Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Sermon for 10/19/14--Trinity XVIII



True Love

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

The Pharisees asked what the greatest commandment is. But Jesus gave them two. By teaching them to love God and to love their neighbor, Jesus is teaching them that there is no love of God apart from love of neighbor. This was a hard lesson for the Pharisees to learn. They knew doctrine, but they did little to care for others. Last week we saw their concern that Jesus might actually heal a man on the Sabbath! My brothers and sisters in Christ, if you come here to church, and you sing and pray and say all the words so that people can drive by and see your car here, but then you go back into the world with only your own welfare on your mind, then you have not let the Word of God dwell within you. If you are proud of being a Christian and a Lutheran, and you are glad you are a churchgoer, but you walk out the door and back to your grudges against others and playing favorites and ignoring others, then repent of your sinfulness! There is no loving God apart from loving our neighbor.

The only answer to this sin is Jesus, the Son of David and David’s Lord. The Commandments and the Law are wrapped up and hang upon Jesus. Jesus is teaching about his divine and human natures. Let’s be clear: What Jesus teaches, what the Pharisees don't get, is that Jesus is the Christ, true God and true man. He is David's Son because He takes on flesh and is born into David's line. But He is David's Lord because He is the eternally begotten Son who is true God. Here is the miracle of the Incarnation: the divine nature of the Son of God takes upon Himself a human nature, together as one Person: Jesus.

But there’s more. Jesus is God and man, and that means Jesus is the focus and substance of the Law. Love God and love your neighbor? Jesus is both at the same time. He perfectly loves God and His neighbor at the same time. Jesus, true God and true Man, hangs upon the tree of the cross. Where we have failed to obey God and failed to love our neighbor, that has been hung upon Christ. Where we have falsely served God and abandoned our neighbor, that has been hung upon Christ. Jesus keeps the commandments and is killed by our breaking them. He makes that death ours in the waters of Holy Baptism, and He raises us to life again in His own resurrection.

Now in Christ we have everything settled. How do you love and glorify God? Love God by receiving what He has for you: forgiveness, life and salvation. Hear and learn His holy word. Live daily in the washing given to you in Baptism. Confess your sins and be absolved. Be filled with the body and blood of Jesus by which He lives in you to do good works for others. Receive what the Lord has for you in His church, and not merely for your own sake. In receiving these gifts of God, you are made into a gift for your neighbor. Baptism, Absolution, the body and blood of Jesus: these are all given to you that you would have in you the One who kept the Law, so that you would love and serve your neighbor. You are forgiven of what you have failed to do and taught by the Spirit what good works you are to do.

But your salvation does not hang upon your good works. Your salvation does not hang upon the Law. Thanks be to God for that, for the Law will only accuse you, and your works will only fail you. Jesus, true God and true Man, loves the Lord your God with all His heart, with all His soul, and with all His mind; and Jesus, true God and true Man, loves your neighbor as He loves Himself. This is what matters most, because your salvation hangs upon His perfect love. Your salvation is this: Jesus Christ has died bearing your sins, and He has risen to raise you up with Him. That is true love: love of God and true love of you, His neighbor. In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.     

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

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