Sermon – November 2, 2014

5 “Blessed are the ameek, for they ashall inherit the earth.

6 “Blessed are those who hunger and athirst bfor righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

7 “Blessed are athe merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

8 “Blessed are athe pure in heart, for bthey shall see God.

9 “Blessed are athe peacemakers, for bthey shall be called csons1 of God.

10 a”Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for ptheirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 a”Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely bon my account.

12 aRejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for bso they persecuted the Prophets who were before you.

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“We feebly struggle, they in glory shine” (LSB 677:4). Paul Barrett, Kaye Neuenkirchen, Margaret Schelling, Leona Thode, Liz Wagner, and all the saints who have gone before us, some are family members or friends, are gloriously with the angels and archangels and all the company of heaven. In Heaven, believers from every nation, clothed in white robes washed in the blood of the Lamb, are crying out, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” These are the saints who feebly struggle no more; they hunger and thirst no more. They have no more tears; they have no more pain; they have no more sin. They will never again experience death. We long and yearn to be with these saints in heaven. We consider them so blessed, so fortunate, so joyous, so righteous and pure, so forgiven and cleansed, so satisfied and so crowned with the gift of eternal life!

But for you, as a baptized child of God in Christ Jesus, right now, as you feebly struggle on this earth, dear Christian, Blessed are you! Blessed are you!

It is early in Jesus’ ministry. He was baptized by John in the Jordan and tempted by Satan in the wilderness. Then he climbed a hill overlooking the Sea of Galilee, and there he gathered his disciples and taught them this Gospel appointed for All Saints’ Day. And you, students of the Word, who also feebly struggle, Jesus directs his words to you:

Blessed Are You! Yes, You Are Blessed!

Blessed are you who are poor in spirit,… for yours is the kingdom of heaven (vv 1–3). You are indeed poor in spirit. By nature, your soul is bankrupt of any good at all. You think the material things you have in this life make you rich. You cheat in your business transactions. You compare yourselves to the riches of your neighbor. You feverishly build up your assets—thinking all these things define you as something good, something valuable.

But you can have all the riches in the world and still be poor, for without Christ you are still bankrupt. But this poverty does not earn you heaven; it takes heaven away from you.

Yet Blessed are you because Jesus Christ takes your bankrupt soul into his own flesh. St. Paul writes, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (2 Cor 8:9).

Your spirit is now wealthy. You are rich with Christ, and as Christ has filled your soul, now the kingdom of heaven is yours indeed. You are not defined by the wealth you accumulate in this world. You are defined by the wealth accumulated by Christ for you, filling you up with forgiveness and eternal life.

Blessed are you who mourn, for you will be comforted (v 4). Martin Luther describes Christians on earth as simul justus et peccator—at the same time saint and sinner. That is, you are 100 percent sinful and unclean, and yet in Christ, through the waters of Holy Baptism, you are 100 percent righteous and holy. You mourn on this earth. You mourn as this broken and fallen world affects you: the death of a family member or friend, the loss of your home in a tornado or flood, the destruction of your crops in a drought, the cruelty of violence and rape and persecution as Christians.

But you also mourn on this earth because of your own sins. You may be 100 percent saints in Christ, but you sure do act like 100 percent sinners every day. You destroy relationships; you worship your own idols; you are so guilt-ridden over sins of your youth—and you mourn.

But, Blessed are you because Jesus Christ has entered your death in order to give you eternal life and resurrection. You feebly struggle on this earth, yet on this earth you rejoice in the resurrection of Jesus Christ who raises you up with these words: “Your sins are forgiven!” For all that you mourn on this earth, you are comforted with the Easter reality of Jesus Christ, who raises you and comforts you every day, saying, “You are mine through the waters of your Baptism.”

 

Blessed are you who are meek, for you shall inherit the earth (v 5). And yet the Scriptures would say, “Hold on! Not so fast! Who are you to claim yourself as meek (humble)?” You, me—we are an arrogant people, so full of ourselves, thinking the world revolves around us. So arrogant that when we think we are humble we actually get proud of our humility!

Yet Blessed are you because Jesus Christ takes your sinful pride into his own flesh and in exchange gives you his pure humility. “And being found in human form, [Jesus] humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:8). You want to see humility and meekness? Then feast your eyes on the cross of Jesus—for there he paid for your conceit and attitude of entitlement; there he killed your sins and raised you up by giving you his meekness and humility. In Revelation, John says, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth”—the re-creation of Eden, God’s perfect creation restored. Through the humility and death of Jesus, yours is that paradise through this humble Lamb.

 

Blessed are you who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for you will be satisfied (v 6). Were the disciples really hungering and thirsting to be made right with God? One hungers for money as a tax collector. Another who hungers for money will eventually sell Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. Another hungers for justice as a militant extremist. Another hungers for proof as the doubter. Another so hungers for self-glory he thinks he doesn’t need Jesus to wash him.

And you, for what do you hunger? Your hunger and thirst is evil. For you have an appetite for lust; you feed yourselves with greed; you gorge ourselves with fame; you satisfy yourselves with hate. In the end, your hunger is not satisfied at all, your thirst is not quenched.

But, Blessed are you as you remember these words Jesus spoke on the cross: “I thirst.” The very purpose of being nailed to that cross was solely Jesus’ thirst and hunger for your righteousness, which he satisfied by taking your unrighteousness into himself. Jesus is the bread of life; Jesus is the water of which you drink, and you will never be thirsty again but satisfied with salvation.

 

Blessed are you who are merciful,… for you shall receive mercy (v 7). Do you see a pattern here? You are not naturally merciful. By nature, you are cruel and self-serving. Look at your neighbor in need: the unborn, the infirm, the widow, the orphan, the sick, the hungry, the depressed, the sad, the lonely, the handicapped—and how merciful are you toward them? Too often your compassion is savage, your alms are nonexistent, your mercy is merciless—and the only one to whom you really show mercy… is yourself. Should God be merciful to you? Should He spare you? Should he help you? Should he rescue in your time of need; in your darkest hour?

But, amazingly, Blessed are you as God does indeed treat you with his unmerited mercy. God is a merciful God toward the sinner. Christ becomes the one who receives no mercy on the cross in order to place you in his mercy. You, his saints, are now a merciful people.

 

Blessed are you who are pure in heart, for you will see God (v 8). “The fool says, ‘There is no God.'” Your enemies, cheered on by the devil, make you, in your time of need or distress ask, “Where is my God?” Your hearts reveal their true selves when in your time of need you doubt God and move away from him. As you feebly struggle on this earth, you get fooled into thinking that if you cannot see God, then you must depend on our own hearts. But “…out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander” (Mt 15:19). So bow your heads in shame and repentance, realizing that with such dirty hearts, you will never see God, but will be separated from him forever.

However, instead, Blessed are you, for God has created in you a clean heart and renewed a right spirit within you. Jesus says, “I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Mt 11:29). On Good Friday, the gentle heart of Jesus was stopped. On that day, the sins that pour out of your heart were forgiven. So now you do see God. You see God in his Word, in his meal, in the font—for in all these he cleans the heart—and the world now sees the heart of God through your purified heart.

 

Blessed are you who are peacemakers, for you will be called sons of God (v 9). So often you create conflict. You certainly don’t want to admit when you’re wrong, but you’re great at accusing others of their wrongdoings. You don’t make peace; you make trouble—at homes, at school, church, family reunions, business meetings, and just about wherever you are.

Yet, Blessed are you because Christ has come to give you peace. You are at peace with God through the victory of Jesus Christ on the cross. Satan has been crushed, and your death has been defeated.

Blessed are you who are persecuted and reviled and spoken against, for yours is the joy and the kingdom of heaven (vv 10–12). Blessed are you, as St. Peter reminds you: “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you. . . . But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed” (1 Pet 4:12–13).

“We feebly struggle, they in glory shine” (LSB 677:4). The glory of the saints in heaven will one day be your glory. You feebly struggle because of your own sins and the sins of others. But Christ assures you that you will live with him forever because of what he has done. So we sing, “But, lo, there breaks a yet more glorious day: The saints triumphant rise in bright array” (LSB 677:7).

Blessed are you, dear saints in Christ through the blood, suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. You feebly struggle in this broken and fallen world of sin and death. Through Christ’s death and resurrection, God gives you his kingdom, his comfort, his mercy, and he claims you for his very own right now! This glory is yours even now, yet more fully to be realized on the Last Day that has no end. All these gifts of God can be summarized in these three words: Blessed are you! Yes, you are blessed! Amen.

 

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