5th Sunday after Pentecost – A (Proper 9) LSB #573
Text – Matthew 11:27
All things have been handed over to me by my Father, & no one knows the Son except the Father, & no one knows the Father except the Son & anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.
What does it mean to be chosen by the Son of God? The devil has spent a lot of time & effort in order to confuse the issue in the minds of God’s people. Satan works at creating confusion hoping that some will be lost. I’ll be working with the following illustration in the hope of clearing the confusion & of strengthening your faith in Jesus Christ & in Him alone.
The 7-year-old boy of the family was asleep in his upstairs bedroom when a fire broke out on the 1st floor of their home. As the family gathered on the lawn outside, they suddenly heard the cry of the 7-year-old from the window above: “Daddy, save me!”
They saw him outlined in the glow of the fire, but he couldn’t see his family below because of thick black smoke. He just heard their voices: “Frankie, jump! We’ll catch you!” Frankie crept to the edge of the windowsill, but was afraid to jump. “Frankie, you must jump,” came the plea from his father. “But I can’t see you, Daddy! I can’t jump. Save me.”
The family & the neighbors added their encouragement. “All of us can see you. Your father will catch you. Jump, Frankie!” The boy felt the heat of the flames inching closer & closer. He knew he had to do something. He knew his father was a big, strong man, & he believed that his father loved him dearly. He wouldn’t lie.
So Frankie closed his eyes, jumped, & fell straight into his father’s waiting arms. If he remained in his bedroom, Frankie was as good as dead, but His father’s love for him gave Frankie life, the life to surrender into the arms of the waiting father. Otherwise, Frankie’s fears would have paralyzed him & been the cause of his death. The same reality is true of us, so Jesus frequently tells His followers not to be afraid. Jesus demonstrated His love for you by dying a horrible death, even suffering hell, in your place. Jesus demonstrated His almighty power for you through His resurrection from the dead. He is totally capable of saving you.
Will you jump? Will you surrender yourself into the arms of your Savior? It sounds easy enough in theory, yet putting it into practice on a day to day basis never seems to go well. St. Paul confessed in the reading from Romans 7: “For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.” (7:18b ESV)
After the sermon, we’ll be installing members of our congregation who’ve been chosen to serve God in this congregation. Will those men & women gladly serve their Lord with the 1st fruits of the blessings God has given them? Will they serve grudgingly & only when they feel pressured to do so? Will you encourage them in their work even when they make mistakes?
A famous preacher named Jonathan Edwards described the predicament the people are in whom our Creator calls us to serve:
“The devil stands ready to fall upon them & seize them as his own. …They belong to him; he has their souls in his possession & under his dominion. … [The demons] stand waiting for them, like greedy, hungry lions. … [T]he old Serpent is gaping for them. Hell opens her mouth to receive them.”
Those of you who’ve been chosen, “How will you serve your Lord & Savior? When temptation comes calling, will you reject the effort needed to serve?” God will be empowering you to do His will, but the option is there to reject it. You will not be forced to surrender into His arms. Like Frankie in the 2nd floor window a time will come when you cannot do it alone.
If not for the father & his family, would Frankie have died? Certainly. He did not have
the wherewithal within himself to save his life. He would have curled up & died, frozen with fear, as hell opened its mouth to receive him. It was the father who chose to save his son. The father spoke words of encouragement that changed the boy’s fear into faith in the father’s arms. The rest of his family also spoke words of encouragement that helped to change his heart.
It was those words, as it is with the Gospel, that changed Frankie’s fear into faith & thus he was saved. The boy made no decision to save himself. In fact he had no ability to do so without the strength & love of his father. Frankie finally surrendered himself to his father. He entrusted his life to his father’s arms.
The text for today’s sermon is quite clear: “…no one knows the Father except the Son & anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.” As Jesus reveals the Father to us, some of us surrender to Him & by God’s power we’re changed into His children. Others refuse to surrender & determine to go their own way. They reject the mercy of their Creator & remain in unbelief.
“Hell opens its mouth to receive them. … [The demons] stand waiting for them, like greedy, hungry lions.” Until Judgment Day arrives, Jesus calls out to them, & to us as well, “Come to me, all who labor & are heavy laden, & I will give you rest. …& you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29 ESV)
Which is the more pleasant picture? Which scene offers life in abundance & which scene squeezes every last ounce of breath out of you? Jesus invites all people to come to Him. He offers to reveal the heavenly Father to them & such revelation has the power to change who you are, to transform you from death to life.
Some people reject that change which leaves them where they’re at – death. All of us begin our lives there, for all have fallen short of the glory of God, & the wages of sin is death. Will you repent & believe the Good News that your sins have been removed from you as far as the east is from the west? Will you surrender yourself into the safety of your heavenly Father’s arms? Will you accept the rest that Jesus offers? Those are questions that even children of God should be pondering, because every single day of our lives our hearts turn astray. We fall for the temptations of sin & in fear or shame we shy away from surrendering our lives back to Jesus.
We try to figure things out on our own. The world tells us that Christians don’t know what they’re talking about. We get caught up in that ourselves & forget that it’s our role to lean totally upon Jesus so that we can point Him out as Savior to the people we know who are lost in darkness. We are to encourage our fellow Christians with the Truth of Jesus Christ.
To save us, Yahweh chose the foolishness of the cross in order to shame the wise. In Biblical terms, the wise are people too proud to jump into the heavenly Father’s loving arms. The little children are those who recognize just how helpless they are. Like Frankie, they know they’ll die if they don’t surrender each day to their heavenly Father.
In the verses immediately before today’s Gospel lesson the wise & understanding, in their own minds, have been warned to repent. In the verses immediately after today’s Gospel lesson the Pharisees take counsel that this Jesus of Nazareth must be destroyed.
In between them, the reading for today reminds us that regardless of whether our ministry seems to be successful or not, God is God, & Jesus is a gracious Savior inviting everyone to come to Him for true & eternal rest. We do not choose Him. We are powerless to choose. Instead, Jesus chooses us for then our rescue is certain & sure.
Almost hidden in a secluded corner of a cemetery is a small gravestone, polished smooth by the wind & weather of many years. The stone no longer bears a name nor any date inscribed upon it. To the stranger passing by it tells nothing about the man, woman or child whose final resting place it marks; nothing except one thing! Still legible on the face of the fading stone, in letters that neither wind nor weather have been able to erase, is a single word – Forgiven! That is what it means to be chosen by God. He made the choice to send His Son to erase our sins. And as Jesus Himself said, “It is finished.” Amen.
Lord, ’tis not that I did choose Thee; that, I know could never be; for this heart would still refuse Thee had Thy grace not chosen me. Thou hast from the sin that stained me washed & cleansed & set me free & unto this end ordained me, that I ever live to Thee. It was grace in Christ that called me, taught my darkened heart & mind; else the world had yet enthralled me, to Thy heavenly glories blind. Now I worship none above Thee; for Thy grace alone I thirst, knowing well that, if I love Thee, Thou, O Lord, didst love me first. Amen. LSB 573:1-2.
 The Abingdon Preaching Annual 1995, compiled by Michael Duduit. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1994, p. 227.
 Edwards, J., Sinners in the hands of an angry God – Sermon from the year 1741.
Pastor Dean R. Poellet