May 29, 2016

Pastor Mark F. Bartels

Old Testament Lesson; 1 Kings 8:22-23

                                      1 Kings 8:41-43

Epistle Lesson; Galatians 1:1-10

Sermon Text;Luke 7:1-10

Today is a festive day at Holy Cross. At second service we will be confirming nine young people in their Christian faith! About 13 years ago, their parents had them baptized into the Christian faith, and the Holy Spirit brought them to faith. Their parents on that day, confessed their faith, on their behalf. Today, they confirm that. Today they confirm they believe in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Today they confirm they intend to be true to His Word, to trust His Word, and to cling to His Word.

And so, it is so amazing how God works everything out. This text we are going to look at is the chosen text for this Sunday. It is not intended to be for Confirmation Sunday, but it is a perfect text for Confirmation Sunday, because it talks about the Word of God, and role of the Word of God in our lives. It talks about somebody who is in deep need, and runs to the Lord for help. In this case, it is a man who has a dear, dear, friend of his, an associate of his, who is dying on his deathbed.

Let's read this text in Jesus' name taken from Luke, chapter seven.

After He had finished all His sayings in the hearing of the people, He entered Capernaum. Now a centurion had a servant who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him. When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent to Him elders of the Jews, asking Him to come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with Him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue.” And Jesus went with them. When He was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to Him, “Lord, do no trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, 'Go,' and he goes; and to another, 'Come,' and he comes; and to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it.” When Jesus heard these things, He marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed Him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well.

These are your words, Heavenly Father. Lead us in the way of truth. Your Word is truth.


Next week, Sunday, June 5th, our Confirmands for the first time in their lives will come up here to the Communion Rail. They will kneel down, and they will receive the true body, and the true blood of Jesus, our Savior. What a historic day, in their personal lives, that will be.

Many of you have come up here many times to receive the body and blood of Jesus, and hear your sins are forgiven. There is a liturgy, however, that we do not use here at Holy Cross. But, there is actually a liturgy where, when people come up to the Communion Rail, before the pastor has them kneel down, everybody in unison says the following phrase. “Lord, I am not worthy to have You come under my roof.”

Then, they kneel down, and receive the body, and blood of Christ. That little phrase, “Lord, I am not worthy to have You come under my roof”, comes from today's scripture reading. It really shows the proper attitude we have, as we approach God in any need we have.

This centurion was a very interesting man. (By the way, a centurion is someone who is in charge of one hundred Roman soldiers.) Not only was he a very interesting man, but he was a really, really nice guy.

That was probably not typical for Roman Centurions. These were men of war. This is a man who had authority over a hundred killing machines. He would tell them to do things, and they had to do it. This was a Centurion who was part of the Roman Army that had occupied the Jewish state. The Jews did not like the fact that the Romans were occupying them, and were an authority over them. But, somehow this Centurion was a unique man, and such a nice guy, that I can guarantee, you would have loved to take him on a trip, and have him in the car with you, or sitting beside you in an airplane. Even the Jewish leaders (and this is unheard of) the Jewish leaders, themselves, came to Jesus asking Him to help this Centurion. That is unheard of, but that is how nice this man was. They told Jesus that this Centurion, loves, “he loves our nation”. It was extremely unusual that a Roman soldier would love the Jewish people, but he did! And, he expressed that love to them. He loved his servant, who was on his deathbed, dying. He was a really, really nice man who wanted his servant to get better, somehow.

We are going to be building a new sanctuary in the near future. What if none of you had to write a check, or give a penny, because somebody wrote the check for the whole thing! Well, that is what this man had done. He was not even Jewish, and he had paid for the synagogue in Capernaum. (You can still go to Capernaum today, and actually see the foundation stones of that synagogue that this man paid for, so it could be built.)

So, these people came to Jesus, because this Centurion is in need. He is desperately hurting in his heart for a dear friend of his who is dying on his deathbed. Jesus is the only hope they had. They go to Jesus, and they approach Him on the wrong basis. They say to Him, “Jesus, this man deserves to have you help him. He deserves it, because he is such a nice guy. He loves our people. He has built our synagogue.”

Sometimes, our hearts are the same way, as we think about approaching God, in a time of need. Maybe we are sometimes in desperate need, or somebody we know is in desperate need, and our hearts have this tendency to think, “Well, somehow I deserve it. I mean, I go to church every Sunday. I try to give to the offerings. I try to say prayers. I try to be kind to people.”

“If things are not going my way, well, it seems like God isn't giving me my due, what I have earned, or deserve.”

So, the Jewish leaders come to Jesus and they say, “He deserves you to help him.”

That is the last thing the Centurion wanted. The last thing he wanted was for Jesus to give him what he deserved. I can guarantee you, you would not want the Lord to give you what you deserve. If the Lord gave you what you deserve, it would not be pretty at all.

The Centurion must have understood this about himself.

       -Even though he lived this outwardly good, kind, loving life,

       -was living a sanctified life,

       -and was doing good things, (we believe he was a true believer.) but, yet, he knew in his heart, “There is still so much wrong with my heart.” He knew, if the Lord would give him what he deserved, not only was he undeserving, but he was ill-deserving.

By ill-deserving, I mean, he must have understood, “If the Lord gave me what I deserved, it would be Hell.” That is what the Bible tells about us, too. Those are hard words to hear, but they are true. The Bible says,

“All have sinned

and fall short of the glory of God.”

The Bible says,

“All our righteousness are like filthy rags.”

The Bible says,

“There is no one who does good,

not even one.”

The Bible (talking about Christians) says,

“The good I want to do,

I don't do.

The evil I don't want to do,

this is what I keep on doing.”

And so, as Jesus is approaching this man's house, and the Jewish elders had said, “He deserves to have you help him”, the Centurion sends another group of people. His friends say to Jesus,


I am not worthy.

I am not worthy to have you even come under the roof”.

“That is why I didn't even presume to personally come, and talk to you. I am not worthy.”

The amazing thing about this Centurion was, he knew deep in his heart

       -Jesus wanted to,

       -was willing to,

       -was longing to,

       -and desired to help this Centurion who was all undeserving, and all unworthy. That is what he knew!

That is who Jesus has come to help.

       -Jesus has come to help the unworthy.

       -He has come to help the undeserving.

Look at the pages of scripture. They are amazing.

       -When Jesus helped the woman caught in adultery, He saved her life, and He forgave her sins. Did she deserve to have His help? Was she worthy? She was undeserving, but He helped her. Amazingly!

       -When Jesus talked to the woman at the well. She had had five husbands, and divorced all five of them. Now, she was living with somebody she wasn't even married to. She didn't deserve Jesus' help at all, but that is exactly who He came to help, and He helped her.

       -Zacchaeus, who was a tax collector, and stole all kinds of money from all kinds of people, Jesus came to help that man. That man was undeserving.

       -The thief on the cross was totally unworthy, and totally undeserving. He was mocking Jesus, while He hung on the cross. And yet, Jesus helped that man, who was unworthy, and undeserving. That is who Jesus came to help. That is who He came to save.

Martin Luther said a lot of things. One of my favorite things he said, (and you have probably heard me use this little phrase), was about if you understand how unworthy, how undeserving you are, and what you really deserve from God. Luther said, “If you tremble, if you are troubled over a feeling of God's wrath, and a horror of God's judgment and of Hell, then have confidence. You are the one God wants to talk to. You are the one He wants to show His mercy to. You are the one He wants to save.”

That is what scripture teaches. So, this Centurion, who was in a time of great need, knew he was all unworthy, and he knew, “Jesus wants to help me, because I am unworthy, because I am undeserving. I need His help.”

This Centurion knew exactly how Jesus helps unworthy, undeserving people.

This Centurion had a unique occupation. And, any of you who are in the military know what he was talking about, when he had his people say to Jesus, “...I too am a man set under authority”. And, he was a man in authority, in the military. If you are in the military, and somebody above you, in command, somebody in charge of you, tells you to do something, you do it. You do it, because if you don't do it, there are serious consequences. This man, this Centurion, understood the power of the word of somebody who was in authority. He said to Jesus, “Jesus, when I tell one of my servants, 'Do this', he does it. When I tell him, 'Go', he goes. When I tell him, 'Come', he comes.”

He had power, and authority over one hundred men. Those hundred men listened to, obeyed, and followed the word of the Centurion. So, the Centurion said to Jesus, “You don't have to come to my home. I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. I am not even worthy to see you face to face. Just speak the Word, and my servant will be healed.”

“...say the Word.”

What was the Centurion saying about Jesus? Jesus, he was saying, is in authority. He is in charge. He is in absolute charge, and when Jesus speaks, it happens. His Word is powerful. It is effective. We call that efficacious. It does what it says. Jesus isn't just in charge of one hundred soldiers, or a million Christians, or a billion Christians. Jesus is in charge of everything, everything. He said,

“All authority in Heaven and on earth

has been given to me.”

       -Jesus is in charge of nature. Jesus is in charge of, and has authority over all things. When Jesus stood up in a ship one day, and He said to the wind, and the waves, “Peace. Be still”, His Word, because He is in charge, commanded nature, and nature had to listen to Him.

       -Jesus is in authority over sickness. When Jesus would say to someone who was sick, or paralyzed, “Get up and walk”, sickness had to submit to it. It had to listen to Jesus. Jesus is in charge and His Word is powerful.

       -Jesus has power over death and the grave. When Jesus walked up to the tomb of Lazarus, and said, “Lazarus, come forth”, death had to listen to Jesus. Jesus is in charge. His Word is powerful and effective.

And so, when the Centurion said to Jesus, “Jesus I am not worthy to have you come into my house. I know you want to help me. I know you are merciful. Just say the Word”, that man's servant was healed that very day.

When our Confirmands come up here to The Lord's Supper, when you come up here to The Lord's Supper, and in your heart you say, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof”, that is the attitude of a broken heart, a contrite spirit. The Bible says,

“A broken heart,

and a contrite spirit,

O God, you will not despise.”

The Lord wants to help you . He wants to give you what you need. When His Word is spoken, when His Word is spoken, it happens. When He says,

“This is my body. This is my blood”,

and He says,

“Given for the forgiveness of your sins,”

well then, your sins are forgiven. Everything has to submit to His authority.

       -He is the One who paid for your sins.

       -He is the One who died for them.

       -He is the One who washed them away.

And, when He says,

“You are forgiven”,

it doesn't matter if Satan accuses all he wants to, and it doesn't matter if your conscious accuses you all it wants to, you are forgiven.

This is the heart we have toward the Word of God. God's Word is powerful. It is effective. It is the Word of our Savior. This is the Word that brought you to faith, maybe when you were just a little infant. The Holy Spirit, working through the Word,

“Faith comes from hearing the message,

and the message is heard through the Word of Christ”,

that is the powerful, effective, Word that created faith.

       -In our Confirmands, and in you as well, when you hear the Word, the Holy Spirit works through that to strengthen you, and build you up.

       -When you hear the Word in The Lord's Supper, there is the absolute forgiveness of sins. His Word stands good, and it is powerful.

       -When you are in a time of trouble, when somebody you love is in trouble, His Word is effective, and powerful. If He says He will deliver you, He will deliver you, in His good way, and in His good time. He will.

       -If He says,

“All things

work together for good to those who love God”,

they will work together for your good. His Word is powerful, and effective.

I am going to close with this thought. You see in our bulletin underneath the text for today the initials VDMA. We ask our Confirmands, if they would like to chose a Confirmation Verse. One of our Confirmands, and her parents chose 1 Peter, 1:25, which says,

“The Word of the Lord endures forever.”

VDMA is actually the Latin abbreviation of that.

'Verbum' which is 'Word'

'Domini', which is 'of the Lord'

'Manet', which means, 'stands', or 'endures' and

'Aetermum', which means, 'eternity', or 'forever'.

The Word of the Lord



Around the year 1520, when the Lutheran church was starting to grow, people were becoming Lutherans in Germany. They were realizing the critical importance of what God's Word says regarding faith, the forgiveness of sins, and Jesus. They were understanding the authority, the absolute authority of the Word.

Charles the 5th had every intention of stamping out Lutheranism. He had every intention of, if need be, stamping it out by force, and even killing people who were Lutherans.

Well, there was a man by the name Frederic the Wise who was the elector of Saxony, which is the area where Luther lived. Frederic the Wise, knowing there was some real danger in being a Lutheran, had this monogram put on the sleeve, the shoulder sleeve, of everybody who worked for him. Some of them put them above their doorposts, and some of them put it on their swords.

The Word of the Lord



It was there to remind them, “No matter what happens, no matter what happens, you can even take my life, but the Word of the Lord endures forever. The Word of the Lord will take me straight into eternity. Jesus' word is powerful and effective.”

Today is a great day to confirm our absolute trust in the power of the Word, and cling to that Word throughout our lives.