O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever (1 Chr 16:34). Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - Winnipeg, MB
Here comes the Juggernaut
"Here comes the Juggernaut"
January 30, 2011
Fellow baptized saints, the Juggernaut is coming. Juggernaut? What is a juggernaut? In the comic world, the juggernaut is a colossal, unstoppable enemy of the Hulk. He is bigger and stronger than the Hulk. Nothing can stop him when he charges. In the science fiction world, the juggernaut is a space battleship of indescribable power and size. Not even a fleet of the most powerful ships stands a chance against it. In both cases, the juggernaut is clearly understood to be two things: unimaginable in size and utterly unstoppable.
However the juggernaut that is coming for us this morning is not from the make-believe realm of comics or science fiction. This morning we will look right into the face of a truly unstoppable juggernaut. This morning our eyes will widen at the immeasurable size of a juggernaut that charges into our life. In a word, we could call this juggernaut the truth. This morning the unstoppable truth is going to charge right into your life. It is a truth that Jesus teaches His disciples there on the mountain. This teaching, this truth is colossal. It is unstoppable. It does not leave us standing. We cannot stand and boast in its presence. It is the unmistakable juggernaut of our pride.
In our Gospel reading, we hear about a scene that is very familiar to us. A large crowd is following Jesus, so he leaves them at the foot of a mountain and takes a climb. His disciples climb up the mountain to speak with Him, and there He gives them a special teaching. This account is so very familiar to us because it has happened before. However, it was a different mountain, and a different disciple. On Mount Sinai, a large crowd had followed Moses, so he left them at the foot of the mountain and climbed up the mountain to speak to God. There on the top of the mountain, God gave Moses His Law, what we now call the Ten Commandments. And here in our Gospel reading, we are invited to sit in on a closed intimate session between God the Son and His disciples. Here, a few short verses after our reading, Jesus tells His disciples, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law given to Moses. I have not come to get rid of the Law, but to fulfill it." Here on this second mountain, Jesus teaches His disciples about the unstoppable juggernaut, the fulfillment of the Law and it is not the juggernaut that they expect.
We have said this juggernaut leaves nothing standing. It does not leave room for people to be proud of themselves for what they have done, or the choices they have made. St. Paul tells us in our epistle reading that "God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are." God sends a truth that is so large and so unstoppable that it takes what the world sees and turns it upside down. The truth of God purposefully destroys every source of pride. Whatever thoughts, words or deeds, that make you feel as though you deserve something better, God has made worthless. You deserve nothing. Not from God, and not from anyone else. In fact, no one deserves to live, not even another day, for this is what the Law says. Moses carried a death sentence down from Mount Sinai, and here Jesus has confirmed that the sentence is justified. Anyone who breaks the Law is sentenced to death, regardless of how many good things they feel they have done. The juggernaut flattens our pride. No one is left standing. However this is only half of what the juggernaut has been sent to do.
Let's take a look at what Jesus actually says to His disciples there on the mountain. Jesus seems to list ways in which people are blessed, but it is not the list we would expect. Here goes Jesus, speaking about spiritual things again. Jesus begins, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." I should mention here that our Gospel reading for today has been the theme of the school chapel services this year. Everytime I read one of these sayings of Jesus, a small boy in the preschool class always says, What does that mean?' Of course, it is exactly what each of us should ask, and the perfect way to explore these words.
Who are the poor in spirit? Jesus is not talking about people who don't have enough money. He is not talking about people that are upset or feel badly. He is talking about those that recognize they are spiritually bankrupt. Those that realize they have nothing to offer God. Nothing of value. No credit to their name. They are poor in spirit. Yet Jesus says they are blessed for it is a gift of the Holy Spirit to recognize our sinful condition. We cannot see it on our own. The world does not see it, however Jesus promises that those who admit they deserve nothing shall be blessed. If we stand firm in our pride, convinced that we are deserving of life and the blessings of God, we shall receive nothing. But if we see that we are poor in spirit, morally bankrupt, we shall be blessed.
Jesus continues, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." Again, Jesus is not talking about people who are sad because their football team had a terrible season. He is not talking about people who are sad because their boyfriend or girlfriend broke up with them. He is talking about those who are grieved about what they have done. Those who sorrow over the way we have broken God's Law. Over the way we treat it so lightly. Jesus says they are blessed, for it is a gift of the Holy Spirit to be sorry for your sin. If we are not concerned with the way we break God's Law there will be no comfort for us, but if it truly bothers us, even causes us to mourn, we shall be comforted.
Jesus continues, "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." Jesus is not talking about the volume of your personality. He is not talking about your physical size. He is talking about those who do not think highly of themselves. Those who could help a million people and give all the glory to the one who deserves it, God. Jesus promises that those who realize they do not deserve glory shall get it all. We cannot realize this on our own, the Holy Spirit must give it to us.
Jesus reveals the same surprising truth in each of His sayings. His words leave no room for our pride or what we might feel we deserve, and yet promises blessings upon those that grasp this truth and take it seriously. (Speak slow) "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness" those that want to stop breaking God's Law and be declared righteous, even more than they want food. Blessed are the merciful those that show mercy because they know they need it themselves. Blessed are the pure in heart those that are honest with themselves about their sin. Blessed are the peacemakers those that want to right their wrongs. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake those that suffer quietly, even when they don't deserve it.
These sayings go one step further than sentencing us to death. In one unstoppable charge, this juggernaut of a teaching flattens your pride, sentencing you to death, and simultaneously promises you redemption and blessing in the life to come. However, as we know, this juggernaut is more than a teaching He is a person. In one unstoppable charge, Jesus Christ fulfilled the Law, giving you His perfectly obedient life, and suffered the sentence of death, taking your punishment for disobedience. Christ is the juggernaut. He is bigger than everything. He is unstoppable in His Holy Law. And He is unstoppable in His Holy Gospel. For no one can stop Him from giving His life for you. No one can stop Him from showing mercy. No one can stop Him from loving you. For I am certain that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Christ is the juggernaut and He has given His life for you. Nothing can stop Him. Nothing can stop His salvation, because it depends entirely on Him, and He has accomplished it. He has made Himself your righteousness, your holiness and your redemption. You are forgiven. You are saved. You are worth everything to Him. Therefore, as it is written, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord." May His entire Church proclaim with the angels, "Glory be to God in the highest, and peace to His people on earth." In Jesus' name, Amen.
Rev. Cameron Schnarr