Midweek Lent 1: Trusting in My Lord Jesus Christ

Scripture: Psalm 5, 2 Sam. 22:1-4, 2 Cor. 3:4-6, Matt. 12:15-21, Passion History
Hymns: LSB 418, 440, 878

Listen to the entire service here (the sermon alone is above).

      Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

      Tonight, we begin a series focusing on Christian Questions with Their Answers. This portion of the Catechism doesn’t seem to get the attention it deserves. Reading these questions and answers is a great way to prepare to receive the Lord’s Supper.

       In tonight’s Passion Narrative, we heard Jesus institute the Lord’s Supper. He takes bread, blesses it, and gives His disciples His Body. He takes wine, blesses it, and gives His disciples His Blood. It is His Last Will and Testament. What He says concerning the Supper always remains true, for it is sealed in His death (Heb. 9:15-17).

      The Lord’s Supper unites us to Christ, it brings to mind the events of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, it unites us to our brothers and sisters in Christ at the Communion rail and even with those who have gone before us, it imparts the forgiveness of sins, it expresses our unity of faith in Christ, and it serves as a way for Christians to silently proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.

      These are serious matters. In fact, there’s a note at the end of “Christian Questions with Their Answers” which says “These questions and answers are no child’s play, but are drawn up with great earnestness of purpose by the venerable and devout Dr. Luther for both young and old. Let each one pay attention and consider it a serious matter; for St. Paul writes to the Galatians in chapter six: ‘Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked.’”

      Yet, many want to turn the Divine Service and Holy Communion into playthings, for they do not take God’s Word seriously. If you were invited to dine with the King of England, would you show up in clothes with a few stains, dirty sneakers, and greet him, saying, “Hello, there!”? Of course not. You will wear clean clothes, ensure you are not unkempt, and you will speak formally. You are, after all, in the presence of the king! How much more should we consider our conduct when we are in the presence of the Almighty King!

      That Christ Jesus would receive us into His midst is amazing. The Christian Questions began, not with some small talk or various niceties. Instead, they go straight to the heart of who we are according to our fallen nature:

      Question: Do you believe that you are a sinner?

      Answer: Yes, I believe it. I am a sinner.

      Question: How do you know this?

      Answer: From the Ten Commandments, which I have not kept.

Ouch! But it is true. Many take offense at us Lutherans for beginning the service by confessing our sin. Because some think that Christians should be empowered to somehow stop sinning, they don’t think we should express any ongoing reality of being sinners. Others feel that beginning with the Confession is beginning on a low note—that the service should start out more positively.

      But the underlining issue is this—we don’t like to admit our sin. We like to pretend it away. As faithful Christians, we figure that we should somehow be better than we are, and so we try to downplay it. Or we like to relish in the sins of others, while minimizing the reality of our own sins. We’re just like Adam and Eve. Instead of facing God after we have sinned, we want to hide from Him.

      But that’s where the final questions we read today come in.

      Question: Do you hope to be saved?

      Answer: Yes, that is my hope.

      Question: In whom then do you trust?

      Answer: In my dear Lord Jesus Christ.

Instead of figuring that God will only give us what we deserve (His wrath and displeasure, temporal death, and eternal damnation), we turn to our Lord with contrition—that is, sorrow over our sin. We turn to Him because we hope for salvation and trust in our dear Lord Jesus Christ.

      After all, Jesus alone went to the cross to pay for our sins. He even sends ministers into our midst to absolve us.

      This absolution, by the way, is also offensive to many Christians. They make the claim that only God can forgive sins. But that same complaint was made against Jesus when He forgave the paralytic. Then, after healing the paralytic, the crowds were amazed because God had given to men the power to forgive sins. The forgiveness pronounced by the pastor is Christ’s forgiveness—forgiveness earned when Jesus shed His innocent blood on our behalf.

      And with this forgiveness, we trust in Christ Jesus, that He will truly cover us with His righteousness and declare us acceptable before God in Heaven.

      All of our readings tonight convey this trust we can have in Christ. They teach us not to hide from God with anxiety over our sin, but instead that we can draw near to Christ who helps us in our time of need.

      In Psalm 5, we prayed acknowledging that God hates those who do evil. Yet, we enter God’s House and bow down toward His holy temple. We take refuge in Him and sing for joy. We come to Christ in prayer, saying “Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to You do I pray” (Psalm 5:2).

      When David was delivered from his enemies, he said, “The Lord is my Rock and my Fortress and my Deliverer, my God, my Rock, in whom I take refuge” (2 Sam. 22:2-3). David knew he could trust in his Lord, even though David had committed some grievous sins. He did, after all, receive out of God’s grace the authority to be king of Israel, and bearer of the Messianic line.

      St. Paul declared, “Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God” (2 Cor. 3:4). We can draw near to Him and confess our sins because of the confidence we have in Christ. He will not declare us lowlifes, good for nothing, rotten scoundrels. Instead, He declares us righteous, having given us the robes of righteousness and the garments of salvation. We have confidence in Christ Jesus because He fulfilled all that the Father sent Him to do. He died in our place to give us life. He rose from the grave to secure our eternal salvation. And so our confidence is in Him.

      Isaiah had prophesied that the Gentiles will put their trust in Christ. We heard Jesus quote that in our reading from Matthew. We trust in Jesus for He is the very Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He reconciles us to our Father. He keeps His promises. He loves us and covers our many sins, presenting us before our Father in Heaven as righteous. These blessings are ours. And so we can turn to Him, confessing our sin, and receiving the absolution. We can go to the Lord’s altar and be confident that we are receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus for our forgiveness. It is, after all, just as He said. Amen.

      The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus to life everlasting. Amen