Trinity Eighteen Sermon
ďDavidís Son and LordĒ
October 10, 2004
Every word that comes to us from
God is to teach us. But God
does not teach us many different doctrines.
God teaches us essentially two things: the law and the gospel.
They appear to contradict each other, but God cannot contradict
Himself and both of these teachings come from Him.
The law teaches us what are our obligations.
What do we owe God? What
do we owe our neighbor? The
law tells us. It says that
you are to love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your
soul, and with all your mind. It
says that you are to love your neighbor as yourself.
It judges you when you disobey.
It speaks the thunder of Sinai against all that sin against it.
The gospel does not teach us
what are our obligations. It
does not teach us what we owe to God or to our neighbor.
In fact, the gospel does not set any burden at all upon us.
It takes our burdens off of us.
It doesnít teach us what we are to do.
Instead, it teaches us what we should believe. It teaches us about our Savior, Jesus. The gospel is never simply inert teaching that lies in a
closed book or is filed away in the hidden recesses of our mind.
The gospel is God telling us that Jesus really is our Savior who
has fulfilled the law for us and suffered the just punishment we
deserved because of our disobedience. The gospel is the voice of the Holy Spirit, giving us the
forgiveness of sins that Jesus has won for us.
We learn the law and the gospel
in the Catechism. The law
is summed up in the Ten Commandments.
The gospel is summed up in the Creed.
First we learn the law in order that we may learn what is good
and bad, right and wrong, holy and sinful.
Then we learn the gospel in order that we may become good, right,
and holy. The law can show us what is good but it cannot make us good.
It can show us what is right but it cannot make us righteous.
It can show us what is holy but it cannot make us holy.
The gospel alone has the power to make us good, righteous, and
holy. Yet this gospel is
spoken only to those who are bad, wrong, and sinful.
If you are not bad you donít
need the gospel to make you good. If
you are not wrong you donít need the gospel to make you righteous.
And if you are not sinful you donít need the gospel to make you
holy. This is why every
Christian must learn the law if he is to learn the gospel.
The law has no power to set you free from your sins, bring you
forgiveness, and rescue you from the punishment that you deserve.
But while the law has no power to save you, if you will not learn
the law you cannot be saved. St. Paul put it so simply that any child can understand it.
He wrote: ďThis is
a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came
into this world to save sinners.Ē (1 Timothy 1:15)
If you are not a sinner, you cannot be saved from your sins.
Only Godís law can show you your sin.
Therefore, without the teaching of Godís law you cannot be
Godís law is not like manís
law. Godís law requires us to love.
It doesnít require us to obey a list of rules except insofar as
love requires us to obey a list of rules.
Even when treating our obligations to those who make the rules
Ė such as fathers and mothers and whatever government is placed over
us Ė Godís law teaches us to do more than merely to obey them. We are to honor them. Mere
outward obedience is not enough. Nor
is it enough to refrain from murdering anyone.
We may not hate him in our heart.
It is not enough to retrain from committing adultery. We may not
lust after anyone to whom we are not joined in lawful marriage.
It is not enough to refrain from stealing what does not belong to
us. We are to help our
neighbor improve and protect what belongs to him.
It is not enough to refrain from telling lies about our neighbor.
We are to defend him from hurtful gossip, speak well of him, and
explain his actions in the kindest possible way within the boundaries of
And why are we to love our
neighbor? We are to love
our neighbor because he was made in the image of God, because he was
redeemed by Godís blood, and because God wants him to come to faith in
the gospel and receive forgiveness of sins and eternal life in Christ.
We are to love our neighbor because in this way we love God. We cannot love God whom we have not seen if we do not love
those we can see. To love
God with our whole heart means that we with our whole heart agree with
Godís decision to love our neighbor as much as God loves us.
To love God with our whole soul is to love the soul of our
neighbor as much as we love our own lives.
To love God with our whole mind is to think of what benefits our
neighbor with at least as much affection as we think of those things
that will benefit us.
The law of love is not an
option. The Christian is not set free from the obligation to love God
and neighbor. The gospel
that gives us forgiveness of our sins against the law of love does not
give us permission to hate. In
heaven there will be no hatred. In
heaven love will be perfected. In
heaven we will indeed love the LORD our God with our whole heart, soul,
strength, and mind. In heaven we will not love ourselves more than we love our
brothers and sisters. To
teach that the gospel permits us to hate would be to teach that the
gospel that promises heaven denies the very gift it promises.
Hell is where hatred will rule forever and ever and shut out
every particle of love. Heaven
is where we will fully experience the love of God in a purity of
perfected love that will replace faith and hope.
God does not forgive us our sins so that we will embrace them
more firmly. No, God
forgives us our hatred, malice, lust, envy, covetousness, defiance, and
every other sin against love because God loves us and wants us to live
in that love. To live in Godís love is to receive and to give love.
We receive Godís love by
believing what God tells us about His love for us.
This is not just abstract knowledge, like learning the capitals
of the states or the multiplication tables.
To learn what God tells us about His love for us is to learn to
Only those who have been
indicted, tried, and convicted by Godís law are in a position to
understand Christ. When Jesus asked the Pharisees whose Son the Christ was they
said He was Davidís Son. They
were not wrong. The Christ
was Davidís Son. But the
Christ was also Davidís Lord. He
was Davidís Son and Davidís Lord at the same time.
The Pharisees didnít understand this but they could hardly deny
it. Jesus did nothing more
than to set forth the clear teaching of Psalm 110, which begins with the
words: ďThe LORD said to my Lord, ĎSit at My right hand, till I make
Your enemies Your footstool.íĒ King David wrote these words.
The Pharisees knew perfectly well that this psalm was a messianic
prophecy. It foretold the
coming of the promised Christ. The
fact that David called the promised Messiah or Christ ďLordĒ meant
that the promised Christ would be the Lord God in the flesh.
Known as the ďSon of DavidĒ the Christ would also be the Son
of God. The Pharisees did
not think they needed God to become flesh.
They did not believe they needed a Savior who would fulfill the
law for them and suffer for their sins.
Since they refused to see their need for a divine Savior, they
rejected the plain teaching of Godís word on the subject.
And so it goes today.
The teaching of Godís word about the Christ is important to
those who know their sin and their need for forgiveness.
But if we think that we have loved God and our neighbor as
Godís law requires of us we wonít care much about who the Christ is.
Is Jesus Christ a great man but only a man?
Is Jesus a godlike figure but not true God?
If we did not need Jesus to be our Savior it would not matter if
He were really and truly God and really and truly man at one and the
same time. But since we do
need Jesus to be our Savior it matters very much that He is not only
Davidís Son but also Davidís Lord.
The theology of the Pharisees is
much like what passes as Christian theology today.
Theology is simply talk about God.
What do we talk about when we talk about God?
For the Pharisees it boiled down to talking about the right rules
for the right situations. They
thought that religion was about what to do and when and how to do it. But thatís so far from the truth! True religion is about love, and not a sappy, sentimental,
humanistic notion of love that avoids the facts of life.
True religion is about the love that puts God above everything:
every affection, every perceived need, every personal goal, and every
hidden fear. True religion
loves God with a single-minded purpose that cannot be denied.
This love loves truly and sincerely in the face of competition
from other loves that appeal to our affections, our needs, and our
desires. This love sees the
opportunity to love God by loving everyone in need of whatever love can
But the love that is required is
simply too far above us. We
cannot reach out to it and bring it down to us.
We cannot reach inward to find it within ourselves.
We cannot produce it by any amount of struggling in prayer or
discipline or self-denial. But
this Love became incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary and was
made man. A true Son of
David, born in Bethlehem, the city of David, He was begotten of His
Father before all worlds. His
love never failed Him. When
confronted by hatred, bitterness, and jealousy, He loved.
When bearing mockery, spite, and painful beatings, He loved. When suffering the just punishment of God against the
loveless world of sinful humanity, He loved.
His love conquered hatred.
It destroyed it at its root.
He routed the father of lies and murderer of souls who leads Adam
and all his progeny into every expression of hatred that his devilish
genius can devise. The
purity of Jesusí love did battle against the malice, deception,
violence, murder, and inexpressible cruelty that is the hatred of all
humanity. One Man, the
God-man, the Descendent of David and Davidís God faced hatred with
love and defeated it.
He defeated it in the crushing
of the devilís head. He
defeated it in the drowning of all our sins in the sea of His innocent
blood so they cannot rise up to accuse us or claim us.
He defeated hatred root, trunk, branch, and leaf.
The full display of that victory will be seen only in heaven at
the resurrection, but Christís enemies have already been put under His
feet. He sits at the right
hand of the Father to intercede for us Christians as we struggle over
hatred, fall back into hatred, and rise up to love again.
He sends us His Spirit who pours His love into our hearts.
He uproots from our hearts, lives, and very minds the hatred that
would capture us and lead us into slavery.
He does so by the gospel, the final teaching to us from God that
tells us our sins are forgiven for the sake of Jesus Christ, Davidís
Son and Lord.
Rev. Rolf D. Preus