Monday, May 27, 2013

Trinity, Series C

 Okay, so I seem to have forgotten to post my sermon yesterday.  Here it is.  Better late than never.

Sermon on John 8:48-59
For Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Elmwood Park, WI
May 26, 2013 (Holy Trinity)

“If I honor myself, My honor is nothing.  It is My Father who honors Me, of whom you say that He is your God.”  Jesus has no need to make himself look good to those around Him, because He has all the honor and glory and dominion and authority He could possibly need or want because of His relationship to His Father.  He is the Second Person of the Trinity, coequal with the Father, participant in the creation of the World.  There is no higher honor than being honored by God the Father.  And that’s the honor that belongs to God the Son.

Of course, if it were us who were in that high, exalted status, we’d make sure everyone knew it.  We wouldn’t tolerate any insult, any slight, anything that might cause others to question just how high and exalted we are.  For us sinners, there’s nobody more important to us than ourselves, and we spend all our effort making sure everybody knows it.  Even when we outwardly serve God and our neighbor, so often our real motivation is to impress others with our skill or our wisdom or our hard work, to make them think well of us.  For that matter, even though we aren’t nearly so high and exalted as Jesus is, so often seem to be convinced that we are that high and exalted.  We get angry when someone insults us or crosses us.  We are by nature convinced of the rightness of our own opinions, our own ideas about how things should be, and can’t stand it when someone else gets his way at the expense of our own.  It sometimes gets so bad that we’d rather see it all go down in flames rather than let someone else have their way or be in charge.

Jesus doesn’t need any of that.  He is honored by His Father.  But when we look at how His Father honored Him, it doesn’t look so good.  Christ was harassed throughout His ministry by those who considered themselves to be the holy and upright people of God, He was plotted against, captured, falsely accused, beaten and tortured, falsely convicted, and finally nailed to a cross and left to die.  And yet, He says that He is honored by His Father.

Christ’s honor is found in things that don’t look like honor to us.  He doesn’t do what He does to get praise from men.  His service is selfless.  He shows Himself to be God, not by power and majesty, but by hanging from a cross.  The true honor that belongs to the Son of God is not found in being high or exalted, but in showing selfless love for His creatures.  God is, after all, love.  He is the creator, the one who made and provides for us, even those who ignore and reject Him.  His very identity is one of love and self-sacrificial service.  And there is no greater example of self-sacrificial service than giving up one’s life for the salvation of everyone else.  And so Christ’s honor is to be found in what look like the dishonorable and horrifying events of Good Friday.  That is how we see Christ’s honor.  In His death for our sins.

Here is the answer for us who are constantly seeking honor for ourselves but always finding that we come up short and that others get the honor we think we deserve, who by the very act of looking out for our own reputations make ourselves look that much worse in the eyes, not only of those around us, but of God.  He has taken our sins and our guilt away from us and put them on Jesus Christ.  We are honored, not because of ourselves, but because He took our sin upon Himself and put us in His honorable place.  We are declared innocent, not because we have been innocent, but because Someone else was declared guilty in our place.  Our justification, is not in what we do, or how well we argue our case and try to make ourselves look good.  Our justification is in the fact that Christ has borne our punishment and given us His righteousness.

And so, when your conscience accuses you of sin, or when others around you accuse you of some fault or some sin or some mistake, what is your response?  The natural response of our old sinful selves is to try to defend ourselves, to get angry and bitter.  But the response Christ enables us to make is to confess our sin, our fault, our blame for whatever it is that happened.  The response of Christ Himself was to suffer instead of trying to vindicate himself, because He knew that His Father would vindicate Him.  Our response to our sinfulness and our guilt is to confess rather than trying to make ourselves look good, because, “If we confess our sins God is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  Our honor is not found in ourselves but in the forgiveness which is ours through Jesus Christ.  Our justification is found in His innocent suffering and death, and it is proclaimed in His glorious resurrection.  Our declaration of innocence is found in the words, “In the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”  Just as Christ’s honor came from above, from God, so also our honor comes from above for the sake of Christ to Whom we belong.  If we try to honor ourselves, our honor is nothing.  It is our heavenly Father who honors us, by forgiving us our sins and granting us the gifts of eternal life.  Amen.

+ Soli Deo Gloria +

No comments:

Post a Comment