"Check Your Pulse!" John 15:4-6 Christian Questions and Answers #19,20

Series: 2023 Midweek Lenten Sermons

March 29, 2023
Rev. Nathan J. Rusert

Judica, Wednesday - Midweek Lenten Vespers 5 29-March-2023 Christian Questions with Their Answers: Prepared by Dr. Martin Luther for those who intend to go to the Sacrament [The "Christian Questions with Their Answers," designating Luther as the author, first appeared in an edition of the Small Catechism in 1551, five years after Luther's death]. After confession and instruction in the Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and the Sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper, the pastor may ask, or Christians may ask themselves these questions: .....Note: These questions and answers are no child's play, but are drawn up with great earnestness of purpose by the venerable and devout Dr. Luther for both young and old. Let each one pay attention and consider it a serious matter; for St. Paul writes to the Galatians in chapter six: "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked." Series: “Christian Questions and Their Answers: 19-20" Sermon Text: John 15:4-6 Sermon Theme: “Check Your Pulse!”by Rev. Nathan J. Rusert

Episode Notes

Judica, Wednesday - Midweek Lenten Vespers 5                                     29-March-2023
Series: “Christian Questions and Their Answers: 19-20"
Sermon Text: John 15:4-6
Sermon Theme: “Check Your Pulse!”by Rev. Nathan J. Rusert

I.N.R.I. Whom do you want? A loud man of action! Powerful! Bringing change, no matter what the cost! Protesting the injustice! A rebel! A man loved by the masses! A true son of his father. A man destined to live. Or would you choose the silent Man. A Man mocked, spit upon, scoffed, and falsely accused. A man hated by the crowds. Beaten to a pulp. A true Son of His Father - destined to die!
      We know the history of that first Good Friday. As dawn breaks the trial is held. The ruling priests couldn’t find even two eye witnesses whose testimony agreed to put Jesus to death. They jettison the requirement of God’s Law and bring the Innocent Lamb of God to be slaughtered by the Roman sword. They accuse Jesus of rebelling against Caesar’s authority and rule claiming to be the King of the Jews. They trump up the charges claiming He taught people not to pay taxes to the government. Pontius Pilate tries Jesus and finds Him innocent. There is no reason to execute Him. Learning that He is from King Herod’s jurisdiction of Galilee he sends Jesus to stand trial before him. Herod mocks Jesus, but finds no evidence that deserves death.
      The ruling priests aren’t satisfied. It is Passover they want innocent blood poured out. They demand Jesus’ crucifixion. Pilate then tries to broker a deal - does the early morning mob want Barabbas, a murderous terrorist, or do they want Jesus, the Prince of Peace, the King of the Jews. The mob demands a fellow murderer be released. The Innocent Man must die. His life exposes their sin.
      Whom do you want? In a few days four of you will vow to remain faithful to the Man hated by the mob. To follow Jesus is the way of the cross. You will vow to come into His House and feast with Him often. Will you? Or will the mob convince you to stay away, to choose Barabbas by your words and actions? To demand Jesus crucifixion by returning to your former sinful ways?  
      Left to your own reason and strength - the only way you are led is the way of father liar and murderer - the devil’s way. You cannot free yourself from his chains. Your flesh loves its sins. The world encourages you to cry out, “Away with Jesus, release unto us Barabbas - let me have things my way!”
      Beware the evil one seeks to swallow you up in spiritual death. Daily take the time to: “Check Your Pulse!”
        At the Last Passover Jesus teaches His disciples, Joh 15:4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.” Jesus is the Vine we are the branches. He grafts us into His own living flesh and blood. God the Father is the loving Vinedresser. The dead unfruitful branches He takes away casting them into fire, the fruitful branches He prunes, so that in suffering they might bear more fruit. (LSB pg. 330 ?#19) Admonishment and encouragement to receive this Sacrament frequently is what we need. Admonishment for from Adam we are 100% sinners slaves to sin, led astray by the world, and deceived by Satan’s spiritual lies. Satan will lie that the sacrament is more special if we only have it once a month, then maybe four times a year, and finally convince us that there is no need to come to the Lord’s table. Listen to Jesus admonish your flesh, “Do this often!” It is His command. The early church understood His command, every Lord’s Day - every Sunday they “broke bread” that is celebrated the Lord’s Supper within their congregations.
        Abide in Me! Jesus encourages you! By grace He has declared you to be 100% a Saint - IN HIM! Not apart from HIM! You are baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection. Baptized into Christ you have put on Christ. His innocent life is the daily clothing you wear. Listen to His Promise in this meal prepared FOR YOU. (LSB pg. 326. What is the Benefit...?) Jesus promises you His living body and blood in this supper rejoice to receive it often.
        Second realize your own pressing need. The branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine. A branch broken off the grape vine withers up and dies - without the life giving sap of the Vine flowing through it to bring forth fruit for the world - it dies. Listen to the Root and Source of Life: “Joh 15:5 "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” Without Jesus you bring forth only death. You may fool yourself that you are spiritual, but it isn’t the Holy Spirit who inhabits you, but the spirit of the prince of darkness - a lying spirit who leads you away from Jesus - away from the Vine which alone brings life to sinners.
          Check your pulse! EMT’s pay attention to a patient’s vital signs - signs of life: pulse, breathing, alertness. When the pulse grows weaker, the patient is failing. What if you feel no spiritual pulse? What if you have no desire to receive a blood transfusion from Jesus? (LSB pg. 330 ?#20) Check your pulse! Do you still have flesh and blood? If you are still in your human body trust what the Spirit of Truth - God the Holy Spirit teaches of your flesh and blood. Listen! Gal 5:17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.” Alive in Christ you are at war against sin in your members. Paul testifies as a Christian, Rom 7:18-19 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. (19) For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.” What are the deadly works of our sinful flesh? “Gal 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, (20) idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, (21) envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” The mirror of God’s Holy Ten Commandments will expose your sin - that Christ might wash it away with His forgiving blood - freeing you daily to live a new life in Him - as His life blood flows through you in Him! Heed His warning, “Joh 15:6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.”
    Second, if you have a pulse and still remain in your flesh and blood - look around you - are you still in the world? Trust what the Scriptures tell you of life in this fallen creation. The world will hate you as it hates Jesus. Again we saw the world’s murderous hate slaughter three children and three adults on Monday at a Christian day school in Nashville. The world rejoices in evil and hates the Truth of Christianity. The whole world is under the sway of the wicked one - our victory is in Christ Jesus who has overcome the world by His flesh, blood, water, and His life giving Holy Spirit.
      Third, if you have a pulse, and remain in this fallen world - realize the devil prowls like a roaring lion. He seeks to devour all whom Christ has marked with His Holy Cross in baptism. Satan lies, murders, seeks to rob Christians of their peace. He cannot - our peace is found in Jesus! He who was dead, lives, and rules. He draws near to us here at His table. Dead in our sins. He breathes forth His life renewing Holy Spirit forgiving us our sins. He transfuses His living blood and body into our lifeless flesh - we live in Him - His victory is ours! We are clothed in Christ’s mighty armor - truth, righteousness, peace, salvation, His Word, and His prayer! The roaring lion is resisted as His flesh and blood keeps us steadfast in His Word and Faith!
      Whom do you want? Soon you must decide every day, every Sunday - may you by the Father’s grace and life giving Holy Spirit choose - JESUS, JESUS, only JESUS - feasting on Him at the Tree of Life. Amen.


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