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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sermon 10232011

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer!!  AMEN!!

Let us pray!  Jesus Christ, You were surrounded by people who were attempting to ‘trap’ you.  Yet again, You calmly, clearly and simply stated the two greatest commandments upon which the law and the prophets hang.  May we hear how we cannot fulfill these commands by ourselves, but can only do so by Your divine favor upon and through us.  For it was Your Son Jesus Christ Who came and perfectly fulfilled the law for us on the Cross on Golgotha for all of us saints here at Emmanuel.  AMEN.

If you missed it last week, the potluck we had during the Fall Clean-up had three tables full of food that not only looked good, but tasted good and sustained a lot of good workers during the clean-up.  As I surveyed each table, it was interesting to see the variety of dishes and cooking styles each person provided for the meal.  It is interesting that in our Gospel this morning, Jesus clearly references the different variety and importance of the two tables we learned about in our catechism.

You see, Jesus Christ in our Gospel is again surrounded by people who are doing Satan’s bidding.  Satan doesn’t want Jesus to reach either the city of Jerusalem or to be crucified on the Cross on Golgotha and will use any means necessary to prevent the fulfillment of the plan of salvation.  It is clear from scripture and our passage this morning that Satan uses the Pharisee’s, Sadducees, Scribes and Jewish leaders to thwart Jesus and give them a reason or means to destroy His reputation and question His teachings.

Hence, when a lawyer of the day, probably equivalent to a biblical scholar today “asked Him a question to test Him” Jesus knew the cards had been laid on the table.  The lawyer says, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”  The lawyer knowing the Jewish ‘correct’ answer believes Jesus will fall into his laid trap and thus cause Jesus to fail the ‘test’.

However, Jesus all omniscient of what was transpiring said to him.  “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.”  This is the completion of the Shema which is an early Jewish creed of faith in God.  The complete Shema reads, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.   You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”  Therefore, Jesus knew what He was being tested on and gave the ‘proper’ answer.  And Jesus continues His response, “And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Encapsulated within these two short responses, Jesus reveals His complete understanding of scripture, the law, the prophets and what is required.  For He says, “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” and thus Jesus quickly and easily neutralized the threat of the test that the lawyer presented.

But, what do these two statements have to do with us today, 2000 years later half a world away.  How can Jesus words to a lawyer apply to us who sit on the other side of the Cross of Calvary and Jesus Christ fulfillment of the plan of salvation?  It could easily be asked, where does this apply in my life today here in Goodland, KS?

We need to return to the book of Deuteronomy and read a few more verses from where Jesus quoted the first response to the lawyer.  For Moses wrote, “And these words [the Shema] that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down, and when you rise.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

For the statements Jesus uttered to the lawyer, the first and the second commandments are meant as a short hand of what is actually required of everyone.  For these two commandments seemingly unrelated are intimately connected with one another.  Martin Luther, father of the protestant reformation knew and understood clearly what each meant and how each was to be applied.   You see these two statements by Jesus Martin Luther connected with what Moses said and taught people in his Small and Large Catechism the complete unabridged version of the statements by Jesus Christ.  For the statements by Jesus are of the sum of each of the tables of the Law we understand as the 10 Commandments.  The two tables are encapsulated in these statements by Jesus and sum up perfectly all that could be written.

But how can we apply this today?  Where does this have meaning for us today?  Simply stated, we fulfill both commandments of God when we as Koehler says in his explanation of the catechism, “serve Him (that is God) gladly in our lives by doing those things that please Him.”  Can we fulfill all that is required perfectly?  By no means we cannot.  Yet, we can and do show our contempt for God’s gospel when we only show up to church for the one hour a week and sit in the pew and not be actively involved in the ministry and life of the church. 
We can and do clearly show our love for God by our service, like the Fall cleanup, serving as an usher, lector, greeter, Sunday school teacher and council person.  These are only means and do not merit us our salvation.  For the gospel message is clear, Jesus Christ came to seek and save the lost and die on the cross for each and every one of us.  Are we required to do anything?  No, because it is God who works through us by the Holy Spirit to call, gather, enlighten and sanctify the whole Christian church.  Jesus Christ innocent life, death and resurrection fulfilled our requirements and the two commandments he answered the lawyer with for all of us saints here at Emmanuel.  AMEN.
//trial script