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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sermon 08262012 12th Sunday After Trinity

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, Gracious heavenly Father, our earth is full of turmoil and suffering, where brother fights against brother and sin that entered in the world through Adam and Eve in the Garden dashes us against the rocks of reality.  Our lives are sometimes shattered and splintered.  But through the promise of Your Son Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, He came down from heaven and walked among Your chosen people and took away the sin, the sickness and the separation from You.  Heavenly Father, we ask You to reach down to us today and comfort all of us with the salve of the Gospel message of Jesus Christ.  Give us the patience of Job and the Wisdom of Solomon in order that Your Glory may be revealed and we imperfect creatures may be made perfect by and through the promise of Your Son and our Savior Jesus Christ for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

As Pastor one of the opportunities I have comes in the form and shape of teaching.  Yes, in our worship services I try to help everyone understand, deepen and enrich our Christian faith and I have had over the summer the opportunity to teach and lead a bible study class up at Wheat Ridge Acres.  The residents there are thirsty and come to the well and fount of knowledge found in Holy Scripture to have their thirst quenched.  Recently we began a study of the Old Testament characters and how God reached down into their lives as recorded in Holy Scripture and in some cases allowed them to experience and have all their world radically changed.  These characters include Noah, Abraham, Samson, Samuel, Elijah, David and Daniel.  One of the characters not included in the list is Job.

Job, is best known for being a rich man with lots of animals, family and possessions.  And God allows the devil to take all of his possessions, livestock and children from him in order to test him.  The devil believes Job will speak against God and using every tool in his arsenal and every evil twist, the devil is trying to push Job to where he would question or deny God.  Even Job’s friends claim it is better to curse God and try to convince Job to do just that.

But Job, with the faith and patience that is beyond measure remains firmly planted and proclaiming that God would not do this and gives God Glory, Honor and pays Him homage.  Just as Job who was inflicted in such a harsh way continued to proclaim the glory of God in our Gospel this morning we have another example for us today of God in Jesus Christ clearly encountering sin and clearly offering the remedy of the Gospel.
Jesus who in the last chapter of Mark 6 had fed the five thousand, walked on the water, healed the people brought to Him, now in chapter 7 began to teach them.  Jesus instruction was about the traditions of the Jewish people, how evil proceeds from the heart of man and ultimately healed a woman’s daughter because of her faith.  Now Jesus has brought to Him “one who was deaf and spoke with difficulty”.  Today we probably know someone like this man, who can’t hear and speaks very unclearly.  What is obvious is that this man was not seen by the people as normal, nor could he fully function within society.  The people having possibly seen and definitely heard of Jesus ability to heal, brought the man to Jesus.  The crowd “entreated Him [that is Jesus] to lay His hand upon him”.  Notice, they are not asking for Jesus to perform some Herculean task, but simply to extend His Holy Hand and let it touch the man.

The previous story of the woman’s daughter being healed, didn’t even include Jesus touching the little girl.  It only tells of Jesus conversation with her mother.  But in our Gospel the crowd believed Jesus needed to touch this man.  Some would believe that if Jesus didn’t touch the man, if the man were healed the question would arise, well, did Jesus actually perform the miracle or did the man just spontaneously ‘get better’.  Thus knowing the doubt in their hearts, “Jesus took him aside from the crowd, by himself”. Clearly, Jesus didn’t want this to be seen by everyone and didn’t want it well known what He was about to do.  Unlike our wanting to do something in secret for nefarious reasons, Jesus was trying to perform this miracle to heal the man, preserve the man and show that He, that is Jesus, heard the people’s cry for help.

When alone, Jesus “put His fingers into his ears, and after spitting, He touched his tongue with the saliva.”  Unlike the woman whose child was freed from her sickness, Jesus reached out and physically touched the man.  It wasn’t a simple touch, Jesus Second person of the Trinity, God incarnate, Who had personal action in creating the world, put His fingers in the mans ears, spit and touched the saliva to the mans tongue.  Now if you are like me, with the fear of disease that we have today and the fear of what we can get when someone coughs, when we shake hands or when we visit the nursing home or hospital, this man evidently had no fear.  This man trusted Jesus implicitly that He would help him.  And Jesus “looking up to heaven with a deep sigh, He said to him, “Ephphatha” that is, “Be opened!

The deep sigh that Jesus did while looking up to heaven, was the deepest expression of sorrow.  It wasn’t just an expression, it was Jesus, Son of God, God made flesh feeling deep sorrow over the original sin in this man’s life and how it had become manifest for him in his deafness and inability to speak.   Though Jesus had not caused his condition, Jesus felt great compassion and grief for him.  Hence, Jesus commanded in the same way the Father, Son and Holy Spirit did in creation of the day and night, “Ephphatha” that is, “Be opened!”  The impediment of speech and the deafness of the ears were commanded by God’s perfect and sinless Son to be removed by the word, “Ephphatha” that is, “Be opened!”.

Mark continues, “And his ears were opened, and the impediment of his tonue was removed and he began speaking plainly.”  Still alone with the man, you can imagine, immediately the man who had been deaf and speaking with an impediment was utterly amazed and probably began to yell at the top of his lungs and clearly proclaim the greatness of Jesus Christ Who had just healed him.  But Mark says “And He [that is Jesus] gave them orders not to tell anyone”.  Jesus didn’t want this out.  He didn’t want other people to know what He had done.  Was it because He would be swamped?  Or was it because of fear that the Pharisee’s, Publicans and Sadducees would hunt him down, because Jesus goal was the salvation of the people’s souls?

It is clear, the man wanted to let others hear what Jesus had done, but Jesus didn’t want it to get out there.  For it is clear Mark writes, “but the more He [that is Jesus] ordered them, the more widely they continued to proclaim it.”  This man’s friends had been told and all of them wanted to tell everyone.  This was a miracle.  For “they were utterly astonished, saying “He has done all things well; He makes even the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”  Jesus clearly demonstrated that as God’s only Son, He had the power and authority to heal the sick and correct the original sin that was made manifest in this man’s loss of hearing and speaking with an impediment.

But what does that have to do with us today?  This story is important for three reasons.  First, when we pray in the Lord’s Prayer, “For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever.  AMEN”, we can be certain as shown in this miracle that God hears us and our prayers and listens to us.  In visiting one of the members at Good Sam recently they clearly stated that they continue to pray and God does hear their prayer.  With a faith like Job in God, it is clear that God listens to us and answers our prayers daily.

Second, God through the creation of the World that we remember in the Apostle’s Creed preserves us daily.  Just as God spoke and made day and night, Jesus Christ from our Gospel spoke to this man and clearly as the explanation of the First Article says, “still takes care of them.”  Though sin ravages our lives today, God reaches down into our lives and offers us the Gospel message to preserve us until we enter into His Kingdom.  No matter what happens to our earthly bodies, God is looking out for our eternal entrance into His Kingdom.

And finally God makes us a promise that is extremely clear.  In the Fourth Petition of the Lord’s Prayer that we pray saying, “Give us this our daily bread” it includes our health.  Not only did this man receive restoration clearly manifest by Jesus Christ putting His fingers in his ears and spit on his tongue, but Jesus made him normal to societies standard.  You might ask, why doesn’t this happen today?  I believe it does, but we are less likely to believe it if we cannot ‘rationally explain it.’  But the promise is clear, God will restore us to our perfect and sinless condition when we enter our eternal glory.  As Paul says, our perishable will put on the imperishable and mortal will put on immortality.  We will be new creatures with new bodies and no longer will sin exist in our lives.

For God offers this to us, because of His great love for us.  So much does God love us, that Jesus Christ came into this world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.  It wasn’t for only a select few, the Gospel is for all of mankind, including Job, the man whose ears and mouth were opened and for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sermon 08192012 11th Sunday After Trinity

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, Gracious heavenly Father, when we enter Your house where Your Glory dwells, where it is to be a house of prayer, we choose where we will sit and where we will stand.  Enable us to understand it is not where we sit or stand, but what proceeds from our hearts.  For the Law clearly condemns us and we cannot be saved by it, but the Gospel of salvation offered through Jesus Christ and His death on the Cross of Calvary offers all of mankind eternal life.  Especially all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

Jesus Christ clearly loves to tell stories, whether it be about sowing crops and the harvest, heaven and hell and the Rich Man and Lazarus, stories of grace and mercy like the Good Samaritan, the Prodigal Son or like this morning the story of the Pharisee and Tax Collector.  Jesus takes many opportunities to tell a story.  Not that different from movies in our local theater, the stories Jesus tells are given to us today to hear, head and help us change.  Jesus in telling stories has a definite audience in mind, a clear purpose, a desired outcome and a final goal.

Jesus told the story of the Pharisee and Tax Collector to a specific audience.  Luke writes, “And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and viewed others with contempt”.  Jesus with the attribute of God of omniscience knew what the people needed to hear.  Jesus Christ had the ability to look at the people and see the deepest secrets of their hearts and clearly the people He was around trusted, not in God or His mercy and compassion, but in their own abilities, their own righteousness and these people felt they were better than everyone else and everybody in the community knew it.  Jesus audience looked down with disdain upon other people and believed they were ‘elite’.  This gathering wasn’t the elite Seal Team Six, Delta Force or the Rangers, it was just a group of men, women and children ‘who trusted in themselves’ and ‘flaunted it’ and ‘held it over’ other people.

Jesus says, “10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  These two men were common people for Jerusalem in Jesus day.  Even today their contemporaries would be someone who is both religiously and politically connected and the individual that works for the government that we vote into office to receive our tax money for our cars, land and personal property.

But now the similarities end, Jesus continues, “11 The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’”.  Jesus seeing the heart of the people aimed with the precision of a sniper directly at the people’s hearts the bullet that not only labeled their ‘self-righteouseness’ a sin, but clearly hits the mark that sin not just exists, but they are guilty of it.  For the Pharisee clearly compares himself to others and believes he is better than anyone and everyone.  He is bragging about what he does.  He is telling God this is what I have done.  I fast twice a week, I pay tithes”, “I am better than everybody”, “even like this tax collector”.

Jesus purpose in telling this story was to expose the Pharisee.  The Pharisee had so much pride and arrogance of what he did, he did not feel he wanted nor needed any help.  The Pharisee felt he was righteous and said, “God, I thank You that I am not like other people”.  Jesus desire was to expose this clear and manifest sin of pride that the Pharisee flaunted and that the people lived.

On the other hand there is the tax collector.  Jesus says, “13 But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!  This is the polar opposite of the Pharisee.  Jesus purpose was to tell the people, this tax collector felt so unworthy he couldn’t even look up to address God.  His simple statement of “God be merciful to me, the sinner!” is not only a prayer, but a pleading and asking for forgiveness from God.

Jesus desired outcome is for the people to confess their manifest sin and simply rely upon God.  For the people in hearing and identifying with the two polar opposites and extremes of the Pharisee and the tax collector Jesus wants to change their collective hearts from prideful and arrogant hearts, to pliable and purposeful hearts not proclaiming their greatness, but relying upon God.  For this is the lesson we can take away from this parable, Jesus says, “I tell you, this man, [the tax collector] went to his house justified rather than the other”.  The tax collector who humbled himself, didn’t rely upon what he gave, what he did or how he did it, the tax collector was held in higher regard by Jesus Christ.  For Jesus says, “for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled”, meaning the Pharisee will be humbled.  And, “he who humbles himself will be exalted”, meaning the tax collector.  Jesus is clear, rely upon God, not upon yourself.

Now the question we get to ask today is which are we?  Are we prideful of what we have done?  Do we go out into the community and look down upon others?  Is Emmanuel Lutheran seen in the community as elite and unwilling to help?  Do we leave Emmanuel Lutheran and go to the Butterfly, Shira’s, McDonald’s, Gambino’s or the Mexican restaurant and look down upon others, because we have been to church or given an offering?  Do we believe we can save ourselves and do not need a Savior?  Do we believe we are sinless and not in need of a Savior?

Jesus has one final goal in mind, for all of mankind to be in heaven with Him.  And this story of the Pharisee and the tax collector calls for us not to be prideful or arrogant, but in true servant fashion with Jesus Christ as our model to ask God for mercy and grace and for all of us to pray “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!”  God is calling us to be humble in spirit and rely solely upon Him.  When we pray, “God, be merciful to me, the sinner!”  God hears our prayer and embraces us as His children.  God feeds us with this precious meal we are about to receive of His Precious Body and Blood.  And God strengthens us to encounter our community and minister to and for others, not to be arrogant and say, ‘look what I’ or ‘look what we’ have done, but allows His grace to flow through us to others.  And that grace freely offered to us through Jesus Christ innocent death on Calvary we pray for in the Lord’s Prayer.

As we pray the Lord’s Prayer in a few minutes, “forgive us our trespasses”, our prayer is not only a prayer of confession like the tax collector, it is a prayer asking for God’s mercy, grace and divine favor.  We pray to God asking for His mercy, the free grace offered in Jesus Christ on Calvary and His divine favor to be placed upon us and showered over us.  We ask God to look not at our sins of pride, arrogance, self- worth and self- acclamation, but as we humble ourselves to exalt us.  For God promises us He will when we humble ourselves by confessing our sins, God will exalt us.  It may not be today, it may not be tomorrow, it may not be in this lifetime, but when we enter His kingdom, which is God’s final goal for us, and partake of the feast in His presence, then we will be exalted.  This occurs, not because of what we have done, but because of Jesus Christ true humility to suffer and die for all of our sins, for all of mankind.  Including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Technology and Pastors

This article includes part of an interview I did about my Pericope group I meet with every Tuesday.  (Full Link:

Please comment about this article.

Pastor Darian L. Hybl

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sermon 08122012 10th Sunday After Trinity

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, it is clear from our Gospel that You wept over Jerusalem and what was occurring that clearly went against the teachings of Moses and the Prophets.  You possibly are crying because of what is occurring in our world, our country, and even our church.  Though You are at the Right Hand of the Father, send Your Holy Spirit to cleanse our hearts, souls and spirits with the salve of the Gospel so that Emmanuel, Your House of Worship may be a House of Prayer.  And enable all of us gathered here this morning to hang on Your word spoken to our hearts in order that we can lay claim to our baptism into Your life, death and resurrection for all of us Saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

In the blockbuster movie ‘Avengers’, Loki the intergalactic villain of Norse God legend, made a pact with an alien race to enslave the planet earth.  After stealing the eye of a noted scientist to get a crucial piece of ‘space metal’ necessary for the creation of an intergalactic worm hole, Loki demands a group of people to bow down and ‘worship’ him.  However, in true heroic fashion, out of nowhere Captain America drops in and challenges Loki’s belief that he is a god.

In the same way that Captain America challenges Loki, in our Gospel this morning we are told about Jesus Christ cleaning house and taking names in Jerusalem.  The beginning of our text states, “when He drew near and saw the city, He [that is Jesus] wept over it.”  This was Jerusalem, the place where He had been presented as a child for purification according to the Law of Moses.  It was the place where when 12 years old and at the time of the Feast of Passover He was found among the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions.  The synagogue is where Jesus had preached the Good News about the Kingdom of God and what would be fulfilled.  So Jesus was not unfamiliar with Jerusalem, the Holy City, but this time, Jesus as prophet saw that the leaders were blind to the revelation that He, Jesus Christ was the coming Messiah.  Jesus wept because He could see the crowds shouting for His death. Jesus wept, because He saw His disciples who were with Him currently scattered in the Garden when He was betrayed.  Jesus wept, because He knew His destiny was to endure the scourge of the soldiers, the jeers of the Jews yelling for His crucifixion.  Jesus wept, because He knew He would have to carry His own Cross to Golgotha.  And Jesus wept, because He could see His own lifeless Body upon the Cross paying the ultimate price for our salvation.

Jesus wept, because His next statement was nothing but truth.  “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace!  But now they have been hidden from your eyes.”  This is profound.  The truth of Jesus preaching, teaching and guiding had been hidden from the disciples eyes.  They were not prepared for what the consequences would be.  They believed Jesus entrance into Jerusalem would herald Him as King.  It would, but not the King they expected.

Jesus continues, “For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”  There will not be peace, there will not be a time of freedom from the troubles of the land.  The day is coming and in fact is here where God Who is present with the disciples, Who performed the miracles of water into wine, calming the sea, walking on water and raising the dead has come among the disciples and the people and visited them and they did not and could not recognize Jesus Christ as the coming Messiah.

Jesus then enters the Holy City of Jerusalem and entered the temple, basically His second home, where the Glory of His Father dwells.  Remember the Israelite people had carried the Ark of the Covenant while wandering the wilderness and King Solomon, David’s son had built the Holy Temple.  And what does Jesus do, “begins to drive out those who were selling saying to them, “It is written, AND MY HOUSE SHALL BE A HOUSE OF PRAYER,’ but you have made it a ROBBERS’ DEN.”  Jesus is here not only cleaning house, but invoking the prophet Isaiah in that the temple is to be a ‘house of prayer’.  But the scribes, Pharisee’s and high priests have allowed God’s Holy Temple to become as Jeremiah says in prophecy and now is fulfilled in Jesus day, a ‘den of robbers.’  So Jesus restores the temple to its Holy purpose of a ‘house of prayer’.

And Luke writes, “And He [that is Jesus] was teaching daily in the temple;”.  Jesus God’s only Son, born of the virgin Mary was now preaching and proclaiming the Gospel that would be fulfilled of His sacrificial death on the Cross of Calvary for which He, that is Jesus was the fulfillment.

But, Luke continues, “but the chief priests and the scribes and the leading men among the people were trying to destroy Him”.  They wanted Jesus dead, because Jesus Christ preaching this salvation Gospel was bad for their business.  The scribes and Pharisees were not being honored the way that they were used to.  The scribes and Pharisees saw Jesus Christ and the salvation message of the Gospel as a threat against the Law as they interpreted it.  Their claim as teachers of the law was as children of Abraham and Moses and inheritors of the Law passed down from generation to generation, with all the sacrifices of meat, offerings of money at the temple and the best places to eat and drink and the honorable position at all functions.  But this Jesus Christ was a stumbling block to them and had to be removed.

Yet, Luke continues, “and they could not find anything that they might do, for all the people were hanging on to every word He [that is Jesus] said.”  They could not catch Jesus speaking against the Law or the Prophets and could not find any wrong with Him.

The reason they could not find any wrong is that Jesus Christ came not to abolish the Law or the Prophets, but in complete and utter fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets.  Through His sacrificial life, death and resurrection, Jesus Christ suffered for the entirety of mankind from His betrayal in the Garden to His hanging from the Cross in order that we might be saved through Him, freely and without any expectation.  And the scribes, Pharisees and the Jewish Council were blind to what Jesus true purpose was here on this earth.

But, why is this story and fulfillment of Isaiah and Jeremiah’s prophecy important for us today in Goodland, KS.  It is important because, we today are adrift in a sea of useless and evil information and deception that bounces and buffets us daily from the truth found in God’s Word.  We believe what is on the television screen, the newspaper, mass mailings, emails on the computer or movie theater more than we do God’s Word.  We prove this when we watch television, play on facebook or even work ourselves overtime all in the name of a better living, all the while neglecting the Word of God and its teaching in our homes.

Jesus in cleansing the temple calls each of us today to cleanse our hearts, souls and spirits of what binds us on a daily basis.  Jesus Christ is calling us like in the Close of the Commandments that Martin Luther wrote to ‘fear His wrath’.  God is warning us that like with the Jews in Jerusalem in the temple that had made His Father’s House a den of robbers, He is coming and in prophetic warning, is trying to get us to turn from our sinful ways.  For it is ironic, Jesus warned the Jews in this very passage and they did not heed His warning He was trying to give them.  Not 50 years later after Jesus death the Jewish Holy City of Jerusalem was pillaged and plundered.  The Holy Temple that Solomon had built was torn down.  The place where Jesus cleansed the temple by overturning the money changers tables was destroyed.  All because the Jews would not listen to Jesus and return to God and making His House a House of Prayer.

My question to you today is, Will you listen and heed the Gospel Message Jesus Christ is speaking to you today?  Will you listen and heed the Gospel message of His salvation of and for all of mankind freely and without cost?  Or will you once you leave these four walls of Emmanuel turn a deaf ear to the Gospel of salvation of Jesus Christ?  Will you believe in Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets?  Will you be changed by the Gospel and as the explanation of the close of the commandments says, “Therefore we should fear His wrath and not act contrary to them.”  And hear God’s message to us that “promises grace and every blessing to all that keep these commandments.  Therefore we should also love and trust in Him and willingly do according to his Commandments.”  Are you listening and ready to heed God’s call and make your hearts and homes, souls and spirits the temple of God and a place of prayer?  For God is calling each and every one of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sermon 08052012 9th Sunday After Trinity

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, there are times where we hear Your parables and stories and think, I am glad I am not a manager, storekeeper, steward or one with lots of possessions.  But then You reveal that the story isn’t for one group or another, but for everyone.  Enable we Your servants to be faithful with what You have entrusted us, because one day we will be asked to give an account of what we have done with the little or the much You have given  us.  Yes, You offer us the free Gospel in and through Your death on the Cross of Calvary, but enable us to not serve wealth and worship You as the saints of Emmanuel gathered here this morning.  AMEN.

One of the joys of pastoral ministry is visiting members in their places of business.  I have enjoyed riding combines during wheat and corn harvest, checking cows in Thomas County or on the ranch and even chatting with a member in the middle of a garage at one of the local auto dealerships.  I have also sat at kitchen tables or in living rooms of many families and heard the tales of the times.  If you would like for me to visit you, put a note on the attendance card and I will make it happen.  But this week, I took the opportunity to visit a place I had not been to previously.  I visited an accountants office and it struck me how our Gospel this morning was so applicable.

From our Gospel this morning we hear about a manger who worked for a rich man.  This was someone who had to give an account for everything he did.  And the rich man was apparently told that his manager was ‘squandering his possessions’.  It is not told how the manager or steward is ‘squandering’, but the rich man must believe and take as creditable the allegations against his manager.  It is clear what the outcome will be for the manager from what the rich man tells the steward, ‘for you can no longer be manager.’  Basically, ‘you are fired’.  This position of authority and responsibility is being taken away from him.  But before I let you go, the rich man says, ‘Give an accounting of your management’.

Knowing he is in deep trouble, because the stories are probably true and he has not been wise with the rich mans possessions, the steward or manager realizes he has a problem.  There wasn’t any government agency looking over his shoulder, nor a certified organization he was a part of as a ‘steward’.  So the steward reasons, he is to weak to work for a true living and to ashamed to beg probably because of his previous life style and ‘power’ he leveraged as manager.  So he begins to call the debtors of the rich man in and ‘shrewdly’ cut the bills of all the debtors, whether it was oil, wheat or other commodity.  Yet, Jesus says it correctly, “for the sons of this age are more shrewd in relation to their own kind than the sons of light.”  The manager was trying to win favor, not only with his boss, but also with the people he had dealt wrongly with, so when he would be put out of his position, the people might have pity on him.  But Jesus uses a word that we need to understand clearly.  The decisions we make with what we have today will have ‘eternal’ consequences.

This is why Jesus then continues saying, “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.”  We have a human and a divine responsibility to be faithful with what we have been given.  This not only means our own personal property, but also the responsibilities of others we are entrusted with.  I know the farmers here at Emmanuel understand this clearly.  When they enter into a contract with their landowner to grow crops, care for the land and be the steward of what was entrusted to them, the farmer is clearly responsible as steward of the property entrusted to his care. 

We as Christians also have a responsibility to be faithful with what we have been entrusted.  Jesus continues saying, “Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you?  And if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?”  That is a very profound saying.  Jesus clearly says if you can’t be trusted with others property, wealth or riches, how can you be entrusted with the ‘true riches’?  For landowners, it could mean more land to rent, more responsibility and more trust that could in fact mean greater prestige and greater responsibility, but also a larger pay check at harvest or when paid their wages or what was agreed upon.  However, the true riches Jesus speaks of in the parable are not specified, but clearly the riches are alluded to in the next sentence.  “You cannot serve God and wealth.”  The true riches are what God will give us as a reward.  Remember I mentioned the word ‘eternal’, our ‘eternal reward’ is what we need to be concerned with.

But it does not end with our possessions or things that can pass away.  Jesus says, “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”  Truly our wealth is something that can be here today and gone tomorrow.  I have heard stories of wheat harvests that with combines on the field were hailed out because of a freak hailstorm, or like this year a very dry year that causes both the dry land and irrigated corn harvest to vanish with each passing day without rain or lessening of the oppressive heat.  This begs the question, where do we place our treasure and emphasis on the things of this world or on the things in heaven?  On the things that are temporal like corn and wheat, land and house?  Or on the treasure that will not pass away, like eternal life?

Truly the steward in our story attempted to serve himself, was caught and then tried to protect himself.  Are we no different?  Have we served ourselves in the societal mindset of gaining wealth at the cost of the eternal treasure in heaven?  In some regards I think we have.  And I am again, like last week saying with Paul, “I am the greatest among sinners” in this regard.  As a Pastor, this is difficult to confess, but I have placed earthly reward, acclaim and ego above God’s divine plan and purpose.  And this does have eternal consequences.  For Jesus words ring true in my ears, “You cannot serve God and wealth”.

Are any of us here today any different?  I would venture to say, we are all under this judgment, because of our fallen sinful nature given to us by our parents, Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  What then can we do?  By ourselves we can do nothing.  Paul says it clearly, “for all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God.”  We are unable to save or redeem ourselves.  Thus, even the steward who tried to ‘cut’ the losses for the rich man, could not regain his reputation, nor his office.  We are no different.

But, Paul in the very next verse of Romans (3:23-24) champions the cause saying, “being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus”.  Jesus Christ through His sacrificial life, death and resurrection offers each of us eternal life.  Though we cannot follow the law and our works condemn us, when we rely upon the free gift of Grace offered by Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary, our treasure no longer is on this earth, but is in heaven.  When we do our work, our business and our actions for the glory of God as our focus, we begin to understand that redemption is found, not in our individual actions, but in what Jesus Christ did on the Cross of Calvary for all of mankind.

Consider if you will, in the movie “Avengers” Captain America asks a question of Tony Stark when they are in the lab with Bruce Banner and Black Widow.  Could he make the sacrifice play?  Would Tony Stark be able to do something for others no matter the cost to himself?
Jesus Christ did exactly that when He was nailed to the Cross.  Jesus Christ offered Himself as the living sacrifice in order to offer all of mankind the greatest gift of eternal life.  In that one moment upon the Cross, Jesus Christ accounted for all time and all place the entirety of the sins of mankind.  Jesus Christ did this freely and offers each of us today who believe in Him and His sacrificial death on Calvary eternal life.  Jesus Christ did this not just for the steward he told the story of, the rich man or only for the Jews He was trying to teach.  Jesus Christ accounted for the sins of the entire world of all time and all place, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord, our Savior and our perfect atonement.  AMEN.
//trial script