God Chooses What is Foolish and Weak

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1 God Chooses What is Foolish and Weak FOURTH SUNDAY OF THE EPIPHANY [a] MATTHEW 5: Seeing the crowds, [Jesus] went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: 3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. 7 Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in Heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. IN THE NAME OF JESUS. Jesus gives his blessing to all. He leaves out no one. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.

2 Poor in spirit this is the status of every person before the face of God. No one is left out. Spiritually emptied, worthiness before God, no wealth or resource to depend on that s the sinner standing before God. And the word of Jesus is, You are blessed, there is nothing of the kingdom of Heaven which I do not give to you. And though you do not see it, this kingdom belongs to you now. So, just as there is no one who is not spiritually poor before God, Jesus wants his blessing to go forth to all. He leaves out no one. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Those who mourn are those who, being hit with their spiritual poverty, mourn their emptiness and their inability to gain any spiritual worthiness before God, and they mourn the spiritual emptiness also in the church and in the world around them. You will be comforted, says Jesus. The comfort Jesus now speaks in the Word of Gospel, the comfort he now bestows when he comes to the sinner in his Body and Blood for the forgiveness of sins, that comfort keeps and encourages you until the coming of the kingdom on the Last day. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the Earth. The meek, the lowly in any accounting that we can see, the Earth is not theirs. As everyone knows, the Earth belongs to those who are high and lifted up, those who gain for themselves position in life. But Jesus gives the promise from Psalm 37:: But the lowly will inherit the Earth, And will delight themselves in the abundance of peace. These lowly, they hunger for righteousness, they thirst for the righteousness unseen in this world, hungering for God to enter in and set things right, for the evil to be closed out, for those who are arrogant to no longer be rewarded, for the protection of those who are beat down. They hunger even more for the righteousness of the sinner being justified by the word out of God s mouth.

3 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. The word of Gospel now declaring the sinner to be righteous before God, they will see that word brought into fullness, they will see what cannot now be seen in the world, they will see the restoration, they will see the bodies called out of the grave, no longer subject to sickness and death, they will see and be satisfied by the God s restoration. 7 Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. The merciful they are those who are pure in heart, for they have heard the Lord s Gospel, they have received the word of God s abundant mercy, and God has by this Gospel cleansed their consciences, he has purified their hearts, and they now rejoice in being merciful to those who sin against them. They are blessed not only to have hearts purified by God s mercy, but in abundantly giving this mercy to those with troubled consciences. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. Those persecuted for righteousness sake, those rejected because they would not agree that righteousness comes from the work of man instead of only by the gift of God, rejected because they would not put others under the oppression of the teachers of the Law, but would bring to them, instead, the Word of Lord which declares to sinner to be righteous by grace, those persecuted for this Gospel and for the Name of Jesus, they are the peacemakers, for the sinner will find peace nowhere else but in the righteousness Jesus bestows by his Word. Blessed are those who bring the word of grace and peace to those oppressed by the Law, for they shall be called sons of God. Jesus comes to bless. He gives his blessing for all. He wants no one left out. In all our spiritual poverty,

4 all our lowliness before God, all our fear of guilt, Jesus blesses with mercy. He cleanses our hearts and gives us in all abundance the kingdom of Heaven. Yet, we see none of it. Our eyes scan the world and see the opposite: the lowly are despised, the arrogant are held high; those who wield the Law and bring guilt are respected, those who show mercy are forgotten; and when things go wrong, people don t look for who can be forgiven, for who needs comfort, but for how to make things right by putting it under the Law. The mercy, the clean heart, the peace before God, the eye cannot see. Weakness: that s all the eye sees when looking at Jesus hanging on the cross, when looking at the Church, which is the body of Christ hearing the Gospel, when looking at the Christian life the eye sees weakness. Which is what the human eye should see. For the weakness of God is stronger than the strength of men. But this weakness of God which is really strength, is known not by eyesight, but by faith. It s known not by doing measurements on a person s life, but by hearing the Word of God bestowing blessing and mercy. When God speaks a Word, his Word creates what it says; when God declares you clean, you are clean, though our eyes don t see it; our eyes see only the body of sin. 1 Corinthians 1:27: 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. So, two realities: The first is what is we see with our eyes, the second is what we know by faith. The first is we can measured and compare, the second is what is fully abundant and given without any measure. The first is what we can put under the Law and manage, the second is what springs up under the Gospel and lives spontaneously from the gift of grace. The first is lived in the fear of death, the second is lived in the joyful anticipation of life eternal.

5 The first knows words of the Law, such as retribution and punishment and curse, the second lives from the language of the Gospel, such as forgiveness and mercy and blessing. For the first, we don t need Jesus, for we can live under the retribution of the Law on our own. For the second, it s Jesus blessing all, blessing sinners with the kingdom of Heaven, desiring no one be left out. Blessed are the poor in Spirit, says Jesus, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. This cannot make sense to our world. For that matter, it cannot make sense to our own sinful flesh. For the demand of the world and of flesh is the demand for the strength. And that is the demand for the measurements of the human life and the shame that comes with that; it s the demand for retribution for all that is wrong. The wisdom of the world is that righteousness must come from the worthiness of the life and not purely from the mercy of God. That the sinner is abundantly and freely forgiven on account of Jesus, this is foolishness to our world, and our world rejects it. To our world, the person will live by his works, not by God s blessing. But Jesus says, Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in Heaven. That is Jesus blessing to us. IN THE NAME OF JESUS.

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