Monday, October 13, 2014

Sermon -- Committal of Hank Mamajek (October 13, 2014)

MARK 16:16

In the name + of Jesus.

Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

     The Roman Catholic Church has a practice of appointing certain people to the status of sainthood.  A man or woman is credited with doing more than God has asked, which is impossible.  And while people usually laud and honor these people as being exemplary, there is an interesting twist to this.  One man is appointed to cite reasons why this person should not be a saint.  His job is to detail all the faults and failings of the person, stating reasons why that man or woman should not be heralded a saint.  That person is known as the devil’s advocate.
     The devil’s advocate has an easy job.  For, all people are sinners.  Some prove it better than others.  There is no one who deserves a place as a saint in God’s kingdom.  And from what I’ve been told, Hank Mamajek could have all of his faults and shortcomings and sins spelled out, too.  And the fact is this: When the devil reminds us of our sins, he does not need to make anything up.  He can simply remind us of every harsh word, every heartless act, and every dirty thought.  And he has us dead to rights.  There is no one who is good.  There is no one who is worthy of sainthood or salvation.
     Of course, the Lord does not need Satan to remind him of this fact.  That is why he sent a Savior.  Jesus Christ did not come for the good people, but for sinners.  People who don’t believe they need Jesus won’t care about anything he did.  But for those who know they are sinners, for those who have fears and doubts and guilt, Jesus is a most precious Savior.  For, he gives us everything we need to silence every accusation the devil and our consciences can throw against us.
     Jesus lived a perfectly obedient and holy life.  Even God the Father from heaven said so … twice.  God declared that he was well pleased with Jesus, and he could only say that if Jesus were holy.  But instead of boasting of his holiness, Jesus took up our sin.  Jesus offered up his holy, precious blood as a sacrifice to pay for all sins.  Jesus had every charge, every accusation, and every sin put on his shoulders.  Then Jesus paid the price for them all.  God the Son willingly died for all the sons of men so that you would be delivered from every sin and relieved of all guilt.  He did not do this because you are worthy, but because you are guilty.  But he has covered your guilt with his blood.  And therefore, you are forgiven.  The charges have been dropped.  Sins have been paid for.
     All of this was applied to you through Holy Baptism.  This is what the Lord says: As many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. (Galatians 3:27)  In other words, your baptism has clothed you in Christ’s righteousness.  Therefore, God no longer sees the sinner; he sees a saint.  And this is what the Lord says: Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. (Mark 16:16)  The only thing that damns is unbelief; for that is the rejection of all that Jesus has done.  But whoever believes in Jesus Christ receives the benefits of all that Jesus Christ has done.  Whoever believes and is baptized is counted as a saint in God’s sight.  Whoever believes and is baptized has had all his sins washed away.  Whoever believes and is baptized will be raised from the dead to be given eternal life in God’s presence forever.
     Now, we have had discussions about Hank Mamajek and his behavior and his attitude.  The devil’s advocate will always have plenty of evidence to share about our sins.  And to be sure, some people’s sinful condition is more obvious than others’.  But we know that Hank Mamajek was baptized.  And if he believed in the promises that our Lord Jesus Christ gave him, then we can marvel at God’s grace all the more.  That means that the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ has covered even the worst in us.  That means the grace of God is greater than all our sins.  And that is our greatest comfort.  For, the devil and our consciences will always afflict and accuse us.  And we cannot deny that they are right.  But Jesus speaks a greater word than the devil and our consciences.  He who paid for our sins by his sacrificial death declares that our sins are covered.  He who crushed Satan underfoot by his resurrection overrules every accusation he would still make.  He who owns death and the grave because he has conquered them assures us that we will rise from our graves with glorified, incorruptible bodies at the resurrection on the Last Day.  Jesus has won the authority to give all these gifts, and not even sin and death can destroy that.
     Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. (Mark 16:16)  Did Hank Mamajek believe these things?  He gave me the impression that he did.  Some might think he did not.  Finally, God is the only one who can read hearts.  God is the judge, and we leave that in his hands. 
     But we all enter eternity one at a time.  I cannot believe for you, and you cannot believe for me.  I cannot vouch for you, and you cannot vouch for me.  And that is why it is good, right, and salutary to flee to Jesus Christ and the salvation he gives.  Jesus is our only comfort throughout life, and Jesus is our only hope staring in the face of death.  Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved. (Mark 16:16)  That is God’s promise.  It is the only one that saves, and it saves even the worst of sinners.

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.