With a nod toward St. John Chrysostom, an Easter Sermon. Today, what we have all gained, come and see. The tomb is empty, the table is full.
Tag Archives: victory
Biblical Text: Matthew 4:1-11
Full Sermon Draft
Welcome to lent. The season traditionally starts out with the Temptation of Jesus. As the sermon will highlight, the temptation is deeply connected with the story that comes before it, the baptism of Jesus. What both represent are how Jesus has fought the battles we could not win. The Baptism is the start of the defeat of sin. He takes ours, and we get his. The temptation is the defeat of Satan. The resurrection is the defeat of death. We couldn’t win against those great enemies. Jesus, true man and true God, defeated them for us. Then he invites us to follow.
A fun little part of this sermon is using the devil as a witness to the gospel. Imagining that great liar forced into telling the truth was a fun experiment. I don’t know how well it worked, but it was fun to try.
Worship note: I like the Lenten Hymn. The only season that I think has a higher overall quality is Advent which might be because of both the length (shorter) and subject (eschatology). I left in LSB 424, O Christ You Walked the Road, which was our concluding hymn. It borrows the well known tune Southwell, but the text captures the main points of the sermon. Christ has defeated Satan and invites us on the same (lenten) road.
Biblical Text: Mark 13:1-13
Full Sermon Draft
This is part one of what is variously called the Olivet discourse, the Mark Apocalypse or the end times discourse. The Olivet Discourse is so named because of its location on top of the Mount of Olives opposite the Temple. That is actually the name I prefer because I think the other two get things wrong from the start.
There is a way that Mark 13 is about the last days, but it not an easy direct application. Most of Mark 13 I think is talking about the run up to AD 70 and the destruction of the Temple. Jesus condemns the temple, what eventually serves as part of his conviction by the Sanhedrin, and the disciples ask when and what are the signs. Jesus tells them. Within this generation and a fairly detailed amount of signs. But after that, Jesus seems to know that we couldn’t resist attempting to find out the last day, so he says “about that day, no one knows, only the Father.” So Mark 13, for us, is not a step by step countdown. No one knows.
But there is a way it is not a dead letter. The temple was about the end of the old order. The temple specifically was about the sacrificial system. After the crucifixion there is no need of sacrifice. The cross of Christ is the only necessary sacrifice. The old order was over and its symbol the temple came down. But not all of the old order was brought to completion. This fallen world chugs along. Jesus doesn’t answer the when question to that, but much of what he says about the signs of the end of the temple also apply to the world. What are the signs? False prophets, political turmoil and persecution. These are the signs of the inbreaking of the Kingdom of God.
And what Jesus counsels is a watchful hope. We know we have won, because he won. Jesus lives. All who endure to the end will be saved. That is our sure hope. Watchful because we know this world hates us. It is dying and we have life. We are on our guard lest it manage to steal that hope from us. We live in that tension as witnesses to the hope.
Musical Note: I have left in our Hymn of the Day, Rejoice, Rejoice, Believers Lutheran Service Book 515. It is a pretty tune absent the often minor and melancholy of other End Times type hymns. The last couple of stanzas carry the watchful hope that I desired to preach about. The of the start of the fourth stanza: Out Hope and Expectations, O Jesus now appear.
When you find yourself against the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
2 Timothy 2:1-26
The Victory of God ending in full Grain and Wine
Practical advice for ministers in conflict
1 Samuel 17:1-58
God vs. gods, Heroic literature
The real point of the story is not our moral lesson (be spunky! and you to can defeat the Giants). That is not a bad lesson, but it is also not always true. The field is littered with spunky failures. The point of the story is that this is God’s anointed. God’s anointed will not fight with borrowed armor, nor will his word be stopped even by his own family. This victory is to God’s anointed.
Not by our strength, The Victory comes from God by Faith
Hark the Voice of Jesus Calling – Lutheran Service Book 826/827
Ugh, sorry about the quality (Audacity switched microphones on me and I didn’t notice). If I get 10 mins I re-record later, if not, I’m sorry.
Flood & Baptism
Water, Blood and Spirit Crying (LSB 597)
Biblical Text of Sermon: Mark 1:21-28
Full Text of Sermon
So, if you are not from a pentecostal denomination, when was the last time you heard a sermon about powers and principalities or demonology? There is probably a good reason. Denominational pastors are by and large an educated lot (often over-educated) and talking about spiritual forces just seems “icky” and doing so feels like sacrificing any respectability. The educated world is thoroughly materialist in philosophy and to preach on the “powers” means a thorough-going super-naturalist stance depending solely upon revelation (unless the preacher has had a mystical experience and then its still revelation for the hearers and no longer biblical but personal). Add in the fact that popular understanding of the powers is summed up in Halloween and The Exorcist part 18, and you just kinda pick a different text. Or worse you preach on the exorcism text and explain it away through various “they just weren’t that bright” mechanisms.
But the gospel according to Mark just doesn’t allow that. If you are going to preach on Mark, you have to come to terms with the powers that be, because that is who Jesus is to Mark. Jesus is the one who breaks the backs of the powers. Jesus is the one sent to put away that greatest power – death.
And right there I think is the intersection with the modern world. Even though we are materialist in philosophy allowing smaller spiritual forces to hide, death doesn’t hide. We try to hide from him. We do our best to move him out of our sight. And the materialist will try even at funerals to say something like, “death is part of life”. But most people react in horror at that banality. We all have an intuitive reaction that this isn’t right, this isn’t how it was supposed to be. We have nothing to support that – other than revelation.
Jesus came with authority to break the back of the powers – including death. From the very start of his ministry Jesus commanded the spirits. His death and resurrection has disarmed them. In Christ as part of His body the church, we are already part of a resurrection body – something that even death has no power over.
That is a beloved phrase of Luther. The explanation of the 2nd article of the creed goes, “I believe the Jesus Christ …has redeemed me, a lost and condemned person, purchased and won me from all sins, from death and from the power of the devil.”
There is a woodcut from the Book of Concord – Power and Primacy of Pope with the same phrase nearby showing Christ’s victory over hell as an active bursting of the gates.
There are three things running in my head as I start this. The first is the emotional heft. Our church organist and choir director has been sick and remains so. Two other items are the intellectual fodder. Here is Richard Beck working on a series he is calling the slavery of death. And here is Scot McKnight talking about his book and what he sees as a poor shortening of the gospel.
Most protestants probably operate with what Scot McKnight is calling the soterian gospel. The soterian gospel is all about being “saved”. A more theological way of saying that in Lutheran terms would be saying that ‘the church stands or falls on Article 4 (of the Augsburg Confession on justification)’ or what I would label as using only legal metaphors for what God does. It is not that the statement “God declares you righteous through the atoning sacrifice of Christ” is wrong, but that it is not the whole story. The legal metaphors apply greatly to sin. We feel in absolution that God has moved our sin away from us as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). We see Jesus having the power to forgive sin with his word. (Luke 5:20) This is very legal and very in the moment.
But the legal metaphors feel like a sham in the face of death. We still experience something that in our personal experience can’t be undone. If being saved, if being declared righteous, still ends up here – tell me why this is important?
Read for a second 1 Cor 15:54-57.
“When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1Co 15:54 ESV)”
While sin might be a legal metaphor, when the Bible talks about death or the devil it talks victory…it talks freedom. The gates of brass are burst. The iron fetters yield. If the gospel is just about clearing my conscience and making me feel better about myself – well rubbish. I can go to a shrink and say my daily affirmation. And there is no need to think about supernatural things. But the gospel is bigger. The gospel is about who is Lord.
This one who was crucified. Who was placed in the ground for three days. This Jesus Christ has been raised. He has defeated death. And those who are baptized into Christ are baptized into his death so that they might also rise like him. (Rom 6:3-4) This risen one is Lord. Satan doesn’t want us to know that, or he wants us to despair of that.
Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. (1Th 4:13-14 NIV)
What I hope to do in this series is unpack that a little and see how we make more real in our lives not just the forgiveness of sin but the victory over death and the devil.