sleeps and rises, night and day, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. My church office is very close to our preschool. And through the years I’ve seen about 100 styrofoam cups with a handful of dirt and a seed in each one. It’s a great lesson on agriculture because every one of those little farmers wonder what’s taking so long and whether or not they will ever see that seed sprout and grow. In between the planting and the sprouting there can be doubt. Is it working? Is the seed going to sprout and grow or not?
Preschool farmers aren’t the only ones who wonder about their planting. Gospel sharers wonder, too. You see the Baptism planting, but you don’t see how this baby is now a Christian when just seconds earlier the baby was an unbeliever. You see the Holy Communion planting, but you don’t see how you, the communicants, are more energized to produce new fruits of faith in their lives. You see the preaching and the teaching, but at times wonder what will come of it? And as you wonder these things the temptation exists to quit planning seeds, to stop sharing the gospel. Is bringing my child to church or having a home devotion with them worth it, when the little monster doesn’t seem to hear a word that is said? Is talking to my friends about my faith ever going to amount to anything more than ridicule or indifference?
While we wonder if the kingdom of God is working, the kingdom of God is working. Jesus teaches, 28The ground produces fruit on its own: first the blade, then the head, then the full grain in the head. God sees the fruit of faith. Sometimes we see the fruit of faith, and when you do see the fruit of faith, treasure it. Treasure it when the mouth of babes say, “Jesus loves me,” or, “Jesus died for our sins.” Treasure it when teenagers and young adults accept responsibility in the ministry of the church. Treasure it when life-long unbelievers are converted and when wayward Christians see the error of their way and return. Sometimes we see this fruit, but even if we don’t see this fruit, doesn’t mean it’s not there or will never be there. Keep planting! Keep planting until the harvest.
Jesus finishes this first parable, 29When the crop is ready, he swings the sickle without delay, because the harvest has come.” Some farmers only see a harvest twice or three times a year. Those harvesting times are big paydays, and they have to be if the farmer is going to think about planting more seeds for the next season. The harvesting of believers are big days, too. Jesus has told us, “There will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” Also, even on his dying day, Jesus found joy in telling a sinner, “Today, you will be with me in paradise.” Look at the kingdom through God’s eyes. Through the parable of the growing seed, we see the harvest of all believers into heaven and keep planting the gospel message on human hearts.
- We see the seed, but God sees the mature plant.
This planting is a big deal, and that’s what Jesus wants us to see in the parable of the mustard seeds. 30Then he said, “To what should we compare the kingdom of God? Or with what parable may we picture it? 31It is like a mustard seed, which when sown on the ground is one of the smallest of all the seeds planted in the ground. The kingdom of God looked smaller than the Kingdom of Herod or the Kingdom of Caesar and Rome. The ministry of Jesus looked less impressive than the ministry of the do-good Pharisees or the ministry of the feel-good Sadducees. And when all of those parties conspired to be rid of Jesus through his death on the cross, they saw this small and unimpressive threat to their power coming to an end, but just as the mustard seed geminates and grows into the largest of all the garden plants, so also the kingdom of God grew and is bigger and more impressive than any other worldly power on earth.
About the mustard seed Jesus says, 32Yet when it is planted, it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants …” The kingdom of God includes people from every nation, tribe, people, and language. There are no borders. There are no limitations. Everyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. A believer’s death does not subtract them from the kingdom of God. The Bible says, “Whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” The kingdom of God is bigger and better than the United States of America and every other worldly government. The kingdom of God is bigger and better than any other support group or club team or do-good organization. For emphasis Jesus closes, “and puts out large branches so that the birds of the sky can nest under its shade.” The Bible says, “God rules over all things or all creation for the benefit of the church.” The opposite is also truth. The Church benefits all things. All of creation continues to spin on earth’s axis and circle the sun because God is ruling all things for the benefit of the church. The Bible also talks about how all creation will be liberated when all believers are brought into the kingdom of glory.
God sees the mature plant. God sees the kingdom of God as the biggest game changer in all the world, and through this parable of the mustard seed, God wants us, as his branches, to branch out and to make a difference in the world in which we live. And we will when we look at the kingdom through God’s eyes. Amen.
Printable PDF: 6-6-2021 Pentecost 02 Sermon
Pastor Mark Jacobson Pentecost 2 June 6, 2021 Mark 2:23-28
23One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grain fields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. 24The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?” 25He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? 26In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.” 27Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
FIND REST IN JESUS
When was the last time you slept like a baby? Was the last time you slept like a baby when you were a baby? How can babies sleep the way they do, dangling like skydivers in the air or scrunched like a ball of laundry on the floor? Most of us are no longer physically able to sleep like a baby, but it is my prayer that God in his Word today would grant us that kind of rest, dangling or scrunched baby-rest, for our souls.
- Rest in his providing care
The Gospel appointed for this Sunday starts, “One Sabbath” and before we can go any further we must better understand the meaning of Sabbath. The Sabbath was a day of the week, the seventh day. I’m not familiar with any special names given to the first six days of the week, but in Old Testament times, the seventh day had its own special name, and that name had a purpose. The word “Sabbath” means “rest.” The seventh day earned this name because on the first six days of this world’s existence the Triune God did the work of creating everything that exists, but on the seventh day, God rested. God didn’t rest from creating because God was tired. God rested from his creating work because his creating work was done. A seventh day of creating wouldn’t have made this world any better than it already was in six days.
On the seventh day God rested from his creating work, but God never rests from his providing work. God continually provides for people day after day. From a person’s birth God provides little people like babies and children with big people, like parents and guardians. From these people of responsibility God provides the basic necessities of food and drink, clothing and shelter, everything a little person needs for life. And all the while God provides for little ones, God is also developing those young minds and limited abilities, so one day (from our perspective) they can provide for themselves. This they can do with an activity called work.
God wants people to work. God created people to work. Even in the perfect world when there was no sin, Adam was created with the God-given ability to name animals and to take care of a garden, and Eve was created with a God-given mind to help her husband. In a perfect world, people would know when they should work and when they should stop working. In a sinful world, people are not always sure. One temptation is to not work until you have to, to ride the gravy train of your providers, providers like mom and dad or government subsidy, until they kick you off the gravy train or you’re too ashamed to stay on. The other temptation is to work, work, and work and to never stop working until you are positively sure you have enough provisions for the rest of your life. For the people of the Old Testament, this largely meant they could work all day, every day from sun up to sun down. Over a hundred ago with the advent of electricity, people could work extended hours, second, and third shifts. And today, with more modern technology and COVID, more companies are finding it advantageous to have their employees work from home so that like the homemaker, their work is never done.
No wonder people are so crabby and so cranky to each other. No wonder people wake up with worry. Whether a person’s work is motivated by worry or greed, an all-day, all-night attitude of work is bad for you and is bad for the people around you. God wants people to work, but God also wants people to rest. Rest is so important to God he not only made sure he rested himself, but he also made a law commanding people to rest. This rest would not only be good for the body, but it would also be good for the soul. The rest would remind people of God’s providing care, how God as the Psalmist says, “[He] opens his hand and provides for every living thing.” The day of rest would allow for the contemplation of the birds of air and the lilies of the field, how God clothes the lilies and feeds the birds and how God is still capable of providing for all of our needs. What a wonderful law from an always giving God! Rest! Find rest in Jesus. Rest in his providing care. And as we go forward in our lesson we learn, rest in his authoritative word.
- Rest in his authoritative word
In our lesson Jesus addresses a controversy about the rest law with an authoritative word. We continue our lesson, “One Sabbath, Jesus was going through the grain fields.” We don’t know if this ‘going’ was before synagogue or after synagogue, but as Jesus and the disciples were walking, Mark shares, “they (the disciples) began to pick some heads of grain.” Again, we don’t know if this picking of grain was breakfast on the way to synagogue or if it was lunch or dinner on the way home. Whatever it was, this picking of grain became a problem for the group known as the Pharisees. And the problem wasn’t the picking of grain in someone else’s field. The disciples weren’t being accused of petty theft here. By saying to Jesus, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath,” the Pharisees were accusing the disciples of working. The Pharisees equate this hand-to-mouth eating with the harvesting of grain that was sold in the market.
The disciples didn’t break the rest law, but interestingly Jesus doesn’t argue that point. Instead Jesus argues a different point. Jesus answers, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.”
The disciples didn’t break the rest law. Working was forbidden, not eating, but as Jesus answers notable men like David who would become the King of Israel and Abiathar, the high priest, did break the law. David and his companions ate consecrated bread. This consecrated bread, also known as the Show Bread was in the tabernacle. The Show Bread showed the people of Israel that God would always provide for his people, but at this particular time those 12 loaves of bread were the only food available. And in this unusual circumstance, the Show Bread was how God provided for his people and neither David nor Abiathar or anyone else or God made an issue about it. The consecrated bread was made for man, not man for the consecrated bread. And in the same way Jesus speaks an authoritative word. Then he said to them, 27“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
The purpose of worship is rest, rest for our souls. We don’t receive this rest through an outward act. The rest Jesus wants each of us to have doesn’t come to us simply by showing up to church, sitting down, signing in, and being counted. Attendance in worship and communion is a means to an end, not the end in itself. The end is rest. We make a Pharisaic mistake if we turn worship and communion into a sacrificial act like work. I don’t get rest from my faithfulness to God in worship. In worship I rest from God’s faithfulness to me. I get rest when I hear God forgives my worry and my greed, and the crabby and cranky attitude I’ve had toward others, towards you. I get rest when I hear that God hasn’t changed his opinion of me. That he still loves me and wants me and will always love me and want me. That authoritative word gives me rest, not through the good work of my attendance (the Pharisees were really good at attending), but the gift of rest is received through faith.
It’s interesting that most of our commandments start, “You shall or You shall not,” but not the third commandment. God did NOT write, “You shall go to synagogue on the Sabbath Day.” Instead he wrote, “Remember.” In other words, don’t do something or don’t not do something, but think about this, ponder this. God rested from his work of creating and God also rested from his work of redeeming. Think about how all your sins are forgiven. No more redeeming work needs to be done.
I don’t know how babies sleep, but I know how believers can sleep. Remember, Jesus slept during the storm. Daniel slept in a lions’ den. Peter slept while chained to guards and awaiting execution. We can sleep, too. We sleep better when we hear God’s Word and take it to heart. We also live better, too. Let the Word of God, in this long season we know as the Sundays after Pentecost, dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs of the Spirit, singing to God in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Amen.
Printable PDF: 5-30-2021 Trinity – p. 38
David R. Clark ~ Isaiah 6:1-8 ~ May 30, 2021 ~ Trinity Sunday
WHAT’S DIFFERENT ABOUT OUR GOD?
1In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” 4At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. 5“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” 6Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” 8Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
Brothers and sisters in Christ,
See if you know what these names have in common: Marduk, Chemosh, Dagon, Baal, Astarte. If you said they are all idols of the Old Testament, you are correct. You probably spent time in school studying Greek and Roman mythology. You know names like Athena and Venus and Zeus. Approximately ¼ of Americans see no use for any religion. A skeptic might say Christianity is no different than any other religion. Or better yet, WHAT’S SO SPECIAL ABOUT OUR GOD?
- Our God is three times holy. (verses 1-3)
1In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”
People who create idols also create the way they say they should be honored. These idols are portrayed as powerful, but having the same kind of failings that you and I have. They are gods made in man’s image rather than the other way around.
Contrast that to the God of Isaiah. Isaiah was a courageous prophet who faithfully spoke the word of God to wicked King Manasseh of Judah. He was such a courageous man that we are told he died by being sawn in half. This was no shrinking violet!
So what would make him tremble? A vision of the true God in a flowing robe, seated on his throne in heaven. Special six-winged angels called seraphim – sinless creatures – were flying before the throne of God chanting about the holiness of the one true God. Their chant was so powerful that the doorposts of the temple shook. Moses had to turn away on Mt. Sinai when the Lord passed by him because no man can see the Lord and live. And that’s where Isaiah found himself!
What will your reaction be when you stand before him? This is no idol with petty human emotions. This is our God. How will this God look at you when he knows every filthy thought or careless word you have uttered? What will God say when he knows how self-centered you have been? He is “holy, holy, holy,” and we don’t measure up.
- Our God takes away sin. (verses 4-7)
And our Lord knows this which also sets him apart. 4At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. 5“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” 6Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”
If someone worships the idol of love, what do they get out of it? A fleeting relationship? A broken heart? If someone worships the idol of success what do they get out of it? Broken relationships? Material wealth which becomes meaningless at death? If someone worships the idol of sports, what do they get out of it? Heartache when their team loses? A t-shirt when their team wins? What meaning do they have ultimately?
What Isaiah got was far different. The angel took a coal and touched his unclean lips and declared that his sins were taken away. God atoned for Isaiah’s sin and declared him righteous.
You and I have also been cleansed by our holy, holy, holy God. Our cleansing came not from a burning coal grasped in tongs by an angel, but through the precious blood of Jesus. In the waters of Baptism, you were declared holy in God’s sight. By the power of God’s word in bread and wine you have been strengthened and assured. Our God is a god who gives, not a god who takes. He is a God of grace, who removes sin.
- Our God calls us to do his work. (verse 8)
God does one more thing. 8Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
Through the forgiveness of our sins, God adopts us as his own children. He is not an angry judge against whom we can never measure up. He is our loving father because he has chosen us. He wishes us to be part of his family!
As a member of his family, he invites us to participate in the family business. He calls us to carry on his work. He does not make this invitation to angels. He makes it to you and me, just as he did to Isaiah. In a world of idols, he sends us to proclaim who the Triune God is and to offer the same forgiveness that you and I have received.
This is why we have a church. This is why we have a school. It is our purpose on earth whether we happen to be going to work, going on vacation, or playing in a Little League game. We proclaim our Triune God in all we do.
Be careful. There are still many idols in this world. They may look different than the idols of the Old Testament, but they are worshiped nonetheless. Perhaps Satan is even more devious today than then. People of this world have even made blessings like family and technology and politics idols which they worship and proclaim to all who will listen. There will continue to be idols as long as this sinful world exists, as long as Satan continues to roam. There will continue to be people who see worship of the true God as valuable only when they have a crisis or because it is a holiday tradition or because their child is being honored in some special way. But not us. Not you and me. We know who our God is and what he has done for us. So what do we do when the call comes from our Triune God? Who will go for him? Here we are. Send us! Amen.
Printable PDF: 5-23-2021 Pentecost Sermon
Pastor Jacobson Pentecost Sermon May 23, 2021 John 14:25-27
25“All this I have spoken while still with you. 26But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
How Has the Holy Spirit Changed You?
Do you like learning? The out loud answer is “YES!!!” “I love learning!”, but the correct answer is shaking your head from side-to-side. Some learning doesn’t make sense. Take spelling. The word “fun” starts with the letter “f” as does the word “fan”, but the word “phone” starts with the letter “p”. That doesn’t make any sense. Some learning is just so much information. Take math. Visualize with me the dreaded multiplication table. Can you see it? It starts easy, 1 X 1 = 1, 1 X 2 =, 2, 1 X 3 = 3, but you keep going and then you get 4 X 4, 8 X 8, 12 X 12 and you’re supposed to get the answer just like that! GROSS!!! Learning, the process of learning isn’t fun, but learning can be fun and is fun when you finally get to that blessed point when you understand what you have been learning, when all of a sudden the light goes on, the hamster turns the wheel and you get it.
- Where are you at on His spiritual growth chart?
In our Gospel today from John chapter 14, the disciples of Jesus, were still in that dreaded process of learning. Their learning wasn’t fun. Their learning was troubling. If Jesus had given his disciples a theological examination when they had first met him and if Jesus had given his disciples the same examination three years later, they would have scored poorly both times. The disciples just weren’t getting what Jesus wanted them to get. They didn’t understand.
The disciples didn’t understand why Jesus said he was going away. The disciples didn’t understand why Jesus kept talking about suffering and dying. The disciples didn’t understand why Jesus taught about humility and service, about giving his life as a ransom for many when Jesus had all the power to put the Roman government in their place and all the miracles to put the false church of the Pharisees and Sadducees out of business.
Not understanding for such a long time is tough on students and can be tough on teachers as well, but Jesus was patient with this learning process and Jesus wasn’t offended that another person of the Trinity would receive the credit for the disciples’ understanding. Jesus said, “All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
For three years, for more than 1,000 days with Jesus the disciples didn’t understand, but on Pentecost, a mere 50 days after Jesus’ resurrection, the disciples understood. On Pentecost, Peter doesn’t give his opinion. On Pentecost, Peter quoted Scripture and tells us what that weird passage from the prophecy of Joel means. On Pentecost all the apostles were declaring what we heard Luke record in the book of Acts, “the wonders of God.” On Pentecost the apostles covered topics like creation and redemption and sanctification. Who were these men? For three years they had barely grown a spiritual inch but now thousands of people were looking up to them with awe and were hanging on their every word.
Parents and grandparents are often in awe of their children and grandchildren’s physical growth chart. Physical growth happens all the time for children, but it seems like most every child eventually comes across a period of time called a growth spurt, a dramatic increase in height in a short amount of time. We have all seen a growth spurt, and we have all been amazed at it.
Question: What does a spiritual growth spurt look like, a dramatic increase in faith in a short amount of time? Doesn’t a spiritual growth spurt look like these apostles on Pentecost? Quoting the Bible, relating the Bible to life events and talking to others about the great things God has done is all evidence of a spiritual growth spurt. Every believer, thanks to the Holy Spirit, has these abilities, but not every believer is giving evidence of these abilities like the apostles did.
Husbands, fathers, I am on record as saying, my goal is to have every husband and father view themselves as the pastor of their own home. Where are you at on your spiritual growth chart? Are you quoting the Bible? Are you relating biblical truths to your home life? Quoting Scripture like Peter and expressing the wonderful spiritual truths of God’s Word like the other Apostles is a great place for husbands and fathers to be on their spiritual growth chart.
Let’s not just talk about men though. Let’s also talk about mentors and mentees. A mentor can be defined as a person who is a little further along than you are. Mentoring doesn’t just come with age. Mentoring comes with experience. We don’t have an official mentoring program here at Grace, and I don’t think that we will, but if you have completed our Super Saturday instruction in the last five years, or if you have recently been confirmed as an 8th grader, to what more experienced church members are you looking as your examples of what you might become in the years ahead? I could give you names, or I could have you look at the older teenagers and adults who are seen studying the Bible and are seen serving in the church. Keep learning, I know learning is awful, but keep learning and trust Jesus’ promise, “The Holy Spirit WILL teach you all things and WILL remind you of everything I have said to you.”
- Are you an advocate for world peace or Jesus’ peace?
And as Jesus continues in our verses this morning, Jesus makes his purpose clear to why he wants the Holy Spirit to come to his disciples. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” I don’t know if you have ever competed in a beauty pageant. I have not competed to be Mr. Arizona (if there is such a thing), but I have watched Sandra Bullock in her movie Miss Congeniality. If I were ever Mr. Arizona, I can assure you, I would be advocate for world peace. It sure would be nice to have some world peace, but in our lesson today Jesus advocates for a different kind of peace.
The peace Jesus advocates for is peace the apostles enjoyed on Pentecost and throughout their ministry. On Pentecost, critics complained of the apostles, “They have had too much wine,” but instead of succumbing to fight or flight emotions, the apostles kept calm and kept speaking the truth. Later in their ministries, the critics of the apostles would threaten and physically abuse the apostles and they still kept calm and they still kept speaking the truth. The apostles had peace, not worldly peace. The apostles still had worldly drama, but the apostles had peace because the apostles knew God works for the good of those who love him, and the apostles knew that neither death nor life, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, would be able to separate them from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus their Lord.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, we have been through some worldly drama. And on this side of heaven, you know our lives will always be filled with one worldly drama after another. The best way to deal with drama is not to wish drama away (as nice as that would be), but to pray for the Holy Spirit. Pray for the peace that passes all human understanding. Pray that the Holy Spirit would help you control your emotions. There is nothing sinful about our emotions. We know Jesus once was sad and wept. We know Jesus got angry and got his point across to those with whom he was angry. But we also know that Jesus in his sadness and in his anger, did not sin. Pray that the Holy Spirit would help you with your reaction to worldly drama to be like Jesus all the time and like Peter and the apostles on Pentecost. The self-control of Jesus, or better-said, the spiritual-control of Jesus has forgiven us of all the times we have emotionally lost our control because of the drama in our lives. So feel what you feel, but don’t give your feelings away to sin. The Apostle Paul once wrote, “In your anger, do not sin.” The same is true for our sadness and all our other emotions. Because God through Jesus is at peace with you, you can be at peace no matter what is going on so the lesson we what to learn today is be at peace and God the Holy Spirit in his time and in his way will help us learn it. Amen.