Sunday, September 25, 2011
Rise and Go Your Way!
If you would like to hear the sermon preached at Trinity Lutheran Church in Layton, Utah for the Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity, "Rise and Go Your Way" click on this MP3 audio link. The audio includes the Hymn of the Day, LSB #814, "O Bless the Lord, My Soul." The sermon begins at the 1:55 mark.
Rise and go your way in Christ, the way of salvation, washed clean of the leprosy of your sin and born into the kingdom of heaven.
A servant of the Word and His folk,
Here is the preaching manuscript if you prefer to read along or read instead.
TEXT: Luke 17:11-19 11On the way to Jerusalem [Jesus] was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance 13and lifted up their voices, saying, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us." 14When he saw them he said to them, "Go and show yourselves to the priests." And as they went they were cleansed. 15Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16and he fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17Then Jesus answered, "Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" 19And he said to him, "Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well."
"Rise and go your way!" This is what the Lord, your God, is telling you every time you hear the words by which you were born again from above and into the kingdom of heaven--in the name of the Father ,and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
"Rise and go your way!" This is what the Lord, your God, is telling you when the Church begins her liturgy of the Divine Service every Lord's Day with the Invocation--in the name of the Father ,and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
"Rise and go your way!" This is what the Lord, your God, is telling you when—having confessed your sins--you receive absolution from the pastor--in the name of the Father ,and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
"Rise and go your way!" This is what the blessed Martin Luther wanted to call to your mind when he wrote his instructions for daily prayer in The Small Catechism, where he wrties:
"In the morning, when you rise/In the evening, when you go to bed, you shall bless yourself with the holy cross and say, 'In the name of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.'"
"Rise and go your way!" because in the Sacrament of Holy Baptism that has been poured over you, God "works forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare. Which are these words and promises of God? Christ, our Lord, says in the last chapter of Mark, 'Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned'" [Mark 16:16]. - Small Catechism, The Sacrament of Holy Baptism, Part Two
"Rise and go your way!" because, "the Word of God, which is in and with the water of [the Sacrament of Holy Baptism], makes Baptism a gracious water of life and a washing of regeneration in the Holy Spirit. As St. Paul says in Titus chapter three, 'He saved us … by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy'" [vv. 5-8]. - Small Catechism, The Sacrament of Holy Baptism, Part Three
"Rise and go your way!" because in the Sacrament of Holy Baptism the "water God has poured over you signifies that the old Adam in you should, by daily contrition and repentance, be drowned and die with all sins and evil lusts. And also it shows that a new man should daily come forth and arise, who shall live before God in righteousness and purity forever. As Paul says in Romans chapter 6, 'We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life'" [v. 4]. - Small Catechism, The Sacrament of Holy Baptism, Part Four
When Jesus told the Samaritan sinner--I mean leper--"Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well," He was giving this one even more than what He had given the rest. The other nine were cleansed of their leprosy and had their bodily disease healed just as certainly as had the Samaritan sinner—I mean, leper. But something more happens with the Samaritan sinner—I mean, leper. In addition to being cleansed and healed of his leprosy, Jesus declared the Samaritan leper—and by leper, now I mean sinner—to be saved.
Why? Because by his cleansing and healing encounter with Jesus, the Holy Spirit brought him to believe that Jesus is the Son of the Living God.
How can I say this so confidently? Because, as Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13:3, "No one can say, 'Jesus is Lord,' except by the Holy Spirit." And when the Samaritan sinner "turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks," he was repenting of his sin and confessing, "Jesus as his Lord.
Here it will be helpful to understand something about the disease of leprosy, because to do so is also to understand sin. The white, flaky skin and terrible festering sores of leprosy are an indication and result of a systemic condition. As if leprosy's uncleanness and sores of the flesh are not enough, it also causes a numbing of the nerves that prevents one from feeling pain. While this might seem like a good thing, it prevents one inflicted with the disease from realizing the damage being caused and the danger posed. Sin works the same way.
Because sin is such an insidious condition, Luther reminds us of the importance of hearing the Word and receiving the body and blood of our Savior often in his Large Catechism explanation to THE SACRAMENT OF THE ALTAR.
75 But if you say, "What, then, shall I do if I cannot feel such distress or experience
hunger and thirst for the Sacrament?" Answer, "For those who are of such a mind that they do not realize their condition I know no better counsel than that they put their hand into their shirt to check whether they have flesh and blood. And if you find that you do, then go, for your good, to St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians. Hear what sort of a fruit your flesh is:
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies and things like these. [Galatians 5:19-21]
76 Therefore, if you cannot discern this, at least believe the Scriptures. They will not lie to you, and they know your flesh better than you yourself. Yes, St. Paul further concludes in Romans 7:18, "I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh." If St. Paul may speak this way about his flesh, we cannot assume to be better or more holy than him. 77 But the fact that we do not feel our weakness just makes things worse. It is a sign that there is a leprous flesh in us that can't feel anything. And yet, the leprosy rages and keeps spreading. 78 As we have said, if you are quite dead to all sensibility, still believe the Scriptures, which pronounce sentence upon you. In short, the less you feel your sins and infirmities, the more reason you have to go to the Sacrament to seek help and a remedy.
On p. 329 of LSB, you will find The Small Catechism's "Christian Questions with Their Answers,: Prepared by Dr. Martin Luther for those who intend to go to the Sacrament" [to receive the body and blood of Christ]. Let us now examine ourselves together. Please recite the answers with me as I ask the questions beginning on p. 329.
[Ask Questions of, and recite Answers with congregation]
Dear Baptized, you who have been instructed, examined and absolved according to the Word of God, come now to the table of the Lord. And for you who have not yet been so instructed, examined, absolved, or baptized, come receive these things here at Trinity so that with the Samaritan sinner and all the Baptized, you will believe and be saved when you hear Jesus say to you--"Rise and go your way!" Even more than the ten lepers, you have been washed clean. Because you have been forgiven all your sins and born from above to life in the kingdom of heaven, now and forever--in the name of the Father ,and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen