Sunday, June 28, 2020

Matthew 10:34-42; Second Sunday after Pentecost; June 28, 2020;

Matthew 10:34-42; Second Sunday after Pentecost; June 28, 2020;

Life in Christ Lutheran Church, Grand Marais, MN;

 34"Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36And a person's enemies will be those of his own household. 37Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 40"Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. 41The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet's reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person's reward. 42And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”  (Matt 10:34-42, ESV)

Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

You know, life would be much easier if Jesus hadn’t said things like, “I have not come to bring peace but a sword.”  It really doesn’t sound much like “good news” does it? To you and me and our everyday lives “good news” would be an end to conflict, and an end to trouble. An end to conflict in our cities, and end to racially charged riots, and end to conflict over COVID lockdowns. That's what we think of when we think of peace. But just try to explain Jesus' words to those skeptical relatives that we all have. You know; those people who would just love to point a verse like this and tell you Jesus is advocating violence, just like any other religion trying to get power. What are you going to say?

After all when I read it, it sure sounds like Jesus, the “prince of peace,” says that he’s come to bring strife and trouble into our lives and not only that but to break up our families too… Listen again; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.  …to set children against their parents, parents against their children. He’s come to make enemies inside of families. It’s a difficult verse for us to swallow. Jesus can’t mean what he’s saying, can he? Does Jesus, the baby in the manger sleeping in “heavenly peace” surrounded by angels singing about peace on earth, bring peace or strife?

Well, many people believe that Jesus comes to bring peace, in spite of what he says. In fact, in general people, even those who don’t call themselves Christian think highly of Jesus. One of the leaders of today’s unrest said, “Jesus was the greatest racial radical of his day!”  They love Jesus when He tells stories about how to get along with each other, and to care for those who are less fortunate than we are. They love Jesus when He says, “love your enemies.”  They love Jesus when He tells a good story about how we should care for other people, like the “Good Samaritan.”  But they don’t want to hear from Jesus when He says that without Him, without His death on the cross, they are lost. They don’t want to hear Jesus when He says that without Him, they face an eternity of God’s punishment in hell. They don't want the Jesus who says with him life will be full of conflict. The don’t want to hear about a Jesus who violently drives the money changers out of the temple. And when he says, “And people will want to kill you if you follow me.” People don’t want to hear Jesus when he says stuff like that.

Think about the family that peacefully co-exists with one another, until one of them begins to say what they believe about Jesus. Suddenly the family is in conflict. Those who don’t know Jesus don’t want to hear about Him as their only Savior. They don’t want to hear about sin and repentance. They don’t want to hear about changing their lives to conform to God’s will. Those who have ideas about Jesus that don't come from scripture don't want to hear that what they believe is wrong. From the outside, from the world’s point of view this family was better off before the “good news” came to them. The members of the family will push toward compromise, “for the sake of peace.”  “You keep your Jesus to yourself.”  "We all believe the same things anyway."  The only real thing that is true about all religion is that they are all incompatible with each other. The problem is Jesus calls us all to be witnesses of what He has done and speak the truth about what he teaches. He calls us all to bring the life saving Word of Jesus to those who are around us. He doesn't promise that it will be easy. He does call us to be faithful.

June 25 is the anniversary of the presentation of the Augsburg confession (1530). That's the document that Luther and the princes in Germany stood in the face of certain death to testify about Jesus and say that the church had forgotten what Jesus really taught. They stood before the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and risked everything and said this:

Our Churches teach that people cannot be justified before God by there own strength, merits, or works. People are freely justified for Christ’s sake, through faith, when they believe that they are received into favor and that their sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake. By His death, Christ made satisfaction for our sins. God counts this faith for righteousness in His sight. (Romans 3:21-26; 4:5)

And don't think this confession of faith brought peace! It put them in direct conflict with the Roman Catholic church and the Holy Roman Emperor. They had decided ahead of time they would rather die than compromise the truth. It would have been easier, more peaceful, to compromise their confession. Instead they confessed what the bible teaches about Jesus clearly and strongly. They did it because they knew that Jesus was at stake. They did it because they knew that real life, true life is only found in Jesus Christ and the forgiveness of sins he won for us on the cross. And that forgiveness only comes through faith in Jesus.

And it happens for us too. We are daily under pressure to keep silent at work and not speak about Jesus. We are under pressure to not point out the errors in other churches for the sake of community togetherness. We are under pressure in our families when we are told just to keep quiet, keep Jesus to ourselves for the sake of peace in the family. We are under pressure when we are scolded for not taking communion with them in their churches and not letting them commune in ours. When Jesus talks about bearing your cross, this is exactly what he is talking about.

The consequences of failure to confess Jesus is dire. There is no middle ground when it comes what Jesus teaches. We may not face death for our confession, but we are often tempted to give in to family pressure. The problem is, to give up Jesus is to give up the only real life there is.

Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (v39)

When we accept the sword, carry the cross and suffer the loss of family or community relationships, or even the loss of our physical life, we find what Jesus offers is worth more than all. We find real life forever with him.

Our confession is this:  You and I are sinful people we fail all the time. That’s why we need a Savior. That’s why Jesus lived a life that was always headed for the cross. He didn’t just die on the cross; He died on the cross on purpose. When He was pinned up there on the wood, He had you in His heart and your sins on His shoulders. He died to take your sins away and give you a new life a real life free from the effects of sin. Through faith in Jesus Baptism makes you dead to sin. Dead as Jesus was in the tomb. Dead as all sin deserves. That’s how you were with Jesus on the cross, dying to sin. That’s how He is with you now living a life that isn’t controlled by sin. You are alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Rom 6:1-11)

So, you know what? You’re going to see some conflict when you say these things about Jesus, when you dare to confess the truth about Him. That’s ok, that’s to be expected. In a way it means that you’re on the right track. Martin Luther once said that when everything was going smoothly in his life, he worried that he wasn’t doing anything to get Satan’s notice. There will be conflict when you speak the truth about Jesus, it is to be expected. But there is nothing more important then the message of new life in Jesus Christ. Amen.

The peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.


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