7th Sunday of Easter – B LSB #’s 816, 708, 919
Text – John 17:12
While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, & not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.
EXCEPT THE SON OF DESTRUCTION
It is mother’s day & sermons across our nation will be working with stories about mothers & what a blessing they are. On the other side of the issue “progressive” people want to eliminate mother’s day because it is too sexist for the gender fluid society they are trying to create. They want to eliminate what they consider to be ‘evil’ stereotypes.
As Lutheran Christians we ask “What is God’s will?” That does not matter at all with people who don’t follow Jesus, but it is of utmost importance to those who do. If mother’s day is important it is because of all the sacrifices they make in raising children. And of all those sacrifices which is the most important? What is a mother’s greatest duty?
As I said earlier that strikes many people today as a question based upon sexist stereotypes, but I’m heading that off at the pass because I think the exact same answer applies to the question, “What is a father’s greatest duty?” The Word of God does not leave us hanging on either question. Moses wrote about it in the 6th chapter of Deuteronomy:
“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart & with all your soul & with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, & shall talk of them when you sit in your house, & when you walk by the way, & when you lie down, & when you rise.” (Deuteronomy 6:5-7 ESV)
Moses leads off with what is basically the 1st commandment. Then he tells the people that the Word of God which he commands them shall be upon their heart. Do you keep God’s Word that close to you? Is it with you every moment of every day? And the reason God’s Word should be an intimate part of who you are is this parents are to diligently teach the Word of God to their children. You can’t teach what you don’t know, & the Bible does not offer you the option of “farming out” the spiritual education of your children. Among all the things that God calls parents to do, teaching them the Word of God is infinitely the most important.
If you’re asking for specific reasons why, consider the Gospel lesson I read a short while ago. It’s known as the High Priestly Prayer of Jesus – a rather highfalutin name that tends to obscure the serious nature of Jesus’ message. He prayed this just before He heads to the Mount of Olives for Judas to betray Him. Here’s a synopsis of Jesus’ thoughts:
“Holy Father, keep them in your name… While I was with them, I kept them in your name… I have guarded them… But now I am coming to you… I have given them your word… I do not ask that you take them out of the world… They are not of the world… Sanctify them in the truth… And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.”
Hidden among all that in-depth theological talk is a serious warning. It is an issue far more serious than the volcano erupting on the big island of Hawaii. It is far more serious than the talks coming up with North Korea, & it dwarfs the issue of pulling out of the nuclear treaty with the nation of Iran. In praying, Jesus made clear that hell is real. He said:
“I have guarded them, & not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction…” The matter-of-fact honesty of that sentence is brutally difficult for sinful beings to grab hold of & wrestle with. It may seem too serious & frightening a topic to be addressing on Mother’s Day, but it is a fear which lies at the heart of every mother’s & father’s worst nightmare.
Judas, the betrayer of Jesus, like you & me, had a mother & a father. All pastors, all congregations, every brother & sister in Christ should care enough about mothers & fathers to help them wrestle with the fear every parent experiences at one time or another, “What will happen to my child?” A common reaction is to stick our head in the sand & hope for the best, but Jesus offers you much more than that. Another reaction is to live in constant fear & allow that fear to drive our thoughts, our words & our deeds. Jesus offers us much more than that. Do you know, specifically, how Jesus addresses that question, “What will happen to my child?”
Anxiety, worry & fear drain the life out of us. In every case they are the work of sin & death & the devil. They twist & corrupt & poison the very creation of God. We see it with our physical eyes. We feel it in body & soul. It is real, but it is not eternal. Likewise, every parent’s legitimate concern for their children is real, but it is not eternal.
No pastor should minimize any parent’s concern for their child, yet we should also keep in mind the big picture. Your children do not belong to you. They belong to their heavenly Father who created them. He sent His only-begotten Son to die for their sins. To claim them as if they are your possession is to violate the right of their Creator & their Savior.
Rather than possess them, you are to diligently teach them the Word of God: “…when you sit in your house, & when you walk by the way, & when you lie down, & when you rise.” In other words, in every aspect of your child’s day, your heavenly Father provides opportunities to care for & love your child by giving them life through the teachings of Holy Scripture.
Whether a mother or a father – that is how you truly love your children! When anxiety, worry & fear are already draining the life out of you, or when they are just beginning to nip at your heels, you can find the same source of life & love for you. As the reading from 1 John 5 stated: “Whoever has the Son has life…” (5:12 ESV)
St. John continues: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will He hears us.” (5:13-14 ESV) For the Creator of all that exists to promise He will hear our prayers is beyond anything we deserve. That such Creator would give the life of His only-begotten Son in our place is simply unreasonable, & yet it is a true & historical fact. His love for us can never fail; no matter how often we succeed or how we fail in anything we do with the life Yahweh has given to us.
You may be the world’s best parent, or the world’s worst parent, & still He can & will overcome your failures. What God will not do is force anyone to accept His love. For those who willfully choose to reject Jesus as Savior from sin, even Jesus weeps. He was sent to take our place in every way, even in our grief – the Son of God grieves on our behalf.
Jesus grieves for every child who turns away from him as Judas did. In this High Priestly Prayer Jesus again takes our place & He prays in our behalf. At the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed on our behalf. On the cross He died & in the tomb He rested on our behalf. On Easter morning the Son of God rose on our behalf, but this time so that we could join Him.
On the Last Day all who trust in God’s Son as Savior will be raised from death to join our Lord in eternal life. There will be no more sorrow, no more weeping, no more death. Most of all, there will be no more unbelief. No more struggle, no more need to warn people of the danger of following their ‘own’ star.
No one in heaven will be brow beating people for having sexist stereotypes. There will be no more debate about whether or not God created the world. You will never again be anxious for, or worried about your children, & their faith in Jesus, or lack of it. God knows what is best for us & He will accomplish it perfectly for all eternity.
Judas had a heart of stone, & he rejected the life that Jesus offered him. It’s a topic that may be especially difficult to consider on Mother’s Day. Yet, the fear is real, & Christ Himself longs to address that fear in your life. The Holy Spirit will help you wrestle with it, & if you don’t refuse His help, He will bring you out the other side of that struggle with the peace that passes all human understanding. Maybe God will accomplish that for you already in this life. Maybe He will accomplish that once He brings you into heaven. Either way, God is faithful. The key is to remain in Him, for God is guarding & keeping us safely in His name. Amen.
Abide, O dearest Jesus, among us with Your grace that Satan may not harm us nor we to sin give place. Abide, O dear Redeemer, among us with Your Word, & thus now & hereafter true peace & joy afford. Abide with Your protection among us, Lord, our strength, lest world & Satan fell us & overcome at length. Abide, O faithful Savior, among us with Your love; grant steadfastness & help us to reach our home above. Amen. LSB 919:1-2, 5-6.
 John 17:11b-19 ESV
Pastor Dean R. Poellet