Sermon for Trinity 17—September 27, 2015
Humility: The Place Christ Fulfills!
Vicar Brad Akey


In the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.


On the Sabbath day, Jesus teaches us about the Sabbath, and we know what He says about it… What is the 3rd Commandment? Remember the Sabbath Day, by keeping it holy. What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it. This is something all near and dear to our hearts. It is one of the Ten Commandments instituted by God for good order and the godly living of mankind. 


But what does this commandment all entail? Luther says in the Large Catechism, “this commandment was given only to the Jewish people for this outward obedience, that they should stop toilsome work and rest. In that way both man and beast might recover and not be weakened by endless labor.” However, then Luther talks of how this command is abused and over restricted by those same Jewish people. “They defamed Christ and could not endure in Him the same works that they themselves would do on that day, as we read in the Gospel.” This restriction of others and justification for one’s self is something that mankind craves. And it happens most commonly through rules instituted by man, beyond what God has instituted. 


The humility of knowing our place and calling is of far more value than the shame of justifying ourselves greater than another, through man’s laws. 

 

Sermon for Trinity 17—September 27, 2015
Humility: The Place Christ Fulfills!
Vicar Brad Akey


In the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.


On the Sabbath day, Jesus teaches us about the Sabbath, and we know what He says about it… What is the 3rd Commandment? Remember the Sabbath Day, by keeping it holy. What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it. This is something all near and dear to our hearts. It is one of the Ten Commandments instituted by God for good order and the godly living of mankind. 


But what does this commandment all entail? Luther says in the Large Catechism, “this commandment was given only to the Jewish people for this outward obedience, that they should stop toilsome work and rest. In that way both man and beast might recover and not be weakened by endless labor.” However, then Luther talks of how this command is abused and over restricted by those same Jewish people. “They defamed Christ and could not endure in Him the same works that they themselves would do on that day, as we read in the Gospel.” This restriction of others and justification for one’s self is something that mankind craves. And it happens most commonly through rules instituted by man, beyond what God has instituted. 


The humility of knowing our place and calling is of far more value than the shame of justifying ourselves greater than another, through man’s laws. 

 

One Sabbath, when He [Jesus] went to dine at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees, they were watching him carefully. The Pharisees invited Jesus in order that they may find a way to trap Him and shame Him. Even knowing this, Jesus does not decline the invitation, but rather goes and makes it a time to teach everyone there, and all those who hear His Word on this day and for days to come. And then in the minds of the opponents of Jesus, an opportunity presented itself.


And behold, there was a man before him who had dropsy. Dropsy is a disease in which watery fluid collects in the cavities or tissues of the body. Each time this man would eat or drink something, his body would retain the water, which would cause added hardship and struggle on day to day activities. 


Depending on the severity of his disease, he may not have been able to function as a citizen, but rather must be cared for. In that day, he may be considered equivalent to: a lame, mute, or dumb man, one of the lowest of society. Yet this man was in the presence of, in the house of, a ruler of the Pharisees. As society would see it, the lowest of the low was sitting at the table of a ruler of a prestigious religious order, the chief of those who were considered to be sacramentally clean. 


The man with dropsy was humble, there is not a recorded word of him saying or asking for anything. Yet Christ, despite the trap set by the Pharisees and lawyers, healed him and sent him away. Those who were present were not able to answer His question, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?” They remained silent. 


No matter how high up in the places of honor these lawyers and Pharisees placed themselves at the table, none of them were able to answer this one spiritual question. In fact they couldn’t answer it for answering it would show their true character and cause them to break one of their own man-made laws; either violating their extreme view of what is acceptable on the Sabbath, or allowing a fellow man to suffer when the ability to restore him is presented. 


The disease of this man made him desire to drink more water, yet drinking water only makes his disease worse. It is the same with our sinful condition, the more that we indulge ourselves in the carnal pleasures of this world, the more that we crave them. The more you lie, the easier lying becomes, the more you indulge in lustful tendencies the more that it consumes your heart and your mind. Just as this man did not deserve to be invited to the meal taking place at the house of the ruler of the Pharisees, because of his condition and position, he did not deserve to be healed by God. Just as we do not deserve to be healed by God, because of our condition and position, we do not deserve to be invited to the heavenly meal. 


Yet we fight over who is better than another, just as the disciples did in the presence of Christ. We may think ourselves in a seat of honor claiming some sort of air of superiority among our own brothers. It is so easy to fall into the trap to say, I am more gentle – more patient – more confessional in maintaining the unity of the Spirit – more peaceful and not so concerned about unity in God’s word than someone else. 


Do not sit down in a place of honor lest someone more distinguished than you be invited. But humble yourself in order that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ In this we learn, everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. Whether you are the Pharisee, the lawyer, or a Christian who amplifies his own doings and prestige, before God you will have your foundation cut out from under you. But those who humble themselves in Christ will be exalted.


How do we humble ourselves? That is not an easy task to ask for. Putting God first by giving our gifts back to God and trusting He’ll take care of us, and denying the culture that we are in, publically confessing Christ, seem like a fantastic way to live out true humility. It is true that those are both humbling experiences, which we should do, but they are not sufficient in of themselves to make someone truly humble. 


Jesus, as the Servant King, who has all dominion on heaven and earth given to Him, humbles Himself to take on flesh, humbles Himself to dine with social outcasts, humbles Himself to lay down his life, sacrifice His own flesh, pour out His own blood to those whom he has come to save. That is the purest form of humility, a place, which only Christ may fulfill. To truly humble ourselves is beyond our reach. But when Christ is our foundation, He is the humility which we seek. It is through Him and only Him that true humility counts others more important than ourselves (Phil 2:3).


So then where is our place at the table? That salvation promised does not belong to the Pharisees who exalt themselves, but to the sinners who know their place, where Jesus places Himself. Our place is with Jesus. As we just sang, “Our Servant King, of whom we sing. We’re justified because He died, the guilty being guiltless.” In a sense, our place has been given to this person, the place of death and being forsaken from God. 


And the Son of Man has given his place to us. The true heir has given his inheritance to us for all eternity. He who is our sacrificial lamb has tells us, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ The sinner, not deserving of the heavenly feast has a seat reserved for the banquet. The Son, who has been given all dominion on heaven and on earth, is sharing His inheritance with the worst of the worst, out of sheer love for us. We have been given the greatest honor, from those cast aside as worthless to being honored guests invited personally by the Son of the house in the eternal kingdom. 


We were invited to be a part of God’s family at our Baptism, it is there in the King’s presence when God says, “Come up here.” There we are given the Holy Spirit into our hearts. He is the one who keeps us each and every day in the faith through God’s Word. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, which we have been called into. Some people try to be baptized again, believing that they are humbling themselves, yet may be attempting to go up to a higher seat. But doubting God’s sure Word of promise and His faithfulness is pulling Him down – not ourselves. 


There is only one Baptism and God who is over all and through all and in all is faithful to His promise to you there. The one hope that belongs to your call is as sure and certain today as on the day you were washing in those holy waters. 


We also can have a taste of what that eternal kingdom will be like each time we approach the altar and receive His true body and His true blood for the forgiveness of our sins, earned for us by His suffering and rejection. It is but a foretaste of the feast to come. Christ was the one forsaken in order that we may now enjoy union with God in these sacraments and may enjoy eternal union in His presence when we are brought into heaven. In the new heavens and the new earth every seat is honorable. Every seat will look together to Jesus Christ, the true redeemer, the heir of the heavenly throne. There is where complete union between God and us will be made manifest, and between us and our brothers from everlasting to everlasting. Amen.

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