Doxology Rockford-Sunday Evening Prayer Homily-1-15-2012

Doxology Rockford–Sunday Evening Prayer Homily–John 1:43-51

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 as real as He Himself is.  The same Lord born in the hay and straw among the livestock, crucified at the intersection of two pieces of wood, and laid in an earthly grave, has a similarly earthy approach to ministry, it would seem.  When our Lord has His ministry, it is never about social status or one’s sense of self-importance.  It’s not about the more cynical version of “the Golden Rule” (He who has the gold makes the rules).  Jesus is an equal opportunity offender when it comes to His ministry.  Fishermen, tax collectors, and ordinary Joes like Philip and Nathanael will suffice with our Lord for His ministry.

Nathanael is nothing if he is not real.  He seems to be one who is not concerned to have others be impressed with him.  His little joke about anything good coming from Nazareth doesn’t strike Jesus as cynical so much as simply real.  Nathanael seems to be one of those people who have that rare gift of being able to say what they think, even pointedly, without giving too much offense.  Jesus has a sense of humor, it would seem.  He compliments Nathanael.  Here is an Israelite in whom there is no guile.  An ordinary guy who says what he thinks without offending.  Just the sort of person Jesus can use.

The ministry to which we are called is nothing if it is not real.  President Harrison is right to tout the level of training of the average LC-MS pastor.  Spend a little time in an ecumenical graduate program and you will see the truth of what he says.  For this training, we all should be grateful to God.  Nevertheless, there is much to this ministry that cannot be taught in classrooms.  The cure of souls happens at the intersection of the Word of God and daily life.  The cure of souls happens at the place where the comforting Word of the Gospel meets humanity’s greatest need.  Those who would take the message of Christ and deem it irrelevant have no idea how tuned out they are to true reality.  The pastor’s task is to bring the Word’s real-ness to a world growing more and more unreal by the second.

When our Lord has His ministry, He has it in a way which is real as He Himself is. He has it in a way which sees the truth for what it really is, a way which speaks truth to truth by pastors who know the reality of their own sin.  And, consequentially, know all too well the truth about this life and its struggles and temptations.  These pastors, too, are awed like Nathanael that Jesus sees their reality so clearly.  When our Lord has His ministry, He uses the Nathanael’s bring God’s real message to people’s real lives.

That real-ness of God’s Word is bound up in Jesus’ very simple statement that it was He who saw Nathanael under the fig tree.  Philip came to Nathanael saying that he had found the Messiah, but the truth was actually quite the opposite.  The Messiah had found Philip and He saw Nathanael under the fig tree.  In Nathanael’s joke, Jesus saw Nathanael’s character and commended His earthy real-ness.  It is Jesus who sees, who speaks, who calls.

Jesus sees you this evening, gathered together as brothers who too often feel the full weight of the world’s reality.  It’s hard to be real without growing cynical.  It’s hard to be a Nathanael, who speaks the truth without guile.  Not everybody hears us the way Jesus hears Nathanael.  What is Murphy’s Law as it is applied to proclamation?  “If you can be misunderstood, you will be.”  It’s hard not to lose patience with all those sinners whom Christ calls us to serve.  It’s hard to remember that they are actually sinner/saints.  When the Lord has His ministry, that ministry is nothing if it is not real.  Quite often, it feels a little too real.

But, my brothers, Jesus sees you.  Jesus sees you where you live.  He sees the reality, the hurts, the pains, the temptations, the anger, the sadness, the failures, and with them the joys and the privileges.  He sees your sin.  He knows it.  Even though He knows your sin, you still do well to kneel before Him as real sinner/saints.  From His cross, He sees your sin.  He knows your sin.  He sees what you need; the reality of what you need the most.  He sees and He forgives.  He sees and He strengthens.  He sees and He enlivens.  He sees and He loves.  He loves you.

Nathanael is awed that it wasn’t he who saw Jesus first, but it was Jesus who saw him, Jesus who noticed him.  “Well,” Jesus says, “if you’re that easily awed, Nathanael, you ain’t seen nothing yet.”  Through the lens of God’s grace, we will see the angels ascending and descending on the Son of Man.  Our eyes will be lifted from this world’s earthiness to spectacular sights beyond our human knowing.  Because it’s all about Him.  He’s the king.  He’s the king who sees from His eyes dripping with blood from His crown of thorns, real blood which cures real sin.  There are rewards: forgiveness for this life, eternity for the next, resurrection at the Last.  Brothers, just think what the Lord Jesus Christ still has to show you!  When the Lord has His ministry, it is not without rewards.  AMEN.

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

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