WORSHIP VIDEO LINK (linked after 10:45 AM Service)






Pentecost 19 2023 Proper 21
October 1, 2023
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32, Philippians 2:1-18, Matthew 21:23-32


            What word would you use to describe the love you have for your mother?  Your father? Your husband?  Your wife?  Your child? Your grandchild?  How big is that love?  How tall?  How wide? How long?  Can you find a word to describe that love?  Can you even put it into words?

            What word would you use to describe Jesus’ love for you? What word is big enough; grand enough; broad enough to describe the overwhelming love that Jesus has for you?  Jesus’ love is a love greater than the love you have for the one on earth you love the most.  What word or words can fully capture the love that caused Jesus to forsake life in heaven to come to earth and take on human flesh?  How can you describe the love that caused Jesus to humble Himself to be obedient even to the point of death on a cross?  This love Jesus has for you is beyond understanding.  In his letter to the Ephesians St. Paul prays that the people of the church of Ephesus (Ephesians 3:18-19a (ESV)) 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge. 

How do you know Jesus loves you?  What are the signs of Jesus’ love?  They are all around you.  There is the baptismal font reminding you that in the waters of baptism you have a new beginning; a new life in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  There is the altar where you receive the body and blood of Christ for the forgiveness of sins.  There is lectern and pulpit from which you hear the Word of Life.  There are crosses everywhere.  Images of the horrible way the Romans executed people.  Why the cross?  Because it is the greatest symbol Jesus’ love for you. 

            As you look at the image of Christ on the cross, ponder the indescribable love Jesus has for you.  Jesus’ love puts your forgiveness above His own well-being.  Jesus’ love puts your salvation ahead of His own life.  Jesus’ love makes him submit Himself to fists and spit and whips and thorns and nails.  Jesus’ love gives up everything for you. 

            Jesus loves you.  This you know.  For the Bible tells you so.  St. Paul tells about living in the love of Jesus in our Epistle lesson today from his letter to the church in Philippi. 

            Philippians 2:1-2 (ESV) 1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.

            Know the love Jesus has for you and live in that love.  Know that you are a humble, poor, miserable, natural sinner who has been set free by the blood of Jesus.  Know that you are a beggar who has been made a child of God.  Know that this is completely a gift of God and none of it comes from you.  All from God; all from Jesus, nothing from you.  Pure gift.  This is a tremendous comfort because if it is all Jesus’ gift to you it is perfect and you cannot mess it up.  You just bask in the beauty of the love of God in Christ Jesus the Lord. 

            Live in the love of Jesus.  Live your life knowing you have been rescued from sin, death and the devil through the sacrificial love of Jesus and let that love have its way with you.  Each day, ponder Jesus’ love for you and let that love flow forth in your dealings with everyone else that you encounter in this journey called life. 

            Let the love of Jesus shine forth from you to each person that you come across during the day.  Let Jesus’ love shine forth to your family, your coworkers, your classmates, the folks at the coffee shop and cafeteria and restaurant and grocery store.  For each person that you meet -- make this assumption -- assume that you are more evil than they are.  This goes not only for the nice people you encounter but also the jerks -- not only the sweet people that treat you well, but also the sourpuss folks that treat you poorly.  Not only the good people who love you, but also the evil people who hate you; even the people who hate you just because you believe Jesus is your savior.  When you meet someone, good, bad or indifferent operate under the assumption that this person is a better person than you. Deal with them from a position of humility.  Assume they are a person of higher standing in the world and treat them as such. This is what Paul instructs. 

            Philippians 2:3-4 (ESV) 3 Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

            Remember – without Jesus…. you are nothing.  With Jesus…. you are everything.  Rejoice in this great love shown to you.  Rejoice that Jesus loves you so much.  Rejoice that Jesus died for you.

            Because you know the love of Jesus you shine as a light in the world.  Because you know the love of Jesus you hold fast to the word of life. 

            Don’t get distracted from the love of Jesus – and there are lots of distractions. There is so much in the world that wants to get in the way of rejoicing in Jesus as your savior from sin.  There is so much that wants to push Jesus out of the way and become front and center in your life.  There is so much social media and entertainment that seeks to make itself the center of your life, rather than just an occasional diversion. Money always tries to weasel its way into being the center of your life.  Money seeks to be the thing that you fear, love and trust whether from an abundance or a shortage.  Sexual immorality uses its many forms to turn your good, natural, God-given desires into something temporary, careless and perverse.  Pride can turn you into a monster of self-promotion when your favorite topic becomes me, myself and I.  This can affect both children and adults.  Beware when you find yourself always trying to let others know how good you are; how smart you are, and how many people like you.  Pride pushes Jesus out to make way for you to be central.

            Fight against anything that wants to push Jesus from the center of your life and this is what sin always wants to do.  So, reject sin; repent of sin, because Jesus is the center.  Jesus is your center.  Jesus is your source of eternal life.  Jesus is your source of love.  Stay focused on Jesus because Jesus is the one that makes you blameless and innocent. Jesus’ sacrifice makes you a child of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation. 

            Because you know the love of Jesus you shine as a light in the world.  Because you know the love of Jesus you hold fast to the word of life. 

            Stay devoted and centered on Jesus.  Gather each week to hear the Word of Life read and preached as you gather with fellow sinners to receive the forgiveness of your sins in Word, bread and wine. Rejoice in the love of Jesus; that He humbles himself to take on human form to live a perfect life, die as the sacrificial Lamb of God, and rise from the dead to conquer death.  Rejoice in the love of Jesus that He humbles Himself to come to you today in His body and blood in the bread and wine of Holy Communion for the forgiveness of your sins.

            Rejoice and remain steadfast in the truth -- Jesus died for you – Jesus rose for you – Jesus forgives you all your sins.  You belong to Jesus.  Jesus loves you.  This you know.  For the Bible tells you so.  Live your life in the indescribable love of Jesus.  Amen.