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Lent 5 – John 8:46-59

by pastorjuhl ~ March 22nd, 2012

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

            “I see it, but I wish it was not there.” That was the remark of a well-meaning layman when shown a citation in our Symbolic Books concerning a particular practice of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church. Perhaps you have been in the shoes of this layman when shown something in Scripture or in one of our Symbolic Books that disagree with what you think is true in the Christian faith. You are certain that good ol’ Pastor So-and-so taught you something in Confirmation instruction, but when shown that you might have misunderstood Pastor years ago, you stand by what you think you remember rather than what you are shown in God’s Word.

“I see Him, but I’m sure He is not Him.” That was the remark, so to speak, of those who confronted Jesus in today’s Gospel. They thought Jesus was a Samaritan and demon possessed. Worse yet, they were convinced He had never seen Abraham because He was around 33 years old according to the flesh. No matter what Jesus said, even if everything He said were true, they would not believe Him. The clincher was when Jesus told them if anyone keeps My Word, he will never see death.

It’s a simple equation in the eyes of certain Jews. Jesus is a young man. There’s no way He saw Abraham. Now He has the nerve to say those who keep His Word will not die. It’s a sure recipe for blasphemy as they see it. Looks can be deceiving, especially if they have followed Jesus around the Holy Land trying to catch Him in His talk.

The conflict heard here will soon swirl together into a perfect storm of torture and death for Jesus of Nazareth. It’s easy to see why certain Jews wanted to stone our blessed Lord when He says which of you convicts Me of sin? If I tell the Truth, why do you not believe Me? Whoever is of God hears the Words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God. That’s a bitter pill to swallow. That’s the pill you swallow when you transgress the Word of God and do your own thing, especially when you believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. You believe His Word. You are baptized into Christ. You are His precious child. You see Him, as it were, in His Word, but you wish He wasn’t there.

There is no need for a sacrifice for sin when you believe you can do it yourself. You might believe it’s not possible to save yourself, just as you were taught in Sunday School, in confirmation instruction, and as you have heard in sermons through the years. You may never miss Divine Service and Bible Study, but when you miss the mark of perfect obedience of His holy Law, you cannot turn anywhere or anyplace outside of Jesus Christ to say you will be saved.

Contrary to popular belief among many Christians, you aren’t saved from eternal death merely because you once practiced the Christian faith but now, for one reason or another, do not. This sort of thinking smacks of “once saved, always saved”, which the Bible never teaches. The Christian faith is not a certificate that says “Baptism” or “Confirmation”. Proper paperwork does not save. Faith in Jesus Christ as the perfect substitute in your place for the sin of the world saves. Believing anything else is a lie. Holy Scripture teaches this fact countless times. Nevertheless, when you read or hear it, there are times when you wish you hadn’t read it or heard it.

It boggles the mind to see men who gave their lives to study the Old Testament totally miss the point of everything the Old Testament teaches. Today’s Epistle is a fitting digest of what the Old Testament teaches concerning what Messiah will do when He comes. Let’s hear it again.

When Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.

God spared Abraham from sacrificing his only son by providing a substitute. God spares you from eternal death by sacrificing His only Son as a substitute. The blood of bulls and goats can only do so much. They are a shadow of Someone coming. Someone is Jesus Christ. He is the perfect sin offering. He is the New Testament. His death, His blood, reckons you righteous in God’s court.

Not only does today’s Epistle say it, but also our Symbolic Books say this is true. Consider these words from the Formula of Concord concerning the righteousness of faith before God: “Before God’s court only the righteousness of Christ’s obedience, suffering, and death – which is credited to faith – can stand. So only for the sake of this obedience is the person pleasing and acceptable to God and received into adoption and made an heir of eternal life. (This is true even after his renewal, when he has already many good works and lives the best life.)”

Because of Jesus, you have the nerve to approach this altar today praying Psalm 43, 143, and 129: Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause against an ungodly people, from the deceitful and unjust man deliver me! For you are the God in whom I take refuge; why have you rejected me? Why do I go about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling! Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God. Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. Deliver me from my enemies, O Lord! Greatly have they afflicted me from my youth, yet they have not prevailed against me. The LORD is righteous; he has cut the cords of the wicked. Amid the sorrow over sin that Lent brings, you have these and many other testimonies from God’s Word that Jesus is the One Who stands before His own people, as well as before heathen authorities, as the blameless, spotless Lamb of God Who takes away your sin. The Lord provides. Believe it for Jesus’ sake.

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

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