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Trinity 4 – Luke 6:36-42

by pastorjuhl ~ July 2nd, 2009

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

The way of the Pharisee was one of judgment and condemnation. Either you kept the letter of the Law or you were an Israelite full of guile. What’s missing in the way of the Pharisee is keeping the spirit of the Law. Why do the Israelites live this way? Who is the fulfillment of the Law? Is the promised Fulfiller this Man called Jesus Christ or must they wait for another? The way we answer that last question draws a line in the sand between the kinds of judgment Christ’s disciples were familiar and the kind of judgment Jesus brings. We might say our Lord’s judgment is A RADICAL JUDGMENT.

What is so radical about forgiveness and giving to others as first was given to you? Jesus’ judgment flows from a radical way of understanding what it means to judge. Governing authorities judge according to the standard to keeping the Law in both letter and spirit. We believe the letter of the Law, but the spirit of the Law can be, and usually is, a tangible thing. We are not supposed to murder, but when we hurt or harm our neighbor in thought, word, and deed, that’s murder. We know there is no other God than the Triune God. Yet we put our idols of pride and possessions before God’s face and ask Him to bow down and worship them with us.

Jesus knows what lurks within the heart of man. He says in today’s Gospel why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, “Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,” when you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye? Hypocrite! A closer look into our neighbor’s eye reveals not a mere speck, but a reflection of the plank in our own eye. It is impossible to remove a reflection of a plank from a plank less eye. The plank robs us of clear vision, even a clear vision of the sin and death welling up inside us.

It takes a hypocrite to know a hypocrite. Sinful man’s knowledge of hypocrisy is so fine-tuned that we have no problem recognizing another hypocrite when we see one. Jesus wastes no time and words pointing this out to the Pharisees and Sadducees. Hypocrisy is not just a Pharisaical character flaw. Hypocrisy is our problem too. Hypocrisy is a convenient excuse for some who do not publicly practice the Christian faith. These people say they won’t step foot in a church because everyone there, including pastor, are hypocrites. They judge others who judge, but do not believe they are under the same judgment as their fellow hypocrites!

Pharisaical judgment is a radical departure from the way our heavenly Father judges. Outside of the Holy Spirit working through Holy Scripture, we would consider God’s judgment a radical judgment. When the plank of hypocrisy is removed from our eyes, we see clearly that God’s radical judgment is not as radical as we first believed. Nevertheless, to our eyes, our heavenly Father’s judgment is radical. His judgment does not take into account our sins. Our heavenly Father’s judgment takes into account His sinless Son becoming sin for us that we might become righteous, holy, innocent, and no longer hypocrites before His face.

It’s easy to think God’s judgment is radical. Saint Paul says in today’s Epistle the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. The futility that is living our life with a giant plank of wood sticking out of our eye has an end in Jesus Christ. He delivered us out of the bondage of corruption that points out everyone else’s faults except ours and into the glorious liberty of God’s radical judgment unto righteousness. Our heavenly Father declares Jesus Christ to be the ultimate hypocrite, the Pharisee’s Pharisee, in order to cleanse us from sin and, on the Last Day, change our mortal bodies into immortal bodies, free of specks and planks.

Joseph’s judgment of his brothers foreshadows Jesus’ judgment on our behalf. Joseph had every right to judge and condemn his brothers for what they did to him. Their jealousy led them to consider killing him, but instead they threw him into a pit and sold him as a slave. Jacob and his family considered him dead. What a pleasant surprise they received when they traveled to Egypt for grain but found more than grain there. They found a son and a brother, waiting to take care of them rather than condemn them. Joseph tells his family; do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.

God directed Joseph’s life in order to save many people alive. Consider the joy in that sentence. The Israelites decamped from the Promised Land to Egypt in order to be saved alive later by Moses and brought into the Promised Land once again by Joshua. God the Father sent Jesus Christ into this world as a man in order to save many people alive. Jesus died on two planks of wood to remove the planks and specks of sin. Jesus rose from the dead to give us the hope of our resurrection in the flesh.

While we wait for the reign of heaven to appear before our eyes, we live in the reign of heaven hidden in simple words, water, bread, and wine. Our Father provides for us through the Means of Grace to forgive our sins and feed us with the antidote to death and hell.

The way of the Pharisee is to call Jesus a liar when He says a disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher. It takes foolish boldness to say that you and I know better than our Master does. Instead of foolish boldness, God gives us patience and hope to live in His radical judgment that declares hypocrites like you and me forgiven. Believe it for Jesus’ sake.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

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