February 17 – Sixth Sunday after Epiphany
by Pastor Pete Scheele
Read Luke 6:17 – 26
Grace and peace to you as you let God bring life to you, from God, our Father, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Last week Jesus He was walking away from the boats of Peter, James and John even though they were filled to the brim with fish. Since then Jesus has been busy teaching and healing in the region of Judea, from Tyre and Sidon to Jerusalem and Capernaum. The group of Disciples is growing so large that we hear from the Evangelist Luke, “In these days Jesus went out to the mountain to pray, and all night He continued in prayer to God. 13 And when day came, He called His disciples and chose from them twelve, whom He named apostles: 14 Simon, whom He named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, 15 and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.” (Lk. 6:12-16)
Over the past 6 weeks we have learned that Jesus came into this world to teach the people God’s Word in all its truth and purity. We have learned that Jesus came to fulfill all the promises of God found in the Old Testament and to prove that He is truly the Son of God and the Son of man, the promised Messiah. He did this by performing miracles that only God can do. As we hear about all that Jesus came to do for us, we also come to learn the power of God’s Word and how it can call out demons, sickness, sin and even death. We are reminded of this as the Evangelist Luke tells us, “And Jesus came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of His disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, 18 who came to hear Him and to be healed of their diseases. And those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. 19 And all the crowd sought to touch Him, for power came out from Him and healed them all.” (Lk. 6:17 – 19)
Like Jesus, the Apostles and all of His disciples, we too, as believers in Jesus, are given the ability to proclaim God’s teachings as the only way to life. For through God’s miracles in our life we have become believers and as His children we are sent into this world to proclaim the power of God’s love by our lives and our words as the only way to change this world for the better.
As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are in the crowd that is surrounding Jesus as He settles down on a level place among the hills of Judea and begins to teach us in what many call the sermon on the plains.
“And Jesus lifted up His eyes on His disciples, and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 21 “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. 22 “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! 23 Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets” (Lk. 6:20 – 23)
Today Jesus comes to teach each of us about the blessings of being a Disciple of God. The blessings that we are all given today and every day through God’s Words to bring us to a new life in God’s love, peace and joy. Blessings like: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” I want to see a show of hand of all of you who think that you are poor. (Raise up your hand and look around.) Everyone here should have their hand up because the poor that I’m talking about is your ability to make the payment for all your sins. We come here this morning to receive the assurance that all our debts for all our sins have been paid in full so that we can enter into the kingdom of God with Jesus by our side in this world and for eternity in the heavenly home He has prepared for us by His Life, Death and Resurrection.
You are blessed because you came here today and received the Absolution of God, that all your sins have been forgiven as you were baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and as you were given faith in all that God has done for you. This is a day filled with blessings from God’s Word that bring us the riches of God’s love, peace and joy into our lives.
“Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied. How many of you are hungry now for the Word of God that gives you a new life? (Let’s see your hands up) It is that hunger for God’s Word in our life that brought us here today and it is that hunger that hopefully motivates each of us daily to be in God’s Word so that we will find the satisfaction that only God can give to us.
What a blessing it is to come to God Word and through the waters of our baptism we are washed of all our sins and given the Holy Spirit to be in our lives so that we can come to believe in all that Jesus has done for us by His life, death and resurrection, that gives us a new life in the love of God and then He strengthens and sustains that new life as we partake in the Lord’s Supper, as we are today.
“Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.” How many of you are weeping over your sins? This morning in our confession of our sins we said, “Most merciful God, we confess that we are by nature sinful and unclean. We have sinned against You in thought, word and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone. We have not loved You with our whole heart; we have not love our neighbors as ourselves. We justly deserve Your present and eternal punishment.” That’s weeping over our sinfulness as you really mean those words and that will enable each of us to receive God’s love, grace and mercy which are the eternal blessings that God wants all of us to have so that we can have hope now and for eternity.
Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! How many of you would say that the world, the devil and your sinful nature hates and despises the way you live your life, because you came to church this morning? (Let’s see a show of hands.) The Devil, the world and your sinful nature doesn’t want us to come into this church to receive God’s Words and Sacraments and all the blessings that come along with them. But that should make each of us leap for joy because we are not following the devil and the sinfulness of this world that lead to an eternal death and misery. But instead we have received through God’s Word, Sacrament and love, the blessings of salvation and eternal life in God’s love, peace and joy instead of the eternal death with the devil and all his followers.
Jesus has more to teach us about how the devil and the world wants to lead us to death instead of life with God as He says us, “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. The Devil, the world and our sin full self tells us that we can do it all on our own. We can earn our way to a better place than this world, but that only leads us to death and away from the cross of Jesus Christ. As believers in all that Jesus has done for us we come to the Cross of Jesus where the blood of Jesus pays for all our sins and we are given life that God wants us to have in His love, peace and joy.
“Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry.” The Devil, the world and our old sin full self tells us to be full of ourselves and don’t worry about God or others. That self-centeredness leads us away from the cross of Jesus and to the hunger for life and true love that we can’t find it in this world or in ourselves. As believer in all that Jesus has done for us we come to the Cross of Jesus where God gives us a new life in His love forever.
“Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.” Is this the best that life can offer us? It so, then why not live life to the fullest, no worries just be happy. That’s just what the devil and the world wants you to believe, but there is a place far worse than what we can imagine and that’s where the devil and all his followers are headed for. As we believe in all that God has done for us to give us a better life, we come to the Cross of Jesus where God gives us a New Life in His love and peace now and forever.
“Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.” Who are you trying to impress, the world or the creator of the world, God. Striving to impress the world brings us to death in the end forever. Yet if we want to impress God, we need to look to the Cross of Jesus where God gives us a New Life in His Love, peace and Joy now and forever. Amen.
Hopefully we all want the blessings of God to be in each of our lives as we let God give us His Word, Sacraments and the blessings that come from them through His Church to us, so that we can have LIFE instead of death in this world and forever. This is the Good News we need to share with the world that God has put in. Amen.