Online Worship for Advent Four, Sunday December 19, 2021
Sermon for Advent Four – Sunday December 19, 2021
Calvary/Marquette ● Soli Deo Gloria
Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus, the Christ. Amen.
Matthew 28:19-20 (ESV)
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
In the Name of Jesus, the Christ,
Who’s first coming we celebrate,
Whose second coming, we await,
Dear Fellow Redeemed in Christ –
It’s called the Great Disappointment.
It all unfortunately started when a New York state farmer by the name of William Miller, who had become a Baptist preacher, declared that the world would come to an end in 1843.
When Jesus did not return as foretold by William Miller, his followers didn’t learn (or read their bibles, cf. Matthew 24:36) but came up with a new date -- October 22, 1844. As the date drew near, the Adventists (as they were called) became very excited. They quit their jobs and dressing in white gowns gathered in their homes and meeting places and went out into the fields to await Jesus’ return.
Nothing happened (save some regrets the next morning). That day in Adventist history is known as “The Great Disappointment.”
Last Sunday I said that all that is left for us to do is to wait for the Lord Jesus to return in glory. Anyone think that we should find white gowns and meet out in the fields? Nope.
We have thus far prepared for Christmas by:
Asking that God renovate our hearts and minds so that they may be fit dwelling places for the Lord Jesus.
Asking that God would lead us to rejoice in His Gift of His Son.
We now wait for the hours and days to tick away until celebrating the Savior’s Birth. We also await the 2nd Coming of the Lord Jesus and the Day upon which we will join all believers to rejoice in God’s Salvation.
While we wait expectantly, we will not quit our jobs and gather in the fields in white gowns. We have work to do. We aren’t to be waiting by sitting on our backsides doing nothing. The Gift that God has given us in the person of His Son and His completed work...is something we have been given to share with others.
It’s our work until Jesus returns and it’s work that needs to be done.
May God the Holy Spirit bless us as we study words often associated with Mission Festivals, understanding that they are our marching orders until the end of the world. We therefore pray: “Sanctify us by your Truth, O Lord, Your Word is Truth. Amen.
As difficult as it is to believe, Christmas is now less than a week away. When we gather with family to open gifts, we will find gifts with a single name on them. In some cases, we may pool our money and together purchase a gift for our parents or a loved one, but generally speaking there is only one name on the tag. We don’t generally wrap and give gifts with the idea that the person who unwraps the gift should give it to others. When we give gifts, we generally say: “This is for you.”
When God sent His Son into the human race to give His life a ransom, He did so for you. God’s gift had your name on it, and yours, and yours. When Jesus lived each day without sin, He did so with you on His mind. He did so to redeem you. He did so to reconcile you to the Father. He wasn’t thinking of everyone else...He was thinking of you.
It is said that someone once asked Martin Luther if he wished that John 3:16 read, “God so loved Martin Luther, that He gave his only begotten Son.” Martin is said to have replied, “No, because I would always wonder if it was talking about some other Martin Luther. It says that God so loved the world, and that includes me, whatever my name may be.”
It’s also been said in this way: “God sent his son to save sinners. I am a sinner. God sent his son to save me.”
Now that said, the gift that God gave in Bethlehem and gave up for sinners on the Tree of Calvary...isn’t only for you and for me. God’s gift is bigger than me or you. It doesn’t only have my name on it or yours. It has your friend’s name on it and your neighbors. It has your enemies name on it.
We should rejoice in God’s Gift...but God would also have us share that gift. Therefore, the same Jesus who was born in Bethlehem and suffered and died outside Jerusalem, having arisen from the dead and preparing to ascend again to His rightful place in Heaven, to sit down in the place of highest honor and glory, gave us an outline of our work.
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,
If we are to understand these words, then it’s important that we understand when they were spoken, and to whom. Jesus spoke these words to His disciples, before His Ascension. We picture the eleven standing about Jesus, perhaps also flanked by the women who followed Him. Jesus spoke these words to His students. They were not professionals, but fishermen, a tax collector and others.
Jesus didn’t speak these words to a small group of seminary graduates. He didn’t give this command only to select pastors and missionaries. He gave it to all his disciples. It’s meant for everyone who has by faith received God’s Gift in Bethlehem and at the foot of the tree on Calvary.
The work in the Church of the Lutheran Confession and here at Calvary is to share God’s gift of His Son. It isn’t only my work; it is also yours. Remember, the work that we do in India was begun when a young man traveled to India and got sick and shared his faith in Jesus.
However, the work given us by Jesus doesn’t require that we sell our houses and travel the world. If God grants you the ability to travel, then remember that as you go you are to make disciples.
For, the command (imperative) is not to go, but to make disciples. Jesus wants other people to join us as Jesus’ pupils, as those who seek to learn from Him. This isn’t a command given to one or two, but to all of us.
Everyone who has learned of Him and calls him Lord are to take these words as their marching orders.
How do we make disciples? Well, the word means to become a pupil or disciple. We want to help others to become students of Jesus, pupils together with Him. Jesus is the teacher; we are his disciples.
As Jesus’ students, we should be ready to sit and learn of Him every day. We shouldn’t act like we know everything.
As Jesus’ students, it’s also important that we live in a way that glorifies our teacher. We don’t have a dress code that distinguishes us from others, but the way we live and talk shouldn’t call into question whether we follow Him! If we claim to be Jesus’ disciples yet live like people who don’t know Him, people notice. If we follow Christ and turn from the things the world values, people notice.
We don’t want to get in the way of the work He has given us!
We want to live according to the word we proclaim. It is through that Word that we are strengthened to do our work. It is through that Word that others are moved to seek what Jesus Himself commands, baptism.
baptizing them in the name of the Father
and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
OK, now Pastor. This part is your job. You are the guy that does the baptizing. We don’t do that!
Actually, I do it because you, as a congregation of believers, have called me to do It. God gives the authority to baptize and to dispense the sacrament of the altar to His Church. In fact, this ‘job’ has your name on it too. If you open your hymnal to the last page, you will find there the order for an emergency baptism. Jesus’ command is to all of his disciples...it includes you. You have called me to carry it out for the sake of order. Jesus has given the job to every disciple.
20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
OK, now Pastor. This part is your job. You are the guy that teaches.
Once again, I serve in this role because you have called me to be your servant, your shepherd. It is my job to study God’s Word and communicate it to you every week, in Bible studies and in sermons.
But, calling me to serve you in this way doesn’t mean that Jesus’ command doesn’t apply to you! Jesus command to teach also belongs to you. In fact, as your pastor I am called to equip you to teach others. I am to teach you so that you may teach others.
It’s part of the reason Jesus gave me to you, as Paul wrote to the Ephesians (4:11-12):
11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,
We don’t pick and choose what we want to believe or teach. We are called to teach everything that Christ teaches and commands in His Word. In fact, we are to teach and proclaim nothing but God’s Word. We don’t have any business making rules where God has not! We don’t have any business going beyond that Word.
Throughout the Church Year we open up God’s Gift and we learn together all about what God has given us. We do so with a goal of growing in faith and understanding, that we may serve Him rightly as disciples and as those who teach His Word. If we don’t do the work, then we will cease to grow and may fade and shrink away as a congregation. We have to do the work together, it’s not a matter of throwing money at advertisement.
Each and everyone of us is to be about the Work that God has given us, looking for opportunities to speak of the real reason we celebrate Jesus’ Birth. Let’s not send mixed messages to friends and neighbors. Let’s not undermine our work by living like sin is something to be winked at and minimized.
Our work...is intimidating. Why would the LORD Christ use faulty models like us to save sinners? Why can’t the Angels appear yet again and announce the Good News to the whole world? It is our work, our service.
The Savior Jesus has promised to equip us through His Word. He’s given us the Sacrament of the Altar to strengthen our faith in His Sacrifice. He’s sent the Holy Spirit to do the work we can’t do – convert the hearts of sinners – to grant them spiritual life.
And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
He’s promised to stand with us to the very end of the world.
God help us that we not be a ‘Great Disappointment’ to Him. May He instead embolden us to be about the work He has given us. Let us prepare diligently to point the world to the Christ, to the manger and the cross and the empty grave –
So they with us may evermore
Such grace with wondering thanks adore
And endless praise to Thee be given
By all Thy Church in hearth and heaven.