Let us pray: Dear Lord Christ, we live in an uncertain world. A world in which people look inside themselves for strength, comfort, and hope and not to You. A world in which we’re told that reality is whatever an individual thinks it is and that “if it feels right for you, just do it”—notwithstanding the truth of Your commandments. Lord, our chief problem today is the exact same problem sinners of every generation have faced, that is, we always try to make god in our image and to think that we have all the answers. Today remind us otherwise. Today remind us that You alone, are the Way, the Truth, and the Life! Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, OUR GLORIOUS LORD AND SAVIOR!
TEXT: Luke 4: 14-21
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
A few years back, my mother sent me this book: “Growing Up Lutheran”—“What Does This Mean?” It’s a humorous take on Lutheran traditions from about 1950 to 1980. It talks about the famous jello-laced church dinners, taking sermon notes in confirmation class, and the Christmas bathrobe pageants that we still have today! And throughout the book it uses Luther’s famous explanation of the word “Amen” that we all learned, as a refrain. Who can ever forget those famous words that Lutherans hold near and dear: “This is most certainly true!”?
The professor who shaped my theological education more than anyone else in the seminary was Dr. B. W. Teigen. In fact, my class was the last to have him teach us. Dr. Teigen is still alive today—living in a rest home at about age 95. He’s retired from the hustle and bustle of church politics, but his legacy of searching from real, Biblical truth still lives on.
His last hurrah was the publication of his book on the Lord’s Supper. To this day it is still read around the world and has caused many to delve deeply into the true meaning of Christ’s Words of Institution that He spoke at that first communion. And Dr. Teigen’s chief point in writing that book was to answer this question: “How do I know that the supper we have today is the same one that Christ instituted?” Is it the same because the church or the pastor say it is? Is it real because my faith makes it so to me? This is an important issue because if the reality of forgiveness and the truth of Christ are only subjective, that is, based on my feelings and emotions or lack thereof, then we really have faith in ourselves and not in God Almighty.
Let’s put it another way. I might truly believe that it is hot outside today. But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s very cold. I might truly believe that premarital sex is o.k. as long as the two parties love each other. But that doesn’t change the fact that God says it is wrong in the 6th commandment. One of the chief points of Christianity is that simply believing something doesn’t make it so. If it did, no one would ever be lost to hell because all people believe in something. No, Godly reality and truth are objective, not merely subjective. Certain things are true whether you believe and accept them, or not. And the point of Christianity is to preach this objective truth to lost sinners and through the power of the Holy Spirit cause them to embrace it through faith. With that in mind, let’s look at today’s text under this theme:
THIS IS MOST CERTAINLY TRUE!
The reason that modern Christianity has lost its way and seems so wishy-washy to many is that we’re constantly brainwashed to accept that everything is subjective and that there is no objective truth. I’ll give you an example. The politically correct crowd tells us that Islam is just as valid a religion as Christianity because its followers really believe in Allah. Following that logic, you’d have to say that the members of the flat-earth society who reject the reality of a global world are just as correct in their belief as anyone else. My point is: merely believing something doesn’t make it so. There is such a thing as right and wrong, as truth and falsehood. I might believe my dogs are cats, but that doesn’t change the fact that they really are dogs!
In our lesson Christ is just beginning His public ministry. Up till now He appeared to be an average human being. Growing up in Nazareth He didn’t do all kinds of miracles. He wasn’t an extraordinary leader. Instead He was rather plain and ordinary. But now He is ready to show forth His Divinity and to engage in the glorious task of giving His life for ours on the cross, thus making us right with God through His blood. News of His ministry has reached the hometown folks in Nazareth. One day He’s visiting there on the Sabbath and He stood up to read during the service. He then quotes the words of Isaiah, words which speak of the coming Messiah. “The Spirit of Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Then, with all eyes upon Him, Jesus sat down and added: “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Now, our text doesn’t include what happened afterwards. That is, the people there rejected the truth of His Messiahship that Jesus had proclaimed and tried to kill Him for what they perceived as blasphemy. Those folks from His hometown could not accept the truth. They refused to believe that the little boy they had known and who had grown up among them could possibly be their Savior, the Holy One of God, God Almighty in human flesh. But that didn’t change the fact that Jesus was! And so their “faith” was misplaced and just plain wrong. And today many of them are paying the price for their false faith in hell.
Is Jesus real because I believe Him to be real? Or, is Jesus real because He is real? Well, the answer is obvious. The reality of Jesus walking on this earth and paying for my soul with His blood isn’t dependent on my faith or lack of it. He exists and came into time and space to pay for my sins irregardless of whether I believe it or not.
So, where does that leave Christian faith? Well, faith is important because it grasps this reality and clings to it in humbleness and love. And through the Godly gift of faith the benefits of Christ’s forgiveness are given to me. Yes, through faith He opens my blind eyes to see God’s world and not just my own biased perceptions.
This is most certainly true! Lutherans love that phrase because it encapsulates what true Christian faith is all about. We don’t base our soul’s salvation on the whims of feelings or emotions.—After all, they’re tainted by sin. We don’t look inward for Divine comfort for honest answers about life’s problems, we look outward—to God’s Word. We don’t just trust the fervency of the pastor or some church leader to lead us to heaven, we trust Christ alone, Who is outside of us and Who alone knows the way. True Christian faith is based on the reality of Christ, His miracles, His death, and His resurrection. They happened. They’re real. Isn’t it comforting to know we have a God Who’s bigger, stronger, and more loving and forgiving than we are? Yes, this is why we preach, teach, and believe in Christ alone! Because all of this is most certainly true! Amen.