Sunday, December 20, 2015

Sermon for 12/20/15: Fourth Sunday in Advent

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Crazy Preachers

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

All John has is Christ. All John can point to and preach about is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. John isn't the Christ. He's not Elijah the way the Jews expect. He's not the Prophet Moses spoke about. He's just John, and all He has is Jesus. John did not come to tell the Pharisees to keep up the good work of teaching people how to fool themselves into thinking that they could keep the Law. John told them to throw away their own righteousness and get in the water and get baptized like all the other sinners. Your pastor is the same way. I can't even untie our Lord’s shoes, but He has made me a preacher, so I'll preach about Him…and only Him. If you are not a sinner, or not too bad of a sinner, then I apologize, but I don't have anything for you today. If you are not doomed to death by God's Law and have no hope in yourself to avoid the judgment of God, then I'm sorry, I can't help you. But if the Law has crushed you, if you know that you've got nothing before God, if you know God doesn’t owe you anything, then behold Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

The Word of God is clear, dear hearers: the wrath of God stands against every sort of thought and word and deed which denies the Lord and His Word, which despises His preaching, which misuses His name. The anger and judgment of the Lord stand against every thought and word and deed which tears down our neighbor; every disobedient act against parents; hatred and murder; fornication and adultery; stealing and coveting and speaking badly about neighbors. Against all that the wrath of God is coming. That's what John preached: the Lord is coming, and He's got his ax ready to chop down unfruitful trees; the winnowing fork is ready to burn the chaff. Prepare for the coming Savior: acknowledge and confess that the wrath of God is exactly what your sins deserve. If you are not frightened by it, you should be! So John points to Jesus. That's all that preacher has. That's all any preacher should have. Against that terrifying wrath of God, we the Lamb of God, the Sacrifice appointed to bear that wrath and take away our sins.

When we see what our sins have earned us, then Jesus comes in the flesh, as if He were a sinner, to be baptized by John. He comes to preach the Word of God. He comes to be treated as a criminal: to be beaten within an inch of His life and then nailed to the cross. Brothers and sisters in Christ, the wrath of God against our sins is poured out upon Jesus. It kills Him. But He bears it all. You can't save yourself, but Jesus saves you. You can't live a good enough life, but Jesus lived without sin. You can't make up for your sins, but Jesus takes them away. It is impossible for you to save yourself, but the Lord brings you into the kingdom in the waters of the font. It is impossible for you to get rid of your sins, but Jesus absolves them through the lips of your pastor. You can't feed yourself, but Jesus feeds you with His saving and forgiving body and blood. Jesus doesn't come to you with terror; He comes to you in water, words, and bread and wine.

The Pharisees and scribes send their agents to spy out John. All he's got for them is Jesus, the Lamb of God. That's no good for them; Jesus won't do anything for their religion. He can't save them if they're not sinners. Your sinful flesh wants to come here and be flattered, but it's not going to happen. All I've got for you is what John: Jesus, the Lamb of God. Rejoice in that! Rejoice in Him! Jesus is that Lamb by whom you are protected from the righteous wrath of God. It is in that Lamb that you have peace with God: the peace which passes all understanding, the peace which the world cannot give. That's what the crazy-looking guy down by the Jordan River had for the Pharisees; and that's what the crazy guy in this pulpit has for you today. Only Jesus...and that's enough. 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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