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Lent 5 – John 8:46-59

by pastorjuhl ~ March 24th, 2013

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

            Jesus says in Mark chapter four: With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade. The spread of the kingdom of God is an occasion for praise to God. Sad to say, however, that most people remain unconverted. They do not believe the Word of God. The enemies of Christ draw the false conclusion that Jesus is not the Christ. Everything He says and does is some sort of magic meant to fool “wise” people. Jesus’ response to this false conclusion is If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me?

Heavenly Truth alone has a right in this world. This Truth is in the world. Even though our Lord’s Truth is not to be found in and among people, for all men are liars after the fall into sin. Nevertheless, the Truth is a divine seed. God has revealed this seed to the world in His Word. His Word is the foundation and pillar of Truth, even when that Truth is inconvenient for the enemies of the Gospel of Christ. Truth is the Law whose sting you feel in your conscience. Truth is also the Gospel whose comfort enlivens every sinner’s heart and whose power saves him.

When you testify to the Truth, you have a divine, indisputable right that someone is able to hear the Word of Christ and believe what the Word made flesh says. If there is no faith, then our Lord has good reason to ask If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me?

When you have the Truth, when the Truth is appropriated through faith in Jesus Christ by hearing His preaching, you have Christ in the highest and best way, for Jesus Christ is Truth Himself. The Lord has pitched His tent among you. He is a faithful and truthful witness, for His mouth is a mouth of eternal Truth. No wonder John’s Gospel features such sayings as For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. Even our Savior says about Himself: I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world – to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.

Jesus proves that He is Truth in today’s Gospel from the credibility of His person. Only Jesus is sinless, holy, and innocent. This is why He asks the Jews, Which one of you convicts me of sin? No one can convict Him of sin. The prophet Isaiah testifies that there was no deceit in [the Suffering Servant’s] mouth. Jesus is the great High Priest, the innocent and undefiled Passover Lamb. Consider the blasphemies of His enemies who call our Lord a friend of tax collectors and sinners. In today’s Gospel the Jews say about Him are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon? Our Lord responds with gentleness and humility, yet with bite. Our Father in heaven does not honor the devil, but only Christ.

Jesus is also the firstborn Son of God, the eternal God Himself appearing in the flesh. He is the long promised Messiah and Savior Whom even the faithful fathers recognized. Jesus says your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad. Jesus is eternal. He knows His Father and His Father knows Him. Our Lord says, truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am. His Father says at our Lord’s Baptism: This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased. Consider also how many wonderful works our Lord performed among us. Jesus says about these works: If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me.

If His person is not enough evidence to show Jesus speaks the Truth about salvation and eternity, then consider the nature of His teaching. Christ is the eternal Truth for He alone honors God. He responds to the Jews’ claim, I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. Consider our Lord’s words two weeks ago. A house divided against itself cannot stand. There is no way Jesus can cast out demons while being the prince of demons. If Christ is the prince of demons, how do you explain the proclamation of the Father’s glorious grace, the plundering of hell, or the building and growing of God’s eternal kingdom? No false teaching does these things. Only the Truth of the Gospel, the Good News of forgiveness of sins and eternal life, does these things.

Then comes the killer phrase for the Jews. Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death. The death sentence is pronounced over all sinners. Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die. Whoever keeps Christ’s Word, whoever believes the holy, saving Gospel, escapes eternal death. Judgment becomes a gracious absolution. Our Lord says for this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.

The faithful witness of Jesus also testifies to His Truth. It is not they who speak, but Christ Who speaks through them. They proclaim His virtues, chiefly the virtue of obedience to the Father on our behalf. Again the prophet Isaiah proclaims He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.

The right answer to our Lord’s question is one verse before today’s Holy Gospel: because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. Jesus is able to say everything to evil people. But because He tells them the Truth, they do not believe, but instead blaspheme Him. This is because the enemies of Christ are obdurate and ungodly. Jesus says so. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God. Natural man is not of God and therefore deaf to God’s Word. You are spiritually born from above by God. The Holy Spirit has worked on you through the Gospel. You hear His voice. You are from God because you hear God’s Word. You are Jesus’ little lamb because you hear the Shepherd’s voice.

Those who resist the work of grace of the Holy Spirit and remain unrepentant are not of God. They refuse to hear God’s Word. They will not believe it. They hate it, persecute it, and even blaspheme it, just as the Jews do in today’s Gospel. People do these foolish things because they are of the devil’s nature. They believe his lies and soul-murdering ways. They are servants of the devil. They renounce their baptism by their evil thoughts, words, and deeds.

Blessed are you as you walk the way of the Suffering Servant, Jesus Christ. Blessed are you when you renounce all the false truths of the rational world and the irrational devil. Blessed are you because Jesus has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light, a light that shines even in dark places, even when family and friends forsake you for what you believe about Jesus. You are saved from condemnation when you steadfastly remain in the Truth of Jesus Christ and His innocent suffering and death for you. Even when bayonets are fixed your way, have no fear, for Christ has redeemed you from death and given you His life.

The Word of the Lord grows in spite of persecution and what seems to be discouraging numbers. Perhaps it’s best to say “Not many, but more”. More in the way of forgiveness, more in the way of being last, lost, least, little, and dead. Where there is death, there is also life; life from the Lord Christ Who recreates you into a new creation in water and the Word. Life from the Lord Christ Who pours His life down your throat in His Supper. Life from the Lord Christ Who renews a right spirit within you in Absolution. Where there is Truth, there is life, eternal life, for Jesus tells the Truth because He is the Truth.

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

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