More / Book of the Month / The annoying Teaching / Pr. Lucas Andre Albrecht / Sunday April 25th 2021 / 4th Sunday of Easter / Mount Olive Lutheran Church

The annoying Teaching / Pr. Lucas Andre Albrecht / Sunday April 25th 2021 / 4th Sunday of Easter / Mount Olive Lutheran Church




The annoying Teaching / Pr. Lucas Andre Albrecht / Sunday April 25th 2021 / 4th Sunday of Easter / Mount Olive Lutheran Church

 

Text: Acts 4.1-12; John 10:11-16; 1 John 3; Psalm 23
Theme: “The annoying teaching”

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Intr – What type of things usually annoy you? Hypocrisy, Lies? A bad hair day, an ingrown nail; a Rider’s loss at home?

        There may be some more serious or less serious than these, but what we know for sure is that there are enough annoying things in the world these days. Now would you say you are annoyed by learning at school? Would you say that hearing the truth annoys you? And what about teaching people the things they need to know in their hearts, would that annoy us?

        The answer to these questions seems to be easy and straight forward, but not so much. There are times when teaching the truth, even when you have a physical proof of it in front of people’s eyes, might annoy some people greatly.

 

Acts 4 – Annoyed by the teaching and the resurrection

        This is what we see in Acts 4. The disciples healed a lame man. And they were teaching the people about Jesus and his resurrection. How could that be annoying, teaching about Jesus love and salvation for all? Yet it was. They are brought to the presence of the leaders of the people to be inquired and possibly punished because of that.

        The text says that the Sadducees were diaponoumenoi,(“to toil through, to be worn out or annoyed”). You would use this verb in Greek if you wanted to say: “I am greatly troubled”. The Sadducees  should be preoccupied, because one of their main teachings was that there is no resurrection. This is the life we have to live, the soul dies with the body, and that’s it. Then someone comes preaching the resurrection in connection with Jesus – who said he was God and one with the Father -  inside their sacred place, the temple?… That was too much for them. They were greatly annoyed. They had too much power and influence in their religious world to allow it to be shaken by two uneducated men.

        What annoys them even more is that they can say whatever they want, but they can’t deny the fact that the man who everybody knew as a lame man was now healed by those “too rude” men. The power of Yahweh acting through them, giving consistence to their message, should have them greatly annoyed for sure.

        The message of the Cross and the resurrection can surely be annoying. We saw that in Acts. We can see also in other lessons for today.

John 10, for example.  Could the sweet Good Shepherd passage be annoying?

Yes, it can. First thing we should notice is that John 10 is enshrined between chapter 9, where we see the Jews questioning Jesus’ authority, and John 10.31, where they pickup stones to throw at Him. This by itself speaks volumes already. Now:

Good Shepherd – It implies all other shepherd of souls out there outside of the Bible and Christ’s teachings are not Good. It goes also with the other annoying saying “One flock, one shepherd”. That is extremely annoying to cultural ears if they want to listen only about how inclusive faith is, being the object in which that faith is placed of no importance.

        By the way, just by the fact that Jesus says that he is a Shepherd and a GOOD one would already annoy many of his listeners. “In Jesus’ day, shepherds were anything but admired or looked up to. They lived as nomads, grazing their sheep on other people’s land. They didn’t observe the Jewish food laws (Kosher), they didn’t practice ritual cleansing, and they certainly didn’t attend synagogue on the Sabbath.“[1] Shepherds were seen as uneducated people who had a filthy job. Now the guy who says He is one with Yahweh says also he is a Shepherd? And a Good one? Extremely annoying!

Lay down my life that I may take it up again – would those religious leaders be willing to lay down their lives for the sheep? Or were they acting just like the hired hand? This is precisely the teaching that was annoying the rulers of the people: Jesus, His death and resurrection as the Promised Messiah.

How many shepherds would give their life for the sheep? Not many. Actually, I think only one would. Shepherds look after sheep, but I don’t think they give their life for them, let alone for only one, like in the parable of the lost sheep.[2] Jesus shows the main reason we call him Good Shepherd. This is not because He gives us a house, or money, or family, or health. The main reason is because HE LAID DOWN HIS LIFE FOR US when we were still sinners, like no one would or will do; only Him.[3]

        This is the teaching that still annoys in our time. Jesus is the exclusive way, the only one that knows the Father, is one with the Father, and received the charge from Him to do that. This faith can’t just be found in nature, or introspection, or good works, or changing the world…Only in Him. That’s quite annoying for our old self.

Now, on to 1 John 3.
“Pastor, will you tell me that a text about Love would be annoying too?” Yes, unfortunately it can be. Because the concept of love around us is now in many ways divorced of what the Bible teaches about it.

God is Love. Biblical Definition of Love: love is Triune, Love is The Creator, the Redeemer, the Sanctifier. Love is Law and Love is Gospel. Law punishes sin, and forgives the sinner in Christ. Love is in the 10 Commandments, in the Creed, Lord’s Prayer, Forgiveness of Sins, Baptism, Holy Communion. Love is acting in faith to love your neighbor as you are connected to Love – God.

        Does that sound like the concept of Love we see around? I don’t think so. That’s why I read online the other the following post, of a person commenting on why churches should remain closed at this time: “Going to Church should never be removed from the list or high risk contagion, if not for the virus, then because of the alienation it produces”. Very Sad, but that’s the way sometimes the World looks at the Church.

I would say, however, that in one thing this tweet would be right: when you know God’s love, when you know Love from God, you start to be alienated from the world, in the sense that your life is completely different from that. You don’t think the way the World thinks anymore, but your mind and heart are set in Christ.

Psalm 23 – “
come on, pastor. Now you will tell me that even beloved Psalm 23, top #1 of 9 out of 10 people in the world, can be annoying?”  Sorry, but that is true. Just a couple of examples:

I shall not want – that can be extremely annoying. Wanting is what propels life. Whereas there’s a positive side to it, it is extremely negative when it comes to greed, in terms of material needs. Also when it comes spiritual terms – if what we want is to learn the next big thing that will bring fulfillment to our souls and prosperity to our lives. Knowing that you have to make a hard stop at “The Lord is my shepherd” and stop adding things to it, is extremely annoying to our old self and its thirst for self righteousness.

Valley of the shadow of death – Talking about death has become extremely annoying, or forbidden even. Isn’t it that we even prefer to say “passed away” or “so and so became a star in heaven’ instead of saying “he died”? Now I’m not saying that “pass away” is wrong (while “became a star in heaven” is), we are allowed to use euphemisms when we are facing hard times. But that points to the fact that death is extremely annoying, a thorn on our side and even mentioning it may leave us greatly troubled, especially if you want to make the point that death is a consequence of sin, with which we are all born.  Perhaps because we are supposed to say that “everybody is born good, society corrupts them;” and “death is just a passage to a better place for all.” That’s not the case. Death is annoying and will come to all of us. That’s why we celebrate the good news of Easter – Christ has conquered death and has given us life through faith.

A table before my enemies – have you ever thought what that means? Trigger alert: that may annoy you. Outside of Christian faith are the enemies of it. “Whoever is not for me is against me.”[4] As Jesus said, we must pray for them, witness His love and treat them with Christian love. But how annoying it becomes to you to think that people you know but are not inside Christian faith, are enemies of the Gospel?

That’s can be greatly troubling when we think, for example, of all the good and nice people we know in daily life who are not in Christ. To think that, because they are not in Christ, they are not heirs of life everlasting can be extremely annoying to our theological perception. We might want to flex it a little bit to bring them in, especially if is a loved one. But Jesus “annoys” us: I am the Good Shepherd. I am the way. Outside this Way, there is no way.

         Sorry, I know, I’m annoying you today. I’m being picky as I decided to bring a “bring me down” message today instead of an uplifting, inspirational text that would make us have a better life, right?

        But hold on. It is there. The inspirational, motivational, strengthenintional message we need for our day, week, so we know that our life has meaning and joy, is there. The thing is;

_If you look with the eyes of the Leaders, and the ones who wanted to stone Jesus after the Good Shepherd statement – that is, without the saving faith that holds on to His death and resurrection – there will be lots of annoyance. You will only hear the Law. And, I guarantee you my friend, the Law is a hammer that will certainly do way more than just annoy you.

_If you are one of the sheep that are in His hands, you will see blessings, comfort strength all around. You will still be annoyed by the Law, because of your sins, but your heart will rest secure in the Gospel of the Good Shepherd, who as laid down His life for you and has recovered it on the third day.

        Now as Church, we exist because of The Good Shepherd; he gathers His sheep. We are gathered to learn this “annoying” truths that save and comfort our hearts. Not only to learn though, but also to share. As Jesus loves His sheep and lays down His life for them, we are called also to show love for the sheep. John mentioned in the epistle today: God’s commandment is to believe in Christ and to love each other.

Would that be an easy task? Absolutely. It is really hard. I saw this phrase the other day: “Jesus loves you only because he doesn’t have live with you.” That rings somehow true when we realize we human beings are easy to like from a distance, but hard to like from up-close. We all can be annoying. We are sinners who need Him –who by the way, knows us well, lives with us and continues to love us. We need to be fortified by Him as we aim to keep acting in love toward one another, and to keep communicating His love to the sheep who are not from this fold, and that are yet to hear the Gospel of Hope. Because to us there’s no doubt whatsoever who is the Messiah, the King, the Leader – and also the Lamb, the Good Shepherd of our Souls: Jesus, the Christ.

        Christ Crucified, Christ resurrected, Christ with us in our daily life. This is the message we believe, and we share. Jesus sends his disciples as he was sent. And they went. And they were interrogated. And they were let go because the evidence was on their side. We are sent with the evidence of God’s love – Word and Sacrament – to annoy the world with the Law, for sure, but especially to refresh, comfort and light hope in many hearts with the Gospel of the Good Shepherd. The one who brings these not annoying but special words:

_He knows His sheep;
_He laid down His life for them;
_He makes us not want anything;
_He Is Love;
_He strengthens us by the power of the Holy Spirit;
_He walks with us even in the valley of the shadow of death;
_He makes our cup overflow;
_He will make us dwell in the House of the Lord forever.

Cc - As I mentioned earlier, The Good Shepherd section is followed by Jews picking up stones to throw at Jesus. That is, while the words of chapter 10 are really comforting, they are also strong, unveiling a very important point about Jesus’ ministry and work. Also, it is worth taking notice here of something that is a constant in our lives: In the midst of turmoil, and difficult times, we always have a comforting word from the mouth of our Saviour straight to our hearts. The Good Shepherd never leaves us alone. For all the times we see the world is feeling annoyed or greatly troubled by our proclamation of the Resurrected Christ, let’s take heart. The Good Shepherd is there right by our side. He leads us, he refreshes us. He restores our soul and strengthens our hearts.  Whenever we feel greatly troubled, He makes us know we are greatly blessed.

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[1]  “Not just a shepherd but a good shepherd” Rev. Paulo Brum. Sermon for April 25th, 2021.
[2] Luke 15
[3] If that poses a life threatening situation to a regular shepherd, he will possibly be content with his 99.  The Good Shepherd though lays down his life for the sheep. Jesus Repeats 2 times He is the GS and nothing less than 5 times He lays down His life. He was showing the Pharisees and Jewish leaders why He is indeed the Good Shepherd, the promised Messiah, the Saviour.
[4] Luke 11:23

 


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