Lutheran Worship and Resources

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Oculi, The Third Sunday in Lent

Cover by Norma Boeckler

Oculi Sunday, The Third Sunday in Lent

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time

The Hymn # 477 Lord Jesus 3:90
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 #354 In the Cross of Christ 3:84

No One Takes Away Our Joy

The Communion Hymn #307 Draw Nigh 3:72
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 # 50 Lord Dismiss Us 3:86

KJV Ephesians 5:1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. 3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; 4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. 7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them. 8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: 9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)

KJV Luke 11:14 And he was casting out a devil, and it was dumb. And it came to pass, when the devil was gone out, the dumb spake; and the people wondered. 15 But some of them said, He casteth out devils through Beelzebub the chief of the devils. 16 And others, tempting him, sought of him a sign from heaven. 17 But he, knowing their thoughts, said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and a house divided against a house falleth. 18 If Satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? because ye say that I cast out devils through Beelzebub. 19 And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your sons cast them out? therefore shall they be your judges. 20 But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you. 21 When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: 22 But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils. 23 He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth. 24 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out. 25 And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. 26 Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. 27 And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked. 28 But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.

Third Sunday In Lent
Lord God, heavenly Father, who hast sent Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to take upon Himself our flesh, that He might overcome the devil, and defend us poor sinners against the adversary: We give thanks unto Thee for Thy merciful help, and we beseech Thee to attend us with Thy grace in all temptations, to preserve us from carnal security, and by Thy Holy Spirit to keep us in Thy word and Thy fear, that unto the end we may be delivered from the enemy, and 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.

No One Takes Away Our Joy

John 16: 22 And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you. 23 And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.

We have to wonder how the disciples faced the Roman Empire, after the crucifixion, without their Teacher being visibly present. The hostility was building up so much as they traveled toward Jerusalem that the disciples thought they would die there.

The Gospel of John is full of paradoxes, seeming contradictions. One is that the words and phrases are so simple that any first year language student can read John in a new language, almost from the start. On the other hand, John’s Gospel contains so much spiritual wisdom in those simple phrases.

Another apparent contradiction involves love and hate. The world hates God and everyone who believes in Christ, but God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son.

The paradox in this passage is sorrow and joy. Jesus is predicting His death on the cross, when they will be consumed with sorrow. However, their sorrow will be turned to joy.

The illustration for this teaching is one which no one can forget. Even today, people try to lessen the impact of labor. Mrs. Duggar, who has delivered 19 children, said, “Every one has been difficult.” More than one mother has said, “There is a reason it is called labor.”

21 A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.

When a child is born, people do not dwell on the labor pain and the uncertainties, but on the joy of having a new baby. The memories are not exactly erased but they are overwhelmed by the happiness of new life.

That has been trained out of our society – that children are a great blessing and a gift from God. As long as people see children as a cost rather than an asset, they will rob themselves of the joy God freely offers in children. The more childbirth is qualified, the more this joy is lessened. If it must happen at the right time, with the right gender born, with perfect health and every possible benefit, then the parents should be joyful – that is unlikely. It is like waiting to have enough money to get married.

The paradox taught by Jesus is that the disciples would be crushed by sorrow at His death, but it would be a brief time. So we think that the disciples should have known at the time, because they were taught so carefully. Nevertheless, they were a tiny band united by one thing, the mighty Roman Empire carried out a death sentence against their Teacher, and the religious authorities gladly went along with it, even encouraged it. They were isolated and alone, both through the powers of the State and the influence of their religion.

There is a reason why Lent means spring. A short time ago, we thought winter would last forever. That is especially difficult where people are used to warm weather coming in February. December here was so warm that I washed and waxed the car and noticed the bulb flowers emerge from the soil. After that we had our worst snow-storm, which meant people did not even try to escape the ravines and winding hilly roads of this Ozark area. An icy drive down a steep road would make it more like Bon Voyage than Bella Vista. Suddenly it was warm, the crocus were up, and winter was almost forgotten.

The disciples were strengthened by their knowledge, and Jesus remained their Shepherd during the dark days before the Resurrection. But they knew fear, sorrow, and desolation. They shared the experience of the cross and knew their own guilt in being afraid, in denying Jesus, in doubting. Rejoicing came from what God did, how He raised Jesus from the dead, and showed them the meaning of the cross and empty grave.

These labor pains of the disciples strengthened them and deepened their trust in Christ. The Holy Spirit brought to their remembrance all the things taught to them by Jesus. The more they saw how correct He was in everything, the more they trusted in all He taught them. That gave them the courage to face the Roman Empire and the hostile religious authorities.

The disciples were not saints who were far and above what we are today. They were ordinary men who were purified by the Word and taught by the Savior, refined in a refiner’s fire so that the dross was burned away. What shines brightly in the pages of the New Testament are the results of this divine activity of the Word and the fruit of the Holy Spirit at work in them.

We have similar sorrows, although not as dramatic. Even without the current drama of the economy, we have losses and difficulties and conflicts. Most Lutherans today have detailed stories about being misled, deceived, slandered, and shunned.

1. Some say, “I am disillusioned.” That is a good thing, because we should not live on illusions.

2. Many are disappointed in their religious leaders. That is even better. Five centuries ago, Luther said it was good to be disappointed in religious leaders, because that makes us trust in the Word alone. There has been too much trust in people rather than the Word, choosing personalities over Scriptural doctrine, deciding against the Confessions in favor of a false unity and fake peace.

3. We are often disappointed in various events, from injustice and harm done to us, especially because of the Word. If it were not painful, it would not be the cross.

When Jesus was beaten, He was probably too weak to carry the cross. Another man carried the cross. He probably became a follower, since he is named along with his sons in Mark.

KJV Mark 15:21 And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross.

KJV Luke 23:26 And as they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus.

KJV Matthew 27:32 And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross.

We also bear the cross because the Word of God generates hatred in all those who believe in their own righteousness.

Someone complained in my class that America tolerates every religion except Christianity. I responded, “We are the Roman Empire all over again. Every god is tolerated except the one true God – the Savior Jesus.”

No one can take this joy from us, although they might try very hard at times. The harder they try, the more God turns it into joy. I was smiling over the job interview I had in Phoenix. I knew I would not be hired to teach world religion because the job went to atheists alone. It would have meant total security and benefits, but it also would have tied me to Phoenix for years to come. Thanks to atheists, I was able to move near our grandchildren.

The Biblical meaning of joy goes far beyond getting what we wish. It also means appreciating what we have at the moment, being thankful to God for those blessings.

Luther did not think our lives should be so wonderful that we would cling to this world. He thought it was better to long for the next life. His trust in the Word was complete, so he taught justification by faith alone, apart from the works of the Law. He prayed in trust, because the Promises of God never deceived.

This is what Jesus taught in the midst of revealing the sorrows and joys of being His followers:

23 And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.

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