Sermon for Pentecost 16 – 9.25.22

+ 16th Sunday after Pentecost – September 25th, 2022 +

Series C: Amos 6:1-7; 1 timothy 3:1-13; Luke 16:19-31

Beautiful Savior Lutheran

Milton, WA

 

“The Rich Man and Lazarus”

 

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

 

When you read the Scriptures you quickly find out that God’s ways are not man’s ways. When God in the flesh comes to save he’s born in a manger in Bethlehem. When Jesus begins his ministry he is known for eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners. When Jesus conquers sin and death, he does it on a cross.

 

God’s ways are definitely not man’s ways. That’s evident in today’s parable in Luke 16 as well. Jesus begins his story this way.

 

“There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores.

 

Which of these two men would you say was blessed by God? Be honest. Our gut reaction would be to say the rich man. He could count his blessings on his hands and toes and still keep going. Good things. Lots of stuff. And the poor beggar named was Lazarus, he had nothing. Blessed by God? Hardly! We might suspect he was cursed by God, that he did something to deserve this lot in life. And there we would be very wrong.

 

Remember, God’s ways are not man’s ways. Jesus goes on to tell his story. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades.

 

Abraham’s side, or Abraham’s bosom is a Jewish way of referring to heaven. Like when Jesus tells the thief on the cross, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” Lazarus is in a good place. He’s comforted, whole, happy, at peace, and hanging out with father Abraham.

 

Not so for the rich man. The rich man is in Hades. A place of torment. Suffering. Separation. The worst torment of all is that he can see Lazarus resting in comfort next to Abraham. He longs for relief, but like Tantalus, it’s out of reach.

 

Father Abraham,” the rich man cries out, “have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.”

 

The rich man is a Jew. He calls Abraham “father.” He appeals to his ancestry and his status in life – he wants Lazarus to serve him up a cool drink of water. But his ancestry and status are meaningless. It’s a reminder that not only are God’s ways not man’s ways, but man’s ways are not God’s ways. In the face of sin and death what is our relief? Where is our rescue? Not in our heritage or family tree. Not in our status – whatever it may be. Relief. Rescue. Redemption. These all come from outside of you. Gifts of God to you, just as they were to Abraham.

 

Abraham replies to the rich man, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’

 

It’s a complete reversal. The kind of which Mary sings in the Magnificat. The low are raised up. The high are brought down. The beggar is made rich and the rich man a beggar.

 

And that’s what he does. He begs Abraham to send Lazarus to his five brothers, presumably as rich and as self-righteous as he was. ‘I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house to warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’

 

‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’

 

‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”

 

Moses and the prophets. The Scriptures. What we call the Old Testament. God’s Word. God’s promises to rescue, redeem, and bring relief in Jesus the Messiah. This is what saves you no matter how rich or poor you are. God’s promises are the relief. God’s word brings rescue and life.

 

Remember, God’s ways are not man’s ways for God ways are the ways of promise. Grace. Mercy. He gives faith by his word. He brings you into the family of Abraham, that is the family of all believers in Christ – not by your blood-line, or brains, or brawn, or anything. Solely by grace in Christ.

 

God has spoken to us; told us of his love and mercy, revealed it to us in Jesus life, death, and resurrection; given promises. And when he gives us these promises they work faith in us and then rich or poor, high or low, we go to Abraham’s bosom. You seem the point of this story isn’t that the rich go to hell and the poor go to heaven, nor is it about the rich who are blessed more by God and the poor are cursed by him.

 

It’s about the word and ways of God that save. Faith comes by hearing, Paul says. Hearing the Word of Christ. Receiving the joyous rescue of God’s promises to you in Christ crucified and risen. This is what Moses and the prophets say with a unified joyful voice. Jesus is telling us, as he was telling his disciples and the pharisees to listen to, hold on to, and rejoice in his saving Word and nothing else.

 

Why did Lazarus go to heaven and not the rich man? Not because he’s poor, but because he believed the word of Moses and the prophets.

 

And the word of Moses and the prophets is full of promise for you. Unlike the rich man in the parable, Jesus joins us in our poverty. “Though He was rich, yet for our sakes, He became poor that we through His poverty might become rich.” He came to us in the poverty of our sin and death. He came to us when we were unable to help ourselves. He took on our weak and diseased and fallen humanity, and He lifted us up from the curb and brought us to His house and washed our wounds with His Baptism and gave us a seat at His table, not as beggars but as beloved friends, not as strangers but as one of the family, not to eat the crumbs that fall from the table to feast on the abundance of salvation that Jesus has won for you.

 

It’s a good thing – a blessed thing – that God’s ways are not our ways.

 

 

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

Sermon for Pentecost 15 – 9.18.22

+15th Sunday after Pentecost – September 18th, 2022 +

Series C: Amos 8:4-7; 1 Timothy 6:6-19; Luke 16:1-15

Beautiful Savior Lutheran

Milton, WA

 

“The Unjust Steward and the Merciful Master”

 

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

 

Jesus’ parables are like puzzles. Sometimes Jesus’ parables are easily understood, like a children’s wooden puzzle. That was week’s parable of the lost sheep and lost coin. Other times, however, understanding Jesus’ parables is a bit more like piecing together a thousand piece jigsaw puzzle.

 

That’s today’s parable from Luke 16, the parable of the dishonest manager, or better translated, the unjust or unrighteous steward. Jesus seems to be teaching us several things all at once: the proper place of possessions and wealth in the life of his disciples, what true wisdom is, and through it all, to lean on the mercy and grace of our Master, Christ himself.

 

So Jesus said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his possessions.” 

 

We’re not told what this steward or manager did wrong, only that he squandered the master’s possessions – like the prodigal son squandered his father’s inheritance. Whatever it this guy did, it was bad enough to get him sacked. “Clean off your desk. Pack your stuff. You’re fired.” So what does he do? He does a little soul searching. Too weak to work. Too proud to beg. It would seem that he’s got nothing; nothing, that is except his master’s books.

 

So before word gets around town that he’s been fired the steward quickly calls his master’s debtors and starts discounting loans like Oprah giving away stuff on her TV show. “You owe 100 measures of oil; make it 50.” “You owe 100 measures of wheat; make it 80.” Mind you, these are no small amounts either. We’re talking somewhere between 800-900 gallons of olive oil. That’s a lot of EVOO. And roughly a semi-trailer full of wheat.

 

At this point of the story, we’d expect that when the master finds out about this he’ll be blowing steam out of his ears like a looney toon character. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Go directly to jail. But that’s not what happens. Instead, the master commends the unjust manager for his shrewdness.

 

Shrewdness here is street-smarts. Wisdom. It’s not his actions that are being praised. He’s still an unjust steward. It’s his wisdom that is honored. Why? Think about it.

 

In the face of certain judgment, what does the fired steward do? He banks everything on the master’s good name and reputation. If the master, refuses the deal he looks like a jerk to his debtors. If the master takes the deal and goes ahead with the steward’s debt reduction plan, not only does the unjust steward look good, because he helped out some people in debt, but the master comes across as being gracious, generous, giving, and merciful. In fact, this steward’s plan only works if the master is actually a gracious, generous fellow. If not, the steward is off to McNeil Island. But instead, the unjust steward threw himself entirely on the merciful, giving, generous, gracious nature of the master.

 

Jesus closes the parable with his own commentary. “For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.”

“Now what does that mean?” we’re all thinking.

 

Jesus is using an old rabbinic teaching method. Arguing from the lesser to the greater. If this thing is true, how much more then is this greater thing true. If this steward, facing judgment and an uncertain future, threw himself on the mercy of his master and was later received into the homes of his friends –how much more ought you to act with greater wisdom: to throw yourself on the mercy of God, and to act wisely even with worldly goods/possessions by not putting your trust in them.

 

Remember that Jesus is also teaching this parable in ear-shot of the pharisees, of whom Jesus says, “You are lovers of money.” “You cannot serve two masters,” Jesus warns. It’s a warning for us too. Think of this parable as an illustration of Jesus’ words, “where you treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

 

All too often our hearts are not fixed where true joys are found, but on things that falter, fade, and fail. It’s not that earthly stuff is bad – quite the opposite, all good things are gifts from God. It’s the love of those things and the trust of those things more than the mercy of Jesus our Master that we become like the unjust steward, squandering the master’s gifts.

 

Jesus is teaching us the proper place of possessions and earthly stuff. We can hold onto it all with a death grip, but in the end, as good as the gifts of God’s creation, possessions, etc. are, they won’t save you. They won’t forgive your sin. They won’t raise you from the dead. Only the generosity, grace, and mercy of the Master, Jesus, can do that.

 

And when we come to our Master, Jesus, we find that the judge is also our savior. That Christ came into the world not to condemn you, but to save you. That the hands of Jesus the judge hold not a gavel that hammers out judgment over our sin, but nails that took the judgment in our place on the cross. Where all our sins of placing our hearts, minds, and love in our earthly stuff – that he took all of those sins and paid our debt. Not 20%. Not even 50%. But all of it. Every sin. Every selfish moment. Every self-centered thought, word, and deed. It is paid for by the precious blood of Jesus crucified for you.

 

You are free from sin and death, and free to live in his mercy, to live in his grace; you are free to hold your possessions with the open, dead hand of faith. This is what Jesus is teaching us when he calls us to make use of unrighteous mammon (stuff).

To be “faithful in unrighteous Mammon” is to handle your money and possessions full of faith, trusting in our good and gracious God who has given all He has in His Son Jesus in order to save us from our bondage to sin, to death, to the Law and to anything that would enslave us.

To be faithful in unrighteous Mammon means that we are free to use our money and possessions to serve others, to do the goodness and mercy of God for our neighbors, to share our goods with a generous hand.

As stewards, you’re in the hands of Christ, your generous, merciful, and gracious Master. “Come to me, and I will give you rest.” He says, “Be anxious about nothing, but look at the birds and the lilies and how God takes care of them and how much more God cares for you, bought by the Blood of His Son.”

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

 

Sermon for Pentecost 14 – 9.11.22

+ 14th Sunday after Pentecost – September 11th, 2022 +

Series C: Ezekiel 34:11-24; 1 Timothy 1:5-17; Luke 15:1-10

Beautiful Savior Lutheran

Milton, WA

 

“Lost and Found”

 

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

 

You get to your car at the fair and realize your keys aren’t in your pocket. You’re standing at the check-out line at the grocery store. You reach for your wallet. And it’s not there. Or every parents’ nightmare…You turn your head for a moment to look at check what time it is and when you look up you can’t see your child.

 

We’ve probably all had that dreadful feeling of losing something or someone before. The instant panic. A surge of adrenaline. And you can’t rest until what’s lost is found. That’s the seeking heart of the shepherd and the woman in today’s Gospel. It’s the heart of the Lord telling the parable. He’s the seeking shepherd, the searching woman, the God who is totally focused on seeking and finding the lost.

 

There’s a similar fear and panic that sets in when you’re the one who’s lost. Turned around on a hiking trail. Took the wrong exit off the freeway. Being lost is a dreadful feeling. You feel completely alone and helpless.

 

Jesus tells two parables of lostness in today’s gospel reading. A lost sheep. A lost coin. In the biblical view of things, to be lost is to be dead. A lost sheep and a lost coin might as well be dead to their owner. Dead to the world. Dead even to themselves. Helpless and alone.

 

This is the way Scripture speaks about us, that we are lost in Sin and Death. Lost and in need of rescue. So, Jesus tells us a trilogy of parables, or one parable in three parts. Lost Sheep. Lost Coin. Lost Sons. All of which have to do with our lostness, sin, and Death. And Jesus who finds, rescues, saves, and rejoices in doing so.

 

“What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the other ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he puts it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my sheep that was lost!’ 

 

It’s a familiar, beloved parable. But pause for a moment and consider just how crazy this story is. When Jesus asks…What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the other ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? Any shepherd will tell you, ninety-nine out of a hundred. That’s the cost of doing business, they might say. Write the one off as a dead-loss.

 

But not this shepherd. What kind of shepherd runs off to rescue one lost sheep? A shepherd who loves his sheep, that’s who. A shepherd who won’t rest and will stop at nothing to find, rescue, and bring home his beloved sheep.

 

“Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 

 

Again, it’s a rather odd story if you think about it from a financial or statistical point of view. You might go searching for five or six lost coins, but one? Not worth the time and effort.

 

Remember, Jesus tells these parables to the scribes and pharisees who saw welcoming, eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners him, and grumbled against him. The “lost” are the Gentiles, the “tax collectors and sinners” who were flocking to Jesus. Jesus welcomed them and ate with them. Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. The ninety-nine righteous sheep and the nine coins were Israel’s religious leaders, the scribes and Pharisees. It’s not that they needed no repentance; they did. But they didn’t think they did. And that was the problem. You don’t rejoice in being found until you realize you’re lost.

 

You see, Jesus’ parables of the lost sheep and lost coin aren’t about farming or finances. Jesus is teaching us – along with the scribes and Pharisees – that God’s kingdom operates not by calculating, bookkeeping, or our own righteousness – but solely by His grace. Jesus’ parables are about God’s amazingly outrageous grace that seeks and saves the lost.

 

We’re that lost sheep, wandering aimlessly in sin, easy wolf-chow. We’re that lost coin, buried in the dark under the couch cushion. That’s the thing about the lost sheep and coin in this story. They’re lost. Helpless. And they can’t do a blessed thing to find themselves. In the kingdom of God there’s no such thing as self-rescue. No room for self-righteousness.

 

There is, however, plenty of room for sinners. Which is good news for us. The rescuing shepherd, the seeking woman – these are all pictures of our gracious Lord who specializes in finding, rescuing, and rejoicing in lost things. Jesus is the Redeemer of the unredeemable, the Justifier of those who don’t have a case. Jesus is the Finder of the lost, the One who seeks losers in their lostness and raises the undeserving dead from their grave.

 

Jesus is the Good Shepherd who lays down his life to rescue you. Jesus is the one who finds you, rescues you, throws you on his shoulders on the cross, and rejoicing, carries you home. He sets you down here in his house and says let the party begin.

 

‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my sheep that was lost!’ ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found the coin which I had lost!’ In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

 

That’s really the beating heart of these parables: joy. The joy of Jesus seeking, searching, rescuing you. The joy of Jesus who for the joy set before him – the joy of rescuing and saving you – he endured the cross. And the joy of Jesus who carries you home on his shoulders to a feast of forgiveness, a party of outrageous forgiveness for undeserving sinners.

 

A word that opens heaven to you every time you hear it. Water that washes you clean and restores you to new life in Jesus’ death and resurrection. Bread and wine that feed you with the body and blood of your Good Shepherd Jesus. Here in our Lord’s house, you are welcomed as were the tax collectors and sinners with whom Jesus ate and drank. The Church is our Lord’s great “lost and found” of wayward sheep, lost coins, and sinners of every sort who have come to faith’s recognition that they aren’t lost after all. You are found in Jesus.

 

And isn’t that remarkable. What brings God joy. What puts an eternal smile upon his face and fills his mouth with a ruckus, booming, belly-aching laugh is the joy of sending Jesus to find you, rescue you, and bring you home.

 

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

Sermon for Pentecost 13 – 9.4.22

+ 13th Sunday after Pentecost – September 4th, 2022 +

Series C: Deuteronomy 30:15-20; Philemon 1-21; Luke 14:25-35

Beautiful Savior Lutheran

Milton, WA

 

“Discipleship and the Cross”

 

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

 

If you look at an aerial view of the Assumption Cathedral in Dubrovnik, Croatia, you’ll quickly notice its cross-shaped architecture and its central location in town’s. Wherever you are around town, life is oriented around the cross.

 

So it is for the life of Jesus’ disciples. Your life as Jesus’ disciple, as a baptized child of God, is oriented around the cross of Christ. In fact from the moment you first believed, from the day of your baptism and every day since, your life is marked by the cross. To be Jesus’ disciple is to bear the cross. You can’t have one without the other.

 

If we walk through today’s gospel reading of Luke 14 without keeping our eyes on Christ and his cross we’ll quickly become disoriented, lost. With Jesus crucified in focus, however, we’ll get a proper view of things, especially when he says difficult things like this…

 

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”

 

Whoa. Wait a minute, you’re probably thinking. I thought Jesus was all about family. Love your neighbor. Hating father, mother, wife, children, brothers, and sisters – that doesn’t sound like family friendly Jesus. And even hating my own life? What about my self-esteem? This all sounds rather cruel and confusing.

 

Jesus is using the Old Testament use of the word hate in this context. Not a rage-filled emotional hatred. It’s an ordering, a preference, a prioritizing of this first, then that. Like when Isaac loved Rebeka more than, or hated, Leah.

 

Think back to the image of the town with the cross-shaped church at the center. Now imagine that town is a picture of your life, your heart, faith, trust, and devotion. But instead of a cross-shaped church in the middle of your life, you’ve built an ornate shrine to your father, mother, wife, children, sister, or brother. Or perhaps a lavish temple with your own portrait above the altar. And all the while, that cross-shaped church keeps getting pushed further and further down the street and out of town.

This is what Jesus is getting at here. Who or what is the center of your life – your faith, love, and trust – as his disciple, as God’s baptized, holy child? Is it Christ crucified or something or someone else?

 

Or think of it this way, “What happens when we love our father, mother, wife, children, brothers, and sisters more than we love Christ? What happens when we love ourselves and follow our own passions and desires more than we love Christ? What happens is that we turn God’s good gifts of love, family, and care of our own well-being into idols where our every thought, care, and desire is curved and twisted inward upon ourselves, rather than outward in love towards Christ and others.

 

If we’re honest, we come to the conclusion. “Lord, I haven’t done that. I’m a total failure. My heart and will and trust are a tangled, cobwebbed mess of thoughts, desires, and loves…”

 

This is why Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem. And this is why Jesus says what he says next, “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”

 

To be Jesus’ disciple is to bear the cross. And the cross is death. Jesus means for us to die. There’s no escaping it. We either die alone clinging to our idols and self-serving love, or we die and rise again with Christ and in the love of Christ crucified and risen. “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” says Dietrich Bonhoeffer. This is what Jesus’ call to discipleship means. To die to sin. To put to death our desires and passions.

 

There’s a cost to being Jesus’ disciple. Count the cost, Jesus yells us. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?  Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.

 

And again, if we’re honest, we’re probably all thinking something like, “Lord, I can’t pay it. That’s too much for me.”

 

And you’re right. It is too high a cost. It is too steep a price. We cannot pay the cost of discipleship.

 

Truth is, there’s only one who can. And He has. And He did it all for you.

 

Jesus bears the cost of discipleship. That’s the good news hidden in today’s Gospel. Jesus bears the cost. He lays down His life to save the world. He becomes the world’s Sin. He dies your Death. Jesus counted the cost of being the world’s Savior. Jesus counted the cost of rescuing you from your Sin and Death. And it was worth every drop of His holy, precious blood to save you. He gave up everything that was His – His honor, glory, dominion, power, His entire life – and for the joy of your salvation, He set His face to Jerusalem to die. He took up His cross to save you.

 

He didn’t ask you to choose Him. He chose you. He baptized you. He called you by His Spirit. You were dead and God made you alive in Christ. You were dead and God rebirthed you by water and Spirit. You were captive to Sin and Death, and God made you free in Christ. Before you believed, before you were born, before you ever were, Christ was your Savior and Lord and Redeemer. You didn’t choose Him; He chose you. Even if you came to faith as an adult and sought out Baptism, you still didn’t choose Him. He chose you. He laid His cross on you, to put your sin to death, and raised you to new life.

 

That’s what happens to you as Jesus disciples. Jesus’ death and resurrection reorders and transforms everything. You were dead and now you are alive. Jesus completely reorients our life around his cross.

“Hating your life” in this life means letting go of your life as you hold it so that you can receive it as Christ holds it. Renouncing your life means letting go of your control of it recognizing that Christ has better control of it. Hating father and mother, wife and children, brother and sister, does not mean dishonoring them or doing evil to them, or even feeling negatively toward them.

 

It is, rather, Jesus teaching us that there are two ways to live as disciples. We can hold things, including our family and even own life, in a death grip, and in the end we will lose everything. Or we can instead hold everything with an open, dead hand of faith, knowing that God in Christ holds these things for us in a way that we cannot. Your entire life as Jesus’ disciple is oriented around His cross.

 

For you, Jesus’ disciples, His cross is your way of life. And even as you bear the cross, He carries you.

 

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

Sermon for Pentecost 12 – 8.28.22

+ 12th Sunday after Pentecost – August 28th, 2022 +

Series C: Proverbs 25:2-10; Hebrews 13:1-17; Luke 14:1-14

Beautiful Savior Lutheran

Milton, WA

 

“Pride and Humility”

 

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

 

“There is one vice, writes C.S. Lewis, of which no man in the world is free; which every one in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else; and of which hardly anyone ever imagines they are guilty.” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, p. 121).

 

Can you guess what sin that is? Lewis is referring to the sin of pride. The chief sin. The sin that leads to all other sins.

 

It is pride – and its opposite, humility – that are on full display in our gospel reading in Luke 14 this morning. Pride in the hearts, minds, words, and deeds of the pharisees with whom Jesus was invited to dine. Humility in the heart, mind, words, and deeds of Jesus who comes with mercy to heal a sick man and to save you.

 

Luke 14 begins around the dinner table at the home of one of the rulers of the pharisees. St. Luke tells us why Jesus is invited to dinner with the religious rich and famous. They were watching him carefully, he says. The pharisees were following the old adage of keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.

 

Jesus isn’t the only unlikely guest at this dinner party. A man with dropsy – or edema in today’s medical language – also happens to be there. Luke doesn’t tell us this, but it seems likely the pharisees planted him there at this Sabbath day dinner party to entrap Jesus.

 

If Jesus doesn’t heal the man, clearly he isn’t following God’s command to love his neighbor. And if he does heal the man, well then, he doesn’t love God by keeping the commandment to observe the Sabbath day. To quote the famous Admiral Ackbar; “it’s a trap.”

 

Jesus, however, is on to their game. He turns the question back on them. “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?” What’s their answer? If the pharisees had smart phones you can imagine them googling their copies of the Talmud and Mishnah with the key words “healing” and “sabbath.” The pharisees lived for this kind of codifying the law. Parsing it out to the smallest list of do’s and don’ts. They prided themselves on their 613 ways to keep the Law. And yet when Jesus asks the question they’re silent. They could not answer.

 

Instead of listening to the words of the Rabbi, Jesus, they busy themselves with scorekeeping all the ways Jesus breaks their manmade rules and traditions. Instead of spending the Sabbath day receiving God’s words and promises, they work to glorify themselves. Instead of living in humility and hospitality towards the sick man in their midst, and Jesus their guest, they look for the place of honor, are self-centered, and prideful.

 

Now, it’s easy to listen to stories like this and think to ourselves, to quote another pharisee, “Thank God am not like those other men.” But the truth is we are like them, aren’t we. There’s a little pharisee within each of us that loves to keep score, compare ourselves with others, glorify ourselves, look out for number one, to live as if God and my neighbor did not matter and as if I mattered most.

 

This is why Jesus goes on to tell a parable. “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

 

Jesus concern here isn’t really about proper table etiquette a wedding reception. If the pharisees look at the kingdom of God through their self-glorifying ways – pride, Jesus sees the kingdom of God through his self-giving ways – humility.

 

And in the kingdom of God humility is always given to you. Not taken or grasped for yourself. you don’t make yourself humble…like when you’re being interviewed for a job, “Oh yes, humility is one of my best traits.” Humility is a passive gift. God gives humility; we receive it. God humbles us so that he may exalt us. This is what Jesus is getting at in that closing verse of the parable. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled…by God, and he who humbles himself will be exalted…by God.”

 

These words are the way life works in the kingdom of God. It is a life lived in mercy. In sacrifice. In humility. And this is the way Jesus lived and died for you.

 

If there’s anyone who deserves the higher seat, the place of honor, and the exaltation, it’s Jesus. And yet for you he took the lower seat. For you he lived and died in humility to save us from our foolish pride.

 

In the words of Paul, though he was in the form of God, he did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

 

This is the way it is in God’s kingdom. No one owes anyone anything because all has been paid by for by the blood of Jesus. Whatever we owed, Jesus paid by his sacrifice for us. All of our pride and self-centeredness – Jesus died in humility for that too.

 

And in return, Jesus invites you to his banquet table with no preconditions and expects nothing in return. As Luther said on his death bead; we are all beggars. It is Christ himself who took the lowest seat in life and in death to exalt you in his humility, and then to turn you outwards in his humility and love towards others in your life.

 

In Christ – and that’s the key – in Christ and his humility for you, you are humble servants. In Jesus’ humility, you are exalted to a better place, a better seat. A table and a feast of his body and blood given and shed 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, Wednesday, and Friday
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