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The Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost

September 30, 2018 Speaker: Murray Keith Series: Pentecost

Passage: Mark 9:38–9:50

†††In the Name of Jesus†††

Pastor Murray Keith

Text: Mark 9:38-50

Date: September 30th, 2018; Pentecost 19; Series B 

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

  • Is sin really a big deal? 
  • Maybe we should just accept our sin, accept the sin of others, just accept things the way they are.  Live and let live.
  • Isn’t that what love means - accepting people?
  • Isn’t that how Jesus loved people when he was on earth - by accepting them?
  • Jesus spent a lot of time with sinners - drunks and prostitutes and adulterers and tax collectors.  
  • That’s love, right?  Accept and support all people no matter what?
  • But is that truly love?  
  • Is it truly loving for parents to allow and accept their children’s behaviour - even when it’s extremely dangerous and harmful to themselves and maybe others? 
  • Of course not!   
  • Sometimes a parent’s love involves warning, and discipline, and identifying harmful behaviour.  Sometimes a parent needs to engage in some “tough love”.
  • And so it is with God. 
  • Sure, Jesus spent time with sinners – but he never accepted and celebrated their sinful behaviour.  He was never okay with their sin.  
  • No, he boldly called sin a sin so that there could be repentance and forgiveness.  
  • Love is far more than just acceptance.       
  • And Jesus makes this very clear in our Gospel lesson.
  • Jesus doesn’t use soft words to get his point across - he uses some strong language to illustrate just how serious sin is. 
  • Here we get some “tough love” from our Lord.  
  • Sin is so serious that Jesus says that it would be better for us to tear out our eyes and cut off our body parts than to continue in it and be thrown into hell.
  • That doesn’t sound like Jesus just accepts our sinful actions, does it?
  • Jesus shows his love for you not by accepting your sin, but by revealing to you that sin leads to nothing but destruction and death.
  • Jesus shows his love for you not by accepting your sin, but by taking it all upon himself as he suffered and died for you so that you could be free from it.
  • Being free from sin means that you are no longer a slave to it.  
  • It means that you are a new creation who leaves that hurtful, destructive, chaos causing behaviour behind - so that you can live freely in peace and love according to God’s will.   
  • Freedom from sin means that you no longer receive the punishment you deserve – the punishment of eternal life separated from God.  
  • Jesus took that punishment upon himself to set you free from it.
  • Our freedom from sin and death, our salvation, is so important – that Jesus says we should get rid of any body part that might get in the way of it by causing us to sin.
  • Fortunately for us, Jesus isn’t literally telling us to cut off body parts and tear out our eyes.  
  • He’s using hyperbole - he is exaggerating in order to make his point clear.
  • He knows that our sin goes far beyond our eyes and hands and feet.
  • We heard in our Gospel lesson from a few Sundays ago Jesus teach, “From within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.  All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person” (Mark 7:21-23).
  • Our sin isn’t caused by our body parts - it’s at our very core, “from within out of the heart”.
  • Cutting off body parts and tearing out our eyes isn’t going to work - our problem is much more deep and serious.
  • With King David we pray, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right Spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).
  • A clean heart.  A right Spirit.  That’s what we really need.
  • And that is exactly what Jesus delivers to you in Holy Baptism. 
  • Through his Word and water Jesus creates in you a clean heart, he gives you the gift of a right Spirit, and gives you faith in all that he has accomplished for you.
  • He gets to the very core of who you are and puts your old sinful nature to death, so that you can rise a new creation – truly free from sin and death.
  • Can you think of anything that even comes close to being as important in your life?
  • Even though our eyes, and hands, and feet are so important for our lives today - they are nothing when compared to God’s love, forgiveness, and life for eternity. 
  • And if you think Jesus is being a bit overly-dramatic, remember where he is going as he is saying these things.
  • He’s on his journey to the cross.  He’s going to suffer for the world’s sin. 
  • He’s going to have his hands and feet pierced.
  • He’s going to be blinded in the darkness of death.
  • He’s going there to save you, to prepare a place for you, to take you through death to eternal life. 
  • This is something your eyes, hands, and feet could never accomplish.
  • Your forgiveness, your salvation, your faith, your eternal life cost Jesus his life on the cross.
  • That’s why he’s so protective against any body part, anyone, or anything that would cause you to stumble.
  • Losing a hand or eye or foot is nothing compared to gaining Christ and his salvation.
  • And by God’s grace that is exactly what you have gained.  That is exactly what you have been given.
  • In Christ, your sin has been forgiven and forgotten.
  • The sins you have committed through your eyes, hands, and feet – are no more.
  • Now our eyes, hands, and feet are the instruments of our cleansed and renewed hearts.
  • Our eyes are used to see each other as those who are made in the image of God -  and we look for ways to love, support, and build each other up.
  • Our hands and feet are used for acts of love, mercy, and caring for the people God has placed in our lives through our many vocations.
  • Our mouths are used to speak words of forgiveness, words of encouragement, words of hope as we proclaim the Good News of salvation in Christ.
  • How blessed we are!
  • Dear friends, Jesus has not simply accepted your sin.  
  • That’s not love.
  • He speaks boldly against our sin.  He warns us about the devastating consequences it has in our lives today.  
  • He warns us about the eternal consequences that sin can have if not dealt with properly. 
  • That’s love.
  • Our Lord’s love for you is so deep that he gave up his own life in order to deal properly with your sin - to set you free from it forever.
  • Our Lord’s love for you is so deep that he sent his only Son to accomplish everything necessary to spend eternity with you, and all of his people.   
“All glory to our Lord and God
For love so deep, so high, so broad;
The Trinity whom we adore
Forever and forevermore.” 
(LSB #544, v.7)  Amen.   

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.

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