Sermon for Pentecost 6 – 7.9.23

+ 6th Sunday after Pentecost – July 9th, 2023 +

Series A: Zechariah 9:9-12; Romans 7:14-25; Matthew 11:25-30

Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church

Milton, WA

 

“Rest in God’s Grace”

 

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

 

The runner who has the fastest time in the 100 meter dash wins the gold medal. The student with the best GPA is the valedictorian of the graduating class. The best proposal at the business meeting gets the contract. We’re used to this way of thinking. It’s how things usually work. It’s the way of the world.

 

It’s not the way of things in the kingdom of God, however. In the kingdom of God, things are completely different. We live by mercy, not merit. We live by grace, not entitlement. We live in Christ’s redemption, not the rewards of our own efforts. We live by Christ’s righteousness, not our own. We are not self-sufficient, but utterly dependent upon Jesus’ blood on the cross to save us. We live by the work of his hands, not ours. In our life we rely on his wisdom, not ours. Instead of growing up and becoming all we can achieve or be, Jesus tells us to become more like little children…to be totally, completely, and utterly dependent upon him for everything.

 

“I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.”

 

When Jesus prays this prayer and confesses these words of truth, Jesus is revealing to his disciples then, and to us now, that when he reveals his kingdom and salvation, he does so entirely by his grace and favor. And it’s always by his undeserved grace to people who don’t deserve it and haven’t done anything to earn it.

 

In fact, the conflict that we see Jesus embroiled in throughout the Gospels comes as a direct result of the undeserved grace of God’s kingdom and salvation that he comes to bring in his dying and rising. The scribes, pharisees, chief priests – the religious authorities of Jesus’ day – are at odds with Jesus because they think the ways of the world – of merit and law and rewards – is the way of God’s kingdom too. But it isn’t.

 

It’s no wonder they’re so often upset with Jesus and eventually plot to kill him. Jesus completely upends their self-righteousness. He turns their world of works and law completely upside down. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day want the kingdom of God to come by merit, not mercy. By seeking righteousness in the Law, not in Christ who fulfills the Law. By the work of their own hands, not Jesus’ hands.

 

Not so fast, says Jesus. My kingdom comes by mercy, not merit. By my hands, not yours. By my keeping of the Law, not yours. By my sacrifice for sins, not yours. By my labor and love, not yours.

 

“Father, Lord of heaven, thank you. Thank you for hiding the treasures of your kingdom from the wise and understanding who are so smart they think they don’t have anything to learn. Thank you for hiding your goodness and mercy from those who think they have you figured out. Thank you for hiding your wisdom under foolishness, your strength under weakness, your victory under defeat. Thank you for revealing these things to the little ones, to little children.”

 

It sounds so opposite of what we would do or expect or deserve. And that’s precisely the point. God does this, gives his kingdom to us this way, reveals his righteousness to us without us doing a blessed thing so that it rests entirely on his grace, in his hands, and on his mercy.

 

God hides the mysteries of the kingdom from the worldly wise and understanding. He reveals them to the little ones of faith. He uses the foolish to shame the wise. He uses the weak to shame the strong. He uses the losers of this world (and little children were considered losers in Jesus’ day) to shame the “winners” of this world. He tucks the Mystery of salvation under the simplicity of baptismal water, pastoral words, eucharistic bread and wine.

 

Unlike fine wine and good cheese, sinners don’t really with age. The apostle Paul was probably in his fifties when he wrote his epistle to the Romans. He had been a Christian for over a decade. In chapter 7, which you heard as the this morning’s epistle, Paul speaks of the reality of being a believer in the flesh of Adam, what it means to have the mind of Christ and the flesh of Adam, or as Luther termed it, to be simultaneously a sinner and a saint. The good he want to do with his mind, he does not do. The evil he tries to avoid, that he does. When he wants to do good, evil lies close at hand. And what does Paul have to say about all that? “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” And the only answer is this: “Thanks be to God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

 

When our Lord Jesus reveals his kingdom and salvation, he does so entirely by his grace and favor. And it’s always by his undeserved grace to people who don’t deserve it and haven’t done anything to earn it.

 

God’s love and kingdom and grace must be revealed to us. Given to us. So that’s what Jesus did. Christ came to us. The Father sent the Son to be humbled under the Law for us, to put Sin to death in our flesh, to deal with this fatal and blinding spiritual disease that robs us of our innocence, our blessedness, our holiness. Jesus became the little one in our midst – lowly, despised, rejected. He embraced the little ones as pictures of faith not because they were innocent and sinless, but because they trusted, they received, they were open and teachable.

 

And that is why it is good news when he says what he says to us today in Matthew 11… Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

 

“Come to me. Come to me, you weary and burdened, broken and miserable, anxious and despairing. Come to me, laboring under the Law, weighed down by the burden of your sin, Come to me where I have come to you. Come to me in Baptism where I make you an infant again. Come to me, in my Word, in the bread that is My Body, in the wine that is My Blood. Come to me, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke, the yoke of childlike faith and trust in me. I bore your burden on the cross so that you don’t have to. Take my yoke upon your shoulders and I will be there with you.”

 

When our Lord Jesus reveals his kingdom and salvation, he does so entirely by his grace and favor. And it’s always by his undeserved grace to people who don’t deserve it and haven’t done anything to earn it.

 

That’s the way of life in the kingdom of God for us, his children…we live and rest in God’s grace.

 

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