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The Eternal Gospel

April 26, 2020 Pastor: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Verse: 1 Peter 1:22–1:25

Christ Lutheran Church
Cleveland, Ohio
April 26, 2020
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Easter 3
The Never Ending Gospel

And so love one another earnestly from a pure heart; since you have been begotten anew not of perishable seed, but imperishable: through the living and abiding Word of God. For all flesh is as grass and all its glory like the flower of the field. The grass withers and the flower fades but the Word of the Lord remains unto the ages of ages. And this is the Word: the gospel we preached to you!" (1 Peter 1:22-25)

Beloved in Christ it is time to come to terms with reality. With who and what we truly are in the larger scheme of things. We are not talking now about our assets: our skills, strengths, talents and so on. But we are talking about the bigger picture. About who and what are in the sight of God.

That is the church’s area of concern, and so today we will hear a theological evaluation of ourselves that applies equally to all people. But you won’t like it. Not at first. But if you will listen patiently, and put your faith and hope in God as St. Peter counsels, you will experience a measure of the same joy that the Emmaus disciples experienced when they recognized Jesus in the “Breaking of the Bread” at the Second Holy Communion on Easter evening.

If you will listen to Scripture, and lay aside the catechism of this “crooked generation” … you may have entered here walking on your feet, but you will leave here floating on air. And the gospel you receive today will carry you through this and all the crises of this life.

The world’s assessment of you is not true. It evaluates you in whatever way is to its advantage at the moment. The barber sees you as a haircut. The cable provider as a subscriber. The govt as a tax-payer. And to those who would own and control every thing and everyone on God’s green earth – you are a sheep to be shorn; and when the wool is gone a piece of meat to be consumed.

The Christian assessment of humanity begins in a depressing way. It wants to talk about sin: which is a transgression of God’s Law. Hear what Peter told the men in Jerusalem on Pentecost: “This Jesus whom you crucified God has made both Lord and Christ.”

With those words the arrow of divine judgment hit its mark dead on. The thunderclaps of God’s judgment – what Lutherans call “the Law” – shook these men to their foundation. Where before they could swagger about, and nothing could sway them from their course; now all pretense of self-confidence and self-satisfaction and certainty of what would happen to them, vanished more quickly than the late world economy.

Now these bold and murderous men trembled. They had committed the ultimate sin. They plotted to kill God by handing Jesus over to death. And now they knew it and it made their courage melt like wax in a flame. Now they prayed only one thing: that the mountains would fall on them to shield them from the burning judgment of the One who is Lord of all.

But with desperation, and a sliver of hope for self-preservation they cried out: “Men and Brothers what shall we do?” But Peter did not give them the answer they expected. He did not say: “You did the crime, now you’ll do the time!”

That is what the world says when you offend its frail psyche, or wound its brittle pride. But that is not the gospel of Christ. Peter had a ready answer. The answer he learned from Jesus in his three year seminary education; and now to perfection in the graduate school of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.

He answered them: "Repent and be baptized each one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

And he told them, moreover, that: this promise is for you. For you and your children; and for all who are “far away” from God – all whom the Lord our God will call to the high calling of Life in Christ Jesus.

But we are not quite out of the wood yet. Because today’s epistle says this: “All flesh is like grass; and like the flower of the field.”

Grass is an amazing thing. It springs up green and glorious everywhere. If you cut it down it grows back. If you trample it in a short time it gets back up and is no worse for the wear.

Let us hope for that blessing for our world which has been trampled by giants; because: when giants contend, they say, it is the grass that suffers. But there may yet be hope! (Lam. 3:29) Because even if all flesh is grass the Word of the Lord endures forever.

That Word is the gospel that you hear today. The gospel you first heard at the baptismal font and came to possess it, even as it possesses you. The gospel whose grammar you learned by catechetical instruction. The gospel that delights you in this holy convocation every Sunday where Jesus does today, what he did on the road to Emmaus. St. Luke says:

“And while they were speaking and discussing Jesus himself joined them and walked with them. But their eyes were prevented from recognizing him. (Lk. 24:15-16)

Emmaus happens here every Sunday, O Disciples of Christ. With this difference. Our eyes are not prevented from recognizing him. Quite the contrary we recognize him as the Emmaus disciples did in the breaking of the bread. And like them our hearts, too, burn within as confess our sins, and hear his absolution.

As he opens the gospel to us in his sermons;

And draws us into his own Resurrection in Holy Communion,

And opens our lips so that his praises ring out from this Holy House, being carried through the air into all the world, and into heaven itself as we join the eternal chorus.

But the baptismal life, Beloved, is not just one of celebrating and receiving, but also one of giving and doing and living life in its hightest and noblest form. The gospel of Jesus Christ that we receive here radically changes everything about us!

St. Paul says that all who have been baptized into Christ have been raised to newness of life with Christ. This means that our old ways, our selfish ways, our sinful impulses must be put to death, and a New Man arise daily to serve God in righteousness and purity forever.

And so St. Peter says to the baptized: “And so love one another earnestly from a pure heart; since you have been begotten anew not of perishable seed, but imperishable: through the living and abiding Word of God … and this is the Word: the gospel we preached to you!"

May it permeate your body, mind, soul and spirit and fill you with faith, hope, love and courage in the face of all obstacles; for our Lord has overcome the world, and we are born of him. Of imperishable seed! Amen