The Lighthouse Keeper

Greetings from Pastor Kerry, former pastor of Spring City UMC. This blog contains my sermon outlines and/or manuscripts from my pastorate among the people of Spring City PA, from 2006 to 2011. Pastor Dennis is now the lighthouse keeper. Come and worship on Sundays at 10:00 a.m.!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Wrath and love (7DS 7/7)

The seventh in a series on the Seven Deadly Sins

April 1, 2007
Palm Sunday

from Luke 19:28-38 and Isaiah's Suffering Servant texts

"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." – Proverbs 15:1

My sermon outline:

• recap of intro: Lenten series on 7 deadly sins. “sin breeds sin”, and that’s why these are deadly, cuz they lead to more sins. Fortunately for us, life breeds life.

• Goal being to help you become victorious over them. If you do struggle with one or more of them it means you’re human and you’re in the right place. My prayer for us all is that we would allow ourselves to be led by God to examine our lives, our habits and our priorities, and that we would allow God’s spirit to work within us, purifying us of those things in our lives that do not lead to Life, but instead lead to destruction.

• Sins we covered so far, and their corresponding virtues:
gluttony (faith/self-control)
sloth (enthusiasm/accountability)
envy (love)
lust (purity)
greed (generosity)
Pride (humility)

• Today’s deadly sin of focus is wrath.

• 3 passages from Isaiah about God’s servant, who would
- peacefully bring forth justice,
- reconcile Israel to God and offer salvation to the world
- suffer for his service to God

• Goes from descriptors like chosen and delightful, peaceful. Instrument of justice to an instrument of salvation abhorred by the nations to a cruelly mistreated yet righteous teacher

• It’s a little snapshot of Holy Week

• We opened the service today with the Palm Sunday reading from Luke 19, where Jesus has his disciples fetch a colt for him to ride into Jerusalem. May not be of much significance to us, but as the gospels of Matthew and John point out for us, there’s an OT image of Israel’s king and salvation-bringer, arriving on a donkey. Jesus has the disciples fetch a colt for him so he can enter Jerusalem this way.

• The effect is not lost on the people, who give him a first-century ticker-tape parade. Tickertape parades are not everyday or even every year events; nowadays you pretty much only get one if you’re a New York sports team that has won a great victory. The people lay their cloaks down, and some of them cut branches from palm trees to honor the arriving king. Laying cloaks down hearkens back to 2 Kings 9:13, when Jehu was anointed king of Israel and they had a cloak-laying tickertape parade for him.

• It’s a few days before the celebration of a central Jewish holiday in the city of David, and there are these unmistakable “king” images as Jesus comes riding into town. It’s no wonder the authorities are a little nervous.

• Jesus comes into town and goes to the Temple where what? Creates havoc. Drives the merchants out. Matthew and Mark tell us how he overturned the tables of the monechangers and called the merchants thieves.

• Just a few verses later in Luke 19 and we read that the chief priests and teachers of the law and leaders of the people want Jesus dead.

• They’re afraid of him, jealous of his power and of his sway over the people, afraid of what the people will do under his influence.

• Jesus tells the people a parable of the vineyard tenants who beat the servants of the vineyard owner and eventually killed the owner’s son, and the chief priests and teachers of the law and leaders of the people see quite clearly that Jesus is talking about them and how they were abusing their positions of authority for their own selfish ambitions. Now not only is there all sorts of king rhetoric going around, but Jesus is exposing them for what they are, manipulating hypocrites. As long as Jesus is around their position and authority is threatened, so they come up with a reason to kill him. And in John 11 we see a meeting of the chief priests and Pharisees, the leaders of the Jews, the Sanhedrin. Leaders from all walks of Jewish life come together and decide that Jesus is a threat to them as a nation: they live in a police-occupied state (occ. by the Romans), who will not take kindly to the news of a king coming into town, and who would not take kindly to a people incited to rebellion. The Jewish leaders decide that Jesus must be killed in order for them to maintain their authority and position.

• They are blinded by their fear and jealousy, by their anger at being exposed.

• The deadly sin I’m sposed to be talking about today is anger, wrath. The connection didn’t go quite as well as I initially thought it would -- I thought I could talk about how their wrath led them to the crime of passion of crucifixion, but it wasn’t really wrath led them down that road, rather it was fear and jealousy.

• We do see Jesus’ righteous anger in the Temple and we realize that righteous anger can motivate us to do the right thing, but anger can also lead us to do our worst. We are easily blinded by anger, just as the leaders were blinded by their fear and jealousy. It’s difficult to control anger.

• People who have committed violent acts while angry say they’ve lost control, they snapped, it was like someone else was controlling their actions. In wrath, people seek to pervert justice to take care of things themselves (just like the priests and teachers and leaders sought to come up with a way to have Jesus killed, since they didn’t have real grounds to do it.)

• wrath is a sense of justice perverted to revenge. Its fruits are violent crimes, assault and murder.

• Like I said, though, it’s not human wrath that leads to Jesus’ murder, it’s jealousy and fear and exposure. It is, however, in the event of Jesus’ unjust crucifixion that we see wrath’s counter-virtue of forgiveness. Jesus sets aside the injustice of his sentencing and the unrighteousness of his framers and prays for God to forgive them.

• In doing the impossible, he opens up for us the possibility of forgiveness as the counter to and preventer of wrath. Jesus’ killers didn’t deserve forgiveness, and neither do we. But it is offered anyway. Quite possibly the object of our own wrath or anger does not deserve our forgiveness (Prov. 15:1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.) but God wants us to forgive and leave righteousness and justice in his hands.

• And it’s all motivated by God’s love for us. Love that said “I will give of myself, my very life, for even they that have betrayed me again and again. I will turn my wrath away from them and offer them forgiveness and life.” How wonderful is God’s love? Because of his wondrous love we are able to have victory over all kinds of sin...

You who have received the forgiveness of God, won’t you join together in song: 292 What wondrous love is this

- Pastor Kerry
This Sunday: 78 in worship. 5 New Members received, plus Holy Communion, and a reception!


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