Accuser (A Seriously Theological Sermon)
March 22, 2019 Pastor: Rev. Peter Mills
Verse: Luke 12:58–12:59
3rdSUNDAY IN LENT/C (2019): Ezek. 33:7-20; 1 Cor. 10:1-13;Luke 12:57—13:9.
As you go with your accuser before the magistrate, make an effort to settle with him on the way, lest he drag you to the judge, and… put you in prison… [from which] you will never get out until you have paid the very last penny” (Lk. 12:58, 59).
Every student worth his salt develops a somewhat perverse talent for distracting the class from the lesson at hand; it’s just what happens in a teacher-student forum.
Jesus, on the way to Jerusalem, was teaching the necessity of settling with your Accuser before arriving at court.It was at this point that some present Jesuseither brought news or reminded of a bloody outrage perpetrated by Pilate againstGalilean worshippers in the temple.
Those following Jesus probably expected him to condemn Pilate’ssacrilege. Jesus does not ignore the class disruption; rather he employs it as an example to advancehisimperative to settle on the way. Jesus turnsthe murderousincident back on the class, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were sinners, more than all the other Galileans, because they have suffered these things?” (Lk. 13:2).
It was as if Jesus said, “bad stuff happens in this world—get over it. What is of eminently greater import is that you come to terms with the One to whom you owe a righteous debt.”
If it hasn’t yet occurred to you, “settlement on the way” is Jesus’ destination, his Passion and cross, the place of God’s judgment on the world. Unless and until you come to terms with Jesus, the crucified Lord, he is your unassailable Accuser ofsin; andGodis the Magistrate who consignsto hell until the last penny of debt is paid. There will beno purgatorial work-release program, only an un-payable eternal debt.
Don’t wag your finger at Pilate’s or any otherself-evident evil in thissin-marred world detached by original sinfrom God’s goodintention and will. Look first to yourself, to the “plank in your own eye”(Mt. 7:5)before sudden catastrophe and death befallsand overtakes as it did to the unsuspecting Galileans in the temple and the Jews at Siloam’s tower.
Quickly settle with the One whom God sent to bear the sin of the world and into whose hand all judgment is delivered. While there is time in these last days, confess and repent of your sins and accept God’s gracious offer of settlement in Christ,who on the cross has paid the last penny of your debt; these are the terms your Accuseroffers on the way.
On the Mt. of Transfiguration God, the Magistrate,gave apostolic counsel to Peter, James, and John, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!”(Lk. 9:35).
Last Sunday we observed that by Baptism into Jesus’ death and resurrection the NT church is God’s New Jerusalemin union with Jesus’ word andsacrificial flesh andblood.Old Jerusalem rejected God’s gracious offer.And so we are reminded, through Ezekiel ofman’s assessment of God’s grace,“[Y]our people say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just,’ (33:17).
Man’s ways are not God’s way. Sinful men prefer judgment according to group, what today we call “identity politics”; it is easier to condemn others in order to perceive our own associations as superior. Thus the murdered Galileans and the Jews killed by faulty tower construction implied,in Jewish thought, that God passed judgment through gruesome deaths, “serving each groupright for something they did or failed to do.”
But Goddoes not judge innocence or guilt bygroup, such as; Jew vs. Gentile; Galilean vs. Judean; Pharisees (ancient and modern) vs. everybody; Lutherans vs. Protestants or Romanists.
God judges individuals,solely at and by his Son on the cross, the place of all God’s judgment. One either accepts the generous terms of Jesus’ sacrifice by faith apart from your effort (Rom. 3:28); or one rejects the gracious terms of settlement in Christ alone; in which case Jesus becomes your implacable Accuser. God judges individuals; warning,“O house of Israel, I will judge each of you according to his ways” (Ezek. 33:20).
God’s way of salvation consists in our appropriating by faith the righteousness of Christ and God’s judgment on him in our place on the cross.
Some “Christians”, distrustGod’s word for their salvation in Christ, inventing doctrines according to thegroup mentality of men. Examples of this mentality today may be found in such doctrines as labeling some asdamned from eternity and others elected, so called“double predestination”in complicitywith the equally un-Scriptural error of thosegrouped,“once saved always saved”.
These imaginingsdistortGod’s word andslander his character, repeating the ancient charge, “God’s way is not just” (Ezek. 33:17). The result of such impliedaccusation servesonly to leadmany into despair andaway from God contrary to his intentionthat all men come to repentant faith in Christ, crucified for the sin of the entireworld.
Today St. Paul points out that the ancient Israelites were baptized through the Red Sea into Moses and yet many, tempted in the mentality of men despised God’s way,the pre-incarnate Christ,theirsacramental ministering Rockand so wereoverthrown in the desert (1 Cor. 10:1-5).
Worldly ways and temptations continue and arecommon to all men and women baptized into Christ, or not. Faith is not simply abald statement of “belief” for even the demonsbelieve Jesus is Lord (James 2:19). Faithis inherently a relation of penitential trust that gives rise to constantexistential choice in turning from sin.
Confronted by the HS’ working of faith, God is merciful to relentof his wrath over sin for Christ’s sake. We pray, “Lead us not into temptation” (Mt. 6:13) and“God is faithful and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability but… provide a way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Cor. 10:13).
And when your fidelity fails, God’s does not. Baptism into Jesus is surety of yourdivine settlementin whichyou always have gracious access and return in word and sacrament.
From time to time you will sin, but the more existentially constant your eyes behold Jesus crucified, you will nottake the same delight in sin itonce afforded. Amen.