Sundays:  Pastor's Class 9:00 AM (Ephesians)
               Divine Liturgy 10:30 AM

Wednesdays: Pastor's Class 10:00 AM (begins again in September)
               Divine Liturgy 7:00 PM

Private Confession: By appointment.



On Christ The Solid Rock I Stand

August 5, 2017

Verse: Matthew 7:24–25

Christ Lutheran Church
Cleveland, Ohio
August 6, 2017
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Trinity 8
On Christ The Solid Rock I Stand

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. Matthew 7:24-25

In today’s gospel we hear a portion of the Lord’s most famous sermon, the Sermon On The Mount. It is recorded for us in St. Matthew’s Gospel chapters five, six and seven, and it is among the most well-known and beloved portions of the New Testament. It is the sermon that contains the Beatitudes, the Lord’s Prayer, the Golden Rule and many renowned ethical teachings such as: love your enemies, turn the other cheek and the Lord’s warning against judging one another.

But for as well-known as this Sermon is, it is also poorly understood.

Case in point – if we hear the Lord’s Sermon today as the standard for Christian living we do well! No more beautiful ethic has ever graced the ears of sinful man! The person who practices what is taught here will be a good person, and the nation a righteous one. The same of the church that takes these words to heart. It will be the true church that witnesses the love of God by the holy lives of its members; so that even the jaded world will stand up and take notice. So that even those who live only virtual lives will, in Simon-Peter-like fasion, leave their screens behind, and follow Jesus.

If, being aware of our own greater sins, we are slow to condemn others be it in private, public or ecclesiastical life we do well. We will be a happy and blessed people. The swamp of self-righteousness we slither in will dry up, and the love of God will flourish among us for all the world to see.

If we heed the Lord’s admonition: “Ask and it will be given you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you; for whoever asks will receive, whoever seeks will find, and to whomever knocks the door will be opened.” If the church prays with such confidence she will receive all that she needs for body and soul, never lack any good thing, and will be salt and light for all men.

If the church’s members will be diligent in learning objective true doctrine, and embracing holy tradition. If they will follow Jesus who is the Narrow Way. If they will build their house on the Rock that is Jesus as he comes to us in the Word and Sacrament of Christian liturgy. And if every person treats others in the way he himself wants to be treated … then the church will flourish, and the cup her of blessing will overflow and draw all men to Christ better than any “evangelism” scheme cooked up by desperate churchmen.

These are lofty thoughts and they fire the Christian imagination! But alas they are built on the sandiest of foundations! They are built on the word “if,” and that, dear Christians, is the devil’s favorite word. Because true as the Lord’s teachings are they can never be accomplished except by him – and by his church in as much as she lives in communion with her crucified Lord. With him, that is, as the foundation on which she stands, as we sing in the hymn. “On Christ the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.” (TLH #370)

Yes, such blessed living will only occur when we learn the first rule of
Biblical interpretation: that all Scripture is about Christ and him crucified. He is not only the Sermon’s preacher but its subject and object as well. For he himself IS the Sermon of God. The Sermon made flesh (John 1:14) who serves as our Heavenly High Priest. But who, at the same time, dwells within his church. Who inhabits the Word that is read, the sacraments we receive and the praises of his people. You are those people. (Psalm 22:3)

The Sermon on the Mount is about Jesus. Not the sentimental Jesus of FB religion, or the Jesus whose name is used in vain on church signs throughout the land. But Jesus who is the True Prophet of God, Voice of God, and eternal Word of God. Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven. Who for us men and for our salvation, our blessing, our ultimate good, our eternal, glorious and heavenly life was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man! Hear him. Learn his words, because he will never lead you astray, harm you or deny you, as will the devil and his many false prophets.

The Sermon on the Mount is about Jesus. He is the Good Fruit produced by the tree of the cross, whose death gives life to all who love his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:8) It is not only the tree you may eat from, but the tree you must eat from if you want to live. If you want to be reconciled to your God. If you want to be restored to his glorious image, and fulfill the destiny of your humanity in Christ. And there is nothing better than that!

The Sermon on the Mount is about Jesus for he is the Lord to whom we call, who always hears us, and who will never deny us. The Lord from whom we receive new life, fresh joy, and from whom we learn the true will of God. He is the Lord whose sterling life is credited to our account on heaven’s spread-sheet. He is the Lord in whose name the church preaches to the world, expels demons yet today, and does mighty works.

The Sermon on the Mount is about Jesus. He is the Rock (Daniel 2:35) on which the church is built. On which your life is built. So that whatever manner of rains, winds, floods or storms beat down on you, you will stand! Your faith will stand! Your house will stand! You have that promise from Jesus who is your Lord. From Jesus who is your Rock and Redeemer. Amen!