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BETHLEHEM LUTHERAN CHURCH: | Mason City, Iowa USA | Pastor Mark Lavrenz

Mar 11, 2018  SERMON ARCHIVE

Sunday Sermon - Pastor Lavrenz Stained Glass - Communion

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

In today’s Old Testament Lesson we read, "Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live."

In today’s Gospel Lesson we read, Jesus said, "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him many have eternal life."

We begin in the name of Jesus, AMEN

Dear Christian friends, What went wrong out there, "by the way to the Red Sea?" It was the same thing that goes wrong also in your house, in your place of work, and maybe even in your congregation.

What went wrong? "The people became impatient on the way." And you probably know why. "The people became impatient" for all the same reasons you become impatient. They became impatient because:

God was not doing the right thing, as far as they were concerned. God was not acting the way the people in their wisdom thought God act should act. He was not following their timetable. He was not walking in the direction they wanted to walk. He was not making them as comfortable as they thought they deserved to be.

Moses did not seem to be a very good leader. Moses did not seem to realize the seriousness of their situation—even while he was stood in the sand with them. The people did not feel confident that Moses was headed in the right direction, or that he had the mojo to get them where they needed to be. By the way, this was not the first time they thought they needed a more effective leader than Moses. We see it also in Exodus 32 and in Numbers 12.

What went wrong out there, "by the way to the Red Sea"? "The people became impatient on the way" because God was not getting the job done. Israel’s impatience was made more tragic by the fact that the Lord their God had very clearly spoken His promises to them. God had said to them—and God’s prophet had patiently repeated to them—"I will deliver you from the hand of your enemies; from all who oppress you. I will be God to you. I will dwell in your midst and I will bring you at last to the place of My promise."

In today’s Gospel, Jesus wants you to draw a connection between what happened there in the desert and your lives today. "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness," said the Lord, "so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him many have eternal life."

Stained Glass Baptism Window

God has also declared through the apostle Paul that today’s Old Testament Lesson was written for your instruction, "that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures, you might have hope" (Romans 15:4).

What is the connection between what happened "by the way to the Red Sea" and the way things happen today? In the same way that the Lord God had spoken powerful promises to His ancient people in the wilderness, so also has the same Lord and God spoken equally powerful promises to you.

What has God promised you? The Lord your God swore on an oath, "I will forgive your sins. Here is the blood of My Son Jesus, given to you as a sign and surety of the promise that I shall forgive you all your sins." God the Father promised each Christian at the baptismal font, "You are My child. I will never allow any evil to overtake you.

God the Son promised all who gather in His name, "I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come back to you, so that you may be where I am" (John 14:2-3). God the Holy Spirit promised you, "I will give you the gift and miracle of faith, so that you may believe all these other great and precious promises."

As they walked along "by the way to the Red Sea," the people decided that God’s promises were unsatisfactory. You heard what happened to them.

How about you? Do God’s promises to you have any power to help you relax—even a little bit—and to trust your God that He knows what He is doing?

None of you would ever want to admit outright that you can do better than God and Moses, but maybe you have been tempted to think that way. Israel complained, but the complaining only made things worse. Will your complaining gain anything more for you?

From the vantage point of history, you can clearly see that the people in today’s Old Testament should have thanked God for the bread He had miraculously rained from heaven. That bread was called manna, but the people called it "worthless food."

But, are they alone guilty of ingratitude? Do you ever sop up God’s gifts, almost without thought, and still moan as though you have never received?

God says that today’s Old Testament was written for your instruction, so that you may learn to trust and endure and appreciate the "immeasurable riches of God’s grace," rather than complain about it. But God also says that this Old Testament Lesson was written so that "you might have hope."

Stained Glass Confirmation Window

And not only that. Jesus also wants you to see something more in today’s Old Testament than a simple snakebite. As you heard Him declare in the Gospel for the day, "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him many have eternal life."

This is a good analogy, full of grace and hope and life. By comparing Himself to the bronze snake, your Lord Jesus wants you to know that...

The Lord your God has never failed and never will fail to show you His mercy and compassion, even in the most arid and undeserving places.

The Lord your God will do whatever is necessary to get your attention, so that you may look rightly upon the divine gifts He showers upon you, rather than thinking of His gracious provision as "worthless food."

Even when the Lord your God must call you to repentance by means of bad experiences or difficult living conditions or painful events, the remedy and the cure is always quickly present. "And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.’

You will always have some place to look, some place to turn your eyes, some place to find relief.

Jesus said, "So must the Son of Man be lifted up." Like the serpent, Jesus Christ, was also set upon a pole, hung and raised for all to see. Like the serpent, Jesus Christ also assumed a vile and abhorrent form, carrying in His body all the poisonous judgment that should have been meted out upon us.

Like the serpent, Jesus Christ also was regarded as an agitator and a creator of chaos, yet His uplifted body is—and shall ever be—your only source of salvation and peace.

"So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole." Here God pointed to His own Son for the people of Israel.

Jesus was to assume the form of the accursed and the condemned man, yes, the form of a serpent, in order to became the Savior of the World.

That world out there seeks to be saved by good works, but it pleased God to help mankind in this way. The world would regard His Son as a vile worm, but He would nevertheless save all who believed in Him.

Christ is Risen.

Luther Rose


Christ Is Risen
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