Author: pastormjc

Sermon for March 26, 2023, Fifth Sunday in Lent

John 11:28-44 (Fifth Sunday in Lent—Series A)

“Confident in the Face of Death”

Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer, Enfield, CT

March 26, 2023

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Our text is from today’s Gospel Reading recorded in John 11:

28And after she had said this, she went away and called her sister Mary, saying privately, “The Teacher is here and is calling you.” 29And as she heard, she rose quickly and went to Him. 30Now Jesus had not yet come into the village but was still in the place where Martha had met Him. 31Therefore, the Jews who were with her in the house and who were consoling her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up quickly and went out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb in order to weep there. 32Now Mary, as she came where Jesus was, when she saw Him, she fell at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33Then Jesus, as He saw her weeping and the Jews who had come together with her weeping, was deeply troubled in spirit and He agitated Himself 34and He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” 35Jesus wept. 36Then the Jews said, “See how He loved him,” 37And some of them said, “He who opened the eyes of the blind, was He not able to bring it about that this man also might not have died?” 38Then Jesus again, deeply troubled in Himself, came to the tomb. Now it was a cave and a stone was lying against it. 39Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man said to Him, “Lord, now he stinks, for he has been dead four days.” 40Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” 41Then they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42And I knew that you always hear me, but on account of the crowd standing around I said this, in order that they might believe that you sent me.” 43And after He had said these things, He cried out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44And the dead man came out, his feet and hands bound with strips of cloth and his face wrapped in a face cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him and release him to go.”

          Death is a reality. It is a reality that makes us uncomfortable. We don’t like to talk about death and dying. We don’t want to think about planning in advance for our own funerals or for those of our loved ones because it is disconcerting. So death is a reality that we often choose to ignore. But death cannot be ignored. Sooner or later, we will all face the death of a family member or friend. And if Jesus does not return before, then we will face our own physical deaths.

          Now we must rid ourselves of the popular notion that death is simply a natural part of life. There is nothing “natural” about death. Death is the punishment for sin. Paul says it so plainly in Romans 6, “For the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23 ESV). Even in the days of Martin Luther, there were people who pictured death as something natural. On October 20, 1532, the great Reformer preached, “The heart and wisdom of no man have hit upon the idea that death is the penalty for sin, but all men have thought and held that it is our natural lot, just as a dog or a pig or any other animal dies or as the sun rises and sets, grass grows and withers, and all things are perishable by nature and pass away as they have come. But Scripture teaches us that our death does not come about in a natural way, but that it is a fruit of, the punishment for, the sin of our father Adam, who so flagrantly violated the exalted Majesty that he and all his descendants who are born on earth must be the prey of death forever; and no one on earth can escape or prevent this calamity.”[1]

          With this proper understanding of death, we can then recognize Jesus’ anger and indignation at death itself as He approached the tomb of Lazarus. John 11:33-38, “Then Jesus, as He saw her weeping and the Jews who had come together with her weeping, was deeply troubled in spirit and He agitated Himself and He said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to Him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, ‘See how He loved him.’ And some of them said, ‘He who opened the eyes of the blind, was He not able to bring it about that this man also might not have died?’ Then Jesus again, deeply troubled in Himself, came to the tomb.” Jesus is not displaying mere grief at the death of Lazarus. To be “deeply troubled” describes our Lord’s feelings in terms of a very strong expression of inner turmoil and distress which is associated with anger and great displeasure. Jesus, the Creator of life, is confronted with the reality of death as a power and a final enemy. When Mary and the Jews are weeping in their grief, Jesus recognizes the effect of death. And there is nothing natural about it. It is an “alien power which brings to [nothing] the life of man, [breaks] human relationships, and elicits the pangs of sorrow, grief, and despair. . . . Jesus now confronts death in the death of Lazarus.”[2]

          It is sin and the death that sin brings that causes such indignation and outrage in Jesus. He shed tears as His heart went out to those who mourn. Death and the grave bring loss and the pain of separation, indicative of the pain of separation from God Himself that sin brings to all people under the tyranny of death. Troubled in spirit and agitated in Himself at this enemy death, Jesus at once asked, “Where have you laid him?” Jesus’ outrage against death that has plunged His friends into such grief will be turned against this death itself by forcing it to give up its prey. By the power of His almighty Word of life, Jesus commands, “Lazarus, come out!” And death is undone! Physical life has returned to the four-day dead body of Lazarus of Bethany. He comes forth from the tomb, wrapped in the linen burial cloths. Then Jesus commands once more, “Unbind him and release him to go”—to go and live with Mary and Martha again!

          Dear Christians, it is not only the death of Lazarus that Jesus has undone. He has undone your death also. For it is Jesus who died not only physical death, but also the spiritual death of hell for you, in your place, as your once-for-all sacrifice for sin. On the cross, Jesus suffered the pains of physical death and hellish separation from the heavenly Father that you and I and all people should have experienced. He endured eternal death for you and me in the God-forsaken blackness of Good Friday so that you and I would have eternal life. From Matthew 27, “Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour.And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” (Matt. 27:45–46 ESV). Carolyn Brinkley writes in her devotional book Bearing the Cross, “Seeing the King of creation hanging naked on a tree, the sun refuses to shine. All of creation is in chaotic horror. The black of night descends. The prince of darkness reigns. The Savior bears the curse of our sin. He pays the price of our abandoning God that began in the Garden of Eden and continues in our lives today. He bears the wrath of God that we deserve. . . . Rather than killing the sinner, He places our sin and guilt on His Son. The almighty God turns His back on His sinless, obedient Son and offers Him as the perfect sacrifice meant to redeem all of mankind. On the cross Jesus suffers the punishment of hell for us. He is forsaken by His Father so we will never be forsaken.”[3] Not even death can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Savior.

          By His cross and resurrection, Jesus has won for us the forgiveness of our sins. And where sin stands forgiven, there is eternal life and salvation and NO DEATH. We have been redeemed from sin, death, and the power of the devil by the blood of Jesus shed for us. And because Jesus is the Risen Lord, our resurrection and eternal life are guaranteed. What was it that Jesus promised Martha? “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die”  (John 11:25–26 ESV). The apostle Paul, writing by the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit to the Corinthian Christians, picks up this very theme in chapter 15, “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Cor. 15:20–26 ESV).

          Death is now mortally wounded by the gift of eternal life given to you through Baptism. You have the forgiveness of sins. You have eternal life. It’s yours right now by grace through faith. Your physical death is not your end or your destruction. For you who believe, death is but the gate to life for your soul in the paradise of God to await the final victory. The Lord Jesus Christ, who gave up His life into death and the grave, who stared death in the face in victory on Easter morning as the Risen Savior, will come again in glory and put the last enemy to death. The death blow to death itself will come when our Lord Jesus raises the bodies of the dead on the Last Day and gives everlasting life in resurrected body and soul to those who believed in Him who is Resurrection and Life. Jesus promises, “Because I live, you also will live” (John 14:19 ESV).

          Through His death and resurrection, Jesus Christ, true God and true Man, has vanquished the power of death. Because of the gift of faith in Christ, you who have received the forgiveness of sins also have the gift of eternal life. Death has no power over you (Rev. 20:6). Christ Jesus has taken away the sting of death and the power of death with His Resurrection. Jesus’ victory is your victory. This is our confidence in the face of death. Jesus lives. The victory over sin and death is won.

Now in Christ, death cannot slay me,
    Though it might,
    Day and night,
Trouble and dismay me.
Christ has made my death a portal
    From the strife
    Of this life
To His joy immortal![4]

     [1] Ewald M. Plass, What Luther Says (St. Louis: Concordia, 1959), 363.

     [2] William C. Weinrich, John 7:2-12:50, Concordia Commentary (St. Louis: Concordia, 2022), 621.

     [3] Carolyn S. Brinkley, Bearing the Cross: Devotions on Albrecht Dürer’s Small Passion (St. Louis: Concordia, 2012), 112.

     [4] Lutheran Service Book 765:5. Text: © 2004 Stephen P. Starke, admin. Concordia Publishing House. Used by permission: LSB Hymn License no. 110000752

Sermon for March 19, 2023, Fourth Sunday in Lent

Isaiah 42:14-21 (Fourth Sunday in Lent—Series A)

“I Can See!”

Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer, Enfield, CT

March 19, 2023

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Our text this morning is the Old Testament Reading from Isaiah 42:

14I have been silent for a long time. I have kept sill. I have restrained myself. Like a woman giving birth I will shriek. I will gasp and pant together. 15I will lay waste mountains and hills and I will dry up all their grass. And I will turn rivers into islands, and I will dry up pools. 16And I will lead the blind in a way they do not know; I will guide them in paths they do not know. I will turn darkness before them into light, rough places into level ground. These are the words I will do for them and I will not forsake them. 17They will be turned back and be utterly put to shame—those who trust in idols, those who say to a molten image, “You are our gods.” 18O deaf ones, listen! O blind ones, look and see! 19Who is blind but my servant and deaf like my messenger whom I sent? Who is blind like my one in covenant peace and blind like the servant of Yahweh? 20You see many things, but you do not observe. He opens his ears but does not hear. 21Yahweh was pleased because of his righteousness. He will magnify his teaching and cause it to be glorious.

          The Pharisees sneered at the man who had been blind from birth. Jesus had healed him, given him his sight, but on a Sabbath Day. After much questioning, the man confessed, “We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him.Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind.If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” That was enough for the Pharisees. They leveled him in anger with the charge, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” (John 9:31–34 ESV).

          Theologically, what the Pharisees said of the man who was formerly blind was true. It was true for him, but also true for each of the Pharisees. It is true for all people. We are born in utter sin. That’s the spiritual condition for all the descendants of Adam and Eve. Humanity has inherited the fallen, broken condition of sin to this very day. David confessed this truth in Psalm 51:5, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psa. 51:5 ESV). Every person is now born without the ability to fear and love God. All humanity is born spiritually blind and dead—this man whom Jesus healed, the Pharisees, the people of Israel, you, and me. We confess as the Church, “It is our teaching, faith, and confession that human reason and understanding are blind in spiritual matters and understand nothing on the basis of their own powers, as it is written, ‘Those who are natural do not receive the gifts of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to them and they are unable to understand them’ [1 Cor. 2:14] when they are asked about spiritual matters. Likewise, we believe, teach, and confess that the unregenerated human will is not only turned away from God but has also become God’s enemy, that it has only the desire and will to do evil and whatever is opposed to God, as it is written, ‘The inclination of the human heart is evil from youth’ [Gen. 8:21]. Likewise, ‘The mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law — indeed, it cannot’ [Rom. 8:7]. As little as a corpse can make itself alive for bodily, earthly life, so little can people who through sin are spiritually dead raise  themselves up to a spiritual life, as it is written, ‘When we were dead through our trespasses, God made us alive together with Christ’ [Eph. 2:5].”[1]

          The sin with which we were conceived and born, inherited from Adam, is the cause of our spiritual blindness. The spiritually blind are those who have been deprived of their spiritual sight by their sin and sin results in punishment by the holy and just God. Because of the spiritual blindness of their sin, the people of Israel put their faith and trust in idols, like the gods of the Canaanites. They followed the Baals and offered this molten image their worship and faith, “You are our gods.” We can’t help but think of the golden calf fashioned in the wilderness or the golden calves set up in Dan and Bethel for the people to worship (2Kings 10:29). This rejection of the God who called them to be His holy people would lead to their punishment in the exile to Babylon. For those seventy years, the Lord would not intervene while the punishment for the people’s spiritual blindness and sin was carried out.

          But then something shocking! Isaiah announced that the Lord would lay waste mountains and hills, drying up all the grass. He would turn rivers into islands and dry up pools. Then the Lord would lead His blind people in a way they didn’t know. He would turn their darkness into light. God would lead the exiles in Babylon home again. By the unbelievable means of Cyrus the Persian, the Lord would advance “like a hot knife through butter, and creation [would] be undone” for the benefit and blessing of His people Israel.[2] The mercy of God adopts the blind, lights up the darkness, and clears every obstacle away so that He might bring salvation to the nations.

          It was Israel, God’s set-apart people, whom He had appointed to be His servant to bring the Lord’s mercy, righteousness, and justice to the nations. But in this task, His covenant people failed. “O deaf ones, listen! O blind ones, look and see! Who is blind but my servant and deaf like my messenger whom I sent? Who is blind like my one in covenant peace and blind like the servant of Yahweh?” Spiritually blind, dead, and enemies of God. So were the Israelites by nature, so they became as they went after false gods and trusted in the idols, having lost the fear, love, and trust in the only true God. Indeed, Israel had become like the idols they worshipped. Its gods had eyes but couldn’t see. They were only man-made fabrications, statues, images. Because of their sins and unfaithfulness, Israel was reduced to blindness. The people’s idolatry made them unable to see the Lord, unable to be His servant.

          Does not our idolatry cause us to be blind to the Lord and His Word? Certainly, it does. “But we don’t worship molten images and carved idols?” you say. Perhaps not, but whatever we put our fear, love, and trust in becomes our god. If our fear, love, and trust is not in the one, Triune God, then we have an idol—popularity, money, pornography, possessions, the self. Whatever takes priority in our lives, no matter how “good” it might seem our eyes or in the eyes of the society, if it takes precedence over the Lord our God, it is an idol, and we fall into the blindness of sin and darkness of idolatry. We think we see, but we fall into idolatry. We fall into the sin of placing self, things, and attitudes ahead of our fear, love, and trust in God. So, like blind Israel, we needed rescue from the dark blindness of our sin and idolatry.

          Into the darkness of a fallen creation, into the blindness of humanity’s sin, steps a new Servant of the Lord. Before the words of our Old Testament Reading today at the beginning of chapter 42, God says to Israel and to us through Isaiah, “Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. . . . Thus says God, [Yahweh], . . . : ‘I am [Yahweh]; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. I am Yahweh; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols’” (Is. 42:1–8 ESV).

          God Himself would give this Servant to open the eyes of the spiritually bind, to release the prisoners jailed by Satan, setting free those in the darkness of sin and idolatry. And this Servant is none other than God the Son Himself, Jesus Christ, who became flesh and dwelt among us in the darkness of our sins. As St. John wrote in the opening of his Gospel, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.He was in the beginning with God.All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.In him was life, and the life was the light of [people].The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:1–5 ESV).

          It is Jesus, true God and true Man, who gave sight to the physically blind. He gave the gift of seeing to the man born blind. And that gift of vision and sight was to point others to their need, not for physical sight, but for the spiritual vision of faith—to see Jesus as the Savior, the Servant of the Lord, who has come into the world to save spiritually blind sinners. From John 9, “Jesus heard that they had cast [the man He had healed] out [of the synagogue], and having found him [Jesus] said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’He answered, ‘And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?’Jesus said to him, ‘You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.’He said, ‘Lord, I believe,’ and he worshiped him” (John 9:35–38 ESV). The gift of physical sight leads to the gift of spiritual sight—faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior—who gives sight to the spiritually blind and rescuing them from the darkness of their sins. As the hymnwriter prays, “Lord, who once came to bring, On Your redeeming wing, Healing and sight, Health to the sick in mind, Sight to the inly blind: Oh, now to humankind Let there be light!”[3]

          And when God speaks, it is done. His Word does it. His Word Incarnate, Jesus Christ, brings sight to our blind, deaf, and dead bodies and souls and revives us with the forgiveness of all our sins and the new life of faith. These gifts Jesus won for us with His death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead. In the cosmic darkness of Good Friday, Jesus bore the blindness of our sins, shed His holy, precious blood and gave up His life into death for them so that you and I might see and live anew by faith in Him. To paraphrase 2 Corinthians 5:21, “God made Him who knew no blindness to be blind for us so that we who are blind might see.”[4] And the darkness and blindness of our sins for which Christ died did not overcome Him. In victory, the Lord Jesus rose again from the dead on the third day, defeating Satan, sin, and death, vanquishing the darkness by granting to all who would believe in Him the light of everlasting life. These gifts of forgiveness and life Jesus pours into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who creates faith in us through the Gospel Word and the spiritually eye-opening waters of Holy Baptism.

          The Light of Christ received through this gift of faith gives us the vision to see who Jesus truly is, our Savior, Lord, and King. The Light, who is Christ, enables us to see the grace and truth of God and no longer be bound to idols. Jesus, the Light of the world, empowers us through His Spirit to see and to know God our heavenly Father by faith through His Word. He shows the way to God by His light, even as He has said through Isaiah, “And I will lead the blind in a way they do not know; I will guide them in paths they do not know. I will turn darkness before them into light, rough places into level ground. These are the words I will do for them and I will not forsake them.”

          You are not forsaken. You are not abandoned in the spiritual blindness with which you were born. You have been gifted saving faith in Jesus Christ, the Light of the world. And so, you now see and confess as did the once blind man, “I believe.” By the power and grace of the Holy Spirit, walk through this life with your eyes of faith wide open and continue to look upon Jesus Christ, your Savior, as He comes to you in His Word and Sacrament, until that day we shall see Him face to face. Amen.

     [1] Robert Kolb and Timothy J. Wengert, eds. The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Accordance electronic ed. (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2000), 491-492.

     [2] Reed Lessing, Isaiah 40-55, Concordia Commentary (St. Louis: Concordia, 2011), 283.

     [3] Lutheran Service Book, 979:2.

     [4] Francis C. Rossow, Gospel Handles: Old Testament Lessons (St. Louis: Concordia, 2014), 126.

Sermon for March 12, 2023, Third Sunday in Lent

John 4:5-30, 39-42 (Third Sunday in Lent—Series A)

“Who’s Thirsty?”

Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer, Enfield, CT

March 12, 2023

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Our text this morning is from the Gospel lesson appointed for today, from John 4.

5Then He came into a village of the Samaritans called Sychar near the field which Jacob gave to his son Joseph, 6and Jacob’s well was there. Therefore, Jesus, being exhausted from the journey, sat beside the well. It was about the sixth hour. 7A woman from Samaritans came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8For his disciples had gone away into the village so that they might buy some food. 9Then the Samaritan woman said to Him, “How is that you, a Jew, ask from me, a Samaritan woman?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) 10Jesus answered and said to her, “If you had known the gift of God and who it is who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,” you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.” 11The woman said to Him, “Sir, you do not have a bucket and the well is deep. Therefore, from what source do you get this running water? 12Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us this well and he himself drank from it as well as his sons and his flocks?” 13Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks from this water will thirst again. 14But whoever should drink from the water which I will give to him shall surely never thirst, but the water which I will give to him will become in him a spring of water springing up to eternal life.” 15The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water so that I should not thirst and not have to come here to draw [water].”

“Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink,” says the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner. Of course, he was talking about being in the middle of the ocean with water as far as the eye can see and not being able to drink it because it is salt water and not fresh water. Water is absolutely essential to life. Without it, nothing can live. Ultimately, even the desert camel must drink water, or it will die.

Naturally, one can understand why Jesus sat down on the ground next to the well near Sychar. He was tired because of traveling north to Galilee through the region of Samaria. In the warm, semi-dry climate Jesus was thirsty. It was about 12 noon. The sun was no doubt high in the sky, beating down on Him. His disciples had gone into the town marketplace to buy some food. While He sat beside the well, a Samaritan woman came to draw water.

She looked at him and He looked at her. We can imagine that nothing was said right away. Certainly, she would not speak to Him. She, being a woman, was looked down upon in the society of the day and it would have been out of place to start conversation. She was also a Samaritan, whom the Jews regarded as “half-breeds” and held in contempt. In the eyes of the culture, this woman was to be disregarded as ceremonially unclean. Contact with her would make a Jew unclean, preventing his worship in the Temple until purification could be made. But Jesus ignores all of that. Paying no mind to the cultural and religious ramifications, Jesus spoke to this woman, “Give me a drink.” The woman questioned Jesus right away, “How is that you, a Jew, ask from me, a Samaritan woman?” In effect, she wanted to know what was wrong with this guy. The fact that she was Samaritan and woman should have deterred Him from any contact with her, yet Jesus spoke to the woman, “Give me a drink.”

Jesus is thirsty. He is in need of water to quench His thirst and to refresh and strengthen His body. But Jesus sets His need aside to address the greater need of this Samaritan woman. Jesus answered and said, “If you had known the gift of God, namely, who it is who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.” From Jesus’ words, we understand that this woman is not aware of who Jesus is. She is also not aware of her great need. In other words, Jesus tells this woman, “I would be happier to reverse the order and give you a drink. In fact, this is the reason for My presence here. I am asking for a drink to quench My physical thirst so that I might have occasion to give you a ‘drink’. If you only realized what a gift is now to be found on earth, you would ask Me for it, and I would give you a drink that would taste better than this water. It is of the utmost importance to recognize this gift and to know Him who is the gift.”

Clearly, the woman didn’t understand what Jesus was talking about. She questioned Him as to where He would get this “running water” (notice she hasn’t caught on to the “living water” aspect) because He has nothing to draw with and the well is quite deep. “From what source do you get this running water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us this well and he himself drank from it as well as his sons and his flocks?” she asked. Yes, in fact, Jesus is greater than Jacob. Jesus tells the woman, “Everyone who drinks from this water will thirst again. But whoever should drink from the water which I will give to him shall surely never thirst, but the water which I will give to him will become in him a spring of water springing up to eternal life.” Again, Jesus makes the woman consider what her greater need is. She is very much caught up in the physical and earthly. Jesus wants her to see that her greater need is spiritual and heavenly. While she needs water to live on earth, she needs the living water that only Christ can give to have life eternal. If she knew the gift of God and, in that connection, who the stranger was who was speaking with her, this woman would no longer trouble herself about problems between Jews and Samaritans but would ask Him for water and He would give it to her—living water—regardless of whether she was a Samaritan or not. The Samaritan woman, too, is thirsty. Jesus wanted her to recognize her spiritual thirst and to see Him as the One who is the Gift of God and the Giver of living water, eternal life through the Spirit.

As you and I encounter Jesus in His Word today, we also must consider our thirst. Not thirst for earthly water, but for living water. Jesus asks us, “Who’s thirsty? If you had known the gift of God . . . you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.” Do we know the gift of God? Do we ask Jesus for living water? As Christians, we’d like to think that we do know God’s gift and who it is that is both the Gift and the Giver. But we don’t always. We’d like to think we ask that Giver for living water. But we don’t always. How can that be true? It is as true as the fact that the woman at the well had five husbands and the man she was now with was not her husband. It is true because of sin. Sin clouds our spiritual thinking. Sin separates us from God and from desiring the gifts of God.

Sin has left us in the condition of being spiritually thirsty. In fact, we were so thirsty that we had become totally dehydrated and were spiritually dead in trespasses and sins. There was no desire for the gifts of God, no longing for God. This estrangement from God accounts for all the griefs and sorrows, worries and heartaches, the restlessness and unhappiness, the despondency and despair of the human heart. To this day, sin still corrupts us and keeps us from always thirsting for the gift of God and seeking Jesus, the Giver. Sin causes us, instead, to thirst for the things of this world that please our sinful nature. We thirst for that which can satisfy our human wants and cravings. We desire wealth and power, money and popularity, thinking these things can make us truly happy as we often put them first in our lives. We lust to fulfill our sexual appetites. We wish to better ourselves by any means possible, whether that means speaking lies against a co-worker or classmate, cheating on a test in school, or being lazy at the workplace and not doing our jobs. Do we know the gift of God? Do we ask Jesus for living water? Left to ourselves, our sinful nature does not let us understand and know the gift of God. Satan and the world influence us not to ask Jesus for His gift of living water. So, we thirst. We are spiritually thirsty people.

However, God, in His mercy, does not want us to die of spiritual thirst because of our sins. So out of His great love for sinners, God sent His One-of-a-kind Son, Jesus Christ, into our sin-filled world. Jesus became subject to human need, even to thirst. The well near Sychar was not the only place that Jesus was thirsty. Jesus was nailed to a cross on Calvary’s hill. As He hung there, bleeding and dying, John tells us “Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, ‘I am thirsty.’ A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When He had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ With that, he bowed His head and gave up His spirit” (John 19:28-30).

Jesus Christ became thirsty for you and me so that you and I would never thirst again. The gift of God, Jesus Christ, thirsted as He hung on the cross, bearing our sin and enduring our death. Burdened with our sin, Jesus became sin for us. We can certainly say that on the cross, Jesus became spiritually thirsty too, as our sins were upon Him. We can hear Jesus saying to us from the cross, “I am happy to reverse the order and give you a drink. In fact, that is why I am here on the cross. I am dying for your sins so that you might drink from the living water of life eternal. Even though, because of your sins, you did not recognize God or the gift of living water, receive the forgiveness of sins which My death wins for you. Drink of the spring of living water, the eternal life which My death and resurrection purchases for you. I will thirst in your place so that you no longer will.”

Jesus gave us His life on the cross so that you and I would have life forever with God. This life was for not only for the Jewish people, but also for the Samaritan woman, the Samaritans, and all who are spiritually thirsting because of sin. That life is for you and me. Through Christ’s death and resurrection, you and I are no longer spiritually thirsting. By God’s grace alone, our sins are forgiven because of Jesus. We have new life, eternal life, through the living water and the Spirit given to us in Holy Baptism. As Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (Jn. 3:5-6 ESV). As Baptized children of God, we have been given faith which trusts in Jesus as our Savior through the power of the Holy Spirit working through water and the Word of Christ. Because of this gift, Christ dwells in us through the Spirit. The Spirit Himself has become a spring of water springing up to eternal life as He delivers to us the fruits of Jesus’ cross and resurrection—His gift of sins forgiven and life forever with our Lord and God.

Who’s thirsty? Not us! Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection from the dead has quenched our spiritual thirst. While we were still sinners, when we didn’t deserve forgiveness and life, Jesus died to save us. It is by grace, through faith, that we have been saved. Christ’s living water, the Holy Spirit who brings us eternal life through the saving work of Jesus, is truly a gift of God. Indeed, the living water Jesus has given to you and to me, the Spirit Himself, is a spring of water springing up to eternal life. As we continue our Lenten journey to the cross and the empty tomb of Easter, remember that, because of Jesus and the gift of the Spirit, we no longer thirst for the things of God. His love and mercy have quenched our thirst better than any physical water ever could. Amen.

Sermon for March 5, 2023, Second Sunday in Lent

Romans 4:1-8, 13-17 (Second Sunday in Lent—Series A)

“Certain of Our Righteousness in Christ”

Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer, Enfield, CT

March 5, 2023

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Our text is the Epistle lesson recorded in Romans 4.

1What then will we say Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, found? 2For if Abraham was declared righteous from works, he has a boast, but not before God. 3For what is the Scripture saying? And Abraham believed in God and it was credited to him for righteousness. 4Now to the one who works, the payment is not credited as a gift, but according to what is owed. 5But to the one who is not working but is believing on the One who declares the ungodly righteous, his faith is being credited for righteousness, 6just as David also speaks the blessing of the person to whom God is crediting righteousness without works: 7Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven and whose sins are covered over. 8Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will surely not count. . . . 13For the promise to Abraham and his seed, that he would be the heir of the world, was not through the Law but through the righteousness of faith. 14For if the heirs are from the Law, the faith has been emptied and the promise is made ineffective and void. 15For the Law brings wrath, but where the Law is not, neither is transgression. 16On account of this the promise is from faith, in order that it is according to grace, so that the promise is certain to every seed, not to the one from the Law only, but also to the one who is from the faith of Abraham who is father of all of us, 17just as it stands written, I have made you the father of many nations, in the presence of whom he believed God, the One who makes the dead alive and calls the things not existing so that they are existing.

          The apostle Paul begins our text today with a question: “What then will we say Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, found?” Let’s explore this question and text together this morning.

          Is it true that Abraham found that God chose him because he feared the one true God? No, this is FALSE. Joshua 24:2 tells us, “And Joshua said to all the people, Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Long ago, your fathers lived beyond the Euphrates, Terah, the father of Abraham and of Nahor; and they served other gods’” (ESV). Abraham did not fear the one true God. He didn’t worship the Lord, Yahweh. Luther wrote, “For if you should ask what Abraham was before he was called by a merciful God, Joshua answers that he was an idolater, that is, that he deserved death and eternal damnation. But in this wretched state God does not cast him away; He calls him and through the call makes everything out of him who is nothing.”[1]

          God chose Abraham simply out of His gracious favor. Moses records by the power of the Holy Spirit in our Old Testament Reading, “Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed’” (Gen. 12:1–3 ESV). God alone is the actor. Abraham, in and of himself, had nothing to do with the Lord’s gracious calling and promise because Abraham was too busy worshipping false gods. God alone chose. God commanded. God promised.

          Well, then, did God make the Promise to Abraham as a reward because Abraham obeyed God’s command to go from his country and kindred? No, the Promise was made first. When we read in Genesis 12:4, “So Abram went, as the Lord had told him, and Lot went with him,” God had already made His promise before Abraham did anything. God’s promise had already been delivered fully by God BEFORE Abraham responded faithfully to it. God alone chose Abraham according to His gracious will. God commanded Abraham to go to the land that the Lord would show Him. And then God promised Abraham the blessing of making Abraham into a great nation so that through Abraham, all nations of the earth might receive the Lord’s blessing in the Savior of all. It is only at this point that Abraham responded with obedience, however imperfectly. Twice he lied about the fact that Sarah was his wife, saying she was his sister (Gen 12.10-20; 20.1-18). His conduct in regard to Hagar (Sarah’s maidservant, whom she gave to Abraham in order to have a son, Ishmael, because they lost trust in the promise) is far from exemplary (Gen 16.4-6).

          It is not on the basis of Abraham’s faithfulness or righteousness or even his fear of God that the Lord chose him to be the father of many nations and the forefather of the Savior according to the flesh. God chose Abraham by grace and offered the Promise by grace, without any merit or worthiness in Abraham.

          Let’s take a moment then and take up this question: Is it true that God chose us to be His people because we are always righteous in and of ourselves and because we always fear God? That is also FALSE. By nature, we are the same as our forefather, Abraham. We are idolators. We are unfaithful. We are sinners.

          In the Small Catechism section “Christian Questions with their Answers,” which you can also find on page 329 in the front of the Lutheran Service Book hymnal, Pastor Luther prepared these questions for those who intend to go to the Sacrament. These begin, “Do you believe that you are a sinner? Yes, I believe it. I am a sinner. How do you know this? From the Ten Commandments, which I have not kept. What have you deserved from God because of your sins? His wrath and displeasure, temporal death, and eternal damnation.

As Paul wrote in our text, “The payment is not credited as a gift, but according to what is owed.” What is owed to the sinner? Wrath, physical death, and eternal damnation! “The wages of sin is death” (Rom 6.23 ESV). That’s what we should receive from God—punishment for our idolatry, unfaithfulness, and lack of love toward our neighbor. We, like Abraham, have no standing of righteousness or faithfulness before God on our own merit.

          But did God promise us salvation from our sins if we just do our best and try to be “good people” according to His Law and Commandments? Certainly not! The Law brings wrath because we cannot keep it. Even our best isn’t good enough. “Good” isn’t good enough. Only perfect will do! (Matthew 5:48). The Law doesn’t make us better. Doing the Law in part doesn’t fix the problem. The Law makes us aware of our problem in order to point us to the One who remedies the problem. Those blessed are not those who “just do their best to make God happy.” The blessed are those who have their “lawless deeds forgiven” and “their sins covered over.” The only thing we offer to God is the sin that makes grace necessary.

So, Abraham was credited with righteousness by grace alone through faith alone? Absolutely! Paul quotes Gen 15:6, “And Abraham believed in God, and it was credited to him for righteousness.” Righteousness is credited to Abraham because God counts something—righteousness—as belonging to Abraham. This is not something Abraham does, but something Abraham simply receives through believing. God acts for Abraham in choosing him according to His grace to be the father of many nations. God acts for Abraham according to His Promise, crediting the sinner with righteousness because of the promised Seed, the Messiah, Jesus Christ, who would win forgiveness for Abraham and all his descendants, those of faith. So the apostle writes later in Romans 4, “But the words ‘it was counted to him’ were not written for his sake alone,but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord,who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification” (Rom. 4:23–25 ESV).

Does this mean, then, that the Promise is for us to be received by faith? Yes! Romans 4:16, “On account of this, the promise is from faith, in order that it is according to grace, so that the promise is certain to every seed, not to the one from the Law only, but also to the one who is from the faith of Abraham who is father of all of us.”

Jesus Christ purchased and won our forgiveness of sins with His sacrifice on the cross. His blood “covers over” us. The blood of Christ is applied to us in Baptism. Through the Holy Spirit’s gift of faith, through God’s gracious gift of believing in the Promised One, Jesus, we, who have committed lawless acts and appear to be loaded with sins, do not have our sins counted against us. They are covered in the blood of Christ, atoned for, God’s wrath appeased by Jesus’ death, salvation won, forgiveness granted, and the righteousness of Christ applied to us. 2 Corinthians 5:19, “In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them” (ESV).

This is God’s perspective on us: God credits righteousness to ungodly people like you and me who believe in Jesus Christ through the gift of saving faith. Now, believers like us are similarly called to count ourselves as dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus (Rom 6.11), even though our present experiences often appear to contradict that assertion. Why? Because death to sin and resurrection to new life with Christ is the reality which took place in Baptism. So we read in Romans 6, “How can we who died to sin still live in it?Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. . . . For one who has died has been set free from sin” (Rom. 6:2–4, 7 ESV). Even though we do not deserve it, our debts, our transgressions and sins, have been erased, and Christ’s righteousness has been added to our account. God the Father has declared you righteous by grace through faith in Jesus, your Savior.

And this Promise is certain. The Credit is certain. Forgiveness is certain. If it were dependent upon us, upon our ability to fulfill God’s Word and to keep God’s Law according to His perfect standard, we could never be certain. Our sins and guilt would flood us and we would be overcome. But since the Promise is from faith, we can be most certain that we are credited with the righteousness of Jesus, forgiven of all our sins, and graced with the faith that believes and receives these Gospel gifts. Haer what the Scriptures say to you so that you may be certain:

Is. 61:10    I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness.

Rom. 5:17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

Rom. 8:10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

1Cor. 1:30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption.

Philippians 3:9 [We are found in Christ,] not having a righteousness of [our] own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.

By God’s grace, Christ’s Righteousness is credited to you. The Promise is certain to you in Christ. God has declared you to be righteous by faith alone, not because of works, according to His grace through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

     [1] Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 2: Lectures on Genesis: Chapters 6-14, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 2 (Saint Louis: Concordia, 1999), 246.

Sermon for February 26, 2023, First Sunday in Lent

Matthew 4:1-11 (First Sunday in Lent—Series A)

“His Victory Is Our Victory”

Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer, Enfield, CT

February 26, 2023

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Our text is the Gospel lesson for this First Sunday in Lent, the temptation of Jesus, recorded in Matthew, chapter 4.

1Then Jesus was led up into the wilderness by the Spirit to be tempted by the devil. 2And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, at the end He was hungry. 3And the tempter approached and said to Him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” 4But He answered and said, “It stands written: A person will not live by bread alone; rather, by every word that comes out through the mouth of God.” 5Then the devil took Him into the holy city and stood Him on the pinnacle of the temple 6and said to Him, “If you are the Son of God, throw Yourself down, for it stands written that to His angels He will give orders concerning You and upon their hands they will carry you, lest you strike Your foot against a stone.” 7Jesus said to him, “Again it stands written: You shall not test the Lord your God.” 8Again the devil took Him onto a very high mountain and he showed to Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9And he said to Him, “All these things I will give to you, if you fall down and worship me.” 10Then Jesus said to him, “Leave, Satan! For it stands written: You shall worship the Lord your God and you shall serve Him alone.11Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and began to serve Him.

"ICXC NIKA" Art Print by vivkouf | Redbubble          How many of you wear Nike sneakers or athletic wear? You can pay over $100 for a pair of Nike Air Jordans, the shoes that were all the rage when I was in high school. Nike is the English spelling of the Greek word for “victory.” The branding is meant to give one the idea that if you wear Nike products, you are set up for victory on the court, field, or track. The Nike Swoosh logo is one of the world’s most well-known icons. But let me show you a lesser-known symbol that assures you of a victory that Nike can’t possibly deliver.

This Christian symbol uses the same word, Nike, Ihsouj Cristoj Nika! and means “Jesus Christ Conquers” or “Jesus Christ is the Victor.” Jesus is the Victor over Satan, sin, and death and that means that you who are in Christ Jesus are also victorious. His victory is your victory.

There is another “V” word to consider this morning. It is quite the opposite of “victor.” The word is victim. What is a victim? Merriam-Webster defines the word this way. “One that is acted on and usually adversely affected by a force or agent, such as one that is injured, destroyed, or sacrificed under any of various conditions;one that is subjected to oppression, hardship, or mistreatment; one that is tricked or duped.” That’s humanity! That’s us! We’re victims of the devil’s temptation of Adam and Eve in the Garden! Adam and Eve were the first victims, and so all their descendants followed in their legacy of sin. As we heard God’s Word in the Epistle lesson from Romans 5, “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Rom. 5:12 ESV).

Adam and Eve were tempted by Satan, the Adversary, who is the devil, the Slanderer. They willingly disobeyed God’s command not to eat from the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They chose to not fear, love, and trust in their Creator above all things and sought to “be like God, knowing good and evil.” That sin-disease spread to all of their descendants down to this very day. Along with David in Psalm 51, you and I confess, “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psa. 51:3–5 ESV).

What’s more, you and I continue to be victims of the temptations not only of the devil, but also of this world and our own sinful flesh. We read in the Large Catechism of Martin Luther, “Temptation . . .  is of three kinds: of the flesh, of the world, and of the devil. For we dwell in the flesh and carry the old Adam about our neck. He exerts himself and encourages us daily to unchastity, laziness, gluttony and drunkenness, greed and deception, to defraud our neighbor and to overcharge him. In short, the old Adam encourages us to have all kinds of evil lusts, which cling to us by nature and to which we are moved by the society, the example, and what we hear and see of other people. They often wound and inflame even an innocent heart. Next comes the world, which offends us in word and deed. It drives us to anger and impatience. In short, there is nothing but hatred and envy, hostility, violence and wrong, unfaithfulness, vengeance, cursing, railing, slander, pride and haughtiness, with useless finery, honor, fame, and power. No one is willing to be the least. Everyone desires to sit at the head of the group and to be seen before all. Then comes the devil, pushing and provoking in all directions. But he especially agitates matters that concern the conscience and spiritual affairs. He leads us to despise and disregard both God’s Word and works. He tears us away from faith, hope, and he brings us into misbelief, false security, and stubbornness. Or, on the other hand, he leads us to despair, denial of God, blasphemy, and innumerable other shocking things. These are snares and nets, indeed, real fiery darts that are shot like poison into the heart, not by flesh and blood, but by the devil.”[1]

You and I are victims of the temptation of the devil, the world, and our flesh. And like the first Adam, we often fall into sin. We fall short of the glory of God. We fail to be the people He has called us to be as Christians as we fail not only to love God, but we also do not always show love to our neighbor, that is, anyone to whom we can show mercy.

But there stands Jesus, the Son of God in human flesh. His was a divinely arranged temptation! He was led into the wilderness following His baptism in the Jordan River precisely to be “tempted by the devil.” Jesus entered the wilderness to be the champion for the people of Israel and for all of God’s people. Israel, during the wilderness wanderings at the time of the Exodus, was tested by God for faith and righteousness. But the sin of the people led them astray. Remember the golden calf that they worshipped? Time and again, Israel failed, falling into sin and gross idolatry. Is that not also true for us who daily fight against the same temptations of the devil, world, and flesh?

But it was God’s will that His One-of-a-Kind Son, Jesus, not simply be tested, but tempted, and so prove Himself to be the One who overcomes Satan in place of, and for the sake of, all of God’s people. So in our place, Jesus was tempted to use His own power to serve Himself in time of need. He was tempted to consider that, as God’s Son, God’s power is available to protect and sustain Jesus. Would He trust that promise or put the Lord God to the test in doubt? Satan presumed that the Son of God will worship and serve someone. He sought to turn Jesus aside from wholehearted worship and service of God His Father.

It was an epic failure! Jesus, tempted in the wilderness, was victorious. Where Adam and Eve failed, where the people of Israel failed, where you and I have failed and will continue to fall into sin following temptation, Jesus Christ has conquered! He kept all of God’s commandments in our place. He perfectly did the will of the heavenly Father. Jesus Christ is the Victor! And joy of all joys, so are we!

Jesus is the Victor over Satan in the wilderness on behalf of all people. Jesus’ triumph has collective and universal results. “In, with, and under His victory, we are victorious. In, with, and under His keeping of the Ten Commandments, we keep the Ten Commandments.”[2] Jesus, the Second Adam, succeeded where the first Adam failed—and you and I are the beneficiaries. Again, from Romans 5 we read, “For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.  For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous” (Rom. 5:17–19 ESV).

You are made righteous in Christ through the forgiveness of your sins. You are victorious in Him who lived a perfect life as your substitute! As the hymn stanza reads, “Now rise, faint hearts, be resolute; This man is Christ, our substitute! He was baptized in Jordan’s stream, Proclaimed Redeemer, Lord supreme.”[3]

Being our Substitute and winning the victory over Satan involved not only Jesus overcoming the temptations of the devil and living a perfect life according to God’s Law, but also His giving up His life into death so that we might be saved from God’s wrath and the punishment for all our sins and fallenness. As Satan in the wilderness tempted Jesus as the Son of God, so the devil would again hold up that temptation to Him at the end of His earthly ministry. While on the cross, Jesus was taunted, “Let him save Himself, if He is the Son of God” (Luke 23:35).

“If you are the Son of God, let’s find out what kind of Son you are,” the devil sneered once again. And He found out. Jesus was faithful in His life and in His death. In Gethsemane Jesus prayed, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him”(Luke 22:42–44 ESV). Served by His angel after His time in the wilderness, the Son of God is served once more before His Passion and death for the sins of all people. He willingly, lovingly, and graciously went to the death of the cross to pay for our sins and sinfulness. Jesus shed His blood, purchasing with it our forgiveness and eternal life. And in His triumphant resurrection the devil, the world, and the flesh lie in defeat. Their powers are vanquished. Christ has fulfilled the will of the Father in winning salvation for the world with His perfect life, sacrificial death, and glorious resurrection. Ihsouj Cristoj Nika! Jesus Christ is the Victor!

And His victory is your victory. You have been baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection. The Holy Spirit through the Gospel Word, Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper gives to you the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation Jesus won for you. He gives you the very righteousness of Christ and the strength of His Gospel to overcome the temptations of the devil, the world, and the flesh. Jesus’ victory is yours now through faith. You are “more than conquerors” through Him (Rom. 8:37). It is in this victory of Christ that you also pray in the Lord’s Prayer, “and lead us not into temptation.” This you pray because of the assurance that you are victorious in Christ, ever certain that God guards and keeps you so that the devil, the world, and the sinful nature may not deceive or mislead you. Although attacked by these things, you are able to stand firm in Christ through faith, trusting that by His grace and Spirit, you will finally overcome them and win the victory.

Jesus has won the victory. Jesus Christ is the Victor! By grace through baptismal faith, you are victorious with your Lord and Savior! His victory is your victory unto life everlasting. Amen.

     [1] Paul Timothy McCain, ed., Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions (St. Louis: Concordia, 2005), 420–421.

     [2] Francis C. Rossow, Gospel Handles (St. Louis: Concordia, 2001), 27.

     [3] Text: © 1993 James P. Tiefel. Used by permission: LSB Hymn License no. 110000752