21st SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY, 10-20-2019
LUTHER MEMORIAL CHAPEL, SHOREWOOD, WI
Rev. Michael Larson
Old Testament: Genesis 1:1 – 2:3
Epistle: Ephesians 6:10–17
Holy Gospel: John 4:46–54
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. This is the word of the Lord. Thanks be to God!
Those are the first three verses in the book of Genesis, which you heard proclaimed to you this morning. In those first three verses we see the divine mystery of the Holy Trinity - the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
God the Father created all things through His Word. This is emphasized by the repetition and language where we hear repeatedly, “And God said…and God called this or that.” That is, God spoke, and when God speaks, He speaks His Son, Jesus, the eternally begotten Word of the Father. That is why the apostle John anchors the Gospel of Jesus Christ in creation, when He writes that in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…furthermore, that the Word (that is, Jesus!) became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
This morning I want you to behold those sublime first three verses of the Bible. God the Father creating all things through the divine Word, His Son, by whom the Holy Spirit “hovered over the face of the waters,” breathing life into the creation – behold and wonder at the gracious activity of God by which He continues, even now, to preserve, uphold, and govern His creation.
God spoke this morning, and the Son rose. God spoke this morning and your eyes fluttered open. God spoke to His holy angels, and they flew off to travel alongside you as you came to church. Dear Christians, God created all things out of nothing, so that everything in all creation, whether visible or invisible, is dependent upon Him. He alone is God and Lord over all and apart from Him there is no life.
God created the heavens and the earth not for Himself. Not out of chance, boredom, or His own amusement. But He did it all out of great love for us. For man is the crown of His creation, male, and female, which He created in His own image. In order that we might reflect His love in the world as a community of loving persons, by having dominion over the creation and being fruitful and multiplying and filling the earth.
The historical account of creation, each day, being an evening and morning, six 24-hour days, is a reasonable, and factual, and glorious account of the origins of human life. Most importantly, it is God’s Word and His loving revelation to us. Therefore, our response as a congregation to that Word of truth read this morning, was to say, “This is the Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.”
Therefore we believe against that diabolical lie of evolution which is preached and taught the world over. For that teaching is straight from the jaws of hell. It is no fact, no history, hardly, even a theory. It is an attack not just on Sacred Scripture but more fundamentally an attack on Christ Himself, who IS the very Word of God made flesh. Sinful man, after all, has always had an agenda, to live apart from God, and that is nothing new. In Adam’s rebellion, it was nothing less than a denial of the God of love and His Word. So Darwin’s theory is nothing radically new, just different packaging to an age-old problem: in which rebel man wanders off into sin and unbelief. By this lie, sinful man attempts to convince himself that he is nothing more than an animal, descended from primordial soup, millions of years ago. What foolishness.
Why would sinful man go after such a foolish lie? Well, it’s simple. If he can convince himself he is no more than an animal then he can justify acting like one as well: in order to deaden his conscience to the reality of God – and to deny the God who made him, loved him, and gave Himself for him.
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, their deeds are evil; there is no one who does good, prays King David in the Psalms.
Dear Christians, stand strong against the lie. Read and hear God’s Word and believe it. The apostle Paul urges you this morning to be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil (and all his lies). In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.
Got that? How do you fight against the lies of the devil, this world bent on evil, and your own sinful flesh? Well, you sure don’t go it alone, relying on your own resources. Instead, you flee to the Word of God, the sword of the Spirit, and so join ranks with Him who is the way, and the truth, and the life.
That nobleman this morning, whose son was at the point of death. That’s what he had! That’s all he had. He had God’s Word, but that was quite enough!
“Sir, come down before my child dies!” But all Jesus gave him was His Word. But that Word was enough. The same Word that said, “Let there be light,” also says, “Go; your son will live!” The Holy Spirit, through that very Word, created faith in that man’s heart. He believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way.
What one single thought can you hold in your heart this morning? Know and believe that God’s Word does exactly what it says. When God speaks, things happen! Like the heavens and the earth being spoken into creation! Like a nobleman’s son, raised up from death, by that very same Word that is the source and foundation of all life! – thus foreshadowing the resurrection of all flesh on the last day.
The Father’s creative Word became flesh in Jesus Christ, all so that He might restore this fallen creation and save fallen man. How did He do it? Well, there was another Father and another Son. And this Son too was at the point of death. He was feverish, burning up, bearing within Himself the fever of God’s wrath against rebel man. The Scriptures say of Him: “Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted” This holy Son of God took on our infirmities, and carried our diseases.
What incomprehensible love God has for us! Even when we fell into sin, rebelled against His love, and succumbed to the devil’s lies, God’s love for us would not stop! You see, God sending His Son to save us and rescue us – that was no emergency back-up plan. It was the plan from the foundation of the world. Why did God create the heavens and the earth? He did it so that He might redeem us through His Son, by His holy precious blood and His innocent suffering and death, that we might be His own.
It is no coincidence that on the sixth day of creation, God took a look at all He had done and declared that it was “very good” - “It is finished.” It is no coincidence that Jesus, also on the sixth day, hanging from the cross, proclaimed those very words “tetelestai” – that is, “it is finished.” On the sixth day, God saw His Son, loving You, even unto death on the cross – and saw that it was very good. On Friday, a day which we Christians rightly call good.
In our Gospel this morning, it is emphasized that the nobleman’s son is healed, and made alive at the seventh hour, for that was the hour that Jesus had said to him, “Your son lives.” That is the number of eternal rest. Sabbath rest, in Christ, whose short sleep in the tomb procured for us salvation and eternal life. Up from the grave, the Word of Christ still accomplishes what it says. In baptism, absolution, and the Lord’s Supper, He declares His life–giving forgiveness to you, and it is so.
Therefore, when we confess the Word proclaimed to us in Genesis, chapter one, we confess Jesus and His love for us. Let us all never doubt or waver on the truthfulness of God’s Word. Put on the whole armor of God, stand firm, and say with the Apostle, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” In the name of Jesus. Amen.