“Whether They Hear or Refuse to Hear”

“Whether They Hear or Refuse to Hear”  Ezekiel 2:1-5
The 7th Sunday after Pentecost (B)  7/15/18
Pastor Mark H. Hein, St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL

For a moment, let me take you back to Good Friday… to our Lord’s crucifixion where St. Matthew tells us that Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!” (Matthew 27:50-54)

It was quite a revelation to them. The One who was just crucified… the One who died right there before their eyes was the very Son of God. He who openly preached and taught in their midst. He who was categorically rejected by both Jew and gentile. Jesus Christ, truly the Son of God… He who is also our ever-living Prophet, Priest and King. Indeed, the greatest of the prophets! He who spoke the Word of God and is that very Word incarnate… the very Word made flesh… the very Word betrayed, mocked, beaten and crucified.

He… Jesus… who like all of the prophets before Him… including Ezekiel… came to a rebellious people. Multiple generations of rebellious people in fact… one right after another. The Lord God Almighty declares of the them to Ezekiel saying, They and their fathers have transgressed against me to this very day. The descendants also are impudent and stubborn.” (Ezekiel 2:3-4)

Impudent and stubborn – in the Hebrew, they were literally – “hard of face” and “hard of heart” it says. What we today call “hard headed” and “hard hearted.” And this was the case with the sons of Israel even after they were led off into captivity… where and to whom Ezekiel is called… sent… to preach… to proclaim the Word of God.

“I send you to them, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God.’ And whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house) they will know that a prophet has been among them.” (Ezekiel 2:4-5)

Whether they hear or refuse to hear. It is as simple as that. Those who open wide their ears and those who stop their ears, who shut them tight. There will certainly be both. There are always both… to this very day… to this very hour… those that hear and those who refuse to hear…

… those who continue to be rebellious to the Word of God… to the way of God… to His holy will…

… those who are impudent and stubborn… hard of face and hard of heart.

Regardless… “they will know that a prophet has been among them” … the one called and ordained to be God’s spokesman… God’s representative… His servant in their midst. He who simply seeks to carry out God’s will… who simply relays to God’s people… including all of you… what God has to say to you… so that you may know, fully know and embrace the same, follow the same, live the same, confess the same.

And just like the people of Israel, regardless of what you do or do not with God’s Word delivered to you… you will know that a prophet has been among you… certainly by what comes to be… your life either in Christ or apart from Christ… your life either in His Word or apart from that very Word preached to you.

You will know that a prophet has been among you… he who simply shares and declares… who holds nothing back… who does not mince words or play games with you… but rather puts it all out there for you. He who preaches the full counsel of God… who loves you enough not to simply share with you what your “itching ears” want to hear.

This includes not sugar coating that which is a bitter taste in your mouth and mine at times… namely, God’s Law that shows us our sins… that shows us how corrupt, fake, false and misguided we can be… how evil we can be.

And on the other hand, in regard to the Gospel, not artificially sweetening what is on it is own divinely sweet and fully satisfying… or in any way failing to share the same, share the Good News of Jesus Christ in all of its true glory.

You know… for us, being rebellious… being impudent and stubborn… comes naturally. We are born in sin, that which we inherited from our first parents, Adam and Eve.

The truth is, you and I would be nothing but hard of face and hard of heart if it were not for God so loving us.. God working in us… His Spirit working in us through Holy Baptism… His Holy Spirit constantly working in us through the Word of God.

And all of this, so that now… as well as when all is said and done… we are found to be, remain to be, among those who hear as opposed to those who do not hear…

… that now in these last days… we are amongst those who hold fast to the precious Gospel message that in Christ there is forgiveness of all of our sins. That in Christ Jesus there is life and salvation… there is peace, protection, comfort and consolation now and always. How wonderful is that!

And this, all this, because of what Jesus Christ… yes, the very Son of God… did upon the cross. Offering up Himself… He, Jesus, taking our place… taking all the punishment and pain rightfully due us that we may be free, totally free from the same… that we might have the sure and certain victory over sin, death and the devil.

It is all ours my friends… now, this very minute and throughout eternity. And if we would but consider the same… all that we have and possess in Jesus Christ… what a profound effect this would have on our life right now, our outlook, our facing of each challenge and obstacle, our fighting the good fight of faith to our very last breath at which time we shall be with the Lord and with all the heavenly host in paradise that will know no end.

Rejoice in the Lord. Rejoice in your Savior Jesus Christ now and always! Amen.