The Lutheran Reformation – Pr. Anderson sermon
St. Matthew 11:12-15 “The Message that You Hear Today is for You”
October 22, 2023 | Christ Lutheran Church
In Nomine Iesu
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When something great happens, the announcement is brought to you in the form of a message. The message could come with lots of joy, or maybe the message is not received well at all. When Hans Luder receives the message that his son Martin is going to throw away his law career and dedicate his life to the church, he was not all that happy. So comes a great message that was not well received originally. What would you think when you hear that your son is almost struck by lightning and in a plea for his life, he prays to St. Anne that he will become a monk? Martin was determined to be a vigorous friar. He worked very hard with lots of fasting, nights without sleep, and nothing used for covers. As he worked hard to be a great friar of the Augustinian order, he could only find one message from God. All the hard work, all the way that he chastised himself, when it came to his sins, he could never do enough.
Thankfully this isn’t the end of the story. This wasn’t the end of this German friar. The message that he had received, this message of the law, was misused. It drove Martin to work harder and harder to no avail. As those states of depression can hit you hard, as they hit Martin hard, Martin Luther’s life is evidence to how God’s Word gives you the free gift of faith. In his studying of Scripture, he finally found the hope he needed. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith” (Romans 1:16-17). The Gospel message is one of joy, might, and change. It is a message from the beginning of time and today as we celebrate this glorious message written for you to hear, please rise as we sing stanza 3 of Hymn # 493. Before Thee, God, who Knowest All.
O Jesus, let Thy precious blood
Be to my soul a cleansing flood.
Turn not, O Lord, Thy guest away,
But grant that justified I may Go to my house with peace from Thee:
O God, be merciful to me!
The sermon text for today is taken from the 11th chapter of the Gospel according to St. Matthew. We read the verses once more in Jesus’ name:
[Jesus said:] “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come.
“He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
We Pray: Thanks be to You, our Father, for all the mercy and truth that You have shown to us these many years. Grant Your Word to dwell with us continually, defend Your Church against her enemies, keep us in Your grace, and preserve for us temporal and eternal peace through Your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen. (Psalm 46 Prayer, Reading the Psalms with Luther)
As the kingdom of God advances, there are many times that we can doubt how the Word of God can move. Before our text John’s disciples have come to Jesus. They asked Jesus, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” (Matthew 11:3) This question is coming directly from John. Why would John ask this question when he is the one who leads the way? We see how history has waited a long time for the coming of the Christ. When God promised Adam and Eve that He would send them a Savior, the promise of Genesis 3:15 was the only source of comfort until Abraham. Thousands of years and one little promise. It felt like the longer it went, would the Savior even come? From Abraham’s descendants, God chose the people of Israel. Little by little they were told more about who this Christ would be. God’s message kept going, even as it looked like people weren’t believing in His promise. The prophets would preach about the coming One as the nation of Israel would become a remnant.
The last prophet Malachi prophesied that Elijah would come again. Four hundred years from that prophecy and God would keep His promise. How did people react when God kept His promise? They would hear the message, this message of long ago that was coming to fulfillment, and just like the days of the prophets, they would attack it. John would suffer violence. Jesus is telling John’s disciples this in our text because John is in prison. When the Gospel is proclaimed, there are those who look to silence it. John was thrown into prison and throughout Jesus’ ministry the authorities looked for ways to stop Him.
As the authorities in Jesus’ day were looking to stop the message of the Gospel, God’s Word is attacked now, and it isn’t anything new. Why it is so hard for people to love the message? The Gospel is so nice because it is a gift. It is a message that we should want to hear. We struggle with the message because to hear the Gospel, we must hear that we have failed. We must hear the message of the Law. No one wants to hear that they did wrong. Like Adam and Eve, who pointed their fingers at others, we can point our fingers. We don’t want to be blamed or to be in trouble. In Scripture we see how people would not obey God’s law, or God’s law was changed so that it could look as though it was being followed.
As time continues to move, the message continues to move with it. Once again, a period of time came where it looks as though God forgot about His Word. The message had been changed during the time of Luther. While he was trying to take on his sins which caused his despair, the Church was selling the kingdom. As Luther kept searching inward for salvation, he realized he was only looking at himself. This is the mentality that we can have when we try to escape the Law. There is only one way we can look. When problems happen, we point fingers, we blame others, and we even blame God because we want to look out for ourselves. It feels better to hear words that say, “I can do it” instead of hearing that “I am a failure.” It is easy to feel like Luther, never good enough.
The enemies that went against Luther and those who are against what John and Jesus were preaching did not carry the spotlight. Scriptures records, “And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins” (Mark 1:5). The message of God continued to move on. It moved past the religious leaders who attempted to change the law as John brought the message of hope directly to the people. He started preparing the way. He told them the true Word; when the people heard the law, they confessed their sins. And as he told the crowds One was coming after him; he finally bridges the gap when he points out Jesus on the riverbank. Just like Jesus says in our text, For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” The Elijah prepared the way for the coming of the kingdom of God and Jesus comes as king. God’s promise is fulfilled in His Son, who is the saving message for all to hear.
The message of the Gospel, the love of God, His great promise for all mankind is brought to fulfillment in His One and only Son. The world can’t stop the spread of the Gospel. It has tried to stop its spread. The kingdom of God moves on forcefully. As John was Elijah pointing to the Christ, Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. As the world tried to stop the spread of the message, John and Jesus forced through the violence. When it looked like the violence would win, the message prevailed. Jesus destroys the violence with His death on the cross. He takes away the sins of the world with His blood. As the world tries to get you to think about yourself and the devil tries to tell you that you won’t be good enough, Jesus tells you that He is good enough for you. He does all things well and He is your way of salvation. His message is for you.
The powers that be went after Martin Luther. They wanted him to change his mind. Martin Luther realized that he was a failure as the law told him, but his life is restored in Christ. He realized that faith is a gift, given to you by God. It was through this realization; it was from the inerrant Word of God that Martin Luther taught the Word to the masses. The Word of God moved with such force, the Bible was translated into the spoken language of the people and Luther wrote the small and large catechism, the doctrine of Scripture that is still taught today. The world can try, but it is no match to the power of the Gospel, God’s Word will prevail.
Here at Christ Lutheran, we are descendants of the pure preaching and teaching of the Gospel. We are hearing and being taught that same message. The message that the Old Testament people were waiting for. The message that John proclaimed on the riverbank with Jesus bringing it to fulfillment and Luther reviving it for the world. Luther didn’t discover anything new. He discovered the truth, the truth that Jesus says, “will set you free” (John 8:32). This message is for you.
Five hundred and six years ago, Martin Luther turned the world upside down. It wasn’t because of a new teaching. It was because Luther taught the Word of God in its truth and purity. He brought saved by faith alone to the forefront. And that is
what we are saved by. The same message that has been proclaimed since the fall. It has been proclaimed until now, and it will be proclaimed until Christ comes again. The evil of the world is beaten and the message of the Gospel goes on. Luther preached to his members the same message that you hear today, “Therefore, we should hold firmly to our Saviour and sacred Head, Jesus Christ, who for our sins was crucified and died. To this end may the gracious God help us. Amen” (The Complete Sermons of Martin Luther, Volume 5, Good Friday, 1533).
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, forevermore. Amen.
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