The Seventh Sunday after Pentecost (C)
“Sir, We Would See Jesus”
July 28, 2019
Sermon Text: Colossians 2:6–19
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,
On the day of my installation as pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Lockport, Illinois, the Reverend William Royer, regional vice present of the Northern Illinois District, gave me a little plaque to go in the pulpit to remind me what being here is all about… what preaching is all about… here in God’s House… here in this sanctuary.
Inscribed on the plaque was the Scripture passage, “Sir, we would see Jesus” … in other words… “we want to see Jesus.” It is what the Apostle John records as what was said by some Greeks who came to Philip with this request… their sincere request. (John 12:21)
They were only interested in one thing… they came to Philip for one thing… to see Jesus… hear Jesus… know Jesus… because He… Jesus… is the only Person who counts. The only thing in all of life that counts.
And this is true for all time, certainly our time, certainly every day since that day when a much younger version of myself stepped into the pulpit at the start of Holy Week no less, in 1994.
From this pulpit, at this altar, by that baptismal font and at this communion rail, in the classroom, in homes and hospitals, at the bedside of the sick and dying and yes, at graveside… it has only been about Jesus… and Him crucified… Jesus… and Him risen and ascended… Jesus… and Him coming so very soon to judge the living and the dead and to take all the faithful to be with Him in heaven forever.
In life… Christ first, Christ last and everything… every moment… in between.
So now, on July 28, 2019, in this divine service on the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost which just happens to include the farewell and Godspeed of your pastor, what else would you expect… or want… than for the focus to be on Jesus… seeing Jesus… giving Him ceaseless honor and glory, praise and adoration… on receiving from Him the priceless gifts of forgiveness, life and salvation along with true peace, true comfort and strength all of which are bestowed upon us through His Holy Word and the Blessed Sacraments.
Indeed, from this pulpit, it has never been about the man who happens to be standing in it, but the message that is delivered from it. The message… holy and divine. The message from Scripture alone… God’s Word alone which includes both Law and Gospel found in the appointed readings for any given Sunday or church occasion. Today is no exception.
You want to talk about Law… did you hear the Old Testament reading and the judgement that would come upon Sodom and Gomorrah? That which is so humbling and sobering… for we know of another judgement, far greater judgement to come.
But even in this portion of Holy Scripture we see God’s grace and mercy at work for even a mere ten righteous people who might be found in the midst of all that sin and corruption. Certainly, divine grace and mercy that is still at work, still with us, showered upon us to this day.
Then looking to today’s Gospel reading, like every Gospel reading from Scripture and every Gospel message delivered from this pulpit, it brings the Good News that you and I never tire of hearing… about God’s love for us in Christ Jesus and what our dear Savior did on the cross to procure and secure all things eternal, precious and divine. He who lovingly tells us “ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” (Luke 11:9) How wonderful! How generous! And this, in Christ alone.
This brings us to today’s Epistle lesson which I mention last… share with you last… the last time up here in this pulpit as your pastor.
And the reason is… these words… this message could not be more fitting or apropos. I could not have… would not have… better words, parting words, to share with you now… here… this day.
St. Paul’s writes to the Christians at Colossae, but they are certainly his words… God’s Word to Christians of all time. Yes, His words… God’s Words… your retiring pastor’s words to you now. And surprise, surprise… it is a message all about seeing Jesus… all about continuing in Jesus.
We read, “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” (Colossians 2:6-7)
In other words, continue on… walk on… not in your own ways and desires which may seem good, right and salutary living in this sinful flesh and constantly coaxed by the Old Adam in us. Left to our own devices… doing what WE think is best… will end badly each and every time.
Instead, continue on… walk on… walk IN Christ Jesus the Lord, Paul says.
As individuals and as a congregation… rooted and built up in Jesus and established in the one true Christian faith, just as you were taught… just as you were catechized… just as you will hopefully continue to be catechized in the chief parts of our faith and in all that the Lord our God wants you to know and take to heart in His Word. It will not happen “magically,” but rather purposefully, with ardent desire, determination and drive.
To be forever, always, in His Word… in the Scriptures. Make no mistake about it… it is the only way that you and I can see to it that no one, as Paul says, takes us “captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” (Colossians 2:6-7)
How critical it is for you, for me, for all to remain steadfast in Christ Jesus… in His body, the Church… yes, the very Church of God, elect and glorious, that is always under His divine providence and protection.
The Church of God both here on earth, that which we know as the “Church Militant,” and the Church in heaven, all the saints in heaven which we know as the “Church Triumphant.”
For yet a little while longer in the Church Militant as soldiers of the cross, we have seen and will continue to “see Jesus” as He comes to us in Word and Sacrament. These, the “Means of Grace.” These the very means, sacred and holy means by which you… now… individually and collectively, will continue on even though right now you do not know what that means in regard to this congregation… in regard to a new shepherd and overseer of your souls.
Fret not, for in Christ Jesus there is absolutely no reason to. Do not try to see into the future. It cannot be done and besides, you have something infinitely better… you see Jesus, the Good Shepherd now… today… as you will see Him tomorrow and all of the days foreordained.
Take comfort. Be at peace regardless of what comes your way. Christ Jesus will lead you. He will guide… yes, individually and collectively. Continue on in Him and be assured that however all of this plays out for you… for this congregation… to it all, you will say, “Amen.” To it all, you will give the Lord unceasing praise and adoration, just as we do now! Amen.
May the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, unto life everlasting. Amen.
“Sir, We Would See Jesus” 7/28/19 The final sermon preached by Rev. Mark H Hein as pastor of St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL.