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The Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity

by Pastor Parent ~ August 23rd, 2008

+ + + Jesu Juva + + +

The Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity

Text: Luke 17:11-19

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

In the Gospel of St. John the Holy Spirit tells us that our Lord Jesus, “came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.” Jesus came first to the lost sheep of the house Israel, but they rejected Him, treated Him spitefully, and killed Him. Jesus came to His own, but as St. Luke relates to us this morning, it is a foreigner who falls down before Jesus, worshipping Him, and glorifying God.

Israel had longed for her Messiah. She had been given the prophets who foretold the coming of the Seed of Abraham and the Son of David. She had been told of the signs that would herald His arrival, she was even witness to His miracles, but it was a despised Samaritan that saw Jesus for who He is—the Christ, the Son of God. It is the despised, doubly rejected, leprous Samaritan who recognizes Jesus as God and receives, not just a bodily healing, but a double portion of God’s grace for body and soul.

As God’s Word demonstrates, the Jews were much too proud of being God’s chosen people. They were much too enthralled with themselves as God’s elect to recognize God when He stood among them, healing their diseases, making the blind to see and the lame to walk, making the deaf to hear, cleansing lepers, raising the dead, and preaching the Gospel to the poor. Israel believed in a god, just not the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Yes, Israel believed in a god, but she failed to recognize the One True God, in the Person of Jesus Christ.

And so it often is for us. How often, because of our little faith, do we fail to see Jesus? How often do we miss the blessings of God in the simple, everyday things of life? For everything we receive to care for this body and life is from our good and gracious Father in heaven. Even the fact that you opened your eyes this morning is a blessing from our God. The fact that, even now, your chest rises and falls with your every breath is God’s gracious gift of life to you. Yes, all we are and all we have are blessings from the hand of God, and if God should ever remove His hand, we would surely perish; we would simply cease to exist. But more often than not we take these blessings for granted, or worse, credit ourselves for our own good fortune.

Thus, when things are going our way we, all puffed up with sinful pride and vanity, pound our chests and shout to the world our accomplishments, taking all the credit for ourselves, without ever giving one thought to God. But isn’t it odd how quick we are to blame God when things are going all wrong? And even if you are the quiet type, don’t you expect everyone to notice your accomplishments and don’t you act hurt or insulted until they do? Therefore, it is wholly appropriate that we, like the ten lepers, should stand, afar off this day and every day and cry, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”

So it is that we are gathered here in this holy place by the Holy Spirit that we might not miss the presence of Jesus among us. For we are not all that different from the leprous Samaritan. We too, suffer from a deadly, unmerciful disease that eats away at us, rotting both body and soul. That disease is sin; a genetic birth defect passed from generation to generation by our fathers. The character of this disease is lust of the flesh and a perversion of desire. Its symptoms include, but are not limited to, a seeking after illicit bodily pleasures, a disdain for holy wisdom and righteousness, placing them beneath human wisdom and arrogance, ignorance of and contempt for God and His Word and His holy will, a lack of fear for God, a lack of confidence and trust in God and His promises, despair and worry for the grace of God, anger toward God, and a lack of love for anyone other than one’s self.

And still, it is more than that; it is the cause of death itself and no man or woman born of flesh can escape it. For you to escape this disease on your own, you would have to cut out your very heart, which is filled with it, and extinguish your very soul, which is saturated with it. In short, you would have to die eternally. You see, sin is an evil disease and the only prognosis is death.

And yet, you live. You live because the One to whom you cry for mercy has heard your pleas. Your cries of despair have not fallen on deaf ears, but on the ears of our loving and merciful God whose heart is full of love and compassion for you. You live because Jesus was made to be the leprosy of your sin for you, taking into Himself all the poison of your diseased flesh and carrying the death sentence of your sin to the Cross. You live because Jesus died in your place.

You live because Jesus has bathed you in the waters of Holy Baptism washing all your stinking, rotting, leprous, sinful flesh away and leaving in its place that which is holy, clean, and perfect in the eyes of God, our Father. In Baptism Jesus has crucified your flesh with its evil passions and its sinful desires. In Baptism He has put to death, in His death, the sinful leprous man that lived within you, and in His resurrection, He has brought forth a new creation, adorned with His righteousness and endowed with the gift of salvation and eternal life.

To nourish and strengthen this new creation Jesus has given to you His very Body and Blood as the medicine of immortality. For this is His flesh beaten, torn, pierced, and bloodied for you and this is His Blood poured out on Calvary’s holy mountain for you. Here, on this altar, are Jesus’ holy Flesh given in death for you and His holy Blood shed for you for the forgiveness of your sins. Eat this Flesh and you will live, for it is the Living Bread of Life which comes down from heaven and all who eat of it will not die, but shall live forever. Drink this Blood and you will have eternal life. For the life of Christ is in the Blood and it is given to you from the altar for the atonement of your souls.

For all this we rejoice. We rejoice because God has heard us and God has healed us. He sends us to the Temple that we might show ourselves to our Great High Priest, Jesus Christ, who has declared us clean according to God’s grace. For this we sing the Gloria in Excelsis, acknowledging and confessing what we believe; that the Lord has indeed heard our pleas for mercy and has graciously granted to us His forgiveness. He has removed the leprosy of our sin and has made us whole, and we, as His humble servants may now depart in peace according to His Word of salvation.

So come and fall on your knees before your Lord and Savior. Come and give thanks to the Lord and sing praises to His holy Name, for He has heard your cry, “Jesus, Master have mercy on [me].” Here, Jesus answers your cries with the fruit of His death and resurrection in His very Body and Blood. Here He stands not afar off, but so near that you can touch Him. Here He gives to you that peace which only He can give—a peace to calm your fears, heal your hurts, dry your tears, and restore your soul. Come pray and sing the Kyrie, “Lord have mercy.” For here, Jesus hears your cry for mercy and answers you with His Words of eternal life in His blessed absolution, “I forgive you all your sins.”

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

+ + + Soli Deo Gloria + + +

Rev. Raymond Parent

Hope Lutheran Church, Bellaire, MI

08/24/08

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