Archive for the ‘Exodus 20:1-17’ Category

It’s Not About You…It’s About the Cross!

Sunday, March 15th, 2009

Pastor Brian Henderson-Trinity Lutheran Church, San Diego
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“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” [v. 18]

INTRODUCTION: One thing that becomes evident to every Christian who takes their walk of faith seriously is that God’s ways are not our ways.  God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, nor are they even like ours.  We aren’t even in the same neighborhood.  We’re thinking preserve the body and He’s thinking, save the soul.  We dream of a pay raise and He dreams of raising the dead.  We avoid pain and seek peace, God uses pain to bring peace.  “I’m going to live before I die,” we resolve and He says, “Die so you can live.”  We love what rusts, He loves what endures.  We rejoice in our successes and He rejoices at our confessions.  We show our children the Chargers football star and say, “Be like LT.” and God points to His crucified Son and says, “be like Christ.”  [Idea from Max Lucado-The Great House of God]

Our thoughts are not like God’s thoughts and our ways are not like His ways.  He has a different agenda.  He dwells in a different dimension.  But through the gift of faith, we now are able to look at something the world calls foolishness and instead see the love of God.  Instead of being intrigued by the power and wisdom of the world we have been captivated by the power and wisdom of God as communicated by the cross…that is until we forget that God’s ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts, and we begin to think like the world.

Dear friends, God knows how easy it is for you to slip into the thinking patterns of this world.  He knows what a strong temptation it is for you to follow the pack and eventually have your eyes turned from Your Creator and instead look to that which is created as your source of wisdom and strength.  That is why he has repeated so many times that He will destroy the wisdom of the world.  Through the prophet Isaiah He says, “therefore, behold, I will again do wonderful things with this people, with wonder upon wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish”.  [Isa. 29:14  ] In the book of Job, God says that, “He frustrates the devices of the crafty, so that their hands achieve no success. (And) He catches the wise in their own craftiness, and the schemes of the wily are brought to a quick end.” [Job 5:12, 13]   Through the prophet Jeremiah God says, “The wise men shall be put to shame; they shall be dismayed and taken; behold, they have rejected the word of the Lord, so what wisdom is in them?”  And how does He do all of this?  As the prophet Jeremiah has said, He does it through His Word; through the Law and Gospel.

God’s Law comes to us under two tables of stone that can’t be broken.  One table demands that we must love God with all of our heart and mind, and the other demands that we must love our neighbor as we love ourselves.  This foolish world believes that it can satisfy the demands of God’s Law through careful living and doing their very best.  The business owners in our gospel lesson surely thought that they were honoring the first table of God’s Law by providing goods and services that the Jewish worshipers would need once they entered the temple.  They bought their permit to do business and began to sell livestock and birds that would be needed for private and corporate sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins.  There was one problem though…they forgot that they were already in God’s temple.  You see, they set up shop in the court of the gentiles.  This was a place where non-Jews who were in the process of learning about God went to pray and learn more about their new faith; now they had to worship God in a stock yard.

These same business owners also must have thought that they were fulfilling the second table of the Law by offering a service to their neighbors who needed to change their money into temple currency.  There was one problem with that, they were charging exorbitant exchange rates that God’s Law called usury!

Every time the unbelieving wise and powerful of this world thinks they are doing pretty well, God’s Law breaks in like a mirror and shows them their true condition…they are sinners!  Every time they feel pleased with themselves, God’s Law barges in and overturns their tables of comfort and deceit, and demands, “Take these things away!”  “What things Lord,” they may ask?  To which His Law responds, “Your self-righteous, and self sufficient attitude!”  “But Lord” they reply, “we have done our very best”.  And to that he takes the whip of His Holy Law and drives them from His presence. 

Dear friends, when God’s Law terrifies the unbelieving world, they must flee from Him just as the merchants fled from Jesus that fateful day in the temple.  Just as the merchants were forced by the Son of God to flee outside of the sanctuary, so the blatant unrepentant sin of pride and self-sufficiency of unbelievers separates them from their Holy and all-powerful Creator. What can be done to free them from this awful terror?

They must turn to the very thing that they laugh at and belittle; they must turn to the cross and their crucified Savior!  Friends, when the unbelieving world ridicules you for your simple faith in Jesus Christ, do not be discouraged or disappointed; they are not ridiculing you but instead they are laughing at the very means that God has provided for them as the sole source of rescue from His Holy Law…the cross of Jesus Christ!   They cannot understand how something so simple and repugnant can take away the terror of sin and ultimately death.  They cannot understand why you feel no terror in God’s Law.  They can never understand how you can be thankful in situations where they would experience only fear and worry.  They can never understand these things unless through God’s Word and the working of the Holy Spirit they are given the gift of faith to see that Jesus is not only God’s best way of saving them, He is God’s only way!

Finally dear friends, we must remember that while the unbelieving world may look down on us as being simple minded and weak, we must never do the same to each other.  We must not let the ways of the world divide us.  We must learn to put aside any personal, political, cultural, or economic differences that we may have with each other and be of one mind and one heart.  The mind and heart we must have must be that of Jesus Christ!  And where is His mind and heart?  It is with those very same people that belittle His cross; the place where He suffered and died for them.  For this is the will of (the) Father, that none should perish, but that all should reach repentance.  (So) that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life.

We shall close our message this morning with this short story and a final thought: A reporter went to an asylum for the criminally insane to gather information for a story. He was a bit surprised to find that there were only three guards to take care of a hundred inmates. He said to one of the guards, “Aren’t you afraid that the inmates will unite, overcome you, and escape?” The guard said, “No were not, you see lunatics never unite.” 

Perhaps lunatics never unite but the world we live in is united against our Lord and what they perceive to be the foolishness of the cross and the folly of our faith.  They want to shut us up, because they feel if they can do that, then they have shut out the message of the cross.  Isn’t it time that we united with sole purpose of taking God’s message of the cross to a dying world?  How can we do this and succeed when we are up against such a powerful force?  Well, it’s not about you dear friends, it’s about the cross!  You see, we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block and foolishness to (the unbelieving world), but to those who are called, Christ crucified is the power and wisdom of God unto salvation! 

May God continue to lead us through His Word to continually to His cross as our sole source of strength and wisdom.  In Jesus name…AMEN!  SGD