Sermon: Pentecost 10.2011

Text: Matthew 16.13-21
Date: 2011.8.21

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

Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

The will of God is certainly done without our prayer, but we pray in this petition that it may be done among us also.

The will of God done without our prayer, it is done whether we ask for it or not, whether we want it or not. In fact, God's will is not only done without us, but it is done despite us.

For, “when is God's will done?” Well, “God's will is done when He breaks and hinders every evil plan and purpose of the devil, the world, and our sinful nature.” In other words, there are those who would refuse and fight against God's will, God's love, God's giving. There are three who would resist Jesus: the devil, the world, and you.

Now, with this in mind, we hear from the Mouth of God (from the Gospel lesson for this week), that Peter and the office of pastor will be given the keys of the kingdom, and those keys will be used to loose on earth what is already loosed in heaven, AND to bind on earth whatever is already bound in heaven.

In other words, the office of the holy ministry, Christ's office, which uses His means of Grace, so 'the means of grace office' (genatenmiddelamt, as our Lutheran forefathers used to call it), this office is to make the earth consistent with heavenly realities, to bring the earthly things together with the heavenly things.

But if something must be brought together, that means that it is already apart. There is a disconnection, a problem. Communication and consistency has been broken between heaven and earth, and our Lord has called some to reconnect them.

You know, they weren't always like this, creation wasn't always broken, there wasn't always this void between the two places: heaven and earth. That void, the problem, is sin. Adam and Eve's sin, King David's sin, your neighbor's sin, and your own sin. You are the problem because you are sinful. And because you are sinful you are fighting against God, you are resisting His love and care for you.

Be alert, dear flock, be constant in your watching. We are the church militant because we are engaged in a war, a spiritual war against the spiritual powers of this present darkness. But the problem isn't only “out there”. The battle must begin at home, among us. You must fight against your own sinfulness before you reach out for others.

Your sinful nature yearns for the evil. Rather than receiving God's will, in your sin, you resist God's will among us. If God's will is to love us and have mercy on us all: men, women, children, widows and widowers, poor, rich, organized, disorganized, patient, angry, etc, on all of us, if God's will is to give you what you truly need, and sin is resisting God's will, living contrary to God's will, / then how are you, specifically, fighting against God?

It is important for you to consider this, for we are called to resist the enemies, including the devil and His lies, the world and it's temptations, and our own sinful lusts and desires to control and rebel. Beware: we are not called / to resist Christ and His gifts.

Just the opposite, actually—we are called to submission. We are His Bride, the Church. We are to trust our Lord and receive Him as He gives Himself completely. It doesn't matter what we prefer or don't prefer. He has established His eternal Church in the heavens, and who we are, whether we are loosed or bound (whatever that might mean), it is already decided in heaven. The story is already written for us, the victory over the great enemies has already been won.

So, you: Repent. Whatever resistance you have, repent. Whatever preference you are imposing, repent. Listen to Jesus. Repent of yourself, completely (which is the hardest thing in the world to do, impossible, actually, without a miraculous working of the Holy Spirit in you), repent completely, give up on yourself so that you and us as a congregation may be defined not by ourselves or our will, but by our Lord's love and His will.

And stop fooling yourself. You are nothing but rebel by nature. Sin has not just infected you a little. Sin doesn't just make the Christian life a little more difficult. Sin, false belief, false teaching, anything against God's will, these things make the possibility of living the Christian life, and not only now, but forever, sin closes the gates of heaven / because sin makes you unacceptable in God's eyes.

This is God's Law. This is Truth. Repent. Give it up. Want nothing to do with your sin and rebellion. There is something better than resistance, there is something better than temporary comfort or being acceptable in the eyes of your friends or coworkers or employees or even family members.
God's love is better. For God's love cleanses you from all sin. / What is better than your disobedience? Jesus' perfect obedience.

It is true that you are perfectly sinful, / BUT, it is more true that God has become sinful for you, in your place, taking your sin upon Himself and giving you His perfect holiness. This is the meaning and purpose of the crucifixion, this is the great and glorious will of God, not only in general, but God's will in your life: to make you pure and holy and keep you pure and holy and blameless.

Just imagine: as sinful as you know you are: you are blameless. In other words, although others may see your sin and unChristian behavior, nonetheless: God has nothing against you. That is what is true in heaven. That is what the office of pastor, Christ's office, is to do on earth, to proclaim to you on earth what God has declared already in heaven.

You are forgiven. The pastor is given to lay hands on you and pronounce you forgiven in Holy Absolution. You are one with Christ. So the pastor is given to distribute Christ to you that His Body and Blood may be part of your body and blood. You are righteous and at peace with God and you have a clear conscience before Him, so the pastor is given to you to preach Christ and Him crucified, who is your Prince of Peace and Comforter and Righteous One.

Just / don't resist Him, don't rebel. Act like who you were made to be in your baptism, act as the perfect Bride of Christ, and submit to Him, be loved by Him, be obedient now, by simply receiving His love for you.

This is what trust is, what faith is. You have a strong faith when you submit and simply allow our Lord to love you the way He has decided to love you. Faith = trusting Jesus, in all things, including trusting Him to give you what you need through His own pastoral office.
I'm sorry / that different pastors have come here and seem to have emphasized different things: one pastor one thing, another pastor another. This is confusing. It shouldn't happen, but it does. Theoretically, all pastors, everywhere should be emphasizing the same thing, leading in the same way: Christ's way. But pastors are human, and human pastors, the men given the office of the keys, are also sinners, and we need your forgiveness, even as we need our Lord's. By creating the pastoral office, the Lord was doing something risky (at least as far as we can see), He was giving His own divine authority into the hands of sinful men. There are those church bodies today who have given up on the pastoral office because of this, and even myself being a pastor, I can certainly see their reasoning. Nonetheless, we confess our Lord. And if He has made His Church to operate this way, so be it, we'll let Him be God and trust Him.

So trust Him, / for He continues to fill the office of pastor among you in order to bless you. Our Lord certainly has continued to use sinners to distribute His gifts here, to you. But despite the men, the Means of Grace Office of pastor is upheld, / you, the precious children of our Lord, are fed by Him, / and the Church continues on until the end of the age, even the gates of hell will not prevail against Jesus' Bride, the Church, against you. You have your Lord's Word on that.

More than anything, the pastoral office is the feeding office. Receive the feeding from the hand of the pastor as from the Lord, for the pastor brings the truths and realities of heaven to earth.

This should be the first and most important emphasis of any pastorate: simply bringing heaven to earth, that is, bringing Jesus to you. Receive Jesus. Receive Him in the Means of Grace from the Means of Grace Office. Every Sunday, be loosed, be released from the slavery of sin and death, and be bound to Christ and His Life. This is what the Divine Service truly is: It begins with entering into the sacred place with the Introit, then humbly asking for mercy from the Merciful One. We know who we are, and would we dare to enter into His gates, to come to His holy hill and His dwelling place? God must have mercy upon us. We hear about this mercy in the Readings and the Sermon as we are enlightened and sanctified in the true faith by His Holy Word. We respond, then, with our gifts and petition Him for ourselves and for others, for our daily needs and our eternal life. 

But that's not all. “Is it enough?” Sure, it's enough. Heaven's forgiveness has been brought to earth, to us and we have properly responded in praise. But God's mercy doesn't just give us 'enough', He goes on to fill and overflow our cups, to lead us into the abundant life of forgiveness as our hearts are raised to the Holy, holy, holy Lord God of Sabbaoth. And then we confess it: “heaven and earth are full of your glory,” for “blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord.”

And there He is. He does come, just as He said He would, just as His Word promised. This is the Divine Service, and there is the Divine, physically present, the crucified and risen one, here present among us, for us to receive. And so we receive Him, in the most intimate way, we, His Bride, His Church, receive our Lord and Savior, and we are fed, we are forgiven, we are nurtured, loved, protected; exactly what a Bridegroom is supposed to do for His Bride.

It's not that the other services in our hymnal, like Matins and Vespers are incomplete or not valuable. They are valuable, and they are good for us to use on occasion. But they are not this, they aren't the Divine Service. The Divine Service, the Lord's Service to us on the Lord's Day. There's nothing like it, we need it, you need it, your pastor needs it, we need protection and love, and there He is, right here, with us, among us, giving Himself to us each week. His will being done, not occasionally, but graciously and abundantly.

And this is the privilege of the men who are placed into the Means of Grace Office, the feeding office. We get to feed you. Receive our Lord. What a privilege it is to be Christian, that our Lord put no restrictions on grace. The more we receive Him, the more He forgives us, never too much, always needed.

Enough said. Come, receive Him again. He is coming soon. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

In +Jesus precious name. Amen.

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