Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
INI + AMEN.
Receive. Give. Give, pass along what’s received. That’s what Paul did. He received from the Lord not just his calling as an apostle and pastor in Jesus’ Church. No, Paul also got the goods, received them, and he also delivered them.
We receive. We give. We pass along what we receive. That’s what we do, too. That’s the job, and we’re in the thick of it now. We’re reaching the two minute warning of Lent. We’re deep into passing along what we’ve received—all that Paul lists off for us: Jesus’ body and blood, the Gospel of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
We’ve received, and so we give. That’s why we’re here. That’s what we’ve been ordained and called by God to do. We pass on the Gospel. We preach. We pass on Jesus’ body and blood. We distribute the Lord’s Supper. It sounds simple, sounds easy. And in every possible way it is.
We’re just instruments. We’re just tools of the Holy Spirit. We’re His mouth-piece to preach what’s needed. He will make us His proper preachers through the school of experience. We’re not there yet, but nevertheless He uses us. We’re His hands, to deliver Jesus’ body and blood so that through that body and blood He can strengthen the saints in faith toward God and fervent, heartfelt love for one another.
We make it hard. We get in the way. We think it’s all about us and our giving. That’s why we get down on Lent, down on all the services, down on all the sermons, down on all the extra time. We’d lessen it if it were up to us. Because we’re so focused on ourselves, we fail see the gift. That more sermons means more time in the Word for us. That more services means more body and blood for us. That more services means more psalms, hymns, and Spirit-filed songs for us.
We’d say its gift. We’d say the Word and the Sacraments are a gift, but when it comes down to it, we make it the job. We focus so much on the giving, and our giving at that! every sermon and service has to be perfect, doesn’t it? Especially now! There’s people coming who you won’t see till Christmas. Oh, the pressure! What will I do? What will I say? How can I word it in such a way, that I’ll finally win them back after 1, 5, 10, 15 years!
We need to repent of all that. Repent of turning the Lord’s Gift-giving into being about the delivery man rather than the Gift and the Giver. We all do it! “The Spirit works faith where and when it pleases God in those who hear the Gospel.” He’s the Doer, not you. Jesus is the one who was crucified and raised for our making ministry all about our ministry!
Yes, we give. Called to do that. Ordained to do that. Much work to be done there. Much “fruitful ministry.” But giving is only part of the equation. In fact, receiving is, too. We could even make too much of that! If you’re receiving it, well, then it must have been given.
It is given! Given also for you. You and I are also in the “for you” of the Sacrament. You and I are also part of the “for us” of Christ’s death, the “for us” of His resurrection. You’ve been baptized into His death and resurrection. The Gospel is yours, too. Those who deliver are also on the receiving end of what the Lord’s done for them! That’s fantastic! The Lord Jesus gave up His life for you and for your ministry. He was raised to give life and light to you and your preaching. He delivers His body and blood to you, too! There He works more faith in you. He also enlivens heartfelt love within you for the people you deliver to.
Receive. Give. Give, pass along what’s received. That’s Paul. That you and me, too! But more than all that, it’s given. Given “from the Lord” Jesus as Paul says. Gospel given. Body and blood given. That’s what you have! He’s given it. You only have it because He gave it! It is yours.
So, put your big-boy vestments on, gentleman. We’re at the two-minute warning. But what you’re giving, is already yours superabundantly. Jesus has given it (Water, Word, Body and Blood) even unto the resurrection of your body on the Last Day.
INI + AMEN.