Friday, July 1, 2011

Sermon July 3, 2011

GOD CONFOUNDS THE WISE; SO THAT WE CAN LIKE BABIES, REST IN CHRIST!

Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord

Text: Matthew 11:25-30

English Standard Version (ESV)

Come to Me, and I Will Give You Rest

25 At that time Jesus declared, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

Dear friends,

There is a scene in the movie “Annie Hall” where Wood Allen’s character is standing in line to at a movie theatre and the man behind him is talking to a lady about the influence of TV and media on society. He’s speaking about Marshall McLuhan – an English professor who wrote an important book on the subject called, “On the Media.”

Woody Allen continues to look and speak to the camera when he says: “What can you do when you get stuck on a movie line with a guy like this behind you?”

He turns and speaks to the man directly: “You don't know anything about Marshall McLuhan's work”— to which the man replies: “Really? I happen to teach a class at Columbia called TV, Media and Culture, so I think that my insights into Mr. McLuhan, well, have a great deal of validity.”

Woody then does a really funny and insightful thing. He says, “I happen to have Mr. McLuhan right here. Come over here for a second?” He brings the man out of the movie line where Mr. McLuhan is standing and says to him: “Tell him.” So Marshall McLuhan looks at the man and says: “I heard, what you were saying. You, know nothing of my work. How you ever got to teach a course in anything is totally amazing.”

The scene ends with Woody Allen looking straight at the camera and us and saying: “Boy, if life were only like this.”

Sometimes man’s wisdom can cause him to trust in his own reason and understanding, leaving little room for anything but an idol made out of his own self-serving image so:

GOD CONFOUNDS THE WISE; SO THAT WE CAN LIKE BABIES, REST IN CHRIST!

The people needed to be compelled. Jesus calls - “Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt: 11:28)

There were some who, through their own wisdom, reason and efforts thought that they could find their way and make peace with God. They would be confounded in their efforts. God keeps Himself hidden. He conceals himself from them. No amount of human effort, by the wise and learned of their day, can find Him and that is why God is so confounding to them. To confound is an interesting verb. It causes one to become confused or perplexed, to fail to distinguish and to mix up, to make something bad … worse, to frustrate or even to damn.

The scribes and the Pharisees of Israel saw themselves as the caretakers of the wisdom and understanding of God’s Law. The Law showed them all God demanded and what He required. The Gospel remained hidden from them because it is only found in the finished work of the God/man Jesus Christ.

(Matt. 11:27) tells us:
27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

Those who were seeking the Father on their terms didn’t find him. The Father and Son know each other intimately. To know the Father they must know the Son and the Father can only be accessed through the Son by His revealing. (Matt. 11:27)

We too can find ourselves looking for God apart from His revelation. We too need to be compelled to cast all our cares on Him. But we too can fall short as we, through our own reason and understanding, seek to make peace with God and know the father on our terms.

You must accept the Son just as a little child does. Through the waters of Baptism the fullness of the Father is known through His revelation in Jesus Christ, His Son our Lord. Belief is not attained through reason or effort but only through faith by God’s gracious will. Many today still fight against this.

We who celebrate our independence this weekend can attest to the blessings of freedom won through the reason, effort, lives and death of many men and women who sacrificed so much, so that you and I can live in a free society and have a voice in determining our future and the future of our country.

Many unfortunately though hope to direct God through their own wisdom in choosing what part of His word applies to them today. Many question the working of God even in the baptizing of an infant because it doesn’t fit their understanding of freedom won (a decision or work we do) as opposed to freedom given (a gift received).

Many still want their vote to count and to find God on their terms! Those who do, through their own wisdom, might hear God say something similar to Mr. McLuhan: “I heard, what you were saying. You, know nothing of my work. Why you ever thought you could reach me through your own reason and efforts is totally amazing.”

GOD CONFOUNDS THE WISE; SO THAT WE CAN LIKE BABIES, REST IN CHRIST!

Jesus thanks the Father for drawing those by childlike faith, through no wisdom or effort of their own, to find rest in Him and his Cross. (Matt. 11:25) His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matt. 11:30) because He has carried all of the world’s sins upon Himself to the cross of Calvary and left them there. Eternal rest for the souls of those who labor and are heavy laden (Matt. 11:28) is found only in Christ, where by the call of the Gospel those with the faith of a little child believe, casting all their cares upon Him who is the one who truly brings real peace.

God gives faith to those who being in need rely on Him who was and is and will forever be God’s Son, the man Christ Jesus. No mere man could have offered words so full of heavenly majesty and divine comfort. He is the fullness of the Godhead in bodily form the image of the invisible God as Col.2:9-12 makes clear.

9For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. 11In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.

He gives divine comfort to all who by faith believe this good news that peace with God is found only in Jesus Christ and that spiritual rest can truly be realized only through him and His cross alone.

Jesus comforts you too. His peace is your peace when by the power of the Holy Spirit you believe the Good News. Christ, through your baptism has washed you clean and you can remember this Good News daily by faith.

God has promised that your comfort and spiritual rest is ongoing because through faith in Him you have received the blessing revealed to the little children in our Gospel reading today and like them, you to believe.

Christ’s yoke is easy because He has carried it for you. He brings Peace because He is the very Prince of Peace. Because Christ has cast his vote for you – you can rest from your worry, wisdom, reason and efforts knowing that He has secured God’s peace for you and gives it to you freely by faith in Him.

The Father is revealed through the Son and the Son has, by grace through faith, revealed the Father to you. This is the comfort that little children and you receive and the same revelation that confounds and perplexes the wise of this world.

(Matt. 11:25)
25 At that time Jesus declared, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; Yes:

GOD CONFOUNDS THE WISE; SO THAT WE CAN LIKE BABIES, REST IN CHRIST!

As we consider the peace we enjoy in the United States this Independence Day, consider also what Martin Luther said about temporal peace and where it comes from when he writes:

How many citizens or people do you suppose have ever once in their lifetime thought that their protection and safety in the city are a gift of God? …Ah, what a great gift of God it is that a man may eat his bit of bread and drink his draught of water in security and peace!

May you be blessed as you remember on this Independence Day the freedom you enjoy; that God has come to you by the working of the Holy Spirit to reveal Christ Jesus and the Father through Him to you giving you true freedom from the world, the flesh and the Devil.

Jesus was, is and will forever be your peace, comfort and rest now and forever by faith.

Amen

And the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in and through Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior now and forever.
Amen

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