Photo by Greg Rosenke on Unsplash
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Jesus said, “Was no one found to return and give glory to God except this foreigner?”
INI + AMEN.
((5. Oops!: “God” talk is a problem.))
“God” talk gets us in trouble. What do I mean by “god” talk? “God” talk is when we talk about God only using the word “god.” “God” talk is also when we allow others to do the same, too.
That sort of “God” talk gets us in trouble because “God” talk puts us in control. Talking about “God” puts us in control because it allows us to define this “god” however we want. He’s the best sort of “god”! He wants what we want. He gives us what we want, or he will eventually. He’s always on our side on every issue, and he’s against those who disagree with us. FALSE GOD!
“God” talk gets us into trouble because you can drive a truck through the definition of “god.” Because “god” isn’t a name as much as it is a title. You can call God “God” but that’s NOT His name. You call me “your pastor,” which is great! I’m the only person in the world who’s your pastor! Maybe you’re called “mom” or “dad” or “grandma” or “grandpa.” And has endearing as those titles are, they aren’t your name.
If you say “god” and so does the person you’re talking with, you think “We agree.” But in reality you could be attaching that title to different deities altogether! “God” becomes the tree people hide behind so we’re not actually confronted by the true God. We’d rather keep “god” talk, and the “god” we mold, fashion, and build for ourselves. The answer to the question, “Who is your God?” is NOT “God is.” That’s like saying the answer to “Who’s your pastor” is “Pastor is.”
((4. Ugh!: We cling to it though!))
But that doesn’t stop us from defaulting to “god” talk. It’s everywhere! Printed even! It lets us hide. Lets us keep doing our thing. Keeps this so-called “god” at arm’s length. Lets us keep him in our back pocket, only used when we’re in trouble. “God” is off somewhere, and we can find him wherever we choose or want or whenever or wherever we feel like. FALSE GOD!
But for the “god” of “god” talk to be a real god, well, then he should set the terms. There should be times where his thoughts don’t align with your own. There would be things he expects or says that should affect what you think, say, or do. And there would be ways where we as human beings don’t measure up to him, since he’s god and you’re not. But if your experience with “god” is more like this. That “god” is on your side more than not, and he’s against the people you don’t like, well, I’ve got some bad news for you. That’s an idol, false god.
“God” talk actually empties the 1st Commandment of any real power. So many people say, “I believe in god.” So? James warns us: “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.” “God” talk “misuses the name of the LORD.” When there isn’t a pandemic, “god” talk allows pews to remain empty without a worry or second thought. And no amount of being a good person and behaving right will save you.
((3. Aha!: No such God talk in Luke 17!))
Thanks be to God! The true God! There’s no such God talk in Luke 17! There isn’t. God talk from us is not concrete. But the God talk in Luke 17 is concrete. It can’t be redefined, but it can be ignored and rejected. That’s what the 9 do, but not the Samaritan!
The God talk in Luke 17 is all tied to one person. It’s all tied to Jesus. “Who’s your God?” Jesus is. Full stop. “Where’s your God?” Wherever Jesus is. That’s the faith of the Samaritan. His faith is Jesus who saved Him. That’s what the Samaritan confessed by his behavior. He fell on his face at God’s feet, Jesus’ feet! He went back to find Jesus so He could worship Jesus. Jesus was actually somewhere for Him to be located! It wasn’t just the Samaritan. No, Jesus says the same thing!
Jesus says that He’s God in Luke 17. No god talk like we use from Jesus. “Was no one found to return and give glory to God except this foreigner?” Jesus takes the title of “God” for Himself. The Samaritan was praising/worshiping Jesus, and Jesus says that the Samaritan was worshiping God by doing that. For that Samaritan there was only one God to thank, and that God wasn’t in that temple. No, He was “passing along between Samaria and Galilee.” The only God to thank for the Samaritan was Jesus!
((2. Whee!: THERE’S ONLY ONE GOD TO THANK: JESUS WHO SAVES YOU.))
It’s the same for you! THERE’S ONLY ONE GOD TO THANK: JESUS WHO SAVES YOU.
There’s no settling for “god” talk now. There’s only one God—Jesus. He’s the Son, eternal Son. Sent from God the Father, the Father points only to His Son, “with whom He is well pleased.” God Jesus and His Father send God the Holy Spirit who points us to God Jesus. It all hinges on Jesus. Who’s your God? Jesus is your God.
“What has Christ done for you that you trust in Him?” That’s truly keeping the 1st Commandment, trusting in Jesus. “He died for me and shed His blood for me on the cross for the forgiveness of sins.” That’s confessing Jesus, confessing Him is cherishing the 2nd Commandment, praying to Him or in His name, cherishes it, too! Jesus didn’t just die. He rose from the dead. Proof Jesus is the God He says He is. His dying and rising save you, from your sinfulness, from death that comes from being a sinner, and from world and the power of the devil that lure into just “god” talk.
Jesus, your God, saves. He cleansed—saved!—the lepers. He saves you, too. And so we give Him thanks since He’s the God who saves. Saves you. Died and risen. God His Father saves you in the giving up of His eternal Son, Jesus. God the Spirit saves by delivering Jesus, your God, to you and you to Him through Jesus’ Word and Sacraments. One God three persons, sure enough, but it all hinges on God Jesus, because God Jesus reveals the Trinity. And it’s this God Jesus who “died for you and shed His blood for you on the cross for the forgiveness of sins,” and so THERE’S ONLY ONE GOD TO THANK: JESUS WHO SAVES YOU.
((1. Yeah!: He delivers His salvation to you and will take care of you, too!))
He delivers right were you are, too. He’s between Samaria and Galilee, right where those 10 lepers are. “He makes His sun shine on the just and the unjust.” “All ten were cleansed.” Jesus was right there for them. The leper wanted more from God Jesus. So, He went to where He was. Not in the temple. Not in the purple mountains majesty. Though I guess if that was where Jesus’ feet were, and that was how they would’ve described the area between Samaria and Galilee, then I guess it would apply.
But the Lord Jesus comes to you, too. He found where you were at. This font. Another font. A pastor to absolve you. Family members, fellow Christians to forgive you. A Bible on your shelf to deliver His Spirit-filled word that tells you all about Him. Not about God—about Jesus! Jesus is the God of the whole Bible. Bread and wine to deliver His body and blood at this altar. A hymnal full of psalms, hymns, and Spirit-filled songs where Jesus’ Word becomes your prayers, songs, and praises.
And the Jesus who went into death, hell, and grave for you, the Jesus who ruled the universe so that you’d have His Word and Gifts your whole life through, the Jesus who ruled the universe so that this building would be here so you an receive those gifts, that same Jesus will care for your bodily needs, too. The leper wasn’t just cleansed, He was healed, too. (Sign of the resurrection.) But also sign that Jesus cares for our bodies.
Jesus, the Bread of Life, is the source of your daily bread from the Father. Daily food. It may not be pretty sometimes, but those lepers were cared for that way even before they were healed! All the while Jesus was caring for them. He was the God who did that for them. He’s the God who will do it for you, too. Even in the ugly times that are 2020.
“God” talk won’t do. Get’s into trouble. Keeps us in charge. Thankfully none of that in Luke 17, today! Talking about “god” didn’t do for the Samaritan, and it didn’t work for Jesus either! THERE’S ONLY ONE GOD TO THANK: JESUS WHO SAVES YOU. Jesus, Son of the Father, sender of the Spirit, died and rose for you, baptized you, absolves you, feeds you the Supper of His body and blood. He’s actually somewhere to give it! Faith in God Jesus goes to where He’s at to get it. And the Jesus who uses His almighty power to give those gifts, will also care for your earthly needs even in a pandemic. And finally, when you’re eternally face to face, just like the Samaritan was, well, then THERE WILL ONLY BE ONE GOD TO THANK: JESUS WHO SAVES YOU.
INI + AMEN.