Trinity 17 (Lk 14, 1–11)

Photo by Maria Krasnova on Unsplash

Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || VIDEO

INI + AMEN.

You don’t need to get yourself out of the pit. You really don’t. I know it seems like you do. You try. It’s not just that you can’t. You just don’t need to!

But it’s also that you can’t. You’re incapable. Things just won’t work right for you to get out. Your body. Your soul. Your mind. Your strength. Your heart. Man with dropsy couldn’t really do anything about it. His heart problem was incurable. A kid in a well can’t get out. An ox in a cistern not only can’t get out on it’s own. It probably won’t even come willingly even when you try to help it!

You don’t have to claw your way to a better position. You don’t have to run the rat race of righteousness. You don’t have to put yourself before others. You don’t have to put on a front with God to get ahead. You don’t have to tear others down to do it either.

You can forgive them. No need to put your neighbor to shame. No need to reveal their secrets. No need to gospip. No need to bring them to court, and you certainly don’t need the jury of your friends or family to condemn that person. Go talk with them directly.

You’re not trying to best them anyway. You can’t best them. You’re in the same boat as them—sinner. You’re no better than them before God, and they’re not better or worse than you before God. You’re both sinners. The man with dropsy is equally as incapable as the examples Jesus gives. Whether it’s a kid in a well, an ox in a well, or a man with dropsy—none of them could save themselves.

But that doesn’t stop us from trying. The pharisees tried. Solomon warns against it in Proverbs 25. You think there’s someone you’re better than. Don’t try to deny or hide it. We put on a good game face, but I’d just need to say the right name to you all riled up. After all, we may defer the best place, it’s not good to be arrogant, after all, but we know the people who are at a lower place than us. “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled.” Humbled all the way to the Pit. “Pit”—Old Testament word for hell.

But maybe you’ve been wronged. Maybe someone left that pit open for you to fall into. The LORD Jesus didn’t put you there. Besides you’re not really in a pit. The person who put you there really is. Jesus would pull them out, too. He’d even use you to do it! Forgiveness. “Unity of of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

It doesn’t matter what pit you’re in. Whether you’ve dug it for yourself, or your life circumstances put you there, or someone tried to put in you in one. It doesn’t matter if it’s the worldly cesspool of hatred and malice that is so-called social media. It doesn’t matter if it’s the drowning of an empty bottle, or the darkness of a casket or grave. It doesn’t matter if you’re consumed with hatred or overcome with fear or grief or worry.

You don’t have to claw your way out. You don’t need to get yourself out. You don’t need to overcome your sins. You don’t have to forgive yourself. You don’t need to make yourself better in God’s sight. You don’t have to fight past others or put them down. Just give up the fight. You don’t have to grudge them aside. I know it seems like you have to. It’s sort of all we know, isn’t it? It’s the way things work in the world. They shouldn’t, but they most often do.

You don’t need to do any of those sorts of things because you’ve got a Jesus for that! ONLY JESUS GETS YOU OUT OF THE PIT AND SAVES YOU.

He really does. He went into the pit after you. Christ for you. Christ the Highest becomes lowest for us lowly—“to raise us from the ash heap” of death. Sinless, He becomes sin for us sinners—“that we would become God’s righteousness in Him.” Christ is forsaken that we would be beloved children of God, “baptized into Christ Jesus.” “He suffered under Pontius Pilate. Was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into Hell. On the third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.”

Jesus was alone, left alone, abandoned. Jesus was weak. Jesus was sad. Jesus was abused. Jesus mourned the death of friends. Was angry at injustice. Knew the sorrow of the widow, the orphan, the forsaken. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

Nothing would keep Jesus from saving you. Not your sins. Not your failures. Not the ways you’ve let God down. Not the ways you’ve left the people in your life hanging. He’ll pull you through the pit. He will do it, through His Word of forgiveness He does. You’re forgiven. “I forgive you all your sins.” “Friend, come up higher.”

“Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” “Jesus Christ…though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

You’re in on that. You’re baptized into Christ Jesus. And by only trusting Him alone you’re righteous and eternally saved. All those around you are in on it, too. Or should be in on it! Bring them in on it—“one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father.” “There the unity of the Spirit” and “the bond of peace.” Baptized. Forgiven. We are all one in Jesus. No need to get ahead of anyone else. The Lord Himself through Baptism and through His Word, whether to you or through you to others, says, “Friend, come up higher.”

You don’t need to get yourself out of the pit. You really don’t. I know it seems like you do. You try. You’ve spent your whole life at it! You haven’t done it yet. What makes you think you will? Why keep going it alone? No need to die in the pit. It’s not just that you can’t. You just don’t need to! You have a Jesus for that! A Pastor and fellow Christians to deliver that Jesus to you, for ONLY JESUS GETS YOU OUT OF THE PIT AND SAVES YOU.

He does. Into the pit for you. Calvary. Grave. Out of the pit for you, too. Empty tomb. He brings you along for the ride. ONLY JESUS GETS YOU OUT OF THE PIT AND SAVES YOU. Cleans you up. Heals you. Brings you into His eternal Sabbath, “the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.”

Forgiveness rules the day. That’s Jesus’ peace that binds us together. It’s how He gets us out of the pit and saves us. Each day. Every day. Even to the eternal day of everlasting life.

INI + AMEN.

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