The Word Brings Life! Matthew 8:1-13

January 22, 2023
Rev. Nathan J. Rusert

Our Creator comes not to destroy, but that we might have abundant Life through His flesh and blood. Sermon Text: Matthew 8:1-13. Sermon Theme: "The Word Brings Life!" preached for the Third Sunday After Epiphany, 22-January-2023, at Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Tell City, Indiana by Rev. Nathan J. Rusert

Episode Notes

Third Sunday After Epiphany                   22-January-2023
Sermon Text: Matthew 8:1-13
Sermon Theme: “The Word Brings Life!”

I.N.R.I. Gen 1:26-28 Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." (27) So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (28) Then God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth." On the sixth day of all history the Lord God molded man from the clay of the earth in His own image with His own hands. Then kneeling down He breathed Adam alive through the Lord and Giver of Life - God the Holy Spirit. Man was created to be in community reflecting the undivided unity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit within the God head. So the Creator caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep to bring forth new life from his side. Christ took Adam’s flesh and bone and built it into the female. Created in the image of God. Created for the community of marriage - the life long union of one man and one woman. Created to bless the world with children and the family. Created as her husbands helper to walk alongside him raising their children to know their Creator in His Word as they cared for the world entrusted to them.
    It was only after the Lord God got His hands dirty with clay, flesh, and blood making a male and a female, married, and blessed them - that God the Father now proclaimed His creation -“me`od tov”- “very good!”
Mankind isn’t an accident of evolution’s mythology. Mankind is created in God’s image. In Jesus the Father and Holy Spirit reveal “the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power”(Heb. 1:3) In Jesus the loving face of our Heavenly Father is revealed as He breathes forth the Comforter through His living Word. In Jesus God is revealed and known. In Jesus true humanity is revealed and known. Apart from Jesus we cannot know God nor man. Jesus is the Word made flesh who lives among us. He alone brings life to the world.
      Satan rebelled against his Creator. He sought to over throw God’s rule in heaven and seize all power for himself and his legions. When he failed - he subverted the crown of creation - mankind by leading them from Christ and His Word to trust in their own wisdom, ways, feelings, and desires. Satan lies. His lie of freedom, power, and life were only a net to enslave mankind to sin, guilt, and death under devilish tyranny. Creation polluted by Adam’s sin groans under thorns, thistles, disease, sickness, and death reclaiming man to the dust. Satan, evil, wickedness, sin, sickness, deformities, and death cry out in victory. Then the Good Shepherd God came walking, seeking His lost lambs, calling them to repent and return to His Word of Promise. He would pay their price, free them from the Lie’s tyranny, restore them and His creation.  
      Listen! Learn! Jesus - “The Word Brings Life!”
Satan hates humanity. He despises the body/soul creatures made in the Image of their Creator. He incites us to murder one another in wars, abortions, neglect, and a myriad of other evil ways. The Creator speaks His Word to protect your life. Gen 9:6 "Whoever sheds man's blood, By man his blood shall be shed; For in the image of God He made man.” Five decades and over sixty three million unborn babies have been slaughtered in the U.S. alone. Ignoring the sacredness of all human life we’ve exported the slaughter of humanity for profit with the lie that economic freedom is found in murdering future citizens.
      The Creator comes bringing life to our world through His Word. (Vs. 1-2). Jesus preaches the Sermon on the Mount and great crowds follow Him. Disease isolated one man away from the crowds. He was a leper. It began innocently as a small white scab that wouldn’t heal. Soon it infested his entire body. Deadening his nerves and flesh. The Law demanded that he isolate himself to protect the healthy from his disease. Covering his diseased skin and face with rags he had to gurgle out the warning, “Unclean! Unclean!” Hearing Jesus’ preaching isolated from the crowd. He is drawn to the Word of Life. “Lord” he confesses Jesus as Yahweh - The Creator in our flesh. “If you will” - he trusts alone in the Father’s good and gracious will. “You can make me clean” - he clings to the renewing power of the Holy Spirit present in the Word spoken. Faith is never your work or your choice - it flows from Jesus through His Word by His Spirit gathering you to His Father.
      There were many lepers in Israel in Elisha’s day. The Lord Christ would only heal Namaan, a gentile soldier, by water and His Word. There are many religious hucksters claiming to be faith healers - if only you follow them. When their promised cures fail, they blame you for not having enough faith. Satanically they turn your eyes away from Christ crucified and risen bringing perfect healing through forgiveness sealed upon you in Holy Baptism - to look at yourself, or at them. Beware of Satan’s minions who despise the washing of holy baptism promising you physical or financial healing through their principals and programs. What does Jesus do? (Vs.3) The Creator gets His hand dirty with this man’s diseased flesh. The Law forbade anyone to touch the unclean - Jesus touches this man. He cares for His body and soul. His Word brings healing and life. “I will; be clean.” Immediately the diseased flesh is gone - he is clean. When Jesus speaks - life happens! God promises, Mar 16:16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” In baptism Jesus touches our bodies with water and our ears with His Word. The Triune God reclaims us as His own through the cross of Christ - His Name is on us - We are His - He saves us!. Our risen Lord Jesus promises, Joh 20:23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." Burdened with sin come into His Church - here God the Holy Spirit daily and richly applies to you the balm of cross won forgiveness. Don’t allow Satan to drive you away from Jesus because of your sins. Jesus takes all sin into Himself - in your guilt come - come in private confession and He will place His hand upon your forehead and speak you forgiven through your pastor as His flesh and blood ambassador of grace. (Vs.4) Jesus doesn’t heal the leper to garner fame, but rather to restore the man to life. He is to go to the priest, be declared “clean” and give all glory to God alone by following His Word preached through Moses. Learn well, we don’t market Jesus, we don’t sell salvation - we speak His life giving Word to our neighbor that Christ may be glorified.
      Christ’s Word works! Satan from the beginning seeks always to lure us away from listening and trusting in Jesus’ Word. Don’t fall prey to his myriad of detractions and false images he flashes before your eyes. Turn off the screens, open your Holy Bible, read, mark, consume, and inwardly digest Christ’s Word. “Read the red letters in the Gospels, memorize them, think on them!” Christ’s Word works! (Vs 5-6) Matthew tells us that a centurion comes to Jesus - a foreigner - a Roman army commander of 100 soldiers. This man in power and authority has compassion for a lowly servant of his household. Typically Romans looked at servants as tools, property, if they grew old or sick - they were put to death - disposed of and another slave was bought. If you weren’t a citizen of Rome, your life had little value. This man’s heart had been changed - he heard the Word of Jesus - perhaps through others, or by keeping the crowds in order who gathered around the Lord.
      He comes to Jesus praying for healing for his servant. (Vs.7) Jesus will come. He a Jew, will make Himself unclean by entering a Gentile’s house. (Vs.8-9) The Centurion humbles himself before this Jewish Rabbi - he isn’t worthy. The Lord God only needs to speak His Word! He trusts in the word of Jesus spoken to bring healing and life to his ailing servant.  
    The Centurion knows the power of the Word. He commands men, but is under authority. When the order is given - it is carried out among the ranks. Jesus, the Lord, the Creator of Heaven and Earth - only needs to speak His Word and healing will happen according to God the Father’s good and gracious will. Learn well dear Christian - the Faith clings to Jesus’ Word - not what it feels, experiences, or thinks - the Words Jesus speak are Spirit and Life. His Word cannot be shattered, nor His promises ever broken! (Vs.10-12) Jesus marvels. His own people don’t receive Him, but this gentile soldier does - the Light shines in the darkness. No one in Israel has so great a faith as the Holy Spirit has worked in the Centurion’s heart through Jesus’ Word. The Word of Jesus will gather many into His Church and feast of forgiveness, life, and salvation at His Table. While those born from Abraham according to the flesh will be cast out - refusing to listen and gather at His Table within His Church. (Vs.13) Jesus blesses this Centurion’s faith and prayer. Learn from the Centurion that Word breathed Faith looks only to Jesus for healing, life, forgiveness, and salvation. It receives all this as gift from our Creator. Word breathed Faith lives not for itself - but it humbly pours itself out in love for its neighbor - helping and supporting their body and life in every need.
      The battle against Satan, the Lie, the evil, and wicked promoting death, mutilation of bodies, and human pesticides as really living is not over. We overcome evil with good. Abortion has been turned back to the states, but human life is given to each of us to cherish, protect, redeem, and treasure. We must speak the healing word of forgiveness to those who crushed by our culture of death - in Jesus there is healing. We must care for the severely tormented by the Lie - speaking the Creator’s Word which restores our conscience through forgiveness of our sins. We must care for the diseased speaking Christ’s healing Word of resurrection - death and disease has lost - we are baptized into His sin atoning death on Good Friday and His victorious resurrection on Easter Sunday. His ascension assures us perfectly healing is ours - He will speak “Arise” and our corruptible bodies will put on incorruption - then we shall see our Savior face to face - Our Creator - Our Jesus! Amen.

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