Sermon for Epiphany 7 – 2.20.2022

+ 7th Sunday after the Epiphany – February 20th, 2022 +

Series C: Genesis 45:3-15; 1 Corinthians 15:21-26, 30-42; Luke 6:27-38

Beautiful Savior Lutheran

Milton, WA


“Living in Mercy”


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


There’s a familiar idea I’ve often encountered when conversations take a spiritual turn; maybe you’ve heard something similar. “I don’t like the Old Testament very much; it’s so hard to read and understand. I like the New Testament much better; it’s so much easier.”


My usual reply, “You need to read the New Testament more closely; it can be just as difficult.”


Take Jesus’ words Luke 6 for example… Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. 29 To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. 30 Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. 31 And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise…love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return…become merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.


You’re probably all thinking what I’ve been thinking all week, “What does this mean?”


Let’s start with some context. Our gospel reading from Luke 6 picks up where we left off last week. Last week the beatitudes. This week, the second part of Jesus’ sermon on the plain. Last week,

Jesus declared our identity. Who you are. In Christ you are blessed, beloved, redeemed, and rescued. This week Jesus moves from being to doing. From who you are in Christ, to how you live in Christ.


In this second part of his sermon, Jesus uses 16 imperatives: love your enemies; do good, bless, pray, and so on. To underscore the significance of all of this, Jesus summarizes these 16 imperatives three times in verses 31, 36, and 38. Love your enemies. Become merciful. Give.


Now, there are plenty of wrong ways to understand Jesus’ words here in Luke 6. One way is to treat Jesus’ words like a check list that we must complete in order to be a perfect Christian…do these things and God will bless you. Problem is, that’s not good news. That’s not the gospel. It’s also not what Jesus is saying. We don’t do these things Jesus says in order to be blessed. We live this way because we are blessed in Jesus’ dying and rising.


Another way we misunderstand Jesus’ words is to think, “Well, that’s impossible. Nope. Too hard. I give up.” And so we never actually try to live how Jesus teaches us to live.


Think for a moment, though; why are these words so difficult to hear and do? Is it because we don’t like what Jesus says? Probably. Is it because it’s hard to love our enemies, become merciful, and give selflessly? No doubt about that. Is it because Jesus’ words reveal our failure to live as those who are blessed and redeemed in Christ? Yes, that too. Probably all these and more.


The truth is deeper though. We find these words so challenging because they reveal the truth that we do not always live as God’s people. That we do not love our enemies; we do not do good; we are not merciful, we do not give selflessly. The reason Jesus’ words are so hard is because they reveal our idolatry. We don’t love our enemies because deep down we love ourselves more. We’re not always merciful because we don’t think others are worthy or deserving of God’s mercy. We don’t give selflessly because we are self-centered.


But even though this is all true, there is a deeper truth in Jesus’ sermon on the plain. We’ve yet to arrive at the center of Jesus’ sermon on the plain. The heart and center of Jesus’ words isn’t who we are or even how we live. But who Jesus is and how he lives for you.


The heart and center of Jesus’ sermon on the plain is the abundant mercy of a merciful God revealed in the merciful life, death, and resurrection of Jesus for you.


For while we were still enemies of God, while we were still sinners, Christ Jesus died in love for you. When we hated Him by thought, word, and deed, He did good for us by bearing all of our sin. When we cursed Him for daring to say we had sinned, He blessed us with forgiveness, paid for by His blood. When we abused Him and His whole creation for our selfish desires, He prayed for us, saying, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” When we struck Him, He offered more of Himself to be stricken by being nailed to a cross. When we took His cloak and divided it, He offered His tunic for which we cast lots. When we begged for Him to be crucified, He gave His life, not holding it back. Jesus did for us, what we should have done for Him. And by it, has saved us all. Each and every one of these imperatives in His sermon, Jesus fulfilled completely on the cross for you.


That’s what it means to be a Christian. To live in Christ’s mercy. In Christ, you are his baptized, beloved disciple. And in Christ, every day, every moment, every good thing do or say is done because you live Christ’s mercy. You live in Christ’s mercy. It’s true for our salvation and it’s true of our life of good works as well


Remember the beatitudes. That is who you are. You are blessed in Christ. You are alive in Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. You live in his mercy. Mercy in the forgiveness of sins. Mercy in his Word which you read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest. Mercy in your baptism into his holy Name. Mercy in his body and blood. You are alive in Christ’s mercy. That is who you are. It’s also how you live.


You live, each day, in all your vocations, in all you say and do, in Christ’s mercy. You are a good tree which produces good fruit. Our Christian life (of sanctification of good works) described here by Jesus, is like an oversized t shirt. The Greek there in vs. 36 is so much clearer. Become merciful. Not be. Become. We’re constantly becoming, growing into the disciple Jesus declares you are.


This is how you live as Christ to your neighbor. So, when you do good works that Jesus gives you to do, praise the Lord that he has given us such fruit of faith that love and serve others. And when we fail to live up to Jesus’ words here in Luke 6, praise the Lord that he is merciful and has done kept all these words for you. Whether it’s your salvation or good works, the answer is the same; you’re living in Christ’s mercy.


Yes, Jesus’ words are often difficult. These are hard things to do: to love our enemies. To do good. To pray for them. To become merciful. To give selflessly. Forgive. Do good, expecting nothing in return.


You can only do these things in Christ. You can only do these things, if your identity is in Christ. And it is. You can only do these things Jesus teaches when you live in his mercy.


So, whenever you come across these hard words of Jesus, or any other hard words of Scripture, remember that God’s mercy in Christ is at the center of it all; God’s mercy covers all. For you live under the mercy of Christ.


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

Beautiful Savior

is a traditional Lutheran Church, faithful to God's Word and His Sacraments. We equip God's people to serve, love, and encourage one another as we grow in our personal relationship with Christ. We reach out to the community as beacons of light, sharing the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Savior.

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The office is closed on Fridays during the summer months of June, July, and August.

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Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday

By appointment only June and July


2306 Milton Way
Milton, WA 98354
(253) 922-6977
(253) 922-6977