Sermon / Pr. Ted Giese / Sunday August 14th 2016 - / Luke 12:49-56 / Does Jesus Divide?
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday August 14th 2016: The Season of Pentecost, Luke 12:49-56. " Does Jesus Divide? Does The Truth Divide?"
“I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is My distress until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
[Jesus] also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, ‘A shower is coming.’ And so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat,’ and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?"
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. On the night in which He was betrayed Jesus said, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." Hours later Jesus stands trial before Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor of Judea, who is trying to decide what to do with this Jesus. During his back and forth with the Jewish leaders there is a point at which, "Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to Him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about Me?” Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You over to me. What have You done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But My kingdom is not from the world.” Then Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to My voice.” Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?”
After [Pilate] had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in Him." Pilate was trying to decide whether Jesus was guilty or innocent of the charge against Him, the charge they levelled against Jesus was that Jesus was evil. When pressed about why the Jewish leaders were bring Jesus to him, they had said to Pilate, “If this man were not doing evil, we would not have delivered Him over to you.”
So when Jesus says to His disciples in our Gospel Reading from Luke, "Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division." You can start to see what Jesus is talking about. Jesus says "I am the Truth," and that puts Him in opposition to everything that is false, all lies, and all who bear falsehoods, everything that is not true. This is division. Everything cannot be true, everything in the world cannot be good. In the fallen nature of The World there is evil, and there are false teachings, false teachers, false doctrines, and sometimes these are held by people who are well meaning; but their feelings, or their "well-meaning-ness," doesn't make what they confess to be true to in fact be true. St. Paul warns the young pastor Timothy in Paul's first letter to Timothy saying, "If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth." False doctrine, false teaching deprives people of Jesus who is the Truth, and as Jesus said, He being the Truth, His very presence in this fallen world causes division because some will confess the Truth and some will not, As Jesus says, "For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” The source of this division is falsehood in the face of Truth.
In our day many people throw up their hands and in exasperation say with Pontius Pilate, “What is truth?” Can men marry men? and women marry women? Can I just walk away from my marriage because I don't feel the love I once felt? Living together before marriage is O.K. isn't it? when you've done it for a while it feels fine right? Don't I have the right to take my own life if I don't meet some sliding threshold of what society says is a good quality of life? Isn't it ok to abort a baby when that child would be inconvenient to the mother and/or to the father of the child. Won't Church and spiritual things still be there later for my family? Right now while they are young my kids need organized sports more than they need Jesus! If no one "gets hurt," by what I say aren't little white lies and cheating ok if it means I can get better grades in school, or a better paying job? The World says yes, lust and desire, personal convenience, self preservation, vicarious living, getting ahead by any means as long as it's legal is all fine but Jesus who is the Truth says no: And now you have a division.
Outside of Christ there is no peace in this World. And in the body of Christ it is still important to be faithful and true to what Scripture teaches about Jesus. We look forward to The Last Day of division when on That Day the wicked and the redeemed will be divided once for all eternity, when you and all those who the Holy Spirit has called, gathered, enlightened, sanctified and kept with Jesus Christ in the one true faith will enter into eternal peace. On That Day there will be complete harmony between God and His Children, between all of His Children, all conflict gone. Until That Day we live in The World, a World brimming with falsehoods.
But how do I know what is true and what is false? [Jesus] also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, ‘A shower is coming.’ And so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat,’ and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?" Trust what you've been taught - Scripture is true. The Word of God is true and if someone is contradicting it or trying to twist it to serve their selfish desires then beware. If your feelings contradict Scripture don't be apprehensive about Scripture be wary of your feelings. "But the World says I should follow my heart, the World says "This above all: to thine own self be true!"" Jesus says in the Gospel of Matthew, "out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander." And through the prophet Jeremiah God warns us that, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick;" Then Jeremiah asks, "who can understand it?" The Book of Hebrews answers this question when it says, "the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart."
God knows the heart, Jesus knows the heart - He knows your heart and the sin that is in it, this is why we sing with King David the words, "create in me a clean heart of God and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Thy presence and take not Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation and uphold me with Thy free spirit. Amen." This is a prayer of repentance, an acknowledgment of the personal sin that flows from false desires that are in opposition to Jesus and the Truth of the Word of God. Instead of "This above all: to thine own self be true!" As Christians we are called to say, "This above all: to Christ alone be true!" Hold fast to Jesus.
Sometimes it is scary to walk away from your feelings and to trust Jesus and the Word of God; Sometimes it is painful to deny what we want to be true for what is True; Sometimes, when a lot is on the line, it is painful to trust God above all things; When what the World says is happiness is on the line it is painful to walk away from the desires of our hearts in order "to be conformed to the image of [God's] Son," conformed to Jesus who is the truth. In his letter to the Roman Christians St. Paul says, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." And remember St. Peter's confession when after many of Jesus' disciples had abandoned Jesus because what He said was hard to hear and hard to follow, Jesus asks “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that You are the Holy One of God.”
Pr. Bryan Wolfmueller from Aurora Colorado describes the human heart, the conscience, as an umpire in a baseball game. The umpire calls the pitches, "Ball," "Strike," "Ball, Strike, Strike ... you're out." But your conscience, your heart, your feelings, are part of the fallen world and they can be wrong. They, like an umpire, can call a ball when it was really a strike, or a strike when it was really a ball. The tender conscience can become callous, a callous conscience can eventually become so broken that it no longer sees sin as sin and falsehood as falsehood, it can become blind and deaf to the Truth. This is why it is so important to trust Scripture over your heart, especially when your heart has led you astray and placed you in opposition to Jesus. Be captive to the Word of God and not to your feelings; Trust Jesus who is the Truth even if it means that in Him, in Jesus, you live a life divided from the World, or in opposition to the ideas and convictions of others ... even if they are as close to you as a father of mother or son or daughter or mother-in-law or daughter-in-law, or a grandchild.
Who will save me from myself? Who will save me from by broken conscious? From my sinful desires and my failure to be wary of my own heart and it's sin? Jesus, who is the Truth, now and ever shall be the source of your forgiveness. He trusted the Word of God perfectly where we fall to temptation. When tempted by Satan in the wilderness Jesus spurned the devils temptations not with feelings, or desires, or with the wants of the heart, but with the Word of God. When the devil tried to twist Scripture Jesus wouldn't have any of it.
After His baptism, Jesus was, "led by the Spirit [into] the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, [Jesus] was hungry. The devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’” And the devil took [Jesus] up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to [Jesus], “To You I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If You, then, will worship me, it will all be Yours.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written,
“‘You shall worship the Lord your God,
and Him only shall you serve.’”
And he took [Jesus] to Jerusalem and set Him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to [Jesus], “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here, for it is written,
“‘He will command His angels concerning You, to guard You,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear You up, lest You strike Your foot against a stone.’”
And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from [Jesus] until an opportune time." Jesus perfectly trusted God's Word and in this example, and even more so at the Cross, at His crucifixion, He won for you forgiveness and proved Himself to be trustworthy and true. This is what Jesus meant when He said, “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is My distress until it is accomplished!" It is now accomplished, the 'baptism' of His crucifixion, is finished and His empty tomb is proof of His truthfulness.
Of Jesus St. John said, "The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. [Jesus] was in The World, and The World was made through Him, yet The World did not know Him. [Jesus] came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him. But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, [Jesus] gave the right to become children of God," now as Children of God, in Christ Jesus, who is the Truth, you may live your life divided from The World, and this will be hard, but it is for a short time: Eternal peace is coming. Today you have that peace in Christ Jesus and the forgiveness He gives to you. He places Himself into your hands, He puts His blood in your mouth and when He does this, He who is Truth, washes away all that is false, all sin, all evil, and He makes you new. It is a foretaste of the final feast where the effects of falsehood will be washed away eternally. Every lie we tell ourselves, every falsehood we tell each other - washed away for good, forever. So we say come Lord Jesus, come quickly. 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.
 John 14:6
 John 18:33-38
 John 18:30
 1 Timothy 6:3-5
 Matthew 15:19
 Jeremiah 17:9
 Hebrews 4:12
 Romans 8:29
 Romans 12:2
 John 6:67-69
 Luke 4:1-13
 John 1:9-12