Pentecost 10 2022
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
August 14, 2022
Jeremiah 23:16-29, Hebrews 11:17-31, 12:1-3, Luke 12:49-53

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The U.S. Navy’s Officer Candidate School tries to form young people into Officers and Gentlemen and Ladies.  There is a class on how to properly eat dinner, and they teach you how to act at meals in the wardroom aboard ship.  There are manuals detailing how to act at meals to avoid division.

            This is from the 1968 version of “The Wardroom” published before women were allowed to serve aboard ships.  “Do not discuss religion and women in the mess. When you least expect it, it will cause unpleasant feeling. Also, try to be discriminating when you discuss politics and debatable issues of the day.”

            Religion, women and politics can cause division among the officers.  The Navy wants the officers aboard a ship to be a cohesive group focused on the objectives of their orders, not torn apart by squabbles. 

            Division is rough.  Division hurts.  Division causes hard feelings and anger.  Along with sexual immorality, idolatry and over indulgence, St. Paul warns mostly of sins of division in Galatians 5:19–21 (ESV) 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: … [including] enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy….. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”  The Bible warns against divisive behavior.

            Jesus is all about peace.  At His birth, the angels announce, Luke 2:14 (ESV) 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”  Simeon holds baby Jesus and declares he can depart in peace.  The 72 disciples go out proclaiming, “Peace be to this house!”  When Jesus triumphantly enters into Jerusalem the people shout, Luke 19:38 (ESV) 38 …“Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”  When Jesus appears to his disciples after His resurrection he greets them, “Peace to you!”  

Jesus is the Prince of Peace.  Jesus is all about peace.  But then we get our Gospel reading today.  Jesus says, Luke 12:51 (ESV)  51 Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.”  He continues, Luke 12:52–53 (ESV) 52 For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” 

So much division…what is going on?  Why does the Prince of Peace bring division?  How does Jesus bring division?

            Now, Jesus indeed brings you peace with God through His life, His suffering, His death and His resurrection.  In baptism Jesus forgives you all your sins and brings you peace with God the Father.  He washes you clean and clothes you with the robe of His righteousness.  Only in Christ, can you call the Creator of the Universe, “Father.”  The guilt and shame of your sins has been taken away and nailed to the cross.  You have peace with God in Christ.  So how does Jesus bring division? 

            Jesus brings division because people hate Jesus. People hate that Jesus died on the cross and hate that He rose from the dead.  People hate that Jesus forgives sins.  People hate that Jesus grants eternal life.  People hate Jesus. 

            People hate that Jesus died on the cross because the fact that Jesus comes to earth and takes on human flesh in order to be the once-for-all sacrifice for sin on the brutal cross means that God really does take sin seriously.  It means you are a poor, miserable sinner.  It means that you are by nature sinful and unclean.  It means God hates sin and it means that you need a blood sacrifice cover your sins.  It means you need the blood of the Lamb of God.

            People hate that Jesus rose from the dead because it means that Jesus really is who He says He is.  He really is God in flesh.  He really does have all authority in heaven and on earth.

            People hate that Jesus forgives sins because it means sin is real and sin needs forgiving.  It means you cannot just do whatever you want to do.  It means you are subject to God’s law and not your feelings. It means God is in charge and you are not. 

Folks hate that Jesus saves people and grants them eternal life in the Heavenly City because that means He is saving them from eternity in Hell.  This means Hell is real.  This means some people are destined for hell because they reject salvation in Jesus. 

            People hate Jesus because Jesus is God and they are not. People hate God because they want to be God.  This was the devil’s temptation for Eve in the Garden of Eden; that she could be like God. 

            Folks hate the Jesus of the Bible and so they rework Jesus in their own image so He is not divisive.  They rewrite Jesus’ truth so that it is not so troublesome.  They shape a kinder, gentler, powerless Jesus who does not believe in sin and forgiveness.  They invent a Jesus who embraces the ways of the world because they are friends with the world.

            But Jesus’ brother James warns, James 4:4 (ESV)  4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” 

People love the world and hate Jesus and this brings division.  There are those in Christ and those who reject Christ.  There is light and darkness.  Good and evil.  Saved and damned.  Wheat and weeds.  Disciples of Jesus and enemies of Jesus. 

Know that our teaching the truth about Jesus will bring division.  The world will hate us because it hates the truth; it hates Jesus.  Despite the division we must continue to preach and teach the truth.

            As a disciple of Jesus you are not called to pursue division or stoke separation.  You are called to continue to make disciples of all nations by baptizing and teaching. Knowing the truth, you are called to speak the truth -- in love.  You are called to speak the great Good News that Jesus died for all people and Jesus wants all people to be saved.  The door to the kingdom of heaven is open.  Jesus is the door.  Jesus died for all people and invites everyone to come into the kingdom of heaven. By God’s power in the water and the Word, Immanuel Lutheran Church and School is called to make disciples by baptizing and teaching.  With the power of God’s Word we form disciples – followers -- students of Jesus each day in all that we say and do.  There is no graduation from being a disciple of Jesus.  You remain a student of God’s Word until you take your last breath. 

Know that our teaching the truth about Jesus will bring division.  The world will hate us because it hates the truth; it hates Jesus.  Despite the division we must continue to preach and teach the truth.

            St. Paul teaches young pastor Timothy,  2 Timothy 4:2–4 (ESV)  2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” So many today will not endure sound teaching and yet we must still preach and teach the truth in patience.

            Jesus’ message in our Gospel reading today is very difficult.  Division is hard.   Division in a family hurts.  My family of origin is badly conflicted because there is no unity about the authority of the Word of God.  Division causes hurt feelings and anger.  There is a great temptation to eliminate the division; to go along to get along and just give in to the ways of the world.  This is a powerful temptation, but you cannot give up the Word of God.   Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life. 

            Jeremiah warns in our Old Testament reading, Jeremiah 23:16–17 (ESV) 16 …“Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. 17 They say continually to those who despise the word of the Lord, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.’ ”  False prophets will tell you what you want to hear, all while leading you to hell.

            Reject the world and cling to Jesus.  Jesus saves you from disaster.  Jesus forgives you all your sins.  Jesus is truth.  Remain in Christ.  Treasure God’s Word.  Make disciples, baptizing and teaching.  You are a redeemed child of God bought by the blood of Jesus.  Amen.