᛭ INI ᛭
I’m hoping today’s a bit like riding a bike. No preaching last week. Couldn’t talk without coughing. No preaching last Wednesday. Power knocked out. Faulty regulator. Now, who’s to blame for all this? The truth is, there is someone. (No pointing fingers now.) The truth is he’s after all those who believe in Jesus, and he’s especially after preachers. It’s the devil.
Most of the time we consign the devil to category of make believe, not real, fantasy land. He’s very real, and he really doesn’t want people to believe in Jesus. So, he he’s got a few options as he tries to get people to not believe in Jesus. We can talk about him “prowling around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour,” like Peter does.
Now, while that’s true, if we back up a bit, we can actually see a broader attack from the devil. He’s after the Gospel and people believing that Gospel. Since that’s what he’s after, he’s a got a few lines of attack. He can attack the people who hear the Gospel, he can attack the Gospel itself, or, as we’re considering today, he can attack those who faithfully deliver the Gospel, that is, faithful preachers.
((3. Since the devil despises faithful preachers, he tries to silence them.))
Now, the devil despises faithful preachers, and since he despises them, he tries to silence them. He doesn’t just have one way of doing it either. We can see different examples of it if we consider the different characters that pop up in our readings today.
When you look at Moses, you see a preacher whom the devil attacked with his own failures. He tempted Moses with his own inability to speak in Exodus. Finally, in Numbers 20, the devil tempted Moses, and the complaining of the Israelites became like too many rocks in his shoes, and Moses tripped up. Didn’t listen to the Lord about the rock. All in a 40 years of hard work for the devil.
Then there’s John the Baptist. He was the Last prophet of the Old Testament. Not the Christ, but “the voice crying out in the wilderness.” He prepared the way of Jesus. Like any good preacher, He pointed to Jesus as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Last week’s Gospel had him in prison, and John needed preachers of his own. But it wouldn’t be long before he was executed for faithful preaching. The devil, through Herod and Herodias, went after his person.
The devil will also raise up false preachers. That’s what we’re told just after our Old Testament lesson. There are preachers who preach “presumptuously” of their own accord without any true call to do so. But there are also false preachers who preach false gods, and they may even have miracles, as the LORD warns in Deuteronomy 13, and as Jesus says, “to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” The mob of false preachers grows and grows in order to drown out the still small voice of the Gospel that comes from faithful preachers. If all else fails, the devil will just try to shout them down.
((2. The LORD just raises up more preachers.))
But the Lord’s made a promise. For your sake He makes a promise. The Lord’s promises can’t be stopped or silenced or destroyed by the devil’s plots and plans. The Lord promises that He will just raise up more preachers!
Moses says, “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers.” This is fulfilled, of course, in Joshua and all the prophets, but finally this promise is kept in Jesus. He is the true Prophet, the LORD Himself. Come to preach the Gospel of Salvation to all people. The LORD’s His own Preacher!
But the LORD has more preachers, too. I already mentioned John, today, pointing out Jesus—“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” Last week Jesus sent John preachers. And in the background of our John reading there are more. Because just after our Gospel reading, we’re told about Andrew, Peter, Philip, and Nathanael. The Lord’s 12!
But the Lord just raises up more. Always more. There’s Paul from our Epistle, and and the Lord used him to appoint even more: Timothy, Titus, and many more. On down through the ages, the Lord appoints more and more men to the office of preacher. Can’t stop the Lord. There’s me. Maybe there’s you. The Lord will never fail to send these preachers until He comes again on the Last Day.
((1. These men are sent to point you to Peace.))
The LORD Jesus sends these preachers, His men, for one reason and one reason alone. They’ve only got one job. The one job is this. Preachers ultimately don’t just preach. In the end, prophets don’t just prophesy. Look at John—they point! “Behold!” “Look!” “Hey over there!” They point with words.
John’s words tell you all that you need to know about the promised Prophet from Deuteronomy 18. “Behold, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” And as a preacher in a long line of preachers, I’m here to do the exact same thing: “Behold, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.”
Jesus took your sins as His own. You have none. Oh, you may think you do in your day to day life of failing those around you. But Jesus already took those. Some 2,000 years ago, he took all your sins, and all the sins of the world, even all those before He showed up, every last sin, His. He died for them. They are died for.
“Behold!” “Look!” There are your sins! Not on you. Can’t be on you. They’re on Jesus. He bled for them. Died for them. Calvary for them. Truly the Lamb for them. For you. And He was raised for your innocent verdict, your pardon, your acquittal before His heavenly Father.
“Behold!” “Hey over there!” There the Lamb of God, there His blood, there His sin-taking-away-ness FOR YOU. His Word—His Gifts! “I baptize you.” So you are baptized. “I forgive you all your sins.” So you are absolved. “This is My body, this is My blood, given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” So they are. So you are.
“Whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.” But you believe those words! Faith receives the benefits. Jesus, the Lamb of God, and all His Lamb-of-God-ness delivered to you in His Word and Gifts are your peace. “Look!” Your Peace. Jesus is. The Font is. The Keys are. The Supper is. And it’s “that peace of God that surpasses understanding that will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
The devil despises faithful preachers. He’s after them. Tempt them. Attack them. Drown them out. Silence them anyway he can. (Pray. He doesn’t like being unmasked.)
But the Lord’s got His plan in motion. Can’t stop Him. He just raises up more preachers. More preachers to keep pointing. Pointing to Jesus, the Lamb of God, who takes away your sin, is the sole job of preachers. So what if it puts a target on your back? “The gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Mt 16:18)
THE LORD ALWAYS RAISES UP PREACHERS TO POINT YOU TO JESUS.
You are thus pointed:
“Behold!” “Look!” “Hey over there!” There are your sins! Not on you. Can’t be on you. They’re on Jesus. There the Lamb of God, there His blood, there His sin-taking-away-ness FOR YOU. His Word—His Gifts! All FOR YOU.
THE LORD ALWAYS RAISES UP PREACHERS TO POINT YOU TO JESUS.
“‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’”