THE FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY – JUNE 27, 2015
TEXT: LUKE 6:36-42; ROMANS 12:14-21; GENESIS 50:15-21
JUDGMENT AND MERCY ARE YOURS IN CHRIST
Keaton Christiansen


In the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


The words of our gospel lesson today are part of a larger sermon Jesus preaches that we call: “The Sermon on the Plain.”  In this sermon He preaches the second table of the Law, that is: the fourth through tenth commandments, which he summarizes as “Love your neighbor as yourself.” It is in this context, to the disciples who believe in Him, that Jesus gives the command: “37 Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;”


At face value, this seems to run counter to what we know about the gospel: is Jesus saying that our forgiving is what gets us forgiveness from God? Of course not. The second table of the Law concerns how to treat our fellow human beings, how to love our neighbors as ourselves, and how in turn they might treat us back. It doesn't say “If … Then,” it just says “and.” Give to others, and they're more likely to give back to you. Don't condemn people, and they're much more likely not to condemn you back. This explains what Jesus said not ten verses earlier: “31 As you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.”


But in this fallen world, the passage, “37a Judge not, and you will not be judged” is frequently taken out of its context to mean something entirely different. You've probably heard versions of it here and there, a militant “tolerance” which tolerates no dissent. We live in a world where people try to self-identify as whatever gender, race, or condition, pleases them at the moment. We live in fallen human flesh, that constantly seeks to justify its own perverted urges. Any appeal to God's Law, or even to the basic facts of biology evokes clamors like this: “don't judge me,” “stop judging,” or eventually a smug appeal to the words of Jesus taken out of context: “Judge not, and you will not be judged.”


Dear Christian friends you need not be troubled by this misuse of the Lord's Name and of His Word. You are not to render judgment on others, because you are not the Judge. But, there is a judge, and He has not canceled any Law. Jesus says (Mt 5:17-18): “17 Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”

THE FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY – JUNE 27, 2015
TEXT: LUKE 6:36-42; ROMANS 12:14-21; GENESIS 50:15-21
JUDGMENT AND MERCY ARE YOURS IN CHRIST
Keaton Christiansen


In the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


The words of our gospel lesson today are part of a larger sermon Jesus preaches that we call: “The Sermon on the Plain.”  In this sermon He preaches the second table of the Law, that is: the fourth through tenth commandments, which he summarizes as “Love your neighbor as yourself.” It is in this context, to the disciples who believe in Him, that Jesus gives the command: “37 Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;”


At face value, this seems to run counter to what we know about the gospel: is Jesus saying that our forgiving is what gets us forgiveness from God? Of course not. The second table of the Law concerns how to treat our fellow human beings, how to love our neighbors as ourselves, and how in turn they might treat us back. It doesn't say “If … Then,” it just says “and.” Give to others, and they're more likely to give back to you. Don't condemn people, and they're much more likely not to condemn you back. This explains what Jesus said not ten verses earlier: “31 As you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.”


But in this fallen world, the passage, “37a Judge not, and you will not be judged” is frequently taken out of its context to mean something entirely different. You've probably heard versions of it here and there, a militant “tolerance” which tolerates no dissent. We live in a world where people try to self-identify as whatever gender, race, or condition, pleases them at the moment. We live in fallen human flesh, that constantly seeks to justify its own perverted urges. Any appeal to God's Law, or even to the basic facts of biology evokes clamors like this: “don't judge me,” “stop judging,” or eventually a smug appeal to the words of Jesus taken out of context: “Judge not, and you will not be judged.”


Dear Christian friends you need not be troubled by this misuse of the Lord's Name and of His Word. You are not to render judgment on others, because you are not the Judge. But, there is a judge, and He has not canceled any Law. Jesus says (Mt 5:17-18): “17 Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”


Who then is the Judge, the author of justice, the One with the authority to pronounce judgment on the whole of a human being? It is of course the God. We hear in the epistle (Rom 12:19 citing Deut 32:35), “19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, that is, don't make your own justice, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance a word very like the Greek word for justice, Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” You cannot pronounce right and wrong because you are not “in the place of God.” (see Gen 50:19) God created the world, created you, wrote the Law onto your hearts, and revealed it to you in the Ten Commandments.


St. Paul writes in Romans chapter 2(:1) “Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.” As Jesus said, (6:38b) “For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” Everyone instinctively knows this. (Christian or not,) the Law is written on the human heart, and everyone fears judgment.


As soon as they sinned, Adam and Eve sought to hide from God, sought to pass the blame, to avoid God's judgment. You might be tempted to avoid judgment by passing blame to others, focusing on their faults because you refuse to admit own. Jesus shows that this is easy to see in others, but difficult to see in yourself: “42b You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye.” Everyone, even you, are a hypocrite. How is this different from setting yourself in the place of God and making yourself the author of judgment? 


Perhaps you are more mercifully minded, and in compassion, dislike seeing others hurt by the judgment for their sin. Good! Have compassion. The log-eyed man was not trying to be condescending or arrogant to an enemy, but instead he calls the man “brother” and tries to help him in his plight. “36 Be merciful, as your father is merciful.” It would not be merciful to “pass by on the other side,” to abandon someone who struggles under a physical ailment. It would not be merciful to let your toddler drink antifreeze because “he really wants to.” Neither is it merciful see someone blinded by their pet sins and addicted to their impulses, and leave them unaware that God does judge. There are times when the most merciful, most loving course of action is to speak the truth in love, to warn someone, that while you are not the judge, God does judge sin.


The image Jesus uses for sin is meant to be uncomfortable: A splinter stuck in your eyeball. Although His Sermon on the Plain deals with the second table of the Law, sanctified living, and how Christians are to treat one another, the end result of God's Law is always the same: Repent. The judgment is this: You have not loved your neighbor as yourself. You have judged and condemned  where it is not your place, and you have failed to speak God's Word where it is.


Whether from God or from others, it is a terrible thing to live in fear of judgment. The terrified conscience flees to and fro, trying not to offend anyone, trying to please everyone, trying to live up to its own measure, trying to cover up failure, trying to fix everyone and everything else because you cannot fix yourself. Dear Christian brothers and sisters, it is to just such a terrified sinner that God longs to show mercy. Your Father is merciful. He loves you. He has compassion on your suffering, and sent His Son to suffer, and be crucified, and on the third day rise.


God does not dismiss your sins as if they did not matter, as though the judgment which paralyzes you in insecurity and panic was actually meaningless. God is merciful. Mercy does not dismiss sin, but takes it into account, pays for it, and delivers forgiveness to you. The mercy of God is shown in the crucifixion of our Lord, where He takes your failures as seriously as you do. He suffers the judgment and wrath for sin, He repays the recompense, He avenges you, and makes you righteous by the atoning blood of His Son Christ Jesus.


Though great your sin, greater still is God's abundant favor. The mountain of condemnation heaped upon your heart by the Law melts away before the mercy of God. (Romans 8:1)  “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” You and your conscience are not the judge, it is God who judges. And in Christ Jesus, God declares this judgment on you: though you sin, on account of Christ you are righteous. You are holy in his sight. You are reconciled with the Author of all justice, and all will be well with you. His hand of mercy will never abandon you nor waver. You have peace.


In our age, where people self-identify as whatever animal, vegetable, or mineral they judge themselves to be, we Christians do something different. We do not self-identify. God identifies you, He is the judge, and we identify by repeating His judgment back to him and saying “Amen.” Every Sunday we identify: “I, a poor miserable sinner confess all my sins and iniquities...” We identify as Christ has identified, as Christ has judged us. You are who God says you are. Christ has “redeemed me, a lost and condemned person, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death, that I may be His own....” You are his own. You are baptized into Christ. Your sin has been forgiven. That is your identity. When insecurity and the terrors of the conscience assail you, do not rely on self-confidence, of self-esteem, or self-identification. Think of yourself as a sinner, but one who has been judged righteous for the sake of Christ Jesus.


This changes the way we show mercy to others. You do not have to sit in the place of God, fretting about all the evil or suffering in the world, trying to fix it from within yourself. You still have a log in your eye. You do not have to show a mercy that comes from your good will. The mercy you give is God's mercy, given to you. The mercy you show to others is not in leading those blinded by sin to holy living, but as one blind man simply telling another how his sight can be restored. The mercy is not in forcibly removing the speck out of your brother's eye, but bearing witness to the One who removes specks and splinters and logs by the wood of His cross.


This is (6:38b) “Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, … put into your lap.” This illustration is an image from the marketplace: You went to the market to beg for mercy, and God gives you more than you will ever need: He fills your shopping bag to the brim, presses it down to cram in more, shakes it together and fills you to overflowing with his mercy and love. Delivered right into your lap, into your mouth in the Holy Supper, you have His mercy, his forgiveness, distributed to you in the same body and blood which judges you righteous. Rejoice, you who are judged righteous, for his mercy overflows for you.


A good judgment. A good measure. Mercy, In the name of + Jesus. Amen.

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
(414) 332-5732 |lmcusc@lmcusc.org

Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a