Sunday, April 09, 2017

Sermon for 4/9/17: Palm Sunday and Confirmation

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

Don’t feel sorry for Jesus. It’s true that you can see in your mind’s eye the blood-lust of the soldiers. Your ears hear the jeers of the frenzied mob. Your heart feels the lurking of the devil. You can imagine all too well the grief of Mary, the horror of the scourging, the cruelty of the crowd, and the torture of the stakes driven into His hands and feet. Even so, don’t feel sorry for Jesus. After all, He doesn’t suffer anything against His will. Yes, He begged His Father to take this cup from Him if possible. Nevertheless, He submitted to His Father’s will. He drank down the cup of your sin and death, the cup of the full fury of the Father’s wrath. He drained it.
When you look at Our Lord Jesus suffering, as Luther suggests, “perceive and understand not only what He suffered, but also how it was His heart and will to suffer. For whoever looks on Christ’s sufferings without seeing His heart and will must be filled with fear rather than joy. But if you can truly see His heart and will in it, then it gives you true comfort, trust and joy in Christ.”
So no, do not feel sorry for Jesus. Or, as Jesus Himself says, “Don’t weep for Me. Weep for yourselves and for your children.” Jesus doesn’t need your sympathy or your weeping. The sorrow He requires of you is your repentance, your contrition and faith. He desires your confession that He endures His passion for you. This is your salvation, your hope, your joy, your life. Take to heart and always recall that it is accomplished for you.
Our Lord Jesus was the defenseless, forsaken Lamb, led to slaughter. He is the sacrificial Victim. He who was sinless is made to be Sin for the sake of sinners. Because of that, He becomes your Savior. Because of this Passion, He is your deliverance from slavery to sin, from the death-grip of Satan, from the gaping maw of the hell. He has not done this for His sake. Rather, “He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.” He has not done this to prove His righteousness, but to reconcile you to God.
How is that reconciliation accomplished? Jesus is your Passover Lamb. He who is beaten and bloodied; He who goes to His death—He is your food and drink. He is not killed to gain your sympathy; our Lord suffers and dies so that you might eat Him and live. This Passover Lamb is not killed simply to show perfect surrender or true obedience. This Paschal Lamb of God is killed to take away the sin of the world: to have His blood splashed on the door, to have His flesh eaten by all in the house.
Behold, this is the house of God, and the watered blood of the Paschal Lamb of God now marks the door of your heart and mind in Holy Baptism. And the One who was sacrificed for the sins of all—His body is given into death for you to eat; His blood is shed for you to drink. And in this food you receive forgiveness of sins, life and salvation. My dear confirmands, this is why we’ve spent the last two years learning about God’s gifts. This is how Our Lord Jesus makes all things new: Jesus, the sacrificial Lamb of God, sits at the eternal wedding feast with the angels, the archangels, the saints and martyrs, the blessed dead, and all the company of heaven.
And what does that holy assembly say? What song do we share with them? “Holy! Holy! Holy Lord, God of Sabaoth! Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord.” For “worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!” That is our song today, and it is the song of all the faithful as we partake in the marriage feast of the Lamb in His kingdom, which has no end. 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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