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|BETHLEHEM LUTHERAN CHURCH: | Mason City, Iowa USA | Pastor Mark Lavrenz|
Jun 18, 2017 SERMON ARCHIVE
Sacrifice. The Bible is drenched in it. Sacrifice is woven like blood-red threads throughout the fabric of Scripture -beginning with the animal slain to cover the guilt and shame of Adam and Eve in Genesis through those who washed their robes and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world in the book of Revelation.
Sometimes a Death is called for in order to grant eternal life; Sometimes a death is served up for the well-being of a neighbor in this temporal life.
But lets make this personal and work towards the more general. For what would you lay down your life? For whom would you die?
Most parents would die in order that a son or a daughter might live. You could find a husband who would die for his wife, and vice versa. But would you be willing to die for the truth, or an ideal, or for your Church, or for your nation?
For whom or for what did some of our soldiers die in Afghanistan this last week? They took an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States and they died upholding that pledge in the midst of their duties. Most certainly their lives were given in service to the cause of freedom both here and there. While taking a stand and drawing the line against the evil people and wicked regimes that plague this world and seek the destruction of freedom, they indeed demonstrated that freedom isnt free.
As an example, Sgt. 1st Class Paul R. Smith paid the price and we indeed know, not only for what, but also and especially, for whom he sacrificed himself. While tasked to build a compound for prisoners during the Battle of Baghdad Airport in 2003, his unit came under attack. He engaged an enemy attacking from three sides, kept them from over-running their position and, according to his Medal of Honor Citation, defended the lives of more than 100 of his fellow soldiers before he was killed.
For whom or for what did Todd Beamer and the courageous men and women of Flight 93 give their lives as they sought to regain control of the jet high-jacked by terrorists on 9/11? In all likelihood the jet was heading either to the White House or the Capital Building in Washington D.C. Instead, the ordinary citizens and passengers of that flight eventually sacrificed their lives as the plane plunged into an uninhabited farming field in the countryside of western Pennsylvania. Freedom is not free.
All of these people, and there are literally, hundreds and thousands more, gave their lives for others. But who are these "others"?
And here I do not want to seem crass or obscene, but ponder the "others" for a moment. Did Sgt. Smith die there in Baghdad for the most wretched man in his company, perhaps an alcoholic, an adulterer, or a drug addict? Those hundreds, even thousands, who gave their lives for this nation, whose crosses cover the grounds of our military cemeteries, did they die for those who would be dealing drugs on the same grounds of the same nation in years to come?
Did the brave members of the high-jacked jet lay down their lives for the corrupt politicians, and abortion advocates, and gay-rights legislators in DC? Ah, but you know what. Were trying to answer such questions for others, and therefore, we really dont know how those who sacrificed might reply to such queries.
So, lets get personal once again and ask that one person who could give an answer. Lets ask you. Would you hand over your life so that a pedophile might live another day?
Or a drug dealer might have a tomorrow? Or a Mafia crime boss? Or a practitioner of Black Magic who tortures his victims? Would you lay down your life for the woman who is an addict and who funds her addiction by selling her body? Or that detestable creature who is a habitual wife-beater? Or a high school kid who is a millionaire by using a computer for identity theft?
Would you sacrifice your life for those quisling characters who use the blood-bought freedom of this nation to burn the flag of the United States, or those ungodly atheists who work overtime to rid this nation of any expression of the Christian faith.
Would you suffer death in order that another could have a tomorrow, for example, for a gossip who spreads malicious lies and rumors? Or who cheats a bit each year on the annual income tax filing? Or who secretly sneaks a expendable thing or two from work every once in awhile? Or who cheats on a quiz at school?
Or who has a mild problem with anger management? Or who occasionally takes Gods Name in vain? Or who, without permission, takes an extra cookie from the cookie jar? Or who becomes frustrated? Or who has a momentary, fleeting, wicked thought? Or someone who has just about had it with the of hearing a sermon illustration because it has gradually become like a mirror and, at some point, has became quite personal?
In short, would you die for someone just exactly like you? God did.
Christ Jesus died for the ungodly, for all people of all times. Jesus shed His holy Blood on the cross to pay the price for the sins of everyone from Adam to the last man standing at the end of the Day. Eternal freedom is not free. This is the Sacrifice and this Sacrifice is Love Incarnate. His eternal Life took away your eternal death.
While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us and rose again for us. Those who have been given the gift of faith through this Good News of God are now recipients of the reconciliation.
Those brave souls mentioned in this sermon died for others, that others might live another day. But no matter who or how such sacrifices have been made, it only afforded life for another day.
In 1862 Captain Hugh Logan courageously risked his life in attempting to rescue members of the Monitors crew in Mobile Bay. In order to save the lives of his fellow men, Captain Logan sacrificed his during the hazardous operation. But this truth remains a fact. Every single man who was rescued by Captain Logan has since died. Not a single one remains alive in this world today. Their lives were preserved only for a time.
Contrast this with what the Incarnate Son of God accomplished. He saved not only for a day, but for all eternity. In order that no one might have to endure the wrath of God against sin in eternity, Jesus sacrificed Himself in time when He put Himself in harms way, placed Himself in the breech and mounted mankinds leafless, lifeless, cursed cross.
His Easter Resurrection is unto all eternity and His Ascension is for all time. Those who are His, that is, those who believe, teach and confess that He has died for them will be with Him both at the end of the Day and forever. Dear friends, the sermon text for our meditation today is the Epistle Reading for the second Sunday of Pentecost.
There we read these words: While we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Why, one will hardly die for a righteous man -though perhaps for a good man one will dare even to die. But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we are now justified by His Blood, much more shall we be saved by Him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the Death of His Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by His Life. Not only so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom we have now received our reconciliation.
Christ is Risen.
|Christ Is Risen|
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