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Lent 6

by pastorjuhl ~ March 29th, 2010

This from Rev. Dustin L. Anderson, Trinity Lutheran Church, Marseilles, IL

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Holy Week begins today with great pomp and fanfare. “Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord.” Jesus enters the city of Jerusalem with a great reception. He is now receiving the proper reverence and respect. The Son of God is being worshiped, cloaks and palms process before Him. There King has arrived.

How short lived this reception is. The worship of God fizzles out faster than it began. From shouts of love and acceptance the crowd turns on Jesus with shouts of pure evil and hatred. Crucify Him! What a two-faced people. Who do they think they are?

This day we gather, many among us for the first time in months, even years. You may be drawn here under obligation to the family. Some because that’s what you do this time of the year. And while you’re here you think you might as well participate and follow along, waving your palms branches and placing your cloaks before Jesus and the fellow members of the crowd. Some are here thinking that Jesus doesn’t care that you’ve been absent from this place.

I have hit raw nerve among some, but it cannot be ignored. Sin can never be ignored. Like many in the crowd of Jerusalem there were those who were their out of obligation, because it was time for the Passover. Others out of shear convenience. It’s easier to go to Jerusalem than endure the nagging of one’s mother. It isn’t much different for some of you as you sit through one hour of church avoiding your nagging family. And since you’re here, maybe, just maybe, Jesus is here too. Maybe He will help you out the way you think He should so you butter Him up. “Hosanna, Hosanna in the Highest!” Repent.

But Jesus doesn’t work on your timetable. Nor does He work the way you want Him to. He knows what is best for you. But like children who don’t get their way, you scream, “I hate you. I hope you die.” In other words, “Crucify Him.” You may not say this with words, but your actions speak quite loudly. And they betray your faith, which says, “I believe in God.” Your absence and silence is deafening, “I don’t care that Jesus died for me.”

Even though the world thinks and speaks differently we all know deep down that sex outside of marriage is sin of the sixth commandment. We all know deep down to take what is not ours is sin against the seventh commandment. But what has been buffed away and numbed by the constant beatings of the devil and world is the idea and belief that speaking or thinking such things is evil too, mortal sin and must be repented of. (This is true of all of us.) And of those things, which you think is not really that bad is skipping church. The devil has won your soul if you believe such things. To God, your skipping of church and to desire something more than to hear the Word of God and receive His forgiveness is as vile as fornication with a prostitute or murder of your neighbor. Skipping church and being unrepentant is a mortal sin – period. It is mortal because it despises the reception of God’s gifts, namely the forgiveness of your sins. Repent. Change your mind to this condemnable belief. If left untreated, unconfessed there is only hell for you.

Jesus is here today, as He is every time you all gather in this place. Even when you’re not here, He is here. He is here with gifts that the world cannot give – His Holy Word and Blessed Sacraments. That crowd that welcomed Jesus that Sunday before His crucifixion betrayed Him for the lust of their own hearts. He had gifts to give, but they didn’t want those gifts. This Jesus didn’t measure up to the Jesus of their own hearts. This Jesus came to forgive sins, but they only wanted sins to be ignored and for them to be accepted for who they were. The Jesus they got came to change the world, but it was in bringing life through death – His death. He was the only thing to save them, all other things had to die, even their ideas about Jesus.

Ironically, the king the crowd so earnestly desired, they got. It wasn’t the way they wanted Him, but they got Him nonetheless. They got Him nailed to the cross, and it was for the vileness of their sin. Their unbelief is what killed Jesus, but it was Jesus dying on the cross, which also saved them from their sin, their unbelief.

Your sin is never something is be trivial about, it will kill you. If you are unrepentant, wanting to hold onto your sin, your final resting place is not going to be in heaven. The only way to heaven is through Jesus, the Jesus who went to the cross for you. He most certainly did not make light of your sin. He died for them. He forgave them, but you who would not repent, those of you who do not think your sin is serious, even skipping church, for whatever reason, save illness, will pay for your own sin. Jesus died for you and all your sin, but if you don’t want Him to have them they’re yours. Repent.

Lent, especially Holy Week, is a time to reflect on your sinfulness. It is a time to meditate on the innocent suffering and death of Jesus for you. It is not pretty and it is not fun. Sin is never pretty or fun, but it is good. Jesus on the cross is meant to wake you and your conscience to the seriousness of sin, but it is also meant to comfort you with the certainty that He hung on that cross to forgive, remove and renew you. In other words, He died on that cross to give you new life.

Repenting of all your sins and receiving the never-ending grace and love of God, make a new beginning in Jesus. Confess your sins and be forgiven. Remember your baptism that you are God’s. God does not want to destroy you, that is why He sent His Son, to destroy Him in your deserved place. Here in this place you hear of all this, what Jesus has done for you. In this place you receive this, what Jesus purchased for you. In this place you feed on Jesus and are strengthened, even to confess your sins in the assurance that Jesus forgives you. To neglect this sanctuary is nothing short of being suicidal.

You never know when your time will be or when Christ returns. You may not have tomorrow. What you do know is that Jesus is here today and every Lord’s day, preparing you for the life to come by forgiving you and feeding you with the food of immortality – His own body and blood. The gifts are here for you. Receive them, for your life depends on them. It depends on Jesus. + In Jesus’ Name + Amen.

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