Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

A member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

2688 North Park Drive
Lafayette, CO 80026
303-665-6105
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Lent 2 – Mar. 4 – Great Joy and Suffering

Introduction:  Grace be to you and peace, from God our Father, and from our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.  Our text is the Epistle Lesson just read, Rom. 5:1-11.  We begin with prayer.

Dear fellow disciples of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ:

  • Virtually everyone takes at least some time to consider “who they are.”  It’s an important question, for all that we have is bound up in the issue of who we are.  Likewise, we are concerned that others know who we are since genuine relationship exists only where people truly know each other.
  • This issue and concern was not lost on Jesus – as in the Gospel Lesson He not only asked the disciples about the perceptions others had of Him, and He also revealed what He knew about Himself and His future to the disciples – though this didn’t sit well with Peter.
  • One of the dynamics of knowing who we are is what we experience.  The usual protocol is to feel gratified and blessed and important when things are going well for us, and to feel poor, miserable, and worthless when we are suffering.  This is probably what moved Peter to object so strenuously to Jesus’ revelation of the suffering and death that awaited Him. 
  • Jesus intensifies our consideration of “who we are” and our “worth,” when He also reveals that anyone who follows Him is to “deny himself, and take up his cross and follow” Him.  So when we are contemplating “who we are” we must also take into consideration “losing our life” for Jesus’ sake and the sake of the Gospel. 
  • This is really what the apostle Paul is contemplating, and what he wants us to understand, through the words of our text.  Being a Christian, a disciple and follower of Jesus brings “GREAT JOY AND SUFFERING.”  But insofar as whether we are suffering or enjoying ease and comfort we are being blessed by God, these external experiences in no way determine or define “who we are.”
  • For although following Jesus brings great difficulties:

I.  There Is No Greater Joy And Blessedness Than Knowing Jesus The Christ, The Lord And Savior

 A.  To Know Him And To Believe In Him Is To Be Justified By His Atonement, The Redemption That Is In His Blood

 Text:  “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  For one will scarcely die for a righteous person–though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die – but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.”

B.  Being Justified In This Way, By Faith In Jesus, Gives Us Constant Joy And Confidence

Text:  “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.  More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

C.  So We Rejoice That By Faith We Have Peace With God Almighty, Who Controls All Things In The Universe

Text:  “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

D.  And We Live Constantly In The Joyous Assurance Of Full Access To God At All Times, And Also Certain Hope For A Future In The Glory Of God

Text:  “Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”

Statement:

  • Now let all of this sink in for a moment, and then consider what all of this means in terms of “who you are.”

 1.     Yes, we are still sinners, but “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” 

2.     Yes, we should still have some sense of guilt for the evil things we do, but “if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.

3.     Yes, we have our ups and downs in life, our share of troubles, but “we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

4.     Yes, we have some worries and concerns about the future, but “we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”

Application:

  • The point is that the most important and blessed thing we can say about “who we are” is that we are children of God, blessed believers who are forgiven, reconciled, at peace with God, and destined for a glorious future of eternal life in God’s glorious heavenly kingdom.   Whatever else goes on doesn’t impact any of this in the least!  These things “about us” are all in God’s hands, are impregnable, established and determined by His Word forever!  So, in Christ Jesus there is certainly “great joy.”

 

Transition:  But we have to get back to Jesus’ destiny – which we too share in as we “take up our cross and follow Him.”  And this means that:

II.  Life In Christ Is Also Life With A Cross

A.  For We Will Be Taking His Side, Holding To His Word, Fighting In His Battles

So let us listen once again, very carefully, to His own words:

Gospel:  “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.  For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?  For what can a man give in return for his life?  For whoever is ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

This is the bad news, the suffering, but:

B.  Still, Everything We Experience In Life Is Working Together For Our Great Good And Blessedness – And So, As Paul Writes

Text:  “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

Statement:

  • So you see that we are not defined negatively by the sufferings that we end up enduring – regardless of their source or cause.  It is not that we welcome “suffering,” or seek to inflict it upon ourselves, but rather that knowing God’s love for us, and knowing that it must somehow end up bringing blessings to us, we “rejoice” even in our “sufferings.”

 

 Application:

  •  And if a great part of “who we are” has to do with following Jesus, well then these sufferings only confirm that reality that we are His disciples, and this also brings us great joy.  But certainly we must never allow the difficulties and trials we face to erode away our faith in Jesus, and our grasp of how beloved and blessed we are of God!  This is precisely what the devil wants to happen to us, and the unbelieving and rebellious people around us!  So in the face of these temptations we must also pray: “Get behind me, Satan.”

 

 Conclusion:

  • Many within the church have failed to properly understand these things, and have tried to turn “following Jesus” into a life of ease, comfort, power, control, and prerogative.  This hardly squares with the description Jesus gave of “following Him.” 
  • So take care in this matter of “knowing who you are.”  Keep your hearts and minds focused on Jesus – as you continue following Him!  This “hope” will not disappoint us!  By this faith we have also obtained access into this grace in which we STAND – and we so “we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”  God grant each of us this blessedness forever!  Amen.

 

Votum:  And the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, will keep your hearts and minds in the true faith, which is in Christ Jesus, even unto life everlasting, Amen.