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Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Ephesians 6:10-13 KJV

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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Judica Sunday, The Fifth Sunday in Lent, 2014.
John 8:46-59


Judica Sunday, The Fifth Sunday in Lent, 2014

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson


Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time


The Hymn #12                 This Day                                         4:80  
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual       
The Gospel              
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #40            The God of Abram Praise                         4:94 

 "I AM" - The Name of God

The Communion Hymn #305:1-5            Soul Adorn Thyself             4:23
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn #410               Jesus Lead Thou On                   4:27



KJV Hebrews 9:11 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; 12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. 13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: 14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 15 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

KJV John 8:46 Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? 47 He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. 48 Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? 49 Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me. 50 And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth. 51 Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death. 52 Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death. 53 Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself? 54 Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: 55 Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. 57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? 58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. 59 Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

Prayer
O Lord Jesus Christ, we thank Thee, that of Thine infinite mercy Thou hast instituted this Thy sacrament, in which we eat Thy body and drink Thy blood: Grant us, we beseech Thee, by Thy Holy Spirit, that we may not receive this gift unworthily, but that we may confess our sins, remember Thine agony and death, believe the forgiveness of sin, and day by day grow in faith and love, until we obtain eternal salvation through Thee, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.



"I AM" - The Name of God

KJV John 8:46 Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? 47 He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. 

This is a discussion that depends on the Holy Spirit opening our eyes to its meaning. In other words, someone can read this and miss the message entirely, perhaps making fun of it.

I write that because the rationalistic Biblical people never liked John's Gospel. It has too much about faith in Jesus. Worse - Jesus speaks directly about the necessity of faith in Him. Therefore, the rationalists (who began their work at Halle University, mothership of Pietism) liked to say the apostle did not write the Gospel. They claimed it was written about 300 years later.

Some may think this is irrelevant, but it is an exact parallel to the situation today. Unbelieving clergy do not like John's Gospel and they shy away from it. The reason is exactly the same. Jesus speaks clearly and pointedly about faith in Him. Although many have called it the Gospel of Love, the Fourth Gospel is fundamentally the Gospel of Faith in Jesus. Naturally, love is the fruit of that faith, so the other label is perfectly fair.

Those who object to the clear teaching of the Gospel are unbelievers. There is no middle ground.

48 Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?

When unbelievers are taught the necessity of faith in Christ, their reaction is hateful, spiteful, angry, and accusatory. Luther expressed well the reason for Jewish religious leaders opposing Him. Jesus said, "Your righteousness comes from faith in Me." But the Jewish leaders said to their followers, "Righteousness comes from following us and relying on your works of piety, as we do."

Jesus attacked their concept of righteousness, and nothing could stand up to it. Besides, He backed His teaching with miracles no one could deny or copy.

49 Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me. 50 And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth. 51 Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death. 

The debate with the religious leaders highlights the message of Jesus. Did Jesus seek His own glory? John's Gospel is especially clear about His suffering and death. And yet He warned them about the One who seeks the glory of Jesus and judges. The judgment of the Father is between faith and unbelief. God the Father glorified Jesus and condemned those who remained in unbelief or turned away (apostasy) from faith.

When people get angry about the Gospel, it is because they feel the judgment. They have pangs of conscience, even in their blindness. Sometimes that drives them to contend against the Gospel, to use the Word of God to condemn and destroy. They often become converted by the Word, which is more powerful than their ideas. 

Or, circumstances develop so they see the truth of the Gospel simply because of jolting experiences, often traumatic and tragic, or disappointing and disillusioning.

Jesus has a Gospel Promise - "If a man guard My teaching (logos), he will never see death." (Jackson Revised Living Translation)

 52 Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death. 53 Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself? 

The truth sent the leaders into a tizzy. John's Gospel is especially good at showing us why they wanted to silence Jesus. The response is to cite "the fathers," which is always a clever way around the truth. "The fathers" may be Medieval for the Roman Catholics, or seminary professors for the Synodical Conference. The tactic is clear, "You are opposing figures sacred to us, so you are evil!"

The religious leaders made this very personal, so Jesus, knowing their hearts and their tactics, used the personal attack to make His Gospel statement. The first part is tantalizing and draws out a hostile rebuke, which is met by the revelation.

54 Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: 55 Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.

The Father Son relationship is crucial in the Fourth Gospel but not lacking in the others. The apostle simple offered more sermonic passages on this theme and made Jesus' mission clearer. Jesus is not honoring Himself but the Father. The Father honors Jesus and they bear witness to one another. They work in harmony, as the Holy Spirit reveals. 

If Jesus denied the truth, He would be a liar like these religious leaders. Sad to say, religious leaders with no faith rely on deception. Everything is a clever game of posing piously while covering up for felonies.

Since they brought up their father Abraham, Jesus used him as His reference. Abraham saw the coming of the Messiah - Jesus - and rejoiced.

57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?

Unbelieving leaders may be clever, but they are never smart. They let their cleverness walk them into bad situations, as these did. Jesus is just a young man, really a nobody, as they imply. How could Abraham have seen Jesus? That is patently absurd. Unfortunately for them, Jesus will tell them.

58 Jesus said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, Before Abraham was, I AM. (Jackson Living Translation)

I wrote the only translation that gives proper credit for I AM. Many translations use the statement as equivalent to "It's me." When Jesus is walking on the water - "I AM." To translate otherwise is to miss the Old Testament parallel that is so clearly  revealed in the tenses was and am.

The ordinary translations also miss why Jesus would cause soldiers to fall down when He said, "It's me." He was not answering the phone or the door, He was identifying Himself as the great I AM, the voice in the Burning Bush, the foreshadowing of the Two Natures of Christ.

No matter how little people might know about the Old Testament, almost everyone knows that Moses saw a bush that appeared to be burning but was not consumed. That is not possible in the natural world. I saw a truck like that, on fire. I could see all the details of the truck glowing red in the fire, but that would soon be a melting and perhaps exploding mess.

Moses saw a fire and a bush, two things together, each one partaking of the other's nature, but neither mixed nor merged.

Lutherans have always seen the Burning Bush as the foreshadowing of the Two Natures of Christ, especially because God revealed His Name as "I AM."

Jesus intention in this claim is clear from the tenses used, which are impossible for anyone but the Son of God. An ever-living human being would say, "Before Abraham was, I was." Only God can say, "Before Abraham was, I AM."

"I AM" is the Name of God. For Jewish people, the actual Name of God is so sacred that they avoid using it directly. Even in English, they write "G-d" so they do not write it out completely. For Jehovah or Yahweh, they say, "The Name."

59 Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

Needless to say, when Jesus told them the truth, the leaders wanted to kill Him at once. That is what happens all the time when unbelievers hear  a statement of faith. It may not always be so dramatic, but there is always the urge to silence. And it tends to unite a group in silencing, exiling, or killing someone. The Roman Empire did this, as the Roman Catholic Empire did later.

The Synodical Conference honors the papal empire by continuing the same heritage. A "conservative" Lutheran college like Wisconsin Lutheran College will honor ELCA's Martin Marty and Rome's Archbishop Weakland, but their synod will scold or expel their own Lutherans who teach justification by faith.

Foundational Faith
The human tendency is always to start at works and to judge works, to compare works, and so forth.

The Scriptures teach us to begin with faith in Christ. The Gospel is faith in Christ. When we are lacking, this comes from little-faith, as Jesus often pointed out. The Gospel is a positive energy - always - in every aspect of our lives.