Sermon for March 19, 2020 Compline
Rev. Jeffrey Horn, Gloria Dei Lutheran Church of Escondido, CA
The following is an edited sermon transcript.
Let the little children come to me
Here in the first part of our reading, we hear how Jesus took the children in His arms and blessed them. Through this reading, we learn how important it is for us to bring our children to Jesus, teach them His word, sing with them these songs, help them to hear the Psalms, to let them know Jesus loves them, and to bring them to Holy Baptism, and then to remember and bring to their remembrance their Holy Baptism, a gift that they receive from the Lord.
And also, dear friends, it is time for us to heartfeltly pray that God would bring the children to come to Him, that they would come here and hear the love of Jesus and receive his blessing, in Sunday school and church. We don’t see as many kids in church as we used to. Remedying this begins with prayer, asking God to help once again open the door for them to come. Let us use these days and weeks where we are at home to be a time when we pray that God would indeed once again help that to happen to the glory of His name, to the joy of Jesus, and for the blessing of children.
What must I do to inherit eternal life?
There is also here the question of the rich young man.
“Good teacher,” he says to Jesus, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus says “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.”
The key to this conversation between the rich young man and Jesus is that statement from Christ. If this young man understands that Jesus is indeed good because He [Jesus] is God, then he will understand that Jesus as God can speak to him the forgiveness of sins, can speak to him that he is cleansed from all that he has done and help him as he calls to Him, “Lord, I love my possessions too much to give them up. Help me. Forgive my sins, strengthen me in the midst of this temptation.”
Because this man at this point does not understand that Jesus is good because He [Jesus] is God, he still is depending on himself to keep that law, to obey on his own what God has told him to do and earn salvation by his works. What he does not understand is that God has come into this world in order to take on Himself all this man’s sins.
And He could then come to this man and say “I would be stripped of all that I have, even the skin on my back, the clothes that I am wearing, even the blood in my veins. I would die for you.” And in Jesus dying for him, that’s how this man would gain eternal life.
We are leaving everything for you. What will we get?
And then finally there is Peter’s question, “Lord we are leaving everything for you. What will we get?”
And Jesus has these words for Peter: “Truly I say to you there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions…”
We as Christians are not always well off. Sometimes we find ourselves rejected, by people around us, the world, culture, sometimes even our family. But we know Christ, we know his forgiveness, we know his peace, we are baptized together into his death and every time we gather for Holy Communion, we share together Jesus’s body and blood.
Peace in the midst of turmoil
This whole gathering right now, in the midst of all this turmoil in our country—that we can still gather, talk, pray, laugh, sing, and find comfort in Christ—this is exactly what Jesus is talking about. We have been given a family.
We have been given all of these relationships and all of these treasures. And though the world may not understand them as the treasure which they are, we understand how precious it is to kneel together, to partake together in faith and receive the gifts of Christ with one joyous heart.
And notice he says persecutions come too. They do. They will. But always remember that Jesus who brought you to faith will make sure that if those persecutions come to you, he will equip you with what you need to deal with those persecutions. He always will. But He does so through his Word, and He does so through the sacraments. So let us receive them with joy and regularity. To Him be the glory. Amen.
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