Category Archives: Matthew

The Keys of Grace

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Biblical Text: Matthew 18:1-20
Full Sermon Draft

Jesus’ predictions of His passion each elicit responses by the disciples. Those response are often quite telling. They highlight some false idea which the disciples are clinging to. But there is something else that swirls around the first two – Jesus offering what the church calls the Keys. What you bind is bound and what you loose is loosed. The first offer of the Keys leads to the passion prediction which Peter responds roughly “not going to happen”. In this second passion prediction Peter doesn’t directly confront Jesus, but in this sermon’s conceit starts succession planning. The sermon of Jesus that follows talks about what the Kingdom of Heaven looks like which is nothing to start succession planning over. Instead of leading with the offer, Jesus ends with the offer of the Keys. His followers will be humble or childlike or little enough to not demand the law or their due with each other. The church instead is based on confession and absolution. The church is based on offering and receiving grace.

Love is Costly

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Biblical Text: Matthew 16:21-28
Full Sermon Draft

Carrying crosses is a tricky subject. Or maybe I should write that discerning crosses is difficult. Sometimes what you think are crosses are just being a drama queen martyr. They could be avoided, but the scene is too desirable. Sometimes what we put as crosses are just common difficulties. A cross in the sense of the text is something forced on you by the world because you won’t put its priorities first. And more specifically, a cross is something you encounter because you specifically put Christ first. Jesus bore the cross, because he remained faithful to His Father. He would not give the pinch to the Sanhedrin or to Caesar.

This sermon looks at what are some very American or rich western crosses. It is tempting to dismiss them as crosses because of that adjective, rich western. But we don’t pick our crosses. Our trails are ours. I don’t say it in the sermons, but there is an old saying “those He wishes to destroy first he makes rich”. The deceptions of the world in the west are very attractive things. They are also often very good things, if in their proper order and time.

And that is the crux of crosses. They come not because the creation is bad. They come because Satan has marked his prey. They come because the ruler of this age wants you get things out of order. The faith of Jesus Christ gets things in the proper order.

Answering the Question

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Biblical Text: Matthew 16:13-20
Full Sermon Draft

Jesus asks a question in the middle of the gospel text – “Who do you say that I am?” This sermon takes a stab at what it would mean to answer it today. Take a listen and then try your answer.

The Abundance of Broken Pieces

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Biblical Text: Matthew 14:13-21
Full Sermon Draft

The setup to the feeding of the 5000 in Matthew is the core of Jesus’ revelation of God. Even when rejected and doomed, Jesus has compassion on his persecutors and heals their sick. The parabolic miracle demonstrates for us a couple of things. It clearly demonstrates the continued providence of God, but the bread is not just bread. The abundance of pieces are not just broken leftovers. God wants to give us more than just bread. He wants to give us himself. This sermon looks at how He does this.

Who is the Treasure? – Parables of Deliverance

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Biblical Text: Matthew 13:44-52
Full Sermon Text

This sermon attempts to tie together the study of the parables in Matthew 13. The parable of the sower (two weeks ago) serves as the key to understanding. It brings up the problem – the kingdom of Heaven meets opposition – and answers why – our great enemies of the devil, the world and our flesh. The middle three parables (last week) point out what the Kingdom of Heaven will look like from Jesus to the end of the age as it engages those three. Compared to our expectations, this is often troublesome as the wheat and weeds forms the paradigm. The trouble is not wished away but we struggle against it. These things might look insurmountable. But that is the where the final three parables, today’s text enter. A man finds a treasure and sells all he has so that he might have it. That man is the Son of Man, Jesus, and the treasure is His peculiar treasure – you. Christ has defeated our great enemies and will surely deliver us.

Babels and Beasts

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Biblical Text: Matthew 13:24-43
Full Sermon Draft

We continue this week with the parables in Matthew 13. The parable of the sower with its focus on individuals soils is more applicable on a personal level. The parable of the weeds and with it the parable of the leaven care less about individual reception of the gospel but are aimed more toward the various situations that the people of God might find themselves. The leaven is hid in the midst of a very large amount of flour. The wheat and the weeds grow together. The people of God find themselves in a wide variety of fields in the world.

The title points toward Peter Leithart’s taxonomy of the kingdoms of this world: guardians, babels and beasts. The sermon attempts two things: 1) a warning to the people of God used to a guardian what it means to live in babel and 2) a refocus on the core hope – the resurrection – that unites the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom might look small and weak, but that is how God has chosen to act, and the reign of heaven even small instills hope.

The Sower – Explanation and Moral

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Biblical Text: Matthew 13:1-23
Full Sermon Draft

The parable of the sower is one of those pieces of the biblical story that live apart from its context, but compared to something like The Good Samaritan which carries its meaning as a stand alone set piece, the context of the sower is important. Ripped out of the real life of a real Jesus, likewise ripped out of the real life of the real church, the sower leads us to the hidden god. It is only as a parable that explains the fact of the real Kingdom of God which is present in Jesus Christ and his body the church that the sower yields the gospel. The sower functions first as an explanation of why the Kingdom seems so often to be defeated. God has chosen in this age to work like seed through the Word, and the word requires ears.

But in with that primary thrust of explanation there are a couple of moral lessons worth pondering: fruitfulness vs. unfruitfulness and the things that lead to unfruitfulness, and recognition of differentiation of fruitfulness.

The sermon ends with a look at the implied eschatological meaning, all growing seasons end in a harvest.

The Gut-Check of Discipleship

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Bibical Text: Matt 10:21-33
Full Sermon Draft

The text is part of what is called the missionary discourse. Jesus is sending the twelve out to proclaim the kingdom. As part of that sending are some stern warning about persecution. Right next to those stern warnings are some of the most treasured expressions of believers about the love of God. What this sermon attempts to do is demonstrate how this functions as the gut-check of discipleship. Luther explains the first commandment as “we should fear, love and trust God above all things.” The gospel is proclaimed as what the disciple is encouraged and expected to believe about Jesus: about the place of a healthy fear of God, but the primacy of trusting God and his demonstrated love for us in Jesus.

The recording begins with one of my favorite hymns in Lutheran Service Book (LSB #933 – My Soul Rejoices). It is a versification of The Magnificat or song of Mary. We used this as our Hymn of Praise this morning.

And Some Doubted…A Trinity Sunday Meditation on Faith, Fear and Doubt

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Text: Matt 28:16-20, Athanasian Creed
Full Sermon Text

The start of that title is an interesting bit in Matthew 28:17. It is made all the more interesting because of the liturgical day of Trinity Sunday. On Trinity Sunday we confess the Athanasian Creed which is the most strident of the three historic creeds in its statements and sweep. In that way it mirrors the statements by Jesus right around that interesting bit. What this sermon does is examine the current fetish with doubt, point to the real trouble which is not doubt itself but fear, and look at the ways that both fear and doubt are calls to The Faith, expressed in clear form like the creeds, and to faithfulness. Lastly, it attempts to knock down one of the great fears behind clear statements of the faith, by recalling Jesus’ final words and Peter’s Pentecost sermon…Let all Israel know for certain…(read/listen to the sermon to hear the rest).

A Brooklyn Angel’s Message

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Biblical Text: Matthew 28:1-10
Easter Sermon Draft

It isn’t Chrysostom, but it’s an Easter Sermon I’m happy with. Have a Happy Easter and stop fearing because He is Risen.