Sermons

Advent 3 (Mt 11:2–10)

December 11, 2016
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

INI + AMEN.

Today’s Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is Latin for “Rejoice!” It’s from the first word of the Introit. All the Latin names that we have come from out Introits. Today’s is Gaudete. Rejoice! As in “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again will I say, rejoice!”

((5. Oops!: We all have doubts.))

That’s easier said than done, though. Isn’t it? Especially when we’re going through trouble and hard times. Not only do they get us down—that’s bad enough. We get run down, spent, stressed, grumpy, sad. But’s it’s worse than that.

I’d ask for a show of hands, but I’m pretty sure I know the results. How many of you have doubts about your faith? We all do! Pastors, parents, young, and old. When the going gets tough, “the devil, the world, and our sinful nature deceive us and mislead us into false belief.” We sin. We doubt God. We doubt His Word. We doubt Jesus. We doubt that He’s risen from the dead.

When we’re surrounded by death and trouble, we get blasted, bombarded, burdened with doubts. This happens because when we have trouble, we lose sight of Jesus. It’s doesn’t matter what the problem is, that’s the result. We might try to console and comfort ourselves by saying, “Well, everyone has doubts,” but that really isn’t comfort at all. It just shows how faithless we all are, how riddled and overcome and full of doubt we all are.

((4. Ugh!: John had doubts.))

Even John the Baptist isn’t a good example for overcoming doubt. He’s not even a good example for avoiding doubt! John the Baptist! The final prophet who was filled with the Spirit even from the womb so that he could greet the Lord Himself! Listen to what Jesus says about him, He is “more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.’” That’s the guy doubting and questioning.

He’s the one asking the question. “He sent word <u>through</u> his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” “Are you really the Savior? Are you really the Messiah?” What could produce such doubt? How could this happen to such a great man? The last Prophet even! Well, “John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ.” In the middle of trouble, rotting away in prison before his beheading, John lost sight of Jesus. He was also misled into false belief.

This isn’t meant for us to think, “Well, it’s okay for us to doubt because John did.” No, doubt is a fruit of the devil. It’s to get us to see that there is no getting over it, no working harder, no getting rid of doubt yourself. That’s what we like to think. Well, we don’t like to think it, but we think that’s how it works. If you have doubts, well, work at it, say the right prayer, or whatever.

We don’t want to doubt, and then we do, but we don’t know what to do then. The reality is: there’s nothing we can do! Later Jesus says, “among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist.” If he has doubts, well, what hope do you and I have?

If you’ve never had doubts like this, well, then thank God that He has worked and given such a gift to. He’s the source of such great faith. But for those of us who have had doubts, or for those of you having doubts right now, today, what’s to be done? What can we do?

Nothing. We do nothing. This gives us the true reason to have Gaudete, Rejoice Sunday—Pink candle—pink clothes, and all! What dispels and drives away our doubt? Our doubts about our faith, our Lord, and His Word? Well,

((3. Aha!:)) THE DOUBTS WE HAVE ABOUT OUR LORD ARE BANISHED BY HIS WORKS AND WORD.

That’s what He gives for John, “Go and tell John what you hear and see.” It’s the same for you too.

THE DOUBTS WE HAVE ABOUT OUR LORD ARE BANISHED BY HIS WORKS AND WORD.

That’s all that He gives. He knows it’s enough. He knows it will work. It’s the only thing that will work! He knows that, too. It’s not just how He wants to banish our doubts, but it’s how He WILL do it.

THE DOUBTS WE HAVE ABOUT OUR LORD ARE BANISHED BY HIS WORKS AND WORD.

((2. Whee!: His works really happened.))

Why does He do this with His works? Well, they are a sign and proof that Jesus is who He says He is: our God and Savior. Confirmation for John’s faith and destruction of his doubt are the same thing: Jesus’ works. Certainly the works recorded in our text: “the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.” But we are more blessed than John. We have even more works that we know Jesus actually did: He died and rose.

Maybe you’re going through some trouble now, or maybe you’ve gone through some in the past, or maybe you’re even worrying and doubting ahead of time! Your trouble is real. So’s your doubt. As much as that’s real, Jesus being alive right now is real!

Fear, doubt, and sorrow can’t stick around in the face the real, historical resurrection of Jesus. That’s why Jesus uses His works to testify this way. Because He knows that the real things He did will drive away your real doubt. He’s really alive.

((1. Yeah!: Then His Word rings true.))

But He doesn’t just stop with His works. “God and tell John what you hear…the poor have the good news preached to them.” That’s John. That’s you and me. Jesus preaches His Gospel, His Good News. His Gospel is that all of the real things He did, He did for you. They count for you. He did them in your place, in my place, in John’s place.

Not only that, His Word of Gospel isn’t “do better.” “Stop your doubting.” “Knock it off.” Yes, we should repent of our doubt, our unbelief. Of course we should do that. We know that! But “a bruised reed He will not break.” He doesn’t break John. John may not have been a reed shaking in the desert wind, but he was certainly a smoldering wick in his prison cell. “A faintly burning wick he will not quench.”

That’s His promise to John and to you. This isn’t just “pie in the sky” or “castle in the clouds” sort of thinking. No, Jesus’ real deeds back up and give life to His real promises. That you’re baptized. Nothing changes that. Nothing. Sometimes it’s all you’ve got, but that’s certainly enough. “He will never leave you nor forsake you.” Your heavenly Father loves you and truly is your heavenly Father because you’re baptized.

His absolution is for you. It’s a sure and certain word. Not just here in the divine service. Whenever you hear that Word of forgiveness “from the pastor as from God himself,” as the Catechism says, “it is just as valid and certain even in heaven as if Christ, your dear Lord, dealt with you Himself.”

He binds you to Himself. His body and blood. It’s real. His Word is true. Resurrection delivered! Jesus’ true body. Doubt gone! JESUS’ true blood. The you’ll be raised on the Last Day! No ifs, ands, or buts about it.

We have doubts. We don’t like them. We repent of them. But in just His way Jesus deals with them.

THE DOUBTS WE HAVE ABOUT OUR LORD ARE BANISHED BY HIS WORKS AND WORD.

Gaudete! Rejoice! “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again will I say, rejoice!”

INI + AMEN.

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