Category Archives: Lent Sermons

A Ransom for Many

Text: Mark 10:35-45
Date: Lent V + 3/18/18

This is a most unusual story today. For at first hearing we think it’s all about us, how we are not to be too proud or “lording it over others” as Jesus says, but are to see ourselves as servants after the example of Christ. And that’s part of it. We with the other disciples are taken aback and become indignant at James and John. But it wasn’t because they were any more loyal or faithful than the others, but I suspect but rather jealous that the two Zebedee bros cut in line to request Jesus what they themselves really desired, special reserved seating when Jesus would enter His glory in Jerusalem, rebuilding the Davidic temple and kingdom. And we should say that Jesus will come in His glory. But what is His glory? We are to discover next week that His glory begins with the cross, giving His life as a ransom. Then the kingdom will be fully restored only at the end of time when He comes in glory to gather “the many” who believed and received the gift of His redemption. By then, however, we will have been rid of any prideful boast or desire for recognition over other fellow redeemed sinners.

It does strike us that the two bold disciples are among the first to get bitten, as Luther would say, by the theology of glory. They didn’t understand Jesus’ prediction when he said, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise” (Mk 10:33-34). This is the Fifth Sunday in Lent, our last chance as it were to be prepared for the Great and Holy Week. Like the disciples we can be distracted by the normal routines of life and be unprepared and missing the importance of this, the heart and center of the Gospel of salvation, namely, our Lord’s suffering and death, that death we are to proclaim with bread and cup until He comes. Through the tragic story of Jesus’ betrayal, abuse, rejection, His bitter suffering and crucifixion we are to begin to see the true glory for which we long. Continue reading A Ransom for Many

Whoever Believes in Him

Text: John 3:14-21
Date: Lent IV + 3/11/18

The account of Jesus’ night time teaching of Nicodemus is a sedes doctrinae or main seat of the doctrine of the sacrament of Holy Baptism. It therefore plays an important part in the Lenten forming of candidates new to the faith of the Church with the goal of baptism at the Easter Vigil. It is helpful today for you to know that our Gospel is from the end of Jesus’ teaching Nicodemus, saying, “unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” and, “unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (Jn 3:3, 5). It seems, however, that we have a similar problem as last week hearing of the cleansing of the temple already at the beginning of John’s Gospel. For if you think purely in terms of the historic sequence of events one is left with questions, not the least of which is, how can Jesus teach about the sacrament of baptism when He hasn’t commanded it yet, until one of the very last things He said before His ascension? The answer from St. John is that baptism receives its power not only from the command to do it, but from the cross of Christ before it and especially the baptism of Jesus by John in the Jordan river. When a person is baptized he or she receives the new birth from above which is that new creation resulting from the redemptive work of Christ. Continue reading Whoever Believes in Him

Who Do You Say I Am?

Text: Mark 8:27-38
Date: Lent II + 2/25/18
I could say a lot of things about Billy Graham who died this past week at the age of 99. I could criticize his hang up with decision theology. I would rather however thank God for him for, except for that aberration, I’ve always believed that he for the most part allowed the Bible to teach him, for many things he got right; for one thing centering his message always on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins. I heard him speak alongside of our Oswald C. J. Hoffman, former speaker on The Lutheran Hour radio program, at the 1968 U.S. Congress on Evangelism in Minneapolis. This hand shook Billy Graham’s hand there. Of all the remembrances of him provided on television this week one thing stood out. He would say, “If you remember nothing else from this message remember this, God Loves You.” And then he’d repeat, “God Loves You.”
Such a simple message. Or was it? Or is it? Somehow Rev. Graham knew that sinful, distracted, wayward people needed to hear that, and not just once but over and over again. Today we hear the beginning of the main theme from Mark’s Gospel, namely, “God Loves You.” But He loves you in this way, “that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.” And Mark tells us, “And he said this plainly.” This is the center of the Christian faith, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Continue reading Who Do You Say I Am?

Through the Wilderness

Text: Mark 1:9-15
Date: Lent I + 2/18/18
Today’s Gospel from Mark chapter one begins by summarizing the entire season of Epiphany in order to deliver us into the season of Lent. In Marks’ Gospel the Epiphany, manifestation or shining forth of Jesus as the promised Messiah began with His baptism. These words of the voice from heaven also closed the season at the Transfiguration of Our Lord, “This is my beloved son; with you I am well pleased.” We even heard the final part of today’s Gospel describing the beginning of Jesus active ministry of preaching, teaching and healing. What was skipped over in Epiphany, however, were these short words of verses 12 and 13 recalling our Lord’s first work, His temptation by the devil. Continue reading Through the Wilderness