Apr 17, 2016 – Recognizing the Lamb of God each day
Wisconsin school & parents at odds over ‘Jesus lunches’ – Texas agriculture chief investigated after ‘Jesus shot’ injection treatment – Is This Jesus Or An Alien In The Skies Above Mexico? – Texas pre-race prayer asks to put a ‘Jesus man’ in White House – Why Hillary Clinton needs Jesus – Taking Jesus to the pizza parlor.
All of these are actual headlines from secular news sources on-line in the last 10 days or so. The name Jesus is used to grab readers’ attention and pull them in. Yet not one of these headlines is helpful for anyone in recognizing Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Not one of these stories directs us to the truth that Jesus is the Son of the living God of heaven. People today as they were in Jesus day, are curious about Jesus.
His power, teaching and works attract people to Him. But for what reason? Why is it that people are drawn to Him? What is it that they seek in Him? When Jesus, as He did in today’s gospel lesson, tells people plainly who He is, they often times don’t want to hear His answer. People want Him to be what they seek and what they desire to use Him for, and not for who He truly is or what He freely offers.
What we need to be careful about when others learn that we’re Christians is that we need to be very careful to tell them plainly Who we follow and who He truly is. Being a Christian is about being a follower of the Lamb of God, Jesus. It’s about Him not us. It isn’t up to us to make Jesus palatable to others. It’s not up to us to ‘package’ Jesus in a more acceptable form for them. Jesus isn’t a ‘widget’ that we’re selling. He’s not an ‘old’ product that we need to market in a ‘new’ way.
We’re called to be His witnesses, not marketers; His servants, not salesmen and His sheep, not His shepherd. He makes clear who He is and for that, the Jews of His day and the majority of people today, reject Him. He says plainly He is the Son of God, and that’s one of the reasons that the Jews of His day put Him to death. And that’s also why so many today reject Him. But that only happens when we are honest about Who He is.
When we try and put forward an image of Jesus that is less than He is or other than who He is, sure we can make Him sound “PC” acceptable. Why not, look at all He’s done? But that’s not fair to those we’re called to speak to. It’s Jesus as both God and man that we’ve all had to grapple with and by His grace we’ve been given His Holy Spirit to receive that truth. Don’t shortchange that for others.
Let them have that holy struggle for themselves that only God can resolve. We have all had to face the stumbling block of His divinity, of Jesus being, at the same time God and human. He’s called us and granted us faith to believe in Him as the holy one of God come to earth to give His life on he cross for the sake of the lost and condemned… for us. We’ve been given faith to accept Him as He is, on His terms, not ours.
Trust that God will do that for those we speak with also in His time and His way. But remember that can only happen as we’re honest about whom Jesus is. As He said today, I and the Father are one. What Jesus truly is, is what changes a person, not just what they or we think He is.
Jesus is not a holy trickster. He’s not merely a good teacher or prophet or leadership guru. He’s not about the ‘basic principles’ of anything… He is God… in the flesh, come to earth to bring the forgiveness of God to the world that has rebelled against Him in sin. We’re the sheep that have wandered off in our ignorance and self-centered ways. And He’s the shepherd that’s come to draw us back to the safety of His flock. When we try and picture Him as something other than what He has revealed Himself to be, we cheat Him, others and ourselves. That’s something that St Paul addressed in the epistle lesson today. He said (20):
You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. 21 I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus…
In repentance everyone comes before God Paul says. Repentance, remember it’s two parts, sorrow for sin and trust that for Jesus sake we are forgiven, that is what St. Paul teaches is true for all people. We cannot alter that for anyone or reduce that in anyway. And besides, having faith in Jesus as the Christ teaches us that we can go no place else for the forgiveness of sins. St Paul goes on to say (24),
However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace… 29 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock.
And there’s the task left also to us, to testify to God’s grace. Testify to it; not change it, not ‘dumb’ it down or make it anything less than what Jesus has bought with the cost of His holy blood shed on the cross for us. We’re of the flock of Jesus Christ that Satan attacks from without and from within. Our testimony is always being tested and tried.
Remaining faithful to God’s Word and hearing only the voice of our good shepherd will keep us steadfast in the face of such trials. And that’s the only way for others to know the good news. One last thing from St Paul, (32) “…Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up
What do you do to make the word of God present in your life – first to you and then to others? In other words how do you recognize Jesus, the Lamb of God, in your life, daily? That’s important because that’s what was missing in the lives of the Jews today’s lessons, a daily recognition of God in their lives as He had revealed Himself to them in Christ.
Paul in the epistle lesson today is also calling for a day-by-day recognition of the word and grace of God in our lives. That word, he says, is what can build us up. Not that we build ourselves up, but that God does that through His Word in us. We can shut out that Word if we choose to, but we’re the only ones that hurts. It’s our growth in grace that gets stunted by that. We then can become like those who choose to not see Jesus for Who He is, our great Shepherd and the Lamb of God who calls us His own and by His blood and sacrifice has died to accomplish that. By His grace we have His righteousness that allows us to stand before God with the great multitude that we read about in Revelation today. After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.
We’re the ones that the Lamb of God sacrificed Himself for on the cross. We’re the sheep of His pasture and we hear His voice as we read, mark and inwardly digest the word of God that reveals Christ to us. Here are six ways for you to do that. Pick just one, two or three. I might ask you later which of these helped you to take in scripture daily. Here are the six suggestions. Before doing any of them, pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to recognize how some aspect of the life, death or resurrection of Jesus can be seen in what you read. And remember this is for every day.
1 – Pick one book of the bible you’ve never read all the way through before and start on that, but only do one or two chapters each day, no more. And remember to pray.
2 – Pick one Old Testament book and one New Testament book and read one chapter from each every day, one in the morning and one in the evening. And remember to pray.
3 – Do a word study, look in the concordance, the word list in the back of a study bible, and pick a significant word for you and read at least one chapter everyday that has that word in it and see how God uses that word in different places and different ways. And remember to pray.
4 – Do a life study, pick a biblical person and, again, using a concordance, look up every reference you can to that person and read about them. You’ll have to pick more than one person if you pick people like Bildad, Og or Zachaeus. And remember to pray.
5 – Put some music on and read one or two psalms each day. Remember these were songs and were sung. Imagine what that might have sounded like for the different types of psalms. And remember to pray.
6 – What bible verses have been significant for you? Pick one a day to memorize. Write it on 6 or 8 post it notes and put them around your house, work space, steering wheel on your car, any place you’re going to be that day and say it out loud at least 20 times that day. And remember to pray.
So those are some things you can do that might impact your vision, your ability to see Christ in your life each day. After all, as His sheep we need to learn to follow His voice alone. Getting that voice in our heads helps us to respond to it and live in it.
Nothing in this world can separate us from Him, He’s promised that to us today, so act on that promise and live in His word. Let that word richly fill you and then, hearing His voice brings us the comfort of His presence and the wholeness of His righteousness in our lives… each day. In His name, amen.
Sermon #823. Rev. Thomas A. Rhodes, Pastor – Zion Lutheran Church, Bolivar, MO
First Reading Acts 20:17-35 17 From Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church. 18 When they arrived, he said to them: “You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came into the province of Asia. 19 I served the Lord with great humility and with tears and in the midst of severe testing by the plots of my Jewish opponents. 20 You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. 21 I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus. 22 “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. 23 I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. 24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.
25 “Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again. 26 Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of any of you. 27 For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God. 28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. 29 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. 31 So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.
32 “Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. 34 You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. 35 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”
Second Reading Revelation 7:9-17 9 After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”
11 All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying:
“Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!” 13 Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?” 14 I answered, “Sir, you know.”
And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore, “they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. 16 ‘Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat down on them,’ nor any scorching heat. 17 For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’ ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’”
Holy Gospel John 10:22-30
22 Then came the Festival of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. 24 The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”
25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”