You Are Righteous
Sixth Sunday after Holy Trinity
July 28-29, 2019
Matthew 5:20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
It is possible to twist the good news
of God’s love into something perverse. Anyone who says: “God forgives my sins so my sins don’t matter and I can do what I want” is a blasphemer.
Jesus warns against this
in today’s Gospel. He says: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” The Law is not evil, nor is it arbitrary. Its moral code and patterns are good. They embody and express God’s good and gracious will. It was not an accusation when God told Adam not to eat the forbidden fruit in the garden. Nor did it damn him. It was simply good. It instructed Adam. It taught him who God was and who he was. The Law is still good even though our fallen flesh hates and chafes against it. The Law has not been abolished and it cannot be abolished. It has, however, been fulfilled and thus in being fulfilled it instructs the Christian more fully than before.
The Law is fulfilled by Our Lord’s active and passive obedience.
His active obedience is that He did not sin.
He lived according to the Law of Moses. He did not engage in lustful thoughts or envy or drunkenness. He loved his neighbor as Himself and held nothing back. He was good the way that we are evil. For He was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the Virgin Mary without sin and, though He was sorely tempted throughout His earthly life, and had to live among sin with sinners and with the consequences of other people’s sins, Jesus did not sin. He kept the law.
His passive obedience is the mirror image.
Even though He was without sin He suffered the full punishment due to sinners. He accepted the punishment meant for others. He fulfilled all of Justice’s demands against us. So He fulfilled the Law by doing everything it said to do and refraining from all that it forbid. He also fulfilled the law by allowing it to do to Him all it should have done to us. In this way, He ended the Law’s accusations against us and won our salvation to give to us as a gift without merit or worthiness in us. God be praised!
But this did NOT render the accusations and demands of the Law stupid or meaningless.
The Law was never arbitrary. Jesus did not jump through hoops for us. He kept the Law. The Law is God’s will for our lives. The active obedience of Jesus Christ was not only substitutionary. It is also an example. Fulfilling the Law shows Christians how to live and how to die. He not only resists temptation in our place and tells us to resist temptation but He also shows us how to resist temptation. He inspires us to fight harder because we love Him as sons love their Father and we want to be like Him. He shows us how to live, what is good, what love looks like.
Jesus did NOT give Himself as an example because He wanted to make you feel guilty.
He gave Himself as an example that you might rejoice and grow up in Him. Imagine the little boy who sees his father chopping wood and wants to be like him. Does the boy feel guilty that when he tries he does not do as good of a job as his father? No. He basks in his father’s attention and is eager for the day when he will be like him.
The Law does NOT pass away.
The Law is of interest to weak Christians and strong Christians, to the theologically immature, and to the theologically sophisticated. You can’t be a Christian and despise God’s Law. Having been fulfilled and embodied in Jesus Christ, the Law is more eternal, more substantial than ever. It does not pass away and to love Jesus is to love His Law.
His passive obedience is also in our stead and is an example for us.
He shows us how to live by faith, to trust in God’s goodness in the midst of evil, how to make a good confession, even, really, how to be a Christian, because He shows us how to die as He dies for us. He shows us not just how to resist temptation and keep the Law but also how to live in a world that is full of sin and sorrow and injustice. Allowing the Law to do to Him what it should have done to us He makes the Law more real, more solid and lasting than it was before.
When God gave the Law through Moses, it was only an outline of God’s will.
Now, in Christ, the innocent Man crucified, the Law has flesh and bones and is everlasting. Jesus is the very opposite of the man of lawlessness. Jesus is the Law in the Flesh, obedient to His Father in perfect joy.
For the sake of those who are in danger of despair, whose sins weigh heavy on them, who are disappointed in the messiness and pain of their lives, caused by their sins and the sins of others,
Jesus has offered us a refuge of pardon.
Jesus is quick and glad to forgive. Jesus receives and eats with sinners. The Law has been fulfilled in Jesus for you. Your sins are not too big or too shocking or too old. His grace is for you.
And because of those who are in danger of taking His mercy for granted, for the sake of those who might be deluded by delays and think their sins are insignificant or even honorable,
Jesus has made the day of death uncertain.
No one knows when his last hour will come. You do not know and you should fear God’s wrath and the possibility that the last day would come in the midst of your sin. You should repent and not become arrogant in hope as though it were a right. Even as we should not give in to despair but should trust in Christ’s fulfillment and promises, so also we should believe that Jesus has not come to abolish the Law.
Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery:
“There is no one to accuse you, nor do I condemn you.” She was thereby secure in the past. Her sins were not counted against her. She was not condemned. Neither are you. Jesus loves you. Your past is forgiven. But then Jesus said to her: “Go and sin no more.” His law is not a recommendation or suggestion. Sin not only angers God. It also places the soul in peril. To you He says: “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
The gentle kindness of the Lord is not weakness or uncertainty.
Sin is never trivial. Repent. Set your heart and mind once more to be free of sin, to amend your life, to bear fruits of repentance. And rest in the pardon bestowed constantly through the Word of God, prayer, and the Holy Sacraments. The crucified and risen Lord is every bit as serious in His promises and grace as He is in His holy Law.
Again: imagine the boy chopping wood with his father
and basking in his father’s attention, who knows that his father loves him.
That does not pass away.
Your Father loves you.
In Jesus’ Name.
Jesus Is the Lord of His Church
Fifth Sunday after Holy Trinity
Grace and mercy to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
It it is written,
Do not be afraid, said Jesus. From now on you will be catching men. And when they brought in there boats to land. They left everything and followed Jesus. Thus far the text.
There are several things that scare me.
That cause great fear. One has always been horror films of any kind. The kind when someone just jumps out and you just watching knowing that it is just a tv show or movie you still jump out of your skin. I am one of those guys. I’ve never liked horror.
But then there are other things that scare me. One is a certain person who likes to knock on my door every once in a while and see me jump out of my chair. That is not as scary as horror
And then there are other things that cause me fear. They don’t cause me to jump up. But it is just looking at the Lord’s church. And I think it is a shared fear. That we see the church in it’s current state. The church in general. And it seems to be shrinking. It seems to be not a popular. It seems to almost be passing out of our culture. This causes anxiety. Anxiety itself is a type of fear. So we are afraid.
Jesus says to not be afraid.
That is also a phrase that doesn’t really work on me. When someone tells me to stop being afraid, I can’t do it. Maybe it works for you. But when someone tells me to stop feeling a certain way, I am not able to just stop feeling what I’m feel.
But Jesus says, do not be afraid.
Do not be afraid for His church. For what the Lord is doing is that He is calling people to His church. In my fear, I will tend to forget that. Maybe you do to. Because there are popular ways to build up the Lord’s church. But they are not linked here to our church.
Agree with Like Minded People - Emotionalism
One way, a very popular way, if we are going to build the church from the ground up is to find people are like minded. People who like worshiping the way we like to worship. People who love Jesus they way we love Jesus. If we are all like-minded and we are all thinking and feeling the same thing then there is great unity in the church and people want to join that because people want to people. So we could build a church by finding like-minded people to gather together.
But, what happens when one person in the group is not like-minded. When there emotions are not identical to ours. Then the unity begins to break apart. It’s one of the problems of building up the church by finding like-minded people.
Agree on a few doctrines - Fundamentalism
There is another popular way to build up the church. To give it a secure foundation. If we can just agree to a few teachings of Jesus. If we can just agree that Jesus is God - that is a good thing. If we can just agree that the Bible is God’s Word - that is a good thing. We will add in a few others. As long as we hold to a few doctrines, then people will flock into the church and the church will grow.
Agree to disagree - Ecumenism
There is a third popular way to build up the church. That is to agree to disagree. That we are all so different. Different denominations. Different doctrines. Different minds. Different feelings. We are all so different. We will say that is ok as long as we say we are Christians. We will gather as Christians. Regardless of different teachings. Regardless of different feelings. It is a popular way to build up a church with a common foundation.
But all three of these have something missing. They don’t speak precisely of what Jesus is doing. They don’t speak of Jesus alone being the Lord of His church. They don’t speak of Jesus creating His church by calling people to Himself.
Our text for today, is all on Jesus. And when Jesus does His work, first people are flocking to Him. He is doing miracles. He is speaking. And He is speaking strangely from the point of view from all the other religions in the worldly. Different teachings. Different feelings. He is not saying we should agree to disagree. But He speaks and people are gathered around Him.
What is Jesus saying in His sermon? The text skips over the words. It says He got into the boat. And He taught them. And when He was finished then He spoke to those fishermen. Put out your net. And they caught fish like they never caught fish before.
What was Jesus saying? He was saying the same things that are recorded in the Old Testament. He was speaking of Himself as being the Lord of Moses. Speaking of Himself as the Lord of all those Old Testament sacrifices. Speaking of all those Old Testament prophecies that are fulfilled in Him. Jesus witness of Himself as being God. And Jesus spoke all things that the Father commanded Him to teach.
And the people listened.
And then Jesus confirmed all these things by the miraculous catch of fish.
What was the reaction to the work of Jesus, the work of God in that location according to this Bible text? Simon-Peter, who has been listening very closely to all of this. Simon-Peter who let down his net even though he knew that catching anything is next to impossible. He catches so many fish. Peter falls on his knees before Jesus and says, “Depart from me, a sinner.”
Peter was not afraid of Jesus until Jesus confirmed His message with the miracle.
Then Peter’s response is fear. For what Jesus speaks He does. What Jesus promises He gives. And now Peter is terrified. After Jesus does His work Peter recognizes his sin. Before this God, there is nothing Peter can do or give. His emotions are disordered before Jesus. Peter is not like Jesus. Peter holds to a few teachings of Jesus but not all. Peter is struck by God Law. Peter is struck by how far he has fallen short by all the things Jesus said. Jesus does not agree that it is ok for sinners to disagree with His Father. Peter is struck by his sin. He falls to his knees in terror.
This is not awe and respect at this point. This is knee-knocking terror. Lord, depart from me.
That is our reaction to one of Jesus’ teachings. We react in fear and terror. Like a horror movie. It is almost like Jesus jumps out at Peter and scares him so bad that Peter falls down in terror. This is too scary.
But as Jesus does, even when He sends His angels to speak to His people, Jesus begins with His response with a very different teaching than one that makes people afraid. It is a completely different teaching. It is the Gospel.
Jesus says, Do not be afraid. From now on you will be catching men.
That is the Gospel. Do not be afraid.
Jesus shows you that you should be afraid in all of His law teaching of the Law. His Father’s requirements. He shows you how far you how far you have fallen from the Father. He shows you that you should be terrified. We even confessed at the beginning of this service that we deserve temporal and eternal punishment. That should give us knee-knocking fear even as we say it.
But then the Gospel. Do not be afraid.
All your falleness. All your sin. All your unbelief in which you deserve punishment. Do not be afraid because Jesus does not hold it against you.
Why? Because going to the cross, Jesus receives the temporal and eternal punishment that you deserve. Jesus dies in that punishment.
Jesus rises and says that your death and punishment is paid.
Now, do not be afraid to come to Jesus and receive the forgiveness of your sins. Do not be afraid to receive Jesus’ life. Jesus’ righteousness.
This is how Jesus builds His church.
Death cannot break down the kingdom of God. Not anymore. Now that Jesus is risen from the dead.
We should be afraid of our sins.
But we should cling to Jesus who does not hold those sins against you eternally.
Jesus has gently caught you in the net of His Gospel.
Jesus has baptized you by washing away your sins. Don’t you know that you have been baptized into Jesus’ death. Jesus does not hold your sins against you to those of you who believe; in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The peace of God, which passes understanding, protect and preserve you in Jesus Christ, our Savior. Amen.