Sermon for February 24, 2013

Luke 13:31-35 (Second Sunday in Lent—Series C)

Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer, Enfield, CT 

February 24, 2013

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

 Our text is the Gospel Lesson from Luke 13:

At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” 32 And he said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course. 33 Nevertheless, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following, for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.’ 34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 35 Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!'”


It’s all about the mission.  A story is told of a group of concerned citizens in Maine who organized a lifesaving station to assist those who were shipwrecked on the rocky coast.  Into horrendous storms brave men rode to save the lives of the oppressed.  In time they put up a building with an infirmary to care for the survivors.  Interest in the mission grew, and others joined the endeavor.  It was all about the mission. 

            For Jesus, it’s all about the mission, too.  The Pharisees came and said to Him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.”  On the surface, the Pharisees seem to be helpful to Jesus as they warn Him.  But that’s probably not the case.  The Pharisees are not being helpful.  They have already rejected Jesus and His purpose.  If Jesus turns and runs, He’d surely lose credibility with His following.  Perhaps the Pharisees realize that any man who wants to be a leader of the Jews must establish himself in Jerusalem.  Any ploy that could keep Jesus’ away from there would surely foil His plans. 

            Nevertheless, Jesus will go to Jerusalem because it’s all about the mission.  So He tells the Pharisees, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course.  Nevertheless, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following, for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.’”  Jesus says, in effect, “Actually, I am in no danger of death in Herod’s jurisdiction because My death is bound to occur at Jerusalem, the jurisdiction that has a monopoly on prophet killing.”  This is the divine plan, the divine mission.  Jesus is not the helpless victim of circumstances.  He is the voluntary agent in the eternal plan of God for the salvation of the world.  He willingly goes toward a sacrificial death that will complete that mission.  Jesus does what He does, not because it can’t be helped, but so that the Scriptures might be fulfilled.  The mission must be accomplished. 

            And the mission was accomplished.  Jesus went to the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to it.  He entered the city to the cries of “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”  Jesus was arrested, beaten, and sentenced to death by crucifixion.  Jesus was nailed to a cross.  He shed His blood for the sins of the world.  He suffered sin’s punishment for all mankind.  He did not save Himself, as He was taunted to do.  He died to take away our sin.  He died to make us right with God.  On the third day, He finished His course.  Jesus rose from the dead, forever defeating sin, death, and the power of the devil.  Jesus completed His mission.  He saved us by shedding His blood, cleansing us from our sins, and rising for our justification.  He fulfilled the Scriptures.  He did it all, everything that was necessary, for us and for our salvation. 

            God takes “no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live.” (Ezk. 33:11)   God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim. 2:4)  That is why Jesus accomplished the mission, winning forgiveness of sins and salvation for the whole world.  It is Jesus’ desire to “gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings.”  But notice the refusal: “and you would not.”  The Pharisees and others rejected what Jesus had come to do.  They rejected His blood-bought forgiveness.  They rejected His salvation and His great love. 

            And at times, so have we.  The Lord has made us His chosen people, given us eternal life, and we say, “Ho, hum.  What have you done for me that I can use today?”  He comes to us today in His Word, at His Supper, as He does daily in our Baptism, and we want something more exciting. 

But rejection from sinners didn’t stop Jesus from winning our forgiveness and salvation.  Rejection didn’t stop Jesus from often reaching out in love to gather the lost, which included you and me.  Nor does it stop us who are forgiven and redeemed by Jesus’ blood.  Jesus died and rose so that through the forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal life, we could accomplish our God-given mission. 

            Our God-given mission is to make known to those who do not yet know Jesus, or those who have fallen away from Him, that Jesus is willing to gather them into His nest of forgiveness and salvation.  The offer of grace is for them, because Jesus died for all.  The forgiveness of sins was purchased and won for them.  Eternal life is for them. 

            Our Lord has entrusted us with this very important mission in sharing that Good News.  We call it the Great Commission.  We read in Matthew 28, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”   With the help of the Holy Spirit, with Christ present with us as He has promised, we go out into our community, workplaces, and schools with the message of Jesus.  We go on our way, empowered by Christ, today, tomorrow, and the next day taking His love, mercy, and grace to all people. 

We dare not give up on this mission.  People are depending on us to share with them the Gospel of their salvation.  Eternal lives are depending on our delivering the message so that the Holy Spirit can create faith through the hearing of that message.  We dare not let Satan deter us from accomplishing our mission.   Souls are hungry for the comfort of Christ in the forgiveness of sins, in the release from guilt. 

The devil, the world, and our sinful flesh would have us walk away from the mission, even as they prompted the Pharisees to turn Jesus away from His mission.  The devil wants to see us become a ruined church.  What does that look like?  An artist was asked to depict a ruined church.  He painted a beautiful structure equipped with all that modern taste and invention has devised.  The nave contained a richly carved chancel, a magnificent altar, an elaborate organ, and beautiful colored windows.  Many fashionable, well-dressed worshippers filled the pews.  But in a corner, attached to a wall, was a little box on which the sign read, “For missions.”  A spider web had been woven over the opening of the box.  That church had no mission helpers.  Therefore, it was a ruined church. 

We are not a ruined church.  We can resist the temptation of the devil to give up our mission.  We can overcome the temptation of the world and our sinful flesh to ease up on our mission.  We seize every opportunity that the Lord gives to us to share our faith in Jesus, the Good News of our forgiveness and salvation.  One such opportunity that you have is our monthly Food Shelf Ministry.  Once a month, for about 2 hours, you have the opportunity to go to the Food Shelf and to tell people about Jesus.  You don’t even have to go and find people; they come right to you.  You look into their eyes and see them as someone for whom Christ has died and is risen.  You see their need for the love of Jesus Christ.  And there you are, to tell them how much Jesus’ does love them.  You are there to help them see how He is providing for them in their time of physical need because He already took care of their spiritual need for forgiveness and eternal life.  Free shampoo and free deodorant, free toothpaste and free body wash are an illustration of the free love and grace of Jesus for everyone.  In the words of Jesus in Matthew 10, “Freely you received, freely give.” (Matthew10:8)  We do this mission to tell people about the love Jesus Christ while we show them the love of Jesus Christ.  And this mission needs each one of you to be involved. 

Why?  Because it’s all about THE mission.  Christ lived, suffered, died, and rose for us, accomplishing His mission to win our salvation.  In response to His love, He has called us as His people to share in His mission.  We spread Jesus’ Good News of forgiveness and life so that many more will join us in being the people of God.  Then they will be involved in His mission.  And that’s what being church in this place is all about—Jesus’ mission.  Amen.   


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