Sermon for September 22, 2019, Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost

1 Timothy 2:1-7 (Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost/Proper 20—Series C)

“One God and Mediator

Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer, Enfield, CT

September 22, 2019


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

Our text is from the Epistle lesson recorded in 1 Timothy, chapter 2:

1Therefore, I urge first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be made on behalf of all people, 2on behalf of kings and all those in authority, so that we may lead a peaceable and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. 3This is good and pleasing before our God and Savior, 4who wants all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5For there is one God and one mediator between God and people, the man Christ Jesus, 6who gave Himself as a ransom on behalf of all, the testimony at the proper time. 7For this I was appointed a preacher and apostle—I am speaking the truth; I am not lying—a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.


          Last Sunday, Paul urged Timothy and all of us as God’s people to “preach the Word” of His Law and Gospel. The Law, remember, shows us our sin and need for a Savior—chief of sinners, Paul called himself. Yes, that’s us too—people who have fallen short of the glory of God into the depths of sin. Yet, the Gospel is there for us as a gift—Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners! That is the focus of our preaching and teaching—Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior. And He is not just a Savior for the likes of Paul and Timothy, you and me. He is the Savior for the WORLD, for ALL sinners, because all people have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23).

          That’s what God’s Law in the Bible reveals to us. It shows us that we are not as God would have us be, that we cannot keep God’s commandments. The Law accuses us of failing not to do what God has said we should and for doing what God has said we should not. For example, the Fourth Commandment says, “Honor your father and your mother.” This means that we should “fear and love God so that we do not despise or anger our parents or other authorities, but honor them, serve and obey them, love and cherish them” (Small Catechism). To despise parents and other authorities means to look down on them or make fun of them; to disobey or rebel against their God-given authority. We are all guilty here, aren’t we? Every one of us has, at one time or another, despised parents, teachers, pastors, presidents, governors, and other God-given authorities. We have failed to receive and recognize parents and authorities as God’s representatives by honoring them, serving and coming to the aid of our parents, obeying our parents, pastors, teachers, employers, and government authorities. We have not always loved and cherished our parents and other authorities on account of their God-given vocations. Nor do we always pray for them.

          Paul, by the power of the Holy Spirit, writes, “Therefore, I urge first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be made on behalf of all people, on behalf of kings and all those in authority.” As God’s people in Christ, we have the privilege of praying for the God-given authorities in our lives. But more than that, we have the privilege of praying “on behalf of all people.” In other words, there isn’t anyone for whom we should not pray: presidents, Congress, governors, legislators, parents and grandparents, the sick, the homeless, the needy, those in prison, those who rejoice and celebrate, friends and family, strangers, missionaries, pastors and teachers, the well-to-do, the poor, those who hate you and despise you, your enemies. I’d list more but we’d be here a while, wouldn’t we?

          No one is to be excluded from our prayers because we don’t like them or they don’t like us. No one should be left out of our prayer because we think it’s not worth the bother to pray for “people like that.” To exclude from prayer because we determine a person or group of people to be unfit for prayer goes against God’s command to pray for all people. It’s sinful. It goes against God’s will and desire to save all people.

          Prayer for all people is grounded in God’s will to rescue and save all people from their sins, from death, and from the power of the devil. Praying for everyone is “good and pleasing before our God and Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” It is God’s longing that every person comes to know his or her sinful and lost condition, to realize their helplessness to change that condition, and to repent of their sins by the power of the Holy Spirit while trusting in faith that Jesus Christ is their only Savior from sin, Satan, and death. All of humanity is on the Lord’s radar screen for forgiveness, eternal life, and salvation. Not one individual is ever left out from God’s free offer of grace, mercy, and peace in Jesus Christ. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners and gave Himself as a ransom, not just for some people or certain people, but for all people.

          “Ransom” is a word that suggests the image of a marketplace, particularly the slave market. The ransom was the price paid to purchase a servant or slave from indenture or slavery. Jesus is the One who came to pay the price for securing freedom for those in slavery to sin, death, and the devil. Jesus Christ Himself is also the price paid, the ransom price required to secure our freedom.

Picture yourself, and all people, as helpless slaves, chained in the marketplace on the town green, standing on the auction block with no hope of freedom. For all you know, you will be purchased by an evil taskmaster as bad as the one in whose chains you now stand.

Amazingly, along comes Jesus. He takes His place among you and the rest of the slaves. He fully identifies with all of you as He becomes one of you. Then He pays the price for your freedom, and incredibly, the price is His own life. Jesus’ precious blood is poured out on the auction block of the cross. What a powerful image! You look up and there stands Jesus, giving Himself for you, standing in your chains, shedding His blood for you, buying your freedom from and Satan, as well as the freedom of everyone else in the whole world.

“You are all free!” the auctioneer says. “The price has been paid in full!” The eternally valuable blood of Christ, the priceless perfection of His obedience in life and in death, and the precious treasury of His merit on the cross—this was the payment to buy freedom for you and for the entire world, freedom from all sins, from death, and from the power of Satan.[1] 

Even as the Law shows us our sin and need for a Savior—we don’t always keep God’s commandments; we fail in our prayers by our exclusions—the Gospel shows us our Savior and gives us the forgiveness of sins for our failures to keep His commands and to pray as we ought. By the power of the Holy Spirit, through the water and Word of Baptism, we are united with Jesus Christ in His death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins. We are given eternal life, new life, by the Spirit. The new life in Christ makes us His disciples. It makes us part of His mission that all people come to the knowledge of the truth that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior of everyone. He lived a perfect life for all people. He took upon Himself the sins of all people. He died on the cross for all people. He rose again from the dead to rescue all people from death and hell.

Paul’s mission was linked to God’s will to save everyone. He wrote to Timothy, “For this I was appointed a preacher and apostle . . . a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.” And so was Timothy! The prayer practice that Paul wanted Timothy to reinstate in Ephesus had the mission of God as its target—prayer for all people because Jesus died and rose again to save all people.

Because Jesus died for all people so that all people might be saved, Christians respond to His great love and grace in their lives by also praying for all people. Because it is good and pleasing to God who commands us so to pray, we offer requests, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings for all people. We pray for our governmental leaders as authorities instituted by God who deserve our honor and respect, even if we disagree with them. We pray for the sick and dying, for the needy, the lonely, and the hurting. We pray for the high and the low in society, for the good and the evil. All people, but especially those who do not know Christ as their Savior, need the prayers of the Church, the very people who have the “ear” of God and are heard by Him because we have received the gift of faith in our Savior, Jesus Christ.

As baptized disciples of Jesus who live with faith in Him as Savior, we have God’s mission as our target, not only in prayer, but also in proclamation. “Christ Jesus came into the world the save sinners.” People need to know their standing before God because of their sins and failing to follow His commandments. They need to be shown what sin is and what its consequence is—eternal death and hell. And then all people need to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ, true God and true man, “who gave Himself as a ransom on behalf of all.” Jesus is the Savior of every person. His death on a cross secured for everyone the forgiveness of sins and life forever with God in heaven. That’s the mission of God and the message of God for everyone whom you meet.

The early church father Ambrose wrote, “Is God not good to all, then? He is certainly good to all, because he is the Savor of all.”[2] As disciples of the Savior, make supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving on behalf of all people, on behalf of kings and all those in authority. Pray for those who do not yet know Jesus Christ as Savior by faith. Speak God’s Word of Law and Gospel so that the Holy Spirit might use the means of the Word to bring all people to knowledge of the truth that Jesus Christ is the world’s Savior and that, in Him alone, there is full forgiveness for sins, rescue from guilt, and life forever with God in eternity. Amen.

[1] Jacob A.O. Preus, Just Words (St. Louis: Concordia, 2000), 79-85.

[2] Peter Gorday, ed. Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament Vol. IX (Downers Grove, IL: InterVaristy, 2000), 155.

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