Jan - Apr 2015 The Gospel of Mark

for those who want to get really far out...We will be working through the book of Mark leading us into to Lent and through to Easter.  


January Theme Reading
4         Baptism of Jesus                            Mark 1:1-12

11         Jesus Teaching with Authority Mark 1:14-28

18 (Life Sunday) Miracle 1: Healing of Paralytic Mark 2:1-12 (13-17) LIFE SUNDAY

25 (Epiphany 3) Miracle 2: Calms a Storm Mark (3:20-22; 4:1, 26-29) 4:33-41

1 (Epiphany 4) Miracle 3: Raising Jairus’ Daughter Mark 5:21-43

8 (Epiphany 5) Miracle 4: Feeding of 4000 Mark. 8:1-10 (11-26)

15 (Transfiguration) Transfiguration                   Mark 8:31-9:8

22 (Lent 1) Triumphal Entrance Mark 11:1-11

1 (Lent 2) Parable of the Tenants Mark 12:1-12

8 (Lent 3) Stay Awake!                    Mark 13:1-13, 32-37

15 (Lent 4) Passover Celebration Mark 14:1-25

22 (Lent 5) Jesus Prays in the Garden Mark 14: (26-31) 32-42

29 (Passion Sunday) The Arrest          Mark 14:43-52       (OR Passion Sunday, Mark 14:42-15:41)

5 (Easter) Easter                      Mark 16:1-8

12 (Easter 2) Post-Resurrection 1 John 20:19-29

19 (Easter 3) Post-Resurrection 2 John 21:1-14

26 (Easter 4) Post-Resurrection 3 John 21:15-19

3 (Easter 5) Confirmation confirmation texts

10 (Easter 6) ??? ???

17 (Easter 7) ??? ???

24 (Memorial Weekend) Pentecost Acts 2:1-21

31 (Trinity) Trinity John 3:1-17/Is. 6:1-8


Lent Midweek from John (OR series with St. Paul AA)
2/18 (Ash Wednesday) Ash Wednesday maybe John 13:1-20 foot washing?

2/25 Way, Truth, Life                 John 14:1-14

3/4 True Vine                          John 15:1-17

3/11 Work of the Holy Spirit        John 16:1-15 or 16:16-33

3/25 High Priestly Prayer           John 17:1-26

4/2 (Maundy Thursday) Jesus Washes Disciples’ Feet John 13:1-20

4/3 (Good Friday) Crucifixion Mark 14:53-15:47  [OR John 19]


28 Dec - The First Sunday of Christmas

Sermon Series Title: Coming off the Advent and Christmas Eve theme of The Promise 
Date:  December 28, 2014;  The First Sunday of Christmas
Worship Elements Ideas/suggested readings – page 7 of this document
Rationale:  The week surrounding Christmas Day often brings visitors, infrequent attendees, and seekers into contact with the church.  Also there is the high probability that some of our most faithful disciples have family visiting them, or they were away visiting family during the actual Christmas Eve/Christmas Day celebration at their home church.  With that in mind it seems prudent to have this day (the 28) be sort of a Christmas 2 Service with the emphasis on the nativity account.  

 We also note that during the Season of Advent, the sermons and the worship themes centered on the “O Antiphons” as we focused on The Promise (Old Testament) and its fulfillment in Jesus Christ (New Testament). With the Lukan account of the shepherds and their immediate, post nativity response, we also touch upon some OT images, types and titles as we move into NT fulfillment.

 The fact that the promised Good Shepherd is first greeted by the humble shepherds can certainly be touched upon (at least) during the sermon.

 The Sermon Text – Luke 2:17 & 18 

(NIV) - 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.

(ESV) - 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.
(KJV) - 17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.  18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
(Luther Bible/1545) - 17 Da sie es aber gesehen hatten, breiteten sie das Wort aus, [Since they had however seen it, they spread the word,]  welches zu ihnen von diesem Kinde gesagt war.  18 Und alle, vor die es kam, wunderten sich der Rede, die ihnen die Hirten gesagt hatten.
(Novum Testamentum Nestle/Aland) -  17ἰδόντες δὲ ἐγνώρισαν  [and seeing they made known] περὶ τοῦ ῥήματος τοῦ λαληθέντος αὐτοῖς περὶ τοῦ παιδίου τούτου. 18καὶ πάντες οἱ ἀκούσαντες ἐθαύμασαν περὶ τῶν λαληθέντων ὑπὸ τῶν ποιμένων πρὸς αὐτούς·
Please note the underlined portions above.  Construction (as indicated in the English translations as well as the German and Greek verb forms) indicates a very quick, immediate action to what they saw.
Goal: That the hearers …would be strengthened in their discipleship life to bear witness to what they have seen and heard with the prayer that their witness too can change history.

Textual Exposition:   
  1. See note above concerning several English translations as well as Luther and Nestle/Aland.  I certainly see a sense of immediacy here.  Also of significance is that they told of what THEY HAD SEEN AND HEARD.  I am also assuming that includes not just the natal visit, but the announcement by the angel and the affirmation by the host. They told a fairly complete message.  A promise and a fulfillment.  Also to this point is that The Gospel of Luke (the learned and sophisticated physician) is the most literary and the most thoroughly Greek of the first three gospels so I do not take lightly the immediacy of the cause/effect, action/reaction in ἰδόντες δὲ ἐγνώρισαν  [and seeing they made known].

  1. General Context: some comments from Franzmann [underlining mine]  “… Luke extends his narrative in the Acts of the Apostles to include not only what Jesus ‘began to do and teach,’ but also the continued activity of the exalted Lord through His messengers…he (Luke) is going to carry on the account of the Gospel of Christ to include the triumphant progress of the Gospel…that mighty growth of the Word of the Lord which he and his readers have come to know as the power of God in their own experience …man has not come to know Christ fully until he has come to know also that church which the exalted Christ by His Word and through His messengers creates.”     

The shepherds of the nativity offer a great example in discipleship, to be the messengers of the Gospel, simply by relating the power of God in our own experiences.  God uses His messengers to create His church, truly a triumphant progress.

  1. The Lutheran Study Bible {CPH 2009}   Luke 2:17 – “The Good News about Jesus is contagious.  The shepherd immediately broadcast what they had seen and heard. 
Theological Reflection:  
The Nativity Narrative in general and the Visit of the Shepherds in particular has been so transfigured by Christian legend, song, and art that it is difficult to read it or hear it afresh in the simplicity of Luke’s narrative.  The gift of God IS given “silently.”  Jesus comes into the world sharing with His people the degradation of foreign, pagan domination.  The Roman emperor “dictates” the place of His birth.  From the beginning “the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head” (9:58).  He is bedded in a manger and He is wrapped in swaddling cloths like any Jewish baby. The news of His birth is proclaimed only to unhonored shepherds, for whom His lowliness is the sign (12, 16) that identifies Him.    The “wondrousness” of the gift is marked by the Word of God, by which the angelic messengers of God interpret the event as God’s act for us men and for our salvation.  Not the child but the interpretive word has the radiant glory and the song of the heavenly host.  That word is good news of a great joy, the fulfillment of Gods promise to David for all the people of God, news of a Savior; a Deliverer who brings radical deliverance from man’s desperation, the anointed King who has the right and the might (Lord) to carry out God’s gracious purpose for man, to bring God’s peace to men who have no claim to it but receive it gratis from His sovereign and spontaneous grace (is pleased, 14).  
Thus God is glorified, in the glory of His grace, and is praised by the tongues of angels (13) and men (20).  From this interpretive word fresh light falls on the lowliness of the Christ’s beginnings.  Not the Romans but God, the Lord of history, dictated the place of Jesus’ birth; He is fulfilling His promise of a Deliverer, a Key, a Branch, a Root, a King, from little Bethlehem.  God brought the Promise down into the depth of man’s misery, that He might deliver man by taking up the burden of man’s misery Himself.  God picked shepherds to be the first recipients of the good news for the poor, that all men may be given ears to hear the good news to the poor.
To the shepherds then falls the singular privilege of being the first of the human creation to spread the good news, to tell abroad, all the things concerning this Child.

Hearer Depiction: In our daily life and living, the strongest witness we have to Jesus Christ is the personal stories that we have of how He has touched our lives, been incarnated unto us, through our own experiences.

Law/Gospel Proclamation: Our condition as sinners prompted the arrival of the Divine Son of God.  We cannot know God except through His revelation to us.  With the eyes of faith we see Him, with the eyes of faith we recognize Him and how He has graciously come to us personally, individually.  His promised presence in Baptism and Lord’s Supper and The Word, but also He surely He comes to us in our common, mundane everyday life and works His glorious activity in us.  We follow the example of the Shepherds as we tell of those things WE have seen and heard.


Dec 21 - Season of Promise: King of the Nations

Date:  December 21, 2014;  The Fourth Sunday in Advent
Worship Elements Ideas – Beginning on page 8 of this document
Text:  (suggested readings for the day (see page 9)

 The Sermon Text - Colossians 1:13-20  (ESV)
Just a general observation - the Colossians text (1:13-20) is not included in the periscopes of the current lectionary system.  Series “C” Proper 10 is 1:1-14 while Proper 11 jumps to 1:21-29, therefore we can assume that our hearers have not heard this read or preached on in quite some time.

[ Some of the “King” language and allusions are underlined]
13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

Goal: That the hearers …would be strengthened in their faith in Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of The Promise, especially as we reflect on His Messianic role and title as King of the Nations.

Textual Exposition:   (General Context)
Since Colossians is one of the “captivity epistles” we are not surprised that Paul has authority (kingship [Caesarship]) on his mind as the Holy Spirit inspires this epistle as Paul attacks a growing heresy at the church in Colossae. 

While the specific heresy is unknown, internal evidence points to some form of Gnosticism, seemingly built on a fusion of Greek and Oriental ideas that featured at least 3 elements.  

One was theosophic, - a new teaching claimed to have and to impart an occult, profound knowledge derived from God, and of course, apart from Christ.  Paul speaks contemptuously of a “tradition” and a “philosophy” in 2:8.  

Another element appears to be ritualistic as stress was placed on circumcision (see 2:11); questions of food and drink, festivals, new moons and sabbaths were deemed important as aesthetics elements were combined in the system, and of course became a form of works righteousness, supplanting grace and the work of the Christ..  See also 2:16 and 2:21, 2:23.  

Finally, Paul’s reference to the “worship of angels” in 2:18 and to “elemental spirits of the universe” in 2:8 & 20, indicate what was the heart of the danger in this teaching.  OTHER POWERS higher, more esoteric, more mystical, and therefore more authoritative than a simple carpenter’s son from the unremarkable province of Galilee in a conquered and defeated nation that owed allegiance to Rome, were proclaimed and invoked as mediators between God and man.  

Fundamentally, this heresy called into question the person and the work of Jesus, Who Jesus is and Why He came.  This battle was over authority and position and power and validity.  Therefore Paul asserts ”… that in everything He might be preeminent.”  

Please note Paul uses a word here (“preeminent” ESV; “pre-eminence” KJV) that has as its root the formal language of the King’s (Caesar) Court (your Highness, your Eminence)  
By the way this (Col. 1:18) is the motto of Concordia University in Ann Arbor. 

Theological Reflection:  
The major theme of the Old Testament can be summed up in this statement: The Messiah Who is to Come. Through Historical Events and Religious Rites, through Titles given and Types portrayed, God, in an ever increasing and more detailed manner, tells His people: "This is what the Messiah, the Promised One, will be like”.

King of the Nations is one of those titles given and fulfilled. In the Colossians text, Paul emphasizes this kingly aspect of our Lord’s three-fold office.
The question before us then is - How are we to understand this image of the Promised One as King of the Nations?  What does it tells us about His Nature or His Work?

Regarding “Kingdom of God” statements as well as the prophetic references to the coming “King of Kings” including the fulfillment of these promises in the New Testament, Dr. James Voelz in his volume What Does This Mean? (especially pages 267 ff) can be very helpful
It was through the fulfillment of these prophecies that Israel was told she would be able to recognize the true Messiah when He came. The four gospels record several times when Jesus said that He was fulfilling a prophecy of the Old Testament. Luke 24:27 records, for example, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”  Verse 44 also notes “Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’” 
Jesus Christ said, “For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me” (John 5:46, NKJV). Likewise, Christ's disciples taught that He fulfilled Old Testament prophecy (e.g., Acts 3:18; 17:2-3; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
This Promised One is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, the very power of the Word of Creation.  His work on our behalf need not be added too; neither should it be subtracted from.  He is in charge and is reigning on our behalf, on behalf of His church, His body, the Church militant unto the full completion as the Church Triumphant.  This empowers our daily living and dramatically affects our growing in discipleship.

See Luther’s Small Catechism, LSB companion edition, 2005,  Second Article, The Office of Christ,  pages 127 – 130 [kingly office C. page 129]; Question 125.  
Also “State of Humiliation” excursus p. 130 as well as State of Exaltation p. 138.

Hearer Depiction:  Christ Jesus is indeed King and we have been made members of His kingdom. He is in control, no matter what our circumstances might dictate. 
Having trouble in your marriage?  Christ is King, take it to Him and let His power work on you , in you, and through you.
Are you struggling with health concerns?  Christ is King, take it to Him and let His power work on you, in you, and through you.
Battling guilt and regret?  Christ the King has made peace, the treaty has been signed in His blood.  Take your guilt and your failures and your regrets to Him and let His power work on you, and in you, and through you.

Law/Gospel Proclamation: Our condition as sinners (law) prompted the arrival of the Divine Son of God, the very Prince of Heaven, who out of His unconditional love for His creation made us members of His eternal Kingdom (gospel).

Our fallen human nature leads us to look elsewhere for the power and strength that is Christ’s alone.  Our fallen human nature leads us to believe that we are the center of the universe, 
that we are in charge of our own lives. (law)

Christ as King relieves us of unattainable expectation.  In all things He is at work for us, in us and through us. (gospel)


Dec14 - Season of Promise: Dayspring from on High

Date: Dec. 14, 2014
Sermon Title: O Dayspring
Text: Isaiah 9:2

Goal: Jesus comes into the shadow of death (earth) bringing light and the dawn of redeeming hope.

Textual Exposition: 
Vs. 1 sets the stage to verse 2.  Isaiah is clear that gloom will be no more for any in distress.  Isaiah is speaking to a people caught in the fear of Assyrian destruction.  The area of Naphtali and Zebulun, northern Israel, suffered with the Assyrian invasion in 734 and 732 B.C. These two tribes were part of the Northern Kingdom that was ultimately destroyed in 722 B.C. by the Assyrians. 

The area of Galilee where Jesus grew up and He spent most of his three year ministry is in the region of Naphtali and Zebulun.  In essence, Isaiah is using two different descriptors (tribal names and Galilee) to describe the same area. The population of Galilee was dominantly gentile.

The phrase “by the way of the sea…” is a major highway that went from Damascus in the north to Egypt in the south.  

Vs. 2, Isaiah is clear that there will be a day when the messiah will come and bring a great light.  The contrast is all of us people walking in darkness. Outside of Jesus we are all caught in the darkness.  

In fact, Isaiah tells the reader that we live in darkness and in the “shadow of death.” We live in the grays of hopelessness.  It isn’t the Light to behold nor the darkness and futility of death.  We live in a place that anticipates death. What will we do with the shadows? 

It is into this shadow that light dawns.  When the sun comes up the fear of the darkness is gone. Darkness is where danger lurks and ultimately where we don’t know what is to come. We live in the shadow begging for Light and fearing the darkness approaching. 

Isaiah is clear the light is breaking forth.

Theological Reflection: 
I’m struck by the contrasts. We have darkness and shadow.  Great Light and dawn breaking forth. This contrasts really does speak to the journey each of us wrestles with in our lives.  We yearn for light but feel the pull of the shadows.

Hearer Depiction: 
All of us have experienced the real darkness of the deep woods at one point or another.  When there is no light the world does become VERY dark.  People get the contrast.  When the dawn breaks through, the darkness is penetrated. Darkness never lives in the midst of light. It can’t. Its impossible.

Law/Gospel Proclamation: 
I see the contrast of dark and light (dawning).  We all yearn to hide in the shadows.  The only way we get out of the shadows is that a Great Light comes. We don’t walk toward the light, the light comes to us.  The light dawns by its own choice, otherwise the darkness will cling to us because we want to hang on to it.  Note the difference, we grab onto the darkness. We choose to live in the shadows.  

The arrival of the Great Light interrupts the darkness and does not allow it to be victorious.

Other texts for study or reflection: 
Psalm 82:5, “They know nothing, they understand nothing. They walk about in 
Darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken.”
Is. 42:6, “….I will keep you and make you to be a covenant…and a light for the
Is. 49:6, “I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation.”
Luke 1:79, Zechariah quotes Isaiah, he knows the arrival of his son is preparation
for the long awaited Messiah.
Isaiah 60:1-3, “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises 
upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. 
Exodus 10:21, Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward the sky 
so that darkness will spread over Egypt—darkness that can be felt.” 
John 1:3-9, “…in him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in 
the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
John 3:19-21, This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved
darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does 
evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will 
be exposed.
Psalm 37:6, “your righteousness shine like the dawn…”
Amos 5:8, “(he who made the Pleiades and Orion) who turns blackness into dawn 
and darkens day into night, who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out over the face of the Land – The Lord is his name -

Sermon Structure: 
I do see the basic structure doing a comparison/contrast between darkness and light.  

  1. Do an explanation of the Isaiah text.  Give the back drop of Isaiah 9.  The Assyrians are at the gates.  Hopeless reigns. Is. 60 is a good example of the fear of darkness.
  2. Culturally there was great fear of the dark.  There was no light. Homes had small flickering lanterns.
  3. How do we see darkness?  Why does darkness create such fear?  When does evil reign?
  4. The fact is that we all yearn to live in the shadows where we can hide in our own sin. Note examples of our own shadow life.  This is why we do a confession of sins. We acknowledge that embrace the shadows.
  5. Into the shadows a light comes. This is the small first century lamp. A light that barely penetrates the darkness.
  6. It would seem that this light would be consumed by the darkness. This is the promise of Is. 9:2. Galilee was of little importance and Nazareth of little value.  The lamp was small.
  7. Use John 1 and John 3 from above.  Light has over come the darkness.
  8. Where there is light, there is hope, hope always defeats the darkness.
  9. When dawn comes, we know of hope, a new beginning, a new start
  10. Close with the movie clip of Gandalf appearing. Jeff will have to tell me if this is possible.

Other worship or preaching ideas:
  1. Show the brief clip from the battle of Helms Deep in the Lord of the Rings trilogy when Gandalf arrives as dawn appears.
  2. I have two lamps. One from the first century and the other from around 300. Both are small. Technology didn’t change much. Darkness reigns supreme. We could possibly do something with these small lights.


Dec 07 - Season of Promise: The Key of David

O Clavis David (O Key of David)
Date: Sunday, Dec 7: Advent 2

Revelation  3:7 
To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.

Revelation 1:18
I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.

Isaiah 22:22
And I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David. He shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. 

Goal: That the hearers trust more securely in the Key of David to unlock their present and their future.

Textual Exposition:
 Revelation 3:7 and 1:18 together point back to Isaiah 22:22 and help us see in Jesus the Ultimate fulfillment of the servant Eliakim whom God raised up into a position of authority and stewardship under King Hezekiah (“Eliakim” means “whom God will raise up”); Jesus is the ultimate Whom God Will Raise Up.

The original setting of Is 22 is perhaps good for Bible study, but would take too much explanation about how prophesy and typology work for it to be helpful in the sermon; better to stick with the general concept of KEY in Isaiah and Revelation. Although we know keys in our culture, keys in the different cultures of the bible had different primary features. Here are some relevant ones:

Size: ancient keys (at the time of Isaiah) were often made of wood and could be quite large. They could be used to unlock a door, sometimes needing more than one person to operate. 6 inches to 2 feet would be most typical for size.

Access more than protection: especially before Roman times, a key to something like a safe would have function more to show identity or authority and grant authorized access rather than protection. Think about it: wooden keys and wooden locks can be forced much easier than our current day equivalents (where the emphasis is placed on being impenetrable or keeping things “safe”). But if you forced a lock, your unauthorized access would be known to all. Someone who carried the Key had the authority to enter a room or open a safe box and authority to use what was inside.

Status and Authority: That authority is one of the key features. Since keys were large and a symbol of status and authority, keys were often worn on around the neck or shoulders. You couldn’t afford something as expensive as a lock and key unless you had the kind of cash that needed protecting. And the one who had the key had the official authorization to access the goods. Thus in Is 22:22 the key is placed on the shoulder of Eliakim; the key was both functional and symbolic.  (Some might remember the archaic ceremony of presenting someone with the Key to the city; this originally had a very literal function and implication.)

Stewardship: The one who had the key also had authority not only to access, but also to use, whatever was behind locked doors. So Eliakim’s role was that of chief steward, the one who had the authority to go in and use everything and anything that belonged to the king and kingdom.

Freedom for the Captives: besides the stewardship of the kingdom’s treasures, the other primary domain of key relates to prisoners (of war, especially). A store house could protect treasure, or the person of the king, or conversely, could imprison enemies of the state. In this context, Revelation also views both death and hell as a kind of prison house. Both the actions of opening (in order to [permanently] release the prisoners [us/those who are physically dead]), and closing (to [permanently] shut off and confine the enemies of God and of God’s people) are functions of the Key itself.

Theological Reflection: 
The authority of Christ is one of the key theological loci of this reading. Jesus has authority from the Father, precisely because he submits himself to death and the grave. In this sense, the Key (Jesus) is placed in the Lock (the tomb) in order to open the gates of death and let the prisoners out.

There is also an eschatological theme at work here: in a real way, Jesus has already performed an End Times act by rising from the dead and by forgiving the sins of those who believe in Him. On the other hand, the Ultimate Fulfillment of “I shut and no one can open” awaits a final victor when that great serpent Satan will once and for all be cast into the Abyss and the gates to hell are permanently closed. Likewise, the Ultimate Fulfillment of “I open and no one can shut,” waits for the day when the graves of the saints will be permanently opened wide and death itself will be locked away. For now, we have life in the midst of death; when the Key performs his Ultimate function, we will have nothing but life forever and ever.

Side note: Jesus as ruler and provider for the Church is also a secondary theological tributary: is His role as Chief Steward and Key-bearer, Jesus has access to all of the treasures of the Kingdom and the job of distributing those treasures so they can be used to advance the kingdom (cf Ephesians 4).

Law/Gospel Proclamation: 
Several L/G experiences align with the primary function of KEYS.

1. Access and authority
Law: we naturally want to lock away parts of our heart/life/past so no one can get in and see how sinful we are.
Gospel: Jesus is the One who has Access to even our most hidden and locked away sins and secrets. He enters for the purpose of forgiveness and restoration.

2. Freedom for the Captives (already now)
Law: our own secret sins have us in bondage, in chains; they take us where we don’t want to go and lead us away from the Kingdom of God, as if we were prisoners of war being led into exile.
Gospel: The Key of David has the power and authority to set captives free. Jesus enters into the place of our sin and bondage. Jesus is the key, whose body is placed in the tomb; the result is an unlocked door. Sin and death can no longer hold you captive. You are set free by Jesus, the key.

3. Freedom for the Captives (not yet)
Law: we still experience death and the confinement of the grave; we still struggle with temptation, sin, death, and devil.
Gospel: The day is coming soon when the Key of David, the one with ultimate authority in the Kingdom of God, will act finally and decisively. Then your grace will be thrown open and it will never close on you again; then, the enemies of God and of God’s people will be locked away, and sin, death, and devil will never again pollute God’s people or creation.

Side thought: The Chief Steward who equips
Law: we don’t have what we need to effectively expand the kingdom of God
Gospel: Jesus, the Key-bearer, has authority and access to the treasure house of the kingdom. It is His good pleasure to equip you with everything you need to be about His Father’s business.

Hearer Depiction: 
Our hearers realistically experience sin and temptation as a kind of captivity that leads them away from God. There is a sense of futility and defeat. Sin can be experienced as a prison house. Those who rely on the Key know true freedom, not just a onetime release, but an ongoing relationship with the One who can set free.

Our hearers know what it is like to keep a dirty little sin secret, even from Jesus.  Our hearers know what it can be like to let Jesus in to a place in their heart/life they have locked from others. Jesus heals from the inside out.

Our hearers know how final a closed grave feels. They need the promise of the resurrection of the dead.

Other texts for study or reflection: 

Isaiah 22: 15-22
15 Thus says the Lord God of hosts, “Come, go to this steward, to Shebna, who is over the household, and say to him: 16 What have you to do here, and whom have you here, that you have cut out here a tomb for yourself, you who cut out a tomb on the height and carve a dwelling for yourself in the rock? 17 Behold, the Lord will hurl you away violently, O you strong man. He will seize firm hold on you 18 and whirl you around and around, and throw you like a ball into a wide land. There you shall die, and there shall be your glorious chariots, you shame of your master's house. 19 I will thrust you from your office, and you will be pulled down from your station. 20 In that day I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, 21 and I will clothe him with your robe, and will bind your sash on him, and will commit your authority to his hand. And he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. 22 And I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David. He shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. 

This is the original setting of the Key of David promise. Like many OT promises, it has a more local fulfillment but its promises seem bigger than the context warrants. The promise is fulfilled in Eliakim, but completed in Jesus. This might be a good text for Bible study that day … 

Ephesians 4:7-13
Jesus, as bearer of the keys, is the Chief Steward in the household of God, giving some to be apostles, prophets, evangelists etc. Jesus has access to the treasure house and the responsibility of using the treasures of God to advance His Kingdom.

Other resources:


Nov 30 - Season of Promise: The Root and Branch of Jesse

Sermon Series Title: The Promise
Date: November 30, 2014; The First Sunday in Advent
Text: Zechariah 3:8  "...I am going to bring my servant, the Branch, says the Lord."

Goal: That the hearers…would rejoice in the assurance that this Promised One would be True Man as well as True God  

Textual Exposition:  The major theme of the Old Testament can be summed up in this statement: The Messiah Who is to Come. Through Historical Events and Religious Rites, 
through Precious Proclamation, and even thru structures like the Tabernacle, God, in an ever increasing and more detailed manner, tells His people: "This is what the Messiah will be like." 

God, in His on-going revelation to the prophets, continued to "flesh out" the picture of who the coming Promised One, The Messiah, would be - His Nature and His Work.

From the Protoevangelicum, to the desert echoing identifier by John the Baptizer “Behold the Lamb of God”, the Person and Work of the Messiah is detailed so that there could be no mistake, no usurper. Our God is a God of detail
In the developing image of the coming Messiah, one of God's favorite pictures or "Visual Aids" is that of the Branch. Over 20 times in the Old Testament - the prophetic word contains the metaphor of The Branch or its corollary – Root of Jesse. 

The question before us then is - How are we to understand this image of the Promised One?
What does it tells us about His Nature or His Work?

Theological Reflection:  The Old Testament includes (depending upon which commentary one uses) about sixty different prophecies, with more than 300 references, of the coming of the Messiah. It was through the fulfillment of these prophecies that Israel was told she would be able to recognize the true Messiah when He came. The four gospels record several times when Jesus said that He was fulfilling a prophecy of the Old Testament. Luke 24:27 records, for example, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”  Verse 44 also notes “Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’” 

Jesus Christ said, “For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me” (John 5:46, NKJV). Likewise, Christ's disciples taught that He fulfilled Old Testament prophecy (e.g., Acts 3:18; 17:2-3; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
The particular image of the “Branch” presents the opportunity  for some catechesis regarding “Why Our Savior had to be True Man”  See Luther’s Small Catechism, LSB companion edition, 2005,  Second Article, The Two Nature of Christ,  pages 121 – 127; Questions 118 – 124.  Also “State of Humiliation” excursus.

Hearer Depiction: Although this Promised One is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, the very power of the Word of Creation, yet He is also fully human.  He knows what it is like to be me.  He knows of human frailty. We do not have a God who is unreachable, untouchable and unknowable; rather He comes to us at a most personal level.  In the image of The Branch, God is telling us very clearly that the Coming One would be of the same stock as those He was coming to save.  It is important to recall that a branch is connected.  It just doesn't appear out of nowhere. So also then Christ, according to the flesh, according to His Human Nature, proceeded from Abraham, Jesse, David and Mary.

This human connection is so important that 2 of the 4 Gospel writers took up valuable space and time to list all those boring "BEGATS".  The Branch is connected. The Son of God would also be the Son of Man. God knows what it is like to be human. In every way and in all things.

He knows what we feel when we are happy or sad. He knows what it’s like to be under pressure, to have deadlines and commitments. He knows what it’s like to be tired. He knows what it’s like to be abandoned by someone you love.

He knows the heartbreak of death.  Remember, He cried at the tomb of Lazarus.
Because of the Human Nature of Christ, God knows what it is like to die.
What a blessing that is for us.

Law/Gospel Proclamation: See above regarding effects of sin in the world.
Gospel, Christ as Substitute (yeah I know the Lutheran Default, but it is here)

Other texts for study or reflection: Isaiah 11

The character of the Promised Coming King includes:

1. (1) A stem sprouts forth from the stump of Jesse.

There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots.

Isaiah 10:33-34 left with the idea of the Lord chopping down the proud as if they were mighty trees. Now, the Lord is looking over the stumps, and causes a Branch to grow out of one of them, the root of the family of Jesse, David’s father.

Indeed, Jesus did come from the stump of Jesse. The royal authority of the house of David had lain dormant for 600 years when Jesus came as King and Messiah. When Jesus came forth, it was like a new green Branch coming from an apparently dead stump.

The LORD wanted Judah to know that even though the Assyrians and others would come and bring judgment, God would still use them and bring forth life from them. Even if they looked like a long-dead stump, God can bring forth life.

“We see a bare, withered tree stump, robbed of its trunk and top, and it looks as though the stump will never bear any fruit any more. But, a small shoot sprouts from the root of this dry stump which is the Davidic dynasty. Because of its unsightliness and misery, it is not named after David but after his father. When Christ was born, there was nothing royal about that dynasty. But a new shoot sprang from this old stem.” (Bultema)

In calling the Messiah a Rod from the stem of Jesse, the Lord is emphasizing the humble nature of the Messiah. Jesse was the much less famous father of King David. It is far more humble to say “from Jesse” than to say “from King David.”

Sermon Structure: I plan on using a modified Fame and Refrain structure.

Other worship or preaching ideas:
Closing illustration   

In London England, in Trafalgar Square, there is a memorial to England’s greatest naval hero, Admiral Lord Nelson. Nelson defeated the French and Spanish fleets off Spain's southern coast in 1805. Tragically, Admiral Nelson died in that battle, the battle that saved England.

In his honor and memory, in the middle of Trafalgar Square, the English built a huge column with a giant statue of Admiral Nelson at the top.

But there was a problem... 
One had to look way up to even observe the statue, and because the statue was so high above the ground, Nelson's features were indiscernible.  

However, in 1948 someone did something about that. They placed an exact replica of the statue of Lord Nelson, on a pedestal, at eye level, where he could  be examined and appreciated by the people walking through the square.

They had brought Nelson down from his colossal, untouchable column to  where the common man and woman could see him, look into his face and be awakened to what he had done for his country.

Many stated that they hadn't even notice the statue way up on top the column, until they had seen the statue that had been placed at eye level. Only then did they bother to look up.

The point is that this is what God did for the world.

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, God came to walk among humanity, that we might see Him and know Him and be awakened to the reality of His love.

God at eye level. God with us.

We have someone we can go to in every need, in every situation.

We have someone who knows Triumph and Terror.

We have someone who has shared life with us, and who wants to share His life with us.

What a blessing. What a comfort. What a joy.

No wonder God told us so many times that we have a Branch, the Rod of Jesse, and the seed of the woman. In Christ, God identifies with His human creation, in the closest possible way.

He is our Savior, and He is our very closest friend.

No wonder we are preparing to celebrate His birth.