Sunday, June 21, 2015

Trinity 3, 2015



The Third Sunday after Trinity, 2015


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson


                       

The Hymn # 652                   I Lay My Sins on Jesus               
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual       
The Gospel              
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed             p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #436            The Lord’s My Shepherd                   

The Shepherd's View Should Be Our Own

The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn # 649                        Jesus Savior Pilot Me   

KJV 1 Peter 5:6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. 8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 9 Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. 10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. 11 To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

KJV Luke 15:1 Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. 3 And he spake this parable unto them, saying, 4 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? 5 And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. 7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. 8 Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? 9 And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. 10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

Third Sunday After Trinity

Lord God, heavenly Father, we all like sheep have gone astray, having suffered ourselves to be led away from the right path by Satan and our own sinful flesh: We beseech Thee graciously to forgive us all our sins for the sake of Thy Son, Jesus Christ; and quicken our hearts by Thy Holy Spirit, that we may abide in Thy word, and in true repentance and a steadfast faith continue in Thy Church unto the end, and obtain eternal salvation, through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end Amen.




The Shepherd's View Should Be Our Own


KJV Luke 15:1 Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him.

These two parable introduce the Parable of the Prodigal Son, so we have multiple lessons in a row, each one unforgettable, about God's view of us as sinners. The introduction is not accidental. Jesus' kindly nature caused the obvious (open) sinners to draw near Him. They felt welcomed and comforted.

The publicans were the hated tax collectors, despised for being harsh and serving the Roman Empire with greed and profiting from it. The sinners are identified as open, obvious sinners by the term used. The Pharisees were sinners too, but outwardly they were great saints and scholars.

The tax collectors and sinners came to Jesus to hear Him - to hear His gracious and life-giving Word. To the world they were nothing and worthless, but Jesus showed them their worth while guiding them into a different life.

We should not be shocked that the original Christian Church was made up of former prostitutes, former homosexuals, former thieves and criminals of all sorts. The scum of the Roman Empire were drawn to the Christian Faith, and Christians were hated especially because of this association.

2 And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.

Receiving can be understood as welcoming. Not receiving is more like shunning or rejecting. That language was used in an early dispute.

3 John 1:9 I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. 10 Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.

Receiving and eating with these sinners meant Jesus showed them respect, kindness, and love, which made the Pharisees righteously angry, to borrow a term. This was bound to happen at that time, because Jesus taught the righteousness of faith in Him while the Pharisees exemplified the righteousness of their works.

Jesus, therefore, annihilated the self-worth of the Pharisees and ignited their hatred, simply by being the gracious, promised Savior.

This also applies to us, where we see the same kind of Pharisaical shunning among Christians, which serves their political purpose but does not serve God. Lutherans do this. Baptists practice it with great zeal. Pentecostals outdo the Baptists, leaving the room when the odious (to them) doctrine of infant baptism comes us. One might add the glaring, the seeing through people they know but no longer acknowledge, and other such tactics that we puzzle over when we hear about untouchables in India.

One Lutheran discussion page had people grandly announce they would not post if I did, but they had no such qualms about a trans-sexual posting.

3 And he spake this parable unto them, saying, 4 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?

The parable was aimed at the Pharisees, who took great pride in their works and despised others. Thus it is also aimed at all those who take great pride in their outward righteousness, based on belonging somewhere, while ignoring the righteousness of faith in Christ.

Nothing seems more true of the visible church today. I was thinking of the gigantic ant colony that exists overseas. Here is one from Brazil.  For some reason one particular group got established and grew because their recognized their own and do not go to war against their own DNA. However, Lutherans are just the opposite. They delight in driving out and killing their own with words, slander, and various actions. That ant colony is enormous in size, through welcoming their own, while the Lutherans are in a death spiral from abusing their own.

Those who survive the abuse in Lutherdom are very proud of belonging, but many times they are also tossed under the bus, as mobsters find themselves in the lap of luxury but only for a short time.

In this parable, the 1% is that sheep that wanders away, not those who rule and grab the grants for themselves. When we think of gently, helpless animals, we do not question that we would leave the sheep being tended and look for the helpless one lost in the wilderness.
How often have we gone out in the rain or darkness to find a pet that slipped out? Once I found our Sheltie, sound asleep in a storm, using a pile of plastic sheets as her bed, but safely under the patio roof. 

For walks I take a big branch to use to warn off big dogs, who look at Sassy as vulnerable and easy to attack. In close quarters she had no defenses with her lack of balance. Inside, she reverses the role and watches over us, warns us about animals on TV, and alerts us to UPS drivers (who often leave her a Milkbone).

Looking for the lost sheep - until he finds it. This is the Good Shepherd who pursues the lost and provides so many ways to draw them into the Kingdom or return them to the fold. Thus the first Gospel, infant baptism, lays a claim on a soul, and the Savior does not forget. When the Gospel Word is heard later, the baptized soul responds.

The key word is - until. Not for a time, not for months and years, but until that shepherd finds the lost sheep.

5 And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.

God view of finding and rescuing the lost sinner is not berating the sinner for being lost, but to increase the help for that person. And many times that individual has been found and reclaimed - or found and converted to the Gospel by the Gospel. 

Rejoicing - God condemns unbelief and convicts us of that weakness. The Spirit's primary work is to say to each and every person, "You may have some faith, but do you utterly trust in Jesus as your Savior? And if you have no faith, I will show you the true nature of God, because the Son of God teaches the grace, lovingkindness, and mercy of the Father."

We often tell stories about our lost pets and finding them. Our tiny Sheltie Precious liked to escape from time to time. Once she ran out the door. And I told Sassy, "Find her." Sassy ran out, tracked her, and cornered her in a minute. It has been a fun story every since. Because when that happened in a motel, I had to look in various rooms being cleaned until I found the delinquent hiding in an end table.

This parable helps us see how God is gracious in seeking us and delighted to find and help us. On our own we dash into destruction and are best served when we stop and realize our condition.

6 And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.

We know this is our nature with animals that depend on us, so we can see this is God's nature. He is not the pagan god of wrath and appeasement, that we must pay and satisfy to reduce His rather. This is the true God who is revealed by the Holy Spirit and represented and taught by God Incarnate.

7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. 

The last verse is a humorous climax to the parable, because the Pharisees do not generate joy in heaven - happy as they are in their pen at home. "We have have been in this pen for five generations!"

21. Therefore, when you feel your sins gnawing at you, and feel your heart trembling and agitated, place yourself beside the publicans where they are standing. These are the very ones who shall receive the Gospel. Do so joyously, and say: “Oh, God! it is thy word that says there shall be joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine righteous persons, who need no repentance, and that all the righteous and angels are to interpose and cover up sins. Now, Oh, God! I have come to this that I feel my sins. I am already judged. I need but the one Shepherd who seeketh me; and I will therefore freely venture on thy Gospel.”

22. It is thus that you come to God. You are already the sheep placed upon his shoulders. You have found the Shepherd. You are the piece of silver in the hand. You are the one over whom is joy in heaven in the presence of all the angels. We are not to worry, if we do not experience or feel this at once. Sin will daily decrease, and its sting will drive you to seek God. You must struggle against this feeling by faith, and say: “Oh, God! I know thou hast said this, and I lean upon thy Word. I am the sheep and the piece of silver; thou the shepherd and the woman.”






Third Sunday after Trinity Quotations
                                            
"If the question is put, 'Why did God ordain so many means of grace when one suffices to confer upon the sinner His grace and forgiveness?' we quote the reply of Luther who writes (Smalcald Articles, IV:  'The Gospel not merely in one way gives us counsel and aid against sin, for God is superabundantly rich in His grace.  First through the spoken Word, by which the forgiveness of sins is preached in the whole world, which is the peculiar office of the Gospel. Secondly through Baptism.  Thirdly through the holy Sacrament of the Altar. Fourthly through the power of the keys and also through the mutual conversation and consolation of brethren, Matthew 18:20.'"        
          John Theodore Mueller, Christian Dogmatics, A Handbook of Doctrinal Theology, 1934, p. 447. SA, IV, Concordia Triglotta, p. 491. Matthew 18:20.        

"We further believe that in this Christian Church we have forgiveness of sin, which is wrought through the holy Sacraments and Absolution, moreover, through all manner of consolatory promises of the entire Gospel.  Therefore, whatever is to be preached, concerning the Sacraments belongs here, and in short, the whole Gospel and all the offices of Christianity, which also must be preached and taught without ceasing.  For although the grace of God is secured through Christ, and sanctification is wrought by the Holy Ghost through the Word of God in the unity of the Christian Church, yet on account of our flesh which we bear about with us we are never without sin."
          The Large Catechism, The Creed, Article III, #54, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis:  Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 693. Tappert, p. 417.          

"The second argument is that 'God desires all men to be saved' (1 Timothy 2:4), and He gave His Son for us men and created man for eternal life. Likewise:  All things exist for man, and he himself exists for God that he may enjoy Him, etc.  These points and others like them can be refuted as easily as the first one.  For these verses must always be understood as pertaining to the elect only, as the apostle says in 2 Timothy 2:10 'everything for the sake of the elect.'  For in an absolute sense Christ did not die for all, because He says: 'This is My blood which is poured out for you' and 'for many'‑‑He does not say:  for all‑‑'for the forgiveness of sins.' (Mark 14:24; Matthew 26:28)
          Martin Luther, Luther's Works, 25  p. 375.  

"No more splendid work exists than receiving and hearing the Word of God." 
          What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis:  Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I,  p. 302. Luke 10:38.  

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Feast of the Holy Trinity, 2015





The melodies are linked in the hymn name. 
The lyrics are linked in the hymn number.

The Hymn # 246                              Holy, Holy, Holy               
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual       
The Gospel               
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Athanasian Creed             p. 53
The Sermon Hymn #251                  We All Believe in One True God      


We Confess the Holy Trinity


The Communion Hymn # 308            Invited Lord     
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn #657                                  Beautiful Savior                 

KJV Romans 11:33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! 34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? 35 Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? 36 For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.

KJV John 3:1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: 2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. 3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. 8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. 9 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? 10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? 11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. 12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? 13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

Pentecost Monday Gospel:

KJV John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.



Trinity Prayer

O Lord God, heavenly Father: We poor sinners confess that in our flesh dwelleth no good thing, and that, left to ourselves, we die and perish in sin, since that which is born of the flesh is flesh and cannot see the kingdom of God. But we beseech Thee: Grant us Thy grace and mercy, and for the sake of Thy Son, Jesus Christ, send Thy Holy Spirit into our hearts, that being regenerate, we may firmly believe the forgiveness of sins, according to Thy promise in baptism; and that we may daily increase in brotherly love, and in other good works, until we at last obtain eternal salvation, through the same, Thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

http://ichabodthegloryhasdeparted.blogspot.com/2013/04/norma-boecklers-new-book-treasury-of.html

 

Luther’s Trinity Sermons Linked Here


We Confess the Holy Trinity

An age or a church without confessions of faith will soon become one without the Scriptures. When the confessions are mocked, the Word of God is subtly mocked. Some of the mockers may not realize it. If a Lutheran pastor is poorly trained in the Confessions, then he is also poorly prepared to comprehend them. They see without seeing. 

Likewise a denomination that is antagonistic toward confessions of faith will allow man's opinions to replace them. Today we heard a little of Charles Stanley's sermon and began debating how old he is. I said closer to 90, and he proved to be 83. But in looking up his bio, I found this quotation - 

As a young pastor, he was given the motivational book [Napoleon HillThink and Grow Rich. He has written, "I began to apply the principles of that book to my endeavors as a pastor, and I discovered they worked!" He also wrote, "For years, I read Think and Grow Rich every year to remind myself that the truth of God is not just for one career field. It is for all manner of work and ministry."[2] (Stanley, Charles, 2009, How to Reach Your Full Potential for God, p. 224, Thomas Nelson Publishers, ISBN 978-1-4002-0092-4)





Charles Stanley is the father of a favorite among some Lutherans:



When we speak the Apostles, Nicene, or Athanasian Creed together, we are confessing the truth of God's Word with all believers of all ages. That is why we call them Ecumenical Creeds - they are the stated or implied confessions of all Christian denominations.

Whenever I speak those words, I think of the millions who have gone before us, saying and believing those same words of faith. Each phrase is shaped from the Scriptures. To say we do not need Confessions is the same as saying we do not need hymns, many of the hymns coming from times of religious and doctrinal crisis.

The Book of Concord is our major textbook because each section (except perhaps the Apostles Creed) comes from a known doctrinal crisis. A large part of it comes from the Reformation and the second stage, when the students of Luther and Melanchton worked out a harmony, a concord, and dealt with all current disputes.

KJV John 3:1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:

We have to view each episode in the context of the entire Bible, although few have the scope of Luther in that regard. Nicodemus can be seen many ways, but they are conditioned by what we know about him later, risking his life, and the way Jesus dealt with those who came to Him.

Nicodemus was a great scholar among the Jews, a leader among scholars and a saint in their eyes. He could not have been more trained in the Scriptures and traditions, and as a member of a strict sect, he could have have been more saintly in the eyes of others.

2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. 

Many long explanations can be given for "by night" but the most obvious is timidity. It was not natural to be out and about at night, but that was the easiest way to be anonymous.

Luther said Nicodemus was fond of Jesus, an interesting term. Nicodemus is not being a two-faced flatterer as some were, but showing his glimmer of faith. If he came from his studies, as some would offer, Nicodemus was intrigued by the power of Jesus' miracles, acknowledging this could only come from God.

So Nicodemus is a man with a great reputation, some faith, and no understanding. Many have reaching the tipping point and listened to reputation, man's wisdom, and popularity, so Nicodemus is an Everyman in one sense, representing what many go through in a confessional crisis. 

If he continues along the path of faith, his life will be in danger and people will shun him. We often discuss at home the cross-cultural and inter-denominational game of shunning. It is all the rage. If someone questions a sacred cow, the word spreads and the shunning begins. That may be Common Core or the new definition of diversity. One may touch the third rail of page 5 and 15 and become unemployable among Lutherans. One must belong to the proper sub-group within the sub-groups.

So Jesus seems to be quite harsh in his response, but that misses the context of the Gospel and Jesus' way of dealing with the wrong understanding. In John's Gospel especially we see people listening to Jesus' spiritual wisdom and only seeing the material side. Examples:
1. Nicodemus.
2. The woman at the well, John 4.
3. The Keystone Kops leaders in John 9.
4. Peter wanting a complete wash after protesting his feet being washed.

3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

This sounds dismissive and it is intended, no doubt, to shake Nicodemus from his trust in works and his scholarly knowledge. While it may seem harsh to some, it is Jesus revealing the truth, which never sounds good from the perspective of man's wisdom.

Jesus began with truly, truly, to emphasize the truth of God's revelation. The word is one we still use - Amen. We sing that or say Amen to express agreement. Jesus took the ending and made it the beginning. 

Man must be born from above, an interesting pun, which Nicodemus took the wrong way. The main definition is "from above" and the Greek word is formed from those two words, from and above.

Soundcheck - So Jesus always taught in Aramaic? If so, why do we have them debating a Greek conversation? Wouldn't Aramaic be natural, a Jewish rabbi speaking to a Jewish rabbi? If the pun could be created in Aramaic, then few in the whole world at that time could understand it. In contrast, thanks to Alexander the Great, Greek was the universal language of scholarship and commerce.

4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?

Nicodemus cannot grasp this truth, which is shown in his assumption about the secondary meaning of the word - again.

So his wisdom is foolish, as Paul pointed out in "making foolish the wisdom of the wise." Wisdom was the great virtue among the pagan scholars at that time, and Jewish wisdom was encased in traditions apart from Scripture. I can think of Lutheran examples, such as open communion, which is a contradiction, because it is popular with sceptics, mockers, and unionists.






5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. 8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. 





Naturally people will jump to bad conclusions about this sermon alone. Many want to isolate the Spirit, and they will if given a chance. But the Spirit always includes the Word throughout the Scriptures. "The Word never without the Spirit. The Spirit never without the Word. That is sound doctrine." - WELS A. Hoenecke.

The Word is so powerful that the Spirit's effect is compared to the wind. In Hebrew and Greek, Spirit and wind are the same words. That is no accident, because we see the effect of the wind without seeing the wind itself. In fact, we only know the wind from its effects.

Teaching and preaching are the invisible Word. The wise of this world mock teaching and preaching because it does not have material gain associated with it - not like a CPA audit or a visit from the plumber. Therefore, it cannot have value, cannot be measured, and cannot even be assessed based on effect because the effect may come much later.

9 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? 10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? 11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. 12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? 13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

This is the great revelation of truth, which will be fulfilled in the crucifixion. This passage unites Moses with Jesus, showing us the the Exodus foreshadowed the ministry of Christ.

So we have the conclusion, which is found on Pentecost Monday, rather than a continuing story about Nicodemus being converted. So when did that happen and how do we know? He risked his life to associate with Jesus after the crucifixion which he heard predicted.

Thus we never know the true results of the Word at any given moment. The harvest may be realized decades later, like the story of the organist who finally came down from the balcony to receive Holy Communion. After all those years of playing hymns and hearing sermons, he believed.

And there are many clergy who gladly sold their souls to Satan for the chance to enjoy the wealth and power of the world. They thought they were only leasing their souls for a short time, but of course, mortal life is a short time and not to be despised as God's gift.

The de-confessions are more significant today than the confessions, which should warn people the End Times are nearer than ever before. But what God promises is invisible and untouchable, the truth of His grace in Christ, received in faith.



Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Mid-Week Lenten Service, March 4, 2015



Third Mid-Week Lenten Vespers, 2015


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson


Bethany Lutheran Worship, 7 PM Central Time 

The Hymn # 159  Go to Dark Gethsemane            2.30
The Order of Vespers                                             p. 41
The Psalmody                   Psalm 2                  p. 128
The Lections                            The Passion History
                                                 John 8

The Sermon Hymn # Zion Rise                              2.13

The Sermon –     I AM the Light of the World
 
The Prayers
The Lord’s Prayer
The Collect for Grace                                            p. 45

The Hymn # 654       Now the Day Is Over             2.7

John 8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
13 The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true.
14 Jesus answered and said unto them, Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go.
15 Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man.
16 And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.
17 It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true.
18 I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me.
19 Then said they unto him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also.
20 These words spake Jesus in the treasury, as he taught in the temple: and no man laid hands on him; for his hour was not yet come.
21 Then said Jesus again unto them, I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come.
22 Then said the Jews, Will he kill himself? because he saith, Whither I go, ye cannot come.
23 And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.
24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.
25 Then said they unto him, Who art thou? And Jesus saith unto them, Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning.
26 I have many things to say and to judge of you: but he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him.
27 They understood not that he spake to them of the Father.
28 Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.
29 And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.
30 As he spake these words, many believed on him.

 I AM the Light of the World

John 8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

We know "light" is an important word, because everyone wants to take it away from the Son of God and attribute "light" to their delusions.

The Enlightenment was a time when rationalism took over Europe and ministers gave sermons on building bridges and other practical matters - because they had nothing to say about matters of faith - just like today.

The Enlightenment had taken over the training of ministers when CFW Walther went to Leipzig University (where he earned his only degree, a bachelor's). 

Morningstar is associated with Christ but also with Satan, who is named Lucifer in a derivation of the morningstar name. This is appropriate because Satan always apes the Christian faith in every way possible. Thus the Satanists use Christian rites backwards and say such things as Bless God instead of God bless.

In the name of human reason, the most absurd and evil things take place because people think they are free from the restraints of society when they are in fact obsessed with those restraints, enslaved by their rebellion.

This sermonic exchange is something the unbelievers like to make fun of. In fact, I had a logic book that liked to use exchanges like this. The sayings of Jesus are comforting and strengthening for believers, but they offend unbelievers.

I AM - this a divine claim, because I AM is the Name of God. Moses asked, "What is Your Name," and the Angel of the Lord (the Son of God, before the Incarnation) answered, "Tell them I AM sent you."

The statement is triadic, which makes it easier to remember, when seen as poetic stanzas. 
  • I AM the light of the world: 
  • he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, 
  • but shall have the light of life.
The Son of God is defined as the source of all wisdom and understanding. This is the ultimate claim, and it is extraordinary. This claim excludes the idea is nice, or is a placebo, or is something sentimental and sweet and nostalgic.

That means, if Genesis 1 and John 1 say Jesus is the Creating Word, then every single plant, animal, microbe, and mineral was created through Christ - and nothing was made apart from Him - all in six 24-hour days.

There can be no compromise between this article of faith and the rationalistic view of evolving Creation over millions of years and other such nonsense. The Evangelicals were already compromising on evolution in the 19th Century, which shows how shaky the Protestant foundations became, long ago.

  • he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, 

Those who follow the Savior will not walk in darkness. Faith in Him means having our lives illuminated by the Gospel He gave us, and that light truly matters.

When something is lost or missing, the first thing we want is a bright light that will distinguish between one thing and another. Walking in darkness is no fun either. I used to take Sassy outside at night to get something - in Bella Vista with no street lights. I could not find anything or see our dog in the dark. Finally I got a little LED light on the key change. 

Walking in darkness is allegorical - it means tripping and falling - and it can also mean being scared. "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil."

"Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet."

This light is true Christian understanding, which quite the opposite of human wisdom.

  • but shall have the light of life.
Darkness and light. Good and evil. Falsehood and truth. John's Gospel highlights what the Savior teaches, in the most basic language, so that no one needs to feel puzzled, confused, or conflicted.

13 The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true.
14 Jesus answered and said unto them, Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go.
15 Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man.
16 And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.
17 It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true.
18 I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me.
The opposition of the Pharisees made it easy for Jesus to clarify His message, which was and is the Father-Son relationship.
If someone rejects this relationship, the statements by Jesus are easy to ridicule. We often ridicule what we do not understand. But these truths are revealed by the Holy Spirit, so believers can easily grasp what is being taught. After all, the Bible has hundreds of references to the Trinity, and many more about the Father-Son relationship. Believers understand this spiritually, so this is Jesus explaining it further.
The Two Persons (Father and Son) agree. That is one point Jesus makes. And the Third Person bears witness to this (the Holy Spirit). 
Let us assume for a moment that Jesus is the Son of God. He knows Who He is, and where He has come from. How can anyone argue with that? We have no way to grasp His divine experience and He cannot prove it to us with facts.
One fake on TV said today that He went to heaven and obtained two books to help with translating (very Mormon-like). He wanted to take another one, but was not allowed - an extra chapter of John's Gospel. Was that new to you, too?
Maybe later this fake will reveal it to us, for a price. He raised a baby from the dead too, and he was so full of the Presence one day that people fell down all around him.
If the Pharisees died without faith, they could NOT say, "No fair, You did not tell us about being the Son of God." But Jesus did and many were converted. How could they be converted when His experience and sermons were so different?
Jesus' miraculous healings were so dramatic and public that thousands saw the power of God manifested in many forms - healing and raising the dead, command over nature, and defying the laws He established - water into wine, walking on water, helping Peter to walk on water, and finally - rising from the dead.

19 Then said they unto him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also.
20 These words spake Jesus in the treasury, as he taught in the temple: and no man laid hands on him; for his hour was not yet come.
21 Then said Jesus again unto them, I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come.
22 Then said the Jews, Will he kill himself? because he saith, Whither I go, ye cannot come.
23 And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.
24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.
25 Then said they unto him, Who art thou? And Jesus saith unto them, Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning.
26 I have many things to say and to judge of you: but he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him.
27 They understood not that he spake to them of the Father.
28 Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.
29 And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.
30 As he spake these words, many believed on him.

Jesus compassion included both teaching the truth about Himself and final judgment against unbelievers. The opposition continues so he warned them against dying in unbelief.  This included a reference to the future crucifixion - lifting up the Son of Man, because He knew He would rise from the dead. What He taught the disciples nurtured their faith in the darkest days. What He taught the Pharisees condemned them if they did not believe.
And yet, many believed on Him. Jesus taught the Gospel plainly and planted faith in their hearts. He did not appeal to them or try to figure out their felt needs. He taught:
  1. There is only One Truth.
  2. He is the Truth and the Life-giver.
  3. Believing in Him brings true wisdom and eternal life.