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Sermon for Pentecost 7, July 7

The Lamb of GodSermon for Sunday Pent 7 – Luke 10:1-20

Click here for audio 40 Sermon for Pentecost 7.mp3 

 

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

The text for the sermon today is from the Gospel reading appointed for today which comes immediately after last week’s reading.

If last Sunday, Jesus set His face and began His long journey to Jerusalem, this Sunday we understand that His mission is not just limited to Himself but that He calls others to be a part of it.  Did you notice what Jesus tells them to do?  As they go into the towns ahead of Jesus, they are to proclaim the coming kingdom of God has come near and heal the sick.  And we’re left to infer from the after-action report at the end of the reading that they have even been casting out demons.  “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!”  And did you pick up on the other connection with last week’s reading?  Rejection.  Jesus prepares the seventy-two for the rejection they will most certainly face.  “Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves…” Even if the people reject them, “Nevertheless, the kingdom of God has come near.” The seventy-two are caught up in Jesus’ work, Jesus’ mission to bring the kingdom of God near.

Last Sunday Jesus confused a would-be disciple with the truth that the Son of Man had no place to lay His head.  And so like Jesus, the seventy-two are sent out on their mission completely dependent on the hospitality of others, completely dependent, I might add, on the hospitality of those who might well be antagonistic toward them and the message they are proclaiming.  They are sent out to be everything the previous three disciples from last week could not or would not be.  This is the way of following after Jesus.  It is a sacrificial way.  The seventy-two will go out like sacrificial lambs amidst wolves.

One of my goals as a pastor, as a preacher and teacher, is to help people come to a deeper understanding of God’s Word.  Last Thursday being July the Fourth, our nation’s independence day, we heard about the many sacrifices of those who gave so much that we might have what we have.  As high and as hallowed as those sacrifices were, we can make the mistake of equating that level of sacrifice with our Lord’s, turning Jesus into the highest example of someone being good to others and asking others to do the same and getting executed for His trouble.  No.  There is something more happening with Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem.  There is something about the sacrifice He has set His face to make in Jerusalem that dwarfs even those sacrifices of our greatest patriots and it is tied up in this one little word used here, lamb.  If you read the New Testament you’ll find the word for sheep all over the place.  It’s one of those words you learn on sight as a Greek student, probata.  But here, it’s a different word, it’s ἀρήν, and this is the only place in the NT it occurs.  Looking back at the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, we can see that it’s the technical word used for the Passover lamb (12:5) or the burnt offering (Lev. 1:10) or the peace offering (Lev. 3:7).  Rather than some part of arcane Jewish law, this is the bedrock of our understanding of what it means to be a Christian.  Jesus is our Passover lamb, the Lamb of the sin offering, the lamb of the peace offering we share.  And He sends us out to be like Him, like lambs in the midst of wolves.  Christians are not just representing Christ in the world but are Christ in the world.  We are the way the world comes to know about the God who passes over sin.  We are the means through which the world comes to know about the forgiveness of sins Jesus accomplished on the Christ.  It is through us that God brings peace in the world, in a world full of wolves.  Remember God’s own promise through the prophet Isaiah that in His perfect kingdom, the wolf would lie down with the lamb in peace! (Isa 11:16)  The seventy-two, you today are being sent out as members of God’s privileged few who have heard the secrets of the kingdom of God and will bring with you His kingdom wherever you go.

Even more, as you go you carry with you in your very selves, in your physical bodies, the redemption Jesus won for you on His cross in Jerusalem; you carry with you His peace.  The peace which has come down from above is yours and you can give it and receive it back.  You are to speak the peace of the Lord wherever you go.  This is the peace we receive and acknowledge among one another with those words just prior to coming to the Lord’s table.  We do this here just before the service and it’s a common thing in many churches.  We pause for a moment before the service and greet one another.  And people do that and they think well this is nice.  And visitors see that and say, well, look, this is sure is a friendly church.  And yet that is something less than the peace of the Lord.  When does the peace happen in the service?  Not at the beginning of the service but right after the Words of Institution, that is immediately after Jesus has just spoken and declared the bread to be His body and the wine to be His blood.  Then, He speaks His peace.  “The peace of the Lord be with you always.”  And notice the response.  It is not, “And also with you.” But rather, “Amen.”  Thank you.  Gift received.  Yes, yes, it is so.  “The peace of the Lord be with you always.” “ Amen.”  Jesus is repeating for you that you are welcome to participate in the Lamb of the burnt offering that has become the peace offering, His body and blood given and shed.  Through Christ the Lamb we have access to the holiest heavenly places and yet He dwells with us here in our midst.  You are His people, and God Himself is with you, physically, in His true Body and true Blood.  Take and eat and receive life, salvation and full assurance of the peace of heaven.

You are part of the coming of the kingdom of God into the world, in your homes, in your workplace, in your place of business, in your school.  The Lord Jesus sends you out to extend His kingdom.  Can you face the wolves out there knowing you carry in your own body the Body and Blood of Christ given for the peace?  Can you extend the peace you have to others knowing that the peace you have is yours and no one can take it from you?  Can you face even the devil and all his assaults knowing your name is written in heaven?  Of course you can.  This is the coming of the kingdom of God.  It has come in the proclamation of Jesus’ highest sacrifice.  Do not fear them that reject the peace you bring.  Woe to them that reject the peace of the Lord.  It will be better for Sodom and Gomorrah on the Last Day than it will be for them.  The kingdom of God has come in the peace of the Lord you have received and will share today and this week.  Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus.  Amen.

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