How then can we live?/ Ezekiel 33, Luke 13, 1 Corinthians 10 / Pr. Lucas Andre Albrecht / Sunday, March 20th / Season of Lent
Sermon notes. Listen to the audio for more
Text: Ezekiel 33; Luke 13; 1 Corinthians 10
Theme: How then can we live?
Intr – Here’s one of the pills that I take every day. It is for blood pressure. Today I delayed taking the dose until now so you might see what happens when I take it.
(Takes de medicine) Did you see that? Did you notice what just happened the second I took my life preserving medicine?
Neither did I. Nothing special happened. No difference in my overall body feeling, no sudden dopamine increase. What happens every morning (except in the ones I forget to) is that I ingest the medicine I need and carry on with my day.
Does it mean that because I didn’t feel anything special this medicine is ineffective? Should I stop taking it every morning? The answer is, of course not. It’s a medicine that does its thing even if I don’t notice it. And it’s a type of pill treatment that brings results especially in the long term, if not by healing my blood pressure problems, at least delaying its damaging effects over my body organs as much as possible. Even when it is not like a life saving surgery or a life saving blood transfusion(immediate results before the eyes ) it’s a medicine that is designed to do the same thing, to preserve my life.
In Ezekiel chapter 33 we see the people of God sort of asking about what is the right medicine they need to take in order to live. Ezekiel 33 It is a sharp passage about God and Gospel in the life of the people of God.
_The context of Ezekiel. Terrible idolatry and abandonment. So we see lots of harsh, even graphic language throughout his book – pointing to punishment upon sin.
_In the midst of Ezekiel’s preaching about sin and punishment the people of God realize what’s going on, or at least part of them. They say something like, surely our sins rush in us like blood in our veins. It’s a massive quantity, that doesn’t delay but speeds up the consequences of this malady. And they ask the prophet: “How then can we live?”
Law and Gospel. The Law brings its effect, repentance. And then the question brings about the opportunity to proclaim pure Gospel.
How then can we live? It is the million dollar question. The answer everybody would like to have especially in crucial moments of their existence. There are blood rushing options around us that try to make us believe that is the way we can live. The options that send jolts excitement to the body and seem to enliven and brighten the soul. Some options that offer rational explanations for some mysteries, and others that attempt to make mysterious what is already clear and straightforward. There are even some products and substances you can take that could make life to look more bearable.
In sum, there are helping hands that are offered to us which in the long term only make take our feet away from path that leads to life.
But here “how can we live” has a more profound meaning that is more than leading life as one can, more than having a job, or a career, or a family or money in the bank, or a bucket list, or feeling good. How can we live a life where the consequence of sin is not attributed to us, where life has its fullest meaning, where life is eternal?
This question is related to two topics: the need of repentance and the sin of idolatry, which are also addressed in the readings today.
Repentance – We live in a world of less repentance and more excuses. You are not suppose to repent, you are supposed to explain your guilt away. Some people don’t even know how to deal when aperson actually repents and asks for forgiveness anymore. Repentance seems to be for the weak; but it is actually for the strong – for when we are weak, then we are strong.
Idolatry – lack of repentance leads to idolatry, for we remove God from the center and replace it with ourselves as the ones who can solve the problem of sin and guilt. Idolatry is everything and anything that we have in the place of God.
Sometimes idolatry may be something bad, like money, power, ego, etc. But it can also be something that is good, like family, or sports, or work, or happiness.
How then can we live? What is it that makes our blood rush, sharpens our minds and thoughts, protects our hearts and not only delays, but nukes the effects of the life-threatening and life-ending danger? What is the life saving surgery or blood transfusion that can give us that instantaneous sense of relief, joy and peace?
(Takes a medicine container with the Word “forgiveness” inside it) FORGIVENESS OF SINS
This is God’s answer through Ezekiel: “As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel”.
This is Jesus warning in Luke 13: “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.””
Forgiveness of sins. This is the medicine for soul, effective against what makes us rot away and rescues us from under the multitude of our sins. It certainly brings instantaneous relief, joy and peace for sure, however not the way we perhaps imagine them.
There is life for us when we are not looking just for the thrill, the rush, the momentary pleasure or the renounce of suffering at all costs. There is life for us when we are not fixed on having to feel something special right on the spot every time you take and receive the blessed solution. It is life for us even when it doesn’t bring health and wealth, in many cases actually it’s the exact opposite that happens.
God’s forgiveness is for us to take every day; it is effective now and brings also good results in the long run. We live in a world that thinks differently though. We are persuaded to think that we might me imperfect and have our own mistakes, but… and that three letter word changes everything. We may be tempted to water down our need for repentance excusing ourselves, trying to feel good and better, accommodating things inside our conscience in a way that we can explain or suffocate guilt away. Lack of repentance leads to idolatry, which is downplaying or removing altogether the need we have to have God front, center and above everything else in our lives. Paul is quite serious with his warning in the epistle: “12 Therefore vlet anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. ” And God warns the people through Ezekiel: “Though I say to the righteous that he shall surely live, yet mif he trusts in his righteousness and does injustice, none of his righteous deeds shall be remembered, but in his injustice that he has done he shall die.”
For this reason the basic need for our lives remains: How then can we live? FORGIVENESS of SINS is the only and one medicine.
That’s Ezekiel’s message in a context where tragedy and devastation were looming in the horizon. It’s what Jesus also points to when He removes from his disciples the thought that some are more sinners than others, or that some deserve more punishment than others. Forgiveness of sins generates life everlasting. A medicine we find in the life saving Word of the Bible, in the blood poured on the Cross and transfused into us in the Sacrament. Forgiveness that we receive, and forgiveness that we share, so more and more people have an answer to that questions.
As you receive this precious medicine, sometimes you will something special, other many times you won’t. Sometimes you will feel greatly relieved when you hear that you are forgiven, sometimes it’s going to be like another normal day. The thing is that it doesn’t matter how you feel toward this medicine – it is always effective, always relieving and releasing. God’s medicine of forgiving our hearts, protecting our soul and generating the life that never ends, in Christ, acts in your life whether you are thinking of it all the time or not; whether you feel it or not; even sometimes when you are in doubt - because you are a sinner and that may happened. You and I can be unfaithful sometimes. God is faithful. Always and forever.
That’s why you shouldn’t go a single day without it. At home, at Church, everywhere. In faith you are connected to Christ, so your prescription will never expire. Refills are available anytime we need - which means, every day.
Cc – “How then can we live?” In Jesus Christ, our Saviour. He who was made the fig tree in our place, who was uprooted and thrown in the fire of death so that we might receive forgiveness of sins. It is the perfect, life saving medicine for body and soul, since both live with Christ now, and both will be with Him forever in the perfect and constant healthy life.
 For example, Ezekiel 16. He is one of the many prophets despised by the people because of is unwelcomed, inconvenient message and work in the midst of proud idolaters.
 There were other options our contemporary world could offer to Israel before the sin that is thrown in their face: _Play the victim; _Blame someone else; -Blame the economy or the crisis; _Blaming international unrest - and many others. But what God calls Ezekiel to do is to call the wicked from his wrong way, so that he/she can live.
 “Work and family always make me wonder about the future. Will grades, evaluation, contract renewal and people, becomes second nature. Words and actions expose me as a rogue god in my daily word. Caught – Evil”. John MESSMANN. Turn. In: “First Call”, page 96.