In That Hour
September 5, 2020 Pastor: Rev. Dean Kavouras
Christ Lutheran Church
September 6, 2020
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras
In That Hour
“In that hour the disciples came to Jesus and asked him, ‘Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?’” Matthew 18:1
In today’s gospel lesson we encounter an actual liturgy in progress between Christ and his people; and the first thing we should remember today if we wish to understand today’s gospel is that as often as Scripture uses the word “hour” it is not making a reference to time, but to an EVENT! and that is all important!
Especially THIS HOUR. THIS EVENT which is the most consequential that any person could ever attend; for it is an encounter with Christ. Holy Communion with Jesus. and “truly, truly I say to you” there is nothing better than that!
Dear Christians, this is our place!
Boxers go to rings, ball players to stadiums, NASCAR drivers to tracks, but the Lord’s disciples go to church.
But O what endless wonder there is in those simple words, “I’m going to church.” Because when you do, you leave the world, and assume your place in the Kingdom of Heaven where you are GREAT because of Christ.
For you see this is THE EVENT. THE TIME and PLACE where Jesus intervenes into the affairs of men, Bodily. And O how we need his intervention!
Now just for the madness out there, but for the madness in here! The symptoms of sin and death which ARE at work within our bodies, minds, souls, spirits; and that render us truly pitiable creatures!
The fire of guilt that burn in our bellies.
The fear of today, and uncertainty of tomorrow.
But above all God’s judgment: a fear that every sinner feels, even the redeemed ones; and those who object the loudest believe it the most.
Yes, there is plenty wrong out there and in here today!
Turning our thoughts outward today the church will remember in her prayer Detective James Skernivitz who “layed down his life for his friends” as Jesus teaches us all to do. And Patrol Officer Nicholas Sabo whose demons tormented him to death; many of which came from the job he swore to do.
O how we need Communion with The Holy One of God to trump all sin, all death, all sorrow, all devil, all accusation, all earthly cares, and make us immortal like Jesus.
This is the EVENT and there is no other, Beloved, and so come! Do not let fear of a virus, or any other threat stop you for, “The Spirit and the Bride say, Come!” (Rev. 22:17) Come to Jesus. Come to him here.
Let us also be aware of who it was that came to Jesus that day, and who comes to him today.
It is a word we hear often in church but what does it mean?
A disciple, by definition, is a student! Not simply a distant follower, or hanger-on, but a disciple is an avid student who wants to learn all there is to learn about Jesus. All that did in his earthly ministry for our salvation. But also that he is doing now, in us, by His Spirit. And all he will do “forever and ever” so that we may endlessly share in his exalted life.
Do the math! Is there any greater end that a man could desire than to be finished with the wickedness that Ezekiel condemns in today’s Old Testament lesson? Or the lawlessness that St. Paul denounces in today’s epistle? Or the laying of temptation before others, that our Lord so roundly reviles in today’s gospel?
Understand that if you pledge allegiance to BLM you are condoning murder, arson, theft, assault, lawlessness and all the things St. Paul teaches against today.
A Christian cannot lend her moral support to that, any more than she can engage in it. To God all lives matter, and there is no room for competing slogans no matter how well-intentioned.
To God all lives matter and it is for this reason that St. John confidently confesses that: God so loved THE WORLD, that he gave his One and Only Son; not to condemn it, but to save it. (John 3:16-18)
And though the cross, and the Lord’s death-defying resurrection are one time events: the distribution of blessings he obtained for us there will go on to the end of the age for as many as want what Jesus gives.
Lastly let us notice that the disciples asked Jesus a question, but what we see here is not, as we said above, an academic hour, but rather a case of first century Christian liturgy in progress. A back and forth conversation between God and his people: just like we do today.
Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?
It is none other than Jesus himself!
He is the Greatest!
But unless you become like this “little child” whom Isaiah prophesied would “lead us,” (Is. 11:6) you cannot enter the greatest kingdom of all.
True, Jesus used an actual child to demonstrate the point. He placed him in their midst, even as he himself is in our midst today (Mt. 18:20). And we can learn something from this child who, according to church tradition, was named Ignatius. And who grew up to become the Bishop of Antioch in Syria, and a famous teacher and martyr of the church who is still read and studied today.
That is what happens when we bring our children to Jesus, our infants to holy baptism, they become great in the Kingdom of Heaven.
What is it that Jesus sees in a child? Many things, but most important a child is fully reliant on his mother; and apart from her he dies. He only knows how to do one thing. Pray by crying, and depend on her to hear his prayer and satisfy his needs with her boundless love, her nourishment and her life.
Let us always be as helpless as infants before God, in this respect; that we should rely on him for every need of body and soul.
But let us not remain children, except as regards evil. (1 Cor. 14:20) But instead let us: attain to the unity of the faith, to the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,
Then we, too, will be faithful disciples of Jesus. Amen.