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On Sparrows

June 20, 2020 Pastor: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Verse: Matthew 10:28–10:31

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Christ Lutheran Church
Cleveland, Ohio
June 21, 2020
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Pentecost 3
On Sparrows

And do not be afraid of those who can kill the body, but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both body and soul in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny; and yet not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's permission. As for you the very hairs of your head are all numbered; and so do not be afraid: you are worth more than many sparrows. (Matthew 10:28-31)

It is tempting to decry the blind faith that people have placed in government, media and the medical authorities in the last several months. It is seductive to join in sloganeering over the latest social insanity – but we will not do that today!

There are other evils to consider – but be sure to know that the sum of all evils be they personal or societal – all derive from the greatest virus of all. Sin. Note! Not sins in the plural. But sin in the singular.

St. Paul taught us this just last week. Do you remember when he said, “Sin entered the world by one man, and death by sin, and death spread over all men, because all have sinned.” (Romans 5:12)

And five minutes from now … when the current crises will be forgotten … the ground will yield newer, and even deadlier, thorns to make us bleed and cry out for redemption. And God who is rich in mercy will give yet once again: He will deliver us from evil.

And so whatever your ailment today: Do not forget to breathe.

It’s easy to do, breathing that is, whenever Jesus is speaking; and speaking he is. Today. To us. Right here. Right now.

It is why we come to God’s house in the first place: to hear Jesus speak to us.

To hear him say: I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. This may not seem crucial today (though it should), But a time comes to every life when there will be nothing more precious!

We need to hear those words every day because we still have flesh that is addicted to sin, that loves the praise of the culture and that is a dupe for any irrational scheme that the devil whispers into our ears.

These three: sin, death and devil conspire against us as we strive with our whole heart and soul and mind and strength to: present our members to God for righteousness.

This obstruction is nothing new. But we have a number of divine Words today that make us wiser and stronger than our foes.

Consider what the Prophet Jeremiah, who lived 3,600 years ago, still teaches the church in today’s Old Testament lesson, “But the LORD is with me as a dread warrior, therefore my persecutors will stumble and not be able to vanquish me; for they shall fail utterly; their humiliation will never be forgotten.” (Jeremiah 20:11)

And then there is the Psalm of the day, Psalm 91:

9 Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place –
the Most Highs, who is my refuge –
10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
no plague come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the adder;
the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.
14 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him:
I will protect him, because he knows my name.”

And there is the Mighty Word of Jesus which is like a shield and buckler for the baptized when he says:

“Do not be afraid of those who can kill the body, but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both body and soul in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny; and yet not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's permission. As for you the very hairs of your head are all numbered; and so do not be afraid: you are worth more than many sparrows.”

But still, fear God who can destroy both body and soul in hell.

That may not sound very re-assuring as we take inventory of our lives, in the light of the Ten Commandments. But O how soothing it is!

Soothing because God has redeemed us from sin, death and devil by the cross as St. Paul writes in Romans 5:6 “For while we were still weak, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly.”

Soothing because we know the score. Consoling because we know where salvation is found! And so we do not live in ignorance or blindness or denial or bury our heads in the sand at realities that everyone knows, and everyone dreads.

What is the proof? People are afraid to die!

Terrified to stand before the bar of perfect and eternal justice where every cover-up will be uncovered; and every secret sin revealed.

And so hear the proverb and form your life by it: “Fear God and you need not fear anything else.” For you are worth more than many sparrows.

But just in case you don’t feel ready to face another week of spiritual warfare hear this final word from St. Paul which will serve as both sword and shield for you.

“So you also! You must consider yourselves dead as regards sin, and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin, therefore, reign in your mortal body, obeying its passions. Do not present your members as instruments of evil leading to sin. But present yourselves to God as those who have been brought back from death to life; and your members as instruments of righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you since you are not under the Law but under Grace. (Romans 6:11-14)

Today we are doing just that. “Presenting” ourselves before God as St. Paul exhorts . It is what the baptized do. We present ourselves, body and soul, every fiber, every member to the Triune God into whom, and into whose name, we are baptized. That is the gift of God St. Paul references. The gift of God that imparts eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Amen.