A myHT Fortress

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Siloam! (Sent!): Homily for the 4th Sunday in Lent

Saint John 9:1-41

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.

Jesus saw the man. Blind from birth, our Lord had compassion on him. His heart went out to the blind man. How does He help? It sounds gross, but Jesus spits. He spits and makes mud from some dirt, and smears it on the man’s eyes. Water from the mouth of God works with the very earth from which man was made, and anoints the man’s eyes. And as the words and promises of God, which tell him to wash in a pool named Siloam – Sent – as those words and promises of God declared, he is healed!

Think about it! He hadn’t seen Jesus to know who He was. Once healed, the formerly blind man didn’t even know who to thank! But he knew one thing – this was no ordinary man who healed him. He was some prophet from God. In fact, he was soon to discover that this was THE Prophet of whom Moses spoke. The Sent One. The Messiah. The Son of Man. God-in-the-flesh.

God had sent Moses to deliver the children of Israel out of slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land. He sent King David to lead the people into being a great kingdom on earth. He sent Solomon to build His temple. He sent Elijah, Isaiah, and others to be His preachers to His Old Testament Church. He sent Saint John the Baptizer to prepare the way of the Lord.

And now the Father had sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that through Him the world might be saved. Through the season of Advent, we remembered that the Sent One would come, and at Christmas, the festival celebrates that our Sent Savior IS come. Now, throughout the holy season of Lent, we reflect on the suffering and death for our salvation, and His rising from the dead, that were the entire purpose of His being sent!

This is the same death and resurrection into which you were baptized! A blessing with great benefits!

What benefits does Baptism give?

It works forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare.

Which are these words and promises of God?

Christ our Lord says in the last chapter of Mark: “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe, will be condemned.”

Jesus, THE Sent One, sends this Blind Man to wash and be healed. Like the baptismal font He sent you to, those waters were attached to His promise, and brought you healing. Sure, your body may have problems. You are not free from all sickness or injury. Yet a healing of your soul from sin, and a healing of your body that you cannot yet see, one that prepares you to live in both body and soul with Him forever, has taken place.

And the sending continues. Our dear Lord Jesus keeps on sending you. He sends you to His house week after week. Sometimes we go, other times perhaps we do not listen. But He sends us to His holy liturgy to hear His Word preached and taught, and to respond with thanks and praise. He sends us to His altar, to receive His blessing, and to taste His forgiveness, life, and salvation! He sends us to our pastors to hear His absolution freely given to all who repent.

And from His services, the Lord sends us out into the world. We are living witnesses to all around us, as our words and actions declare what He has done for us. Our Savior sends us to live in faith toward God and in fervent love toward one another. That love from God is shown in how we live our lives. If we are parents, by being good parents; if we are children, by being obedient children; if teachers, than teaching to the best of our abilities; if students, then by cooperating and doing our very best at our lessons.

Just two days ago, we had another example of being sent. The Lord preserved the life of Emma Oberdieck in a car collision. He sends her now to be a living witness to His divine protection.

Others have been through such wrecks and were taken to their Lord in paradise. In those cases, their loved ones are sent as living witnesses of the loving consolation and comfort of Christ – the only One who can lead them through such grief.

The blind man’s parents were sent too. But they did not do such a good job. They were scared. They were frightened by the leaders of their synagog – their church – knowing that they would be kicked out if they said Jesus is the Messiah. So they kept quiet. They did not get kicked out, but they acted like they were ashamed of Jesus, and were not only hurting themselves, but anyone that they could have told about Jesus Christ.

How often are we that cowardly? How frequently do we take the easy way out, and avoid being made fun of, or avoid hurting someone’s feelings, instead of speaking the truth about our Savior?! For most of us, we do that far too often!

In your Baptism, you are sent to be a picture of Christ to those around you. You are sent to “hear His Word, receive His gifts, and proclaim the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.” [Order of Holy Baptism, LSB 271.]

How well do we do at proclaiming those praises? Even if we go to church every week, can we honestly say that our actions proclaim the praises of Jesus 24/7? Not a chance!

But don’t go home sad, or angry, or depressed! I have Good News! Our dear Lord Jesus has paid the price for your sin! Because He was sent to save us, you are forgiven for every single instance of failing in the tasks He sends you to do. Your guilt is gone for every word of Christ that you failed to speak. You are cleansed from the shame of every thought of Jesus that you failed to think.

God is not keeping some grade book that is marking bad grades for not being perfect Christians. Instead, He is blessing us all with the extra credit that our Savior won on the cross, and giving it to us all, so that each of us now have a glorious 100% in the Book of Life!

There is another one sent this morning, that we all should remember. Mrs. Tanya Johnson has been sent by God to teach in Lutheran schools. Currently she has been sent to Wisconsin. This past week, we have called her and have asked her to consider with prayer whether this should be the school to which she is sent. We ask the Lord to bless her with wisdom to know where He may use her knowledge, talents, and abilities best.

As we pause this morning, and celebrate National Lutheran Schools Week, we praise God for the gift of Lutheran Schools, and in particular, the blessing of this school for this congregation and community, for 147 years. We thank God for the first pastors that He sent to Saint John’s, who taught school in the log cabin parsonage when they could. We thank God for Julius Prelle, whom God sent to Saint John’s as our first full-time teacher over 100 years ago. We thank the Lord for the many blessings of teachers, and buildings, and families, and gifts that He has sent to make this a great place to grow, where children are nurtured in Christ.

Praise the Lord, dear friends and students! Jesus Christ is sent for you, that you may be sent to heaven, forever, with Him. Rejoice, dear sent ones! Rejoice in our Lord, who is sent for you! Amen!

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