Sermon for Pentecost 5 – 7.2.23

+ 5th Sunday after Pentecost – July 2nd, 2023 +

Series A: Jeremiah 28:5-9; Romans 7:1-13; Matthew 10:34-42

Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church

Milton, WA

 

“The Sword and the Cross”

 

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

 

It doesn’t take you long in reading through the Scriptures to discover that God loves giving his gifts to man. It seems that wherever God’s gifts abound, soon after, and often with tragic and disastrous results, the devil and our sinful flesh quickly turn those gifts into weapons and tools of temptation.

 

Consider the opening chapters of Genesis. In Genesis 1 and 2, God creates a world, a garden, a man and a woman in perfect goodness and holiness. Over and over we hear how everything God made was very good. Then comes Genesis 3, where everything that God created very good goes very bad. God’s creation, his relationship with Adam and Eve, their very life with him, and all lives from that moment on were shattered.

 

So it goes with other gifts of God. With God’s gift of wisdom comes the temptation to arrogance. With God’s gift of intelligence comes the temptation to hubris. With God’s gift of beauty comes the temptation of vanity and lust. With God’s gift of earthly possessions comes the temptation to greed.

 

Even those relationships that God gives to be the closest and most intimate of all – those within our families – are not left alone by the devil and our sinful flesh. With God’s gift of family comes the temptation to place the love of family over the love God the Father has for you in His Son Christ Jesus.

 

This is what Jesus is getting at when he says…“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

 

What does all of this mean? Remember the context. Throughout Matthew 10, Jesus has been sending out his disciples. Jesus warned them of the coming persecution. He taught them they need not fear because they are of more value than many sparrows. He promised to be with them. And now he is teaching his disciples – then and now – that nothing can come between us and Him, because without Him we will lose everything, including our own lives. And in Jesus we have everything we need.

 

That’s why, here in Matthew 10, Jesus warns his disciples then, and us today, of the danger of placing father or mother, son or daughter, wife or husband, ahead of Jesus Christ. Of worshiping our earthly families instead of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Jesus places Himself over every one of our human relationships, even those of family. So, when we love another more than Christ, we make that person, whether  they are father, mother, son, or daughter into an idol. Idols always crumble under the pressure of being our gods. They will disappoint us; they will fail to live up to our expectations; and ultimately they cannot save us.

 

 

As important as these relationships are, they are not above the most important one of all…the saving relationship of God the Father in giving his Son Jesus to rescue and save you. This is what brings peace – the blood of Jesus shed on the cross. Not necessarily an earthly peace. Peace of reconciliation before God the Father through the death and resurrection of God the Son for you.

 

It is this peace, Jesus says, that comes with a sword. Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 

 

It’s ok to admit, this sounds strange. We’re used to hearing Jesus the Prince of Peace. And He is, just not our definition of peace. The peace we think of – peace found in this world – is a fickle, fleeting, and failing thing.

 

The peace that Jesus brings, however, is far different. Far better. Jesus’ peace never fails because it is peace that is found in his blood and death on the cross. Peace that comes from the good news of his resurrection. Peace in his word and baptism and supper for you.

 

This peace that Jesus gives does not always mean we will be at peace with the world, or even within our own families. That’s the sword that Jesus is talking about. The division and separation. Jesus redraws family ties based not on blood lines and family trees, but on those who believe in him who shed his blood on the tree for you, and those who reject this peace.

 

There’s hardly a congregation or family that hasn’t felt this sword Jesus speaks of here in Matthew 10. Since Cain and Abel, Lost and his sons-in-law, Joseph and his brothers, David and Absalom, it’s been this way. Even Adam turned on Eve after they both devoured death together.

 

I’m sure there’s someone, some relationship in every one of our families that have felt the sword of division and separation that Jesus is speaking of here. Not the kind of family division over whose team is better, Cougars or Huskies, but the kind of division that happens as a result of your faith in Christ and another’s rejection of Christ. It’s a division of trust in the blood of Jesus to save, or trust in ourselves, our blood, our reason, our whatever to save us and bring peace.

 

Jesus orders everything – even our earthly families – around one thing, and one thing only – his crucifixion, his cross, his life laid down for you in death. Any relationship that is put over this one, becomes an idol. Every relationship that is placed under the cross comes with his grace and mercy to be sure, but also comes with a sword, a division. Some, even in our own families, will by God’s grace believe, and others will reject that gift.

 

It’s a good thing, then, that Jesus knows exactly what this is like. For all the time there has been struggles and divisions in our families because of the faith we confess and the life we live in Christ, Jesus himself endured all these divisions and separations. Some of Jesus’ own family thought he was crazy. One of his close disciples betrayed him. On the cross he bore every one of our sins, even those where we have failed to fear, love and trust in him above all things. Jesus bears it all for you.

 

Once again, though, we’re not alone. The sword Jesus brings is a sword that touched Him as well. His cross comes first, then your cross. His death comes first, then your death. It was for the sake of our sin and our salvation that He came under the Law, that He refused the easy peace of compromise with this world. The sword divided Father from Son. The sword put His mother Mary at the foot of His cross and pierced her soul with grief. The sword caused Jesus to experience the God-forsakenness of our humanity, the darkness of God’s wrath, the suffering of our sin. He took up His cross to lead humanity through death to life. It’s the only way for a sinner to live before God and that is to die with Jesus. Not simply to die. Everyone does that sooner or later. But to die with Jesus. To take up your cross, your death, and follow Jesus in the way He goes, namely through death to eternal life.

This is what he gives you in your Baptism. You are the body of Christ. Your life is not your own. You belong to Christ, wholly and completely.

 

And only in Christ can there be peace in the family, peace in the world, peace in your hearts and minds. He didn’t come to bring peace on earth. He came to bring a sword, the sword of His cross. And by that sword, you have a peace the surpasses your understanding, a peace the world cannot give, a peace the goes on forever. Peace that is yours in Jesus crucified for you.

 

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.

Church Office Hours

Monday - Thursday 8:30am-3:30pm

Friday 8:30am-11:30am

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

Preschool Office Hours

August - May
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday
8:30am-12:30pm

By appointment only June and July

Contact

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