Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Pastors: Servants of Christ or Servants of Self

I have been recently captivated reading Victor Hugo's Les Miserables.  I cannot help but be
impressed with the care he takes in introducing his characters.  The priest who comes and goes in a moment while watching the movie (I have not seen the stage version) has pages upon pages devoted to describing his character as a man who is gracious and kind and a genuine servant of Christ.  I would aspire to be more like this man as I serve my own parish.  I wonder if the section that follows would not serve to inform the behavior of my own Church body as she gathers in convention in a few weeks?

Just as there are bigwigs elsewhere, there are big mitres in the Church. These are the bishops who stand well at Court, who are rich, well endowed, skilful, accepted by the world, who know how to pray, no doubt, but who know also how to beg, who feel little scruple at making a whole diocese dance attendance in their person, who are connecting links between the sacristy and diplomacy, who are abbes rather than priests, prelates rather than bishops. Happy those who approach them! Being persons of influence, they create a shower about them, upon the assiduous and the favored, and upon all the young men who understand the art of pleasing, of large parishes, prebends, archidiaconates, chaplaincies, and cathedral posts, while awaiting episcopal honors. As they advance themselves, they cause their satellites to progress also; it is a whole solar system on the march. Their radiance casts a gleam of purple over their suite. Their prosperity is crumbled up behind the scenes, into nice little promotions. The larger the diocese of the patron, the fatter the curacy for the favorite. And then, there is Rome. A bishop who understands how to become an archbishop, an archbishop who knows how to become a cardinal, carries you with him as conclavist; you enter a court of papal jurisdiction, you receive the pallium, and behold! you are an auditor, then a papal chamberlain, then monsignor, and from a Grace to an Eminence is only a step, and between the Eminence and the Holiness there is but the smoke of a ballot. Every skull-cap may dream of the tiara. The priest is nowadays the only man who can become a king in a regular manner; and what a king! the supreme king. Then what a nursery of aspirations is a seminary! How many blushing choristers, how many youthful abbes bear on their heads Perrette's pot of milk! Who knows how easy it is for ambition to call itself vocation? in good faith, perchance, and deceiving itself, devotee that it is.

Les Miserables Volume 1, Book 1, Chapter 12

Monday, November 5, 2012

Election Day for those whose Eternal Election is already decided

Tomorrow marks the end of a very tiresome election cycle.  So many adds, so many placards, so many phone calls, so many commercials...

The right to vote is one of our most celebrated American freedoms.  With each election cycle, every day citizens have the power to decide the leaders for the nation and thus the direction of the country.  As great a power as this is, holding it in the hands of the people means that through the course of every election cycle, each candidate and lobby group is competing for the vote of every citizen. 
There was a time when this process involved reason and thoughtful deliberation, yet anymore votes are won and lost by way of slander and smear campaigns, not to mention  out and out lies.  While every American cherishes the right to vote, most people I talk to cannot stand the political ads on our TV and radio and in our mailbox.  By the time Election Day rolls around, it is safe to say that we are feeling "fed up".
One thing that the Christian can't help but notice during the election cycle is the stark contrast between the way business is conducted in the world and the way things are done in the church.  All these attack ads and smear campaigns are evidence that the worldly playbook says "win at all costs".  After all, the end justifies the means.  If you have to break a few rules, tell a few lies it is all okay so long as you come out on top in the end. 
The worldly playbook is built for a worldly kingdom.  Whether Democrats, Republicans, Green Party, or independent, each party fight over the same thing: control of that earthly kingdom.  In this kingdom, government is god and power is salvation.  Christians know better. 
The Lord reveals to us in His Word that government is good and it serves God's purpose of keeping the world in order but it cannot save us.  Christians know that salvation will not be dressed in a navy blue suit and sit in an oval office, rather salvation was stripped bare, beaten and nailed to a cross.
Because our salvation is found in Jesus and because our Kingdom is of heaven and not of earth we are free from the stress and the strain of winning these earthly battles.  While the world sees this election and can think only of all that is to be lost or gained, the Christian understands that that all the world is already passing.  Our desire is not to save or be saved for the world, but to be saved and to save others from the world.  We serve Jesus.  We carry the gospel.  We love our neighbor.
The election still has a few hours to go.  It will be over soon.  I for one, can't wait.  We all will go to the polls and cast our vote but the victor, in the grand scheme of things really won't win much - just 4 short years of service in a limited office over a small nation on an insignificant place called earth.  Ultimately God has all the power and he has given all authority to Jesus.  And Jesus has loved you enough to die for you. 
And so this sets the stage for you and me.  Elections are a small blip on history's timeline.  The work that God has called us to is eternal.  We work for him and we serve him as he saves and preserves us for all time.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Audio from Pentecost 13 Mark 7:1-13

Okay, so I totally ripped off Harrison's opening joke for his District Convention sermon.  It worked for his theme, it worked for mine too.  Other than that, here's the sermon for August 26.

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Sunday, August 5, 2012

Pentecost 10 Sermon

It would seem that as of this week, the new test of Christian orthodoxy has to do with whether or not you eat at ChikFilA.  I am sure you have heard of the controversy.  Dan Cathy, CEO of the Atlanta-based fast food chain, told a small obscure Christian Newspaper that he supports traditional marriage and all of a sudden he has been labeled as a hate-filled bigot and his restaurants are no longer welcome in at least 3 major cities around the country. 
In response to these actions, supporters of free speech and the free exercise of religion showed up in droves this past Wednesday to give their patronage to the maligned restaurant chain.  It was not unusual to wait in line at least an hour if not two.  The restaurant drew protests on Friday from those supportive of the gay rights agenda. Clearly Chik Fil A has become the dividing line of the controversy and those who consider themselves defenders of Orthodox Christianity and orthodox constitutional America have a new favorite restaurant.
Yet one can’t help but wonder if Jesus wants more from his faithful few. 
The community of faith and faithful belief was divided all these generations ago when our Lord himself walked the earth.  They were divided by their allegiance to Jesus.  Some sought to make him their king while others wanted to be rid of him, to never hear his name spoken out in the public square (or really even in private for that matter).  Does that sound familiar to our world?  Yet for those who considered themselves to be faithful to Jesus and to his cause, for those who were bold to speak, bold to listen, and bold to follow Jesus, the Lord, the Son of God, Jesus wanted more from them.  Jesus urged them to great understanding.  Jesus sought to push them, to move them beyond their public allegiance to private devotion and private understanding.  Jesus sought to push them to faith. 
In our text today, the orthodox Jesus followers came looking for Jesus.  The Apostle John shows us that these believers came in search of their long awaited prophet, a repristinated Moses.  Moses came with bread from heaven, food from the skies that filled their empty bellies and wowed them with great works and signs from God.  The Lord worked through Moses and through Moses the people were saved from slavery and secured in the land promised to Abraham.  And so now, all these generations later, the people were empty, they were hungry for a new prophet, a new Moses who would save them from slavery and fill them with food from heaven.
Enter the Lord…  Jesus who teaches and heals and performs the signs associated with the office of prophet, who teaches the people and leads them.  And the people took notice.  This must be the long awaited prophet.  This must be the promised salvation of the Lord’s people, Israel.  He taught them on the hillside.  He fed them with bread from heaven.  They were ready to take him then and there and make them their king.
But Jesus didn’t come to be Israel’s king. 
This story parallels our own.  Ancient deliverance from oppression and foundation of a religious society.  Contemporary controversy fueled by a secularly minded few.  A people hungry for a leader to stand behind and stand up for.  And Jesus is at the center. 
Yet when the people thought to make Jesus their king – they saw how he fed the crowd 5000 strong with only a few loaves and fish – Jesus withdrew.  He didn’t come to be Israel’s king.  He hasn’t come to be America’s king.  He isn’t fighting for cultures and societies.  He isn’t fighting to uphold family values and traditional morals.  Jesus doesn’t want to be the king in a kingdom that we have built, that we have established and created and defined.  Jesus already is king.  High King!  Of Heaven no less.  And the issue is not whether we call him King or if we make him King in our Kingdom.  The issue is whether or not we are worthy to be called servants in his. 
Whether you eat your chicken from ChikFilA, KFC, or even McNuggets at McDonalds – this food is earthly food.  These kingdoms are earthly kingdoms and they are doomed to fall. 
 “Do not work for the food that perishes,” says Jesus, “but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you.”
The food that matters is the food that we receive from Jesus.  The kingdom that matters is the kingdom that is ruled by Jesus.  It is not that we fit Jesus into our kingdoms so that he thinks like we do and so that he joins our battles on our side.  What matters is that we think like he does and we join his side.
His side is not traditional marriage and family values.  It is not a Judeo Christian based morality.  And, if we were honest we would say that is a good thing.  Because traditional family values condemn us just as much as they condemn anybody else.  We talk about traditional definitions of marriage.  We talk about how the family is falling apart.  But then we go out and participate in the things that tear apart the family.  Did you know that divorce rates among Christians are virtually the same as they are among non-Christians?  Did you know that unmarried Christian young people are just as likely to engage in sex as non-Christian young people?  Did you know that Christian men and women are just as likely to use pornography as non-Christians?  Are these family values? 
Or we talk about the free exercise of religion as though it were an absolute value.  Christians should be able to exercise their faith in the public square!  How regularly do we exercise that faith in private?  We have freedom to worship God as we choose, yet in spite of that great freedom, how regularly do we choose to do something else?  All the things we fight for in public condemn us in private. 
And so Jesus gives us a better way, a better work for us to do.  Jesus said, “This is the work of God; that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 
Jesus gives us a better work to do; the work of God is faith.  The work of God is that we believe in the one whom he has sent.  The work of God is simply to confess that Jesus Christ the Son of God and the Son of man is Lord.  It is to confess that he has saved you from your sin through his perfect and innocent death.  And that because of his resurrection and ascension to heaven you will live under him in an eternal and heavenly kingdom.    This is the work of Jesus.  This is what Jesus commands for us to do.
And Jesus’ heavenly kingdom is a much better kingdom than any kingdom we could concoct.  Earthly kingdoms fights for dominance and dominion, they go to war over earthly food and daily bread.  God has those in abundance and he gives them out for free.  The eyes of all look to the Lord and he gives them their food at the proper time.  He opens his had to satisfy the desires of all living things.
Earthly kingdoms fight to set us free from those who would hurt us or oppress us, but only Jesus can truly set us free.  There is no law that he has not fulfilled and no requirement from which he has not set us free.  There is no enemy that he has not conquered. 
The work of God is that we swear our allegiance to the one who came to die for the sins of the world.  He does not command that we jump on board an earthly bandwagon or support and earthly cause.  In fact, He commands that we die to this world, that we deny ourselves in this world, because this world is perishing and passing away.  He commands that we lay it aside and leave it behind and in its place we bow our knees and our hearts to him. 
Psalm 2 asks the question:      Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” (Psalm 2:1-6 ESV)
The Lord has set his king in heaven.  He is the eternal king of an eternal kingdom.  We are not worthy to be called his servants but he has called us to believe.  Let us do the work of his heavenly kingdom.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Should My Child See The Hunger Games

If you have kids who happen to be in their adolescent to pre-teen age years, chances are he or she is somehow tapped in to the Hunger Games phenomenon.  There is a movie that has been out for a little over a month that has earned hundreds of millions of dollars at the box office.  The book that the movie is based from has also sold millions of copies and is hard to get a hold of at the local library due to the long waiting lists.  Kids are reading this book and seeing this movie.  Parents have wondered if it is appropriate for their adolescent kids to go see it or to read it.

So why is there a question?
The Hunger Games is violent.  The story is futuristic and dystopian, that is to say some time in the future the world has gotten worse.  The heroine, Katniss Everdeen, lives in one of 12 districts that essentially functions as serfdoms where the residents are required to provide goods that are consumed in the chief city, Capitol.  The means of suppression and control is a yearly event called the Hunger Games where each of the 12 servant districts must provide 2 children aged 12-18, a boy and a girl, to compete in a nationally televised fight to the death.  The lone survivor/winner receives wealth and his or her district receives extra food for a year.  The plot without a doubt is violent.

This might sound like an odd story line for a series of children's booksand you might be wondering why the series is popular.  The story is well constructed and the plot is quickly paced and interesting.  Where the story really shines is in the shaping of the characters themselves.  The author, Suzanne Colllins, constructs likable characters that the reader can easily relate to and root for.  If your kids have read it, ask them about Katniss, Peeta, Gale, Haymitch, Cinna, or President Snow; I am sure the will be able to tell you all about them like they know them personally.   The Hunger Games is a well told story.

So why the concern?  
As already mentioned, a fight to the death among children is a violent plot element.  The thought of kids killing kids is stark and tragic.  Katniss herself tells the story so you see the games through her perspective.  You get to know the other characters through her experience with them.  You feel her tragedy and anger and grief as she lives through this experience.  Parents would be wise to gauge the level of maturity in their children to determine their preparedness to handle these themes.

There is a larger question here that involves the criterion used by parents when they allow their children to consume any type of media.  Is violence of any kind appropriate?  What about sexuality (a theme that the Hunger Games does bump up against at least in the book)? Should Christian families consume any such media?  There are a few things to consider.  The first is the individual child's ability to process such themes and images.  Studies show that violent images in TV, movies and video games increase arousal (especially in boys) and the likelihood of aggressive behavior. 

Often gratuitously violent media creates an image that aggressiveness and violence is more manly and more desirable and can therefore have a negative overall effect on behavior.understood within its appropriate context is likewise a means to understand and appreciate this good gift of God.  

Similar things can be said about sexual images and themes in media.  And just like violent themes can affect behavior, likewise sexually themed media can alter a child's perspective on what they understand to be "normal" and "acceptable" behavior.  Caution is to be urged.

So how should parents set their standards?
Sometimes we want to take a zero tolerance policy.  No sex. No violence. Period.  To hold to such a policy would mean that would need to lock ourselves away in a cave and never  come out, not even to read our Bibles (which contains examples of both).  Additionally we are apt to create new laws for ourselves that God has not written hoping that we can make ourselves holy and righteous by means of what we do and do not do, of what we see and do not see.  This leads us down the path of legalism.  A Christian is righteous by faith for the sake of Christ and in love seeks to obey God's commands in the Bible.  Christians do not make up lots of extra rules to try to make themselves holy.

So what is a Christian to do?
The world is a violent place.  Turn on the news, open a book or a magazine and you will see instances of violence.  Likewise the world is a sexualized place.  Rather than learning to hide from it, Christians and Christian children need to learn discernment.  Again the world is a violent place.  Scripture teaches Christians how God deals withviolence - by the violent death of His Son on the cross.  Scripture teaches Christians where and when violence is appropriate and necessary (Romans 13:4)  and what to do when someone reacts violently toward you (Matthew 5:39).  Therefore, some violent themes are beneficial.  Experiencing them by way of our media exposes us to the violence in the world and helps us to know how to make sense of it.  

Other times violence is bad.  Other times violence is portrayed for the sheer pleasure of it; the enjoyment of watching someone in pain or enduring a gruesome death.  This is wrong.  People are made in the image of God.  To enjoy suffering and torture is to enjoy the destruction of God's image. 

Similarly with sexual themes.  God made sex.  Sex is a good gift that God has given for the benefit and mutual love of a husband and wife.  To consider it as an aspect of human relationships that should be

A high level of discernment is needed here by Christians and Christian parents because our society and culture has adopted so many harmful opinions about sex.  We are led to believe that sex is "just sex" - a recreational activity with zero complications or consequences.  It's not.  Sex is a lot like fire: keep fire in the fireplace and it warms the house, take it out of the place that was made to contain it and it can burn down the homestead.  Much of the portrayal of sex and sexuality is purely gratuitous and dishonors the good gift of God and treats those it portrays as mere objects instead of one made in God's image.

So let's get back to The Hunger Games?  
Is there violence? Yes.  Katniss as the heroine does fight and she does kill.  Note that her acts of violence are different.  Some kill for sport.  Katniss does not.  She kills twice; once in defense of a friend and once to end the suffering of an enemy. This might introduce a good discussion: was Katniss right to kill Cato?  What about sex? The Hunger Games contains no sex. That said, Katniss does struggle to understand the romantic feelings she experiences as she finds herself caught between two male characters.  (Again, this might  be a good opportunity for discussion between parents and their kids)  There is a very minor sexual tone to these engagements that parents, especially of younger children, should be aware of.

Parents need to learn discernment when answering questions of appropriate media consumption for their children.  There are many angles to consider; from the appropriateness of the material itself, to the readiness of their child to handle such material.  A discerning parent would want to teach discernment to their child.  This would mean that parents must know what media their children are consuming.  It is always easiest to draw lines in black and white, but parents must take advantage of situations that are presented and use them as opportunities to teach their child 
 to discern for themselves what is good and what is bad, what is right and what is wrong.

Proverbs says, "Train up a child in the way he should go and when heis old he will not depart from it." 
Being a parent is your Christian duty.  God gave you that job.  God gave you to your children.  Teach them.  They will be blessed by it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

His Body has been Raised. Your's will be too.

For the last few thousand years the Church has confessed to believe in the “resurrection of the dead”.  We confess it in the ecumenical creeds.  The Apostle Paul teaches it.  Jesus himself teaches it.  But, as he does with every other doctrine or Word from God, the devil wants to take that away.  The devil has attacked this word of God in several different ways.
To confess the resurrection of the dead is to confess that God has honored the body.  We can see in the Bible just how greatly God values his creation of our bodies.  In Genesis 2, when God first gave us a body he implemented a very deliberate process, forming Adam out of clay and then breathing into him.  This was different from how he made the other bodies – animals and fish and birds.  With them he simply spoke them into existence but he honored the human race with a very deliberate and “hands on” approach to our creation. 
Through the Old Testament we can see that God cares for the bodies of his people.  When he gives the law to the Israelites through Moses he adds provisions for the body.  When he leads his people through the wilderness he feeds their bodies and he makes sure that they are clothed.  Their shoes don’t wear out and their garments don’t wear thin. (Deuteronomy  29:5)
With the New Testament and through the Epistles we can see God’s care for the body.  The sacraments are not just spiritual but they are visible and involve the body – baptism wets the forehead, the Eucharist feeds the soul and the body with spiritual but also physical food. 
The greatest sign of God's honor for our bodies is the fact that He himself has one.  When he decided to save us he went out and got for himself a body.  He was incarnate. He was en-fleshed.  He took for himself even those aspects to having a body that we might find less honorable (diapers, trips to the toilet, acne) and he honored our bodies by himself engaging in them.   His honorable body even died, as our dishonorable bodies do.
But then Christ was raised.  Paul calls him the first fruits from among those who have died.  After our sins were paid for, Jesus took back his body and glorified it so that now the One who sits enthroned in heaven has a body.  He is a flesh and blood human being just the same way that we are.
Satan wants to dishonor what God's Word teaches us that God has honored.  Satan does a lot of things to dishonor our bodies.  There are lots of examples that we see in our own contemporary society.  They are subtle attacks on the resurrection.
God defends our bodies in the commandments.  Satan undermines these commandments to dishonor our bodies.  God defends our bodies from being dishonored by violence in the 5th Commandment.  Satan responds to this honor by inciting our culture to glorify violence.   Explicit gore and gruesomeness are top dollar entertainment (Saw I, II, III, IV etc.).  Bodies of little babies are dismembered and discarded as part of the abortion practice.  Bodies of adults are euthanized when people have determined they are no longer useful. 
God also defends and honors our bodies in the 6th Commandment.  Satan dishonors our bodies by teaching us that sex is just sex and the body is just a commodity to be bought and sold and used up.  This is the message given in the "hook up" culture, in prostitution, in pornography.  Paul reminds us that our bodies should not be united to a prostitute because God has honored them by making them the temple of his Spirit. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

I will inch out on a limb a little and make a claim.  I believe that the trend of tattooing is an example of Satan's attack against the resurrection and against the body.  To begin with, much of the tattooing seems to have neo pagan influence - many of the designs are tribal or naturalist.  Neo-paganism is dualistic in nature.  It emphasized the spirit at the expense of the body.  In addition, there is physical violence and pain that is endured through these decorative procedures that becomes addictive according to many who have submitted them.  Is there also a connection between the sex industry, prostitution and pornography  and the tattooing?  I think so.  I believe that at the heart of this trend is a notion that the body isn’t important – it’s just meat and skin.  It can and perhaps even should be decorated and improved.  I believe there is a connection to Satan’s attack on the body, especially his attack on the 6th commandment and the 5th commandment and today’s neo pagan cultural influence.
Sometimes even within the church Christians are tempted to overlook the importance of the body.   Jeff Gibbs has observed that Christian funerals often leave those dead in Christ in heaven when they neglect to preach the resurrection.  Overly spiritualized sacraments that neglect the forgiveness of sins in the eating and drinking and in the baptizing neglect God’s care for our bodies.  This leaves the door open for Satan to sneak in and disrupt the Church through those egregious and more obvious cultural temptations.  

The Lord honors our bodies.  He cares for our bodies.  He made them.  He gave a body to each one of us.  He feeds and clothes those bodies.  He has given his law to defend and protect those bodies.  He has taken a body for himself so that he could use his to die for ours.  His has been raised so that ours can also be raised.  Satan wants to take this away.  The Word of God won’t let him.  The better we study that Word the better equipped we will to defend the thing that God has determined is worth dying to save.  

Monday, March 26, 2012

I adapted this sermon and preached it at St Paul Chuckery this past Sunday.  It is from the book  Selected Sermons from Norman Nagel.  Follow the link to buy the book.  It will be well worth what you spend to have in your library.

Here is audio if you want to listen.

In our reading we have the third and last prediction of the passion, the fifth Sunday in Lent, Judica, which comes from the Introit, "Vindicate (or Judge) me O God."  Who dares to pray such a prayer?  Jesus does.  Through Lent we have been following Jesus toward Calvary.  Our Judica Gospel tells of the last stretch of that journey.  "They were on the road going up to Jerusalem"  Who dares to take such a journey?  Jesus does.

The Disciples hung back in foreboding and fear.  They were amazed and afraid.  Twelve disciples.  Twelve tribes of Israel.  He who leads the disciples is the Lord of Israel, just as the statement of His presence, the bright cloud, led Israel on her journey to the Promised Land, which was entered by way of Jericho.  That is where Bartimaeus is given his sight.  He sees as the twelve failed to see.

Jesus told the twelve, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles."  (Mark 10:33)  The twelve did not get it.  They did not see.  What blinded them was their lust for power and the fear that they might lose out or lose their lives.  First James and John, then the others, were indignant that they might only get third or fourth place or even - perish the thought - twelfth place, the bottom spot.  They were looking to get the top spots.  "One on your right hand, and the other on your left hand in your glory."  (Mark 10:37)  The two brothers just wanted to keep in in the family.  The fight about who gets the right hand spot can wait until later, so long as its one of them.  When we see that sort of thing going on today - nepotism, influence peddling, heads rolling, you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours, jostling for the power spots, simony, who gets to call the shots in the church and who has the greatest influence and clout in the voters meeting - when we see that sort of thing going on it just makes us want to puke in disgust.

Jesus does not puke.  He continues on his way to Jerusalem.  And he draws us along with Him, which means leaving all that putrid and enslaving stuff behind.  How gently Jesus draws the disciples on. "You do not know what your are asking," He tells the brothers.  The place is at his right hand and at his left.  We know who gets those places when Jesus is crowned, proclaimed king, and enthroned, as John says.  Those at his right hand and at his left are those who are crucified with him.  All three of them are numbered with the transgressors.

One of the criminals who hung next to Jesus on the cross mocked Him, "If you are the Christ save yourself and us." (Luke 23:39)  The other rebuked the thief saying, "And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong." (Luke 23:41)  The just for the unjust, Jesus is judged as the one who bears the iniquity of us all.  He drinks the cup of God's wrath on sin, before which he shuddered at Gethsemane, "Abba, Father, all things are possible for you; take away this cup from me.  Never the less not what I will, but what you will." (Mark 14:36)  Yet it was the will of the Lord to bruise him.  He put him to grief when him made himself an offering to for sin.

"For Christ also has once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God." (1 Peter 3:18) Those words are  Peter's words, preaching in his first Epistle.  Yet In Gethsemane Peter also slept, "For their eyes were heavy," (Mark 14:40).  Then he  thought power, (swinging a sword), would help Jesus.  At Caesarea Philippi, Peter spoke for Satan.  Peter wanted no crucified Christ.  In today's Gospel he is indignant with James and John for trying to get the top spots.  Jesus had a long way to pull them when he, walking ahead, went up to Jerusalem.  There is death for them in that Lenten journey.

Jesus speaks of the cup that is His to drink at his baptism, his death that is His to do.  Are you able?  We are able.  "Yes" says Jesus, "they will be yours, and that will put an end to your worrying about who sits at the right hand and who sits at the left.  When yours are the cup and the baptism, you will no longer carry on as those who are not Mine.  Those who are not Mine think of themselves great by how many people they can push around, get on top of, lording it over them, laying it on them from above, great by how many you can make serve you.  That is not where Jesus does His thing.  Jesus is at the bottom of the pile.  The whole weight of it comes down on him.  He is one lump with all sinners.  All sins' enslavement He is slave to - judged, damned.

Jesus spoke of it as giving his life as a ransom for many. Ransomer is Redeemer, go'el and the price is his life.  For many, as in Isaiah 53, Jesus speaks His disciples into that many, as He does also when He gives His body to eat and his blood to drink into our mouths this morning. His blood is shed for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Our liturgy follows Luke at this point and says, "For you".  The phrase "for you" evokes faith.  Yes, for me too.  We say, "Amen" as Jesus gives into us His body and blood.  Those to whom our Lord gives His body and blood can pray, "Judge me O God"  If he tosses you out, he is tossing out the body and blood of his son - and He cannot do that.

God did the judgment on you when He did the judgment on your sins on Jesus.  That death for your sin was given you.  It is yours at Baptism.  His cup, His baptism - yours.  There was a putting of you to death in your baptism by words and water and a new "you" was born, a you no longer enslaved to sin.  "I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2:20).  It is no dead inert stuff that the Lord gives into your mouth this morning.  As he forgives and enlivens you with his body and his blood, his body and blood are alive  in you in the same way when he spoke of them as a ransom for many, for you, not to be served but to serve.