INI + AMEN.
Who’s the true God? It sounds like an easy enough question, but, in our world today, is it really? A lot of times it’s hard for us to be definite about our answer. Maybe we fumble for words. When I ask, “Who’s the true God,” isn’t it hard not to just say, “Well, God is”? But generic “god” talk isn’t really that helpful. For one, it’s not really what the Bible does. And two, just believing there’s some big powerful being or force that controls everything doesn’t save anyone.
I always bring this question up with the confirmands. After a little bit of Bible teaching, it’s an easy question for them to answer. I’d put them on the spot, but it’s not time for questioning…yet—that day is coming. And really it is an easy answer, and should be an easy one for all of us who are Christians. In fact, it’s as easy as the Sunday School answer. Who’s the true God? Jesus is. That’s what our Gospel text is all about.
THE FLESH AND BLOOD JESUS IS GOD HIMSELF.
((I. This Jesus cleanses and saves.))
Now, this Jesus: flesh and blood Jesus who walked around Palestine some 2,000 years ago was a famous guy. Lots of people had heard of Him. Lots of people came to see Him, to hear Him preach, and there were also lots of people who came to be healed by Him. That’s the case of the 10 lepers in our text. They had leprosy and had to live in communities by themselves outside of towns and cities. They had to avoid people so that they didn’t infect others with their leprosy. It’s why they stand far away from Jesus.
Anyway, they ask Jesus to have mercy. They heard about Him and what He did, and they had some faith. “Jesus, Master, have mercy upon us.” Jesus does! He sends them off, and, as they’re going, they’re cleansed! He sends them to the priests to show they’d been cleansed. That’s Jesus’ mercy. His mercy is cleansing, and His cleansing is saving. Faith clings to that Jesus. The merciful Jesus. The only Jesus there is: the flesh and blood Jesus. That’s what Jesus says about this Samaritan leper. “Arise, go your way. Your faith has saved you.“
You, too, have heard of this Jesus. A real person. Flesh and blood. You’ve heard of what He’s done, and what He’s done for you. He does the same thing for you that He did for the 10 lepers. He cleanses you. He saves you. He dies for you. His flesh is pierced and His blood shed to save you from your sins. He rises from the dead! Now, He’s cleansed you from your sins in the waters of Holy Baptism. So, you’re washed, cleansed, spotless, pure, holy. And Jesus (real person, with real flesh and blood) delivers His mercy to you today with the very same flesh and blood. Faith clings to that Jesus. So, if you have faith that clings to Jesus, that means you trust Him. Faith receives from Jesus, and so if you trust Him, you receive from Him the mercy that He’s handing out.
((II. We worship this Jesus.))
There is no other God besides Jesus. He’s the true God. By faith in Him, by trusting Him, we fulfill the First Commandment: “You shall have no other gods.” Now, don’t misunderstand. I could talk about how Jesus, since He‘s the eternal Son of God, reveals the Father, and how the Holy Spirit is sent from, or as we just confessed, “proceeds from the Father and the Son,” but that’s not really what this text is all about. This text is all about how the flesh and blood Jesus, who walked around Palestine 2,000 years ago, is really God.
“Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned and, with a loud voice, glorified God and fell face down at His feet, giving Him thanks.” Who’s feet did the Samaritan fall down at? What I read before and what’s on your bulletin say, “Jesus’ feet,” but that misses Luke’s point. It really just says, “His feet.”
Now, you might be thinking, “So what, pastor?” Well, let me rephrase it so you catch it, “The Samaritan returned glorifying God and fell down at His feet.” He falls down at God’s feet! Jesus confirms it when He says, “Was no one found who would return to give glory to God except this foreigner?” The man was worshiping Jesus, giving Him thanks, and Jesus says that this man was glorifying God. He was! Because He was glorifying Jesus!
Faith moves you to this Jesus. Faith always looks to Jesus, always trusts Him, always looks to Him for more of the gifts that Jesus wants to hand out. And there’s no other Jesus that faith clings to besides the flesh and blood Jesus who’s God. True faith doesn’t think Jesus is some starting point to something else or someone you can walk away from. Receive Baptism and then nothing else. True faith doesn’t receive the Word for a little bit, and then move on to better things, replace Him, or put other things, things of your everyday life, before Him: work, family, sports, money, whatever else. True faith doesn’t do that! True faith seeks Jesus where He’s promised to be.
You see, Jesus is the starting and ending point of faith. He’s the Alpha and the Omega. He was for the Samaritan. His faith drove him to seek mercy (cleansing and salvation) from no one else besides Jesus, and, when he’d received that mercy, He goes back to Jesus for more! He recognizes Jesus as the merciful God, the God who gives mercy. He worshiped that Jesus, worshiped Him as God, because that’s exactly who Jesus is.
The fact that we trust Jesus moves us to worship Him, to receive more gifts from Him—the gifts He wants to give! True faith rejoices and gives thanks for the blessings and benefits of Baptism. True faith doesn’t let anything stand in the way of hearing another Word from Jesus. True faith won’t cling to anything else than Jesus, flesh and blood Jesus, who comes to deliver His flesh and blood to us in His Supper for the forgiveness of your sins. There’s mercy delivered to you. True faith does this because true “faith clings to Jesus Christ alone, who did for all the world atone” with His death and resurrection. That means, if you have faith, then you trust Jesus and receive what He has to give because He is the merciful God, the God who delivers cleansing and salvation.
It really is a simple question with a simple answer. Who’s the true God? Jesus is! Jesus claimed to be God, and, by His resurrection from the dead, He proved it to be true. There’s only one Jesus: the flesh and blood Jesus. It’s this Jesus we trust. We worship this Jesus. We receive from Him: Water, Word, Flesh and Blood—mercy, forgiveness FOR YOU!
So, when your out in your day to day life, you can be definite when your friends, family members, coworkers, classmates, or anyone is talking about “God.” Generic “god” talk won’t do. It didn’t for the Samaritan or Jesus. Jesus is God. Flesh and blood Jesus is God. He died. He rose from the dead! For you. For those you encounter daily. For the whole world.
INI + AMEN.