Doxology Rockford Monday Morning Prayer Homily 1-16-2012

Doxology, Rockford, IL     Monday Morning Prayer Homily   Matt. 9:9-13

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  AMEN.

When our Lord has His ministry, He has it in a way which is beyond compare.  Despite the incessant attempts of humans to know and understand the mind of God, His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways.  He calls whom He wills to this ministry and it’s not for us to question, compare, or size up.

“You never get a second chance at a first impression.”  What we see often leads us to measure up and judge what it is we see.  We see a situation, perhaps a stalled car on the side of the road, and we judge what we will do about it.  We see a person of definite need and, hopefully, we judge what we will do to help them meet their need.  We see a thing that would come in handy, and we judge that we wish to purchase that thing.

Ah, but when we look at people, we often don’t see things rightly.  First impressions can be, quite frankly, wrong.  What we see in others, particularly negative things we see, often leads us to fail to see ourselves rightly.  When you hear of a brother pastor who “flames out” due to a moral issue, how do you respond?  Do you shake your head and conclude the man foolish or get angry at his immorality?  Or do you live out your ministry in fear and trembling, knowing that it could have been you?

Comparative righteousness is really no righteousness at all.  Perhaps we do not totally get the Pharisees.  We see the title in the Scriptures and immediately assume the worst.  A text like ours reveals not so much how they are different from us as they are like us.  Comparative righteousness is the devil’s business and, unless the devil is not real, it’s the same game he plays with us.  How can Jesus think to call a tax collector?  I doubt the Pharisees really thought they weren’t sinners.  The problem was that they were comparatively righteous.  They weren’t as bad as a Matthew.  Their reputations in the community were solid and good.  The tax collector, well, that was another story.  “A Pharisee and a tax collector walk into a temple” and we all know the punchline.

It’s been joked that Lutherans are those people who have a strong sense of original sin, but are always surprised to find out it’s actually true.  Christ has called you, O Sinner, into His ministry, a ministry beyond compare.  He did not call you because of your righteousness.  He certainly didn’t call Matthew for the same reason.  Still, you and I probably both know those moments when we were surprised to find out what sinners are people were.  That’s typically followed by the sense that we are always right…and the merry-go-round of comparative righteousness begins.  Don’t let your eyes alight on the other person and judge.  I desire mercy, not sacrifice.

The Christ who desires mercy looks on sinners and is moved not to let them die in their sins.  Indeed, He is moved to become the Chief of Chiefs of sinners for them.  In His mercy and love, He has looked on your sin and sought to save.  He made the once-for-all sacrifice so that mercy might supplant sacrifice, truth might defeat self-righteousness, forgiveness might erase sin.  Your people are sinners…and so are you.  Christ have mercy, on all of us!

And so He does.  He goes in to dine with Matthew and a whole bunch more sinners and tax collectors.  He goes in to dine with you because He desires mercy, not sacrifice.  He wants communion with you.  He doesn’t tell you to commune with Him, and expect you can just do that.  He calls you to follow Him.  He opens your ears to hear, your mouths to taste, and your eyes to see that His is a salvation and a ministry beyond compare.

When our Lord has His ministry, He has it in a way which is beyond compare.  Making full use of redeemed sinners like you and me, men made new and holy, to bring His gifts of forgiveness and life to His people.  He gives us the eyes to see what He sees, people who need mercy, love, and grace.  Of course, Christ would call Matthew.  Of course, He would call you.  It shows that His mercy is beyond compare.  AMEN.

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  AMEN.


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