Reformation Day!

“This Is Eternal Life!!”

John 17:1–12

In Jesus Name

May the grace, mercy and peace of God envelop you, for you have been entrusted into Christ’s care!

Regret the Necessity

In a novel about the formation of the Green Beret, the commandant of the Special Warfare Center says the following to an officer applying to the program.  “That could be our motto here, that we do a lot of things we regret are necessary.”

I think it is a good description of the Reformation as well. Picture Luther, standing before a trial which called him to recant from that which he found so comforting, which brought so much peace to his tormented soul.  His words are not so much bravado, he knew he was testifying before those who could take his life.  Yet, without any contradiction from the scriptures and clear reason, he had to stand, there was nothing he could do otherwise.

It was something he regretted was necessary.

Not just for his own peace, but that the people of God could have revealed to them the love of God, the desire of God that not one should perish, but that all should come to repentance.  For that, for the moment was hidden,
Hear again the words from Jesus high priestly prayer from our gospel reading:

17:1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. John 17:1-3 (ESV)

On this day, as we remember the faithfulness of God, who revealed to us the name by which we are saved – may we realize why we regret the reformation, and why it was necessary.

During this prayer of Jesus, what is known as the high priestly prayer, there are a number of recurring themes – recurring phrases that are incredibly powerful.  As we hear one of them, we find our reason to regret the necessity of the reformation.

Jesus prayered, “Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.   John 17:11-12 (ESV)

The saddest of the unforeseen consequences of the Reformation is that today the one holy church is fractured  into some 40,000 pieces.  The church isn’t one, and perhaps because of it, we’ve lost focus on what makes her holy, what makes her praises pure, what makes her orthodox.

As we battle, Lutherans against Catholics, Methodists against Presbyterians, Baptists against Baptists and everyone else while they are at it, we’ve become a spiritual football conference, all excited by the baptisms here, but not the baptisms next door. It has become to easy in this day, if we don’t like what the pastor says, if we don’t like how close the sermon comes to calling us to repentance, to move to the church down the street.  Our faith is fractured, because we’ve lost sight of Christ, and that our unity is found in our baptism, our unity is found in the Name above all other names, not the name on the outside of our church.

And even as we hear the cry for unity, we understand that there is a time for a stand like Martin Luther’s, or like the families who left Germany to come to Misery in order to keep the focus on Jesus, and on His work.  But we also acknowledge that many of our divisions are for lesser reasons, reasons that don’t bring comfort and peace to those horrified by the consequences of sin.

We regret that it was necessary, this reformation, for the division it causes. Even as we rejoice that God is with us, that His church will prevail against the very gates of Hell.


The Necessity,

The reason that it was necessary to see the church reformed is also found in this same passage.

17:1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. John 17:1-3 (ESV)

We trust in God, we have faith alone in Christ for this very thing.   That in Christ we have been given eternal life, which is that we know, intimately know the only true God, our Father.  The one whom we live with forever and ever.  Not just in heaven, but even now.

That nothing can separate us from Him and His love, shown to us in Christ.  That it has been given to us, not conditionally, not with certain requirements for us to meet prior to our entrance.  We don’t have to merit it, it is not our work that will get us there. It is Christ’s, it is the Father’s.  Later in this prayer, Jesus prays

17:20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.   John 17:20-24 (ESV)

That is the message that is so necessary to get out – so necessary for people to hear, because it changes everything.  It gives us hope for today, and for eternity,

It is what we are about. It’s about eternal life.  It’s about trusting in God, it’s about knowing Him, having a relationship with Him.  Believing in Him for the impossible.

Even if that means we have to do what we regret is necessary.

The Hope

In preparing for this sermon, I came across this quote, as you hear it think about what it says, and what church they pastor:

The upcoming Year of Faith is a “summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the One Savior of the world” (Porta Fidei 6). In other words, the Year of Faith is an opportunity for Catholics (the church) to experience a conversion – to turn back to Jesus and enter into a deeper relationship with him. The “door of faith” is opened at one’s baptism, but during this year Catholics (the church is) are called to open it again, walk through it and rediscover and renew their relationship with Christ and his Church.

If a Lutheran wrote it, I wouldn’t be surprised – but it was written by another German – a Catholic one – Pope Benedict XVI.  As I read this, I think I heard a smile and perhaps a giggle from Luther.  The church, not just the Lutheran church, and not just Rome, but also among the Anglicans, the Presbyterians, even the Baptists, in these anxiety ridden days is being brought back to Jesus, is being reformed.  We are starting to remember that this is about Jesus.

Maybe there is hope – but if wasn’t for a young pastor in Germany a half minute ago in God’s timing – it might not have happened.

He did what He regretted was necessary, and people found grace and peace because of it.   A grace and peace we need to bring to the world, for they need to know this as well as we do – that we’ve been brought into the love of God, the love

That’s what it’s about – this eternal life in Christ.

For we are His…

And in Him we have peace, peace that passes all understanding, that guards our hearts and minds, in Christ Jesus.  AMEN.

About justifiedandsinner

I am a pastor of a Concordia Lutheran Church in Cerritos, California, where we rejoice in God's saving us from our sin, and the unrighteousness of the world. It is all about His work, the gift of salvation given to all who trust in Jesus Christ, and what He has done that is revealed in Scripture. God deserves all the glory, honor and praise, for He has rescued and redeemed His people.

Posted on October 28, 2012, in Sermons and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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