Sunday, February 28, 2021

Romans 5:1-5; Second Sunday in Lent; February 28, 2021;

Romans 5:1-5; Second Sunday in Lent; February 28, 2021; Life in Christ Lutheran Church, Grand Marais, MN; 1Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:1-5 (ESV) Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We have been "justified" by faith. That's what St. Paul tells us. Justified. We see that word all over Paul's letters. And it is no wonder; this word is at the very heart of our faith. If we are not justified by Christ, we are still in our sin, St. Paul tells us. But I wonder if sometimes we see it and just kind of pass it over, because it's a word that we think we should know what it means. Do we really understand what it means? And do we really know that we have been justified? First let's make sure we understand what the word "justified" means. The picture is this. We stand before the judge guilty. There’s no plea bargain. There’s not fancy lawyer to get us of easy. We deserve the punishment that is coming our way. The worst part is we are standing before the most severe judge there is. He never lets anyone off that deserves punishment. “You realize your crime deserves death.” He says. We have to agree. Just when the judge is about to pronounce the sentence Jesus steps forward. “Father, this one is mine. I have already paid the price. I have already suffered his death.” “Ok, my son, with you I am well pleased.” the judge responds. Then to you he says. “I declare you to be not guilty on account of the punishment already paid. You are free.” What we are talking about here, being justified is what Jesus Christ has done for us. It's His life, death and resurrection that do it. We are declared to be righteous. That is sin set aside. Sin removed. Sin taken care of. My sin taken care of. Your sin taken care of. Whenever we talk about being justified it's important that we remember that we are indeed sinful people. We are born that way. We need to be justified. No one who's been a parent can really believe that children are born without any sin. The smallest child will bear this out. Of course, they need the attention they demand, but they are the most self-centered people on the planet. As they grow older, we tend to overlook the selfishness, or think that it's cute. Go to any playground anywhere and you'll see the bald truth that children have to be taught not to hurt one another. I know the folks who you see on TV don't agree. But in spite of what they say, children do not have to be taught to hate, they have to be taught not to hate. I have a teenager in the house. I think the teenage years are the time when all of us struggle the most trying to balance selfishness and living in community. That struggle between what we really want and what is best for us and the people around us is what makes those years so difficult. Even when we get older some of us never get over the fact that we are supposed to share our toys. We are sinful people. Earlier in Romans Paul says it this way: 10as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; 11no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one." 13"Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive." "The venom of asps is under their lips." 14"Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness." 15"Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16in their paths are ruin and misery, 17and the way of peace they have not known." 18"There is no fear of God before their eyes." (Romans 3:10-18, ESV) The lying tongue, the bitterness, the anger, the pushing God out of our lives, we all have to admit that there we are, right there in the middle of the pack. We'd like all those "theirs" in there; "their tongues, their feet, their paths, their eyes, to be "theirs" that is someone else's. But we know that we lie, even if it's just those little white one that pop up in conversation to make us look better to our friends. And who hasn't been bitter about the nice things in life that other people seem to get so much easier than we do? And talk about no peace, even in our Christians families, yelling and anger are regular features of our lives. Just feel the tension as we try to make any decision at a voter’s meeting. But worst of all, we could walk around all day and simply ignore the fact that we are sinful people. We get into our everyday and everyday, and simply think that God will just ignore our sin because we do. But God won’t ignore sin. In fact, sin deserves punishment because it is an affront to God’s purity. God is perfect and holy, we are not. In order to be tolerated in God’s presence we have to be perfectly perfect, “without spot or blemish,” without any sin of any kind. To stand before God in sin is to stand before the judge who will condemn. "None is righteous, no not one" points out our need to be justified. When we realize that the law Paul wrote is talking directly to us, then that's when those first few words "Since we have been justified…" come to us as pure Gospel, that's when it's not simply Good News, it's Great News. "Since" Paul says. The word “since” means "in view of the fact that…." It's true. It's a fact. It's yours and it's mine. "Since we have been justified…" Even though we are sinners we have been made holy. We have been declared righteous. That selfishness that controls us from the time we are conceived through our adolescence and right into our adulthood, and even old age, is taken away. God has seen to that by sending Jesus. From His adulthood all the way back to His conception He wasn't a sinful person; He was never selfish; He never spoke lies; He wasn't ever bitter about His place in life; and He always kept God in His mind and always thought of other people’s needs. That law that Paul preaches to us "no one does good, not even one." applies to everyone except Jesus. Jesus never sinned. And yet, there is a way that all of it does apply to Jesus. He does something about our sin because we can’t do anything about it ourselves. We are helpless to change. We are born with sin and in order to get rid of it, it has to be killed. Paul talked about that too in another letter he wrote. 21For our sake [God] made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21, ESV) And in the verse right before our text he says, 25[Jesus] was delivered up for our trespasses... (Romans 4:25, ESV) All that sin, which deserves God’s punishment, was put on Jesus. He became the target of God’s anger. Jesus, God’s only and perfect Son, was killed because of it. He became sin… our sin… your sin… my sin… Jesus, the world’s only perfect person is also Jesus the greatest sinner who ever lived, not for sin of His own but your sin and mine. You know the sins that we wish weren’t ours. The ones that we wish were only “theirs” Their lying tongues that are really ours. Their bitterness that is really ours. The lustful thoughts that we love to have, but then regret when they are over. Our hating the judge for requiring us to be perfect. That sin that we wish was someone else’s really does become someone else’s in Jesus. In Jesus, our sins are put to death. In Jesus they are sent to the grave. In Jesus they are under the punishment and anger of God. Jesus dies on the cross and takes the punishment for our sin. And He gives to us the righteousness of God. When Jesus takes our sin, and when he becomes sin for us, he gives us his perfect life, we become his righteousness. All that living right, all that doing good, all that not sinning is given to us in exchange for our sin. Jesus becomes sin, we become justified. So that’s what it means to be justified. We’ve had here the best object lesson about justification that there can ever be. It has happened right here over and over again. Right here at this font the words are spoken. “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” When a pastor says it here, he isn’t speaking for himself he is speaking for God. He does exactly what God has commanded us to do. And little children, born in sin, become God’s children. All the promises of God are now true for them. God justifies them through the cross of Jesus Christ. In that moment God declares the to be justified, not guilty of the sin they are borne with. Now remember Paul’s word, that little word “since?” It means “in light of the fact.” All that happens here at the font is in fact, founded on Jesus. It’s all because of what Jesus has done. You see it. You have a real picture that you can’t miss the meaning. The sin is washed away by water connected to God’s Word. You witness it. You see justification in action. It is one of the reasons we do baptize publically, and why we recognize the private baptisms here during worship. There is no better picture than being justified and not lifting a finger to make it happen. Jesus comes and takes our sin and gives us his perfect life. Jesus lives perfectly. Jesus dies. Jesus rises again. When ever we see God working in baptism it is one of the clearest ways that we see that we have nothing at all to do with our justification. It is given to us through the work of God accomplished by Jesus Christ. And given to individuals given to you and me through water and God’s spoken Word and promises. Do you know that it’s true for you? You do if you’re pointing to Jesus. You do if you are remembering that in your baptism in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, God declared you to be not guilty. Because in that baptism Jesus took your sin to death on the cross and in your Baptism, he gives you his perfect life. You’ve been justified. Amen. The peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds Christ Jesus. Amen.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

James 1:12-18; The First Sunday in Lent; February 22, 2021;

James 1:12-18; The First Sunday in Lent; February 22, 2021; Life in Christ Lutheran Church, Grand Marais, MN; Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” (James 1:12–18, ESV) Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. It’s a rough world and getting rougher. You know people who are struggling with difficult issues. Some of you are struggling also. Cancer and violence, money and work, family and future, disagreement and broken relationships. It doesn’t seem as if things are getting better. In fact, I think Satan is making specific attacks against you all. Trials are a part of the Christian life. If anyone sells Christianity as an easy life, full of riches and blessings, as if once you become a Christian life gets easy, they are lying. Certainly, there are riches and blessings of a certain kind, to being a Christian, but not necessarily what is sold by preacher / hucksters. And there’s more. We not only struggle with what the world has to dish out, we struggle with our own self-made troubles. He is bent on your destruction. He leads you down the path of your own choosing. He feeds your own desires. He lures you in, like the fish going for the bait on the hook. It feels dangerous, but you go right ahead because you can’t stop the desire. After all that, sin is born. The temptation isn’t sin, but temptation married to desire have sin as their offspring. And sin, set in the heart, after all its promises to satisfy desire, really only brings nothing but death. Of course, I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. Your life is racked with it. Lost friendships. Regret that keeps you up at night. Hopelessness. You want to blame someone else, but as Pogo says, "We have met the enemy and he is us.” Just look at your own life and take inventory of the troubles you have that will only ultimately be resolved by death. It’s the lifecycle of sin. Temptation, desire, sin, death. How many times have you lived that? How many times has it ended up where sin ends up? How many times in your life will you do it again? How many times can you count on God’s forgiveness? Well, that’s the real question isn’t it? Does my temptation, desire, sin, and death lead to hell, permanent punishment, and separation from God, living in my sin and its consequences forever? Or is there some way out? St. James tells us carefully and directly, “Do not be deceived!” Temptation, desire, and sin are dangerous. The first place to realize some relief is early, when you are tempted by your desire. Recognize the lifecycle of sin, break it at the beginning. Recognize that sin is our own problem. We suffer the consequences. James tells us that when we “stand firm” we are blessed. Now I’m not saying that you should work harder to overcome your temptations, as if you, by yourself could do such a thing. Pray harder, and endure your suffering stronger, be all that you can be! Look inside yourself and find the strength to beat down your temptation. The problem is in your heart. Your sinful nature drags you toward sin and its consequences. No, in your heart is not the place to find help against the lifecycle of sin. Your sinful nature is the very problem. James actually gives you another idea, another place to look for help. He talks about good gifts that come from God. He talks about being “brought forth” by the word of truth. It’s a kind of lifecycle of salvation. Sin gives birth to death. Jesus, the Word of Life, gives birth to life itself. James is talking about being born of water and spirit just like our Lord says. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:6, ESV) We have a great example right here at the font. I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit! Born of the Spirit, brought forth by the Word of Truth. Baptized into Christ. Sin, disturb my soul no longer: I am baptized into Christ! I have comfort even stronger: Jesus’ cleansing sacrifice. Should a guilty conscience seize me Since my Baptism did release me In a dear forgiving flood, Sprinkling me with Jesus’ blood? LSB 594 © 1991 Robert E. Voelker. Good and perfect gifts that come from God the Father, reminding us that the lifecycle of sin is broken by the Word of Truth, Jesus Christ himself on the cross, the lifecycle of life. That is where James says to turn. Turn to the one who has paid the price for your sin already. Turn to the cross and your connection to it in New Birth, given in the water of Holy Baptism. Turn to the Holy Spirit, who pours into you His strength to avoid temptations pull. The Word of Truth calls us to confess our sin, our shortcomings, our sinful desires, our inability to avoid, and our failure again and again. We confess, he forgives. That is Holy Baptism, the good gift that comes down from the Father of lights. It’s just like Luther writes in the Small Catechism: What does such baptizing with water indicate? It indicates that the Old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and that a new man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever. From Luther’s Small Catechism © 1986 Concordia Publishing House, That New Man is the “first fruits” that James is talking about. A new man that avoids temptation and sin, not because he has some great power to do so, but because he has God himself, working, offering forgiveness, calming the guilty conscience, releasing us in that dear forgiving flood, the blood of Jesus shed on the cross for you. Amen. The peace of God that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Mark.9.2-9; The Transfiguration of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, February 14, 2021;

Mark.9.2-9; The Transfiguration of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, February 14, 2021; Life in Christ Lutheran Church, Grand Marais, MN; And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. And Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified. And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only. And as they were coming down the mountain, he charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. (Mark 9:2-9, ESV) Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. What a wonderful sight it must have been, on that mountain, Jesus shining like the sun, Moses and Elijah there with him. The disciples never forgot it. They wrote about it in their letters, they must have spoken about it often. John wrote in his gospel. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14, ESV) And Peter said, For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. (2 Peter 1:16, ESV) They were talking about this mountaintop experience when Jesus was transfigured before them. “God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God.” we say with the collective memory of the church. Here is where human beings saw Jesus Christ shine in His full glory, as the Only Begotten Son of God. That’s what happened there on that mountain. Jesus was “transfigured.” The word is really metamorphosized! He changed his appearance; he became brighter than any bleach could bleach clothing. It’s another mountain top thing. Just like when he gave the law to Moses for the people. It’s a people of God event. That means that the transfiguration has something to do with us! But, more on that later. First, we need to talk about what’s happening to Jesus. I said here we see his ‘glory.’ Really what we are talking about is his divinity, his “god-ness,” shining through his humanity. We should carefully note that Jesus is all at once True-Man and True-God all together in one person. God, The Father, and Mary is his mother. He is 100% God and 100% man. You don’t get Jesus by gluing a God-board to a Man-board. Or taking God stuff and mixing it together with man-stuff to get a God-Man mixture. He’s not a hybrid. He is not a superman or a lesser god. He is God-Man. Unique in the universe. There is nothing like him anywhere, and there never will be. St. Paul said it like this. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, (Colossians 2:9, ESV) That’s what Peter, James and John saw on that day, Jesus Christ revealed, God and Man. So, what does that mean for us? We weren’t on that mountain to see it, but here we are some miles and several thousand years away. What does Transfigured Jesus mean to us? It is important to know that Jesus is God and Man together in a special way. You don’t get just a part of Jesus, ever. When you talk about Jesus it is always Humanity and Divinity. When we say that Jesus is here (because he promises to be where two or three are gathered together, For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Matthew 18:20, ESV) we mean that he is here in humanity and divinity. His humanity isn’t in heaven and his divinity on earth with us. He is not physically present “at the right hand of God” and spiritually present with us right now. He is here, among us, body and blood, flesh and spirit, God and man. The same Jesus born, in the flesh, in a food trough. The same Jesus, in the flesh, who walked and talked and laughed and cried with his disciples. The same Jesus, in the flesh, who became as bright as the sun on that mountain. The same Jesus, in flesh and blood, who bled and died on the cross, who rose again, sits at the right hand of God and rules the whole universe. How about a little quiz? Was God born to the Virgin Mary? Did a human being shine with God’s glory on the mountain of transfiguration? Did God die for your sins on a cross in Jerusalem? Does a human being now rule over the universe? The answer to all these questions is “Yes” in Jesus Christ. God and man inseparable, undivided for all eternity. It really answers the question: “How can the death of one man be enough to pay for the sins of the whole world?” It can be because the death of that man was the death of God. The death of Jesus was a “God-sized” death. A human life is worth one human life, but God’s life is worth an infinite number of human lives. When God dies his death, in Jesus Christ, it is worth more than the lives of all the people that have ever lived, all that are alive now and all that will ever live. That’s how Jesus redeems us, with his holy and precious blood and innocent suffering and death, as Martin Luther put it in the Small Catechism. Notice also that God, in Jesus Christ, deals with us through his humanity. He comes to us in ways that humans can comprehend and understand; he comes to us in flesh and blood. He comes to us in words spoken that travel through the air and strike our ears. He comes to us in water poured on our heads. He comes to us in bread and wine. All of these ways are earthly, physical and ordinary. God reveals himself to us in the ordinary, human, flesh and blood of Jesus Christ. If you want to know what God is like, all you have to do is look to Jesus. Jesus shines there on the mountain. And it’s more than the disciples can take. Peter says something about building tents. We don’t know exactly what he means, but he must have wanted to make some way of remembering what he saw. He probably wanted to build some kind of memorial that they could return to and remember. If he had done that, we could all go there and visit. There’d be a sign: “This is the place where Jesus was transfigured.” But no one really knows where it was, and maybe that’s a good thing. The idea of setting up tents was probably a way of trying to bring God under control. It’s something we human beings are really good at trying. We put Jesus in a box, in a church, in our hearts, instead of looking for him the only place he promises to be. We put him where we’d like him to be instead. We privatize Jesus and make our faith only personal, private faith. “Just me and Jesus on a mountain.” “I can worship God, just as well sitting out in a boat on the lake.” Lord, it’s good that we’re here. Forget everyone else. Let’s build a tent and remember the experience, the good feelings right here and now. That’s where we want Jesus to be. We forget to look for him where he says he’ll be, in the preached word, in his supper, in Baptism, and his people gathered around these things. Gathering here isn’t about feelings or experience, it’s about meeting Jesus the way that he promises to come. He is here with us in Word and Sacrament even if we don’t feel any different at all. But we are so much more impressed by visions and feelings than humble words, ordinary looking bread and wine and plain old water. Yet though these Jesus promises to forgive. What would it be like if Jesus, and Moses and Elijah appeared standing right here and their images were burned into the walls of the church? When word got out people would come from everywhere. Our little building here would be packed to the gills and everything would change. We’d speak quietly when we entered, we’d bow our heads, and never want to leave. No one would sleep if Moses and Elijah appeared in the pulpit to tell you about the forgiveness of sins found in Jesus Christ. And yet, we have that very thing here every Sunday. Jesus is here along with the angels and “all the company of heaven.” Every time we gather here, we are standing on the mountain of God. Every time we receive the forgiveness of sins won for us by Jesus Christ. Every Sunday He comes here to preach to you the Good News that you have been forgiven by his bloody death on the cross. And he comes to you in his very body and blood for you to eat and drink, right here. You see something more than the miracle of the transfiguration happens here all the time. Jesus takes sinful people and declares that they are his saints. You can’t see it; sometimes you can’t even feel it. You have to hear it in his Word. That’s the only difference. Jesus is here for you and me, just the same as he was on that mountain for the disciples. The only difference is you can’t see him the way they saw him. The truth be told you really don’t want to see him. The sight of Jesus in all his glory would be way too much for us. It left “the Rock” blubbering about tents. The Glory of God left Isaiah shivering in his shoes saying he was dead. And the Apostle John tells us in Revelations that in the presence of God he fell to the ground like a dead man. “No one can see God and live.” We are told. Jesus gives us a break. He is gentle with us. He comes to us in very hidden ways. So hidden, in fact, that most people pass him by without even noticing. So, hidden that we even sometimes forget that where the Church is gathered around his word Jesus is truly there. There’s something else important to notice about the transfiguration. God speaks to us there. “This is my son, whom I love, listen to him.” Everything is focused, right where it should be, on Jesus. Moses and Elijah fade away and Jesus is left there alone. “Listen to him! He has the words of eternal life.” In many and various ways God spoke to His people of old by the prophets. But now in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son. Heb 1:1-2. “Jesus alone” that’s really what the mountain of transfiguration is all about. Only Jesus is God’s beloved Son. Only Jesus shines with the Glory of God on the mountain. Only Jesus died on the cross bearing in his body the sins of the whole world. Only Jesus rose again from death never to die again. Only Jesus sits with God and prays directly to the Father for us. Only Jesus comes to you in Word and Sacrament to save and strengthen you. St. Paul said, And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18, ESV) Jesus Christ present here with us right now in Word and Sacrament is here to transfigure you. He is changing you from the outside in, changing you to become like him. It’s a hidden thing, this work that he is about. But when he appears in His Glory again at the end of time His work then will be shown for all to see. He will … will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. (Philippians 3:21, ESV) That will be a Transfiguration day to see! Come Lord Jesus, Come! Amen. The peace of God that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Sunday, February 07, 2021

Mark 1:29-39; The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany; February 7, 2021;

Mark 1:29-39; The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany; February 7, 2021; Life in Christ Lutheran Church, Grand Marias, MN; And immediately [Jesus] left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them. That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. And the whole city was gathered together at the door. And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons. (Mark 1:29-39, ESV) Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Mark is a fast paced Gospel. He won’t let Jesus stand still. Did you notice that we are still in chapter one? Just glancing back to the beginning we see a very active Jesus. He’s baptized, tempted by Satan, he calls his disciples; he heals people and throws out demons. But most importantly, he preaches. In fact, the very first words we hear from Jesus in this gospel are a sermon. and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15, ESV) And all of it is laced together by the word “immediately.” It emphasizes what Jesus is doing, almost like the time is critical. Remember last week, we had Jesus casting out a demon in the synagogue (after he preached) and telling the demon to “shut up.” The demon wanted to tell everyone who Jesus was. Jesus wants to show us who his is. And immediately after that he leaves the synagogue and goes to Peter’s house. Peter’s mother-in-law is sick and immediately they tell Jesus, and she is healed. Notice too how she gets up and serves right away. It’s like she had never been sick. Her strength is back full force. After the sun went down the town’s people begin to stir. At first it sounds strange to us but remember this is the Sabbath day in Israel. And remember for the Jews, the new day starts at sunset, so once the sun goes down the Sabbath is over, so they are allowed to move about again. They have been waiting all day after hearing about Jesus casting out the demon in the synagogue earlier. Mark tells us that they brought “all who were sick and oppressed by demons.” The news has spread everywhere in town. “the whole city was gathered together at the door.” Really the way Mark writes it he gives us a picture of the folks all standing around at the front door of Peter’s house, looking at it, waiting in anticipation of Jesus doing what they want him to do. They want him to heal the sick folks they’ve brought. And Jesus does just that. He heals and throws out the demons. And again, notice how he won’t let the demons speak. They know who Jesus is. They are trying to shout out “You are the Son of God, the Messiah!” But Jesus prevents them. Like we talked about last week, he doesn’t want the people to come to know who he is from the shouts of demons. After all the sickness and demons are taken care of everyone goes to bed. But early in the morning, actually in the middle of the night, (very early in the morning) Jesus gets up and goes out to pray. When the disciples get up, they don’t find him and the go looking for him. Actually, there seems to be a bit if anger in their search, the word Mark uses a word that means to track down or hunt. Apparently, the crowds have all gathered again, ready for Jesus to continue doing what he was doing last night. “Everyone is looking for you!” Jesus has different ideas. He doesn’t go back to the house. Instead, he tells them it’s time to move on. Notice again the detail that Mark gives us. “Let’s go to the neighboring towns, so that I can preach there, because that is why I have come out.” And that’s what he does. Again, Mark seems to give us a Jesus that might make us a bit uncomfortable. Last week we saw him say “Shut up” and today we see him ignoring people in desperate need. Jesus prefers preaching. But remember the disciples don’t get it either. They wonder why he’s gone out on his own when there’s so much to do with the folks that have gathered around. These are people just like you and me. Put yourself in the crowd, and with the disciples. You know what it’s like to be sick and suffering. You’ve come to the altar here in pray for Jesus to do something different. Remember, suffering is a constant. They had friends with cancer, sons and daughters who were injured in accidents. There were women who had lost their husbands, and fathers who were separated from their children. These were people who saw the helpless looks in doctor’s eyes. There were people in pain from the loss of a child. They were human beings, just like you and me, who had an intimate relationship with disease and suffering. And just like you and me, they wanted it to end. And, according to St. Mark, that night at Peter’s house Jesus healed them all. But that morning they were left wanting more. We can easily think that this is all there is to Jesus. I think this is what Jesus is trying to avoid. That’s why he doesn’t go back to the house. He moves on to preach because that’s what he has come to do. It’s easy to see Jesus as a miracle worker instead of a Savior. Of course, the hope of all Christians is the promise of the whole creation restored, an end to sickness and the control of Satan over people. Jesus is all about doing just that. That’s what Jesus is talking about when he preaches, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15, ESV) God is staring you in face. He is here setting things right again. You can see the start of it, the demons go out not screaming, sickness and death are in Jesus hands. But let’s not get sidetracked from what Jesus has come to do. It involves suffering and death. The world is being set right because God has come, staring you in the face, to bring forgiveness of sins. All that pain and heartache; all that illness and death are the result of sin. In this we all have our own part. There are times when we suffer because of specific sins we have done, smoking too much causes cancer; unfaithfulness in marriage leads to broken marriages and divorce… the evil things we all do fill our lives with consequences. The world is troubled by sickness and death because it is populated by sinful people. You and I live troubled lives because we are sinful. But we even have trouble that is not related to our sin. Sometimes illness comes for no fault of our own. Sometimes accidents happen. Sometimes life runs out of control and there is nothing we have done or can do to control it. Dearest fellow sinner, Jesus shows us what life forever with him will be like; an end to sickness and death; an end to Satan’s control over our lives. Picture Peter’s mother-in-law joyfully serving after the fever was taken out of her. Our Savior took her by the hand, and it left her. She was at full strength to serve. And so, it will be for you and me, but for now Jesus doesn’t go back to the house, for now we continue to live in this sinful world. We would have Jesus stay and heal. But Jesus must go to the cross because, sickness and demons isn’t the root of the problem. They are simply the signs of the real sickness. In Jesus preaching he says, “Repent and believe the good news.” The good news is that Jesus has come to do away with sin. You see we are sicker than we realize. We are more diseased than we can see. Sin is our problem, and it requires something more than surface healing. It requires the cross. It requires our death. Jesus heads for the cross to be our death for us. And Jesus won’t be sidetracked from that purpose. His death on the cross heals our sin-sickness. The healing of our sin-sickness leads to the healing of our bodies. That’s what we confessed just moments ago. “I believe in the resurrection of the dead.” The Apostles’ Creed says, “the resurrection of the body” not “the resurrection of the soul.” Forgiveness of sins and healing of the body are directly connected in the cross. When we see Jesus on the cross, we are seeing our helplessness. We cannot heal ourselves. No where do we see our total need for salvation more clearly. It takes God become man in Jesus Christ. We lie in our sin and sickness like Peter’s mother-in-law. Jesus grasps us with a pierced hand and saves us. He lifts us up out of our sin-sickeness and we live. His death on the cross means forgiveness for us. This is a picture of our salvation, both now as we live every day in faith and finally, when our Lord reaches out to raise our dead body from the grave. Amen. The peace of God that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.