We continue our bible study in Luke’s gospel. This morning we cover Luke 11:1-13. Here’s the written copy: The gospel of Luke: A Bible Study.
This is the sermon for the Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost. The sermon text is: Psalm 78:1-8. The sermon theme is: We Will Not Forget Here is the Written Sermon.
We Will Not Forget
It doesn’t make sense. In the words we look at this morning from Psalm 78 we meet a teacher. God has called him to teach God’s word to his people. And, as he gathers people around him to teach them God’s word, that’s the thought that he starts out with: It doesn’t make sense. He tells them that he’s going to tell them a riddle, a head-scratcher, something that they need to think about because it just doesn’t make sense. And so, in the opening words of Psalm 78 we read: “1 O my people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth. 2 I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter hidden things, things from of old- 3 what we have heard and known, what our fathers have told us.” (Psa 78:1-3 NIV)
So Asaph, the writer of this psalm lets his people know that there is a riddle that he wants them to wrestle with along with him.1 But before he gets to the riddle, he gives them some context and background to the riddle and dilemma. He tells them: “We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done.” (Psa 78:4 NIV)
The Lord was the one who performed wonders and miracles. He was the one who poured out the ten plagues on the Egyptians. He was the one who parted the Red Sea so that they could go across on dry ground. He did that. And he did even more for them: “5 He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children, 6 so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. 7” (Psa 78:5-6 NIV)
Even more impressive and more important than the miracles they saw was God’s word that they heard and read. They had God’s perfect commands to show them right and wrong. They didn’t have to rely on changing popular opinion of their day to find out what was good and right and holy. They had God hand it down to them clearly and thoroughly. And not only this, they also had the precious words of forgiveness that pointed ahead to the Messiah that would come. For those commands were perfect and holy. But no one could keep them. So the Lord covered their sins and their rebellions with the blood of the Messiah that would come later.
No other nation and no other people had what they had. And because they had all of this the Lord asked them to hand God’s word down to their next generation. And what happened then? Asaph tells us: “7 Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands. 8 They would not be like their forefathers – a stubborn and rebellious generation, whose hearts were not loyal to God, whose spirits were not faithful to him.” (Psa 78:7-8 NIV)
The Lord invited and commanded them to share God’s word with their children. And they didn’t. And that’s what Asaph means when he says that he’s telling them a riddle. That’s what he means when he tells them that he’s teaching them a fact that doesn’t make any sense. They had it all. And they lost it. They lost it because of their wavering hearts and untrusting spirits.2
It didn’t make sense to Asaph that parents who had it so good-who knew of God’s might miracles and truthful testimony would let it go so quickly and easily. It doesn’t make sense. But we could say the same about life today, couldn’t we? You know as well as I that years ago across this valley and over these hill there were people who went to church. The first generation got it. They worshipped together. They studied God’s word together. But there, we move onto the second generation. And that’s my generation. These are the children who are between 30 and 50 now. They were confirmed. But then they stopped coming to church. They remember that it was important for their parents to come to church. But long ago we forgot that it was important that we go to church too. And now the third generation is here. And they have forgotten it all. They’re clueless. They aren’t in church. And they can’t find any reason to go to church. For they learn all the theology they think they need from movies. They learn right and wrong from their soccer or swimming coach. So there’s no message from the church in their hearts and no motivation to go to church in their soul. Because along the way their parents forgot. Their parents forgot to bring them to church. And now the children have nothing to forget because they weren’t ever taught about God’s truthful testimony in his word.
And so, again and again, today I hear the same story. The children were brought up in church and grew up. But then they forgot to bring their own children. And now, when there’s a wedding or a funeral the child goes to church with the parent and sees that the parent knows what’s going on. The parent knows when to stand and when to sit. The parent sings the words-words that the child has never heard before. And so that child asks the parent one simple question: “Mom” or “Dad, why do you come to church?” And with that question both child and parent fall into a very sinful trap. For without thinking about it you put the burden on God to prove himself to you. You end up turning your parent into some sort of used-car salesman who has to sell God to you. The truth is that you are the sinner and he is the holy one. He does not need to prove anything to you.
And that’s why this isn’t just an issue for others to deal with. Just as it doesn’t make sense that there are others out there who forget to hand down God’s word, the same sin happens here in this congregation. Year after year there is one child after another who studies God’s word so diligently so that they can finally receive the Lord’s Supper. And then when they have the privilege to come to the Lord’s table, they forget. They forget to come to that table. They forget to receive it often as our Savior invites. They stand here in front of so many witnesses and promise to grow in God’s word by coming to bible study. And then what happens? They forget. It makes no sense. They forget. They forget the promise they made. And they forget the joy they had in learning God’s word.
And even worse still, their parents let them. The parents are very willing to forget. They are willing to forget because their children are so unwilling to come to church. Then I hear these horrible words: “I don’t want to force my children to come to church.” How evil and ironic those words are. If your child came to you and said that he or she was going on the one donut diet-that all she was going to eat was one donut a year and no other food, you would make them eat their food. But if your child, at 13 or 15, says “I don’t want to” then you let them starve their soul.
All of this I say to establish one simple point: It doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t make any sense that the parents would forget to pass down that truthful testimony in Asaph’s time. And it makes no sense today. It is a horrible sin to forget to pass down God’s word to our children.
And there’s the irony. God does not need to justify or prove himself to us. And yet, in a very beautiful and ironic way, that’s exactly what he does. For your Savior did not forget. He did not forget about your sin. Jesus often went without food so that he could feast on spiritual, heavenly food as he prayed to his Father. And he did this to take away your sin of feeding your children earthly food but letting them starve away from their spiritual food. Jesus did not forget your safety. Jesus sends his angels to guard you in all your ways so that when tragedy strikes, you know that the Lord will use even this for your good. What soccer or swimming coach can do that? Your swim coach can’t save you when you’re in the pool, let alone when you’re swimming by yourself on a lake. And Jesus does not forget your security. How often, at the end of so many sermons have you heard these words: “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:7 NIV) You have this peace that Jesus gives that the world doesn’t have. You can watch the best movie in the world and it doesn’t compare at all to the peace that God gives us in Christ.
And so, my brothers and sisters in Christ, since Jesus hasn’t forgotten about your sin, safety and security, let us not forget to hand down his word. Let us say to ourselves every morning and every night, “We will not forget.” We will come to bible study and and learn so that we can teach the little ones in our congregation. Come to the Lord’s table with your shaky, pain-filled legs so that these little children after they are confirmed will remember that ti was worth the strain and some pain to come up here if it means that Jesus gives me his true body and blood and takes away my sins. We will not forget. We will not forget to teach our children and their children God’s truthful testimony. Amen.