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Sermon - 6/5/18
2018.06.05 22:14:35

PROPER 4/B (2018): Deut. 5:12-15; 2 Cor. 4:5-12; Mk. 2:23—3:1-6  

 

Sabbath,      “Observe the Sabbath day to keep it holy…  Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God.  On it you shall not do any work…” (vv. 12a, 13, 14). 

 

The Day of Pentecost concluded the festival seasons of Advent through Easter. Our celebration of The Holy Trinity brought us into the “Time of The Church”.  Thus informed by God’s self-revelation of love toward sinful men, the church now begins an examination of her time in the world as Baptized and Eucharistic new Israel.

 

Observing the Gospel scene we would ordinarily expect to find Jesus leading his disciples in their travels. But today the disciples are making a way for Jesus through a wheat field as they feed on its grain.  In this activity we discern prophetic action as the disciples are “preparing and making straight the way of the Lord” (Mk. 1:3) while partaking the stuff that would become Eucharistic bread.  

 

The Pharisees accuse Jesus’ disciples of Sabbath criminality; but what crime; the work of “reaping” to slake hunger, or of “highway building” by making a way for the Lord in their wake? Either way all Pharisees of every age do not see beyond the stricture that “On [the Sabbath] you shall not do any work…” Is that how the church reads her Scripture?

 

Please don’t tell me, as with our Protestant friends, that by the Resurrection Jesus established Sunday as the new Sabbath day. The Sabbath is a seventh day memorial of the first creation. 

 

The explanation will be provided by Jesus’ work on the cross where Sabbath holiness is wedded with the church’s Holy Supper instituted on the eve of the Passion. But for now Jesus draws his disciple’s accusers to how David, on the lamb as it were, from the wrath of king Saul, entered the tabernacle on the outskirts of Jerusalem. 

 

David needed food for his followers. Approaching the High Priest he lied about being on a mission for Saul and asked for five loaves of the showbread in the Sanctuary.  These twelve loaves were known as the Bread of Presence reserved as week old bread for the serving priesthood when on the Sabbath they were replaced by a fresh baking.

 

At this point our Christian mentality advances to Jesus feeding of the 5,000 with five loaves at the hands of his twelve apostles; a sign and anticipation of the Eucharistic character of the church’s eternal Resurrection life.

 

Following Jesus’ death and three-day rest in the grave, the first creation’s Sabbath duty was perfectly fulfilled. The Sabbath is no longer one discrete day out of seven as the first creation is now passing and giving way to the new creation coming into being. 

 

By Christ’s obedience to the will and law of God on the cross; and God’s acceptance of his sacrifice, the HS has been delivered in procession to the church from Father and Son unto our Baptism for eternal life.

 

By our baptism into Jesus’ death and resurrection the NT church participates in the same new creation rest, an eternal Sabbath. Thus Christian worship comprehends all time now and in eternity from Lord’s Day to Lord’s Day. 

 

When Luther explained the meaning of the Third Commandment, he does not mention our obeisance to a particular day of Christian worship; rather he understood that Jesus fulfilled all the law’s demands with the declaration from the cross, “It is finished” and sanctifying all time for the church’s consumption of priestly food, our NT Bread of Presence. 

 

This theology of time and eternity by heaven’s joinder with mankind in Christ is not mere metaphysical calculus. To say that Jesus is the fulfillment of all the law and all OT festival worship is to accept the necessity of, “new wine is for fresh wineskins” (Mk. 2:22c) lest the OT skins burst for inability to contain the NT wine, the Spirit, the water and the blood.

 

It is said that the law has three functions, as curb, a mirror, and a guide, chief of these functions is it being mirror in that the “law always accuses” us in this life to be sinners; but before the Fall the essential character of the God’s law was never accusatory; rather whenever it was announce it was revelatory of God’s essence, so also with the Ten Commandments of a later time.

 

To say that we should keep holy the Sabbath merely states that we were created to be holy in the good creation. That we are prohibited from murder says that God is the God of life so that we are to be like him in promoting life in every circumstance.  Thus to paraphrase God’s law to Adam, “Today I put before you two trees, the knowledge of good and evil; and the tree of Life, choose life.” 

 

So also with the Ten Commandments as we are in the new creation wrought by Christ crucified; the law in its essence reveals the character of God in whose holiness we are called to participate. The OT renders the Third Commandment to keep the Sabbath holy by two rationales, From Exodus (20:8-11) and from today’s Deuteronomy (5:12-15) Reading assigning to the Sabbath man’s release and rest from our slavery to sin in the world.  The Exodus rationale calls for man’s imitation of God’s own eternal rest by faith. 

 

Both rationales are the same, only viewed differently; from below concerning man’s condition in a world that demands endless labor; and from above that we should aspire to enter into the eternal redemption of God.

 

This we do in the new creation as we receive in Baptism our new life in Christ and so worship Lord’s Day to Lord’s Day with angels and archangels.

 

This is not to say that our life in Christ’s holiness is one long “siesta” either on earth or in heaven. Like the young men who followed David pursed by Saul for having replaced him as king; Jesus will be marked for death by purveyors of the old religious régime (Mk. 3:6). 

 

As followers of Christ we by the HS’s light discern our true enemy to be the displaced prince of the world, “a murderer from the beginning”.  In Christ “we contend against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12) and so we will until the Last Day. 

 

To this calling we daily put on “the whole armor of God”; advancing in the Lord’s way from faith to faith.  On our way we are maintained by the holy things of our eternal Sabbath given in Christ our only source of holiness before God.  Jesus with his church is God’s Bread of Presence delivered for his Eucharistic priesthood of believers.  Amen.

 

pem.




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Dean K
2018.06.10 16:17:05

God be praised for this enlightened sermon. Reading it is to soar with the theological eagles.
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