THE  APOSTOLIC  LUTHERAN  CHURCH
                                                                                            MISSOURI SYNOD
                                                                                                                in Moses Lake, WA

 Rev. Winston Grieser, Pastor
 
WEEKLY 
SERMONS

THIRD SUNDAY AFTER EPHPHANY

THE BAPTISM OF OUR LORD

January 27, 2019-Sermon

January 13, 2019-Sermon

Rev. Winston Grieser  
Grace, mercy, and peace be multiplied to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
            That the Lord Jesus Christ, Yahweh in the flesh, is both a man under authority and the Man with all authority in Heaven and Earth sometimes gets lost not just in translation but also in homiletical explanation. As important as the atonement and the doctrine of justification are, without the authority to be the Savior and make that sacrifice, there is no telling what would have come to pass. Of course, it would have been impossible for the Eternal Son to defy His Father and come die for mankind against His Father’s will for the Godhead cannot be divided, and Jesus Himself says that He and His Father are one (Jn 10:30). But nonetheless, the reality remains, that Christ was sent with the proper authority. Had not been given the authority to bear the sins of the world, there would have been no voice from heaven during His baptism and the Holy Spirit would not have descended upon Him. And thus, John the Baptist would have known that Jesus was a charlatan. For Scriptures reveal to us that God told John, the signs that would accompany the one with authority to be the Lamb of God. As it is written, (John said) I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.
            And thus, Jesus was given authority to be the Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, and it is confirmed repeatedly throughout His earthly ministry not only by our Lord’s own statements, but by the accompanying signs. Jesus said, “Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God? If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him (Jn 10:36-38).”
            And so we arrive at our text for today, where Christ uses His divine authority to heal sinners and open the gates of heaven to those who believe even though they do not belong to the tribes of Israel. The faith of the Centurion is exceptional, and it causes Jesus to marvel. For not only does the Centurion show humility and faith, two qualities that were sometimes lacking from the disciples, but the centurion also shows himself to understand by faith at least impart the authority with which the Son was sent. This understanding given by the Holy Spirit ought to instruct us both in how Christ relates to us and how those in the pastoral office are to relate to Christ’s Church.
Jesus does not rebuke the Centurion for his military comparison. Instead he commends him. Our God is not a God of chaos but of order. Even within the Godhead, which is a mystery, there is order. And the persons of the Holy Trinity do not contend with one another for authority and honor. Rather, the Son is begotten of Father alone, and He does His Father’s will and seeks to glorify His name. The God the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, and He glorifies the Father and the Son and teaches the Church concerning the Truth who is Jesus Christ.
Therefore, when we see chaos running rampant in the Church, this is not a result of new cutting age ministry or any such thing, but it is due to the infiltration of the devil. The devil seeks to have factions and divisions in the church. He also would replace the order, dignity, and reverence of the holy liturgy with something unpredictable and chaotic, to undermine the truth of God’s word. Therefore, let those who have ears listen well to the centurion’s confession and thereby understand that our God is a God of order, and our Lord is one under authority.
It is by the authority given to Him by His Father that He is able to speak a word of command and heal the disease of the centurion’s servant. He knows that left to ourselves we would not only languish in this life, but face eternal punishment, weeping and gnashing of teeth in hell. Therefore, Jesus Christ comes down from heaven with the authority to forgive our sins, heal our infirmities and die in our place. At the beginning of today’s Gospel, the leper asks the Lord if He is willing to make Him, clean, and our Lord replies He is willing. What a glorious proclamation of Gospel. Our Lord Jesus Christ has the authority, power, and willingness to heal us. The leper and centurion had their prayers answered speedily, but it is not always that way for us is it.
Sometimes the Lord bids us to wait for Him to heal us till the resurrection of the body. Perhaps you have had some medical scare either for yourself or a loved one, and you fervently prayed that the Lord would send healing and restoration, and in mercy He did. To God alone be glory. Or perhaps, rather than send healing you are still struggling with various infirmities or have had to burry a friend or loved one. “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord.” To God alone be the glory. We are surrounded by death on all sides. Our bodies do and will grow weak and frail us. Yet, in the midst of all our earthly afflictions, the victory still has been won. For Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Mary has the authority to lay down His life and take it up again. And indeed, He has! He has vanquished death and devil and all our earthly foes by His death upon the cross and resurrection from the grave. As the great hymn writer Paul Gerhardt puts it, “What though the foes be raging, Heed not their craft and spite; Your Lord, the battle waging, Will scatter all their might. He comes, a King most glorious, and all His earthly foes in vain His course victorious Endeavor to oppose.”
            Eternal life has been won for you. And like Naaman from the Old Testament many find that salvation so freely given is scandalous. Surely there is something that must be done? There is nothing dear friends Christ has paid all you owed upon the cross. He now graciously invites you and all the world to wash and eat the Super He places before you. You have been washed in the waters of Holy Baptism and be cleansed of the leprosy of sin and thus, marked for the resurrection of the body. Your infirmities and frailness will not last forever. Your Lord will return and claim His own, and you are His. This day your Lord once again invited you who have washed to His gracious Supper to eat the food He has prepared and given His called and ordained servants the authority to distribute. Therefore, come ye Christians eat the body and blood of your Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. For if God had asked you to do some great thing to receive eternal life surely you would do it, so how much more when He says do nothing, simply wash and eat. Or as Gerhardt puts it, “Ye need not toil nor languish Nor ponder day and night How in the midst of anguish.
6. “Ye draw Him by your might. He comes, He comes all willing, Moved by His love alone, Your woes and troubles stilling; For all to Him are known.
7. Sin's debt, that fearful burden, Let not your souls distress; Your guilt the Lord will pardon And cover by His grace. He comes, for men procuring The peace of sin forgiven,
For all God's sons securing Their heritage in heaven.”
And the peace of God that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen
  
  
 The Baptism of our Lord January 13, 2019 Text: Matthew 3:13-17 Rev. Winston Grieser

 Grace, mercy, and peace be multiplied to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen
Water and a few simple words. Not in Latin or ancient Greek, but our common every day English. Simple water connected to the Word of God is how God chooses to rescue men from the powers of sin, death, and hell. For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence (1 Cor. 1:26-29).
This mighty act of rescue begins in our Lord’s baptism in the Jordan. With His baptism He sets apart all water to be used for this purpose. So that water with the Word of God is a baptism, that is a life-giving water, rich in grace by the power of the Holy Spirit. Our miraculous rebirth in baptism is possible only by Christ’s baptism in the Jordan. Holy Baptism is how God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost chooses to unite Himself to His people and bring them into His kingdom. Yet, this great gift is given in such an ordinary way isn’t it? A few words and bit of water. And a Lutheran baptism especially seems to be a bit lack luster. Perhaps, this is why some churches try to make baptism flashier, using large amounts of water stored in tanks and other sorts of pomp and ceremony not meant to teach, but impress.
Our fallen flesh enjoys the pomp and fuss. And we wish that the Lord would be a little bit more extravagant about something as wonderful as baptism. That He would vindicate our faith and trust in Him by great signs and wonders, like in the days of old. Like with Moses in Egypt and Joshua at the Jordan, as we heard in our Old Testament reading. If God would just try to do things our way for a bit, we’re sure churches around the world would have a sudden uptick in membership. Surely, if our baptisms looked more like our Lord’s, with heaven opening and the Holy Spirit descending bodily in the form of a dove things would be better, wouldn’t they? Yet, as we heard in our epistle, God chose the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise. Water with the Word of God and faith which trusts this Word, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. That is all that is needed for a baptism. To human reason it seems unimpressive, but God chose the foolish things of this world to put to shame the wise.
In a similar way, the Lord Jesus Christ, chose to be baptized, by a fallen sinful man, and not an arch angel from heaven. And thus, John the Baptist is confused. “I need to be baptized by you”, John says. John knows how things are supposed to work. And he can’t wrap his mind around why the Creator of the world would want “a baptism unto repentance” and by him. John’s baptism was something that sinners needed. Something that John needed, not Jesus. John needed to confess his sins unto the Lord. Jesus who is the LORD had no sin. John’s baptism did not forgive sins or grant the gift of the Holy Spirit, but it did indicate that the sinner was both contrite, that is, had heart felt sorrow over sins and also, that they were repentant, meaning they turned from their sins and again aligned their lives according to the Ten Commandments. It was a baptism for John and for us, but not for Jesus. So, John thought to straighten Jesus out. I need to be baptized by you.
According to our sinful flesh, we too, would like to straighten God out. To tell Him what will work and make the church grow, who needs to baptize who. We’d start by making sacraments a bit of God, to better fit our fallen reason and the sinful world. Modernize things and make them practical. If people are going to drink and carouse anyway, perhaps we should just say it isn’t a sin, and then they will stay in the church. But fallen men do not have the authority to change the commandments and ordnances of God. Human beings don’t get to decide what breaking the sixth, seventh, or eighth commandments looks like. If you are insisting that such and such isn’t breaking one of the commandments, think again, and look thoroughly at Holy Scripture. And use God’s Word to examine your thoughts, words, and deeds, not your feelings. Doing this will do two things. Firstly, it will expose the sin. And secondly, it will expose the evil of your heart. If you are loudly insisting that you are not sinning by a certain thought, word, or deed, you probably are. Otherwise, you would have no need to assuage a guilty conscience.
Sometimes however, we get it wrong, either because poor catechesis or a trick of the devil, we think we are sinning when we aren’t. Again, that is why the Holy Scriptures are there, so we don’t start inventing sins. Not fasting isn’t sinning. Eating meat on Friday’s during Lent isn’t sinning. Not wearing church shoes isn’t sinning. But lusting after a woman is sinning. Stuffing one’s face with two boxes of chocolates is gluttony, which is a sin. Living together outside of marriage or divorcing because you are bored with the marriage is a sin. And if you think Holy Scripture says otherwise, look again and repent. St. John writes in his first epistle, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us (1 Jn 1:8-10).”
We turn now again to John the Baptist. Our Lord gently corrects John from his assertion, “I need to be baptized by you.” Jesus said, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him.” John accepts the Lord’s gentle rebuke. And this flashier. Making them have outward manifestations of glory, such as voices from heaven and tongues of fire. And then, in our fallen wisdom, we’d tweak the commandments. Therefore, the baptism which Christ instituted now saves you and John’s baptism is no longer needed. In holy baptism you are untied to Christ’s death upon the cross and resurrection from the grave and have the name of God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost placed upon you. Christ is marked as the sin bearer in His baptism in the Jordan, so that He might bestow His righteousness, innocence, and blessedness upon you in your baptism. This happy exchange, Christ works through simple means, through water and the Word of God to bestow faith and the forgiveness of sins.
To those perishing, such things seem foolish, but the foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of men. And the weakness of God is stronger than the powers of hell, death, and the devil. Therefore, rejoice in the humility and weakness of your Lord upon the cross, and the humble means by which He bestows His grace and mercy upon you. Remember your baptism, with simple water and the Word of God, and know that there in baptism, the old sinful Adam is drowned and put to death and a new man emerges and arises created in Christ Jesus and united to His blessed death and resurrection from the grave. And that just as Christ rose victorious from the grave on the third day, on the Last Day you who have been baptized into His name will be raised with glorified bodies from the dead. Then dear friends, you will be vindicated and the foolishness of God, Jesus Christ and Him crucified, will be revealed as the Wisdom that has come down from on high and has rescued us from death and brought immortality to light. To God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost who has fulfilled all righteousness for our sakes be both glory and honor, now and forevermore. Amen.
And the peace, of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen
  
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