St. Paul Lutheran Church
Quinquagesima – February 25/26, 2017 a.d.
St. Luke 18:31-43 – 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
The Rev. BT Ball
"See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. After after flogging him, they will kill him and on the third day he will rise. But they understood none of these things."
"So now faith, hope and love abide, these, three, but the greatest of them is love."
God loves you in Jesus Christ. The Father has shown his love in sending his Son to accomplish everything written by the prophets. He was delivered over to the Gentiles, mocked, shamefully treated, spit upon, flogged and killed on the third day he rose again This is how God loves you. In this way. By nature we do not know love, not this Kind. You can have all kinds of things, the ability to speak in a glorious way, understanding and knowledge and even faith strong enough to uproot a rocky mountain and move it around and without the love that is from Christ and is Christ, it is nothing. Faith and hope are both passing away. What lasts forever is love - God's love in Jesus Christ. God the Father has always loved his Son and in him He always has been loving you. Before the world was made, He loved you in His Son. When the Blessed Trinity thought it right, this world was made, and the Three in One created an object of Divine affection. From forever in the mind of God that object was this world, and more closely, the object of that affection was the Holy Church, and even still, the object of that love, the place right where it is focused - is you. And this is why love is the greatest. It is before time and place, but in time and in place it is directed, all the way, completely to you in Christ.
Sinful man does not want the love in the way that it is given, sinful man seeks to destroy love and the one who loves. A sinful heart does not want God loving by the cross. Sinful hearts simply cannot understand or grasp God's love in Jesus Christ. God sends his Son, and what does the world do in response, the scriptures show it - deliverance over to enemies, mockery, shameful treatment. Sinful mankind spits on love. Tries to destroy love by whipping it. Sinful man would kill love by nailing him to a cross. And this is true even for you as a Christian, for what do we do? We crucify the Son of God again (Hebrews 6:6) in our sin as love is redefined to be about self and feelings, false definitions of love that provide only emptiness and shame. Look how confused and fallen the love of mankind is. God's law is a revelation of perfect love. Love is the fulfilling of the law. But we turn from that with our own sinful selfish desires. Turning from both the Law of God and from the Gospel by seeking mercy and good and fulfillment from every place, from everything except the One who loves, the One who is love that never ends.
But yet God loves. His love shown to you, given to you, in the word of the Gospel. Jesus is headed up to Jerusalem to accomplish everything for you. To love you, knowing your sin and taking it and its punishment. That is the depth of his love. He wants nothing else than to love you to death. He fulfills His Father's will, He loves His Father and His Father loves you, so Jesus is willing to fulfill the Scriptures to be mocked, and be treated shamefully. He does not turn from being spat upon and flogged. He goes to be killed because in all of this He is loving you. The Passion of Jesus. His love. All for you. And you can see how the disciples couldn't understand it, how they couldn't grasp it. How to their minds it was incomprehensible. The foolishness of it all. Right, only God could love in this way. Only God does. And freely, completely, He loves you and the Gospel is the revelation of such love, and the Spirit uses the words to create in you faith and hope in the love of God revealed.
With God's love, you call out in hope and in faith, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me." You are the object of divine affection. This is what the passion of Jesus reveals to you. That the mercy of Jesus is yours. That he will give you what you need, because he has given you himself. God the Father has given you His Son, and with His Son, all love. All this in the words and promises backed up by actions. God said he loved his world, his people, you. He does. He showed it, He gave His Son that you, a sinner, would receive divine love, be the object of divine affection. Now he says it and shows it again. Love is patient, love is kind. The cross of Jesus reveals the patience God has toward sinners, the kindness of divine mercy, and such loving kindness can be found. It is at the altar for you today. Here is great love of God, which was given and shed on the cross, given right to you. Love for sure. With no doubt. And with this love, all sins taken away and faith and hope have their center, their foundation, their certainty. And with this love all death is destroyed. And with this love – you have mercy, healing and peace. Then in your life becomes and is one of praise, thanksgiving, following your Savior, keeping His law. Loving God, loving those around you. God loves you in Christ, the sinner, the weak, the sorrowing, the downcast, and the poor in spirit. You love too, because God first loved you in His Son. He does right now. He always will. Amen.