Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sermon -- 7th Sunday after Pentecost (July 12, 2015)


LUKE 10:1-12,16-20

In the name + of Jesus. 

     The Lord Jesus Christ sent out several dozen disciples two by two to go and preach to the cities in Jerusalem.  To these seventy, he gave the same authority he had.  They were to heal the sick.  They were to proclaim, “The kingdom of God has come near to you.” (Luke 10:9)  They learned that even the demons submitted to them.  They went out in the name of Jesus to preach the message of Jesus.
     What Jesus had commissioned seventy men (evidence of a variant reading suggests the “two” after the “seventy” was a scribal error) to do is what Jesus still does through his Church today.  The Lord sends workers into his harvest.  I am sure you would love to have Jesus himself come and preach the sermons to you.  I am sure that you would love to have Jesus himself baptize your children and serve his supper to you.  I can't blame you.  I think it would be neat, too.  But even when Jesus walked the earth, he sent ministers to preach in his name.  That is what he still does today.
     You do not have to wonder what Jesus might say to his Church if he came in person today.  What Jesus wants his Church to hear has been recorded in the Bible.  What is read as the word of the Lord IS the Lord' s word to you.  Though it comes through the mouth of his minister, it is Jesus' word.  Though it is administered by the hands of his minister, it is Jesus' body and blood.  Though it is done by the pastor at the font, it is Jesus at work through holy baptism to wash away sins, to clothe in righteousness, and to make a child of God.  It is not the pastor's kingdom.  It is not the pastor's ministry.  It all belongs to Jesus.  It had better; for only Jesus is the Savior.
     The Lord sends workers into his harvest.  They go by Jesus' command.  They go in Jesus' name.  They preach with Jesus' authority.   Many times people have asked me what I think about something or another.  I try to tell them this: “It doesn't matter what I think.  I am not in charge of Judgment Day.  If I were, you really should care what I think.  But it is our Lord who has decreed what is good or evil.  It is our Lord who judges.  Therefore, listen to what the Lord has to say.”  The words which a pastor preaches are not important because the pastor is important.  They are not meaningful because the pastor presents them in an interesting or colorful way.  The only reason the pastor has anything of value or authority to say is because he stands proclaims the word of the Lord.  If a pastor is worth anything to you, he will not be preaching about himself or his ideas.  He will point you to Jesus, for it is Jesus who saves you.  It us Jesus' word which consoles, strengthens, and sustains you.  Jesus sends his pastors to preach Jesus' words.
     The Lord sends workers into his harvest.  When Jesus sent the seventy, he instructed them, “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’  And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. … Heal the sick in (that city) and say to them, 'The kingdom of God has come near to you.'” (Luke 10:5-6,9)  The seventy went out to proclaim the Lord's peace and that the kingdom of God is near.  The kingdom of God is established by Jesus who redeems and restores everything that has been corrupted by sin.  When Jesus was healing sickness and disease, he was providing the remedy for the curse of sin.  When Jesus raised the dead, he was reversing the consequences of sin.  When Jesus drove out demons, he was reclaiming people from the hands of Satan and delivering them into the kingdom of God.  Jesus sent out the seventy to declare that his kingdom had come.  Peace was theirs; for everything was being made whole again.  Salvation was at hand.  Jesus had come to reclaim sinners from sin, death, and the devil.  The seventy went out to declare it.
     The Lord sent workers into his harvest.  But the cold, hard reality is that not everyone will welcome God's peace or want any part of his kingdom.  Jesus warned, “But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’  I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.” (Luke 10:10-12)  It has become trendy for people to reject the church and the pastors who serve them.  People boast that they stay at home and read their bibles.  But the perverse pride about staying at home and serving as your own pastor is simply despising what God has given to his Church.
     The Lord sends workers into his harvest in order to preach the word so that the elect will be gathered out of the world and into God's kingdom.  But what does it say when people refuse to come to the church where God's word is preached and his sacraments are administered?  It is telling Christ: “I don't need your ministers.  I can do this on my own.”  But this is what the Lord says, “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.” (Luke 10:16)  If a pastor feels it is important to speak to you, chances are it is because he is concerned about your salvation.  Isn't this what you want from Christ's minister, even if it means he has to call you to repent of some sin?  Your sinful nature will always say, “Don't bother me.  I don't have time for this.”  The Lord would have you know this: This is all the time you have for this.  This is why I have sent my workers out in the harvest.  This is for your eternal good.  This is for your everlasting peace.
     The Lord sent out his workers into his harvest, and the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!”  And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.  Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.  Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:17-20)
     Dear Christians, whenever the Gospel is preached to you, Satan is driven away.  Whenever God adds one to his kingdom, Satan is cast down from his reign over that person.  Jesus rescued you from Satan's claim when he brought you into his kingdom.  Through baptism, Jesus made you a child of God, which means that the Lord has claimed you for now and for eternity.  It means that Jesus has rescued you from eternal death and corruption.  Instead, he will grant you perfect healing and peace.  He will make all things right.  Just has he has forgiven you of all charges against you and has rendered you holy and blameless now, so he will at the resurrection grant you a body without pain, a world without sorrows, and a life without end.  Not even the devil can rob you of this future.  That is why he can do you no real harm.  This is the peace that Jesus has won for you, and this peace he delivers as his word is preached and sacraments are administered.
     The Lord sends workers into his harvest.  The Lord still needs workers in his harvest.  Pray that the Lord will raise up more.  The boys of this church may want to consider how God might use them to proclaim God's peace to his people and to gather the elect into God's kingdom.  And if you are not one who is sent but are rather one to whom the pastor is sent, then be sure to cherish the faithful pastor who declares, “Peace be to this house.”  Support the schools which are training the next generation of workers as well as your future pastors.  But do not get over-excited if your pastor experiences tremendous success and do not get discouraged if your pastor is despised.  Your joy does not rest on your pastor but on this: That your name is written in the kingdom of heaven.  For, Jesus Christ loves his church.  He delights in bestowing his peace upon you.  He rejoices that you are in his kingdom, and he will continue to work through his ministers to strengthen and preserve you in the truth faith until life everlasting.

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

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