Lent 2 Midweek 2023 (Mt 26, 30–56; 5th Commandment)

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Jesus said, “How then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so? … All this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.”

᛭ INI ᛭

Once again, the way to Calvary is littered with the refuse of broken Commandments. Calvary is the dump where each of our trashing of God’s Holy Ten Commands goes. An unpleasaning aroma, a stench to God. Closer and closer Jesus goes to His cross, to His death. There He “gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Eph 5:2)

As He goes to His death, death is all around Him, but not just any death—murder! They show up with clubs, He would soon be beaten. They show up with swords: “nails, spear shall pierce Him through, the cross be borne for me, for you.” And then there’s, of course, Peter (Jn 18) chopping the ear off the High Priest’s servant. (His name was Malchus. [Jn 18])

Jesus comes to bear the brunt of our murdering, and all the violence falls under the 5th Commandment. “We should fear and love God so that we do not hurt or harm our neighbor in his body, but help and support him in every physical need.” But, even as He heals the servant’s ear, telling Peter to knock it off, Jesus says, “All who take the sword will perish by the sword.”

So, don’t own a sword, don’t be violent towards others, don’t physically hurt them. “Easy enough!” we think. It’s only easy enough when we ignore the Bible, or when we’re purposefully ignorant of it by our lack of use. (3rd Commandment problem. See, an issue with one commandment brings the other nine to bear on you and your actions…) Anyway, Christ our Lord says,

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” (Mt 5:21–22)

Christ says this to show us that the Commandment involves not just murder or hurting someone or not helping them out. “You shall not murder” involves also the source of that murder: anger and hatred. (Large Catechism) “The Chief Priests and Elders of the People” hated Jesus. This blossomed into their plot to kill him.

The underlying motivation puts Jesus’ Words in Gethsemane in a whole new light: **“All who take the sword will perish by the sword.”**

The world is an angry place—anger, hatred, bitterness, resentment, grudges, feuds, bad blood. That’s the news. That’s so-called “social” media. That’s politics. That’s all public discourse. Out of malice, people betraying one another and being betrayed. But this is not just a worldly problem. It’s a “you” problem. (Remember, the Lord directs His “you shall”s at each and every human being. But you can’t dodge a “you” with “but they!”)

“Be angry and do not sin,” the Psalmist says, which means: “Do not let the sun go down on your anger…be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you.” (Eph 4) “Be reconciled” Jesus says in Matthew 5, when teaching the 5th Commandment. Paul also warns that “enmity, strife…fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions” “are the works of the flesh, and those who continually do such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God.” (Gal 5)

Maybe you’ve been uniquely blessed not to have such anger and resentment or estrangement or grudges pollute your daily life. But if we’re honest with ourselves and before the Lord God about what the He commands in the 5th Commandment, we’ll recognize that our lives are littered with broken relationships, ablaze with our own anger and resentment.

James says, **“Each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (James 1)** 

Your frustration morphed into dislike, and dislike spoiled into anger. Anger festered into hatred. Hatred rotted into malice. Malice decayed into grudge. (cf. James 1) All this, and each step along the way, is nothing but murder in your own heart. Being wronged is no excuse: “The anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” (James 1) “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (Rom 12:19)

Let us now rejoice in the glorious words of Jesus that I quoted to start this sermon. They are glorious whenever Jesus says them throughout His ministry. How much more this last time before His crucifixion! (Where He’s silent Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, each in their own way, take up the refrain, “This was to fulfill,” “thus it was written,” and so on.) Tonight, Jesus says, “How then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so? … All this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” We don’t need Him to just say these words. We need Him to do these words! For us and for all.

There’s certainly no corner of globe, and sometimes no room in our own heart, that isn’t spoiled by smoldering anger. (Anger or malice that even masquerades as apathy or an uncaring attitude toward someone.) So it is Jesus Words bring comfort and joy in His saying and doing of these words: “be fulfilled.”

“I came not to abolish the Law and the Prophets, but to fulfill them.”(Mt 5) Fulfill not just the promised, prophesied dying and rising, but also the doing of the Law and the Prophets in your place. He cherished the 5th Commandment in your stead, a cherishing exemplified by His healing the servant’s ear. (Helping the physical need of His enemy…)

“When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. (1 Pet 2)” “When they struck Him on the right cheek, He offered them His left.” (Mt 6) His righteousness is credited to your account, such balance transfer received by faith. He upholds the Law for you, but He also pays for “the righteous requirement of the Law,” that it must be done completely or else death. “This He set aside” with His own death, “nailing it to the cross.” (Col 2)

“It must be so,” Jesus says. It must be that Christ is murdered for your murder—also murdered for your being murdered by others. Again it’s not just actual murder, but all the various ways we hate ourselves and one another, all the ways hurt and harm one another, all the ways we abuse our bodies, all the ways we abuse others—all of it, swallowed up in His death on the cross for you.

Now, there is no sin that counts against you. There is no grudge, no bad blood, between you and God through the blood of His only-begotten Son. The grudge or “history” or whatever you want to call it between you and, well, you know who!, is all covered by the blood of Jesus. Do you believe this?

Sins are on Him. He is the Lamb that bore your wrongs against others, and their wrongs against you. He carried them to Calvary, shed His blood for them, died for them, carried them into His grave, and there they stay, for He was raised for our justification, that is, the declaration that “you’re innocent of of all charges.” No longer locked up in your loathing, but free in Christ’s forgiveness for you and for all.

“The Spirit is willing, but the flesh it weak.” The Holy Spirt would work forgiveness and love through you, but our flesh wants its pound of flesh, that person needs to pay for what they’ve done. (“Old Adam” religion and relationships in a nutshell.) So we pray all the more earnestly the our Father, as Jesus did at Gethsemane. “Thy will be done.”

“God’s will is done when He breaks and hinders every evil plan and purpose of … our sinful nature, which [doesn’t] want us to hallow God’s name or let His kingdom come…” (SC) Such hallowing comes when “we, as the children of God, also lead holy lives according to [His Word]. (SC)” That holy life baptismally yours, for there you got “His Holy Spirit, so that by His grace we believe His holy Word and lead godly lives here in time and there in eternity.” (SC) Not just 3rd Petition, but 5th! “Forgive…as we forgive.” In and through the forgiveness of all your sins “we too will sincerely forgive and gladly do good to those who sin against us.”(SC)

He answers that 5th Petition FOR YOU and through you, too. “In Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” (Gal 3) One together in the “One baptism for the forgiveness of sins.” “The cup of blessing that we bless, is … [a communion of] the blood of Christ[.] The bread that we break, is … [a communion] in the body of Christ[.] Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.” (1 Cor 10:16–17) One together in Jesus’ body and blood, one together in the forgiveness of sins.

“Be reconciled.”(Mt 5) In Christ we already are, for He has already fulfilled the Scriptures: He has done the Law for you, He has died and is now risen, and He unites us as the Forgiven, the Baptized, and He bodies and bloods us together in that forgiveness at His Supper.

᛭ INI ᛭

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