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What Shall I Render To The Lord

October 17, 2020 Pastor: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Verse: Isaiah 45:1–45:4

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Christ Lutheran Church
Cleveland, Ohio
October 18, 2020
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Pentecost 20
What Shall I Render To The Lord?

Thus says the LORD to his Messiah; To Cyrus whose right hand I have strengthened; to subdue nations before him! To strip the armor of kings! And to fling open the doors before him; so that the gates will no longer be closed.

I will go before him and level all that is raised up!

The doors of bronze I will shatter, and the bars of iron I will cut into pieces.

And I will present to you hidden treasures, and the hoards held in secret places that you may know that I am the LORD who calls you by name, even the God of Israel. For the sake of my worshiper, Jacob, and Israel my Chosen I, I myself, call you by your name though you do not know me. (Isaiah 45:1-3)

Cyrus, of whom we learn in today’s Old Testament lesson, is a type of Christ; a figure of God’s Messiah to come; and for this reason Isaiah boldly names Cyrus “my Messiah!”

Now that will sound as strange to Christian ears, as it did to Jewish ones, because we know and believe that Jesus is the promised Christ, the promised Messiah, anointed by God to free his people from their sins … we are those people.

There are many parallels between Cyrus who was the glorious king of the mighty Persian empire; and our Lord who was born of the Blessed Virgin Mary in a stable 5 centuries later.

Both were God’s agents! That in itself may seem remarkable! But God is able to do that; able to make even pagan kings serve His ends. And so rejoice, rejoice believers because if God is for us who can be against us?

Both were sent to strip kings of their powers: Cyrus to break down the walls of Babylon which held God’s people prisoner! And Jesus to storm the powers of death and hell, in order to redeem us from the same.

God promised Cyrus that he would place the vast wealth, and hidden treasures of Babylon, into his hands. But to Christ he gives the treasure of all humanity to be his baptismally-cleansed Bride!

Don’t listen to the bald lies of so-called science. You are God’s own, treasured, peculiar and unique creation, the progeny not of apes, monkeys or primordial slime – how depressing! How demeaning! But you are born of God’s own seed O son of Adam, and share the very “substance of God” by your Eucharistic union with the flesh of Christ.

As God took Cyrus by the right hand to lead him into all victory for his (God’s) own name’s sake, and the salvation of his Israel; even so God took the Man he sent into this world, his One and Only Son, by the right hand and led him to conquer all obstacles.

And O what obstacles there were!

We have been hearing of them in the gospel readings for the last several Sundays, and now again today. The Pharisees, along with their sworn enemies the Herodians, join forces against Jesus. They obviously knew the old saying that, “My enemy’s enemy, is my friend.” And so they lay aside their differences for a common cause, to “entrap” Jesus into a capital crime.

They questioned him like a Supreme Court Nominee!

But they could get no where because God had instilled the Spirit of Wisdom into his Messiah, and no man could refute it: for as Holy Scripture says, “The foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom men.”

And so when the Lord answered their question they were flummoxed and flabberhasted, but also deeply, deeply amazed! Their heads swam with wonder as to who exactly this Messiah of God was!

But Cyrus was also unlike Jesus in that Cyrus was only a man, not the God/Man that Jesus is. And so he had no power of his own, no glory of his own, but only whatever God had given him to do the job assigned.

Cyrus was also unlike Jesus in that he did not know God. He was unaware of the “true and living God” (1 Thess. 1:10) and worshiped dumb idols who could neither hear, nor see, nor talk, nor help when Cyrus pleaded for their aid.

But Jesus did know God. Knew him intimately because he is the Divine Son, God’s eternal Word, God’s Lamb and Priest who restored lost humanity to its true Father.

God is that Father, you are that humanity!

Indeed our Lord says in Saint Matthew, “no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” (Mt. 11:27)

Now, getting directly to today’s gospel the first thing we should know is that the Lord is not giving a civics lesson today. Scripture teaches elsewhere that Christians must pay taxes, but this is not the place. Something far loftier is being revealed here.

The question they asked, “is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar," was a loaded question! and Jesus knew it and easily answered it! But it is the second part of his answer that we need to consider today. A truth that all men should hear and heed, “Render unto God the things that are God’s.”

“Render unto God the things that are God’s.”

But how is that done? The question is answered in today’s Psalm (96:8-9) where Israel prays,

Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
bring an offering, and come into his courts!

What offering?

There is only one, dear Christians. Only one Offering by which sinful man can approach Holy God in peace. Only one that avails and it is the very Offering that God first gave to us. (1 John 4:19) “His Son to be the propitiation for our sins!” (1 John 2:2)

In the Old Testament people made peace with God by bloody animal sacrifices – which prefigured the flesh of Jesus on the cross. And by grain and drink offerings – which prefigured the Eucharist. But in these last days the church offers Christ to God in this Holy Communion that we offer today!

Not as immolation, but as an oblation. That is to say: not by a new death be it bloody or unbloody. But “in remembrance” of “the death he died, once, for all.” (Rom. 6:10)

Yes, Jesus the Messiah is our offering as we approach God in Holy Worship each Sunday seeking his blessing.

Jesus the Messiah is our offering as we grasp God's right hand day by day on our pilgrimage to heaven (endlessly assaulted by sin, death and Satan).

Jesus the Messiah is our offering, and solid Rock on which, and by which we stand, before the awesome throne on the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord.

Yes, “Jesus Christ my sure defense,” (LSB #741) “who delivers us from the wrath to come.” (1 Thes. 1:10) “Faith lives upon no other.” (LSB #458)

And so now in Holy Communion, and by the Holy Life that proceeds from this Holy Communion, let us also: Render unto God the things that are God’s. Jesus
the Messiah. Amen.