Christ Lutheran Church
October 17, 2021
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras
It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God. And now they were, if possible, even more astonished, and said to one another, "Who then can be saved." Gazing upon them Jesus said, "With man this is impossible. But not for God; for all things are possible for God." (Mark 10:25-27)
The gospel readings we heard over the last few weeks have provided us with a storehouse of spiritual health and wealth. We have grown wiser, stronger, and more determined to let the gospel be our guiding light everyday. We have become more confident as well – certain that our dark sins, every last one of them, is purged by the Cup of the New Testament that cheers us, and gives us rest.
The gospels we have heard over the last weeks have also counter-acted the irrational “wisdom” of culture by teaching: faith in God; the primacy of eternal life over this short pilgrimage; the sanctity of marriage and the blessings of children.
The other thing that we learned over the last few weeks is how to interpret Scripture.
No, you should not cut off your hand, or pluck out your eye if it causes you to sin.
No, you should not sell all that you have and give it to the poor.
Jesus is making very strong point here, but the take away is not self-harm, but cutting sin out of your life and cultivating holiness.
No! You must not harm your body!
When tattoos and bling first came out it seemed like a passing fancy; and while such things might be used in moderation and modesty, do not deface your Holy Body; made Sacred by Baptism; kept holy by the Word of God that washes over it here every Lord’s Day, and by the flesh and blood of Christ that enters into it.
Has what started off innocently enough become a pagan ritual? A form of self-glorification? A rejection of the beauty of the human form, whose image is Christ? Or even self-mutilation?
No! You must not harm your body! Especially your sexuality. It does not matter if a boy has felt like a girl for as long as he can remember, or a girl like a boy. People have many strong feelings, and are often confused. Especially the young! Overwhelming desires for things that are unsafe to act upon, and that we must not act upon because of God’s Word.
People might make us so angry that we want to lash out at them, say things that we can never take back, strike them, hurt them, harm them, maybe even kill them – but we must not do that!
Or in these strange times a person might fall in love with his dog, and wish to marry it, and attempt to start a family. What?!
Don’t believe everything you think; and don’t trust your urges if they are un-natural, illogical or irrational.
And Oh how this age needs the gospel to restore us to reality; and liturgy to normality!
But we learned even more in the last few weeks from our gospel readings, namely how to interpret Scripture. We learned that the gospels can be heard on more than one level.
Jesus is the One who by cruel suffering had his hands and feet cut off, as it were, for our sins! So that we should be made spotless, enter into heaven whole, and not be tossed into Gehenna where the fire is unquenchable; but we can never die.
In Genesis Chapter Two God ordains holy matrimony. But to understand things aright we must realize that Jesus is the subject of Genesis Chapter Two.
He is the one who “left” his heavenly Father, and his earthly Mother, and went to Calvary where he, like Adam, was put into a deep sleep on the cross. Where he, like Adam, had his side opened, now by a Roman Spear, and out came the blood of the New Testament and the water of Blessed Baptism by which God forms the Woman, the Church, the Bride out of the Divine Man. You are that Bride.
Jesus is also the Rich Man who “sold” all that he owned and became poor to make us rich in the remission of sins, to restore our humanity to us, and to make us “children of the Heavenly Father” in good standing.
And now in today’s gospel Jesus is the Camel who passed through the eye of the needle, which is the cross, engorged with the sins of all men, to purge them, to squeeze the death out of them, and send them to hell where they will be perfectly at home!
And then, with no burden left to bear, he easily passed through the sealed tomb, and the locked doors, to give absolution, baptismal and Eucharistic peace to his disciples … which they have passed down to us today.
And so deep reverence is called for” as we hear these beautiful truths, lest by disbelief, we should harden our hearts, and fall under condemnation.
But look! Today you are here. Today you are standing on Holy Ground. Today Jesus comes to be with his church bodily. Today is the day he visits with his Betrothed and whispers words of love, life and gladness into her ears; and makes her head swim with the opulent future he has prepared for her.
And the Bride in turn sings the love song of His Liturgy, to Him, and to His Father who himself loves us, because we love his Son and believe he comes from God. (John 16:27)
Yes, what wondrous things we have received here in the last several weeks. The word of God. The thoughts of God. And Salvation by the incomparable power of God. Amen.