SERMONS

    Second Midweek Lent Service- The Trial
  • Second Midweek Lent service
    February 24, 2021
     
     
    Mark 14:53-65
     
    PONDER THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST: The Trial
     
     I. The plan was for God to send His Son to the cross
             II. The plan was for God to send His Son to the earth again
     
     
    53They led Jesus away to the high priest. All the chief priests, the elders, and the experts in the law gathered together. 54Peter followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. He was sitting with the guards and warming himself at the fire.
    55The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for testimony against Jesus in order to put him to death, but they did not find any. 56Many testified falsely against him, but their testimonies did not agree. 57Some stood up and gave this false testimony against him: 58“We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with hands, and in three days I will build another made without hands.’” 59Yet even on this point, their testimony did not agree.
    60The high priest stepped forward and questioned Jesus, “Have you no answer? What is this they are testifying against you?”
    61But Jesus was silent and did not answer anything.
    Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?”
    62“I am,” Jesus said. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power and coming with the clouds of heaven.”
    63The high priest tore his robes and said, “Why do we need any more witnesses? 64You have heard the blasphemy! What do you think?”
    They all condemned him as being worthy of death. 65Then some began to spit on him. They covered his face and struck him with their fists, saying, “Prophesy!” The guards also took him and beat him.
     
      I. The plan was for God to send His Son to the cross
       
    In the name of Jesus, the Son of God, the sinners’ only Savior, fellow Lenten worshipers of Him who is the great “I AM”,
     
    Do you know where this cross came from? Before our ladies group purchased an artificial Christmas tree, this was the largest part of the trunk from the last real Christmas tree our congregation displayed here. Although there’s sentimental value to this cross, this cross isn’t particularly impressive, is it?
     
    We gather these Lent Wednesday nights to see not this cross, but Christ’s cross. It will take until the last midweek Lent service to get to Calvary in the Passion History reading, the last two midweek service sermons to get to the hill on which Jesus was crucified. So, we worship tonight not to see Christ’s physical cross, but to see the spiritual facts connected to His death. Here we learn that Christ’s death is God’s plan – the plan for God the Father to send God the Son to the cross, and for God the Father to send God the Son to earth again. 
     
    After Christ was captured in Gethsemane as part of the conspiracy between Judas and the Jewish church leaders, Jesus was taken first to the former high priest, respected Annas, then to the official high priest of the Jews, younger Caiaphas, the son-in-law of Annas. Who would make the decision about what happened to Jesus? Annas or Caiaphas? Neither. It was all God’s plan – Christ’s plan since He is truly God!
     
    The Jewish church officials lured liars to make a case against Christ by accusing Him of things He had not done or said. But the lying witnesses “did not agree” (v. 56). When asked about that testimony, Jesus “was silent and did not answer anything” (v. 61). That didn’t matter to Caiaphas. He kept a card up his sleeve, then used it with his question he was sure would put Jesus in an inescapable dilemma. “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One” (v. 61)?
     
    As the high priest, Caiaphas knew the Old Testament centered on the promises about the Messiah, the Hebrew word for the Greek word Christ, the Anointed One. The Messiah would be sent by God for the essential work to save the world. All faithful Jews for centuries longed to see the Messiah’s day. Sadly, like most of the Jews of Christ’s day, Caiaphas rejected the truth from Jesus that He is the Messiah, “the Christ”, the long-promised Savior sent by God to the cross to save the world.
     
    To expose Jesus of Nazareth before the ruling court of the Jewish church as a blaspheming impostor who claimed to be God come to earth in the flesh, Caiaphas asked the question in a way that left no wiggle room for Jesus. “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?” Caiaphas was convinced Jesus was trapped no matter how He answered. If He says, “Yes”, He’s doomed to death because He claims for Himself what only God can claim for Himself. There’s no way He’s the Son of God, the Son of the Blessed One! And if He says, “No”, He’s admitting He’s lied for years about being the promised Savior.
     
    This time, Jesus couldn’t remain silent. And He didn’t. The Lord answered the loaded question with two words, or one word in the Hebrew with which He addressed the Jewish high priest. “I am” (v. 62). Their Hebrew ears heard in that answer the same word Jesus used centuries earlier, long before He had taken on human flesh. At the burning, but not burned up, bush He said to their revered ancestor Moses, “I am who I am…I am has sent Me to you” (Exodus 3:14). Our Savior had made many similar statements during His ministry “I am the Good Shepherd, the Vine, the Light of the world, the resurrection and the life” and more.
     
    That same statement made at His trial wasn’t the Savior’s way to sneer at those who hated Him and were trying to convict Him falsely, “Hah! I’m right and you’re all wrong!” Jesus answered in truth, from power, with love to say, “I am the One sent from heaven by My Father as promised to be the sinners’ Substitute and remove the curse of hell hanging over all people. When I go to the cross in the morning, it will be to make the sacrifice that you and all sinners desperately need Me to make. Sending Me to the cross isn’t your idea. It’s God’s plan!”
     
    Our Savior showed who was really in control. It wasn’t Caiaphas and his cleverly worded question to trap the Savior. It was the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and the Triune God’s perfectly laid out plan to save the entire world!
     
    See His cross. It’s all God’s plan. This wasn’t a crooked trial that tragically put an innocent man to death. This was God using what He knew blinded Jewish church leaders would do to fulfill His plan to rescue damned sinners – you and me. This wasn’t a bitter Jesus who silently let men whom He had created have their horrible way with Him. This was the loving Lord agreeing to go to the cross because His is the only payment that redeems us. This wasn’t a weak Christ caving in to a plot that He was powerless to stop. This was the eternal Savior carrying out the plan for which He was sent to earth – the greatest deliverance in all the world for all the world because no one else in the world can erase the stain of sin, remove the curse of hell, crush the head of Satan!
     
          II. The plan was for God to send His Son to the earth again
     
    The recent presidential campaigns featured talking points. Not wanting a candidate to say something wrong or make an absurd promise, advisors told their candidate, “Stay on topic. Don’t let them get you to say anything beyond our talking points.”
     
    Jesus needed no ministry managers telling Him what to say, what points to emphasize, what topics to avoid. In one of the last times before He died that Jesus would speak about His plan and purpose, He went beyond what Caiaphas had asked Him. Jesus took the opportunity to say in the presence of the Jewish church leaders that what was happening was out of their control; it was by divine design. As we worship tonight, we see it’s all God’s plan. Yes, the plan was to send the Son to the cross. But God’s plan is also to send the Son to earth again.
     
    In a modern court, the prosecuting attorney would object and the presiding judge would tell the defendant Jesus, “Just answer the question!” But in that court that night the defendant was the One who is the highest power in the universe. For three years Jesus had preached, “You sinners need Me to suffer and die for you!” He goes willingly to the cross rather than at a church court command! To that, He added, “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power and coming with the clouds of heaven” (v. 62). That’s God’s plan, too.
     
    “The Son of Man” is the phrase Jesus used most often to refer to Himself during His preaching and teaching. It was His way to say, “I have come as the Substitute for sinners. The reason I don’t look like many people assume the Messiah should look is that I’ve come in humility to take the place of all people as I suffer the punishment of hell deserved by every sinner.”
     
    “Sitting at the right hand” doesn’t mean Jesus now sits on a throne to the Father’s right in heaven. It’s a phrase used many times in Scripture to teach that the Savior reigns with power in heaven no that His mission on earth is perfectly completed.
     
    “Coming with the clouds of heaven” is familiar to us who confess each week Jesus “will come again to judge the living and the dead.” Even as He knew He’d be going to the cross in just hours, Jesus declared He wouldn’t stay dead. He would rise from the dead, return to heaven, and will come to earth again. Then He will judge all people based on their trust – or lack of trust – in Him and what He does for sinners.
     
    It’s all God plan! The Father will send the Son to earth again to judge. On that Last Day, Caiaphas and Annas, Pilate and Herod, the Jews who screamed for His blood and the crucified criminal who mocked His work will stand before Jesus – and tremble. On that day, we will stand before Jesus – and rejoice!
     
    Our joy will not flow from our earthly efforts or accomplishments. If we were to stand before God on our own merits, we’d be sent to hell. Our joy will be Christ’s life, death, and resurrection for us. He who came as a baby in Bethlehem, lived in poverty, let enemies arrest and convict Him and hit and crucify Him will be sent to earth again when He will welcome us to heaven based on His work to remove all our guilt before God.
     
    There are only two kinds of people in the world. There are those who look to Christ’s cross and cradle and all He did and all He is as their salvation. There are those who ignore His cross and cradle and all He did and all He is because they think that they or their careers or their possessions are more important that Christ and His work. We trust His suffering to bring us condemned sinners everlasting peace with the holy God. We trust His wounds to heal us spiritually. Because all that is most certainly true and is most certainly God’s plan, we trust that when He comes again, He will free us from every evil, all sorrow, and the fear of death.      Amen.
    Pastor David A. Voss
    First Sunday in Lent - God Is for Us Right Now
  • First Sunday in Lent
    February 21 2021
     
    Hymns                        714,   200,   449     
    First Lesson                Genesis 22:1-1
    Psalm                          6 (page 66)
    Second Lesson            Romans 8:31-38
    Gospel Lesson            Mark 1:12-15
     
     
    Romans 8:31-38
    God Is for Us Right Now
      I. Right now we have the Savior
       II. Right now we have forgiveness
    III. Right now we have the victory
     
     
    In the name of Christ Jesus, our Savior, fellow sinners beloved by the Lord,
     
    The little girl looked fearfully, almost tearfully, over the side of the new boat on her first ride, and asked, “Daddy, is the water over my head?” When Dad said, “Yes”, she paused a bit, then asked, “Is it over your head, Mom?” Mom said, “It is.” After another pause the daughter posed a third question. “Is it over God’s head?” When both Dad and Mom answered in unison, “No”, she relaxed and enjoyed the rest of the ride.
     
    We adults smile and think, What a cute story! If only it worked that way for life’s big worries! It does! What the little girl trusted is what this lesson and all the Word is all about. Some of God’s children count these verses of Romans the greatest section of comfort and power God gives in all His Word. God’s purpose isn’t to get us all to agree this is the best part of His Word, but to give us what we need today, tomorrow, every day.
     
    You may be carrying crises or bearing burdens as you worship God today. We won’t argue whose crisis is most critical, whose burden is biggest. We will be still, listen to God, and take His truths to heart. Whether your crises or burdens are financial or family matters, just arose or have been festering for months, what God tells us calms our nerves and warms our hearts.
     
    Really?! What can God say to make my troubles go away?! Wrong question. What God says about what He has done and continues to do helps us cope with what has been keeping us up at night and making us edgy all day. God is not a life insurance policy who pays off for us only when we die. “God is (not will be, but is) for us (v. 31), that means right now! Right now we have the Savior, have forgiveness, and have the victory.
     
    I. Right now we have the Savior 
     
    In the first eleven chapters of Romans, God emphasizes in great detail the truths that we are sinners who can’t save ourselves, but God has done it all to deliver us. The last five chapters of the letter then show God’s delivered children how we live in that blessed light. Though this lesson comes from the first section, it really covers both. Because God is for us right now, we enjoy life as His saved people right now.
     
    Hold it! Can we really be sure? It says, “If God is for us”. What if God is not for us? Good question! God has the perfect answer. To understand God’s answer, consider these two sentences. If it snows a lot, there won’t be school tomorrow. If it’s Sunday, there’s no school today. One is iffy; the other is certain. And in the certain one If could be changed to Since. Since it’s Sunday, there’s no school today. So here. It’s not iffy; it’s rock solid – absolutely, divinely true. The Greek word could be translated Since. Since God is for us”.
     
    Do we need proof God is for us? “He…did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all” (v. 32). Our Father in heaven didn’t say, “No way! He’s My Son! I’m not going to let Him suffer for all of you who sin against Me every day!” It makes our day every day for God to say, “He’s My Son, true God and now true man who came to earth. He’s just what you need Him to be to make you sinners Mine forever. I handed Him over in humility, for suffering, and to death for you all.” Not just down the road of life, but right now!, God is for us as the Savior!
     
    And He who gave us the greatest gift ever goes on to say, “Will I not also graciously give you all things along with Him” (v. 32)? All we need, God “graciously” gives us. It’s not that He owes us anything or we’ve done anything to deserve any good from God. It’s only that He wants us to have what we need, and He wants to give it to us freely. Sure, that’s food to eat and healthy things to drink, air to breathe and hearts that beat, loved ones to care for us and friends to cheer us – earthly gifts. But it’s even more the Word and sacraments that center on His Son, the spiritual blessings He showers on us to build up our faith.
     
    Not just on the days we’re in deep trouble, not just on the future day we’re on our death bed, but right now “God is for us” with His Son as our Savior. God is on our side with more than nice feelings for us and kind thoughts about us. He has acted in love and on our behalf to give us the Savior we’d never seek on our own. That puts deep cares, troubles, and sorrows in their place!
     
      II. Right now we have forgiveness

    Most people see themselves as good people whose greatest challenge in life is staying on the right road. They’re wrong! God reminded us in our Ash Wednesday psalm that all born of man and woman inherit from their parents already at conception their parents’ sinful nature. All people are from birth spiritually dead and lost, marked for condemnation in hell.
     
    Only those who see themselves as God sees them – by nature lost! – truly depend on God. Like the little girl, we see ourselves in danger of drowning – in damnation! So, how wonderful to hear, “God is for us”! Right now we God’s forgiveness.
     
    Our sinful nature shrugs off its rebellion against God and does not want to do anything about that. Does your sinful nature roll its eyes each Sunday when you confess that you deserve nothing but God’s punishment now and forever? Or don’t you pay attention when confessing that to God? And even if we wanted to do something about our rebellion against God, what could we do? What credit could we claim before God? What payment for our sins against God could we offer God? The payment He demands for one sin is hell!
     
    That’s why isn’t just nice, it’s essential!, that “God is for us” right now, right in the midst of our sinful lives. Because of His love in action for us in “Christ Jesus” (v. 34), His Son, our Savior, God doesn’t hold our sins against us. Because “Christ Jesus” took on Himself the punishment of hell we deserved, we have the forgiveness we need. We have it right now!
     
    “Who will bring an accusation against” (v. 33) us? That’s a rhetorical question, as is the next one: “Who is the one who condemns” (v. 34) us before God? The answer to both is No one! Oh, the old evil foe tries. But when he whispers to us How can God love a sinner like you?, we use the little Word of God with the divine power of God behind it: Forgiven! When our conscience dredges up past terrible trespasses and recent secret sins as a reason God should damn us, we silence our conscience with the truth that God is for us right now with His forgiveness.
     
    There’s more! “Christ Jesus, who died and, more than that, was raised to life, is the One who is at God’s right hand and who is also interceding for us” (v. 34). When we get disgusted with ourselves for falling back into the arguments with loved ones or the thoughts we told God we will cut out of our lives, “Christ Jesus” asks His Father not to hold that against us because He paid the price for us. When the world mocks us for following Biblical morals and not adjusting doctrines to fit the way people think today, “Christ Jesus” uses His Word to let us know that walking in His truth is the way His forgiven people live. Not just later, but right now, God is for us!
     
    III. Right now we have the victory
     
    Will Satan succeed in attacking us in God’s courtroom? With Christ as our Defense Attorney and His relationship with the Judge, not a chance! But how about the wear and tear of everyday Christian living? Don’t we grow weary of all the trouble we face? Don’t our hardships take a heavy toll on us? Notice God does not ignore such sorrows! Against the TV evangelists who suggest life with God is a bed of roses, God’s great apostle Paul here addresses the adversities we face – and the truth that even in trouble “God is for us”. Because He is, right now we have the victory, even when it doesn’t feel like we have it.
     
    God gives no guarantee “trouble or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword” (v. 35) will not happen to His people, whether in Rome then or in mid-Michigan now. Paul knew from his life as a believer those do happen to God’s people. We know – from prayers we offer here for fellow believers and from the low spots in our lives – those do happen to God’s people. Paul’s situation was – and ours is, too – like the one the psalmist wrote about and the Spirit had Paul quote here. God’s people at times are like “sheep to be slaughtered” (v. 36) as we stand up for Godly truths in a sinful world.
     
    Is that a surprise? Didn’t the Lord Jesus Himself tell those who follow Him in every age, “If anyone wants to follow Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24)? The sinful world hates God’s truths and God’s ways. At times the situation seems hopeless. But look deeper! “If (Since) God is for us, who can be against us?” Will God let any of these things separate us from Him? Never!
     
    The question, then, is, Will we let those things separate us from God? “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (v. 37). Notice, not just “conquerors”, but more than conquerors”! We are the wealthiest, strongest, most victorious people in the world in Christ!
     
    If you had all the money in the world in your bank account, what good would it do you if you die Thursday? If you had access to the best medical care in the world, would good would it do you if a driver having a heart attack crosses the center line and hits you head-on tomorrow? But since, not if, but since, because, the gracious God loves us so much He handed over His holy Son to suffer our hell and through His Son He forgives us our every sin, we have the victory, His victory, right now!
     
    In any other area of life we’d think, That sounds too good to be true! What’s the catch? But when it comes to the most important matter of life, God’s relationship with us, it is true and there is no catch. This victory is no credit to us, doesn’t depend on anything we do, isn’t accomplished by our love for and devotion to God (which often run more cold than hot, right?).
     
    It’s the other way around. We’re “more than conquerors through Him who loved us. When it is God’s love on which the victory depends, nothing in all the creation God made has the power to cut us off from God! But we don’t get complacent! While nothing in the world, not even Satan, is more powerful against us than the powerful love of God is for us, we still can cave in and let Satan have his damning way with us. But, assured of the victory we have in Christ already now and certainly eternally, why would we given in to the devil?
     
    God is for us right now! That is our confidence. That is why we know everything in our lives serves for our ultimate good. Suffering? God uses it to lead us to look to Him for spiritual strength in His love for us and His death in our place. Pressures to throw Jesus away and enjoy what the sinful world does? God uses those to lead us to hear again what we have in “Christ Jesus”. We have the Savior and the forgiveness and the victory right now – all because “God is for us” right now!      Amen.
    Pastor David A. Voss
    Ash Wednesday - Ponder the Passion of the Christ: The Betrayal
  • Ash Wednesday
    February 17, 2021
     
    PONDER THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST: The Betrayal 
     I. Christ fights for us by turning Himself in (vv. 47-50)
       II. Christ fights for us by showing Himself off (vv. 51-56)

     Matthew 26:47-56
                        47While Jesus was still speaking, suddenly Judas (one of the Twelve) arrived. With him was a large crowd with swords and clubs, who came from the chief priests and elders of the people. 48Now the betrayer had given them a sign: “The one I kiss is the man. Arrest him.” 49Immediately he went to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.
                        50Jesus said to him, “Friend, why are you here?”
                Then they advanced, took hold of Jesus, and arrested him. 51Suddenly, one of the men with Jesus reached out his hand, drew his sword, and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. 52Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place, because all who take the sword will die by the sword. 53Do you not realize that I could call on my Father, and at once he would provide me with more than twelve legions of angels? 54But then how would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen this way?”
                        55At that same time Jesus said to the crowd, “Have you come out to arrest me with swords and clubs as if I were a robber? Day after day I was sitting in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. 56But all this has happened so that the writings of the prophets would be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.
     
     
    In the name of Jesus Christ, fellow Passion season worshipers,
     
    There are many interesting people in the Passion History. Pilate’s wife – her dream about Jesus, then warning her husband to have nothing to do with Jesus. Pilate – washing his hands from the guilt of Jesus. Peter – confessing Christ, denying Christ, and when he wasn’t putting his foot in his mouth rashly, taking a sword and trying to take the Messiah’s matters into his own hands. The women – following our Lord so faithfully. Judas – betraying Jesus.
     
    But none of them died for us or did anything for us – except Peter writing two letters that are part of God’s Word. But even that was God’s work through Peter. In fact, what we remember about the people in the Passion History lessons is that they looked out for themselves, except for the faithful women who focused only on serving their Savior.
     
    The Passion History spotlight must shine on Jesus! Tonight we see Him fighting for us. Really? The One who was silent while He was spit on, slapped, beaten, taken in chains, tortured with whips, bloodied by thorns, then pierced with nails? Because He didn’t fight to prevent any of that, the devil wants us to judge Jesus a weak victim, powerless to escape. These events in the Garden of Gethsemane make it seem Satan is right.
     
    But we view these events with the eyes of faith. Only the eyes of faith forged and strengthened by the Holy Spirit see these events as the Savior fighting for us. Only the heart of a faith kept burning brightly by the Spirit ponders these events of the Passion of the Christ as Him fighting for us. In His betrayal by Judas, we see Christ fighting for us as He turns Himself in, and fighting for us as He shows Himself off.
     
     I. Christ fights for us by turning Himself in (vv. 47-50)
     
    The Passover celebration in the Upper Room Jesus had with His disciples had ended. The Sacrament of Holy Communion had been established by Christ for His Church until time ends. Christ’s detailed lessons for His disciples were completed.
     
    From the Upper Room it was off to Gethsemane. Jesus prayed there about His suffering and death. As true God He knew the horror to be heaped on His holy soul in just hours. The disciples knew the place because Jesus often went there – just east of Jerusalem – to pray. Judas knew where to find Jesus that night.
     
    The Savior’s praying and the disciples’ napping (remember?) were over. Jesus knew what was happening on the paths leading to Gethsemane. “Rise. Let us go. Look, my betrayer is near” (Matthew 26:46). Jesus and eleven disciples – the twelfth was “the betrayer” – waited for the armed soldiers to come into view. When they arrived, Judas was leading them to the place. He greeted Jesus with a kiss, the Middle Eastern equivalent of our handshake. But that was no friendly greeting. That kiss was the prearranged signal for soldiers to arrest Jesus.
     
    If you knew a former friend was plotting behind your back to have you arrested or get you in some other trouble, you’d steer clear of him, right? Christ could have gone somewhere else that night. He could have used His power as God to paralyze the betrayer. But He didn’t. Instead, He turned Himself in.
     
    This was no pathetic surrender. Jesus wasn’t like a cornered rabbit who had no way out. Just the opposite! Jesus asked the soldiers, “Who is it you want?” They replied, “Jesus of Nazareth.” When Jesus of Nazareth answered, “I am He” (John 18:5), He used His power to cause the soldiers – mighty military men! – to fall to the ground helpless.
     
    Who was in charge at the betrayal? Christ, even as He turned Himself in. He wanted His enemies in Gethsemane and wants His followers in mid-Micihgan to know He never gave up, but ever did things His way on earth. He wasn’t being taken against His will. His will was to be taken for us. Didn’t He say months before this, “No one takes My life from Me, but I lay it down on My own” (John 10:18)? Our Ash Wednesday text does say the soldiers “took hold of Jesus, and arrested Him” (v. 50). But that was only because Christ turned Himself in.
     
    Jesus went to meet the enemy, and turn Himself in to the enemy, on His own terms and for our salvation. He willingly set aside His full power as God and chose freely to go to the cross to fight for us – not against soldiers, but against Satan.
     
    Christ’s wasn’t a loving life ended too soon. Christ lovingly went where we should have gone – to endure the punishment of hell. Christ didn’t give up on us, but fought for us – even as He turned Himself in. He did so knowing full well that would lead to the cross. What amazing love we see when we ponder the Passion of the Christ! Christ turned Himself in for us!
     
       II. Christ fights for us by showing Himself off (vv. 51-56)
     
    Judas was determined to hand Jesus over to the Jewish church leaders. The soldiers were determined to take Jesus to court. The disciples were determined to save their own lives. Jesus was determined to do what is best for all of them – Judas, soldiers, Jewish leaders, disciples – and for all of us. As we ponder the passion of Christ, tonight specifically His betrayal, we see Jesus not just turning Himself in, but also showing Himself off.
     
    His wasn’t a cocky showing off. Jesus showed Himself off as the world’s Savior with another healing miracle. When tensions rose and tempers flared in Gethsemane, Peter “reached out his hand, drew his sword, and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear” (v. 51). We read in Luke that Jesus immediately said, “‘Stop! No more of this!’ Then He touched the servant’s ear and healed him” (Luke 22:51).
     
    As was true with all Christ’s miracles, so this wasn’t mostly to make Malchus feel better. Nor was it only to rebuke Peter. As with Christ’s willingly handing Himself over to His enemies and causing the soldiers to fall to the ground, so this was to prove that He is who He says He is: God come in human flesh. This sent to Christ’s enemies the message, Don’t try to take My disciples, or I’ll use My power against you. You will take Me because the Scriptures must be fulfilled (v. 54) that says you will arrest Me. But you can’t take My disciples, because the Word of God says none of them will be harmed.
     
    In His betrayal we see the Savior fight for all sinners, using the power of His holy Word and His divine touch. Christ’s words, “All who take the sword will die by the sword” (v. 51) don’t mean every use of weapons is wrong. It means all who use weapons in anger to get vengeance are wrong. He said, “I could call on My Father, and at once He would provide Me with more than twelve legions of (72,000!) angels” (v. 53) to teach us, too, that He fights for us His way, not man’s way.
     
    All this has happened so that the writings of the prophets would be fulfilled” (v. 56). Christ fights for us by showing Himself off as the promised Savior who comes in fulfillment of His truth. The truth of God is that Jesus would hand Himself over to His enemies, not be beaten into submission by them. The truth of God is that the Messiah wouldn’t fight a bloody battle, but would go to the cross willingly as the Savior. Christ didn’t hide from His enemies; He taught in the temple courts the days before His arrest. He was not a dangerous criminal or ruthless enemy who needed to be met “with swords and clubs” (v. 55). The religious leaders of the Jews wanted Jesus out of the picture because they hated His teachings. Then why didn’t they arrest Him while He was teaching? Because the Old Testament predicted one of His own would betray Him.
     
    Jesus fights for us by speaking to us in His Word. Scripture isn’t a collection of gripping religious stories. It is the record of God’s work to save us. Baptism isn’t a cute ceremony. It is how the Triune God uses the power of His Word with plain water to bring even the tiniest infant to faith in Him. Sinful reason says That doesn’t work! We must have to do something to get so great a blessing! The Savior’s Word says, “Baptism now saves you (1 Peter 3:21). Here I do all the work! Put the sword of your efforts away and trust Me to do My work My way!” There, too, Christ fights for us from the very beginning of our life by showing Himself off as the Savior. The sacred meal the Savior established before going to Gethsemane that night isn’t a religious ritual we are free to adapt to our own liking. It is His sacrament where He does His work with His powerful gospel to assure us of His forgiveness for our sins. Sinful reason says Christ’s body and blood can’t be in there! That’s impossible! The Savior says, “Take eat. This is My body…Take drink. This is My blood” (Matthew 26:26-27).
     
    Christ fights for us, the truth He shows us so clearly in His Passion. The war has been won. He died for us and we are forgiven. “It is finished” (John 19:30) indeed! But the battles rage on daily as the devil tries to drag us off individually. Without the Savior, we are no match for the prince of darkness. But with the Savior fighting for us, showing Himself as our Redeemer in His Word and by His work, we win!
     
    In our daily struggles against the devil who wants to divorce us from the Savior, the Savior fights for us. Christ is done turning Himself in for us. But He continues showing Himself off to us as the Savior on the pages of His Word and in the power of His sacraments. Here and there and there we go for His power in the Passion season – and always! Amen.
    Pastor David A. Voss
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