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Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany

February 24, 2019 Speaker: Murray Keith Series: Epiphany

Passage: Luke 6:27–6:38

†††In the Name of Jesus†††
Pastor Murray Keith
Text: Luke 6.27-38
Date: February 24th, 2019; Epiphany 7; Series C
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
  • In today’s Gospel lesson Jesus teaches his disciples (and all of us) how we are to live as his people in our relationships with others.
  • We who have been saved from sin and death through the blood of Jesus live a new life.
  • Jesus summarizes this new life in the simple statement that we heard in verse 36 of our Gospel lesson, “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36).
  • Now, the “be merciful” part of our new life in Christ seems manageable.
  • We are merciful when we love and do good, when we are compassionate and charitable, when we are understanding and forgiving.
  • For the most part, we are joyful and glad to be merciful in these ways.
  • But Jesus doesn’t stop at just “be merciful” - he adds, “even as your Father is merciful”.
  • With this, Jesus turns up the volume on what it means to be merciful.
  • Most people show some mercy to others, especially to those they love -  friends and family, those they like, those who are part of their circle.
  • However, “being merciful, even as our heavenly Father is merciful” - goes beyond this.
  • Our heavenly Father’s mercy extends to his enemies, even to those who sin against him time and time again.
  • Our heavenly Father’s mercy is extended even to you.
  • The truth of the matter is that we have broken every one of God’s commandments, so that he would be fully justified in saying, “Why should I sacrifice my Son for those who do not fear, love, and trust in me?  Why should I show mercy to those who commit so much evil to each other?  Why should I not let them go to hell where they belong?”  
  • God would be fully justified in saying these things.
  • But he doesn’t do that.
  • Instead, despite our wickedness, he is good and gracious to us. 
  • Instead, despite our wickedness, he lovingly provides what we need for this life and for the life to come.
  • Instead, despite our wickedness, he gives us his Son and eternal life.
  • Instead, despite our wickedness, our Father in heaven is merciful.
  • God gave you, his enemy, not just another cheek or a tunic - but his very own Son.
  • This is the kind of mercy Jesus is talking about when he says, “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”
  • This is the kind of mercy that God calls us to practice.
  • And, in Christ, God has given us a new life in which we are able to practice this kind of mercy.
  • In Christ, we live a new life in which we love our enemies, do good to those who hate us, bless those who curse us, pray for those who abuse us.
  • And through our practicing this kind of mercy, the world experiences God’s love and mercy.
  • Through our practicing this kind of mercy, sin and evil and hatred and suffering aren’t perpetuated.
  • Through our practicing this kind of mercy, we do not allow the wickedness of other people to cause us to act wickedly.
  • Revenge comes easy for our sinful nature.  
  • It’s the inclination of our sinful hearts.  Repay evil with evil. 
  • Forgiveness is foreign to us – it’s difficult for us to love our enemies and to pray for those who have hurt us. 
  • But this way of love, forgiveness, and mercy that Jesus preaches - is the better way.
  • Why?  Because good has overcome evil.  
  • Harbouring hatred, malice, and bitterness inside of us only ends up harming us.  It eats away at us.  
  • It causes us to keep suffering as we relive the bad things that have happened to us over and over again.
  • The only remedy to hatred and revenge - is God’s mercy, love, and forgiveness.
  • Having received God’s mercy, we are merciful.
  • Having received God’s love, we love our enemies and pray for them.  
  • We pray for them, asking God to bless them.  To heal them of their sin in the blood of Jesus.   
  • We pray for them, asking God to bring about repentance and forgiveness and reconciliation.
  • Anything less is to throw gas on the flames of sin and evil and it just leads to more wickedness and suffering.
  • I love the way that Luther described this way of new life.  
  • He said that as God’s people we shouldn’t repay evil with evil, but rather we should say to those who sin against us:
“You are a brier bush; you’ve scratched me up badly, but I refuse to become a brier bush because of your actions.  I shall, instead, do nothing but good for you when you are in need.  In addition to that, I shall ask God to forgive you and transform you from a brier bush into a beautiful, fruitful vine.”
  • He adds that this is the meaning of, “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”
  • Dear friends, being merciful as our Father is merciful is not a burden or some­thing that must be done to make us qualified for heaven, but it is a gift and an opportunity to love our neighbour and show them the love and mercy that we have in Christ Jesus.
Lord, cleanse the depths within our souls
And bid resentment cease;
Then bound to all in bonds of love,
Our lives will spread your peace. (LSB 843, v. 4)

 

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

More in Epiphany

March 3, 2019

The Transfiguration of Our Lord

February 17, 2019

Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany

February 10, 2019

Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany