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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sermon 01222012 Third Sunday After Epiphany

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!  Lord Jesus Christ, the power of Your Word is immeasurable, whether it is healing, rebuking of the wind or sending away a Centurion for whom You healed His servant.  May we as we hear Your word spoken to our hearts through the work of the Holy Spirit turn and return us to Your care and affirm our need and desire to hear Your Word in preaching, teaching and forgiveness offered for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

This morning at the conclusion to the Epistle Lesson and in preparation for the Holy Gospel, we sang an acclamation.  Hear again, what was sung:

Alleluia, Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the Words of Eternal Life!!  ALLELUIA! ALLELUIA!

This Gospel Acclamation sung exclusively in preparation for the proclamation of the Gospel is sung in every season except for “Lent”, due to the use of the Alleluia.  And is appropriate for us this morning, especially for the lesson we hear of the leper being cleansed and the great faith of the Centurion.

It is clear from the text that Jesus has just come down from the mountain, most likely having been praying and having communion with His Father in heaven.  For Jesus ministry required His absolute best and prayer allowed Him to focus and be refreshed for the demands of the people.  And here the people see Jesus and swarm Him, because of His power and teaching with an authority unheard of or unseen for a long while.

But what happens, but a leper, the despised of the world, the outcast of the society comes to Jesus.  For this leper, the question we sang, “Lord, to whom shall we go?” is answered in his coming to Jesus Christ to “make him clean”.  But the leper says, only “if You [that is Jesus Christ] are willing”.  Thus with a faith in the Word and Power of Jesus Christ, Jesus unlike the crowds who would not even be in the same house, synagogue or bath as this leper, “stretches out His hand and touches him, saying “I am willing; be cleansed.  Jesus Christ, Word of God incarnate reached out and touched an outcast and healed this man of his leprosy and restored him in mind, spirit and especially body where he was now clean and no longer outcast by society.

By Jesus Christ acclamation, He willed that this man no longer be outcast, but be cleansed and restored.  What does Jesus require?  For the leper to “go, show yourself to the priest and present the offering that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” And thus fulfill the Old Testament law and not give the legalists or those who wanted to find fault with Jesus any ammunition or cause to question His going against the Levitical Law.

Then Jesus encounters the Centurion entering Capernaum.  And Jesus is moved by the faith of the Centurion who only asks “just say the word, and my servant will be healed.  For the faith shown by the Centurion in the power of Jesus Word, Jesus says, “Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel  For the Centurion looks with the eyes of faith and sees and knows what will be fulfilled by Jesus Christ.

These two examples, the leper and the Centurion reveal not only the power of Jesus Word, but the depth of faith by two vastly different individuals.  The leper was outcast by society and the Centurion, who was a career soldier, model for us today what true faith really is.

What if we had the faith of the leper and the Centurion?  Yes, we don’t have a disease that our society relegates us to the outskirts of the city, or are an occupying force from the Roman authority.  But we today live with something much worse.  We are sinful creatures, conceived in sin.  The old Catechism acronym that some of you might remember is very true, “What does SINS mean?”  We are Sinners in need of a Savior.  And this is exactly what the leper and the Centurion understood clearly and model for us today.

For our Savior, Jesus Christ came down from the mountain and cleansed a leper and He came down from heaven and offers us the forgiveness of sins.  In fulfilling the plan of salvation, Jesus Christ offers us the forgiveness of sins that takes away our sin and we no longer are sinners in God’s eyes.  We through the blood of the lamb are redeemed and freed from the power of sin, death and the devil and are set free.  The power of Jesus Christ Word declared to us in the forgiveness of sins frees us and through the Waters of Baptism we now put on our garments of salvation offered for each and every one of us, because of Jesus Christ innocent death on Calvary.  And the example of the leper and the Centurion enable us to sing boldly the acclamation “Alleluia, Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the Words of Eternal Life!!  ALLELUIA! ALLELUIA!”  For Jesus Christ came to set us free and proclaim to us and the World the Words of Eternal life for all of us saints, especially we who gather here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.
//trial script