Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. This morning we meditate upon the Gospel Lesson, the parable of the Good Samaritan.
The interaction between Jesus and the Lawyer in this story is a good reminder of something when it comes to our interactions with God: when we ask a law question, we get a law answer. Or maybe more broadly as we relate to God as we could say it this way: “When we come to God by way of the Law, we get Law, but when we come to Him seeking mercy, we see His heart in Jesus.” But what do I mean by that? What do I mean by a Law question, what do I mean by coming to God by way of the Law? Well, look at the lawyer in the story. What question does he ask Jesus? He says, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Now, we have to acknowledge that a part of this story is making the point that this lawyer is trying to trip Jesus up. It says it right there, he stood up to put Jesus “to the test.” But even still, Jesus asks the man what he thinks, and so we see the approach. Jesus says, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?”
Now, if I could take a second and explain that before I go on, when Jesus asks him what is written in the Law, He’s asking what is written in the first five books of the Bible, in the books of Moses—what we call Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, and what’s called by Jews the “Torah”. He’s saying, “What does the Torah tell you that you have to do?” And what does he say? “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”
Now, as we hear that, we hear that the man is thinking according to the Law. We see that he’s asking a law question. And by that I don’t mean the Torah as the collection of books, I mean law as command. He’s saying that to earn heaven I am to love God and love my neighbor. Now, to connect that to the Ten Commandments, hopefully you’ve heard me make the point ad nauseum that these two commands to love God and love neighbor connect very directly to the Ten Commandments. But just as a refresher, you can see it in that the first three commandments to have no other gods, to not misuse the Name of God, to Remember the Sabbath and make it holy, those tell you how to love God. And the remaining seven, honoring parents and authorities, not murdering, not committing adultery, not stealing, not bearing false witness, not coveting, those tell you how to love your neighbor. And as the man says that this is how he reads the law, loving God and loving neighbor, Jesus reference Leviticus 18:5 and says, “yes, do this and you will live.”
He’s saying, “Yes, love God with 100% of you heart, with 100% of your soul, with 100% of your mind, and with 100% of your strength, and love your neighbor with 100% of the love that you have for yourself, yes do that. Do that and you will live.” To connect this to what I said, if you ask a law question, you will get a law answer. If you ask what you have to do, if you ask what command you have to keep, you will get command. If you ask how you can relate to God according to the Law you’ll get the answer of the Law. And hopefully, you know where I’m going next. What’s the problem? You can’t. Do this and you will live. But you can’t do it.
Of course, I think you all know that, that’s why you’re here. You have that tug on you that tells you that you haven’t lived up to that. Sure, we like to think pretty highly of ourselves, but when we are really pushed there’s something that engages—something we often rightly call our conscience—and it says, “you haven’t done it. You haven’t done that 100%. You tried pretty hard, but you didn’t get that 100%.” Of course, the other voice comes in after that, though doesn’t it? You know the voice I’m talking about? It’s that voice that says, “well, yeah, but you couldn’t. You couldn’t do that. You’re only human. Surely God won’t demand that much.”
Or maybe it’s not that voice as much as it’s the voice that says, “Well, you haven’t done that 100% but look at so and so. Look at the horrible people out there. Look at how bad they are. Look at the people. At least I’m not like them. At least I’m not some serial killer, I’m not John Wayne Gacy, or one of those people who has killed other in mass shootings. At least I’m not a serial adulterer, or a kleptomaniac. What’s wrong with them?!” Or perhaps more convicting “At least I’m not so and so who hasn’t been vaccinated! OR like all those sheep who did get vaccinated! At least I’m not one of the sheep who feels like I have to wear a mask! OR like all of those selfish people who refuse to wear a mask!” The draw to justify ourselves is always there isn’t it? We see it in Adam and Eve and we find it in ourselves too.
And this lawyer had it as well. That’s why he came with the law question, he came wanting to know how to get to heaven by what he did. And so, Jesus gave him a law answer with the 100%’s. But that wasn’t enough. This lawyer had to prove that he had it right, so he pushed that much more. “And who is my neighbor?” And look at how Jesus answers here. It’s so interesting, isn’t it? It’s telling, isn’t it? Look at what He does. Does He actually tell Him who is neighbor is? He doesn’t, does He? No, He tells the story of the Good Samaritan, of this man who sacrifices to care for this person he doesn’t know from Adam. And then what does He say? He says, “and who was the neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” Obviously, the point was that the neighbor was the man who cared, who showed mercy, who sacrificed. And so Jesus says, “Go do likewise.” That law that you obviously think you’re keeping, let me prove to you that you’re not. You want to earn your way to heaven, you want to get to God by the Law, here it is. Go and find the man on the street whom you don’t know, pick him up, take him to the hospital, care for him, and pay for his bill. You do it out of your pocket.
As I reflect on this, I always think about it in conjunction to the rich young man who asks the same thing, but whom Jesus tells to sell all he has and give it to the poor. That man goes away sad, because he finally gets it. I wonder if this lawyer went away getting it too. I wonder if he got what Paul said in the Epistle Lesson, “the Law was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made.” The Law, the Commands were given because of transgression, they were given that you would know your sin and that you can’t get to heaven by earning your way there. If you ask that law question, you get a law answer.
But hopefully you recall I said, more than that at the beginning. I also said, “but when we come to Him seeking mercy, we see His heart in Jesus.” Or to continue looking at what Paul said in the Epistle lesson, “The Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.” Yes the Law says do this and you will live, but you can’t do it, and so God gave Christ so that heaven might be given to those who believe. When we come to Him seeking mercy, we see His heart in Jesus.
Now you might wonder why I said it that way and exactly what I mean by that, “when we come to Him seeking mercy, we see His heart in Jesus.” Well, I said it that way, because when I noted how we have this connection of this lawyer and the rich young man in Mark, both of them asking what they must do, we see Jesus telling them the fullest extent of what perfection entails. But hopefully you’ve noticed in the Bible that there are a whole lot of places where people come to Jesus and they don’t ask that question. Instead, they come with their hands empty and they say, “Lord, have mercy.” And what does Jesus do then? Does He say, “No, you have mercy.” Does He say, “Go and do likewise?” Does He tell them, “Only if you love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind and your neighbor as yourself?” No! And why?
Because their faith in themselves is broken down. Their faith in any other answer has vanished. They aren’t trusting in masks or no masks, in vaccines or no vaccines. They’re on their knees before the Creator of the universe and they’re pleading with Him. And they see His heart.
Now as I use that phrase, you might say, “what do I mean by that?” And that’s fair, especially because when we think of the heart we think of this sort emotive, gushy thing, and we do see that. But I got that phrase from Luther, and that’s not strictly how he means it. You see historically, the heart wasn’t just emotional, it was the core of our being. When I say we see God’s heart, it means we see the essence of who God is.
And this story gives us a glimpse of this. As much as this is a story that is a good example to us, and as much as we should hear it and heed that call to do likewise—just not in the way that we expect to earn eternal life by it—hopefully you all know that this is really a glimpse of us and Jesus. You see, we’re so often tempted to think that we’re the saviors, that we’re the doers, that it’s all up to us, but when the Commands become clear to us, we see it’s not us. No. It’s our Good Samaritan.
Instead of being that Samaritan—despite how much we should try to be—we need to realize that we are the man beaten by the robbers. We have been beaten down by our own sin and rebellion against God. We are beaten down by death and all of its manifestations in loss, things like divorce, things like Covid, all of this. We are beaten down by the tyranny and insanity of the Devil. But then this Samaritan comes, Jesus. He comes and He sacrifices for us.
You know, I mentioned before the sacrifice of the Samaritan in paying the bill, and I’ll come back to that in a second, but there’s something that’s easy to overlook in the story. The robbers who beat the man in the story could have been lurking around the corner waiting for another victim. The Samaritan didn’t know that when he stopped to help the beaten man these thugs wouldn’t just jump out from behind a rock and do the same thing to him. So, there was risk, in addition to the payment, to the sacrifice. Jesus did all of that for us. He knew there would be harm. He knew He would be beaten and scourged for us and for our sins. He knew that sin called for death and so to take our place He would have to suffer that death in the payment for sin and the ultimate sacrifice that it required.
And yet He did that for you. He did that because He cares for you. He did that because His heart and His essence is love for you. He did that so that by His resurrection He could send the Holy Spirit who would draw you into the inn of His Church and here He could tend to your bruises and your wounds. Here He could wash you in the salve of the waters of Baptism. Here He could give you the medicine of immortality in His body and blood in His Holy Supper. That’s His heart. You see that heart in the cross, and He tells you of it in this story because of the mercy He desires. He desires it because it reflects Him.
If you come to Him asking about the Law, though, He’ll tell you what to do. But when you come to Him seeking that mercy because you have broken that Law, He’ll show you that mercy is His heart, is His essence. And He’ll give it to you now, and into His eternal Kingdom forever. Amen.
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. This morning we meditate on the Gospel Lesson previously read.
The Gospel Lesson tells us that as Jesus healed this deaf and mute man, He took “him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue.” Now, if we envision that event, it’s quite the picture isn’t it? Imagine seeing the Lord healing this man in this way. He takes him away from the crowd shoves His fingers in the man’s ears, then He spits. And we don’t know where He spit. Did He spit on His own fingers before touching the man’s tongue? Did He spit on the ground? You know, there’s the miracle where He does that. He spits on the ground and makes mud then rubs it on the blind man’s eyes. Is it like that? Where did He spit? And then you can picture Him reaching in the man’s mouth and touching his tongue. Again, it’s quite the picture. And what do we learn from it? Why does Jesus do this? In fact, we see plenty of miracles where Jesus just heals the person. He speaks the word—which He does here also—but He speaks the word and they’re healed. Why this touch?
To be fair, we don’t know for sure. But I think we can make a connection. Think about how important contact is. I don’t know if you’ve heard stories about people who weren’t given sufficient physical contact in their infancy and the issues that creates. You know, you hear about the orphanages in former Eastern Bloc nations where there is an overabundance of orphans and so the ones there aren’t given sufficient physical contact and human touch. In light of that, they grow up with significant emotional and trust issues. Or I think of a friend who for a time had a job where he would commonly only see people once a week. He said that apart from the odd feeling that something could happen to him and possibly no one would know for days, that he yearned so much for physical touch that when someone would just put their hand on his shoulder or give him a hug, there was such an instant connection his brain went, “Wow! This person likes me, they really like me!” And he didn’t mean that in a romantic sense, just a friendly sense. But there was this power to touch.
But so what? Am I saying this in conjunction with this passage to show that Jesus really likes this man? No. I’m making the point to show how there is clearly this aspect where God created us to have fellowship and to have fellowship that is personal, and physical. Again, I don’t mean that romantically, although the one flesh union of man and woman only proves this all them more. But I mean that God has made us to be in contact with each other. He made us in bodies and made us to have fellowship with each other in a physical and bodily way.
Is that, then, why Jesus made contact with the man in this way? Maybe it’s not exactly the reason. But the fact that He did confirms it. It also confirms that fact that Jesus came in a body like ours. Do you ever think about that? Do you ever think about the fact that Jesus had a body like yours? And to be fair, I don’t mean that it was necessarily exactly like yours, after all, we all have different shapes and sizes. Likewise, Jesus was male and not female. But have you meditated on the fact that Jesus had a real human body? Have you thought about what that means? On the one hand, have you thought about how He had to have a body like yours to save humanity? After all, that’s really at the heart of the teaching that we call the incarnation, isn’t it? Jesus had to become man in order to save man.
You know it’s interesting how often you see this discussed in the history of the Church. There’s a writing from a Church Father from the 300’s named Athanasius called “On the Incarnation,” there’s one from the Middle Ages called “Cur Deus Homo,” “Why God Became Man.” The Church throughout time has realized the need to meditate on this, to think about why God would come in the flesh, how that had to be for us our sins to be paid for, for God to reconcile us to Himself and give us eternity. We see that over and over again. Have you thought about that?
Also, have you thought about that in terms of Jesus’ humanity? Have you thought about how this human body of Jesus breathed air and pumped blood like you? How it consumed food and drink and expelled them like you? It’s really impressive to consider the dedication of God to meet us in that way in order to save us, isn’t it? And that shows how much He cares about His creation.
You know there are a lot of ideas that get this creation wrong. There are those that focus only on it, acting as though God doesn’t exist, or that what we do in this body and life don’t matter in relation to God. There are others that assume that the goal is to get out of this body and attend to this supernatural life of our soul that sort of floats around. But Jesus in the body, Jesus who puts His fingers in the man’s ears and touches the man’s tongue. This shows how much God actually cares for you and your body. It shows how He cares for you and wants you taken care of in the flesh. Think of all the things that you hear in the Catechism: clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, wife, children, land, animals, and all that you need to support this body and life. This Jesus in the body shows that God cares about all of those things.
I had lunch with Pastor Hanson this week, and he was telling me about how he was in a Bible Class where someone asked about praying about these things. The pastor of the congregation was leading the discussion, and the man, who apparently was a farmer said, “Pastor, should I really pray for stuff? Should I really pray for my crops?” And the pastor saw Pastor Hanson with a look on his face indicating he had an answer. And the answer was that. Yes. Look at what we see that God cares for. He cares for your needs and your bodies. It’s easy to think that’s all too small for Him, that the details of my clothes are too minute for Him to care about. But this Jesus in a human body shows that He does care.
Even more it shows how much He cares because He is willing to touch that which is unclean. I think most of you know enough about the Old Testament to at least know that it talks about things that are clean and unclean. And Jesus in the Gospels makes it clear that ultimately this isn’t about whether you can eat pork or not, that having ham won’t actually make you unclean, but that it’s about sin, that it’s the sin that comes out of your heart that makes you unclean. But think about what that means about Jesus and His care for you. It means that in this body He came into contact with that which was unclean, for you. In fact, one of the things that’s clearly the most unclean in the Old Testament is death. You don’t touch dead things. Why not? Because that’s a manifestation of sin. Do I mean that dying is sinful, that it’s a sin to die? No. I mean that we die because it’s the wage, the payment, the consequence of our sin. And Jesus came into contact with that. Think about that for a minute.
Think about the grossest thing you can. Ok don’t think about it too long, because it’s gross, but think about how much you don’t want to touch something like that. Don’t worry, I won’t give a concrete example here. I think you all get the point. But now think about how the perfect and perfectly holy God views sin. As much as you are disgusted by the gross thing you’re thinking of, God’s holiness views sin in a way that see it as way grosser. And yet, to save you Jesus came into this body and died, bearing your sin in it. That’s His love for you.
And as this body confirms all this, confirms God’s care for you in the body, shows His love for you by entering into that body, He confirms how important that contact in the body is. This Jesus sticking His fingers in the ear and touching the tongue of the deaf and mute man shows you that contact with you is important.
And you still see how important it is. In fact, you still see how important it is in the Church. Think about what makes Covid so hard. I don’t mean the illness itself, but all of the challenges that have come with it. Think about the stories you know of people who have been hospitalized with no loved one to hold their hand. Think about how you all have your own loved ones whom you weren’t, or maybe still haven’t been able to see, to touch, to hold and hug in the midst of this. It’s hard. And it’s hard for us as the Church because God has made the Church to gather in person.
You know with my background, that’s one of the things that I appreciate so much about Lutheranism. There’s this very physical component to worship. There’s this understanding in Lutheran Worship that our faith together isn’t just this strictly “Spiritual,” non-physical connection to God and to each other. Is there that? Sure there is. We confess the Communion of Saints. That happens as we have communion, but it also happens in a way that connects us to the Churches throughout the world gathered around that body and blood of Christ, and it happens in a way that connects us to the whole Church throughout time. I’m sure many of you have seen altars with rails that are half-circles. The symbolism of that is that the other half is in heaven around the throne of Jesus. That we gather with the heavenly host as we have this body and blood. So there’s certainly this part where it’s not just face to face.
But there’s a part of it, too, that is about that. That’s why I’m always harping about being here on Sunday mornings. Jesus who heals the man in this way shows us that this connection isn’t just about me and Jesus. My faith isn’t just about me sitting at home and reading my Bible. Reading my Bible is good, but look at what that Bible says. It tells me that Jesus comes to me in His Word. Look at the Epistle Lesson. What’s that say? Faith comes by what? By hearing! And how can they hear? They can hear if someone is sent! That’s the pastor. The Church isn’t just you and Jesus and your Bible, it’s us here. Pastor and hearers, people gathered together around the preaching of Jesus’ Word, gathered around His body and blood. That’s what this Jesus who contacts this man shows us.
He shows us that He comes in human flesh to save us. He comes in human flesh to contact us and show us His care for this creation. He shows that even still He comes. He comes in this physical Word proclaimed through this visible vessel of clay that is your pastor. He comes in this wafer and wine at this rail. And there He comes and He meets you. And there He touches you. There He cares for you. There He heals you too. In that Word He opens your ears to hear, opens your heart to believe and be justified. There He loosens your tongue that you would confess with your mouth that He is Lord and be saved. There He meets you that He could care for you in your body now. And that in the promise of His resurrection, in the promise of the waters of baptism where He came to you before, that He will raise that body and care for you body and soul forever in His Kingdom. Amen.
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. This morning we meditate on the Epistle Lesson, previously read.
If you know the letters that Paul writes to the Corinthians you know that within those we get a clear picture that the congregation in Corinth was a bit of a mess. In the first letter, you have these divisions within the congregation. People are aligning according to whomever it was that taught them the faith. So, you have those who are with Paul, then you have those who are with Cephas, that is Peter, then some follow Apollos; Apollos described in Acts 18 as being from Alexandria, so he was clearly well educated and probably an engaging and deep thinker. Then you have those who describe themselves as following Christ, you get the impression that they’re trying to prove just how pious they are by that description. So, you start with that. Then you have issues with sexual immorality: a man is living as though married to his own stepmother. And there are problems with apparent charismatics who came in and wanted to teach everyone how to be really spiritual with speaking in tongues and things like that. And if all of that wasn’t bad enough, there’s this issue where they get to together to have a meal and to have the Lords Supper in that meal, and it appears the wealthy have the luxury of getting there early, and those of a lower class have to work later and by the time those members of the church arrive the meal has been too long lasting and people are drunk. The church is a mess.
But in the midst of it, you get this theme that Paul comes back to a few times—or really sort of two themes together that he comes back to—that is misuse of freedom and idolatry. If you read in chapter eight Paul gets into this whole discussion about how people can feel free to eat meat. And we hear that and think it’s a bit weird, because of course we can eat meat. God even told Noah to eat meat after the flood. But the issue here is that this is meat sacrificed in the temples of the Greeks. You see, apparently those temples would have dining halls attached and the meat from the sacrifices would be sold there, in a sort of marketplace. From reading, it sounds like the people could dine in or carryout. So Paul says, “you all know that these false gods are just that, they’re nothing, so it shouldn’t burden your consciences to eat, but if it makes someone think—someone especially like a new believer—if it makes them think that it’s ok to worship those gods, or bothers them because of the attachment, don’t do it! You are free but don’t cause someone to stumble in that freedom.” And this comes back to this verse he’s been saying throughout, “Everything is lawful for me.” You see, apparently someone had come in and told these Corinthians that since Christ had freed them from the Law, they could do whatever they wanted. And so, they abused that freedom. And in that, you can see this connection to idolatry.
So, Paul tells them to watch out. And that’s what we’re hearing in our lesson today. Paul’s telling them to watch out looking to the example of the Israelites in the desert. And as he warns them with these examples, right before the reading for today he says that God was not pleased with many of the Israelites. And he talks about four instances where the displeasure of God was seen. The first is the incident with the Golden Calf. I’m guessing most of you remember that, but it’s when Moses was up on Mount Sinai receiving revelation from the Lord, and the Israelites fashioned a calf from gold that they would worship. This is right after God has told them not to worship other gods and not to worship created images. So, God was angry there. Then there’s this issue of sexual immorality. That’s from Numbers 25 where it says the Israelites began to whore with the daughters of Moab yoked themselves to Baal of Peor. Two comments on that, we tend to balk at that wording there, that’s in part because of our cultural sensibilities. It’s striking and it should strike us. Second is the connection you so often see with sexual immorality and idolatry. This is often because sexual rituals were a part of the worship for many tribes and religions. But it’s such an interesting connection. As the people were sexually immoral in their bodies, they were unfaithful in their hearts toward God. In any case, that’s the second. The Third is the incident with the fiery serpents. We had that one not too long ago, but to review, that’s where the Israelites complained to Moses that they would rather have stayed in Egypt under slavery, and so the Lord sent the snakes that bit them. He then was instructed by God to fashion the bronze serpent that they looked upon to be healed. And last, there is the rebellion and grumbling where the Lord forgives the people through Moses, but says that none of them will enter into the Promised Land.
So, Paul tells them that they are to watch out that they don’t fall into these temptations. He says, “these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction.” In other words, as there is this idolatry in this improper use of the freedom that God gives, as the people see all things as lawful, Paul says, “watch it.” He says, “watch it, or you’ll end up like the example of the Israelites. You will end up under the judgment of God.” And that’s a scary thought, isn’t it?
That’s where this should strike our hearts, isn’t it? Be watchful of your faith and life that you don’t fall under the judgment of God. Or like Paul said right before this, in the end of chapter nine, discipline yourself, your body, keep it under control, lest after all is said and done you be disqualified. Or as he puts it in this lesson, “let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.” He says, “if you don’t think this is a concern for you, you better watch it. There is always this concern, this is the concern that all men should be cognizant of.” And that concern is that a lack of watchfulness will lull them into a false security and they will suffer the judgment of God.
But he also gives comfort. So, yes, there is this temptation, there is this draw to lawlessness in the freedom we have in Christ, there is this pull into idolatry—which by the way as we think of idolatry in terms of the First Commandment to have no other gods, we have to realize that whenever we break any of the commandments, we have made whatever sin we have committed our idol, our god. To use Luther’s phrase, we have feared, loved, or trusted that thing more that God, and so whenever we sin we commit idolatry, but there is this pull to it. But there is comfort. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
Now as I say that verse, I do want to make a connection. Many people will say that God will not give you more than you can handle. That’s not true. He gives you the demands of the Law that are more than you can handle. You can’t keep them. You should be able to, but because of your sin you can’t. But He is gracious in Christ, and He sent Christ to forgive all of those sins that He would do for you what you are unable to do for yourself. That’s the beauty of the Gospel. But when it comes to temptation, He’ll make sure you aren’t tempted more than what you can withstand. And as He does that, He’ll provide a way for you to have an out, or a way to be strengthened in His care.
Now as I say that, sometimes that way out is just an opportunity out of a particular circumstance. But other times it’s just a strengthening of our will. But as I say that, where does He promise to strengthen us always? In His Word. In His Holy Supper. When you are wrestling, He promises that He is with you, He comes to you in that Word, He comes to you in that body and blood, and He provides strength for you there. Where is that strength? It’s in His forgiveness. As you are forgiven, that makes you holy. It draws you into His holiness that gives you new life, and new realization of dependence on Him, realization that your strength in temptation isn’t just in this pure capacity of your will. It’s not just in trying that hard not to do whatever. No, it’s not like that. It’s redirecting from your own effort to trust in His strength and care for you, and His ability to do all things. It’s in looking at this Christ who is with you in Word and Sacrament, and knowing that He carries you because He is the One who loved you enough to lay down His life for you and to free you from sadness and sorrow, temptation to false worship, sexual immorality, testing Him, and grumbling against Him. That’s where your comfort is.
And as I mention that, in particular the Lord’s Supper, it’s interesting because as Paul talks about this way out, he moves right from this conversation to the Lord’s Supper. Now to be clear, he makes the point that because we partake of the Lord’s Supper, we have this fellowship in this altar so that we don’t partake of other altars. In other words, as we have this meal at the altar with Jesus as host and meal, we are joined together there, and don’t want to join that with what is idolatrous. I’ve made that point, but that’s a part of closed communion. We are confessing a unity here, a unity around the Gospel of Jesus’ death for the forgiveness of sins that is received by faith and that is the only way to get to heaven. But it’s also around the confession that Jesus truly is here with us, in with and under the bread and wine of the supper. As Paul says that bread we eat is a participation in the body of Christ. So, there’s that, which is important because of the talk about idolatry there.
But I think you can’t help make the connection to that being the way out in a sense. As you struggle with temptation, there is your way: in Jesus’ gift to you in His body and blood. You are tempted to idolatry, to sin, to misusing your freedom, you are tempted to all of the things of the Corinthians, sexual immorality, divisions, trying to appear super spiritual, and Jesus says, “stop.” He says, “Come to me, find rest. Here I am, the One crucified for your forgiveness, life, and salvation. Here I am in this cup and in this bread. Here you find me, I promise it. And in that promise you have strength and assurance and comfort. Come to me and I will give you rest.” And as we are mess just like the Corinthians, that is comfort that we need always, and comfort that will carry us into and for all eternity. Amen.