“So that the work of God might be revealed”
“So that the work of God might be revealed”
Job 21:1-21, 34
Quick rundown of Job 21-30, How our trite answers just comfort us and not who they are supposed to comfort, do we really want to hear the Word of God, chasing God out of the temple
A quick recap of Job’s three friend’s positions, How people react to suffering, Jesus as the Word, Revelation or the Word is a prerequisite of truth
The Hope that Lives in Us, Appearances can be deceiving
Revelation, Faith in the One outside of what we see, Appearances can be deceiving
Stricken, Smitten and Afflicted (LSB 451)
Our inability to do anything to deserve restoration, Faith in signs vs. faith in the Word
Suffering and Righteousness, Signs & Wonders, The Eschatological Banquet, LSB 636 Soul Adorn Yourself with Gladness
And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed(and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” Luke 2:34-35
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. Matt 10:34
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Heb 4:12 ESV
There are the official approved readings from the lectern every week, and then there are those bits that we leave out. This is one of the reasons I like our Good Friday Service so much. It is a communal reading of the entire passion narrative interspersed with some hymns for reflection and the gradual darkening. Once a year the congregation hears the story in its entrancing entirety. And hearing it out loud by your fellow congregants is meaningful in a way you might not expect. But if you don’t go to Good Friday, and you don’t read it yourself, you won’t find Luke 22:36. You will get those other verses I put up front once every three years. I’d suggest you take out you concordance and look at the word sword. See where else it is used and how it is used.
We like to preach on the love of God. We preach on the acceptance of God. We preach on the resurrection. We don’t spend much time on swords. And isn’t that exactly what our culture, encouraged by our prevailing church culture, leaves out? Even when your heart is pierced with a sword, God loves you. In fact those swords might be exactly the time you draw the closest to God. Christ came to bring a sword. He came to divide soul and spirit. He came that the thoughts of many hearts my be revealed. It is only in those times of the cross, when we are asked to carry the cross and follow our Lord, that we find the truth of faith. When every earthly prop gives way, He then is all our hope and stay.
If we are always running to the next promise of love or prosperity or whatever bit of magic is being pushed this month as the hallmark of a true Christian, we never draw near the heart of Christ. It is only in submission to the cross that we find ourselves with Christ. And I don’t want to take this is a masochistic direction. Lord, take this cup from me is a common prayer. And many do get taken. But some are not. Sometimes the prayer is simply your will be done. As Jesus told the disciples in that Garden – “rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation”. Your will be done…and deliver us from evil. Because we fall asleep too easily. We don’t like contemplating swords.
Biblical Text: Mark 9:38-50
I would be hard pressed to think of a message more contra the advice of every “grow your church” consultant than this one. Dependence upon a translation of a Greek word? Check. Pointing out sin and struggles with it? Check. Attempting to say that what feels like failure might be the greatest spiritual good? Check. Resting that spiritual good squarely on faith as proof without an immediate here and now reward? Check.
So why the heck would I do that? What I’d like to be able to say is Truth. Our current culture or environment would scorn this statement, but that is what the pulpit is about, proclaiming truth. And it is truth that suffering and failure are part of this life. Our Lord was crucified and betrayed. It is harder to find a more pure case of losing. Either we deal with that, we include space for less than the power and the glory, or we’ve created a false religion that will ultimately lead to despair.
The thing is: 1) truth isn’t popular. We’d rather have the pretty lie as long as we can believe it. 2) We aren’t actually that good at discerning truth. Archbishop Cranmer’s formulation holds, “what the heart wants, the will chooses and the mind justifies”. We want a lot of things to be true. I’m sure that many an atheist could say, yeah, like your sky god stuff. But here is the thing, through 3000 years recorded in the Bible, the prophets that are recognized are usually like Jeremiah or Elijah or Jesus – “Father, take this cup from me.” They didn’t want the world as it was, yet that was the truth. And they served truth. They served the Word. Mankind has never wanted to believe that they aren’t God or the measure of everything. Goes all the way back to Eve.
So, Jesus says in today’s text that we will all be salted with fire. Do we watch and prepare, or do hold onto the lie a little longer? Does the watchman proclaim it, or keep silent?
From Johannes Tauler, Sermon 21…
“You ought to seek joy in sadness, detachment in the midst of disaster, and comfort in bitterness; this is the way to become a true witness of God.”
That is the stew that Luther came out from, a mysticism formed by the black death. To what extent would modern therapeutics say detachment is just avoidance or denial? What God does this witness too?