Sermon / Pr. Ted Giese / Season of Pentecost Proper 8 Sunday July 2nd 2017 - / Matthew 10:34-42 / Who is above Jesus?
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday July 2nd 2017: Pentecost / Matthew 10:34-42 "Who is above Jesus?"
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For 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. And a person's enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever 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. And whoever does not take his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
“Whoever receives you receives Me, and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me. The 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. And 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.”
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in Your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. Today we have in our Gospel Reading more advice from Jesus to His Twelve Disciples. Last week we heard Jesus say, “Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Today’s Gospel continues this line of advice. Today Jesus again teaches us that it is essential for His disciples to endure all, to pick up their cross and follow Him, that this will be challenging is addressed here, that it’s going to get personal is also addressed here in this Gospel Reading.
But first let’s think about something. We have to get something straight about Jesus – I think by doing so we’ll have a better time wrapping our minds around what Jesus is saying in our Gospel Reading today. In the Book of Hebrews we read, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” This means He is unchanging; the fancy would for this is immutable, which means unalterable, fixed, Eternal. Secondly St. Peter explains what Jesus is like saying, “He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in His mouth.” Saint Paul further says, that Jesus “is the image of the invisible God.” Saint Matthew in His Gospel records these words from Jesus, Jesus says, “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” And Saint John in his Gospel records Jesus saying that Jesus “and the Father are one.” This means that Jesus is perfect. Saint Thomas when He saw this same Jesus in the flesh following Jesus’ resurrection from the dead at Easter hears Jesus say to him, “Put your finger here, and see My hands; and put out your hand, and place it in My side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen Me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” This, my friends is who Jesus is; this is your Jesus, this is the Jesus that the writer of the Hebrews is describing when he says that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Yes Jesus the immoveable Rock of Ages, Jesus is God, Jesus is the one who Moses in the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy says is, “The Rock, [whose] work is perfect, for all His ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is He.” This is your unchangeable Jesus who is not corruptible, who will never be less than perfect and if Jesus is like this …. then that means you are the one who must change. What did Jesus say last week, “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master.” Therefore, you are not greater than Jesus and there is no one else who is either.
So if it comes down to a choice between Jesus and someone else, the other person will always come up short, if you think they don’t then you must think they are better than Jesus, then you must confront the fact that you love them more than you love Jesus, that you are faithful to them with a faith that is greater than your faith in Jesus. You are His? You follow Him then you must stand on Him and Him alone; He is the Rock of Ages with your foot on Him you will not slip but put your foot on another, put some other person first and your foot is on sand. As Pr. Albrecht said last week Jesus is above everything even above family. Again this is where it gets personal, if someone, a daughter, a son, a father, a mother, a mother-in-law, a daughter-in-law, is set above Christ Jesus then something imperfect, riddled with sin, and error, is being placed above Jesus. How does that song go, “Jesus, name above all names Beautiful Savior, glorious Lord. Emmanuel, God is with us. Blessed Redeemer, Living word.”
So when the writer of the Book of Hebrews speaks of the living Word whose name is above all names saying that, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” He doesn’t stop there, he continues saying, therefore, “Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace.”
People like Paul and Peter and Matthew and Thomas and John and others were personally called by Jesus and Jesus’ advice to them was not to let others put a wedge between them and Him. This advice is for you too. Therefore be on guard, be careful and remember because of sin there will always be people, ideas and diverse and strange teachings who will want to get between you and Jesus. This then is the challenging part. Jesus becomes like the eye of a storm. Stand in the eye of the storm and it is peaceful, the chaos is what swirls around the eye of the storm. Jesus then truly is the Prince of peace and Lord of Lords, the King of kings who will not compromise His righteousness - His perfection - to please the whims and deeply heartfelt yet sinful feelings of others, to get swept up in the chaos of the world. Because He is immovable in this way He then becomes an object of division. One who because of sin and chaos in the world does not bring peace but a sword: Jesus divides Truth from lies, faithfulness from faithlessness, Perfection from imperfection, Christian from non-Christian; virtue from vice like a sword cleaves a hand from an arm or an arm from a body. By His nature, by His perfection, Jesus by His immutability becomes a line in the sand, the Rock of Christ on one side the shifting sands of the World on the other. When the Christian is forced to choose between Jesus and someone or something else they are not being tempted to choose between apples and apples.
Therefore, faithfulness to Jesus can cause division between people. Hark the voice of Jesus calling … do you hearken to that voice? Do you follow it or do you not? Even as He sends out His Twelve Disciples Jesus is still calling them to faith and discipleship and by the grace of God through the Gospel they hear, they are repentant and they believe. Remember however that as our Gospel unfolds today it comes at a point before the events of Holy week. This means that among the Twelve that Jesus is speaking with is Judas, he is numbered with the twelve, later Peter would describe Judas saying that Judas “was numbered among [the Twelve] and was allotted his share in this ministry.” But that Judas had departed from them. Judas had chosen to go another way and forfeit what was his in Christ. In the end his trust was not in Jesus above all things. He heard this same call of Jesus, but, he, due to his own engrained sin and stubbornness rejected Jesus. Judas becomes a troubling warning to you and I. He is evidence that even someone exceedingly close to Jesus can fall away trusting in something else above Jesus.
For some people it might be material things, leisure, wealth, sports, worldly power for others the temptation to fall away from Christ Jesus might be wrapped up in family. Yes, “even the family, the closest and most fundamental unit in human existence will be affected. Son and father, daughter and mother, daughter-in-law and mother-in-law, will become fundamentally separated from one another because one will confess Christ, and the other will deny Him. Both that confession and that denial will have Eternal consequences.” This is how Dr. Jeffery Gibbs puts it, he goes on to say that, “In these divided families, the believer will sooner or later face this challenge from unbelieving loved ones, “Choose me and my ways rather than your Jesus and his ways.”” Again this is where it gets personal, and this is where it is deeply challenging because, “to be sure Christians will be more loving, more patient, more accepting of non-Christian family members then they otherwise would be, [because] the love they receive from Christ enables the Christian to display Christ like love, whether or not [that love is returned.]” And we know and trust that, “at times God will use such a loving witness as part of His way of bringing unbelievers to faith; they may be won “without a word” [“when,” as Saint Peter puts it, “they see your respectful and pure conduct.”] Other times however the non-believing spouse, or parent, or children will demand allegiance and conformity in ways to which the Christian simply must not agree.” And that is when “the disciple must love Jesus more than father, or mother, or son, or daughter. This conflict will at times be bitter; even the closest natural relationships might be severed.”
Do you know this pain? Is this your cross, have you been bearing it, are you in a constant fight to carry it, are you fighting two steps forward one step back, one step forward two steps back, wrestling in your heart between the love of family and your love of Jesus? Has this become a painful burden? A bitterness? Are you faced with horrible unchristian things and then for the sake of earthly peace and modern concepts of love made to celebrate and take pride in such horrible and broken things for fear of losing family? First you are not alone, even from the beginning Jesus warned that these things may come. Other Christians have suffered and suffer these same burdens. At times they even faced persecution and martyrdom for their faith in Jesus over and against the ways of the World. So if you have failed to “stand up stand up for Jesus” remember that He stands for you. Jesus stands unmoving where we fail. He is perfectly obedient, in fact Saint Paul teaches us that, Jesus picked up His cross, that Jesus, “humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore [Saint Paul says] God [the Father] has highly exalted [Jesus] and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” That Day will come; it will find it’s fulfilment on The Last Day, today however we have divisions and in this life we are called to be faithful to Christ first above all things.
If a Christian longs for their old way of life - the life they lived before being called to Christ – and returns to it, or cave into family pressures to reject Christ Jesus and His work to keep the peace in a family then the Christian may very well lose the one real life there is: Eternal life with God through Jesus. Paradoxically when a Christian accepts a sword of division cleaving to Christ Jesus and His perfection over and against the World, when a Christian carries their cross, and suffers the loss of their former relationships and status, perhaps even giving up their physical life – if it should come to that - because they cling in faith to Jesus that believer will discover that they have found a real life forever.’ But you say, I can’t endure it! I can’t endure it to the end, dear God give me strength, give me help, forgive me! I’ve failed! In Christ Jesus God the Father hears you prayer, and answers your call for help: He sends you Jesus who is eternally faithful, perfectly without sin or error, unmoving, unchanging in this way on your behalf, willing and able to suffer all things, endure all things and love you in a never ending way. Seek the forgiveness He has won for you and it is yours, you will find no such forgiveness, no such love, in anyone else. Amen.
Let us pray:
Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
 Matthew 10:21-22
 1 Peter 2:22
 Colossians 1:15
 John 10:30
 John 20:27-29
 Deuteronomy 32:4
 Matthew 10:24-25
 Hebrews 13:8-9
 Acts 1:17
 Concordia Commentary, Matthew 1:1-11:1, Jeffery A. Gibbs, Concordia Publishing House 2006, Pg 539.
 1 Peter 3:2
 Philippians 2:8-11
 Gibbs, Pg 539