Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sermon for 7/8/12

Sermon “Impudent, Stubborn, Rebellious

Our Lord, once again as we stand before you we confess that we have sinned. We need your forgiveness. Give us ears to hear and hearts to believe. Conform us to your image, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

I have just a few words to say, from our reading in Ezekiel. Impudent, stubborn, rebellious. Three words. Three words which describe me. Three words, which, if I may be so bold, describe you also. Impudent, stubborn, rebellious. That’s what God’s prophet says to Judah. That’s what God’s prophet says to us. Why could that be? After all, just look at us. We’re respectable folk, aren’t we? We love our country, we love our local church, we love God. We’re not in prison, at least not right now. We had a pretty small group marching in the 4th of July parade, but that was because many of our people need to be careful in the heat and many of them are involved in so many different local groups that we were kind of scattered. Thanks, by the way, to one and all who marched with us. Thanks to all who were able to stand with us or watch us go by or remember that you were part of us even when you were somewhere else. Thanks to everyone who remembers Jesus as the one who grants true independence, freedom from the bondage of sin. There’s real independence. We celebrated political independence from Britain last Wednesday but every Sunday and every other time we assemble together, we celebrate the freedom from sin we have in Jesus. Yet we are the people God calls impudent, stubborn, rebellious.

How does that play out? We thought we were doing our duty. We thought we were being loyal, faithful, wise, and gracious. And it looks like we are, at least most of the time. But in Mark chapter 6 verse 4 we saw that a prophet doesn’t have honor when he is at home. Jesus went to the people in his own neighborhood. He went to the people who had grown up with him. But now he went as God’s prophet, as the very Word of God incarnate, the one who has revealed God’s character in detail, because he is very God of very God. How did the people receive him? They didn’t.

Are we any different from those people who grew up around Jesus? Do we receive the word of God? Or are we people who have been adopted into the Yabut family. Remember them? The Yabuts. I know some Yabuts. Guess I am a Yabut sometimes. You know the Yabuts, right? They read the Bible or hear about God’s loving kindness for them and for their neighbors. Then they respond, “Ya, but...” They hear about God’s righteous demands, the demands of his Law, and they respond, “Ya, but...” They hear about what God’s Word calls us to, then say “Ya, but...” and swallow down the poison of our popular culture and all the lies it tells us. They confess their dependence on the Lord on Sunday morning and then say “Ya, but...” and cheat on their taxes, defraud their neighbor, rob their employer, cheat on their wife or husband, or treat their children shabbily. They hear of God’s life-changing grace and then say “Ya, but...” and live an unchanged life. The Yabut family is a great tragedy. And, well, brothers and sisters, we are all Yabuts. Impudent, stubborn, rebellious.

Tell me, do we really think we’re wiser than our Lord is? Do we really think the Scriptures don’t have anything to say about our situation? Do we really think all our other areas of knowledge are more vital than what our Lord has revealed in His Word? I guess when we look at those questions our answer becomes “No, but...” I suppose that’s the family of first cousins to the Yabut family, is the Nobut family. Impudent, stubborn, rebellious, every last one of us.

What’s God going to do about this? Our Lord keeps sending his prophets to us. Why? This bunch of Yabuts need God’s mercy and grace. Jesus sends his apostles out, two by two, praying God’s peace upon the houses they enter. They heal the sick. They cast out demons. God sends his messengers to you and to me also. They have the same kind of messages. Peace be on this household. If I come into your house and say that, know it is not just a customary statement. It’s my prayer, the same prayer Jesus sends his apostles out with. It’s fine to greet one another’s homes that way. Go as God’s messengers, bringing his peace wherever you go. I know, we want to say Yabut. Pray for the sick. When someone says “pray for me” interrupt the person long enough to pray, don’t just say we’ll pray and then we go and forget about it. Our Lord has said that when we ask things according to his will in his name he is going to do them. Or are we Yabuts there too? What about driving out demons? What do you think we are doing when we baptize people? What do you think we’re doing when confirmands reject the devil and all his works and ways? What do you think we’re doing when we welcome members into this congregation? Did you notice that there is an exorcism, that we rebuke the devil? Are we going to be a bunch of Yabuts about that too? Impudent, stubborn, rebellious, and I’m talking to me. You just might be listening, but I’m talking to me there.

What is that message that Jesus gives us? What is the message we bring with us? That message is that Jesus Christ, the savior of the world, has come to live a perfect life, die a perfect death, and to apply his perfect death in your place to you so you may be a participant in the resurrection. Jesus loved us while we were still sinners. he gave himself for us so that we could live in him. he promises that in his rising from the dead he will be the first of many to rise, and that all who believe on him will rise with him to new life. Jesus gives us his peace, peace which passes all understanding, to guard us in this life and to lead us into the next life. And we receive that life by faith. Are we going to believe it? Or are we going to be a bunch of Yabuts. Are we going to trust that Jesus is the resurrection and the life? Or are we going to despise this prophet who came to give us the words of life? Impudent, stubborn, rebellious, that’s us. We’re a bunch of Yabuts. We need a good case of resurrection. We need a strong dose of the Gospel, each moment of each day, bringing us healing and forgiveness.

We’ve confessed our sins before the Lord. Yet we realize and confess again that we are among those impudent, stubborn, rebellious people. We need his forgiveness again and again. Let us rise then in prayer, looking to Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God, to take away the sin of the world. Stand with me to pray.

Our most merciful God, heavenly Father, we confess yet again that we are stubborn. We are rebellious people. We have sinned against you in thought, in word, and in deed. We have sinned against you in what we have done and in what we have left undone. We have not loved and trusted you with all our heart. We have not loved our neighbor as ourselves. We justly deserve your everlasting punishment. Yet we realize that you have come to us. The message you brought which we reject again and again is your message of forgiveness, life, and salvation. Grant us your forgiveness. Fill us with your life and salvation, for as we confess our sins you are faithful and just to forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Make us to walk in your paths, to the glory of your holy name. This we pray in the matchless name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

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