Thursday, April 02, 2015

Sermon for 3/29/15: Palm Sunday



God’s Ways

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

It's sort of ironic that when Jesus rose from the dead, His disciples weren't expecting it, even though He had told them it would happen. But His enemies certainly understood what He meant when He said He would rise from the dead. So they told Pontius Pilate to make sure that grave was secured. The disciples don't know. The enemies know. A murderer goes free. The innocent Christ is crucified. The High Priest, whom the Bible says is never supposed to tear His robes, tears them. But our Lord’s clothes are not torn. Everything about the suffering and death of Jesus is backwards. The liars and wicked seem to have the upper hand. Jesus goes to the cross. His faithful disciples fall away in fear. Everything is backwards, upside down. There’s darkness during the day, dead bodies rising. This is how God works. Where there is suffering, He works forgiveness and salvation. Where there is darkness, the Light of the World is dying for sinners. Where there are lies, Jesus is the Truth. Where there is condemnation, Jesus brings acquittal.

Listen to everything we've read. What do you notice? The Jesus who walks on water and feeds 5,000 and heals every disease and raises the dead and casts out the demons? That Jesus looks weak and powerless and awful. What is there about this story that makes Jesus look good? What is there in these details that shows the power and glory and majesty of God? Nothing...unless the power and majesty and glory of God are not what you think. God doesn't do things the way that impresses the world. He does them the opposite. Here in suffering and weakness, there is salvation. Here, sinners go free while the Son of God dies. Here, God gives His life, and those dead in sin are brought back to life. Forget everything the world tries to come up with about God being the "Supreme Being" and "all powerful" and all that. Forget shiny and majestic and mountains and sunsets. Strip it all away, and you see the real, true God, Jesus, nailed to the cross for you. And see also that through what is most despised, most horrific, most dishonorable and sad, God saves sinners.

And then repent of the unbelief you share with the high priest and the Pharisees. They wanted to seal the tomb to keep Jesus in. We'd do the same thing. After all, if He comes out, then He was right! If He comes out, then we have to really believe that our sins were paid for and we can’t keep living in them. If He comes out, we learn that we were wrong, that He was right, that sins are dead and we are alive in Christ. And just as Jesus was despised on Calvary, the greatest gifts God gives us now are completely hidden behind common and ordinary things. The world sees a mere splash of water, and yet there is nothing more mighty and powerful and saving than your baptism! The world sees two young people who have bought into what they consider the “Jesus myth,” but Leah and Ryan are a young Christian lady and gentleman who are clinging to the faith they were given in Holy Baptism. The world sees a guy in a robe, speaking worthless lies. And yet that is the very voice of God coming from that man’s mouth, declaring your pardon! The world sees ordinary bread and wine. But that is Jesus Himself, His body and blood, come to raise you from the dead and make you live forever. That's the same Jesus that was nailed to the tree and sealed into the tomb. And just as the tomb couldn't hold Him, in the same way, your sins don't hold you. You are free from them. Despite the high priest, and the Pharisees, and even despite you, the Jesus who was crucified was alive the third day. That is what God is all about. That's how He works. And it all happens for you. 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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