SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY – JULY 3, 2016
TEXT: MATTHEW 5:17-26; ROM. 6:1-22; EXODUS 20:1-17
NEVER RELAX GOD’S LAW;
ALWAYS REST IN CHRIST’S FULFILLING WORK FOR YOU
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


To all those at Luther Memorial Chapel and University Student Center who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Dear hearers of the Word made flesh:


In this highly driven, hyper connected, media-mad world, God help you to relax. In this hostile-to-the-Gospel age God give you times of calm and rest. Amid fast-paced demands - unrealistic expectations even from yourself - God help you to relax. To relax from mental and physical and emotional demands – to rest and be refreshed is no sin. In fact, it is God’s will for you for God blessed the Sabbath Day and made it holy. Good and proper rest is becoming less common in our age. At the same time harmful relaxing is becoming quite common.


Whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven…We know Satan attacks the preaching of the Gospel. He leads away from preaching Christ-crucified and the forgiving gifts of our Lord. He tempts hearts to see Christianity as living or feeling a certain way – thus obscuring the Gospel. His ultimate target is to cover over the Gospel tempting those claiming to be Christian to think they can compare and conquer by keeping the law. But his tactics against the Gospel include not only seeking to replace it with the law but also relaxing the law so that there is no hunger and thirst for the Gospel.


Surely the wide-spread relaxing of God’s law in America today – is one major reason for the decline in those confessing Christ. In China, and Africa and India – there is growth in confessing Christ often in face of persecution. But it is no secret that in America the number of those confessing Christ is declining. This is not unrelated to the relaxing of God’s law and disdain for God’s wrath.

SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY – JULY 3, 2016
TEXT: MATTHEW 5:17-26ROM. 6:1-22EXODUS 20:1-17
NEVER RELAX GOD’S LAW; 
ALWAYS REST IN CHRIST’S FULFILLING WORK FOR YOU
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


To all those at Luther Memorial Chapel and University Student Center who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Dear hearers of the Word made flesh:


In this highly driven, hyper connected, media-mad world, God help you to relax. In this hostile-to-the-Gospel age God give you times of calm and rest. Amid fast-paced demands - unrealistic expectations even from yourself - God help you to relax. To relax from mental and physical and emotional demands – to rest and be refreshed is no sin. In fact, it is God’s will for you for God blessed the Sabbath Day and made it holy. Good and proper rest is becoming less common in our age. At the same time harmful relaxing is becoming quite common.


Whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven…We know Satan attacks the preaching of the Gospel. He leads away from preaching Christ-crucified and the forgiving gifts of our Lord. He tempts hearts to see Christianity as living or feeling a certain way – thus obscuring the Gospel. His ultimate target is to cover over the Gospel tempting those claiming to be Christian to think they can compare and conquer by keeping the law. But his tactics against the Gospel include not only seeking to replace it with the law but also relaxing the law so that there is no hunger and thirst for the Gospel.


Surely the wide-spread relaxing of God’s law in America today – is one major reason for the decline in those confessing Christ. In China, and Africa and India – there is growth in confessing Christ often in face of persecution. But it is no secret that in America the number of those confessing Christ is declining. This is not unrelated to the relaxing of God’s law and disdain for God’s wrath.


Two fundamental social rules seem rule the day - “Thou shalt accept all views equally” and “Thou shalt not hurt anyone’s feelings.” In Canada, a pastor can be found guilty of hate speech for teaching what God reveals about marriage and sexual immorality. The confusion and decay in our land is not far behind. Preaching the true and loving Law of God is more and more opposed by the rulings of sinful mankind. And if the law is relaxed then Satan’s ultimate target – the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ - is sure to be spurned and set aside.


The Son of God never relaxes God’s law. Whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven…Some theologians link Jesus’ words here to His unleashing of the law that follows. The “least” are then seen to be Christians who do not fully comprehend but are still in the kingdom of heaven. Some see the “least” as those excluded from God’s kingdom who are called and identified as “least” by those still in God’s kingdom.


What is abundantly clear is that Jesus does not relax God’s commandments. Rather He shows the full swell and intensity of God’s holy will. You have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not murder;”…But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. With total authority Jesus reveals the enormous power of sin and the weight of this command.


He lays bare the painful truth that you can murder someone in your heart – and with insulting and damning words. We must be clear – murder and anger are not identical in terms of the damage they do. God does not give the state the same sword to deal with an angry person that He gives to deal with a murderer. God does not say “whoever is angry” but rather “Whoever sheds the blood of man by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image” (Gen. 9:6) (See also Romans 13:1-7)


He who first gave this commandment on Mount Sinai now in the flesh does not minimize the horrible sin of taking the life of another human being whether in the womb or in active years or advanced in age. Rather He shows how fully the holiness of God is at war with all all hatred of and hurting of others! The core of the commandment against murder is God’s displeasure with contempt for other human beings. And when it comes to insulting a fellow Christian – calling a brother in Christ “a fool” (meaning one outside of Christ) – Jesus speaks of liability to the hell of fire. Such anger of heart is a disavowal of the wondrous truth that in Jesus, God has set aside His anger toward you – reconciling you to Himself.


Jesus peels back the blinders we naturally place over the depth of our sin. This is a painful but necessary undressing. For in so doing Jesus also seeks to peel back the blinders we place over the wonder of the Gospel. “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. 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 point of the dotted i’s and crossed t’s of Scripture that Jesus fulfills is your righteousness. “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.


Dear Christian - what Jesus is after here is your heart and righteousness for you that stands before God. The Pharisees trusted in their own righteousness (Luke 18:9-14). They were confident in their efforts to keep their relaxed view of God’s holy law. Jesus confronted their error head on. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Dear Christians, as you consider your relationship with other people and other Christians, you dare not relax while harboring anger and malice. You dare not relax with the toxic thought – “I’m justified in my hate and my evil thoughts toward others. How does that fit with loving your enemies and praying for those who persecute you.


You will find no place to relax – no eternal resting place in seeking to relax the commandments. We may fool others and even ourselves for a time but Jesus sees the heart and Jesus came not to abolish the Law and the Prophets. This word of God stands forever. But wondrously and graciously so does the other word he spoke. I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.


Beloved - He perfectly fulfilled the Law – in what was done to Him – His circumcision – His presentation. He perfectly fulfilled the Law in what He did – in the temple at the age of 12 – in subjection to His parents – in living by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.


He also perfectly fulfilled the Prophets. The virgin will conceive and bear a Son – Immanuel (1:22) – Fulfilled! Out of Egypt I called my Son (2:15) – Fulfilled! The people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light – (4:14-16) – Fulfilled! He took our illnesses and bore our diseases – (8:17) – Fulfilled! I will put my Spirit upon Him…In His name Gentiles will hope (12:18-21) – Fulfilled! I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world – (13:35) – Fulfilled! Behold your king is coming to you humble and mounted on a donkey –(21:5) – Fulfilled! They will look on him whom they have pierced – (John 19:37) – Fulfilled! And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death – (Is. 53:9/Lk 23:53) – Fulfilled! When his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring and by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous and he shall bear their iniquities (Is. 53:11) – Fulfilled – in your ears – in your lives right now – as the living Christ comes to forgive you - to release you – to reckon his righteousness to be your righteousness through His gift of faith.


No matter how many promises God has made – they are “yes” in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 1:20). As the Word made flesh fulfilled all the prophetic promises He also fulfilled the Law’s punishment in your stead. Having no murderous anger of His own He took yours into His flesh. He never relaxed one of God’s commandments even the punishment God commanded for breaking His law. That’s what He was about when He stepped into the Jordan River seeking a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. His forerunner John knew the Messiah had no need for this and tried to prevent Him. But remember Jesus’ words, Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting to fulfill all righteousness (Matt. 3:15).


The righteousness He was fulfilling was for you – so that your righteousness would surpass that of the scribes and the Pharisees. In holy righteousness He never relaxed one of God’s commandments and yet he was called least in the kingdom of heaven. Indeed He was liable to the hell of fire. At the altar of the Cross He surely remembered how much was against Him. All our sin - laid on Him. Yet He left His gift – His very life on that altar to reconcile us as His brothers. He paid the last penny.


Beloved of God - just as Jesus speaks with unbounded authority about the meaning of “You shall not murder,” He also speaks with unbounded authority in releasing you from liability to the Law that He fulfilled in your stead. With all the authority in heaven and earth the risen Christ commanded your baptism that He might give you His terms of peace – blood-bought peace.


Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Beloved your Baptism is a direct connection to fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. The weight of what God gives you in that washing of rebirth cannot be overstated. You are united with Christ sacramentally – by His authority. The one man of obedience to God gives you Himself – covers you with Himself (Gal. 3:27). You are baptized into the sacrifice of the Lamb of God for the sin of the world!


All of us who have been baptized in Christ Jesus have been baptized into his death…in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. With your connection to His death comes your new life! This newness of life is not continuing in sin that grace may abound nor is it conforming to a new morality. This newness of life is living in faith - walking in the fulfilled law – fulfilled by Christ! There has been a change of Lordship for you! Your righteousness far exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees because you are covered by His exceeding righteousness. You are alive in the kingdom of grace – not the kingdom of sin. You are on a pilgrimage full of life because the living Christ continues to come alongside you to teach you and to feed you and to forgive you. You are free to struggle in the living hope of the resurrection – and in that struggle to relax – that is to rest fully in Him – your rock– your strength – your dwelling place.


As you recognize your failings in loving God with your whole heart and your neighbor as yourself your saving refuge is Jesus. He does not fail in loving and forgiving you! That’s the newness of life that comes from being baptized into His death! As great as is your guilt before God – far greater is His grace lavished upon you in Christ.


Again on this day He who was handed over to the judge in your place comes to you with terms of peace – beautiful terms of body sacrificed peace and blood shed peace – relaxing and restful terms of peace. Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Matt. 11:28). Peace be with you!


In this hectic, hostile, headed-in-the-wrong-direction world God help you to relax – to rest – to be refreshed by Him – the giver of all good things. For - We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again…So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. In His Name, 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