Monday, September 10, 2012

Sermon for 9/9/12--Trinity 14

Where Jesus Is
Luke 17:11-19

Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen.

What lesson does Jesus want to teach us when He says, "Where are the other nine? Did only a foreign Samaritan come back to give glory to God?" Is Jesus upset because they didn't come back and say "thank you?" Was He disappointed in their parents for not teaching them better manners? Is our Lord insecure? None of the above. Rather, Jesus wants to teach us, as the one Samaritan leper learned, that to glorify God means coming back to where Jesus is for more good gifts and blessings.

Let that sink in for a moment. To glorify God, to give God glory means to be where Jesus is, receiving His gifts. That means you are glorifying God right now because you are here where Jesus is giving out His gifts. Jesus isn't glorified when we tell Him how great He is. He's glorified when He gives out His forgiveness and life and salvation and we receive His gifts by faith, trusting that He always has more for us. To glorify God is to daily live in the promises of your baptism. To glorify God is to say "amen" to the forgiveness of the absolution. To glorify God is to hear the reading and preaching of His Word which calls you to repentance and faith in Christ for the forgiveness of sins. To glorify Christ is to kneel at His altar, receiving His body and blood as the gift that heals us from our sins just as He healed the ten of their leprosy. To give God the glory isn't just to say that He's great, but that He's great because He saves sinners.

When we think of God's glory we usually picture the Lord seated on the throne in heavenly splendor. The disciples saw that when Jesus was transfigured. That reminded them that Jesus is indeed the God who made all things and rules over all things. But His biggest display of glory was the one nobody realized at first: the cross. The truth is, the big deal about God isn't that He can be shiny and mighty or heal people. The big deal about God is that He became man to suffer and die for your sins and wash them all away by His blood, and then on the third day rise triumphant from the grave. In other words, the truest glory of God is not that He looks like we imagine God should look. It's that He takes what belongs to us—our sins—and saves us by His death and resurrection. The big deal about God is that He is not afraid to get near lepers and sinners and heal them.

Now don't misunderstand me. We should give thanks to God. We should always in our hearts and with our mouths give thanks to the Lord and acknowledge that He is the One from whom we have every good gift. “In everything give thanks.” But we need to learn that Jesus with these ten lepers isn't teaching us that He's a God who has to fish for compliments as if we exist merely to make Him look good. Rather, the Lord does what He does to make us look good, to have us stand before the Father clothed in His own righteousness. Christ became man and went to the cross because we need Him to take away our sins. We need Him to heal us and forgive us and take care of us, and that's exactly what He does.

The problem with the other nine lepers isn't that they weren't happy or grateful. They just didn't seem to need Jesus beyond getting their leprosy cured. It's the same for us. When we seem to get what we need from the Lord, it's easy for our prayers to fall off or for us to pay less attention to the Word of God. Until we need Him again. Repent! Repent of thinking you only need the Lord when something's wrong. In Christ you have a God who is there for you all the time. He always has more gifts, more forgiveness, more of his Word, more comfort, more peace. With Jesus there's always more. And like that Samaritan leper, we return here to receive what He has for us.

What does Jesus want us to learn from His words? Learn that He alone is the one who can save us, heal us, and forgive us—and not just when we're in trouble but always. There is never a time when we don't need to be healed from the leprosy of our sin. There is never a time when we don't need the Lord's grace and mercy. And so we come to Jesus in His church—not to show off that we have good manners or to tell Him how great He is. We come to receive what He has for us. And what He has is water, word, body and blood: forgiveness, life and salvation. We praise Him for that and glorify Him as we receive His gifts with joy. In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.               

The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always.  Amen.

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