The Right Place at the Right Time
August 21, 2016
Verse: Luke 10:23–10:24
We have all lamented being in the wrong place at the wrong time, sometimes regretted it sorely. But these 12 disciples were in the right place at the right time.
What God had promised for several thousand years was filled to the full in this Jesus whom they called Teacher and Lord! Fulfilled in what he said and did. In his merciful miracles, godly prayers and gracious words. But above all by the joyful Offering of himself into suffering and death, to release us from our sins, and the sins of our fathers.
Yes, the disciples had a front row seat for the fulfillment of God's ancient and everlasting promises. Their eyes saw, and their ears heard what pining prophets, and yearning kings longed for. But in the words of the Sermon to the Hebrews (11:13ff) "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth."
These are the things that disciples were blessed to experience. But what about us? What do we see? What do we hear? Are we also blessed like the Twelve?
You know the answer is yes, and you must believe that with all your heart, and soul, and mind and strength. Believe that when you come to this Holy Ground, to this Burning Bush, this altar with its eternal gifts, that you come to see, and to hear, and to eat, none other than your Lord and God, Jesus Christ.
Because the Gospel you hear each Sunday is not only about Jesus, it is Jesus! Which is to say that when you hear these holy words, you are hearing Jesus himself. Please believe it; and please don’t be fooled by what your eyes see! They see his minister, his emissary and ambassador, which we must highly regard because that is the way our Lord established things. But we must also learn to see through him, and past him, to see Jesus himself!
Lutherans say that: Jesus is present in the Word and Sacrament. But what we say of the Sacrament is equally true of the Word, the Holy Scriptures, especially of the holy Gospel. For which we show special reverence by standing, and by its own versicle and response at the beginning and end. And in best Christian tradition by chanting it, because chanting is, first, elevated speech; employed to sing out and ring out, the most elevated words ever uttered in this cacophonous world.
Yes, it is Jesus who is speaking to you. This is not merely a shared hallucination. If you don't believe that Jesus himself is here. Jesus who was conceived by the Holy Spirit; Jesus who was born of the Virgin Mary; Jesus who suffered under Pontius Pilate, who was crucified! dead! buried! and who rose again on the third day, ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father …
If you don't understand that he himself is speaking here, receiving your prayers and praises, excising your sins with the laser of his love; entering our dead flesh with his living flesh in holy communion; and giving us his Very Own Spirit to be in us and with us wherever we go … then there are better uses of your time.
What did their ears hear that day, and ours today from the same mouth of Jesus? The Parable of the Good Samaritan, which is about Jesus.
He is the one who sees us in our despair, our pain, our tears, our fears, our cultural hallucinations, the bloody messes of our lives, and comes to rescue us with the wine of the his Word and the oil of his Spirit! Comes to disambiguate our confusion, and to restore us to our right minds!!! Just like he did the raging Gadarene demoniac after he had expelled the legion of demons from him. (Mark 5)
Others pass us by, but not Jesus! Even those whose duty it is to rescue us and help us, fail us more often than not. Such is life on earth dear Christians. Don't expect too much. And don't put your hope in the wrong things. For Holy Scripture says: it is better to trust in the LORD, than to trust in men, it is better to trust in the LORD than to trust in princes.
Yes, they all pass us by not only from self-interest, but because they all have their own wounds; and because they don't know what to do anyway! They are physicians who cannot heal themselves, how can they make you well?
In our day, man has thrown in the towel. He has given up trying to end the madness, trying to save humanity from itself, and has turned his collective efforts to far easier, but less noble, tasks. To the rescue animals which makes him feel good, and makes him think he is doing something high and holy, but he is not! Just be glad that God doesn't think that way, that he doesn't give up that easily, and that he values us much more highly than the sparrows, O ye of little faith.
But what man cannot do, Jesus can, Jesus does. He is the all-mighty Savior and there is nothing he cannot reconcile: even you in your weakness, shame, guilt, and your sticky, prickly pride.
He is doing it here. He is doing it now. Moreover, he authorizes those who are rescued to "go and do likewise." Not as Don Quixote's tilting at every windmill of social conscience. Or on Facebook. But in your daily vocation. In the patch God assigns to you and you alone to be his man, his woman, on scene; to extend his love to those who are beaten down by the Serial Killer of souls. You are rescued, your future is assured because of the cross, and now you have good and noble work to do. You are in the right place at the right time!