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Jesus Calling

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We are in the season of Epiphany. When people recognize Christ, they are drawn to worship and obedience. It is by His Word that Christ is recognized, not by our actions (Jonah 3:1-5; John 1:46). This has been true, from the Magi (Matt 2:1-12), to John the Baptizer and his disciples (John1:43-51), to those whom Jesus Himself called to follow Him (John1:47-49; Mark 1:14-20).

Notes & Transcripts

Prayer

Lord God, bless Your Word wherever it is proclaimed. Make it a Word of power and peace to convert those not yet Your own and to confirm those who have come to saving faith. May Your Word pass from the ear to the heart, from the heart to the lip, and from the lip to the life that, as You have promised, Your Word may achieve the purpose for which You send it, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen

“If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the word of God except precisely that little point which the world and the Devil are at that point attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is tested. To be steady in all the battlefields besides is mere flight and disgrace, if the soldier flinches at that one point” (Martin Luther).

The Power is not in me - It’s in the Word

Jonah 3:1–5 ESV
Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.” So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three days’ journey in breadth. Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.

Confessional Insight

1) SA III:II: [The Law] [4] The foremost office or power of the law is that it reveals inherited sin and its fruits. It shows human beings into what utter depths their nature has fallen and how completely corrupt it is. The law must say to them that they neither have nor respect any god or that they worship foreign gods. This is something that they would not have believed before without the law. Thus they are terrified, humbled, despondent, and despairing. They anxiously desire help but do not know where to find it; they start to become enemies of God, to murmur, etc. [1]
2) SA III:III: [Repentance] [4] To this office of the law, however, the New Testament immediately adds the consoling promise of grace through the gospel. This we should believe. As Christ says in [:15*]: “Repent, and believe in the good news.” This is the same as, “Become and act otherwise, and believe my promise.” [5] Even before Jesus, John the Baptizer was called a preacher of repentance—but for the purpose of the forgiveness of sins. That is, John was to convict them all and turn them into sinners, so that they would know how they stood before God and would recognize themselves as lost people. In this way they were to be prepared for the Lord to receive grace, to await and accept from him forgiveness of sins.[2]
3) SA III:IV:1-4 [The Gospel] We will now return to the Gospel, which does not give us counsel and aid against sin in only one way. God is superabundantly generous in His grace: First, through the spoken Word, by which the forgiveness of sins is preached in the whole world []. This is the particular office of the Gospel. Second, through Baptism. Third, through the holy Sacrament of the Altar. Fourth, through the Power of the Keys. Also through the mutual conversation and consolation of brethren, “Where two or three are gathered” () and other such verses [especially ].[3]
[1] Robert Kolb, Timothy J. Wengert, and Charles P. Arand, The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2000), 312.
[2] Robert Kolb, Timothy J. Wengert, and Charles P. Arand, The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2000), 313.
[3] Paul Timothy McCain, ed., Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2005), 277–278.

When Jesus Calls, Believers Follow

We are in the season of Epiphany. When people recognize Christ, they are drawn to worship and obedience. This has been true, from the Magi (), to John the Baptizer and his disciples (), to those whom Jesus Himself called to follow Him (; ).
Mark 1:14–15 ESV
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
Jesus announces that the Reign of God is at hand. In a short time, it will be established. We are now living in it, and yet we still see the evidence of the Kingdoms of this world, in bondage to the ruler of this world, the prince of the power of the air.
Our fleshly mind, the home of the Old Adam, tries to seduce us into doubting what Christ has declared. We view our world as if we can “be like gods, knowing good and evil” independently of what God has revealed in His Word. We operate as if His Word is too weak to illuminate our path and show us the way in which we should go. We don’t believe what He reveals about our world, our community, or ourselves. If we did, the fruit of that faith would follow. Until we do, it won’t.
Mark 1:16–20 ESV
Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.
It seems unfair to hold these words as a mirror to our life and ministry in this community, doesn’t it? After all, that was Jesus, and He has “all power in heaven and on earth,” while we are weak through the flesh. I can’t deny it, I’m no better than any of you. I don’t see anyone to whom I have personally spoken God’s Word, who now sits here worshiping with us. If my words convict you, if as you look at the empty spaces around you, you feel a vague, uncomfortable sense of inadequacy, then I’m not as alone as I thought I might be - good! It doesn’t make me any better though.
I am a sinner-I am a saint. The first part, you and I know from experience, whether we want to admit it or not. We sin, our parents sin, and our children sin.
Matthew 28:19 UBS4 w/Swanson
πορευθέντες οὖν μαθητεύσατε πάντα τὰ ἔθνη, βαπτίζοντες αὐτοὺς εἰς τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ καὶ τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος,
Matthew 28:19 UBS4 w/Swanson
πορευθέντες οὖν μαθητεύσατε πάντα τὰ ἔθνη, βαπτίζοντες αὐτοὺς εἰς τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ καὶ τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος,
Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions Article II: Original Sin

1 Our churches teach that since the fall of Adam [Romans 5:12], all who are naturally born are born with sin [Psalm 51:5], that is, without the fear of God, without trust in God, and with the inclination to sin, called concupiscence. 2 Concupiscence is a disease and original vice that is truly sin. It damns and brings eternal death on those who are not born anew through Baptism and the Holy Spirit [John 3:5].

Harsh words all. I wish we had a copy of the Confessions in every pew, so that we could read that together, right now. I wish I had placed these words in the bulletin so that they could stare you in the face, so that you could see, in black and white, who we are, what we are, and where we are going.
Isaiah 59:1–4 ESV
Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies; your tongue mutters wickedness. No one enters suit justly; no one goes to law honestly; they rely on empty pleas, they speak lies, they conceive mischief and give birth to iniquity.
The stench of sin is everywhere. We see it in every abandoned building. We hear it in every speech that politicians and preachers hurl our way. We feel it as we ask, “who shall deliver me from this body of death?”
The stench of sin is everywhere. We see it in every abandoned building. We hear it in every speech that politicians and preachers hurl our way. We feel it as we ask, “who shall deliver me from this body of death?”
We try to cover it with work, we try to cover it with consumption, we try to cover it with entertainment.
We fail. Over and over. We fail, as our parents failed, as our children will fail.
Psalm 42:8–10 ESV
By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life. I say to God, my rock: “Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” As with a deadly wound in my bones, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?”
That’s why we hesitate when the door opens. That’s why we pause when opportunity beckons, when someone has seemingly given us the perfect moment to share Christ’s Gospel with them. We flinch as if dodging a punch, or flail weakly with some nice generic god-talk, nothing too offensive. Nothing that will convict and cause their Old Adam to rise up and defend itself.
Why are we so afraid of what God’s “Strong Word” will do to people?
Psalm 62:9–12 ESV
Those of low estate are but a breath; those of high estate are a delusion; in the balances they go up; they are together lighter than a breath. Put no trust in extortion; set no vain hopes on robbery; if riches increase, set not your heart on them. Once God has spoken; twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God, and that to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love. For you will render to a man according to his work.
From the homeless man at the Bakery House to the President in the White House, the words of David are true. We are ALL in trouble before the holiness of God, whether we know it or not. There is no one who can deliver us from His hand.
Isaiah 59:1–4 ESV
Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies; your tongue mutters wickedness. No one enters suit justly; no one goes to law honestly; they rely on empty pleas, they speak lies, they conceive mischief and give birth to iniquity.
Isaiah 59:15–17 ESV
Truth is lacking, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey. The Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice. He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede; then his own arm brought him salvation, and his righteousness upheld him. He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head; he put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak.
Isaiah 59:16–17 ESV
He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede; then his own arm brought him salvation, and his righteousness upheld him. He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head; he put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak.
The LORD saw it, and it displeased him
Jesus did that at the Cross. Jesus responded to all the injustice and iniquity, all the wickedness and wrongdoing. All of it.
that there was no justice.
Acts 4:11–12 ESV
This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
16 He saw that there was no man,
There is no one else whom I can offer to you. No one else can help your children, your grandchildren, your neighbor or yourself. Just one man - the Man Christ Jesus!
and wondered that there was no one to intercede;
His name was the only name that Peter could drop on the Day of Pentecost, His was the only message that Paul could bring to Corinth, to Galatia, or to Rome. His Gospel is the pure Gospel, the only good news that defines what truly good news is. Apart from Him, there is no salvation. Praise God, He’s all we need.
He’s all we need when people ask why we do what we do.
He’s all we need when we are asked why we pray.
He’s all we need when people ask, “Where is your God?”
His Word has power. We might fight against it, but we can’t defeat it.
We might resist it, but we can’t stop it.
We might doubt it, but we can’t erase it.
The best thing that you can do is
1. Believe it.
Christ gave His life for you at the Cross.
2. Receive it.
Christ gives His life to you in Word and Sacrament.
3. Share it.
Christ calls us to share the gifts He gives, the materials with which He blesses us in life, but especially, the Word of Life. Share personally, and share through partnership in the ministry of the Gospel. As Christ overcame in Gethsemane, He gives us strength to overcome in Witness - Mercy - Life Together. As He trusted in the love of the Father, we trust in the love of the Son, and in the power of the Holy Spirit, we “stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has set us free, and not be entangled in a yoke of bondage.”
Others look to City Hall, to Indianapolis, or to Washington DC. Others look to politicians or rich businessmen. Others look downward in despair, or inward in search of nirvana, but we are, in the words of Hebrews 12:2, "looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
We see His love at the Cross, His power at the grave, and His glory at His return. We know His presence and receive His grace in the preached Word, and in the Holy Sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist. We learn our faith from the Confessions, both Ecumenical and Reformational. We show the reality of His promise in sanctified lives offered in service to our neighbor.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), .
We see His love at the Cross, His power at the grave, and His glory at His return. We know His presence and receive His grace in the preached Word, and in the Holy Sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist. We learn our faith from the Confessions, both Ecumenical and Reformational. We show the reality of His promise in sanctified lives offered in service to our neighbor.
Finally, we rejoice in hope - the hope of the Resurrection, of which He is the First-fruits, and in which we shall share at His Coming.
Jesus calls to us today, in His Gospel, and through us today, in our witness. Come today, by his grace before He comes tomorrow, in His Glory.
then his own arm brought him salvation,
and his righteousness upheld him.
17 He put on righteousness as a breastplate,
and a helmet of salvation on his head;
he put on garments of vengeance for clothing,
and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), .
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