We continue in our bible study in Luke. Today we cover Luke 11:37-51.
Category Archives: Podcasts
This is the sermon for the Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost. The sermon text is: Matthew 16:21-26. The sermon theme is: May the Lord Have Mercy. Here is the Written Sermon
May The Lord Have Mercy
May the Lord have mercy on your soul. For some reason, those are words that appear in many movies. And this is usually the setting: There’s a good guy who was caught or condemned for doing a crime he didn’t commit. And there’s no hope for him. And to emphasize how desperate the situation is, there’s always someone there to say those words, “May the Lord have mercy on your soul.” The only one who can help that accused man is God.
Those words are the same words we hear this morning in Matthew’s gospel. In our opening verse we hear Jesus telling his disciples these words: “From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” (Matt 16:21 NIV)
In these words Jesus was sharing with his disciples good news. He was telling them that he would suffer for them. He would die for them. And he would pick up his life again on that third day for them. Their sins would be forgiven. Their eternity would be secured. We would expect a joyful reaction to this promise of Jesus. But from Peter’s lips we hear something else: “Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”” (Matt 16:22 NIV)
In reaction to this good news Peter, in the boldest and most belligerent way opposes Jesus.1 He confronts Jesus and rebukes him.2 Then he says to Jesus, “May the Lord have mercy on you if you do this. This will never happen to you!” Peter was accusing Jesus of a sin so horrible and so hideous that God, and God alone was the only thing that could save Jesus from the path he was going down was God’s mercy.3 Then, in the boldest and most belligerent way he tells Jesus that this will never, ever happen.
Now, for a moment, just put yourself in Jesus’ shoes. What do you do when one of your own disciples both accuses you of sin and also tells you that what you just promised will never happen? If Peter pushes, then Jesus pushed back even harder. If Peter’s words were bold and blunt, then Jesus’ words in response were twice as blunt. Jesus says: “Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; “” (Matt 16:23 NIV)
Jesus says to Peter: “You get behind me, Satan! You are a trap set for me.” He calls Peter “Satan” because the one driving Peter’s words was not God, but instead the Devil. And just what was it that was so Satanic about Peter’s words that Jesus had to rebuke him so harshly? “23 you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” 24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt 16:23-26 NIV)
Jesus rebukes Peter because he did not have Godly thoughts in mind. Instead he had Satanic, worldly thoughts in mind. In these words we find two great and deadly sins that Peter commits. The first is the sin of worshipping pleasure. Jesus here was promising pain for himself, not pleasure. And Peter could not stand a Savior who was destined for shame and a prophet who promised pain for himself. The second sin was the sin or worshipping pragmatism. The path that Jesus laid out for himself was not a simple path. It was a complicated one. It was difficult to understand why it had to be this way. And it was difficult to understand how this plan would play out over time. And Peter wanted neither because Peter worshipped pleasure and pragmatism.
Peter was there saying to his Savior, “May the Lord have mercy on your soul.” But he should have saying those words to himself. And here today we should be saying the same. For it is ever so easy for us to bow down and worship the same idols, isn’t it? First, it is easy for us to bow down and worship the idol of pleasure. If it tastes good, eat it. It doesn’t matter if it destroys your health. If it tastes good, drink it. It doesn’t matter if it makes you drunk. If it feels good, then how could it be so bad? And may the Lord have mercy on Jesus if he tells me that what makes me feel good is bad. And even more so, may the Lord have mercy on Jesus if he allows suffering to come into our lives.
And so we bow down to the idol of pleasure. But it is also ever-so-tempting to bow down to the idol of pragmatism. Pragmatism is this idea that there can only be a simple solution to any problem. But the path that Jesus took to take away your sin was intricate. It was complicated. It was hard for Peter to follow in his brain and in his life. And in our own way it is ever-so-easy to get angry at God that he says difficult teachings in his word that aren’t as easy as 1 + 1 = 2. It’s ever-so-easy to raise our angry fist at Jesus saying, ‘may the Lord have mercy on you if you make your word complicated or my life complicated.’ And there’s the bitter irony. For if God’s word is complicated and your life is complicated it’s not because of God. It’s because of you. Just look at your life. You go to Jesus and you say, ‘forgive me.’ ‘Forgive me for my sin of lust or lying, greed or gossiping. Jesus forgive me.’ And out of his great mercy he does just that. And then what do you do? You go out and do that same sin again. And Jesus out of his great mercy moves you to confess your sin and receive forgiveness again. How many times does Jesus have to forgive you before you start learning to stop that sin that you are doing? Do you understand my point? WE are the ones who make our lives complicated because of our sin. But there are no easy answers to our sin. There is only a long pain-filled path to death for our Savior.
In our worshipping of pleasure and pragmatism it is ever-so-easy to raise our angry fist and say, “May the Lord have mercy on you if you bring pain into my life and then ask me to persevere.” But we, like Peter, are the ones who need mercy. And Jesus has had mercy on us and Peter. And my dear friends in Christ, look at how Jesus had mercy on us. Instead of worshipping pleasure Jesus chose the path of pain. Where was the mansion that Jesus lived in? Where were his servants and choice food and drink? Jesus could have tortured all his enemies and then put them to death in an instant. But instead Jesus is tortured by his enemies. And Jesus is put to death by them. And all of this he did for you. Jesus was tortured so that there would be no torturous hell waiting for you when you die. He died for you so that when you die you would be with him forever.
But he didn’t just have mercy on us by enduring pain. He also saved us through his patient perseverance. His life was complicated, wasn’t it? For every sin of lying and lust, greed and gossip we committed he persevered in his perfection. He was continually tempted in our place. But unlike us, he did not give in to the idols of pleasure and pragmatism.
And since the Lord had mercy on you there are beautiful results given to you. Because Jesus had mercy on you there will be no pain in heaven and no complication there. There will only be peace and perfection. But there are beautiful results here too. There is peace and pleasure amidst pain. How comforting it is to know that not only does Jesus forgive our sins, he is also with us to bear the consequences of our sins too. If, because of our lying or lust, greed or gossiping we have destroyed our relationships in this life, Jesus has restored his relationship with us. He has restored it to us through the water and word in baptism and his precious body and blood in the Lord’s Supper.
Jesus gives us pleasure amidst the pain. And he also gives us perseverance instead of pragmatism. Through his word he slowly teaches us that he is better and smarter than we are. And he teaches us that it is enough to know that there are many questions that we don’t have an answer to. We may not have an answer to the question of why we got sick or why our relative died how and when she did. But he gives us peace in the knowledge that our merciful God does. And with that then he gives us his own perseverance to plough through the our complicated lives. He gives us courage to say ‘no’ to pragmatism, finding easy answers to lives complicated by sin.
Let us ever be thankful to Jesus that he had mercy on us. He had mercy on us by giving us pleasure amidst all our pain and perseverance instead of pragmatism. Amen.