“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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“The Real Jesus Is All You Really Need” (John 1:1-18; Ephesians 1:3-14)

Midweek Lenten Vespers
Wednesday, March 21, 2018

“The Real Jesus Is All You Really Need” (John 1:1-18; Ephesians 1:3-14)

In Sunday morning Bible class, we’re doing a study based on the book, “Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up? 12 False Christs.” And in these midweek Lenten services, we’ve been picking up on themes from the book, as well. “Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up? 12 False Christs.” The premise of the book is that in our society people come up with false christs to fit their own presuppositions and desires. The real Jesus does not fit their idea of what he should be like, so they redefine him, stripping away the parts they don’t like, and adding to him things they do like. And so they come up with a false christ who is different from the real Jesus we meet in the Bible.

For example, so far in the book we’ve met Jillian, the ethical hedonist, who redefines Jesus to be merely a mascot, who will cheer her on in her pursuit of pleasure. We’ve met Tamar, the religious pluralist, who reduces Jesus to just one option among many in the smorgasbord of world religions. We’ve met Mr. Darby, the possible atheist, who pays lip-service to Jesus as a good teacher but nothing more than that. And this past Sunday we met Wendy, the life coach, who sees Jesus as a sort of therapist who will help you have a happier life and who, if you yield your life to him, will move you up from being an ordinary, carnal Christian, up to being a first-class, super-spiritual Christian. That’s so far, and in the weeks to come, we’ll meet other people who redefine Jesus into a false christ of their own making.

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Published in: on March 21, 2018 at 7:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Gospel on a Pole” (John 3:14-21)

Fourth Sunday in Lent
March 11, 2018

“The Gospel on a Pole” (John 3:14-21)

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” That, of course, is John 3:16, a verse you all know. Because it sums up the good news of Christ so succinctly, John 3:16 is often called “the gospel in a nutshell.” But today, instead of the nutshell, this morning we’re going to be looking at the verses right before it, what I call, “The Gospel on a Pole.”

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Published in: on March 10, 2018 at 4:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“One Option or the Only Way?” (John 14:1-6)

Midweek Lenten Vespers
Wednesday, March 7, 2018

“One Option or the Only Way?” (John 14:1-6)

We live in an age of religious pluralism. Religious pluralism is the belief that there are a plurality of religions, many religions, that can work. No one religion has a corner on the truth. All religions are equally valid. What really matters is you being a good person, however that is defined. So whatever religion you choose, that is your choice, and that’s fine for you. Your religion is just one option among many equally valid options. All roads lead to heaven.

And going along with that idea, then, is this: You can’t tell me that my religion is wrong. You cannot say that one religion is right and all the rest are wrong. There can be no such thing as exclusive truth claims for any one religion. No, that would be intolerant, and that’s the worst thing you can be.

So this religious pluralism raises the question about Christianity: Is Jesus just one option among many? Or is he, instead, the only way to God, the only way to eternal salvation? To put it more briefly: Is Jesus just “One Option or the Only Way?”

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Published in: on March 7, 2018 at 10:10 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Philip and Nathanael: A Story of Witnessing” (John 1:43-51)

Second Sunday after the Epiphany
January 14, 2018

“Philip and Nathanael: A Story of Witnessing” (John 1:43-51)

The Holy Gospel for today, from John 1, takes place very early in Jesus’ ministry, when he was first gathering his disciples. It’s the story of Philip and Nathanael, how they came to be disciples and follow our Lord. It’s the story of “Philip and Nathanael: A Story of Witnessing.” Now today let their story become your story also.

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Published in: on January 13, 2018 at 9:43 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“And the Word Became Flesh” (John 1:1-18)

The Nativity of Our Lord: Christmas Day
Monday, December 25, 2017

“And the Word Became Flesh” (John 1:1-18)

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, Christmas marks a dividing line between truth and error. The reality of what happened at Christmas–namely, that the Word became flesh–that reality is so shocking, so utterly unreasonable and offensive, that it drives people crazy. It causes them to deny the truth and to promote error in its place. Most all the classic heresies that have been around for 2,000 years now, in various forms, have this in common: They cannot handle the truth of Christmas. They cannot stand the idea that the Word, the eternal Son of God, had to become flesh, with all the implications that flow out of that.

Now we like to think of Christmas as kinda soft and fluffy and inoffensive. Cute and cuddly. But to reduce Christmas to that–well, nothing could be further from the truth. Christmas is not “cute.” Rather, it is raw reality that deals with the root problem of humanity. It is earthy, not fluffy. It is flesh-and-blood stuff that brings God to us up-close and personal. And that is why ultimately it is so shocking and controversial. But to us who know the truth of Christmas, its “fleshiness” is absolutely crucial. Your very salvation depends on it! And so the church must always be vigilant about confessing this truth: “And the Word Became Flesh.”

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Published in: on December 25, 2017 at 12:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“From Tabernacles to Pentecost” (John 7:37-39)

“From Tabernacles to Pentecost” (John 7:37-39)

Today is the Feast of Pentecost, a major festival in the Christian church year. Today we celebrate the giving of the Holy Spirit, whom our ascended Lord Jesus Christ poured out on his church, as we read about in the second chapter of Acts. That was the beginning of the worldwide spread of the gospel, and you and I are here today as Christians because of what began on that first Pentecost.

Actually, though, that was not the first Pentecost. For the Christian Feast of Pentecost has its roots in the Jewish Feast of Pentecost. That’s why all those people were there in Jerusalem in the first place. They had come to observe the Jewish feast.

You see, there were three main festivals in the Jewish year, in the Hebrew calendar, when all pious Jews from all over would travel to Jerusalem and go to the temple to fulfill their religious duty. They were these three: the Feast of Passover, in the early spring; the Feast of Weeks, also called Pentecost, which occurred seven weeks, or fifty days, later in the spring; and then in the fall, the Feast of Tabernacles or Booths. These three are called the pilgrimage festivals, because they called for Jews to make that pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

Now at this point you’re probably saying, “Who cares? That stuff’s ancient history, and besides which, I’m not even Jewish! What does all that have to do with me?” Well, the answer is, a lot! As we’re about to find out, when you see how these Old Testament feasts are fulfilled in Christ. When you see how the Feast of Tabernacles and the Feast of Passover come to fruition now in the Feast of Pentecost, then you will rejoice in the good gifts that God gives.

Our text today is the Holy Gospel from John 7. It consists of words that Jesus spoke at the Feast of Tabernacles. So you might be wondering why this is selected as a text for Pentecost. Well, the reason is that in this text Jesus is predicting what will happen on the Feast of Pentecost. So this morning we’re going to go on a pilgrimage “From Tabernacles to Pentecost,” and we may make a stop at Passover on the way.

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Published in: on June 3, 2017 at 11:24 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Our Anxieties and God’s Care” (1 Peter 4:12-19; 5:6-11; John 17:1-11)

Seventh Sunday of Easter
May 28, 2017

“Our Anxieties and God’s Care” (1 Peter 4:12-19; 5:6-11; John 17:1-11)

What are your anxieties? What are you worried about? Anxiety is really another way to say worry. They pretty much mean the same thing. To be anxious, to be worried, means that something is weighing on your mind that you’re thinking about, almost obsessing about. You’re worried about what might happen in the future. It’s the negative prospect of what might happen that keep hanging around in your head. That’s anxiety, that’s worry.

So what are your anxieties? We all have them. From time to time, some negative possibility causes us to worry. Today we’ll look at some anxieties that are common among men, and, I dare say, even common among Christians. You see, it’s when our trust in God’s care is weak or wavering–that’s when we begin to worry. So that leads us to our theme for this morning: “Our Anxieties and God’s Care.”

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Published in: on May 27, 2017 at 11:29 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“A Living, Loving Family” (John 14:15-21)

Sixth Sunday of Easter
May 21, 2017

“A Living, Loving Family” (John 14:15-21)

Christ establishes his church to be “A Living, Loving Family.” And you are a part of it. A living, loving family. Now how do you hear that? Do you hear it as heavy demand, something we cannot possibly do? Or do you hear it as gift, something that Christ has graciously made us part of? Does Christ’s call for us to be a living, loving family–do you hear this as burden or gift? As pressure or joy? And besides how we hear it, there is also the question of how we do it. How do we do it? How do we manage to live together as a living, loving family? These are the questions we will explore now this morning.

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Published in: on May 20, 2017 at 9:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
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