THE INVOCATION

IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER AND OF THE SON AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. AMEN.

THE COLLECT                                                                                    

We beseech You, almighty God, mercifully to look upon Your people, that by Your great goodness they may be governed and preserved evermore in both body and soul; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever.  Amen

OLD TESTAMENT LESSON                         Genesis 22:1-14 (ESV)

After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.” And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.

When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 12 He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”

GRADUAL

Christ humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

EPISTLE LESSON                                       Hebrews 9:11-15 (ESV)

11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12 he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our[c] conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

15 Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.

GOSPEL LESSON

John 8:46-59 (ESV)

46 Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? 47 Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

48 The Jews answered him, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?” 49 Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. 50 Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge. 51 Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” 52 The Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.’ 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?” 54 Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ 55 But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” 57 So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” 59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.

SERMON

          “Christ has the Truth”

          I. The Truth which Rescues Us (46-51)

          II. The Truth which has been Delivered to us (52-59)

          Dear fellow redeemed,

          What is the truth? Have you been asking that question a lot recently? In light of all the news and information regarding the COVID-19 virus, many people are. Are you frustrated? There is so much information, so many sources of information, and so many conflicting reports, opinions, and pieces of advice. There is so much fighting and posturing amongst politicians. There are so many exceptionally strong opinions amongst us about everything related to this situation. Then too, there are all the predictions about how long this will all go on. What is the truth in all this? I can’t tell you because I don’t know. For one thing, I am not a medical expert. For another, there are many things about this situation that only God knows. But, I do know that the truth we need is available to us. I know Whom holds the truth. Christ has the truth – the truth which rescues us and the truth which has been delivered to us.

          At the beginning of our text, Jesus asked a question of people who did not believe in Him. “Which one of you convicts me of sin?” Jesus had the truth; Jesus is the truth. And, Jesus had told them the truth about their sinful condition. These people were lost in their sin and so they did not believe in Jesus and heed His Word. Each one of us was conceived into that very same condition. By nature we are lost in the sin of unbelief. We lack trust in Jesus and His Word. In the midst of this global pandemic, we are seeing so many examples of people lost in this unbelief; they are panicked and without true comfort for they do not believe in Christ. Every single one of us is conceived in sin. The wages of sin is death – physical in this life and eternal in the next.

          Christ is the source of truth. The truth is that we are by nature sinful and need a Savior. The truth is that Christ is the Savior who rescues us. Christ Jesus did not and does not have a sinful nature. The Holy Spirit miraculously caused His conception – there was no biological father of Jesus’ human nature. Thus, Jesus did not receive that inherited disease of original sin which all other people have. Jesus, from conception, and always, perfectly trusted in God the Father. Jesus perfectly trusted the Father’s Word. No one could convict Jesus of sin for He is sinless – no sinful nature, no sin committed.

Christ has the truth. Christ is the truth. One of the results of this is that Christ speaks the truth; this truth rescues us from sin, death, and hell. This is the truth we need above anything else. Jesus asked the people in our text, “If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me?” You see, truth is truth. It is objective. It is true whether or not you believe it. Sin leads to death and hell. Jesus is the only sinless one. Jesus is the only one who can rescue you.

Jesus answered His own question. “Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.” Who is “of God?” Those who have been made alive; those who have been brought out of unbelief into trust in Jesus the Rescuer. The sin of these people has been washed away. Your sin has been washed away. It was washed away in the waters of holy baptism by the power of the blood of Jesus. In baptism, you were made alive in faith in Jesus. In baptism, you were rescued by the truth.

You are “of God” so you hear the Word of God. This Word is the truth you need now and always. In the midst of all the isolation happening right now, continue to hear the Word. It is the truth you need. It is the truth that rescues you from sin, death, and hell. It is the truth which rescues you from despair and panic. You are of God. He is your confidence

Sadly, the people in our text did not believe and continued to reject Jesus. Since they could not refute Jesus’ words, they turned to insults. “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?” Samaritans were the descendants of the conquered northern Kingdom of Israel who had intermarried with foreigners. They were despised by some of the Jews, especially the religious leaders. Unbelief often resorts to blasphemy in response to the truth. This is why they also accused Jesus of having a demon, and this is why many unbelievers mock Christ and His Church. 

Jesus would never respond in sin. He rather responded with truth. “I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge.” The Son honors the Father. Those who dishonor the Son also dishonor the Father and the Holy Spirit as well.

Christ has the truth and in the end that will be seen and acknowledged by all. The Father will vindicate the Son. The Father is concerned with the Son’s glory, the Son’s highest honor, and He will execute judgement upon those who do not believe in the Son.

          But, Christ will rescue those who believe in Him. “Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” This promise is for you. Through Jesus, you will never see the eternal death of hell. Through Jesus, physical death is merely the gateway to eternal paradise. The COVID-19 virus cannot change this. Nothing can change this. The truth of Jesus rescues you forever.

          There is, and always has been, only one way to be rescued from sin, death, and hell. The truth of Jesus the Rescuer was believed by our Old Testament fathers and it has been delivered to us today. The Jews in our text had completely rejected the faith of their fathers. “Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.’”

          Note here that they twisted Jesus’ words. Jesus was precise in His words. Literally, Jesus had said, that the one who keeps His word would “not see death into the age,” a clear reference to eternal things. But, they acted as if Jesus had guaranteed that those who believe in Him would never face physical death.

          Additionally, they pointedly put Jesus below the Old Testament prophets. “Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died!” Of course, Abraham and the prophets had received the truth of the Christ and did believe in Him as far greater than they, as the very Son of God!

Lastly, they demanded of Jesus, “Who do you make yourself out to be?” It is not surprising that those who were dead in their sin would react this way. The sinful nature pronounces judgment upon Jesus.

We are not dead in our sin but we do have a sinful nature. Could it be that we too have at times pronounced judgment upon Jesus? Perhaps even in the midst of this COVID-19 pandemic? Maybe we have felt that God is in the wrong for allowing this to happen. Maybe we have reacted as if Christ’s spiritual help isn’t enough to sustain us in earthly strife. Maybe we have looked with hatred on others, whom Jesus commands us to love, for their response to this calamity. We too are sinners who need the truth delivered to us.

Once more, Jesus responded with the truth rather than with insult. “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’” Christ has the truth. Jesus truthfully announced Himself to be the Son of God. He declared the truth that He is God, and the Father gave evidence of the Son’s identity by working through Him.

These Jews claimed that they worshiped God the Father. They said they worshiped the same God as the Old Testament believers had worshiped. It was a lie; it was not true. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are one. You cannot reject the Son and still worship the Father. Faith in the only true God means faith in Jesus Christ.

So Jesus explained, “But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word.” Jesus uses two different words for “know” here. This highlights two things. First, Jesus knows the Father through His presence with the Father. Second, we should know the Father through His Word. The Word delivers to us the truth we need.

          God had also delivered that Word to the Old Testament fathers and they believed it. “Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” Through faith, Abraham saw ahead to Jesus. He looked ahead in belief to the promised Christ’s coming. He believed in that Christ for salvation. He had joy and confidence in the Christ.

          These Jews did not share the faith of Abraham; they were nothing like him. “So the Jews said to him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.’ So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.”

          Jesus tells them the truth: He is eternal as true God. Yes, He was there in Abraham’s day for He has always existed as true God. “I am,” not “I was.” The eternal Son of God has no beginning and no end just as the Father and the Spirit have no beginning and no end.

          This is immeasurably comforting to us. The truth is that the eternal God is the One Who saves us. The eternal God suffered and died on the cross to take away the punishment we deserved. What these Jews considered blasphemy is in fact the most comforting Gospel. That sinless life was God’s life. That holy blood was God’s blood. That death was God’s death. Therefore, there is no question. Forgiveness has been won. Your forgiveness has been won. And God delivers that forgiveness to you through His Word. Your faithless worrying, your challenging of God, your sin against others… all forgiven through Christ Jesus.

          Dear friends, do you want the truth about the COVID-19 virus? Here it is: Christ Jesus has rescued you from all the consequences of sin, including disease and death. In His timing, He will usher you into the glories of heaven where there is only health and life. This truth has been delivered to you. God has ensured that you receive this truth. God will uphold you by this truth. The LORD is your hope, your confidence, your rescue. Christ has the truth; Look to Him. Amen.

PRAYER

Almighty God, You forgive all our iniquities and heal all our diseases, and have proclaimed Your name to be the Lord who heals us and You have sent Your well-beloved Son to bear our sicknesses: Look in mercy upon Your unworthy servants, pardon and forgive us our transgressions, and of Your lovingkindness remove the plague of sickness which You have allowed to come upon us. This we ask according to Your will, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

THE BLESSING

The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you, the Lord look upon you with favor and give you peace. Amen.