Proper 8 (2022)

Pentecost   •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  15:06
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Today we resolve conflicts in the bible. How do we work through the challenge of Christ with the challenge of life? This passage presents the concern at hand. Jesus is doing an ordinary thing - walking to Jerusalem and this seems to forfeit the extraordinary thing of Conversions and miracles.
Luke 9:53 ESV
But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem.
How do we resolve the ordinary work of life and the extraordinary work of God?
Purpose. Jesus has set forth His purpose. His purpose is to save you, to save me, and NOTHING gets in the way of that. Not even his own death. Seemingly, this fisher of men has bigger fish to fry- the cross and resurrection for all. Life has very little to do with how I feel about my walk. Rather our salvation is all about what God has done in Jesus.
We now turn to people who are consumed by their settings- either over confident in their calling or doubting that God has anything left for them.

The Insecure Elijah

Our OT Lesson of 1 Kings 19, is at the tale end of the prophetic ministry of a man named Elijah. The year is about 800 BC and Elijah only figures in the biblical narrative for another four chapters. He’s all ready raised the dead, fed the hungry, defeated false prophets and embarrassed the queen who is now dead set on destroying him. Perhaps all this service to YHWH has caught up to him as he professes:
1 Kings 19:10 ESV
He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.”
He feels utterly alone. Insecure in His calling; more confident in his death than he is in his salvation. Have any of you ever felt this way? Like no one around you is in the boat with you? Like you are an alien and the people you rely on have nothing in common with you?
How does the Lord respond to Elijah?
He sends him again. He says GO - appoint two new kings; one in Syria and one in Israel. Then you need a new prophet, a boy named Elisha. God responds to Elijah’s insecurity with call and purpose, and importantly; succession.
Galatians 5 issues a call to all of us at all stages of life. No matter where you are or what you do for a living be it grandparent or grad student advisor the spirit is guiding each of us to live with His gifts to a world that may reject us:
Galatians 5:22–23 ESV
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Friends, whatever your stage in life and whatever your level of confidence know this, the work God has done to save you is finished. YET -His is the beginning of a new era. At this point in our world just being gentle and kind stands out remarkably against the brash tenor of our present age.
How many of us are known for our gentleness or joy?
Elisha, the one who comes after Elijah, greets God’s succession plan with what appears to be a mixed bag. A succession plan should be about success of the mission and his response does not inspire confidence- the first thing Elisha seemingly wants to do is retreat.
1 Kings 19:20 ESV
And he left the oxen and ran after Elijah and said, “Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.” And he said to him, “Go back again, for what have I done to you?”
This introduces the other side of the rhetorical coin. Those who are over confident.

The Foolhardy Fellows

Did you catch the seeming inconsistency in the two readings? The call of Elisha with the words of Christ? Elisha wants to go kiss his folks goodbye and then one such follower is rebuked in the Gospel by the Lord for trying to do almost the exact same thing.
What do we do with this conflict? Do we cut off all familial ties? Do we act like these followers of Christ are not actually trying to follow Christ - like they are the un-elect and damned from the start? In reaction Do we overcompensate by filling our calendars and bookshelves only with things that have the little Jesus fish on them?
Christians today have something that no version of Christianity ever had to deal with - our own branded subculture that may or not actually serve the God of the bible. We act like following Jesus wherever He goes means having a bible verse bumper sticker or voting a certain way.
How are we to reconcile that we are really both persons; we are both unconvinced and over confident that we have achieved God’s work. How are we to manage our divided attention between the extraordinary call of God and the ordinary work of day to day life?

The Work of Christ

In Christ all things hold together. Friends, v. 62 of our gospel sets a standard that we all strive for but do not achieve.
Luke 9:62 ESV
Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
This is the work of Christ. He alone manifests the Kingdom and this redemptive work transforms all of our work. No longer do we just get to trot along behind Jesus like some sort of sanctified entourage.
Look at the example of Elisha: look at the nuance in what He does.
1 Kings 19:21 ESV
And he returned from following him and took the yoke of oxen and sacrificed them and boiled their flesh with the yokes of the oxen and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and went after Elijah and assisted him.
Elisha returned to His parents but He used that opportunity to do a few things. First, he made it clear that he was not going to be using his oxen anymore. He had a new purpose. Second, He used his gifts in a way that invited others into this new purpose; He hosted a sacrificial meal.
In Volume 7 of Luther’s works, Dr. Luther exposits how we are to live between the call of God and the call of day to day life. He introduces this idea of masks- that we are the mask of God to the world:
Luther’s Works, Volume 7 (5. But If You Will Not Send Him, We Will Not Go down; For the Man Said to Us: You Shall Not See My Face, Unless Your Brother is with You.)
God hides His saints under such masks and carnal matters in order that nothing may seem to be more abject than they. What, then, is the difference between David and Scipio or Julius Caesar? If you look externally at the hand, the sword, and blood, there is no distinction at all; for David takes no pleasure in those self-chosen acts of worship, religions, and devotions of the monks but endures the common troubles and afflictions that usually go with the administration of the household and of the state.But the difference is this, that David lives in the promise and commandment of God.
Church- Christ has come not to call you away from your responsibilities of life but to redeem your responsibilities. He has come to fill every work of his church as though you are the glove on His hands.
God has work for us to do. May we confidently follow His purpose.
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