The Glory Has Departed

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I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:1-4

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, 2017. Matthew 8:23-27.
Christ Stills the Storm

The Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, 2017

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

This week marked the 55th anniversary of Gary and Alicia Meyer.

The Hymn #24               Lord of My Life                       
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 Romans 13:8-10
The Gospel Matthew 8:23-27
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn # 132            O God of God       

From Troubles - Faith in Christ

The Hymn #307         Draw Nigh                 
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 #649            Jesus Savior Pilot Me                         

KJV Romans 13:8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. 9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

KJV Matthew 8:23 And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him. 24 And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. 25 And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. 26 And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. 27 But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!

Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany
Lord God, heavenly Father, who in Thy divine wisdom and fatherly goodness makest Thy children to bear the cross, and sendest divers afflictions upon us to subdue the flesh, and quicken our hearts unto faith, hope and unceasing prayer: We beseech Thee to have mercy upon us, and graciously deliver us out of our trials and afflictions, so that we may perceive Thy grace and fatherly help, and with all saints forever praise and worship Thee; through Thy dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.  

From Troubles - Faith in Christ

KJV Matthew 8:23 And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him.

Luther has a wonderful introduction to this miracle:
1. This Gospel, as a narrative, gives us an example of faith and unbelief, in order that we may learn how mighty the power of faith is, and that it of necessity has to do with great and terrible things and that it accomplishes nothing but wonders; and that on the other hand unbelief is so fainthearted, shamefaced and trembling with fear that it can do nothing whatever. An illustration of this we see in this experience of the disciples, which shows the real state of their hearts. First, as they in company with Christ entered the ship, all was calm and they experienced nothing unusual, and had any one asked them then if they believed, they would have answered, Yes. But they were not conscious of how their hearts trusted in the calm sea and the signs for fair weather, and that thus their faith was founded upon what their natural eyes saw. But when the tempest comes and the waves fill the boat, their faith vanishes; because the calm and peace in which they trusted took wings and flew away, therefore they fly with the calm and peace, and nothing is left but unbelief.

2. But what is this unbelief able to do? It sees nothing but what it experiences. It does not experience life, salvation and safety; but instead the waves coming into the boat and the sea threatening them with death and every danger. And because they experience these things and give heed to them and turn not their fear from them, trembling and despair can not be suppressed. Yea, the more they see and experience it the harder death and despair torment them and every moment threatens to devour them. But unbelief cannot avoid such experiences and cannot think otherwise even for a second. For it has nothing besides to which it can hold and comfort itself, and therefore it has no peace or rest for a single minute. And thus will it also be in perdition, where there will be nothing but despair, trembling and fear, and that without end.

Nothing is quite so important as faith in the Bible. Christ and His grace are central, but faith in Him lays hold of this grace. Therefore the Gospel creates faith in Him, and this faith works wonders, not because of man, but because of God's miraculous work, which begins with faith in His forgiveness.

The strange thing today is that the wolf-churches are so busy teaching unfaith. I can listen a minute or two and hear them talking about inspirational figures, who really had sordid lives. Or they talk about human experiences and the desire to have everything go well - friends, plenty of time, and material success.

There are various bad prescriptions for a lack of peace, a lack of friends, or a lack of money. All of them argue against faith in God, so in the guise of the Christian Faith, people are led away from it, step by step. Sometimes the leader goes too far, and people say, "Be gone!" But the clever ones just imply what many want to hear, to learn how better to rely on themselves.

To understand the dismay of the disciples we have to remember that they embarked on a ship made especially for that gigantic body of water. The vessels were sturdy and stable in bad weather, and the fishermen had a lifetime of experience in them.

As Luther says, we think we have faith in God when all is well and nothing goes against us. The disciples were following a teacher they loved and respected, and they were in their own element. I knew an MD who was awkward and anxious with people - unless he was in his white coat and at the hospital. Then he was in familiar territory where all went well and he had great authority. Once or twice I experienced that when I wore a mask and robe for infection precautions - nurses assumed I was a physician and offered to obey any orders I had. 

24 And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but He was asleep.

Homer wrote about the "wine-dark sea," which makes the epic appealing when reading The Iliad in a warm, dry, heated room. But this storm was one of the worst, threatening to swamp the boat and leave them all drowning in the midst of the water, where the sky met the sea and all sense of direction was lost.

When fear enters our hearts, faith goes out the window, and all we see is terrifying. I know clergy who lives their lives in fear - fear of disapproval, fear of the synod leaders, fear of offending the wrong people, fear of being seen with someone on the shun list.

Unfaith sees the Son of God asleep, a great symbol of not caring. Experience is no help unless it is countered by the Word of God. Isaiah tells us that God is answering our prayers before we ask them. 
And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. Isaiah 65:24

Therefore, seeing Jesus asleep in the boat is welcoming - and a sign of peace. Experience alone is terrifying. In Mark the disciples cry, "Don't you even care if we die?"

And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? Mark 4:38

25 And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish.

If we fail to read the next verse, we might think the disciples were just doing their duty to inform Jesus and to pray for help. 

Pagans really get frothy when they are terrified. There are stories, too gory to relate, about human sacrifice increasing when a city was under siege, as if the angry gods would be appeased by even more death.

One Byzantine mob demanded the life of the chief tax-collector. The emperor reasoned that losing his best tax-collector was worth it, since the mob would have torn apart the royal family. So he pushed the tax-collector out to appease their wrath.

But the disciples are here to remind us of our times of dread, panic, and anxiety. Sometimes the fears are unreasonable but they still dominate. At other times the emotions are stirred up by reality. Any person would react the same way. Our emotions are a thermometer, which will register - often based on illusions. If something we value is missing, for example, we can be angry (someone stole it), or perplexed (did I put it in a safe place I no longer remember?), or afraid (how can I replace it?). 

If I had been on that ship, I would have imagined a lot of bad things all at once. Jesus responded to their fears.

26 And He saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then He arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. 

Here is the connection between fear and faith. When their emotions ran away with them, faith went out the window. The previous teaching and miracles were forgotten, because these were men of experience who knew they were in trouble.

So, in one verse, the disciples are rebuked and the power of the Word is revealed again. The disciple were rebuked more than once for lack of faith, never for having faith. Eager followers of UOJ should remember that Jesus commended those with faith and said, as he did of the centurion, that "This man has more faith than anyone in Israel," including My disciples.

Faith in God tosses the rules out because God can overcome and change anything in a second. He can topple rulers and billoinaires just as easily as He changed water into wine and a storm into a calm sea.

27 But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!

The disciples had already seen great miracles, but the miracle of overcoming natural forces with a Word of rebuke, that was enough to make the fishermen marvel.

The two great enemies are sin and death. No one can overcome sin by himself. Many great works have been purchased to make up for a lifetime of greed and adultery, and they embellish many church holdings.

The smallest sin cannot be paid for by man, but Christ has paid for the greatest and most terrible sins.

Who has overcome death, except Christ? A company in Arizona will freeze people, even their pets, but that is terribly sad or comical. Christ is the resurrection of the life. He who believes in Him will never die but have eternal life in Him.

8. Therefore this Gospel is a comforting example and doctrine, how we should conduct ourselves, so that we may not despair in the agony of sin, in the peril of death, and in the tumult of the world; but be assured that we are not lost, although the waves at once overwhelm our little boat; that we will not perish, although we experience in our evil conscience sin, wrath, and the lack of grace; that we will not die, although the whole world hates and persecutes us, although it opens its jaws as wide as the rosy dawn of the morning. These are all waves that fall over your little bark, cause to despair, and force you to cry out: “Save, Lord; we perish”. Thus you have here the first part of this Gospel, faith, how it should thrive and succeed, and besides, how incapable and fainthearted unbelief is.