Sermons

1 Samuel 21:1–7

April 5, 2017
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

Who receives this sacrament worthily? (LSB 327)

Fasting and bodily preparation are certainly fine outward training. But that person is truly worthy and well prepared who has faith in these words: “Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.”

But anyone who does not believe these words or doubts them is unworthy and unprepared, for the words “for you” require all hearts to believe.

INI + AMEN.

Well, we’ve entered the 4th quarter of Lent. We actually entered it on Sunday, and that means a couple things. It means the crosses being covered. It also means that the “Glory be to the Father” gets omitted from the end of Psalms and Canticles like the magnificat. Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Pastor, the crosses weren’t covered on Sunday, and I’m pretty sure we sung ‘Glory be to the Father’ a couple times.” Well, you’re right. They weren’t, and we did. So, now you get something else that’s true in the 4th quarter of Lent: it could also be called the “Lenten Fog.” By this point pastors lose their voices, forget things, maybe even get a little cooky.

So, why do these things? Cover the crosses, and not sing “Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit?” Well, Lent’s a time of repentance, and when we’re serious about it, we recognize the complete love and mercy of God, our heavenly Father. We recognize this because when we consider our sinfulness, our separation from God, and that He had no obligation on His part to do anything about that—well, it’s then that we recognize how unworthy we really are. We have nothing. And left to ourselves, there would be only darkness. We’d have the God revealed nature: the god not only of majestic mountains, but of tornados, floods, and mudslides. Truly darkness.

But worthiness is exactly where we are this evening. That’s what you just confessed. So, who exactly receives this sacrament worthily? Well, it all comes down to faith. “That person is truly worthy and well prepared who has faith in these words: ‘Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.’” Is it really that simple? Yes, it is. “Whoever believes these words has exactly what they say: ‘forgiveness of sins.’” You confessed that last week.

How can this be so? How can it be so easy? Well, that’s because it all has to with JESUS. JESUS makes you worthy. His death for you paid for all your sins. His resurrection for you made you right with the Father. Now, you don’t just a have a god who hides behind beautiful trees or earthquakes and storms. No, now you have a heavenly Father, who loves you on the basis of what His Son has done FOR YOU. What the Son has done FOR YOU is the basis for what makes you worthy to receive that salvation when He delivers it TO YOU.

FOR YOU and TO YOU it’s all Jesus. Faith clings to Him. Faith justifies and makes you worthy “not because it is such a good work or because it is so beautiful a virtue.” (SD III.13) It justifies, it makes you worthy “because it lays hold of and receives Christ’s merit in the promise of the Holy Gospel.” (SD III.13) So, faith makes you worthy because Jesus makes you worthy, and that’s it.

Jesus gives His Word and Gifts: “This is My body, given for you; This is My blood, shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” Faith says, “Amen,” and receives not only what Christ gives (His body and blood) but also receives the benefits (the forgiveness of sins).

What about the unworthy? Who’s not worthy? Who shouldn’t receive the sacrament except to their great harm? Those who don’t have faith. What we’ve been singing these Wednesday nights is true: “They who this word do not believe This food unworthily receive, Salvation here will never find— May we this warning keep in mind!” That’s what you just confessed too: But anyone who does not believe these words or doubts them is unworthy and unprepared, for the words “for you” require all hearts to believe.

So it all comes down to faith. Faith given by the Spirit. Do you trust Jesus and what He says and gives? Then you’re worthy. You’re prepared to receive Jesus’ body and blood for the forgiveness of your sins. As often as you receive it, you receive the benefits. It’s not anything you do. It’s all Jesus’ doing and giving. He did the dying and rising. He gave the faith. Now that faith receives His body and blood and the forgiveness and says, “Amen.” Gift received!

“There is only one kind of unworthy guests: those who do not believe.” (EP VII.18) “Whoever believes these words has exactly what they: forgiveness of sins.” (SC VI.5) “No true believer, however weak he may be, receives the Holy Supper to his judgment. For the Supper was instituted especially for Christians weak in faith, yet repentant. It was instituted for their consolation and to strengthen their weak faith.” (EP VII.19) “All the worthiness of guests of this heavenly feast is and is founded on Christ’s most holy obedience and perfect merit alone. We receive these for ourselves by true faith, and by the Sacrament we are assured of them. Our worthiness is not at all in our virtues or inward and outward preparations.” (EP VII.20) But they are certainly “fine outward training.” (SC VI.5)

Yes, we’re in the fourth quarter. Sometimes pastors call audibles, and forget the playbook. Things get serious. We cover the crosses. We don’t sing our “Glory be to the Fathers.” This is all fine outward training. It teaches the faith. The only thing that will make almost all of our Lenten training go away is next Thursday. The day we remember when Jesus gave us the Supper of His body and blood that gives us the forgiveness of sins.

We’re worthy. By trusting Jesus and His Word you’re worthy. “At this heavenly meal the worthiness of guests comes [not] from people’s outward preparation.” (SD VII.38) “True believers, who have and hold a true, living, pure faith in Christ, can[not] receive this Sacrament to their judgment.” (SD VII.39) Thanks be to God for that! It’s all gift and salvation. Just like David receiving the bread of presence that he shouldn’t have been able to receive. No being pure did it. It was all mercy and grace. You, too! It’s all JESUS FOR YOU and TO YOU.

Who receives this sacrament worthily?

Fasting and bodily preparation are certainly fine outward training. But that person is truly worthy and well prepared who has faith in these words: “Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.”

But anyone who does not believe these words or doubts them is unworthy and unprepared, for the words “for you” require all hearts to believe.

INI + AMEN.

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