The Holy Day of Pentecost

Sermon for Pentecost based on Acts 2:1-21 and John 15:26-27, 16:4b-15

Dear hearers of the Gospel: grace, mercy, and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Pentecost is one of the three chief holy days of the Church, along with Christmas and Easter. Fifty days after Easter, it is the day that the Gospel goes into all the world. It is the day that the Christmas and Easter message is heard by peoples of different nations and languages. Pentecost is thus considered the day the Christian Church was born.

So that peoples of different languages could hear and understand the Gospel, the Holy Spirit gave the apostles the supernatural ability to speak the Gospel in the languages of the people visiting Jerusalem from all over the known world. It was the miracle prophesied by the prophet Joel.

Pentecost was a reversal of what God had done at Babel. At Babel, God confused the language of all the earth.

The people of the earth gathered together in sinful pride at Babel. God had blessed Noah and his family, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth,” (Gen. 9:1) but not much later the people gathered in Babel so that they would not be dispersed over the face of the earth (Gen. 11:4). They wanted to make a name for themselves. They saw no need for God to get to heaven. They wanted to build a tower themselves that reached heaven. They trusted in themselves and were united in rebellion against God.

In order to squash their rebellion, God confused their language. No, God was not concerned that they could actually build a tower to reach heaven, but He was concerned at their rebellious attitude towards Him. They did not want to follow God’s instructions to fill the earth, so God confused their language and forced them to disperse and fill the earth. God crushed their rebellious pride as He took even their ability to communicate away.

Pentecost, however, was to unite all the peoples of the earth. It was to unify all nations in the promises of the Gospel. On Pentecost, God overcame the confusion of language, as each person heard the Gospel in his own language. This is because the Gospel is for every nation, for all tribes and peoples and languages (cf. Rev. 7:9). On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit bore witness about Jesus, that His death was for everyone; that He is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world; that He rose again from the dead to open the kingdom of heaven to all believers.

The Holy Spirit continues to do what He started on Pentecost. He continues to convict the world concerning sin (Jn 16:8).

The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in Jesus for salvation. He convicts us of our rebellion against God and leads us to repentance. He convicts us that by ourselves, we are dry bones, but through Jesus, the Holy Spirit has given us the breath of life so that we will live eternally (cf. Ezk. 27:1-14).

The Holy Spirit must convict us of sin if we are to believe the Gospel. See, the Gospel is only good news for sinners. It is only good news if you need it. If you think you’re not a sinner, the Gospel is foolishness to you. If you think that you’re not a sinner, the Gospel sounds like drunken speech to you, just as it did to unbelievers on Pentecost.

However, the Holy Spirit has convicted us that we are sinners. We know that we have sinned in thought, word, and deed; by what we have done and by what we have left undone.

He has also convicted us of righteousness (Jn 16:8). Not our own righteousness, but that of Christ. Christ is the Righteous One, and His righteousness covers our sin. This is the work of the Holy Spirit.

That’s why Jesus told the disciples that it is to their advantage if He goes away and would then send the Holy Spirit to them (Jn 16:7).

Consider this: after Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, the disciples were still mostly timid and afraid. They hid in fear behind locked doors even after Jesus had appeared to them, proving that He has risen from the dead (Jn 20:26). They were still troubled with doubts arising in their hearts, even when Jesus was with them (Lk. 24:38). They still disbelieved and were confused and afraid, even as Jesus opened the Scriptures to them (Lk 24:41).

Then Jesus ascended into heaven and sent them the Holy Spirit, and everything changed. The apostles were no longer afraid, but they were bold.

When those in Jerusalem heard the sound of the mighty rushing wind and gathered together, Peter didn’t cower in fear even when people mocked them as being drunk. He boldly went out and preached to them. You know what he said? He called them murderers! He accused them of crucifying and killing God! (Acts 2:23) Peter knew what they were capable of. He had heard them shout “crucify!” not too many days before. Yet, he preached to them, calling them to account for what they had done.

And when the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees arrested Peter and John and dragged them before the same Council that had just crucified Jesus, even there, Peter did not cower in fear, but he accused them of the same thing as he had accused the crowd – the murder of Jesus (Acts 4:10). The threats of the council only resulted in the apostles praying for more boldness to keep preaching (Acts 4:29).

The apostles were changed. The Holy Spirit had made them bold to preach the truth of the death and resurrection of Jesus. It was to their advantage the Jesus went away and sent them the Holy Spirit.

This is also to our advantage. Jesus ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of God the Father Almighty and He there intercedes for us. And He has sent us the Holy Spirit, who has called us by the Gospel, enlightened us with His gifts, sanctified and kept us in the true faith.

The Holy Spirit also makes us bold. We may not have to face a council who seeks to put us to death, but we will have to face death. We will have to face suffering, trials, and temptations. We can face all these with boldness and confidence, because this Pentecost we once again hear the Christmas and Easter message that God took on human flesh to suffer and die for us on the cross and He rose again, defeating death for us.

The Holy Spirit grants you to hear this in your own language, a language that you understand, so that you will believe and receive eternal life. Hearing the Gospel message of the Old Testament in Hebrew or the New Testament in Greek would be as useful to you as the instructions of a foreman to a worker at the tower of Babel. Thus, the Holy Spirit causes the message of the Gospel to be spoken to you in English, uniting you with the whole Church in heaven and on earth who have heard the Gospel in their own language.

The Holy Spirit continues the work He started on Pentecost. He continues to work through the message of the Gospel, creating faith which is nothing short of a miracle. Indeed, calling a sinner to faith is a greater miracle than making dry bones live, and this the Holy Spirit continues to do.

The Holy Spirit continues to work through Baptism, which has washed us clean from all sin. He continues to strengthen our faith through the miraculous meal of Christ’s body and blood. He continues to grant us to hear the Gospel in a language we can understand, so that we will be bold unto death and receive the crown of eternal life. Amen.

The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

Christ’s Letter to the Church in Sardis

Sermon for Midweek Lenten Service based on Revelation 3:1-6

Dear conquerors who will be clothed in white garments, whose names will never be blotted out of the book of life, and whose names Jesus will confess before His Father and before His angels: grace, mercy, and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

The church in Sardis was the big church with a full schedule every week. Moms and Tots on Mondays. Quilting and youth group on Tuesdays. Free suppers for the homeless on Wednesdays. Serve your neighbour Thursdays. Clean up the city Fridays. Men’s groups, ladies’ groups, young adults’ groups, youth groups, children’s groups, family groups. You name it, they had it. They thus had the reputation of being alive.

They had the reputation of being alive because of all the works they did in their communities, all the help they offered to the needy, all the funds they raised for relief efforts around the world. They had the reputation of being alive because they had the numbers – big attendance numbers, big event numbers, big dollar numbers collected in offerings.

Yet, Jesus says they are dead. The reputation they had before men was a lie. Men judge by outward appearance; God judges by the heart (I Sm. 16:7).

Hebrews 11 tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God (v. 6). Romans 14 tells us that whatever does not proceed from faith is sin (v. 23). We also heard from John chapter fifteen where Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (v. 5) This means that even works that are excellent and praiseworthy in human eyes are sin before God if they are done without faith. Without being in Christ, we can do nothing good; we can bear no fruit.

The church in Sardis got completely wrapped up in every imaginable purpose except matters of faith. The church had become a community club where the members gathered to do things, but they did not gather for the purpose of hearing God’s Word and receiving His forgiveness. The church came to have a life of its own, apart from life in God, and thus Jesus said that they are dead. They were dead branches cut off from the vine.

This is not an uncommon occurrence. Churches that have been around for a long time can forget their reason to exist. Churches can even be started for the wrong reasons. People go to church, they attend services, but they don’t know why they’re there. They go through the motions. They say sing the hymns. They say the responses. But their hearts aren’t into it. Their minds are preoccupied by other things.

Christ says, “Wake up!” Don’t get distracted or caught up in events and programs and groups and committees. Come to church to hear God’s Word. Yes, in church you hear the very words of God Himself written for you and spoken to you. Come to church to receive the body and blood of Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and the strengthening of your faith. This is where sins are forgiven and removed from you as far as the east is from the west. This is where God takes your sins from you and throws them into the depths of the sea.

Don’t even get caught up in good works. Yes, those who have been reborn and renewed by the Holy Spirit are obligated to do good works. In fact, they cannot help but do good works because they have been freed from the slavery of sin and have been filled with love for God and for their neighbour. God Himself has prepared good works for us to do (Eph. 2:10). Abiding in the vine, the branches will bear fruit.

However, let your focus always be the Gospel – the forgiveness of sins Christ has won for you and gives to you freely. It is Christ’s death for you that gives you eternal life. It is His Word and His body and blood that strengthen you through the trials and tribulations of this life to eternal life.

It is also the Gospel that motivates you to do good works. The threats of the Law may get you to begrudgingly do what it demands, but these are not good works before God no matter how much men may praise you for them. The threats of the Law may compel to a full schedule of events and programs to help others, but without faith it is all sin. Without faith, even works that are excellent and praiseworthy in human eyes condemn to hell. Without faith, you may have the reputation of being alive, but Jesus says you are dead.

Do not turn inward, however, to try and find faith. Faith does not come from within us. Faith comes from outside of us. Faith comes from God.

Faith comes from God when He tells you that He has clothed you in white through Baptism, covering all your sin. Faith comes from God when He tells you that He has written your name in the book of life and He will never blot it out. The devil cannot blot your name out because he’s been thrown out of heaven. Your sins cannot blot your name out because you are clothed in the white robe of Christ’s righteousness. Your name will never be blotted out of God’s book of life, because no one can snatch you out of God the Father’s hand since He is greater than all (John 10:29).

Finally, Christ says He will confess your name before His Father in heaven and before the angels. He will shut down every accusation against you. Clothed in the robe of forgiveness, Jesus will claim you as His own. He will confess and acknowledge that you belong to Him, and you will thus enter the holy city, which comes down from the new heavens to the new earth (Rev. 21:2).

You are alive. Not because of your busyness with programs and events and good works or because of your reputation before men. You are alive because you abide in the vine, Jesus, in whom you will bear much fruit. You are alive because you are in Christ, and He is alive, and because Christ is alive and will live forevermore, you are alive and will live forever. Amen.

The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

God’s House is for Forgiveness

Sermon for the Third Sunday in Lent based on John 2:13-22

Dear cleansed church of God: grace, mercy, and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

The youth are holding a fundraiser in the narthex following the service. After hearing our Gospel reading, should the tables be overturned, their money poured out, and should the youth be driven out with a whip?

To answer this question, we have to understand why Jesus drove the money changers and the livestock sellers out of the Temple.

Livestock sellers were selling animals so that God’s people could offer the sacrifices prescribed by the Law of God. This way the people who made their pilgrimage to the Temple from far away wouldn’t need to make the long trek with animals in tow. The animals were necessary for the prescribed sacrifices.

The money-changers were also necessary. Every Israelite twenty years old and upward was to pay the Temple tax and it had to be paid in Jewish coins (Ex. 30:11-16; cf. Mt. 17:24-27). Money-changers exchanged Roman coins with the Jewish currency. The Roman coins had the image of Caesar and an inscription declaring him to be a god. The money-changers exchanged these idolatrous and blasphemous coins for Jewish coins, the local currency that was acceptable for the Temple tax and could be used for giving tithes and offerings to God.

There was nothing wrong with selling animals for Temple sacrifices or trading Roman coins for Jewish currency. It is not a sin to sell to others what they need, nor is it a sin to make a profit.

The problem is where they were carrying on this trade. It was in the Temple, in the Gentile court where the Gentiles were supposed to be able to pray. They were thus denying the Gentiles a place to pray, even though the Temple was supposed to be a house of prayer for all people, not just the Jews (Is. 56:7).

The Temple was the place from where forgiveness came. The sacrifices for the sins of the people where the means of grace for the Old Testament believers. They were sacrifices which pointed to the ultimate sacrifice of Christ on the cross when the body of His temple was destroyed.

Forgiveness cannot be bought or sold, and the buying and selling was preventing Gentiles from worshiping in the Temple. Their buying and selling got in the way of forgiveness. This Christ would not tolerate going on in His Father’s house, and thus He drove the livestock sellers and money changers out of the Temple.

We also should not tolerate anything that gets in the way of forgiveness of prevents anyone from worshiping in church. No event or fundraiser can be permitted that does these things.

The youth fundraiser does not get in the way of forgiveness, nor does it prevent anyone from coming to the Divine Service. Forgiveness of sins cannot be bought or sold, and you know that your donations towards their catechism retreat will not earn you the forgiveness of sins any more than your church offerings earn you the forgiveness of sins. Forgiveness is given freely.

The Jews wanted a sign from Jesus to prove that He had the authority to cast the money changers and livestock sellers out of the Temple. They wanted visible evidence that He is the Son of God with the authority to cleanse His Father’s house.

Jesus, speaking about the temple of His body, responded, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” That is His sign of authority. He is the temple. He is the sacrifice. He indeed was killed, and He did rise again, just as He said.

Jesus’ death is what truly has cleansed the church. Throwing out sellers and money changers doesn’t cleanse the church. Jesus’ blood shed for us, covering our sins is what has cleansed the church.

Psalm 32 says, “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” We are thus blessed, for that is exactly why we come to God’s house. We come here to have our transgressions forgiven. We come here to have our sins covered. Jesus does not want anything getting in the way of that.

Jesus is zealous for what happens in His Father’s house, because it is a place of forgiveness. This is where the font stands before our eyes, reminding us of how God has received us and cleansed us from sin. This is where we gather to receive absolution from one in the stead and by the command of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is where the altar stands which recalls Christ’s sacrifice; the altar from where we receive Christ’s true body and blood, cleansing us from all our sins.

Jesus is zealous that nothing gets in the way of our transgressions being forgiven. Jesus is zealous that nothing gets in the way of our sins being covered.

We also should be zealous to make sure nothing gets in the way of us receiving forgiveness from God. Cast out whatever gets in the way of you being here. Overturn it and pour it out. Make a whip of cords if necessary to drive out whatever is in your way of forgiveness.

The church is God’s house of forgiveness. For you. For everyone. Yes, for our youth too, so please don’t drive them out with whips.

Let us receive that forgiveness in Jesus’ body and blood, given and shed for us. Amen.

The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

The Wedding Feast

Sermon for the Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost based on Matthew 22:1-14

Dear beautiful bride of Christ: grace, mercy, and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Apart from Christ, the Church is one ugly bride. Ezekiel sixteen describes her as a baby wallowing in her own blood on the day of birth, cast out into the open field with no eye to pity or show compassion, abhorred by all. No one loved her to wash her or clothe her. No one even bothered to cut her umbilical cord.

Then her bridegroom came and gave her life. He bathed her and washed her and anointed her with oil. He made her to flourish like a plant in the field and grow up. He clothed her with embroidered cloth and shod her with fine leather. He wrapped her in fine linen and covered her with silk. He adorned her with bracelets on her wrists, a chain on her neck, with jewellery, and a crown on her head. She thus had gold and silver and fine clothing, eating the highest quality of foods.

In Christ, the Church is a beautiful bride. Christ washes away the ugliness of her sins and clothes her with His own righteousness. He offers up His life for her on the cross, obtaining for her the white robe of beauty and innocence with which He clothes her in Holy Baptism. A wedding feast is prepared to celebrate this union.

Come to the wedding feast. Everything is prepared. Come eat the feast which is better than any earthly banquet; food and drink which give you eternal life. Come receive what God the Son has earned for you. Come and feed your soul which hungers and thirsts for righteousness. Come, for all is ready.

How do those invited respond? Some pay no attention to the invitation from the King. They go off, one to his farm, another to his business. These are the polite ones. They don’t hate the King, but they really don’t care. They don’t hate the Church, but they are indifferent to the King’s invitation. They don’t hate Christ, the bridegroom, but they have better things to do. They just don’t care.

Then there are those who are invited to the wedding feast who hate Christ, the bridegroom, and His bride, the Church. The King’s servants who went out to invite them are treated shamefully and disrespectfully. The King’s servants are even murdered for bringing the invitation just because these people hate the King. Such people get angry if a Christian dare speak the truth of God’s Word, because they don’t want to hear it. They don’t want to hear about how God expects us to behave and they don’t want to hear about how God gives us free forgiveness in His Son. They’d rather kill the messenger than hear the message. They are so vicious and hostile because they are poor, miserable sinners, who don’t want to admit that they are poor, miserable sinners.

There are those who politely ignore God’s gracious invitation, and there are those who respond in anger and hostility. There are also those who respond with hypocrisy. They join the church. They are baptized. They go through confirmation. They attend Divine Service. They outwardly confess that they believe what God’s Word says. But they believe none of it. This is the man without the wedding garment. He does not believe that he needs Jesus’ righteousness to cover his sins. He thinks Baptism is a nice ceremony but that it does nothing. He receives the body and blood of Christ but believes it to be nothing more than bread and wine.

All three of these groups of people invited have the same end. The King sends His angels to destroy them and their cities. They are bound hand and foot and thrown into the outer darkness, that place of weeping and gnashing of teeth. Whether they reject God’s gracious invitation through polite ignorance, open hostility, or faithless hypocrisy, their place is in the eternal fires of hell.

This is a warning to us. The goal of this is not to say, “Hey I know someone who hates God. I know someone who doesn’t really care. I know someone who is a hypocrite.” No. This is us. We must confess our own sin.

We have politely ignored God’s gracious invitation. We are the ones who do not always care. We have failed to prioritize the hearing and reading of God’s Word. We have failed to treat God’s gracious invitation as the most important thing. We have failed to raise our children in the faith. We have had better things to do. Repent.

We have shown hostility toward God’s gracious invitation. We, according to our sinful nature hate God. We hate when His Law commands us to do something that we don’t want to do. We hate when His Law forbids us from doing something we want to do. We hate the fact that God’s Word says we are poor, miserable sinners. Our greed and lust, our desire for fame, money, and recognition, our anger and pride are all hostile to God. Repent.

We have acted like hypocrites. We go through the motions. We say things we don’t mean. We confess to believe what the Bible says but we’re not actually even that interested in what it says. We say we value God’s Word, but it sits somewhere in the house collecting dust. We speak the words of the Lord’s Prayer without so much as a thought as to what the words mean. Repent.

In your repentance, realize the gracious invitation of God to you. The wedding feast of the Lamb is for you. Not because of what you’ve done or left undone. Not because of who you are. Rather, because God’s gracious invitation is for everyone. The King sends his servants out to invite to the banquet everyone they can find. Thus, Jesus says that the servants brought in the evil and the good into the wedding hall – those who were thought of as evil because their sins were known to everyone, as well as those who were thought of as good because their sins were not known to everyone.

The evil and good alike will be at the wedding feast because we are covered with the righteousness of Christ. We lament our indifference, hostility, and hypocrisy and we cherish the wedding garment that covers all our sin. We love our bridegroom who came and gave us life; who bathed us and washed us in Baptism; who made us to flourish like a plant in the field and grow up. We love Him who clothed us with His white and pure robe of righteousness and feeds us with the highest quality of foods – His own body and blood for the forgiveness of sins.

We love Christ, who has made us, His Church, a beautiful bride. Christ has washed away the ugliness of our sins and clothed us with His own righteousness. He has offered up His life for us on the cross, obtaining for us the white robe of beauty and innocence with which He has clothed us in Holy Baptism.

God wants you at the wedding feast, both here at the altar where we receive a foretaste of the feast to come, and eternally when we will see its fulfilment. He graciously gives you forgiveness. He forgives you your indifference, hostility, and hypocrisy, because Christ has paid the price of your sins. He gives you forgiveness so that you will care, so that you won’t be hostile, and so that you will believe that His death was for you and that He gives His forgiveness to you freely, graciously, lovingly, and abundantly.

Come to the wedding feast. Everything is prepared. Come eat the feast which is better than any earthly banquet; food and drink which give you eternal life. Come receive what God the Son has earned for you. Come and feed your soul which hungers and thirsts for righteousness. Come, for all is ready. Amen.

The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

Weeds in God’s Field

Sermon for the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost based on Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

Dear sons of the kingdom: grace, mercy, and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

There are weeds growing in God’s field. God knows it. We know it. Right next to the good wheat that Jesus has planted, there are weeds planted by the devil. The wheat and weeds are growing side by side in the same field. God knows it. We know it.

Right beside a church that teaches the truth of God’s Word is a church that teaches the lies of the devil. Right beside a church that sows the good seed of God’s Word is a church that sows the weeds of the devil. They may both have started out looking the same, growing up together, even both being congregations of Lutheran Church-Canada. However, as the wheat comes up and bears grain, so the weeds also come up and are seen for what they are. Side by side, the wheat and the weeds grow together.

The Christian church always has to contend with false teaching and false teachers. Jesus says so. The devil is not going to stop sowing weeds among the wheat until Christ returns and the angels gather the weeds and bind them up to be burned. Christ certainly will not stop sowing the good seed of His Word until the harvest when the wheat is gathered into His barn.

The good seed of God’s Word produces only good wheat. The devil deliberately sows weeds where the good seed has been sown. We are witnesses of this. We see all the evil things that are done in Christ’s name. Churches are condoning all kinds of behaviour that Scripture says are sinful practices. Churches and pastors condone the favourite sins of the day including living together outside of marriage, homosexuality, and divorce. They support the lies of the devil like feminism, women’s ordination, and the confusion of what is male and what is female. All kinds of blasphemous practices are taking place in churches where following Scripture is replaced with following the desires and feelings of man.

When the bad seed was initially sown, it may not have been obvious. While Christ sows His seed openly in the day, the devil sows his seed secretly at night. At first you may not be able to tell any difference between the two. Once the seeds sprout and grow, then you see the difference. Then you can differentiate the wheat from the weeds. Then you can distinguish the sons of the kingdom from the sons of the evil one.

In this life, we cannot perfectly distinguish between the sons of the kingdom and the sons of the evil one. Certainly, there are signs that you are one or the other, but oftentimes we cannot know. God knows. God can perfectly identify the wheat from the weeds. God does perfectly distinguish between the sons of the kingdom and the sons of the evil one.

Even so, God does not weed His field. He doesn’t pull up the weeds to bind them up for the fiery furnace. He doesn’t round up the sons of the evil one and cast them all into hell. Oh, He will do it, but not yet.

The servants of the master expected the master to want them to gather and remove the weeds immediately, but the master said, “No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them.” God does not want to uproot sons of the kingdom by rooting out the sons of the evil one around them. Out of His love and concern for the sons of the kingdom, He does not uproot the sons of the evil one at this time.

God is patient and long suffering. He endures the weeds in His field for the sake of the wheat. He endures the weeds also for the sake of those weeds. God desires the sons of the evil one to become sons of the kingdom

After all, we all had our start as weeds. After Adam and Eve’s fall into sin, they were weeds. Weeds cannot produce wheat, only more weeds, thus all mankind gets their start as weeds.

It is not until being watered with the waters of Holy Baptism that God turns weeds into wheat. He makes sons of the kingdom out of sons of the evil one. In Baptism, He adopts us as His sons because He forgives us all of our sins. He covers the sinful nature of who we are with His perfection. He pours out His love and mercy on us, giving us what we do not deserve. We deserve to be bound and burned in hell for eternity. But our dear Lord took the punishment of our sins in our place so that instead we will be gathered into His barn, which is His eternal heavenly banquet.

Even though we must remain, grow, and produce fruit in a world where we are surrounded by weeds, we are safe. God waters us through Baptism to claim us as His own, separating us from the multitude of unbelievers. He has separated the wheat from the weeds already now by His claim on the wheat, even though we still grow surrounded by weeds. God nourishes us with the meal of His Son’s body and blood so that we would remain in Him, grow in Him, and produce good fruit.

God gives us these good, wonderful gifts because He knows our sinful tendencies. He knows the temptations of the world around us. He knows the evil one is always lurking to deceive and tempt us. That’s why God continues to forgive us our sin. He doesn’t count how many times He forgives us. He keeps forgiving us. He doesn’t remember our sins, but removes them from us. He casts our sins into the depths of the sea. He forgives our sins now, so that we will be ready for the harvest to come.

There will be a harvest. Judgment Day will come. As we confess in the Apostles’ Creed, Christ will return to judge the living and the dead. As Scripture teaches, “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” (II Cor. 5:10) The Son of Man will send His angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace, that place where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, while the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.

Therefore stay awake! We do not know when Christ will return. Do not get caught up in the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches. Do not get choked by the weeds that surround you so that you fall into their manner of thinking and living. Do not harden your heart so that the devil snatches away the Word that has been sown in your heart.

On the Day when Christ returns, it won’t matter if you have four million dollars in your bank account or if you are overdrawn; it won’t matter if you are rested from time at the lake or exhausted from being overworked. The only thing that will matter is whether or not you have faith.

The thing about faith is that it doesn’t come from you; it comes from God. You cannot sustain your faith; God sustains your faith. You cannot strengthen your faith; God strengthens your faith.

Faith comes from hearing God’s Word, so listen to God’s Word. Faith is strengthened by hearing God’s Word, so do not find excuses not to hear. Faith is nourished and nurtured by receiving the body and blood of Jesus, given and shed for you for, so eat and drink for the forgiveness of all your sins.

Don’t let the weeds growing around you convince you that God will not ever weed His field. The harvest will come. God knows there are weeds in His field and you know this.

God also knows those who are His. God knows you, the wheat, because He planted you. You are sons of His kingdom. Your names are written in His Book of Life because your Saviour has paid the debt you owe.

The weeds are no threat to you. Not even the evil one can threaten you. God has given you faith, thus He has turned you from weed to wheat. He has made sons of the kingdom from sons of the evil one.

You are wheat growing in God’s field. God knows it. You know it. Though you are surrounded by weeds that will not immediately be pulled, you are safe and secure in the holy ark of the Christian Church, being separated from the multitude of unbelievers. Because your sins are forgiven, on Judgment Day you will be gathered by the angels into the barn of our Saviour, where you will shine like the sun in the kingdom of your Father. God knows it. You know it. Amen.

The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.