Killing Jesus
St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist
21 September 2016
If you have any doubt about the passion of God for your salvation listen to the lament of Jesus: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing" ( Mt 23:37)! See the aggressive passion of the God who loves His people and wants to be with them. He sends messenger after messenger whom we have mistreated, thrown out, and even killed. Yet still He sends them and in the end He offers His only Son, saying that we will respect Him! Yet, see how this works out. We think by killing Him we will inherit what is His from His Father, that we will be written into His will by Him after we kill His heir! Paul in Romans assures us: "The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs-heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him" ( Rm 8:16-17). How ironic that that very Son has come to make us heirs with Him by giving us the inheritance which He earns for us by His suffering and death on the cross. He has written us into His Father's will with the ink of His own precious blood.

It is easy enough to say "How have I killed the prophets and stoned those sent to us?" One of the more depressing aspects of my duty as a vice president of Synod is to become aware of and to consider the conflicts that arise between congregations and their rightfully called pastors. Let me say at the outset, that there's plenty of blame to go around. That's not what I'm talking about here. But merely that congregations will literally throw their pastors out of office when they proclaim to them the distinctive grace of God in Christ. God's Word presumes that all men are liars and that His Word alone is true. Yet often we hate to hear it because it tells the truth of our sin and weakness. We even despise the gospel because it implies that we ourselves are desperate sinners in need of mercy, and mercy from God alone. We decline to believe that our preacher is the very voice of God's prophet in the world proclaiming that mercy which we so desperately need. Out he must go! Throw him out of the Vineyard!

However, we needn't cast out the preacher to find ourselves rejecting and killing the prophets. If neglect of the word of God is our regular way of life; if God's Word is not set upon our hearts and lips by way of daily devotions, if we don't teach the catechism and bring our children to instruction, set upon their hearts with recitation what they need to learn to be able to confess Christ as their Savior, then the prophets and the apostles are as good as dead for us. We might as well be stoning God's Word right here and now.

Fox News Commentator Bill O'Reilly has written what I think is a silly book entitled, Killing Jesus, in which O'Reilly thinks he's getting into the political history of the death of Christ apart from Christ's own claims to be God and the Savior of the world. His book is silly because there is no existing source of information other than the New Testament's own testimony about who Jesus is, who He claimed to be, and what He claimed to be doing for us. The New Testament is an irreducibly religious document. It cannot be read only as a political description of the events surrounding the death of Jesus of Nazareth. To ignore Jesus' religious claims would like ignoring Julius Caesar's career as a military commander in Gaul while writing his biography. My point in panning Bill O'Reilly's book is not to give you a book report, but to say that we are all killing Jesus, and yet for such killers He comes. Even when he is taunted by those who stand below His cross demanding that he come down to prove His divinity, He refuses to do exactly that, because by His remaining there He is dying for the very ones who taunted him and for us: "never grudging for the lost ones that tremendous sacrifice." We are all "Killing Jesus" and it must be this way if we are to be saved by his death and inherit His kingdom.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Martin Luther
 
"Here ( Mt 23:37-39) God is called a mother-hen, with the emphasis always on faith. His body is He Himself or the Christian church, His warmth is His grace and the Holy Spirit. Behold, this is the loveliest mother hen which all the time wants to gather us under herself, spreads her wings and lures us, that is, she causes the two testaments to be preached, she sends forth prophets, wise men, and scribes to Jerusalem and into all the world, but what happens? We refuse to be chicks, especially those arrogant "holy ones" who inordinately fight against him with good works, who refuse to acknowledge faith, so entirely necessary and blessed, who do not want to know about their peril and who insist that their way is right. Indeed, they carry on so that they themselves become hawks and boars; they devour and pursue the chicks with the mother-hen, tear apart wings and body, kill the prophets and stone those to death who are sent to them. But what will be their reward? Listen, terrible things will befall them:

"'Behold, your house shall be left desolate for you' ( Mt 23:38). Oh, this is a gruesome punishment. We see it in the case of the Israelites. They have killed the prophets so that God has stopped sending prophets to them. He has let them go for fifteen hundred years, without sermon and without prophets.
All of this we Gentiles might also take to heart. We are, indeed, just as bad, if not a lot worse; we, too, have persecuted the mother-hen and did not abide in the faith. Therefore, it has happened to us, too, that He has caused our house to lie desolate and the vineyard forsaken. There is no more rain in all the world; the gospel and the faith have become silent; there is no pruning and no hoeing; nobody preaches against the false works and teachings of men and would cut off such unprofitable things.

"Yet, in the end, consolation is offered to the Israelites in the passage when he says: "For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.' ( Mt 23:39)."

Martin Luther, Sermon for St. Stephen
Psalm 13

How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

Consider and answer me, O LORD my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, "I have prevailed over him," lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.

But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me. 
(ESV)
Prayer
Lord Jesus, You have promised that we would say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.' Continue to grant us the gift of your body and blood in the holy sacrament by Your Word, that we might always receive Your coming among us under bread and wine and thus name You blessed. Amen.

For the shut in members of Memorial Lutheran Church, including Pearl White, Lois Vaughn,
Ed Jutzi, Helen Weaver, Anita Markwardt, Rita Baker, Marie Hoyer, Joanie Hoyer, and Lucille Herter, that the Lord Jesus would be with them in their confinement

For Robert Baker, who is being deployed by the U.S. Army, that the holy angels would watch over him

For the family of Vernon Gundermann, whom our Lord called to Himself, that they would grieve with the hope of the resurrection and confidence in the life to come
Art: Durer, Albrecht   The Adoration of the Trinity (1515) 
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
©  Scott Murray 2016