2nd Sunday after Pentecost – A (Proper 6) LSB #’s 790, 571, 830
Text – Matthew 10:15
Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the Day of Judgment for the land of Sodom & Gomorrah than for that town.
SODOM & GOMORRAH
When Jesus says it is more bearable on Judgment Day for Sodom & Gomorrah than for you, what comes to mind? That is the gist of the sermon text this morning. Those are not the words we want to hear from Jesus. We’d prefer those recorded by Matthew in chapter 24: “Well done, good & faithful servant.” (24:21a ESV)
However, to hear those words first we have to receive the messengers of Jesus & hear their words. To reject those whom the heavenly Father sends to us is to reject life itself. That is a message we don’t hear often enough. Turning away from God’s Word is to reject life. It gets lost in all the confusion of sin, & of course that is the best & the only plan of the Devil.
Adam & Eve had the word of God, “…of the tree of the knowledge of good & evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:17 ESV) The Word of God was very simple & very direct. There was nothing confusing or vague in its language at all. The Lord was very clear: “You shall surely die!” And that they did. And so shall you!
On the bare face of it that is an extremely uncomfortable truth to face. For the most part people just do not enjoy talking about death. Many avoid that conversation at all costs. Even most Christians do not bother with planning for their funeral. All of which is why we struggle so mightily against the idea of repentance.
Repentance involves recognizing & acknowledging that we will surely die. In fact, it involves recognizing & acknowledging that you & I are already, here & now, dead! We have no life in us apart from Jesus Christ. None! Not one ounce of life. And Jesus is the only answer to death. All the looting, rioting & arson going on – it’s because people are already dead. Jesus is the only answer. All the “officer involved killings” going on – they’re because human beings are already dead. Jesus is the only answer. Climate change & the unequal distribution of wealth, they’re just signs of the obvious, you & I are already dead. Jesus is the only answer.
Human beings cannot stop climate change anymore than we can control the weather. We are not god, & in fact we are already quite the opposite. We are already dead, & Jesus is the only answer. That is the point of shaking the dust off their feet. It was to tell the people who did not receive the disciples, or hear their words, that they were already dead!
It hasn’t gotten nearly as much coverage in the media as all the looting & rioting has, but there are people asking, “What is the way forward out of all this mess of racism & lawlessness & brutality?” You know the answer! You have the answer, but you are afraid to say it! You are afraid to tell people that if they do not follow Jesus, racism, lawlessness & rioting is your future!
What we see happening across our nation, because it’s the majority of what our news system is portraying, is a tiny little glimpse of hell. And what bothers you most when seeing it is that you have the answer & you are afraid to speak it! You are afraid that people will laugh at you, or refuse to receive you, or refuse to hear your words! “Jesus is the only answer.”
That’s the whole point He is making in the 10th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew! Where Jesus’ disciples go, & where the words of God are heard, there there is life! If you refuse to receive them, or their words, you will remain dead for all of eternity. With all the unrest & division across our nation people are wondering if the United States are in decline.
There’s no reason to wonder! The answer is clear. These United States of America are already dead! Our nation is done. It is finished. Even now, you & I should be, so to speak, shaking the dust off our feet. The people of this once great land are already dead & someone needs to tell them about it. That our nation is dead is why there is police brutality. That we’re dead is why there is racism. That we’re dead is why people are looting & rioting & burning. Those are not the actions of people who are alive in Jesus Christ!
“And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the Day of Judgment for the land of Sodom & Gomorrah than for that town.” That town, today, used to be called the United States of America. They are no more! Jesus is the only answer.
The rich & famous certainly have no idea how to solve this. Even as they ‘sympathize’ with the idea of defunding the police, what do they have surrounding them at all times – private security! Our politicians have no idea how to solve this. They are only fanning the flames for their political gain, & none of them are refusing the security which our government provides.
The “free” press that is so necessary to a government for the people & by the people is now nothing but a propaganda machine for Satan himself. It is filled with half truths & lies throughout. And what does all that tell you? You got it! As a nation & as a people, we are already dead. Jesus & Jesus alone brings the reign of God. All else is damnation.
No one can reject Jesus Christ with impunity. No one can declare independence from Him & have life. That’s because Jesus is the beginning of the new creation, the one that will never be marred by any of the divisions created by sin. Jesus is the cornerstone upon which that creation is being built.
The current creation reeks of death & brokenness because it has alienated itself from its sinless & loving Creator. In Matthew 10, Jesus sends out the Twelve as missionaries to announce & actually bestow the reversal of death & brokenness. Those who reject the peace of Christ are also rejecting the life without sin that heaven will bring. By shaking the dust off their feet, the disciples are not causing those people to be damned, they are actually warning them of the deadly road they have chosen for themselves. Jesus is now sending you & me out to the world to share the Word of God with them that they might have peace in their heart & soul.
If they reject God’s peace it will be worse for them than for Sodom & Gomorrah on the Day of Judgment. Those cities were vaporized in an instant. Hell will last forever. It is the great mystery of the ages that anyone would reject life. What that rejection reveals, however, is the completely perverse nature of sin. Heaven will have none of it.
Every day of your life should begin with the sobering thought & acknowledgment that in this life you are already dead except for the blood of Jesus. Then, & only after that beginning each new day, can you ever begin to live. There is no other reality upon which to base your life. Any other reality is only more death.
Jesus is not instructing His disciples to shake the dust off their feet out of a sense of superiority or righteousness, but out of profound sadness for those who have rejected His words & thus chosen condemnation. Shaking the dust off their feet was not an act of Judgment. It was simply an act of warning from which any person can be saved through repentance.
It is Yahweh’s great desire that everyone should be saved from sin. He Himself has paid the price of our rebellion. He’s offered us a way out of the confusion of sin & death that we have brought upon ourselves. All we need to do is to acknowledge that we are already dead & then turn to Him for life. God has sent His Spirit to accomplish that work of love in you. Amen.
God loved the world so that He gave His only Son the lost to save, that all who would in Him believe should everlasting life receive. Christ Jesus is the ground, Who was made flesh & suffered death; all then who trust in Him alone are built on this chief cornerstone. God would not have the sinner die; His Son with saving grace is nigh; His Spirit in the Word declares how we in Christ are heaven’s heirs. If you are sick, if death is near, this truth your troubled heart can cheer: Christ Jesus save your soul from death; that is the firmest ground of faith. Amen. LSB 571:1-3, 5.
Pastor Dean R. Poellet