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Epiphany IV, January 29, 2017 - St. Matthew 8:23-27

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Posted: Tuesday, January 31st, 2017 by Pastor Westgate

“What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” What kind of man is He? You’re not able to stop winter winds and cold or snow and rain. You’re not able to start them up either. You aren’t able to call for clouds or sun. You aren’t even able to tell the President of these United States what to do – right now. What kind of man is this, Who the winds and sea obey?

He is exactly what we’ve been learning about Him this Epiphany Season. He is “God in Man made manifest.” He is “The Only-begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, Begotten, not made, Being of one substance with The Father, By Whom all things were made; Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, And was incarnate by The Holy Ghost of The Virgin Mary, And was made man.”

“By Whom all things were made.” That’s the point today’s Gospel brings out. We saw 3 weeks ago that He is The Father’s Only-begotten Son, as He said to His Mother: “Did you not know that I had to be about My Father’s business?” We saw Him change water into wine, heal a leper up close and a child far off. This shows us He is God Who can do all things. His power over nature especially shows us this Man Jesus is true God, Creator of the world.

When The Creed says: “By Whom all things were made,” it quotes St. John’s first chapter. He begins His Gospel this way: “In the beginning was The Word, and The Word was with God, and The Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life; and The Life was The Light of men. . . And The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of The Only-begotten of The Father) full of grace and truth.”

What is St. John saying? The Father created all things through His Son. The Father didn’t decide on His own to create all things over the objection of His Son and The Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost was there hovering over the waters, Moses says, which means He couldn’t wait to make life. When The Father spoke, The Son acted. He made all things. The Father is The Creator, yet The Son created, and The Spirit gave life. It may be hard to understand, but this is what Scripture teaches.

So this God Who created all things, The Son of God Who spoke all things into being, The Word of God took on our flesh. He created all things, and made man in His image and likeness. He made all things very good, perfect and without the corruption of sin. But Adam sinned, and you sinned with Him. Man is the crown of creation; since he corrupted himself, he corrupted the whole world with him. So roses have thorns, the weather gets too cold, or hot, or completely out of whack, dogs and cats bite and scratch, rivers flood, disasters of all types (be they hurricanes, earthquakes, or tornados) strike, buildings and bridges collapse or get replaced, roads get potholes and landslides close them and accidents do too. Worst of all, you sin, and your sins hurt both you and others.

Bad things don’t happen because God causes them to happen. They happen because this world is broken. They happen because this world is perishing, because man is perishing if he is without Christ. God lets them happen not because He wants to annoy us, but because He wants to call us to Him. Roses are still beautiful, snow brings winter play, rain and sun grow food. Storms call on us to trust in God and rest all our fears in Him. Our Synod’s old German hymnal contains hymns for just this purpose, hymns for times of general national calamity, for wartime, for times of persecution, during severe storms and after storms, and during severe drought (*Walther's Hymnal *386-395). Why? God wants us to pray to Him at all times and in every trouble, as Dr. Luther teaches us in The Second Commandment. So The Church gave The Faithful words to sing and pray, knowing God hears and answers prayer.

These hymns also teach us about our relationship with God. They teach us that when bad things happen, we should recognize that God is warning us through them. He is warning us about how we live towards Him. If we do not repent of our sins, our fate will be far worse than what happens during a storm or in an accident. Our fate will be eternal death in hell, where the divine Son does not shine, where the fire is not quenched, where there is endless weeping and gnashing of teeth, sounds and feelings far worse than those coming from the weather or the mountains.

How can you escape this fate? “Lord, save, we’re perishing!” The Creator provides the escape. “He Whom the sea And wind obey Doth come to serve the sinner in great meekness” (TLH 81:2a). The Father sent The Son into the world to rescue you from eternal damnation. The Son did this by suffering something far worse than any of the natural disasters we face in this world, by suffering far worse than any suffering any storm may bring about. He did it by suffering eternal death in His own flesh upon The Cross.

What does this mean for us and for creation? He’s still in control of it, and He’ll never lose control. So when He comes again, creation’s bondage to sin will be broken. When He comes again to purify the world with fire, it will be cleansed of sin, and He will make all things new. You too shall rise from death on that day, and you who believe in Him will receive eternal life with Him in paradise, the eternal home of the elect which cannot be tainted by sin, into which sin and Satan cannot break in and steal. There you shall eat the tree of life and be with Jesus forever.

So storms and accidents and disasters cannot harm you, for they cannot rip Jesus from you. They cannot nullify His Death for the life of the world, His Death for your forgiveness. They cannot make you perish. For Christ perished for you upon The Cross, and you shall never perish. You are saved from sinking under the waves of eternal death. You are delivered in the ship to life eternal.

What manner of man is this? He stills the winds and the waves, and He forgives sins. He works to undo the curse of sin in your life. So “call on Him in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks.” By daily contrition and repentance drown and kill the Old Adam in you, that a new man daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever. For this Man, your God, The Creator of all things, is your Savior, God’s own Son, Who with us is one, Who joined us and our children in our weakness (TLH 81:2b). He has created in you the new man, the clean heart and willing spirit for which you now will pray. “To Him hold fast Until at last A crown be thine and honor in full measure” (TLH 81:6b).

Categories: Pastor Westgate's Sermons

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