Monday, November 14, 2016

Sermon -- HVL Chapel (November 14, 2016)

This was preached at chapel at Huron Valley Lutheran High School in Westland, MI.

JOHN 5:19-24
The Authority of the Son.

In the name + of Jesus.

     If there is one verse of the Bible that Satan teaches well, it is this: “Do not judge, and you will not be judged.” (Luke 6:37)  This verse is used regularly to cover over sins and to condemn people who would dare to call evil what is evil.
     A year or so ago, there was a Planet Fitness in which a man who was identifying himself as a woman was making use of the women’s locker room.  One woman went to complain to the management.  The management responded promptly.  They revoked the membership of the woman who complained, and they let the man stay in the women’s locker room.  They told the woman that their fitness center was a “judgment free zone,” and that her kind of judgment was not welcomed there.  Ironically, in expelling the woman from their gym, the “judgment free zone” had to make a judgment.  They judged that it is not men in the women’s locker room which is wrong, it is people who say that men should not be in a women’s locker room who are wrong.
     It is impossible for us to not make judgments.  Murder is wrong, and the murderers who commit them are evil.  Lying is wrong, and liars are evil.  And even casting judgment is wrong if our reason for doing it is not out of loving concern for the person who is caught in sin, but we judge to exalt ourselves above others and to credit ourselves with being more righteous than the people we judge.
     Our judgments are always flawed.  We confuse our sense of right and wrong with our likes, dislikes, and opinions.  We tend to think that God’s judgment of people agrees with our fondness of people or our dislike of them.  That is why we are not good judges, and that is why we should not judge.
     However, there is one man who not only judges others, he is also authorized to do so.  God has entrusted all judgment to Jesus of Nazareth.  But Jesus is not like earthly rulers who enact laws that are in keeping with their own opinions.  Jesus does all things in perfect keeping with his Father’s will.  Jesus said, “The Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” (John 5:19)  When Jesus makes a judgment, it is perfect alignment with the Commandments.  Therefore, when Jesus judges something or someone to be evil, it is not because he looks at that person with suspicion or a jealous eye.  It is not that Jesus says, “I don't like his tattoo or his accent.”  It is because he sees a sinful heart.  And when Jesus judges something or someone as good, it is because he sees a heart and mind that are perfect.
     When our Lord comes again to judge the living and the dead, all his judgments will be right and fair.  Jesus will come to condemn all who are guilty of sin.  That is fair.  That is giving people what they deserve.  But enforcing God's Law and pronouncing judgment against the guilty saves no one.  It would certainly demonstrate God's holiness, but it would save no one.  Fair is that we all go to hell.  We deserve it; for we are guilty.
     But more than enforce God's Law, Jesus also fulfilled it.  Jesus of Nazareth obeyed all the Commandments of God at all times.  Jesus has done all the good that God demands be done.  But rather than credit himself with perfect obedience, Jesus credits you with it.  And rather than judge you for the sins you have done, Jesus takes your sins and your judgment from you.  Jesus was convicted and condemned under holy judgment.  He, in turn, sets you free.
     Therefore, when Jesus judges you, it is based on his merits and his mercy.  Jesus, rather than convicting you of guilt acquits you.  Jesus has authority to do this because he has paid for your sins.  Rather than have you die an eternal death, Jesus will raise you from the dead to have eternal life.  Jesus has authority to do this because he has conquered death.  Rather than banish you to the torments of hell, Jesus will bring you to the glories of heaven.  Jesus has authority to do this because he is the man who has ascended to heaven to make it the dwelling of all mankind who believe in him.
     Jesus will come again to judge the living and the dead, but he has already pronounced your verdict to you.  He says, “For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will....  Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life.  He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” (John 5:21,24)  
     Jesus delivers you from sin and death, and Jesus bestows on you blessing and life everlasting.  Jesus will judge you based on his merits, not yours.  Therefore, you are declared righteous.  Jesus will judge you based not on what you deserve, but based on his mercy.  Therefore, you are forgiven.
     You will continue to go through life making judgments about everything.  But you will submit your judgment to the word of the Lord so that you can say with certainty what is good and what is evil.  And rather than spending time judging others, we will judge ourselves so that we do not give ourselves over to what is evil.  We will continue to do what is good, and to flee to him who his good.  He rescues us from sin and judgment so that we will have life with him forevermore.

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

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