“What Do You Think?”

The Fourth Sunday after Pentecost (A)

“What Do You Think?”

July 2, 2017

Sermon Text:  Matthew 10:34-42

Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways!    (Romans 11:33)

Friends in Christ, you will recognize this as the appointed gradual that we chanted just a few minutes ago in which we… again and again… acknowledge with St. Paul the majesty and mystery of the Lord our God and especially His divine omniscience… His “all-knowingness” if you will.

We have all heard from time to time in our lives bits of worldly wisdom that are quite profound. And may have even said regarding the same, “That’s deep!” But none of it comes close to the depth of God’s wisdom and knowledge. What He knows and what He does.

Indeed, His judgments are what? Unsearchable. And His ways “inscrutable” as translated in the English Standard Version of the Holy Bible. However, looking at the Greek word used here, it may be better put that God’s ways “are beyond tracing out” … they are “unfathomable.”

Here we are referring to God’s ways, but not God’s Word. His Word is, by and large, fathomable… understandable. One is able to “trace it out” because God has made it so to the degree He wants it so. This… Holy Scripture… all of Scripture… is His message to us and all mankind. And make no mistake about it, He will make sure it is faithfully delivered to us and understood by us through the work of the Holy Spirit who enlightens us to the same.

And this, through the eyes of faith with the Spirit ever moving us and helping us to dig deeper into the Word and in the process, find more, know more of what God would have us know about His message… THIS message.

It is a message of love… His love for us. It is a message of life… eternal life and how God, in Christ Jesus, has spared us from eternal death.

And so, the message couldn’t be more important including where our Lord declares, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34)

Whoa! Wait a minute. That doesn’t sound too loving! And there are many people… Christian and unbeliever alike… who do not think it is loving. Some go so far as to question if Jesus really said this. Some feel compelled to soften these words by either changing them or interpreting them differently to fit their own beliefs and their own picture and portrait of Jesus.

What arrogance! What gall and impertinence. The created tell the Creator what is and what is not. The created changing, twisting or downright dismissing the Word and the will of the Creator. Such is mankind.

Key to understanding the Gospel text that is before us this morning, my friends, is understanding and obeying what our Lord says right up front here – Μὴ νομίσητε – “Do not think.”

Not that we are not to think. Rather, we are not to think wrongly… with an unlightened mind, a worldly mind, fleshly mind, sinful mind… that sadly is found in many Christians and Christian churches today where it is believed that Jesus came to bring worldly peace and that in Him everything in this world will be just fine for the believer… that there will be no heartaches and headaches… no trying times… no difficulties, no pain or persecution. It is all good in Jesus… peace in Jesus … prosperity in Jesus… if we only have enough faith in Jesus… and do OUR best.

And many would say the same for the unbeliever as well… because after all, God is love and He really will not take to task or punish anyone… certainly not in hell… forever!  It is all good in Jesus… peace in Jesus regardless of anything and everything. Regardless of the complete lack of faith and engaging in that which is sinful and an abomination to the Lord our God. Regardless of what it may be, whether we are talking about abortion, homosexuality, lesbianism, transgenderism and an ever-growing list of “isms.” Be it adultery, divorce, cohabitation or sex outside of marriage… be it assisted suicide or other so-called types of “mercy killing.” Be it cheating, stealing, lying, bearing false witness… and, well, you get the point.

Again, it is all supposedly good in Jesus… peace in Jesus in spite of what Jesus actually says. Including here… in our Gospel text:

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. (Matthew 10:34-36)

Christ our Lord, the very Son of God, explicitly states that HE has come to do this! And, most certainly, does it. He did it then as He walked this earth and look what it cost Him… His holy, precious and innocent life. Look at where it took Him… to the cross!  For us!

And He does it now… today… and will to end of time… the dividing… the setting apart… the setting against. As then, so now, by His Word… He who is the very Word Incarnate.

That Word… His Word… IS the great divider. That Word… His Word… IS the very “sword” that He refers to here in this text.

That Word… His Word… “them’s fight’n words” for all who do not believe and they choke on it. They decry it… despise it and anyone who holds to it… God’s Word, that is, and the truth contained therein. They are opposed to it and anyone who embraces and confesses it… anyone who lives according to it. It doesn’t matter even if you are their father, mother, son, daughter or some other blood relative.

At the very least, God’s Word will cause disruption and a degree of distancing in any relationship… and especially in any marriage or family situation where one finds the true believer mixed with the unbeliever.

But that rarely is the end of it. It naturally, normally gets worse as the natural man or woman is influenced more and more by sin and Satan. And the believer will get hurt… sin will take its toll on them… on us… as it did with our dear Lord and all who have come before us and are now in glory.

To make things worse, too often, Christian men and woman, Christian fathers and mothers, sons and daughters will give into the sinful ways of loved ones and others…. and this, for the sake of peace (which is no true peace, godly peace at all). In so doing, they abandon God’s Word or turn a blind eye to it for the sake of a erring loved one.

And so to us and all believers who are tempted to condone or ignore sinful behavior, sinful actions and lifestyles of others and especially among our loved ones, we hear our Lord go on to emphatically say,

“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:37-38)

These are sobering words… all of it… words, His Word that the Lord would have us take to heart… take into account… and put into action… to act accordingly by the power of God the Holy Spirit in us.

These are important words… all of it… all that we find here in our Gospel text. But where is the Gospel in all of this? Where is the Good News? It is certainly here as we connect this text with all that is lovingly shared with us in Holy Scripture.

The Good News of our Lord Jesus lovingly sharing with us what is and what will be so that we are not surprised, caught off guard or blindsided by it.

The Good News that just as Jesus promised, so He has sent us the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to help us through the difficult times, especially when they involve our own loved ones.

The Good News that in Christ Jesus we have forgiveness for all of the times that we have forsaken the Lord, forsaken His Word and will… and sided with the world and those of the world.

The Good News that we are given a new start, washed clean again and again through Baptism and given the opportunity and spiritual strength to do what is good, right and salutary… do what is pleasing to the Lord and in keeping with His Holy Word and will.

How blessed we are… and this in Jesus, our Savior, Lord and King. Amen.

May the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, unto life everlasting. Amen.

“What Do You Think”  7/2/17  The Rev. Mark H. Hein, St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL