Sermon for Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Sermon for Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost

(Transcribed by machine 04/15/2024)

In the name of Jesus, amen.
Dear saints, there is a Latin phrase that you learn at seminary that is, I think, helpful
this morning.
The phrase is satis doctrinae, and it basically means the seat of doctrine, or the place where
the Bible teaches clearly a certain thing.
You know how in the catechism it’ll have a question and then an answer and then a list
of Bible passages.
Well, those Bible passages that support the doctrine that’s being taught there, those
Those are the Sadie’s Doctrine, I sometimes just call them the Sadie’s, the proof texts,
the proof passages that we go to to prove the various doctrines in the Scripture.
Now, I don’t know if you know this, but one of the things that Pastor LeBlanc and Pastor
Davis and I are always looking out for when we’re preparing our preaching and the sermon
is are there any Sadie’s Doctrine in the lessons that we have because we want to make
sure to draw those out.
It’s kind of the basic text that we want to know, that people want to… and a lot
of times I’ll say, you’ve got to know this text, underline this text, or write this
text in your heart.
We want to have those texts so that we can understand the doctrine.
Well, in today’s lessons I count about 16 Sadie’s Doctrinae.
Now I don’t think that means you’re going to get 16 sermons, although I thought about
it, but I just want to actually point them out for you so that you can see them and you
can kind of just mark them and underline them and think about it. Before we even get to
the epistle and the gospel, where most of them are, we had in the Psalm 32, that’s
one of the main texts where we have repentance and justification in the Old Testament. Blessed
is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity. Paul preaches that text in Romans
to preach the doctrine of sin and grace. Or in the Ezekiel passage, we also have the doctrine
that the Lord does not hold other people accountable for other people’s sins, but rather the sinner
is held accountable for their own sins, that’s where that comes from.
And then in our epistle lesson, we have two seats of doctrine.
The first has to do with government.
Right next to the passage where Jesus says, give to Caesar what’s Caesar’s, then comes
Romans 13, where Paul says that the authorities don’t bear the sword in vain, so that the
Christian is to be subject to the governing authorities in so much as they possibly can
without being rebellious to God.
We obey God rather than man, but always trying to obey man that the Lord has given authority
to.
And the other sadies that’s in the epistle lesson is later on this doctrine of love or
good works.
It’s where Paul says that love is the summary of the law.
Love does no wrong to the neighbor, so love is keeping the law.
If you want the law summed up in one verse, love your neighbor as yourself.
If you want the law in one word, love.
God and neighbor, that’s what Paul says, and that’s from Romans 13.
And then we turn to the gospel, Matthew 18, it’s a beautiful text but it has so many doctrines
that are there.
First, what are the sadies for infant baptism and infant faith?
Jesus is talking about the little ones who believe in me in verse 6.
Or the severity of sin, verses 8 and 9 where Jesus says, if your hand or your foot causes
you to sin, cut it off.
Or the doctrine of hell, where He talks about eternal fire in verse 9, and the Gehenna of
fire, that’s in verse 8, and then the Gehenna of fire in verse 9.
Or the doctrine of guardian angels, that’s in verse 10.
Jesus talking about the children says, their angels behold the face of the Father in heaven.
That’s actually a glorious passage.
The angels are able to minister to us and to see the face of God at the same time.
How that works we don’t know, but it’s a beautiful doctrine, and that’s where we get it.
Or the doctrine of universal grace, that God desires all to be saved.
That’s in verse 14, where Jesus says, it’s not the will of your father that one of these
little ones should perish.
Or church discipline.
Verse 15, Jesus says, if someone sins against you, go to them, confront them.
If they don’t repent, bring two or three others.
If they don’t repent, show it to the church.
If they don’t repent, then let them be like a tax collector and sinner.
That’s actually the passage where we get not only the process of church discipline,
but our doctrine of excommunication.
It comes right from those verses in Matthew 18, or the office of the keys.
We had it a couple of weeks ago, Matthew 16, where Jesus said to Peter, I give you the
keys to the kingdom.
But that you in Matthew 16 was singular, I give to you Peter.
The you in Matthew 18 is plural.
all.” Maybe we should translate it, y’all. Whatever y’all bind on earth will be bound
in heaven, whatever y’all loose on earth will be… And that’s actually also an important
verse that we use against the Pope, because the Pope claims the exclusive authority of
the keys, and we say, no, look at Matthew 18, 18, Jesus gives the authority of the keys
to not just one, Peter, but to all the disciples, and it belongs to all the church. That’s
That’s that doctrine there, too, in that verse.
And then the verses on the liturgy and the prayer and the promise that the Lord is with
us in verse 20, if two or three agree in heaven or on earth, it’ll be done in heaven.
And then where two or three are gathered in my name, there I will be in your midst.
That’s one of our proof texts, one of our saties doctrina for the doctrine of the church.
In other words, I’m maybe just suggesting that we should read this passage a few more
times this week in your private devotions and think about all the things that the Lord
is teaching here.
It’s an incredible list of teachings that Jesus is giving.
But how do we put it all together?
That’s what I want to work on now.
Here’s the context, and I have a typo in your bulletin.
It says this happened in Caesarea Philippi, that was chapter 16, but now Jesus has come
down to Capernaum, which is kind of his home base in Galilee, probably into a house, maybe
a Peter’s house, maybe even the Lord had a house there in Capernaum, and so they come
down into Capernaum, and as they’re traveling north in Caesarea Philippi, as they’re
traveling down, the disciples are arguing about what they always are arguing about,
and that’s who’s the greatest.
So there and back, you wonder if Jesus is kind of walking with purpose.
He even already has His eyes set on Jerusalem, and they’re kind of lagging back, and they’re
– as long as Jesus can’t hear them, they’re arguing about who’s the greatest.
After all, Peter, James, John,
they went up on the mountain with Jesus,
but then Peter, he got blessed,
but then he also got called the devil,
but at least the Lord changed his name,
and who’s the greatest?
So they’re arguing about it.
Mark tells us a little bit more than Matthew,
because they come into Capernaum,
and they come into the house,
and Jesus asks them,
what were you guys talking about on the way?
And they hesitate a little bit,
and finally they come out with it,
and they ask as we have it in Matthew,
you, well, who’s the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
And Jesus, astonishingly, calls a child and puts the child – in fact, Mark tells us
that he picks up the child into his hands.
Can you see the picture like when dad gets home and you kneel down and you just open
your hands and the child comes and runs and falls into your arms?
This is the picture, Jesus opens His hands and a child there comes and falls into His
arms, and then Jesus takes the child and puts the child in the middle of them and begins
to preach this sermon about excommunication, about church discipline, about being thrown
into the ocean, about cutting off your hand.
Now it’s a pretty… it’s not exactly what you would think of as a children’s sermon,
But I want you to think of it that way, and here’s what I want to suggest, that everything
that Jesus says in Matthew chapter 18 ought to be understood in this way, that we have
our ears open to what He’s saying, but we have our eyes fixed on this little child right
in the middle of them.
And Jesus looks at this child with love and compassion, desiring this child’s salvation,
and He goes on to order everything in His church in such a way that this child will
at last be in eternal life.
And with this in mind, Jesus teaches us how to consider our own sin, how to consider the
sin committed against us, how He considers our sin.
In other words, and I wish again, one of these times I wish I knew how to say this better,
but Jesus is ordering everything in the church so that the child is not hindered on his way
to salvation.
So when you look at yourself and you see in yourself your own sin and your own guilt and
your own shame and your own breaking of the law, we have to have a severity towards it.
The words that Jesus gives, He says if your hand causes you to sin or your foot causes
you to sin or your eye causes you to sin, He preached that already in the Sermon on
the Mount.
We’d already heard it already in Matthew, but He brings it up again, particularly in
the context of this child, and he says, if you do anything that stands in the way of
a child coming to salvation, it would be better for you if you didn’t have your hand or
your foot or your eye than to cause one of these little ones to stumble.
The word stumble, it’s the Greek skandalon, which is an interesting thing.
I used to think that it would, on like a, you remember when you’d pave the street with
rocks or bricks and one of the bricks would kind of
be knocked up by a root or whatever and it would become a stumbling stone
until you’d walk and you’d
fall over. And I used to think that that was what
that word meant, a stumbling stone, so that you’d trip and you’d fall over.
But I was reading this week about how the better translation of it
is the bait stick in a trap.
You know, can you imagine like the
like the little trigger on a mousetrap and the reason I was reading this
Lutheran commenter Linsky on this and he says the reason why that is a better
understanding is because here’s this thing that you know you put a little
peanut butter on the on the little thing on the mousetrap right and so the mouse
wants to go and the mouse trips on that and then the trap closes and it’s got
you and and the the reason why this Lutheran commenter Linsky says that the
bait stick is a better understanding than the stumbling block is because if you stumble
over the block you can get back up, but if you trigger that bait switch, you’re trapped.
It’s got you.
So it’s this idea of enticing someone into a trap.
It is the same word that Jesus used when Peter says, Lord, no, it can’t be like this that
you should go to suffer.
Jesus says, get behind me, you’re a scandal onto me, a stumbling block to me, you’re trying
to lure me into the trap of not following the path that the Lord has set in front of
me.
And this is what Jesus is talking about here, that anyone who would tempt the children to
deny Christ or to deny the faith or to wander from the church, it would be better for them
if a millstone were thrown around their neck and they were thrown into the depths of the
sea.
Now that sounds pretty bad, but it’s even, in fact, it’s hard to capture that the words
that Jesus is using are over the top.
It’s a millstone is the grinding stone, right?
But they come in different sizes and they had sometimes these huge grinding stones that
they would use for the olive press and the stones were round, huge big stones, but they
had to be so heavy to press out the olive oil and they were so big that a person couldn’t
push them.
So they had to tie them to an ox or a donkey so that the donkey could push the millstone
stone, and that’s the word that Jesus uses here, a donkey stone.
It would be better, and even the word that he uses for sea is not a normal word, it refers
to like the depths of the sea, like the trench.
It would be better for you if you had a donkey stone tied around your neck and you were thrown
into the deepest part of the sea than if you enticed one of the children to be led astray
from the Lord and his church.
church, so that the way the Lord wants us to think of our own sin is in the severest
of terms.
Now, does this mean that we should cut off our hands and our feet and poke out our eyes?
It seems pretty harsh, but I want to suggest to you that in fact it is even worse than that.
Because the problem is, if you cut off your hand, you still have another one.
And I’m pretty sure that, at least maybe I should speak for myself,
that I could probably get up to just about as much mischief with one hand as I can with two.
You cut off one foot, you still have the other one.
You poke out one eye, you still have the other one.
And you’re sinning even with those things that you have left.
And it turns out, and here’s the point, that our sinfulness, our sinful corruption
is so deep that it’s not just in our hands and our feet and our eyes, but all the way
down into our hearts, and that what we need is not an amputated hand or foot, but rather
an amputated heart, which is what the Lord gives to us in baptism.
But here’s the point that Jesus is making, and that is that everything in His church
must be ordered so that those who are on the littlest, most humble, who are on the way
to salvation are not hindered.
And we should think of our own sin in those terms.
Am I preventing someone else from knowing the Lord Jesus?
Am I standing in the way of that, or am I helping them and blessing them?
So, we think of ourselves and our own sin.
Jesus is also setting us up to think about the sins that are committed against us.
Now Jesus does not say, notice this, if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off, but He
does not say if your brother’s hand sins against you, cut it off.
The way that we treat the severity with which we think of our own sin is different than
and the severity with which we think of the sin committed against us.
Now this is important.
Jesus says when someone commits a sin against you, you should go to them, and you go to
them with the great hope that they would repent and you would forgive them and that relationship
would be restored.
He says if they refuse to repent, then take two or three people with you, and those would
be people who have observed the wrong, they would be people who witnessed the thing that
went wrong, so that they can come along with you.
Also to encourage the one who sinned against you to repent so that you can forgive them.
In other words, do you see the difference?
The severity with which we treat our own sin is different than the severity with which
we treat the sin committed against us.
We always want to forgive, we’re always ready to restore.
If you go with two or three people, then you tell it to the church, and if they still don’t
repent, then that’s when excommunication comes in and they’re removed from the fellowship
and they become like a Gentile or a tax collector, that is, those that we pray for and long that
they would come back to the church always hoping for forgiveness.
But the Lord wants us to deal with sin in this way, not to forget about sin, not to
ignore sin, but to go to those who sin against us so that there can be restoration.
Why?
So that we can walk together on the way to salvation and there’s no stumbling block
walk in the way for those who are coming to the Lord Jesus.
So Jesus in this passage is teaching us how we think of our own sin and he’s teaching
us how we think of the sin committed against us and he’s teaching us to think of how
he thinks about sin and that’s most especially in the parable of the shepherd.
We know this mostly from Luke 15, Jesus tells it getting ready to tell the parable of the
prodigal son, but here, I think Jesus just loved to preach this sermon.
He says, you know the shepherd who has a hundred sheep, and if one of the sheep wanders, he
goes and he goes to find it.
And when he finds it, he has more joy over that found sheep than he does over 99 sheep
who weren’t lost.
The picture is of the… is of the family… can you think of the family at Disneyland
who has five children, and they love all of the children the same until one gets lost.
And then the four sit here, don’t move, and they’re looking for the one that’s
lost, and the one that’s lost when they’re found is scooped up in the arms and hugged
and kissed and loved with this deep affection.
Now, do the parents not have that same affection
for the other children?
No, they do.
But those children, they know where they are.
But that lost child, that’s what Jesus is talking about.
This shepherd goes after that lost sheep,
and when he finds that one, he scoops it up in his arms,
and he carries it home, and he loves that sheep.
And this is what Jesus wants us to know,
how he thinks about that child
that’s right in the midst of them.
That that child is a found child, a rescued child, a delivered child, and that the Lord
in all of heaven delights over the finding of that child.
It’s a beautiful picture over the joy of heaven over the sinner who repents.
So that this is what Jesus thinks of our sin.
This is how Jesus thinks of our iniquity.
This is how Jesus thinks of our wandering away.
This is how Jesus thinks of the things that we’ve done wrong.
He looks for us.
He finds us.
He scoops us up.
He delivers us.
He carries us home, He delights in us, He forgives our sins.
Now, now, everything in this place, this is the Lord’s church.
When we are gathered here, remember, Jesus says, where two or three are gathered in my
name, there I am in the midst.
And we got the number covered, where two or three are gathered, His name is here, He’s
here in our midst, and He’s ordered everything here in the church for this reason.
reason, that the little child in our midst would not be hindered on the way to heaven.
Jesus sees this little child, this little boy that’s there on that day, and He knows
that that boy is going to grow up, he’s going to learn how to play baseball, he’s going
to go to school, he’s going to have his first high school dance, he’s going to go to wonder
what his first job is going to be, if he’s going to have a family, if he’s going to get
married and have children and grandchildren, if he’s going to live a healthy long life
or a sick life, and if he’s going to have enough to cover the bills or if he’s going
to be struggling, whatever it’s going to be.
And that that boy in the midst of the crowd that day that Jesus scooped up into his arms
and put in the midst of him, that that boy is going to one day lay down on his death
bed and die.
And Jesus says that everything that’s happening here, you guys arguing about who’s the greatest,
everything that you’re about is to make sure that this one, when he closes eyes
in death, opens them to see my face smiling at him. Everything in the church,
everything is ordered by God, so that when the children are at last breathing their
last, that they are kept in the faith and nothing has hindered them,
and that they come into God’s glory. This is Jesus’ word to me as your pastor.
here, when I think about what I do when I wake up on Monday morning to serve you, or
when I stand up here to preach to you, or when I go to teach to you, it’s what the
elders have to think about when they gather up and say, what should our life be, look,
it’s what we have to think about next week in the voters meeting when we say, what does
our life look like together?
That Jesus puts a child in our midst and he says, do not prevent them.
To these belong the children, to these children belong the kingdom of heaven.
So that everything we do in the church has that in mind.
And here’s at last why, because you are that child, you are the one that Jesus
receives into his arms. Can you, I just, I cannot escape this picture of Jesus
sitting down and here’s the disciples, who’s the greatest and what’s the
kingdom gonna be like and do we have enough swords and all this sort of stuff
and they’re arguing about it and they’re half ashamed of Jesus. He just, he kneels
down on the ground and he throws open his arms and the child just falls into his
arms and he scoops him up and he says, look this is the kingdom and that is who
Jesus is to you. Yeah, look, you’re a sinner, I know, and I’m a sinner, you
know, and we’ve all got a past, and we’ve all got guilt and shame, and we’ve all
got regrets, and we’ve all got troubles, and we’re all born in this world that’s
all fallen apart, and Jesus says, he just falls down and he opens up his arms
and we fall into his arms and he says,
I love you, and I have you, and you belong to me,
and you are in my kingdom,
and everything that’s happening here
is so that you will be with me forever and ever
in a world that’s perfect and never ending.
You are the child, you are the lost sheep,
and you are found, and you are rescued,
and you belong to him.
And this is what we’re doing here.
We are being loved by Jesus, we are being cared for by Him, we are being found by Him
and forgiven and rescued by Him and carried by Him to a life that will never end.
One of the things that a parent does is they are trying to help the child to grow up, but
And I think one of the things that Jesus is doing is He wants us adults to grow down,
so that we would become like children, trusting in His mercy, receiving His gifts, delighting
in His goodness, to such belong the kingdom of heaven.
Amen.
The peace of God, which passes all understanding,
guard your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.