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*IN NOMINE JESU* Sermon, Pastor Joe Asher- Kaiserslautern Ev. Lutheran Church, Germany- Lutheran Church- Missouri Synod, Office of International Mission- Pentecost 4, June 28th, 2020.
Not Peace, but a Sword
34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 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. 36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37 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. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
40 “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. 41 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. 42 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.”
Grace, mercy, and peace be unto you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.
Today’s sermon focus again goes to our Matthew 10 Gospel reading where our Lord Jesus has some astonishing things to say about what it means to follow Him as a Christian disciple. In the opening lines of our text, we almost have to recoil from our Lord’s words with the conviction that this doesn’t sound like Christ at all. Verse 34-
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
And we say, “Wait a minute! Every Christmas we read the Isaiah 9:6 prophecy pointing to the coming Savior which powerfully tells us-
6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
And then our Lord told His followers in John 16:33-
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
And Christ further comforted His disciples, and us, when He taught us in John 14:27-
27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
Our Savior gives us peace as we struggle in our fallen world. And more importantly, Jesus provides all believers peace with God since His death on the cross and Easter resurrection has given us decisive confidence that our sins are forgiven and we are restored to an unobstructed and peace-filled life with God.
Jesus’ life and mission was completely about restoring peace between God and all humanity. So what can our Lord mean when he says in verse 34-
Christ goes on to explain his meaning in the next three verses, 35 through 37-
Here we can begin to understand Jesus’ teaching. In a fallen and rebellious world where so many follow sin and self rather than God, Christ and the Gospel become a separating force. As the Savior and the Son of God, Jesus comes into our world as the supreme love and the supreme joy and the supreme value and authority of the universe. Nothing in our lives is more important than Christ. And as the First Commandment directs, our living God declares- Exodus 20:3
You shall have no other gods before Me.
And since our Lord righteously claims exclusive authority, all must follow Him or sinfully follow something else. It is in this way that Christ brings a sword and divides the whole world. For Jesus is, and must be:
- First in every family
- First in every business
- First in every school
- First in every church
- First in every political party
- First in every nation
For with the sword of His authority as God the Son and our loving Savior, Christ cuts every allegiance which would compete with Him for the supreme place in our hearts.
In our lives today, we pledge allegiance to a lot of things as we establish loyalties and affiliations and relationships common to our world. We pledge our love to our spouse
For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death parts us.
For Americans, we pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. And our Canadian and British members also have a national oath of allegiance to their respective countries, which also includes
devotion to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Our Indian students also swear loyalty to their country and the Constitution of India.
A further level of commitment is seen in the US military Oath of Enlistment, which most here are familiar with. This is a sworn promise and it requires our soldiers, airmen, sailors and Marines to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic. And that oath is concluded with the solemn words, “so help me God.”
But Jesus says in Matthew 10 that our first allegiance is to Him, for there are to be no gods before the Lord.
A good way to explain this is to say that there may come a time in a military career or in a corporate structure where a Christian has to tell the chain of command or boss-
I’m sorry, but I can’t follow that order because I am a Christian.
Or, you might have to say-
I intend to do this because I am a Christian.
Every true follower of Jesus recognizes that governments, consitutions, chains of command, families, corporations and businesses can wander from what is righteous, and right and true, and violate God’s Word and will. In this way, human institutions and allegiances can take any Christian down the road into sin. So, our allegiance to God and His declared truth in His Word must supercede all humanly directed institutions. For again, Christ is our Savior, and we are to have no gods before our Lord.
Thirty years ago, when I was a young pastor, I had a member in my congregation named John Schulte. He was a veteran of WW2, and in 1944 he was a radio operator on a B-24 Liberator bomber based in England. He told me how his aircraft had sustained anti-aircraft damage near Paris, and that his pilot had banked over the great city for a return home and then made the second mistake of dropping his bombs on a city suburb.
At this time, all military aircraft were to avoid Paris, and under no circumstances was anyone to drop ordinance on the French capitol.
So as the bomber limped home over the English channel, the pilot got on the intercom to tell his crew the story they would all tell to debriefing. The problem was that “the story” was a lie, because no one wanted to get into trouble over what happened.
But upon landing, young John Schulte approached his pilot, and as a Christian he said-
Sir, I’m going to tell the truth to debriefing, because I don’t want to wonder about what I said the first time.
Schulte’s example shows that there are times in life when Christians have to buck the chain of command, or the corporate office, or the school administration, or the family, or whomever, in order to do what God wants. For in this fallen world, Jesus is a separating force. In love and faith in our Savior, we follow Christ. And when the world takes an unrighteous course and in sin and rebellion wants to go its own way, Christians determine to follow Jesus… no matter what. For to Jesus, we give our first
And that takes us to verse 38 in today’s Gospel reading. Jesus said-
And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.
The whole point of this Gospel reading is that Jesus is and must be our life’s focus. And “taking up one’s cross” means being willing to die in order to follow Jesus. This is called “dying to self.” It’s a call to absolute devotion to Jesus Christ as Lord of your life.
Following Jesus is easy when life is going well and without conflict, but our true commitment to our Lord is revealed during trials and tragedy and opposition and loss.
Commitment to Christ means taking up your cross daily, giving up your hopes, dreams, possessions, even your very life if need be for the cause of Christ. Only if you willingly take up your cross may you be called His disciple.
But the reward is worth the price. Jesus followed His call to “Take up your cross and follow Me” with the promise of the gift of life in Himself. You can see this in today’s reading- verse 39-
Our Lord Jesus is the true treasure of our lives Who gives life, and joy, and peace, and salvation. Out of love for us, the Savior died on the cross for our sins, and then on Easter rose to life to guarantee our salvation. He is the Lord Who deserves our first allegiance.
In Jesus’ name.
+Sola Deo Gloria+
KELC PRAYERS OF THE CONGREGATION- Pentecost 4- 6/28/20
Gracious heavenly Father, we rejoice in the truth that Jesus is our loving Savior and Lord. Give us Your Holy Spirit so that in His power… our allegiance to Christ will remain strong. Make us courageous Christians who are able to face this fallen world, and give us grace to always follow Jesus, no matter what.
Lord in Your mercy…………………. Hear our prayer.
Dearest Jesus, as the health emergency continues, give help to those who suffer illness. Bless their caretakers with wisdom and skill. And give your people the strength to help all in need.
Lord in Your mercy…………………. Hear our prayer.
Blessed Holy Spirit, as we face all the uncertainty of this world, grant to us peace in Christ so that we do not worry about our lives, but instead look to You for strength to respond to each day.
Lord in Your mercy……………………. Hear our prayer.
Finally, Heavenly Father, in our families and among our friends and co-workers there are many who are in need of Your care. For all who are sick, hospitalized, unemployed, lonely, away on duty assignments, and for all other needs, we name our loved ones in our hearts before you now………………………….
Lord in Your mercy/ hear our prayer.
Into Your hands, O Lord, we commend all for whom we pray, trusting in Your mercy through Your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.