The Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany (C)
“What is This Word?”
February 3, 2019
Sermon Text: Luke 4:31-44
Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Dearly Beloved of the Lord,
Desensitization – We all know what it means… what it entails… namely us or others having, over time, a diminished emotional response to something negative… something aversive.
A very real problem and concern in our society today is how desensitized people have become to murders and killings… to shootings and stabbings. Why? Because it happens all the time. It is seen all of the time on the news to the extent that it no longer elicits a proper response.… where it is just another occurrence and we fail to consider after a while what really happened… that real men, women and children have died… that real family members and friends are grieving, grief stricken, having lost a loved one.
Certainly, this includes the reaction of many… of most… to abortion. By and large the horror is gone… the disdain, disgust, repulsiveness of the same no longer present. We hear the numbers of babies killed in utero and that is all it is… numbers without faces, numbers without little bodies in various stages of development… various stages of being made by the very hand of God.
The thing is, dear friends, desensitization cuts both ways where one can just as easily have a diminished emotional response to something positive… something good… very good, in fact. With time, such things are viewed by us… seen by us as no big deal. Where they are no longer thought of or considered to be a blessing from God… no longer rejoiced over… no longer given thanks for.
Together, we could list an endless number of blessings that are always there… that we always enjoy, but too often take for granted. Food on our tables. A roof over our heads. Heat! Especially with what we encountered this past week. The standard of living we enjoy in this country. The level of protection and security… the health care available to us.
Add to this list… put at the top of this list… one of the greatest things we have become desensitized to and, too often, take for granted… namely, the very Word of God.
Ya, we have it. We hear it. We hear the pastor preach about a section from it every week or however often we come to the Lord’s House to worship Him.
We read, “And he went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. And he was teaching them on the Sabbath, and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word possessed authority. And in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, “Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in their midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm. And they were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!” (Luke 4:31-37)
The power of the Word. Think about it… that Word, holy and divine… God’s Word… what He has uttered and spoken.
By it and only by it did everything come into being. EVERYTHING! Before the creation there was NOTHING. God created everything from nothing (in Latin – ex nihilo). He created us and all mankind… the earth and everything on it, in it and under it… our solar system and this vast universe. Everything that is… was… will be… by the Word of God… the power of God behind and in that Word.
“And they were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word?‘”
What indeed! And it is good for us to continue to be amazed… to not be desensitized to the Word of God… what it has done… what it is doing… what it will do.
It is good for us to routinely ask and inquire of ourselves, individually and corporately, “What is this Word?” Because in so doing, the awe and reverence of the same, its beauty, meaning and majesty will not be diminished in us.
Not when we consider and hold close to our hearts that by God’s Word we came into being and that we are truly fearfully and wonderfully made.
Not when we consider that by God’s Word, we have been washed of all our sins… made clean and spotless.
That by God’s Word, the devil was sent and continues to be sent fleeing from us.
That by God’s Word we have died with Christ and risen with Him to newness of life, eternal life… eternal life now… in Jesus!
That by God’s Word we are continually, perpetually absolved of all of our sins as we hear this divine message from the lips of His called and ordained servants.
That very Word which changes bread and wine into the very Body and Blood of our Savior… He who is the Word Incarnate… the Word made flesh. Make no mistake about it, when the people said, “What is this Word?” they were, in fact, asking, “Who is this Jesus.”
We are talking about the Word that again and again reminds of God’s great love for us in Christ Jesus.
The Word that reassures us again and again that regardless of what we are going through, encountering, battling, dealing with, bearing up under… the Lord is with us… that He is our guide and consolation… our strength… and that in Him we most assuredly have the victory of all things.
Indeed, that very Word which will someday call forth all of us and all the dead from the grave.
That very Word that welcomes us and all the faithful to the holy and divine banquet feast that is all prepared, all set in heaven… for us!
That very Word with which… with Whom… we will live forever… abide forever… in true bliss, joy and happiness.
What is this Word? It is everything to us. It is what moves and motivates us to come and hear the same read and proclaimed in God’s Holy House. It is what moves and motivates us to pour over the same in personal and family devotions.
It is what brings us peace and this, in the midst of a world that has gone mad and will go madder still.
My friends, thanks be to God that by His Holy Spirit at work in us… we are sensitized to… that we fully appreciate and rejoice over the very Word of God. Amen.
May the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, unto life everlasting. Amen.
“What is This Word?” 2/3/18 The Rev. Mark H Hein, St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL.