Tuesday, May 21, 2019

A Commandment Always New

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another" (John 13:34).

Our Lord first spoke these words on the night when He was betrayed, the first Maundy Thursday.  And He speaks them again in this moment.

Question: How long does "new" last?  For example, am I still the "new" pastor of Faith Lutheran?  I was installed in August of last year.  When I put that question to the congregation on Sunday, most felt that I'm not still the "new" pastor.

How long does "new" last when it comes to your phone, car, clothes and shoes?  Today's new music won't be for long.  The same with that new movie.

How long does "new" last?  With most things in life the answer is: Not very.  Today's new is tomorrow's old.

Enter the words of the crucified-risen Jesus: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another."

Question: Why does He call it a "new" commandment?  Answer: Because it never gets old.  This commandment is almost two thousand  It's always new.  It's eternally new.  Because when God calls something "new," it stays new.  And makes everything around it new too!

Let us take everything we believe about the love, forgiveness, and servant-heart of Christ, and be that way toward each other.

And let us rejoice that in a world and experience where things only get old, one thing is always new!

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

The Fourth Commandment

A nutshell of this past Sunday's Adult Bible Class.

"Honor your father and your mother."

In a way, the Fourth Commandment is the First Commandment, because it is the first commandment of the Second Table (commandments four through ten).  Paul writes, "This is the first commandment with a promise, 'that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land'" (Eph. 6:2-3).  And so to children I would say:

What does the Holy Bible say?
Your parents honor and obey;
This is the first command for you,
The most important thing to do;
Then safe and sound you'll always be!
God keeps His promise faithfully.

And to parents:

O father, mother, listen well,
And Scripture will the secret tell:
To keep them from a bitter heart,
Instruct your children from the start
In the Commandments and the Creed
And in the Prayer for ev'ry need.

Now according to the Small Catechism, the Fourth Commandment means this: "We should fear and love God so that we do not despise or anger our parents and other authorities, but honor them, serve and obey them, love and cherish them."  The word "Honor" is used by God only here in the Ten Commandments.  He applies it to parents, and not even to Himself!  And its meaning is captured in four verbs: serve, obey, love, cherish.  Ask yourself, Have I prized my parents as the most precious treasure on earth and revered them as second only to God?

The Catechism adds "other authorities."  Who are these?  Answers include my teacher, supervisor, pastor, those who represent the government, my elders, the aged, and I would also include veterans.

But most of all, parents (grandparents too, and guardians).

And a word to our youth.  Do not buy the lie that your parents are against you.  Because no one on earth loves you more, wants more for you, or would sacrifice more for you than your parents.  It's true!

If you want to be cool, truly cool, and a true Christian, and safe and sound, Honor your father and your mother...all your days.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Going Overboard for Christ

"...and he threw himself into the sea" (John 21:7).

"Peter waits for nothing more,
Plunges in to swim ashore" (hymn).

If John is called "That disciple whom Jesus loved" (John 21:7), then Peter should be called "That disciple who loved Jesus."  Not that John didn't do that too, and the others.  But we may learn from Peter.

The Lord Jesus had risen, and for the third time reveals Himself to the disciples, this time by the Sea of Tiberias, which is the Sea of Galilee.  When John perceives that the man on the shore is the Lord, Peter acts.  And he acts out of love.

In swimming, the world record for 100 meters is 46.91 seconds.  But my guess is that the real record is held by Peter.

We know that Jesus appeared to Peter on Easter Sunday.  This appearance to Peter alone is mentioned twice (Luke 24:34 and 1 Cor. 15:5).  Could it be that Jesus did this in order to absolve Peter of his triple denial?  Anyway, we know that Jesus forgave Peter.  And he who is forgiven much, loves much (cf. Luke 7:47).

And so I repeat, he acts out of love - much love.

To Peter, Christ and His love and forgiveness are worth going overboard.  They move him to go overboard.

Putting the Lord Jesus first in your life, putting His Word first in your life, even when that means standing out and suffering for it - isn't that going a little overboard?

Yes, it is!  And we learn to do that from Peter!

Let us be like John who knew that he was loved by Jesus.  And let us be like Peter who was moved by this love to love the Lord in return - and to go overboard for Christ!