Lent 3 2019
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
March 24, 2019
Ezekiel 33:7-20, 1 Corinthians 10:1-13, Luke 13:1-9


Sermons online: 
Text and Audio:   click “sermons”
Full Service Audio:


            My life growing up would have been easier if I could have learned from my older brother how to avoid trouble by seeing him make mistakes and not repeating them myself.  But, it seems, I like to learn things the hard way.  There are lessons in life that it would be much easier to learn from others than have to experience yourself.  One of those lessons is that God takes sin seriously.  St. Paul gives you an opportunity today to learn this hard lesson from others. 

            Our Epistle reading today is a stern warning from St. Paul to the church in Corinth in the first Century, and to you today.

            Paul reminds the Corinthians about how God rescues the children of Israel from slavery in Egypt.  God shows the Israelites His mighty power through ten plagues until Pharaoh tells them to leave.  The Israelites sees firsthand God’s mighty power when He brings them through the waters of the Red Sea and drowns Pharaoh and his whole army.  They see God lead them as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.  They eat the manna that God provides and they drink the water that miraculously flows from the rock which Moses strikes with His staff.  The children of Israel see all that the Lord God does for them.  They know the truth; they see it with their own eyes.  God is giving them the 10 Commandments in order to guide them to true freedom in God’s will.  The Israelites know God, and yet how quickly they give up on God and build a Golden Calf and worship it when Moses was up on the mountain for longer than expected.  They see firsthand that God is almighty and then they forget about God’s commandments and commit sexual immorality with Moabite women and join in on the Moabite’s prostitute-centered worship of Baal.  The Israelites are personally rescued by God, baptized in the cloud and the sea and yet they grumble against God and they complain because they are bored with God’s provision of food.

            The Israelites know the truth and yet they turn from the truth because they do not like the way that God is doing things.  They suffer from pride.  They think they know better.  They think that they will do things their own way.  And God punishes them severely.

            Some people will look at the accounts of God’s wrath in the Old Testament and say that they cannot believe in a God who would punish people they way that God punished people.  They think they know better.  They believe they are smarter and more compassionate than God.  They think they know better than God how He should act.

            Paul uses the example of the Israelites in the wilderness to warn the church in Corinth because they are having trouble remaining faithful; they are giving into temptation; they are giving in to unbelief; they are making things into idols for themselves.  The people of the church in Corinth are having issues with pride and it is leading them into sexual immorality and idolatry.  The people of Corinth believe they are smarter than God; that they know better than God.

            Those Israelites…they should have known better.  Those people in the church at Corinth…they should have known better.  Isn’t it wonderful that we are so much more faithful than them?  We would never fall into the sin of pride.  We would never start to think we are smarter than God.  We would not fall into idolatry and make something else more important than God.  We would never be tempted into sexual immorality and then try to excuse it by explaining how we know better than God.  Isn’t it great that we are so good? 

            Oh.  That isn’t true?  You struggle with sin?  You face temptation?  You deal with the same temptations as the children of Israel and the people in the Corinthian church?  Truly, the more things change, the more things stay the same.  Paul’s warning is just as appropriate today as it was 2,000 years ago. 

You have been received into Christ in the waters of Holy Baptism.  You have received forgiveness of your sins over and over again.  You have eaten of the Body of Christ.  You have drunk the Blood of Christ.  You know the truth about Jesus.  You know what Jesus has done for you.

            And yet how easy it is…how tempting it is…to grow weary of God’s timing.  How easy it is…how tempting it is to lose patience with God and to declare that God is not doing things the way you would do it.  How easy it is…how tempting it is to declare, “I can’t believe in a God who would……” you fill in the blank.  How easy it is…how tempting it is to grumble about God’s provision of your daily needs and how you are not satisfied with how God is providing for you.

            How easy it is…how tempting it is to believe you are smarter than God; that you are more compassionate than God, that you are better than God.  That you can stand proud on your own merit.  How easy it is…how tempting it is to rebel against God.

            And how easy it is…how tempting it is to abandon God’s teaching that sexual intimacy belongs inside the lifelong bond of the marriage of a man and a woman.  How easy it is…how tempting it is to be like the children of Israel in the wilderness and the people in the church at Corinth and adopt the world’s sexual immorality.  How easy it is…how tempting it is for you to accept the world’s demand for complete sexual freedom in what you think, in what you say, in what you look at it, in what you do, regardless of the consequences.  How easy it is…how tempting it is to find yourself willing to sacrifice your health, sacrifice your marriage, sacrifice your family, sacrifice your unborn child on the altar of the idol of sexual freedom. 

            How easy it is…how tempting it is to build a god in your image that will do what you want Him to do instead of this God who thinks that He is in charge.

            How easy it is…how tempting it is to believe you are smarter than God; that you are more compassionate than God, that you are better than God.  That you can stand proud on your own merit.  How easy it is…how tempting it is to rebel against God.

            The children of Israel rebelled against God.

            The people of the church at Corinth rebelled against God.

            God gives you His commandments to help you live in true freedom but it is so easy…and so tempting to follow the example of the children of Israel and the church in Corinth and rebel against God.  The devil wants to take you away from true freedom in Christ and lock you up in slavery to sin.  This is why Paul is warning you that rebellion against God leads to death.  That is why it is important to remember who you are.  Paul is reminding you that have been marked with the blood of the Lamb of God.  You have been brought through the waters of Holy Baptism.  You have been fed with the bread of life from heaven.  You have drunk of the wine of the New Covenant.  You have been ransomed from sin, death and the devil.  Jesus was sacrificed on the cross of Calvary for you because He loves you. 

            Do not desire evil.  Do not worship idols.  Do not indulge in sexual immorality.  Do not put Christ to the test.  Do not grumble.  Do not think you can stand on your own.  Struggle against temptation.  Do not embrace the sin into which you are tempted, but instead seek to escape.

            Escape rooms can be fun as you try to solve clues and get out of a locked room.  When you are confronted by sin, work hard to escape from the sin.  Instead of embracing sin, look for escape routes.  Let go of sin and cling to the cross of Christ.  Let go of your pride and hold onto Jesus.

            You belong to Jesus; stay in Christ.  You are a baptized child of God; continue to confess your sin and receive absolution.  You are by nature sinful; humbly know you need Jesus and His forgiveness.  Learn from those who have gone before and have fallen away from God and been punished.  Don’t make the same mistake.  Know who you are in Christ.  Know you live in the love and forgiveness of Jesus.  Live in the freedom of Christ knowing God is God and you are not.  Rejoice that God is in charge.  Be still and know God is God. Amen.