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Posts Tagged "Luke 10:38-42"

Are You Listening?

July 21, 2019
By Rev. David French

As our lesson begins, Jesus is heading to Jerusalem on a road that went past the village where Martha and Mary lived. You know the story. Martha was busy serving while Mary was busy learning from Jesus. Martha sees this as laziness and asked Jesus to fix it. The surprise is that Jesus commends Mary and instructs Martha saying, “... you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

The big picture lesson is listening to Jesus is more important than anything else we do, which includes serving Jesus. And, of course, that’s because it is faith worked by His Word alone that receives the salvation His Word offers. The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write to the Romans: Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. That is, God creates the faith that receives the gifts of forgiveness, life, and salvation using nothing but the words of Jesus.

But, that doesn’t mean there is never a valid reason to miss church. I mean, in life there are times that the urgent takes precedence over the important. People do get sick, and accidents and natural disasters do happen on weekends. But, we also know that’s certainly not why we (or most people) pass on listening to Jesus on any given Sunday. Especially around the holidays, there are times people miss because they have guests coming and are literally like Martha working in the kitchen. Either way, absence from church is a clear indication that something (be it a trip to the hospital or to the golf course) was deemed more important than meeting with Jesus and receiving His gifts on that day.

Now I am absolutely confident that you believe what happens in church is more important than what happens anywhere else. I’m confident that you understand church is where God comes to serve you as the Holy Spirit works through the Word of Christ in your heart. That, it’s in church that we sinners hear the Gospel of Christ, that God loved mankind so much that He became a man. That, in our place He lived a perfect life and then suffered the pains of hell when He offered his life on the cross as payment for our sins. That, He was sent there to be forsaken by God and to suffer our punishment that He might be raised by the Father, assuring us that forgiveness and righteousness have been purchased in full for all mankind. You know, it’s in His church that those gifts are offered to sinners with repentant hearts who call upon Him for mercy and peace.

You see, Christianity is about Christ. And so, obviously, without Christ there can be no Christianity. His work is not only the most important thing that has ever happened in the world, but all other things shrink to nothing compared to the gift of eternal life freely offered by His word. Remember, only Christ remains with us through life and death. Christ alone is the way through death into eternal life. Mary knew this. Apparently, Martha did not.

Now, also keep in mind there was nothing inherently wrong with Martha’s service to Jesus. It was more of a timing thing. It was wrong at that time because she chose serving Jesus over listening to Jesus whose Word filled the other room. And so, we see how even our most heartfelt works can become harmful to our faith when they become a reason for not listening to Jesus.

Jesus offers us forgiveness, eternal life, and the assurance of our salvation through His doctrines or teachings or Words. We’re taught in Scripture, the Holy Spirit has promised to come to us and sustain our faith in all of God’s promises through that same Word. That’s true all the time, but especially as we meditate or think about what we read. And that can happen any time of day or night.

Many of us first receive God’s word of forgiveness and life combined with the water of our baptism. That He might fill all of our senses with His love and forgiveness as we receive that Word by mouth as the body and blood of Jesus Himself enters us in with and under the bread and wine of His Holy Supper. The Word of God promises the Holy Spirit will deliver His gifts to you, and through these gifts, these Means of Grace, He creates or strengthens the faith in your heart that, by grace, holds to what God has given you in Christ.

The obvious point in today’s gospel reading is that listening to Jesus is not just more important than anything else in life, listening to Jesus is life. There are those who think it would be a lot easier if we could just sit and listen to Jesus Himself. But they either don’t understand, or they believe that the reason the Holy Spirit inspired Luke to write this gospel was so that we could listen to Jesus Himself. Jesus doesn’t come to us in our walks through the woods or in our visions or dreams. He comes to us through the words of the Holy Scriptures, the Bible, the inerrant and inspired Word of God.

In the gospel which we read a couple of weeks ago, Jesus said, “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me” (Luke 10:16). With these words, Jesus Himself tells us that when we hear a pastor faithfully preach His Word, we are listening to Him. With these words, Jesus also tells us that those who reject the faithful preaching of God’s Word bring His’s wrath upon themselves. And that is because there’s an odd little theological term that applies to today’s gospel reading known as the “Gospel Imperative.” A “Gospel Imperative” is something that sounds like a command, but is really something we already want to do. For example: A hungry family has been milling around the house waiting for something to eat. Finally, the cook calls out, “Come and get it!” Strictly speaking, this is a command. But it’s one everyone looks forward to fulling or obeying.

When Jesus tells us to listen to Him, it also is a Gospel Imperative. As we listen to Him speak words of forgiveness, the Holy Spirit strengthens our faith, and we receive the one thing needful for life.

You see, it’s always about Jesus. From time to time, Jesus works through a pastor’s mouth saying, “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” At other times Jesus works through a pastor’s hands and gives you a piece of bread and a cup of wine and says, “The body of our Lord, given into death for you” and “The precious blood of Christ our Lord, given and shed for the forgiveness of your sins.”

This is the pure gospel as Jesus, working as only He can, through the hands of sinners, places Himself with all His gifts of peace and love into your hand or mouth, that you might eat and drink this blessed gift of forgiveness and life. Eternal life through the forgiveness of sins is what Jesus offers. It’s why He tells us that no matter when or where, listening to Him is the most important thing that we will ever do.

In His Name, Amen

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