“Behold the Man: A God Who Loves” (John 13:1-17, 31b-35)

Holy (Maundy) Thursday
April 18, 2019

“Behold the Man: A God Who Loves” (John 13:1-17, 31b-35)

If Jesus’ incarnation teaches us anything about love, it’s that love is not the stuff of mere sentimentality. Love is more than warm fuzzy feelings. On the night when he was betrayed, the one who had all the power of God, who, as the song goes, “has the whole world in his hands,” used his hands to pick up a bowl of water, wrap himself in a towel, and scrub the dirt from the feet of his disciples. And then he gives them–and us–a new commandment: Love like this. Love with hands. Love with actions. Love by dying. As I have loved you.

“Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.”

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Published in: on April 18, 2019 at 12:04 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Blessed Is He Who Comes in the Name of the Lord!” (Matthew 21:1-9)

Palm Sunday
April 14, 2019

“Blessed Is He Who Comes in the Name of the Lord!” (Matthew 21:1-9)

Here comes Jesus, riding into town. Like a boss. Well, maybe not like a boss. More like a servant, sitting on a donkey, a beast of burden, rather than on a war horse. Yet as he enters Jerusalem, Jesus is greeted like a king. Which he is, only not the kind you would expect. There are a lot of people pouring into Jerusalem at this time. There’s a big holiday coming up, Passover, and all the Jews are supposed to go to Jerusalem and to the temple for the occasion. So lots of crowds on hand to greet Jesus as he enters. They had heard of this man Jesus. Many of them had seen his miracles and heard his teaching back in Galilee. Jesus had made a big impression on them. Now these pilgrims are coming to Jerusalem for the week of the Passover, and there’s a buzz running through the crowd: “Could this Jesus–could he be the one sent by God as the promised Messiah? We’ve never seen anyone do the works this man does! We’ve never heard such wisdom like this man speaks!” The excitement, the electricity, is palpable.

The crowds were looking for a new king, one who would throw off the shackles of Rome and make Israel great again. They were hoping for a new David to restore the glory of the nation. And indeed, the Lord had promised that one day he would send a son of David, one of David’s descendants, to be that king who would usher in the messianic age of blessing and glory. Could this be the one?

So the crowds start cheering. They’re welcoming Jesus in a grand way. People are throwing their cloaks before him. They’re strewing palm branches before him, a symbol of victory, fit for a conquering king. And the people are shouting: “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”

Let’s talk about this shout of acclamation with which the people are greeting Jesus, as he enters the holy city. And let’s find out how it applies to us here today, for Jesus is coming into our midst also. And so our theme: “Blessed Is He Who Comes in the Name of the Lord!”

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Published in: on April 13, 2019 at 11:46 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“It Is Finished” (John 19:17-30)

Good Friday
March 30, 2018

“It Is Finished” (John 19:17-30)

“Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), ‘I thirst.’ A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, ‘It is finished,’ and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” This is our text.

“It is finished”: one of the last words of Jesus on the cross. But just what kind of a statement was it, this “It is finished”? What is it that is “finished”? What was Jesus talking about? How did he say, “It is finished”? What did he mean by that? Was it a statement of defeat and resignation? A statement of final relief? And whatever it was that was finished, and however Jesus may have been saying it, what in the world does it have to do with us? As we’ll see now, the answers to these questions are all wrapped up in this one little word: “It Is Finished.”

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Published in: on March 30, 2018 at 1:50 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Love Received, Love to Give” (John 13:1-17, 31b-35)

Holy Thursday
March 29, 2018

“Love Received, Love to Give” (John 13:1-17, 31b-35)

“Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” Yes, Jesus did that. And he also tells his disciples: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” And so our message tonight is all about love: The love with which Jesus loved us, and then the love he would have us give to one another. “Love Received, Love to Give.”

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Published in: on March 29, 2018 at 12:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Annunciation, Acclamation, Crucifixion” (Luke 1:30-33; Mark 11:1-10; 15:1-39)

Palm Sunday/Sunday of the Passion
March 25, 2018

“Annunciation, Acclamation, Crucifixion” (Luke 1:30-33; Mark 11:1-10; 15:1-39)

Today is a day in the church year that goes by two names, “Palm Sunday” and the “Sunday of the Passion.” This is Palm Sunday, the day when our Lord Jesus Christ rode into Jerusalem, and the crowd spread palm branches before him and acclaimed him as their coming king. But today also serves as the Sunday of the Passion, the first day of Holy Week, looking ahead to Christ’s suffering, which will culminate in his crucifixion on Good Friday. The Scripture readings we have had so far in the service today have brought out both of these emphases: the Processional Gospel for Palm Sunday and the Holy Gospel for the Sunday of the Passion.

But did you know that today happens to go by another name also? It is the Annunciation of Our Lord. This one happens just by coincidence of calendar, since today is March 25. Think about it. What other church festival always happens on the 25th of a month? That’s right, Christmas, which always falls on December 25. And since we celebrate our Lord’s birth on December 25, nine months before that, on March 25, is the day we remember when the angel Gabriel announced to the virgin Mary that she would give birth to the Savior. “Conceived by the Holy Spirit” on March 25, “born of the virgin Mary” on December 25, nine months later.

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“The Suffering, Sacrificing, Saving Servant” (Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12)

Good Friday
April 14, 2017

“The Suffering, Sacrificing, Saving Servant” (Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12)

“Behold, my servant,” says the Lord. Yes, behold him today. Behold the servant of the Lord serving in a most unexpected way: serving by suffering. Today on this Good Friday we behold Jesus Christ, the Lord’s faithful, righteous servant, suffering a death he doesn’t deserve. But because he does, you will receive what you don’t deserve. And that is good news on this Good Friday. So now behold Jesus Christ, “The Suffering, Sacrificing, Saving Servant.”

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Published in: on April 14, 2017 at 10:38 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Catechism in Six Parts: The Sacrament of the Altar”

Holy Thursday
April 13, 2017

“The Catechism in Six Parts: The Sacrament of the Altar”

Tonight we conclude our series on “The Catechism in Six Parts.” So far in the Catechism we’ve looked at the Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, and Confession. That brings us tonight to the Sacrament of the Altar–and fittingly enough, on Holy Thursday, the night in which this sacrament was instituted.

Everything we want to say about the Sacrament tonight we find in the words with which Christ institutes this holy meal. These words: “Take eat; this is my body, which is given for you. This do in remembrance of me.” “Drink of it, all of you; this cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

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“Holy Week: In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb” (Matthew 21:1-11; 27:11-66)

Palm Sunday/Sunday of the Passion
April 9, 2017

“Holy Week: In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb” (Matthew 21:1-11; 27:11-66)

“In like a lion, out like a lamb.” Have you heard that saying before? It refers to the month of March. The idea is that March usually comes in “like a lion”–the weather is harsh and cold–but at the end of the month, March often goes out “like a lamb”: the weather is fair and mild. “In like a lion, out like a lamb”: strong at the beginning of the month, gentle at the end.

That may be true for the month of March, but you can also say it’s true for this week that we’re entering today. “Holy Week: In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb.” You see, that’s how it went for our Lord Jesus Christ and his “march” in and out of the city of Jerusalem. Christ came into the city like a lion–at least in the minds of many–but he went out, he was marched out, like a lamb, a lamb led to the slaughter. What does that mean for you? That’s what we will find out.

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Published in: on April 8, 2017 at 10:50 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Not One of His Bones Will Be Broken” (John 19:31-37)

Good Friday
March 25, 2016

“Not One of His Bones Will Be Broken” (John 19:31-37)

It’s Friday, and darkness falls over the land. On a cross, a man who has been nailed there is dying a shameful and agonizing death. Yet this is no criminal. This is the most righteous and innocent man who has ever walked the earth. Indeed, this is the very Son of God, come in the flesh. Why is this happening? Why is God allowing this to happen? And couldn’t this man Jesus, who displayed such amazing power on other occasions–couldn’t he have stopped this? So was this one gigantic screw-up by God, this gross miscarriage of justice? Things seem to be going haywire, out of control.

We get a clue as to whether or not things were out of control by some of the details that the gospel writers record. And one of those details is this, recorded in the Gospel of John, that “these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled.” And the Scripture that John says is being fulfilled is this verse that he quotes: “Not One of His Bones Will Be Broken.”

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Published in: on March 25, 2016 at 6:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Love One Another, as I Have Loved You” (John 13:1-17, 31b-35)

Holy Thursday
March 24, 2016

“Love One Another, as I Have Loved You” (John 13:1-17, 31b-35)

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” So said Jesus to his disciples on the night when he was betrayed. “Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” So says Jesus to his disciples here on this night, as we are gathered in his name and he is here with us. Thus our theme for tonight, Jesus’ commandment to his disciples both then and now: “Love One Another, as I Have Loved You.”

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Published in: on March 25, 2016 at 1:06 am  Leave a Comment  
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