Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Mid-Week Lenten Service - The Compassion of Christ






Mid-Week Lenten Vespers


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/bethany-lutheran-worship

Bethany Lutheran Worship, 6 PM Phoenix Time

The Hymn #462   I Love Thy Kingdom             4:21
The Order of Vespers                                             p. 41
The Psalmody                   Psalm 23                    p. 128
The Lection                            The Passion History

The Sermon Hymn #657            Beautiful Savior                    4:24

The Sermon –     The Compassion of Christ
 
The Prayers
The Lord’s Prayer
The Collect for Grace                                            p. 45

The Hymn #558               All Praise to Thee   2:9


Hebrews 4:12 For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do. 14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.


The Compassion of Christ

The Human Nature of Christ should always be a source of greatest comfort for the Christian.

Hebrews 4:12 For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

Two Messages
This passage has two powerful messages. The first one teaches us that the Word of God discerns exactly what we are like. When someone hears the Word, it is not simply hearing words written in a revered and ancient book. That individual, whatever his lot in life, is hearing the Holy Spirit speak, teach, admonish, and comfort.

For those who do not believe, the impact is great and may seem quite harsh or dramatic. That leads to greater resistance, hatred, and anger – or it collapses all the schemes and philosophies of man, especially his inward righteousness, which is exposed as false and delusional.

That is also the effect upon carnal security, the attitude of “I am in the right church and doing the right things, so everything is fine, no matter what.” That leads people into endorsing and even participating in the most heinous acts, because their fleshly security tells them they are just fine. The Word of God should shatter that concept.

For those reasons above, church officials warn against teaching the Word of God, because it gets people (including the officials) upset. Whether the problem is pure unbelief or the steps along the way (carnal security), the Word will be upsetting, irritating, and drama-producing. It is the action of the Holy Spirit.

The effect is just as strong upon sincere believers, and it is a good remedy for our ills. Because of our own weakness, the impact of the unbelieving world, and the ministrations of Satan, we are always being pulled away from godly contrition and the Gospel.

The believer longs for the Word just as we thirst for water after strenuous exercise, or for food after a long stretch without. When someone experiences discomfort and pain, he wants the doctor to find out what is wrong. Otherwise, there is no cure, or the wrong cure is applied. I recall a man whose family gathered around their father, who was about to die in the hospital. Then they found out he was on the wrong medications, changed them, and promptly went home in good health. There was a problem but the wrong cure also finished him off.

The Second Message
The cure provided by the Word of God is to remind us of the humanity of Christ. This is perhaps the most eloquent passage in the Bible about His human nature.
As all our listeners know, Hebrews is devoted to portraying Jesus as the great High Priest. But what kind?

15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

This is a verse we can dwell upon all year around. Often the divinity of Christ is emphasized to the exclusion of His humanity. But here we see portrayed the fact that Jesus shared all our infirmities and was tempted in every single way that we are tempted today.

That is the basis for the word “compassion” – to suffer with. Jesus understands our weaknesses and temptations because He experienced all of the same Himself, and yet He did not sin (because of His divine nature).

The atoning death of Christ is the portrayal of the Two Natures of Christ. As man, He suffered and died. As the Son of God, without sin, He suffered on our behalf. Nothing drives unbelievers into a rage more than this Gospel – Christ crucified.

As they say, “I reject this.” And – “No for my sins. I am a good person.” And they judge God’s Word by attacking God – “God is not like this, according to me.”

This is where faith does not take any side-bets and cannot compromise about the truth of God’s Word revealed. This is or it is not. This is the Son of God as revealed throughout the Scriptures.

Do you have a better and more concise description of the Two Natures than the verse above? I cannot imagine one. And it leads to this –

16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

The language is clear. Therefore, in conclusion, if you believe in the words before this, then the following is true and worthwhile for each believer.

We do not go to the Throne of God’s Grace because we are worthy, but because God understands, has compassion, and extends His complete and full forgiveness of our sins.

The language of man is always – I will be a better person, I will work harder. Do this, do that.

But God’s language begins with faith and grace. Trust in God’s love and mercy, free and plentiful. Faith informs what we do, but this begins with God’s grace and trust in His love.

And what is faith? True justification by faith means believing that all sins are removed and forgotten by God, because of the merits of sacrifice of Jesus, the Son of Man, the Son of God.

"That was the time of blindness when we knew nothing of God's Word, but led ourselves and others into misery by our own idle talk and dreams. And I was one of those who indeed bathed in this sweat or in this bath of anxiety. Therefore let us give heed that we may thoroughly grasp and retain this doctrine, if other fanatics and false spirits wish to attack it, so that we may be fore-armed and learn, while we have the time and the beloved sun again enlightens us, and buy while the market is at our door. For it will come to this when once these lights, which God now gives, have departed, Satan will not take a furlough until he raises up other fanatical spirits to do harm; as he has already commenced to do in many places during our generation. What shall take place after we are gone?"
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, V, p. 192. Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity, Matthew 22:34-46.



LAW AND GOSPEL


"All Scripture ought to be distributed into these two principal topics, the Law and the promises."
Apology Augsburg Confession, IV. #5. Justification. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 121. Tappert, p. 108. Heiser, p. 32.

"They teach that by contrition we merit grace. In reference to which, if any one should ask why Saul and Judas and similar persons, who were dreadfully contrite, did not obtain grace, the answer was to be taken from faith and according to the Gospel, that Judas did not believe, that he did not support himself by the Gospel and promise of Christ. For faith shows the distinction between the contrition of Judas and of Peter. But the adversaries take their answer from the Law, that Judas did not love God, but feared the punishments."
Apology Augsburg Confession, XII. #8. Penitence. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 255. Tappert, p. 183. Heiser, p. 79.

"But the chief office or force of the Law is that it reveal original sin with all its fruits, and show man how very low his nature has fallen, and has become [fundamentally and] utterly corrupted; as the Law must tell man that he has no God nor regards [cares for] God, and worships other gods, a matter which before and without the Law he would not have believed. In this way he becomes terrified, is humbled, desponds, despairs, and anxiously desires aid, but sees no escape; he begins to be an enemy of [enraged at] God, and to murmur, etc. This is what Paul says, Romans 4:15: 'The Law worketh wrath.' And Romans 5:20: Sin is increased by the Law. [The Law entered that the offense might abound.'] Smalcald Articles, Third Part, II. #3. The Law.
Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 479. Tappert, p.303. Heiser, p. 142. Romans 5:20; Romans 4:15.



"But the only thing that was taught and advocated was: Invoke the Virgin Mary and other saints as your mediators and intercessors; fast often and pray much; make pilgrimages, enter cloisters and become monks, or pay for the saying of many masses and like works. And thus we imagined when we did these things we had merited heaven."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, V, p. 191. Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity, Matthew 22:34-46

"The Law continually chastises us as sinners and transgressors, and threatens us with death and hell, until Christ comes and bestows His Spirit and His love, through the faith preached in the Gospel. Then we are freed from the Law. No longer it demands, no longer chastises, but lets the conscience rest. No more it terrifies with death and hell. It has become our kind friend and companion."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VI, p. 281. New Year's Day, Galatians 3:23-29

"It is now plain to whom Paul addresses the words of this verse--the work-righteous, who would become godly through the Law and its work, who consider the first office of the Law sufficiently effective to make them righteous. This doctrine gives rise to a class who might be styled 'Absalomites.' For as Absalom remained hanging by his head, in an oak tree, suspended between heaven and earth (2 Samuel 18:9), so this class hang between heaven and earth. Shut up by the Law, they do not touch the earth; they are restrained from the things their evil nature ardently desires. On the other hand, since the Law, powerless to improve their nature, only irritates and provokes it, making them enemies to the Law, they are not godly and so do not reach heaven."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VI, p. 277. New Year's Day, Galatians 3:23-29; 2 Samuel 18:9

"The Spirit is the ink or the inscription, yes, even the writer himself; but the pencil or pen and the hand of the writer is the ministry of Paul. This figure of a written epistle is, however, in accord with Scripture usage. Moses commands (Deuteronomy 6:6-9, 11, 18) that the Israelites write the Ten Commandments in all places where they walked or stood--upon the posts of their houses, and upon their gates, and ever have them before their eyes and in their hearts."
Sermons of Martin Luther, ed. John Nicolas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VIII, p. 225. Twelfth Sunday after Trinity 2 Corinthians 3:4-11; Deuteronomy 6:6-9, 11, 18.


"But now, if we are to know Christ as our helper and Savior, then we must first know, out of what He can help us, not out of fire or water, or other bodily need and danger, but out of sin and the hatred of God. But whence do I know that I lie drowned in misery? From no other source than from the Law, that must show me what my loss and disease are, or I will never inquire for the Physician and His help."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, V, p. 192. Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity, Matthew 22:34-46

"Since we are unable to keep the Law and it is impossible for the natural man to do so, Christ came and stepped between the Father and us, and prays for us: Beloved Father, be gracious unto them and forgive them their sins. I will take upon Me their transgressions and bear them; I love Thee with my whole heart, and in addition the entire human race, and this I will prove by shedding My blood for mankind. Moreover, I have fulfilled the Law and I did it for their welfare in order that they may partake of my fulfilling the Law and thereby come to grace."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, V, p. 188. Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity, Matthew 22:34-46

"I have often told you, dearly beloved, that the entire Scriptures consist of two parts, of the law and the Gospel. It is the law that teaches us what we are required to do; the Gospel teaches where we shall receive what the law demands. For it is quite a different thing to know what we should have, and to know where to get it. Just as when I am given into the hands of the physicians, where it is quite a different art to tell what my disease is than to tell what medicine I must take so as to recover. Thus it is likewise here. The law discovers the disease, the Gospel ministers the medicine."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, V, p. 31. Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity, Luke 10:23-37

"I would much rather have people say that I preach too sweetly and that it hinders people from doing good works (even though my preaching does not do that), than that I failed to preach faith in Christ, and there was no help or consolation for timid, fearful consciences."
Sermons of Martin Luther, The House Postils, 3 vols., ed. Eugene F. A. Klug, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1996, II, p. 115. Ascension Day Acts 1:1-11

"When we examine the laws of Moses, we find they all treat of love. For the commandment: 'Thou shalt have no other Gods before Me,' I cannot explain or interpret otherwise than: Thou shalt love God alone. Thus Moses himself interprets it in Deuteronomy 6:4-5, where he says: 'Hear, O Israel; Jehovah our God is one Jehovah; and thou shalt love Jehovah thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.' From this passage the lawyer has taken his answer."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, V, p. 21f. Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity, Luke 10:23-37; Deuteronomy 6:4-5

"For if I love God I love also His will. Now, when God sends us sickness, poverty, shame and disgrace, that is His will. But what do we do under such circumstances? We thunder, scold and growl, and bear it with great impatience...But God does not want this. He wants us to accept His will with joy and love, and this we are too tardy in doing."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, V, p. 26. Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity, Luke 10:23-37

"But there is not a man on earth who thus fulfils the law; yea, we all do just the opposite. Thus this law here makes us all sinners so that not the least letter of this commandment is fulfilled, even by the most holy persons in the world. For no one clings so firmly to God with all the heart, that he could forsake all things for God's sake. We have, God be praised, become so competent that we can almost not suffer the least word, yea, we will not let go of a nickel for the sake of God."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, V, p. 25. Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity, Luke 10:23-37

"For God is a jealous God and cannot suffer us to love anything above Himself. But to love anything beneath Himself, He of course allows. Just as a husband can easily allow his wife to love the maid servants, the house and house utensils, cattle and other things; but to love with the love she should have for him, he will not suffer her to love anyone besides himself; yea, he desires her to forsake all things for his sake; and so again the wife also requires the same from her husband."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, V, p. 24. Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity, Luke 10:23-37

"That was the time of blindness when we knew nothing of God's Word, but led ourselves and others into misery by our own idle talk and dreams. And I was one of those who indeed bathed in this sweat or in this bath of anxiety. Therefore let us give heed that we may thoroughly grasp and retain this doctrine, if other fanatics and false spirits wish to attack it, so that we may be fore-armed and learn, while we have the time and the beloved sun again enlightens us, and buy while the market is at our door. For it will come to this when once these lights, which God now gives, have departed, Satan will not take a furlough until he raises up other fanatical spirits to do harm; as he has already commenced to do in many places during our generation. What shall take place after we are gone?"
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, V, p. 192. Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity, Matthew 22:34-46

"Let a prince give a person a castle or several thousand dollars, what a jumping and rejoicing it creates! On the other hand, let a person be baptized or receive the communion which is a heavenly, eternal treasure, there is not one-tenth as much rejoicing. Thus we are by nature; there is none who so heartily rejoices over God's gifts and grace as over money and earthly possessions; what does that mean but that we do not love God as we ought?"
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, V, p. 190 Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity, Matthew 22:34-46

 

Post a Comment