Sermon Transcript – Coming Down the Mountains

1 Year Lectionary – Third Sunday After the Epiphany – Sunday, January 23, 2022 | Pr. Chris Rosebrough

Welcome to the Teaching Ministry of Kongsvinger Lutheran Church. Kongsvinger is a beacon for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and is located on the plains of Northwestern Minnesota.
We proclaim Christ and Him crucified for our sins and salvation by grace through faith alone, and now, here’s a message from Pastor Chris Rosebrough:
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Time StampTranscript
0:28the holy gospel according to saint matthew the eighth chapter [Music]
0:39when Jesus came down from the mountain great crowds followed him and behold a leper came to him and knelt before him
0:45saying lord if you will you can make me clean and Jesus stretched out his hand and
0:51touched him saying i will be clean and immediately his leprosy was cleansed and
0:57Jesus said to him see that you say nothing to anyone but go show yourself to the priest and offer the gift that
1:03moses commanded for a proof to them when he entered capernaum a centurion came
1:08forward to him appealing to him lord my servant is lying paralyzed at home suffering terribly and he said to him i
1:15will come and heal him but the centurion replied lord i am not worthy to come
1:21not worthy to have you come under my roof but only say the word and my servant will be healed
1:26for i too am a man under authority with soldiers under me and i say to one go when he goes to another come and he
1:32comes and to my servant do this and he does it and when Jesus heard this he marveled and said to those who followed
1:37him truly i tell you with no one in israel have i found such faith i tell you many will come from the east and the
1:43west recline at the table with abraham and isaac and jacob in the kingdom of heaven while the sons of the kingdom
1:49will be thrown out into outer darkness in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth and to the centurion
1:55Jesus said go let it be done for you as you have believed and the servant was healed at that very moment this is the
2:01gospel of the lord in the name of Jesus amen i am not ashamed of the gospel the
2:07gospel is the power of god unto salvation and today in our gospel text we’re going to do a little parallel work
2:15if we if you don’t mind and that is you’ll note that our gospel text begins with these words when Jesus came down
2:21from the mountain have you noticed that in the bible mountaintop experiences sometimes are super
2:28duper important in and super duper that’s a very tight and very precise theological term
2:34that we use is right you guys don’t look like you’re buying it okay but the idea here is is
2:42that you’ll remember god was at mount sinai that’s where the children of israel received the law
2:49now does the law save you yeah no not not even close the law condemns you and shows you your need of
2:56a savior so mountains are kind of important and if you remember when god gave the law you know
3:02it was like there was thunderings and rumblings on the top of mount sinai and
3:07the people basically after hearing god say thou shalt have no other gods
3:13you know i almost kind of you know see tim you know doing this thing you know what i’m saying
3:19and those are you monty python folks anyway you kind of get the idea and when the people heard the voice of god and
3:25the law giving they said you talked to god moses and let us know
3:30what he says and moses ascended mount sinai and he disappeared for like 40
3:35days and god was giving him the law and if remember moses originally received
3:41those stone tablets with a handwriting of god on them and while he was up there
3:47the children of israel well they got a little antsy and you know something like that
3:54if you look back at uh at exodus chapter 32 with me i’ll start at verse 1.
4:01it says when the people saw that moses delayed to come down from the mountain the people gathered themselves together
4:07to aaron and they said to him up make us gods who shall go before us what a
4:13stupid sentence make us gods any
4:19god created by a human being isn’t a god okay this shows you just the
4:25magnitude of sin and how it completely blinds us they don’t even recognize like hey wait a second you know if i made a
4:31god it wasn’t really a god they’re just not connecting two plus two here so up make us gods who will go
4:38before us as for this moses the man who brought us up out of the land of egypt we don’t know what’s become of him so
4:44aaron said to them take off the rings of gold that are in the ears of your wives your sons your daughters bring them to
4:50me so all the people took off the rings of gold that were in their ears and brought them to aaron he received the
4:56gold from their hand fashioned it with a graving tool made a golden calf and they s and he said they said these are your
5:04gods o israel who brought you up out of the land of egypt
5:11and then when aaron saw this he built an altar before it and aaron made a proclamation and said tomorrow shall be
5:17a feast to yahweh this is no way to worship yahweh this is this is this is idolatry just rank and
5:26it’s it’s stupid on its face but thus are the consequences of sin so they rose up
5:32early the next day and they offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings next sentence and the people
5:37sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play you can kind of think of this like a burning man festival you know maybe a
5:44first version of woodstock you know sex drugs rock and roll with a golden calf and so the lord said to moses go down
5:51your people whom you brought up out of the land of egypt they’ve corrupted themselves notice that god’s pawning
5:57these people off on moses they’ve corrupted themselves they’ve turned aside quickly out of the way that i
6:03commanded them they’ve made for themselves a golden calf and they have worshipped it and sacrificed to it and
6:09said these are your gods o israel who brought you up out of the land of egypt so yahweh said to moses i’ve seen this
6:15people and behold it’s a stiff neck people now therefore let me alone so that my wrath may burn hot against them
6:21and i may consume them in order that i may make a great nation of you but moses implored yahweh his god and said oh
6:27yahweh why does your wrath burn hot against your people whom you have brought out of the land of egypt with
6:32great power and with a mighty hand why should the egyptians say with an evil intent did he bring them out to kill
6:38them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth turn from your burning anger and relent from
6:44this disaster against your people remember abraham isaac and israel your servants to whom you swore by your own
6:51self and said to them i will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and all this land that i have promised i
6:58will give to your offspring and they shall inherit it forever and yahweh relented from the disaster
7:03that had he had spoken of bringing on his people and there here then verse 15
7:10moses turned and went down from the mountain so here comes moses
7:16coming down from mount sinai and do you think this is going to go well this is you know this is like my mom’s showing
7:22up when i haven’t done my chores and i’ve been dawdling and whoops yikes i’m in trouble that’s kind of the
7:29point the law condemns us the law kills us so moses turned went down from the mountain with the two tablets of the
7:35testimony in his hand tablets that were written on both sides on the front and on the back they were written the
7:41tablets were the work of god the writing was the writing of god engraved on
7:46tablets could you imagine if they found even just a couple of fragments of this thing today
7:53if they found it i mean it it would be a sensation around the world people would flock from all over the
7:58world to come see this so when joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted he said to moses there’s a noise
8:05of war in the camp but he said it’s not the sound of shouting for victory or the
8:10sound of the cry of defeat it’s the sound of singing that i hear and as soon as he came near the camp he saw the calf
8:16and the dancing and moses’s anger burned hot and he threw the tablets out of his hands and
8:23broke them at the foot of the mountain he took the calf that he had made and burned it with fire grounded in the
8:28powder scattered it on the water and made the people of israel drink it
8:34so coming down from mount sinai with the law well that didn’t really go
8:39so well very condemning but in our gospel text you know Christ it says when Christ came down from the mountain what
8:46mountain well in the preceding context in the gospel of matthew
8:52Jesus has delivered his inaugural sermon called the sermon on the mount
8:57now did Jesus come to give us a scolding did Jesus come to wield his sword and
9:03slash and kill and burn the evildoers did he come to punish us no it says that
9:09in scripture that god did not send his son into the world to condemn the world but that the world might be saved
9:14through him and so you’ll remember in the in the sermon on the mount Jesus says words like blessed are the poor in
9:21spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted and blessed are
9:27you when people persecute you Christ came and he declares blessings and these blessings are only through the gospel
9:33because of why he came and what he came to accomplish and so Jesus coming down from the mountain is met not only by
9:40crowds he’s also met by a leper and i will remind you the mosaic covenant
9:47required lepers to socially distance this is not fouchy who gave this order
9:54it’s god all right and you’re going to note that there were very very strict rules this leper by being a leper would
10:01have been declared unclean by a levitical priest he would have been required to live outside of the village
10:09in a leper colony he would have been forbidden from attending church
10:16and you can not touch other people as a leper because if you touch anybody who’s
10:22clean who touches a leper becomes unclean and there’s a whole mosaic covenant
10:27set of rigmarole rights in order to re-establish being clean and
10:33the other part of this is that before there were face masks and personal protection
10:39lepers were required to cover their mouths with their hand
10:44and create a mask and say to people i’m unclean unclean unclean
10:52yeah so you’ll note that god understood a thing or two about communicable diseases
10:57all of that being said the story on its face
11:02is amazing this leper is bold if i can use a term from steven furtick
11:09he’s exercising audacious faith and audacious is kind of the right word here because he’s breaking a few of the
11:16mosaic covenant laws by being around this crowd in the first place and what does he do he boldly comes and he kneels
11:26before Jesus and you gotta note that any torah
11:32observant jew is gonna be looking at this going whoa right and he says to Jesus
11:38lord if you are willing if you will it you can make me clean
11:46this guy has faith he has true honest to goodness faith it just
11:52shows up in this one sentence like you wouldn’t believe number one he calls Jesus lord he is lord but number two
12:00you’ll note that true saving faith always trusts god according to his will
12:06do we not pray in the lord’s prayer as Christ has taught us your kingdom come your will be done
12:12true saving faith trusts and has confidence in the goodness of god to the
12:18point that even if god says no to your request you recognize that god has your
12:25best interest in mind have you ever noted that sometimes the things we ask for in prayer can actually hurt us
12:33i think of it like this you know this is an illustration this is not family history if when joshua my son was three
12:40years old and we asked him what do you want for your birthday if he had said i want a machete
12:47at three years old we would have said not on your life it ain’t happening okay because we know
12:53what would happen as a three-year-old with a machete you would cut yourself you’d kill your sisters the cat and the
12:59dog would be dead it would be a murder scene and we’d go to prison for giving you a machete all right but later in
13:06life if he asked for a machete now sure you want a machete go for it you know you think that’s going to be something
13:12that’s helpful his wife says no but you know but you get the idea here sometimes what
13:17we ask for from god can actually hurt us and so
13:23true saving faith prays that god’s will would be done
13:28even if the thing i’m asking for is not going to be granted you know
13:34david exemplified this in the book of 2nd samuel when absalom his son
13:40was in the middle of the coup d’etat to get his father’s kingdom to topple so that absalom can become the king of
13:47israel poor david had to skedaddle he was strategically in a non-defensible
13:52position because if he stayed in jerusalem all absalom had to do was surround jerusalem and wait him out and so he had
14:00to get out of jerusalem and so as david is leaving jerusalem we read these words
14:05in 2nd samuel david says carry the ark of god back into the city if i find favor in the eyes of yahweh he
14:13will bring me back and let me see both it and its and its dwelling place but
14:19if he says i have no pleasure in you behold here i am let god do to me what
14:25seems good to him and so this leper
14:30if you will if it’s your will you can make me clean now it’s at this point i need to take a
14:36little bit of a dig on today’s modern charismatics in the nar because they claim that we have
14:43authority to speak to diseases and things and that the proper thing for us
14:48Christians to do is never to pray your will be done because according to their
14:54theology if you pray god’s will to be done then apparently you don’t have
14:59faith faith that Jesus has given you authority over diseases but here’s the thing he hasn’t
15:06so you’ll note the leper doesn’t say hey lord check this out leprosy i command you to leave my body
15:13okay he doesn’t do that all right and anybody who would teach you to speak to disease
15:21has you praying to the wrong thing leprosy can’t hear you cancer can’t hear
15:27you whatever is ailing you can’t hear you in my case you’re creeping old age
15:33it can’t hear me but Jesus can and so here in our first example of faith in
15:40our gospel text this leper he’s worked it out he’s figured out from
15:46the reports the little information that he has Jesus the crowds are following he’s
15:53healing people he’s forgiving sins he’s changed water into wine the reports are
16:00getting out and this guy has sorted it out and said that’s the messiah that’s
16:05the one isaiah prophesied would be able to heal lepers and to make them clean
16:12that he’s the one who would be able to give sight to the blind hearing to the deaf and knowing his bible he’s put two
16:20and two together and he properly identifies Jesus for who he is
16:26messiah and lord and so he knows that Christ can hear his
16:33prayer and here’s the thing kneeling before Jesus he’s praying now if you want to sit there and say
16:40yeah okay sure i’ll grant you that he’s praying but it’s different from me than
16:45it is for him and the reason it’s different for me is because i can’t see Jesus but this guy got to see him
16:53isn’t it funny how our sinful nature always wants to cast doubts like somehow there’s a difference
16:59do you really think that there is a qualitative difference
17:04between you praying on your knees or sitting down or standing
17:11that you praying to Jesus that there’s a difference because you can’t physically see him
17:17of course not Christ is omnipresent
17:22there isn’t a place where he isn’t you can’t hide for him from Jesus in fact he
17:28would be the worst person to have to hide from and hide and go see because he knows exactly where you are
17:34right and he’s there with you the whole time i will never leave you or forsake you so
17:40when you pray to Christ when you pray to Jesus it doesn’t matter if you can see him he
17:46hears you just as loudly as he heard this petition from this leper who had
17:52faith and so he humbly says lord if you will you can make me
17:58clean i always have to point this bit out let me let me give you the contrast first you remember
18:06in our old testament text the leper naaman from syria did elisha come out and touch
18:13naaman no naaman shows up with his entire entourage which had to be quite
18:19impressive with chariots and soldiers and all this kind of stuff and he’s got
18:2410 changes of clothes that’s a big deal he’s got he’s loaded with money he’s dressed regally he shows up at elijah’s
18:31house and you can almost see how this goes down he arrives he expects the door to come open and for
18:38elijah to come out and wave his hands and do something impressive does elijah come out no
18:45he sends his servant gehazi and gohan you can almost see it like the door
18:50creaking open and out comes gehazi are you the prophet no i’m servant
18:57go go wash in the jordan seven times you’d be clean
19:02elijah doesn’t come out right why because if elisha is in the presence of name in the leper who guess what
19:09happens to elijah he becomes unclean elijah’s flesh is not life-giving flesh
19:15as a result of it you are in the presence of something unclean you touch the unclean you become unclean
19:22and everybody knows torah requires that you don’t touch anything unclean
19:29so i always picture this like if there was a movie you know if if i could film this this is the way
19:35i would depict it so here you got the guy this leper kneeling before Jesus lord if you will you can make me clean
19:42and you can almost see peter like taking advantage of the moment going ah maybe this is a good time to maybe have a swig
19:48of water from my canteen so he’s he’s drinking his water and the text says and Jesus stretched out his hand i almost
19:54see peter like dropping his canteen and going you know and then everything goes into slow motion right
20:01no Jesus don’t right as he reaches out his hand
20:09and he touched the leper
20:18awkward pause worked cool all right you kind of get the point is Jesus now unclean
20:26but Jesus says i will it be clean and guess what immediately his
20:33leprosy was cleansed and then Jesus said to him now you see that you say nothing to anyone Jesus was
20:39trying to keep things on the dl because the crowds were following him they wanted to see the miracles maybe and
20:45have people healed but they weren’t real Jesus doesn’t want to do miracles apart from also preaching the gospel to them
20:52so see that you say nothing to anyone you go and you show yourself to the priest and offer the gift of moses commanded them for a proof to them
20:59this is a great example of prayer and so you’ll note that in the epiphany season the revealing of Christ here it is
21:06revealed that Jesus is the one who answers prayer that makes him god
21:12all right that’s the best bit of all of this and note unlike moses Jesus coming
21:17down from the mountain isn’t condemning and judging and losing his mind and getting angry
21:24instead he’s coming to the very people that the law condemned lepers and he’s cleansing them
21:32rather than casting them into outer darkness the contrast is stark and it’s quite
21:40amazing but our gospel text gives us a second example of Christ answering
21:46prayer and somebody having faith and of all people it’s a gentile roman soldier
21:53now we learn from the gospel of luke and this is kind of fun when you do the you know the cross-reference work we
21:59learned from the gospel of luke that initially what happened is is that the pharisees
22:06and the and the people from the synagogue in capernaum they went on behalf of this roman soldier to try to
22:12you know kind of smooth things out with Jesus and they said that he was worthy
22:18to have Jesus heal his servant because
22:23he built the synagogue in capernaum
22:29let me ask you this do your good works merit anything from god
22:36no yes like no and so what happens in the gospel of luke it he he changes his mind and says
22:44no no no no no i’m not worthy and so that’s an important bit of all of this we learned this guy has real saving
22:50faith so you can kind of connect the dots roman centurion probably stationed you know he got his
22:57orders from the military top brass we’re going to station you in israel and he
23:03gets there and he hears the word of god and he becomes a believer he’s one of
23:09these guys who honors the word of god he sacrificially builds the synagogue this
23:15is a guy who we can see has faith by his works but also by his true faith
23:20humility and so we learn in this in our gospel text that the centurion appealed
23:26to Christ and said lord my servant is lying paralyzed at home suffering terribly and Jesus said i’ll come and
23:33heal him but then the centurion thought the better of it said lord i am not worthy
23:39to have you come under my roof stop there for a second i’m not worthy
23:46to have you come under my roof that’s a good confession he recognizes that he’s a sinner
23:53and that Christ is holy he recognizes here also that Jesus can be prayed to
23:58and we can see from his response and his understanding of the authority that Jesus has this guy has sorted it out too
24:06Christ is the messiah he’s god in human flesh he’s emanuel he’s god with us and
24:12he is praying not for himself he’s praying for his servant
24:20he’s not praying for his own benefit he’s praying for the benefit of somebody else and so we learn from our gospel
24:26text that you can bring your petitions to Christ for yourself you can and you
24:31should bring your petitions to Christ on behalf of other people and here we learn that when you pray for somebody else
24:39Jesus our great god and savior who is kind and merciful he
24:44answers prayers on behalf of other people
24:50and he answers prayer on behalf of the faith of the one making the petition
24:56do you think prayer then for others is important indeed it is
25:02so he confesses that he’s not worthy to have Jesus come under his under his roof but he says i too am a
25:08man under authority with soldiers under me i say to one go he goes another come and he comes and to my servant do this
25:15and he does it and then when Jesus heard this he marveled and said to those who followed
25:20him and note here he is not focusing in on well this guy built the synagogue wow
25:26this is a great man of works no he says i tell you it in no one in israel have i
25:32found such faith now this is kind of an indictment it’s an indictment on Jesus’s
25:38disciples first and foremost and we’ll see next week in the gospel for next week they haven’t quite sorted out who
25:43Jesus is all right but this is also a huge indictment on the religious establishment of Jesus day the high
25:50priest the sanhedrin the pharisees the scribes and those those people right
25:56Jesus is pointing to this gentile roman centurion and said this guy has great
26:02faith it’s greater than anyone in all of israel
26:08yeah well that’s the thing isn’t it now this doesn’t mean that later on the
26:14disciples will not also have great faith they will but the point is is that this fellow
26:21recognizes who Jesus is the authority he has he understands his own unworthiness
26:27does not dare to hold up his good works as somehow they are meritorious and earn
26:32things from god and instead he recognizes who Jesus is and in faith
26:38he says lord if you just say the word he’ll be healed and so Jesus says i tell you many will
26:45come from the east and the west and they will recline at the table with abraham and isaac and jacob in the kingdom of
26:50heaven and we too have been invited to recline at table with abraham isaac and jacob
26:56even though some of us come from the great north that isn’t that the way you say the north
27:01[Music] right even the great north people will come to worship and to recline at table while
27:09those who are genetically jewish who do not believe and trust in Christ who do not have faith they’ll be thrown into
27:15outer darkness in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth so the centurion Jesus said go that’d be done
27:21for you as you have believed and it’s interesting to note here that when somebody comes to me for
27:28pastoral counseling and they have a sin that they want to be unburdened from and so they will
27:34engage in what we call private absolution with me one of the things i ask them at the very end as i ask them
27:40this question do you believe that the forgiveness that i speak is not my forgiveness but Christ’s forgiveness
27:48and they say yes i believe and then i say let it be done for you then as you have believed instead and by the command
27:54of Christ i forgive you all of your sins and so you’ll note then that faith is not a
28:00insignificant thing faith is practically and is everything without faith it is
28:05impossible to please god and so we’ve noted now two different coming down the mountain experiences
28:13but how is it possible that Jesus wasn’t behaving at all like moses when he comes
28:18down from the sermon on the mount and from that mountain he’s not swinging his sword of judgment but he’s acting in
28:25mercy and grace and kindness answering prayer and ah and basically giving to
28:32people the petitions that they’ve asked for for themselves and for others how is this even possible
28:37well it’s possible because Christ himself had to go to a different mountain himself and he’s on his way to
28:43that one it’s called mount moriah sometimes referred to as mount zion that’s the place where he had to climb
28:50he climbed up and he initially was began that climb by carrying his own cross but
28:57he buckled under the load and somebody else had to help him and on that friday afternoon that friday morning Jesus bore
29:04your sins and mine carried them to the top of mount moriah otherwise known as
29:09golgotha and there he was nailed to his cross and he bled and died for your sins
29:15and for mine so that you and i can be forgiven and pardoned so that god would not act in judgment against us but by
29:23what Christ has done we would be reconciled to god and rather than judged we would be forgiven and pardoned
29:30and as a result of it Jesus coming down from mount moriah from golgotha he now
29:37bears the gifts of salvation that he won in his word in the absolution in his
29:43body and blood given and shed for the forgiveness of his sins his blood which he adds to the waters of baptism each
29:49and every one of us rather than getting what we receive receiving what we have earned we instead
29:56receive from Christ forgiveness mercy grace pardon and
30:02like these two men of faith in our gospel text a god who hears our prayers
30:07and acts in our best interest and mercifully hears us
30:13and grants the petitions at times that we pray for all of this because Christ when he went
30:19up to mount moriah when he came down he came down having won the forgiveness and mercy of god
30:25mountaintop experiences a big deal super-de-duper important if you know
30:31what i mean in the name of Jesus amen
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