TEXT: LUKE 6:36-42; ROMANS 12:14-21; GENESIS 50:15-21
SEE HOW MERCIFUL YOUR FATHER IS TO 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.


They stripped him of his robe.  They put him in a pit.  They sold him into slavery.  They bloodied his coat and with it told his father (also their father) that he had been killed.  Consider the grief of their father Jacob.  Consider the suffering of their younger brother Joseph – ripped from his home and family – serving others in a foreign land. Consider the evil of these men.  What would you do if given the chance to repay them?  When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.” 


What would you do if someone did such evil to you?  Or consider much less evil done to you – someone offending you with words or actions – opposing you – mocking you?  In a context of religious persecution the Holy Spirit caused St. Paul to write - Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them ... Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.  A tall order indeed!

THE FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY – JULY 13, 2014
TEXT: LUKE 6:36-42; ROMANS 12:14-21; GENESIS 50:15-21
SEE HOW MERCIFUL YOUR FATHER IS TO 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.


They stripped him of his robe.  They put him in a pit.  They sold him into slavery.  They bloodied his coat and with it told his father (also their father) that he had been killed.  Consider the grief of their father Jacob.  Consider the suffering of their younger brother Joseph – ripped from his home and family – serving others in a foreign land. Consider the evil of these men.  What would you do if given the chance to repay them?  When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.” 


What would you do if someone did such evil to you?  Or consider much less evil done to you – someone offending you with words or actions – opposing you – mocking you?  In a context of religious persecution the Holy Spirit caused St. Paul to write - Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them ... Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.  A tall order indeed!


In a context of religious persecution Jesus taught, to love your enemies and do good to those who hate you and pray for those who abuse you (Luke 6:27-28).  In our Gospel He continues, “Be merciful even as your Father is merciful.  Dear Christian - this you cannot do.  You love yourself too much.  You think you have to defend your honor and protect your future – as do I.  To be divinely merciful is not in you by nature.  Jesus adds even more - Judge not, and you will not be judged.  This you cannot keep from doing!  The Greek word means to separate or divide.  From it we derive our English words to criticize or discriminate.  How easily that happens for us – on the inside even if not expressed verbally.


Please do not misunderstand Jesus command to Judge not!  Dr. Luther said that it is always twisted.  People misuse Jesus’ words as if He is forbidding those in office to judge in the sense that they should stop speaking the truth or punishing wrong or protecting the right.  Luther taught that the apostles rightly judge the world according to the office that Christ gave them – that fathers and mothers are to judge and correct their children in the office given to them – and that out of Christ’s command pastors are to reprove, judge and condemn everyone (even as they preach the Gospel – the one answer to God’s eternal judgment).  Confessing clearly what sin is - is not judging.  Nor is speaking what God speaks in a hostile culture.  That is what caused the religious persecution from which St. Paul says to bless persecutors and Jesus says to love enemies.  Genuine love must call evil by its name and tell a brother his fault in order to gain the brother (Matt. 18:15; 2 Cor. 6:6-7)


What Jesus meant when He said – Judge not – is more clearly reflected in his later questions.  Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye?  He is not abolishing the requirement to expose the works of darkness (Ephesians 5:11) or to warn those in sin (Ezek. 33:8-11).


Rather, His words are against the judging of hearts according to your thoughts and perceptions – as if your personal perspective is judge and jury of someone you have no responsibility to punish or discipline.  In other words, you are not to condemn your fellowman who puts the bite on you.  Luther said, “What fools we are if we cannot overlook our neighbor’s verbal insult.”  We’ve broken everyone of God’s commandments and so what is our mistreatment by others in comparison with our gross offenses against God?  To skewer someone in your heart and mind as a far greater sinner than you is to have a log in your own eye.  So is condemning another – carving them up with your tongue in gossip.  Yet we can obsess and stew and fret over one sin committed against us.


Dear Christians – the first item of business is always the log in your own eye.  The first sins to be acknowledged are your own sins – not somebody else’s.  So you pray every day – “forgive us our trespasses – as we forgive those who trespass against us.”  Yet, how easily it is to think too highly of ourselves!  Self-centeredness is always central.  Since Adam first faulted Eve and God – passing the blame while excusing oneself is the strong suit of sinful humanity.  Husbands and wives; parents and children; pastors and hearers; teachers and students; wealthy and impoverished; how large the faults of others can seem in comparison to our own.  This worldly pride invades the church as pious pride – the nastiest kind!  “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.” 


Humility is not an adequate word for what God demands of you here.  The emphasis is on seeing the person beside you with the eyes of the God of all mercies.  “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”  The emphasis is on seeing the person beside you as a person of infinite worth – one for whom Christ died.  You are in fact to be perfect in love also for your enemies (Matt. 5:43-48).  The liturgy of life that Jesus sets forth here is walking in newness of life (Rom. 6:4).  You are to anticipate in bodily life the world that is to come – even now.  This conscious, responsible, merciful life is constant, embattled non-conformity to this world and this age.  This selflessness of love-in-action toward others is to include your enemies and those who persecute you.  As an agent of God’s love you are to make God’s holy love present even to the resister – “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”  These aren’t harmful coals – but purifying ones signifying pangs of conscience and repentance – signifying victory through love and kindness – your love and kindness in Christ!  Forgive and you will be forgiven.  Give and it will be given to you.  Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over.  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good


As you hear the totality of what Jesus here commands, do not lose sight or solace in what He trumpets as its foundation!  “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”  Jesus isn’t telling people how to become God’s children – He is speaking to those who by the mercy of God have been made His children.  Jesus is speaking of you!  Everything he sets forth here is founded on your Father’s mercy – your heavenly Father.   His very essence is mercy and He is your Father in Christ.  Martin Chemnitz wrote – “Because God’s mercy cannot be separated from His essence – it is greater in God than we can ever imagine!”  Thank God that this is true for you!  You have not come close to plumbing the depths of His mercy for you!  Thank God that we of log-filled eyes can keep on crying – Lord have mercy; Christ have mercy; Lord have mercy.  The largeness of heart that Jesus proclaims here is created only by the hope that He is our light and salvation!  And He is! 


Beloved, your sin is no match for His mercy!  The love of God is not like your love.  By God’s mercies in Christ your salvation is secure.  It is not dependent on how well you love.  Your Father’s mercy is mercy incarnate in His Son.  In Him, God forgives you freely and without condition.  As the Holy Spirit caused St. Paul to write to Titus, “he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness (not even works of love and mercy), but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”  The Holy Trinity has not stopped washing you with new life in His mercy – for you are His baptized child.


Mercy is who God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is.  Your sin is no match for His mercy!  He is so merciful that He even forgives your lack of mercy.  The logs in your eyes and the specks in the eyes of your neighbors, Jesus takes with Him to the wood of the cross.  He is judged so that you are acquitted.  Jesus is condemned so that you are justified.


Remember again the evil of Joseph’s brothers.  Think of what you would have done in response and recall also what Joseph did?  When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.” … But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God?  As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.  So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.”  Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. 


The mercy God speaks to you comes from one far greater than Joseph.  He was also hated by His brothers.  They stripped of His robe and put Him on a cross.  They didn’t purposely bloody His garment but gambled for it as he hung dying.  He also was cast into a pit – the pit of your death and your condemnation.  Whereas Joseph asked, “am I in the place of God?” – this greater one said “I AM God in the flesh.  And though in the place of God with authority to give vengeance – He said “Father, forgive them…”  Though in the place of God with authority to give vengeance He said – “Peace be with you!” on the day of His resurrection! 


He is still mercy incarnate!  Your sin is no match for His mercy!  He is present to speak to you this morning – “Peace be with you.”  In the place of God – indeed God the Son in the flesh – He speaks you free – free of those logs and beams in your eyes!  He frees you to speak and to be merciful – merciful to the unworthy for so are you – merciful to the unbaptized – for so you once were – merciful to the unmerciful – for mercy is goodness shown to someone who has absolutely no claim on it.   


Your sin is no match for His mercy!  Faith that receives His mercy gives life!  Faith that receives His mercy gives freedom!  God’s mercy sends you to your home free – to your workplace free – into relationships of stress and even persecution free – to be merciful.  How can this possibly be for you?  Because – you are wholly pleasing and acceptable to God – not a speck in your repentant eye – not a stain on your forgiven heart!  Jesus is still mercy incarnate and His blood cleanses you from all sin!   


The Lord is the stronghold of your life – not the record of your mercy!  He comes to comfort you – to speak kindly to you!  He conceals you under the covering of His tent where He continues to give to you.  Good measure (from Him alone is good), pressed down (with all the wrath of God against all the sin of the world satisfied), shaken together (His very body with the bread by His word), running over (The cup of His blood runs over with merciful forgiveness for you) He puts into your lap (By way of putting into your mouth the heavenly, forgiving food to be received in faith)!  Therefore, Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.  In the Name of Jesus – Amen.

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
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