Sermon / Pr. Ted Giese / Sunday August 7th 2016 - / Psalm 33 / That Frustrating Jesus
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday August 7th 2016: The Season of Pentecost, Psalm 33. "That Frustrating Jesus - He Frustrates The Plans of Peoples"
Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous!
Praise befits the upright.
Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre;
make melody to Him with the harp of ten strings!
Sing to Him a new song;
play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.
For the word of the LORD is upright,
and all His work is done in faithfulness.
He loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD.
By the word of the LORD the heavens were made,
and by the breath of His mouth all their host.
He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap;
He puts the deeps in storehouses.
Let all the earth fear the LORD;
let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him!
For He spoke, and it came to be;
He commanded, and it stood firm.
The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
He frustrates the plans of the peoples.
The counsel of the LORD stands forever,
the plans of His heart to all generations.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people whom He has chosen as His heritage!
The LORD looks down from heaven;
He sees all the children of man;
from where He sits enthroned He looks out
on all the inhabitants of the earth,
He who fashions the hearts of them all
and observes all their deeds.
The king is not saved by his great army;
a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
The war horse is a false hope for salvation,
and by its great might it cannot rescue.
Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him,
on those who hope in His steadfast love,
that He may deliver their soul from death
and keep them alive in famine.
Our soul waits for the LORD;
He is our help and our shield.
For our heart is glad in Him,
because we trust in His holy name.
Let Your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us,
even as we hope in You.
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. You've heard it said that "necessity is the mother of invention," how about, "expectation is the mother of frustration," About half way through our Psalm today, Psalm 33, these words crop up, "Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people whom He has chosen as His heritage!" However just before that in the Psalm you hear these words, "The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; He frustrates the plans of the peoples." For me, both expectation and frustration are truly personal things, I imagine they are for you too. Yet here in this Psalm we hear the Psalm says that the LORD frustrates more than just the personal expectations of individuals, He brings the counsel of the nations to nothing too.
The first third of this Psalm is celestial in nature, it is a prayer that soar into the stratosphere and beyond, into all creation into the seen and the unseen, into the depths of the mysteries of God's handwork. But it doesn't stay so far afield. In an instance the whole Psalm comes crashing down, pummelling down into the here and now, into History, into our life, into our world, into your life with those words "He frustrates the plans of the peoples" ... "[He] brings the counsel of the nations to nothing." The gravity of this comes in knowing who He is, in knowing what He has revealed about Himself in Scripture. He is your help and your shield, He is the one who "commanded, and it stood firm," the one who "spoke, and it came to be." God said “'Let there be light,' and there was light." And Jesus, the Word of God, the Son of Man - the Son of God, is the one who stood in a boat on the sea of Galilee with His disciples and, "rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm." Jesus is the answer to the prayer of Psalm 33, Jesus is the one who ultimately "frustrates the plans of the peoples," and "brings the counsel of the nations to nothing."
The long expected Jesus is still unexpected when He finally arrives: Jesus explodes onto the scene when the angel Gabriel visits Mary saying, “Greetings, O favoured one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be [because it exceeded all expectations for her life]. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” Later when Jesus is presented at the temple Simeon, who had lived an exceedingly long life in the expectation of the coming Christ, tells Jesus' parents, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed." Jesus even says this of Himself, He says, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword." Jesus breaks to pieces the expectations of the people.
The plans of Herod the Great where frustrated at the news of Jesus' birth, Matthew tells us that, "When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with [Herod];" While Herod didn't fully know the enormity of it, that this little baby would grow up to be the King of the Jews and that Jesus would be an unconventional King, he nevertheless was frustrated at the news of Jesus' birth and sought to have Jesus killed.
Herod was not the only one who sought Jesus' death. but he had something in common with all of them. Herod and all the men who sought Jesus' death figured that Jesus would be like other men, like other kings, that He'd be like king David of old who like the rest, like all men, that Jesus would die and stay dead. Saint Peter on the Day of Pentecost says, “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day." At the time of Jesus' death, the Sanhedrin, the Pharisees and Sadducees and the Scribes and the Elders of the people who plotted His death all expected Jesus to be crucified, they expected Him to die, and they expected Him to stay dead. They knew the words of Psalm 33, they knew that they had been true for David, they knew that they were true for Herod the great, they knew that "the king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue." The Sanhedrin, the Pharisees and Sadducees and the Scribes and the Elders of the people all knew that these men, these kings, and they themselves could not save themselves from death, that death was inevitable. With Jesus they were counting on this to be true again.
They knew that death came to all people from the least to the greatest. Jesus in their estimation, who others considered great and they considered least, would be no different. Dead is dead they thought. Dead meant out of the way! In fact "it was Caiaphas [the high priest that year] who had advised the Jews that it would be expedient that one man should die for the people," rather than allow the whole nation to perish. Caiaphas trusted that death would get rid of Jesus. Yet who did Caiaphas think was saving the nation? Did Caiaphas think he, Caiaphas, was saving the nation with his clever plot? Did he think that death was saving them by swallowing Jesus up into the earth with all the dead? He clearly hadn't considered that his plan was about to be frustrated by the LORD.
If man could not save himself, if Caiaphas in his clever plot could not save himself - could not save the nation, who then saves? Can any save? Is there salvation at all? If a king cannot save himself, if his armies and all the mighty power that they can muster up cannot save them from death, then who saves? Only the LORD God, The Father Almighty the Maker of Heaven and Earth can truly save. Caiaphas the high priest and the Sanhedrin, the Pharisees the Sadducees and the Scribes and the Elders did not expect that three days after Jesus hung dead upon the cross that Jesus would be saved from the clutches of death; They did not expect that three days after Jesus' body was taken down and sealed into the tomb that the tomb would be open and that this frustrating Jesus would be walking out of it, that this frustrating Jesus would be the one that the LORD would save, and through this frustrating Jesus would come the salvation of the nations of the world, a blessing and an eternal heritage. Not in their wildest dreams had they expected that "just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father," as Saint Paul tells us, that, "we too might walk in newness of life." They had never considered that we Christians, because of Jesus, could be just as frustrating as Jesus, when we on the Last Day we all pop up out of our graves alive and made perfect in this same Christ. They had never expected that this Jesus would become the ultimate evidence that, the LORD, "He who fashions the hearts of them all and observes all their deeds" was truly at work in the world. Not just in the individual lives of people but also in the life of nations and peoples as we see in Psalm 33.
On the one hand the wicked think that they are hidden from God, that God doesn't see them, they even deny that the LORD exists living under the false expectation that there is no God, while on the other hand the Christian trusts and has faith that that the Eye of the LORD truly "is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His steadfast love, that He may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine." We expect to see Jesus on the Last Day. And what a surprise it will be on That Day! For some a happy and joyous surprise conclusion to all suffering and toil ... for others a horrifying surprise of judgment and frustration, sudden empirical unassailable knowledge of impending doom.
Psalm 33 is just one more spot in Holy Scripture that teaches that, in Jesus, God the Father intercedes into the History of Man, He makes Himself known. He positions Himself immovably into the affairs of the world. Take heart in the promise Jesus gives you: Jesus says, "In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” You therefore can pray for the LORD to intercede in the affairs of the nations, not just in the affairs of your own life, for in Christ He has demonstrated that He is not a God who only acts in small ways but in large ways too.
So, what does that look like? You're watching the news, you're scrolling through Facebook you see some terrible thing happening in the world, some frustrating thing, what do you do? Do you keep scrolling? Do you flip the channel? You can ... you can pray, trusting that God actually does involve Himself in what happens in the world: You can place those things for which you pray into God's hands, you can ask God to act, you can plead to God to act, for God to break the expectations of the people, to frustrate the plans of the wicked, because you know that He does act, you have proof in Christ Jesus, in Jesus' birth, in His death and in His resurrection, in His ascension.
While "[your soul] waits for the LORD;" we trust that "He is our help and our shield." We trust that He loves us more than the birds of the air, that He provides for us more than He provides for the lilies of the field - the Ravens are fed and so are we - therefore your "heart [can be] glad in Him, [as you] trust in His holy name." You can take Jesus' advice and set all the worrisome expectations of anxiousness aside for every little thing and for the thing that troubles us most, death, because death has been frustrated and defeated in Christ Jesus and all of life's little troubles will pass away on the Last Day.
You, dear Christian, are given something new to put your expectations into: You are given the promise of Eternal life in Jesus who is the Life. We with the Children of Israel can pray to the LORD as Psalm 33 teaches us to pray, asking, "[O LORD] Let Your steadfast love, be upon us, even as we hope in You," knowing that the steadfast love of God is Christ Jesus and His righteousness for us. Yes, "The counsel of the LORD [does stand] forever, [and] the plans of His heart [are] to all generations." The plan fulfilled in Christ Jesus, who is the centre of History, the LORD of Creation, the one who saves, the one who saves you, even when you have no joy, when your melody is out of tune, when your song feels old, when there is no shout in your throat, when you look around and only see a world that hates the LORD and your cynical self tempts you to distrust the promise ... even then, even in the fear of death and poverty and lack, there is forgiveness for you in Christ Jesus. Forgiveness that exceeds all expectations. Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the Holy Trinity, looks upon you, sees you and sustains you and all creation, saves you from sin, death and the devil and this world and it's problems by the blood of Christ Jesus, giving you the unexpected gift of eternal life: He is [your] help and [your] shield and while He frustrates others for you He is nothing but encouragement. 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.
 Genesis 1:3
 Luke 1:28-33
 Luke 2:34
 Matthew 10:34
 Matthew 2:3
 Luke 23:38
 Acts 2:29
 John 18:14
 Romans 6:4
 Psalm 10
 John 16:33