Sermon Transcript – Not Worthy

1 Year Lectionary – Fourth Sunday in Advent – Sunday, December 19, 2021 | 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:
Intro bumper
Time StampTranscript
0:28the holy gospel according to saint john
0:30the first chapter
0:39this is the testimony of john when the
0:41jews sent priests and levites from
0:43jerusalem to ask him who are you he
0:45confessed and did not deny but confessed
0:48i am not the Christ and they asked him
0:50what then are you elijah he said i am
0:52not are you the prophet he answered no
0:55so they said to him who are you we need
0:58to give an answer to those who sent us
1:00what do you say about yourself he said i
1:02am the voice of one crying in the
1:03wilderness make straight the way of the
1:05lord as the prophet isaiah said now they
1:08had been sent from the pharisees so they
1:10asked him then why are you baptizing if
1:13you are not neither the Christ nor
1:15elijah nor the prophet
1:17john answered them i baptize with water
1:20but one among you stands
1:22but among you stands one you do not know
1:25even he who comes after me the strap of
1:27whose sandal i am not worthy to untie
1:30these things took place in bethany
1:32across the jordan where john was
1:34baptizing this is the gospel of the lord
1:36in the name of Jesus
1:39oh come on come emmanuel and ransom
1:42captive israel
1:43that mourns in
1:45lonely exile here have you noticed that
1:49sin seems to separate us
1:51have you noticed that sin really is this
1:53awful thing it really truly does make
1:57the world a lonely place even if we live
2:00with other human beings have you noticed
2:01that you put two human beings in close
2:03proximity to each other they’ve made
2:06vows before god and before their friends
2:08and family and neighbors and well you
2:10know things can get a little
2:13volatile you know that’s a good way to
2:15put it right and have you ever heard of
2:18people who are lonely in their marriage
2:21it happens right
2:23it really truly happens and all of this
2:26is because of sin and then you think
2:27about how poorly we treat each other i
2:30remember the news story from just this
2:32week apparently there was a tick tock
2:35a challenge put out and the challenge
2:38went something like this grab a gun and
2:40go and kill people at your high school
2:43it was a tick-tock challenge
2:46law enforcement authorities were on high
2:48alert on friday and a bunch of kids just
2:51didn’t even go to school because they
2:52didn’t want to get dead
2:55what kind of world do we live in
2:57where you have to worry about being
3:00gunned down
3:02by schoolmates
3:04because of a tick-tock challenge
3:06you know i think about my mom back when
3:08i was growing up she said if all your
3:10friends told you to jump off a cliff
3:11would you do it
3:15yeah think about it the world we live in
3:17is absolutely
3:22awful and here’s the thing i’m not
3:24talking about out there i’m talking
3:26about in here
3:27and so as i was considering you know not
3:30only the sermon hymn today the wonderful
3:32him one of my favorites no come on come
3:34emmanuel considering the world that we
3:36live in and what we have to deal with
3:39ourselves in considering our own
3:42repentance in light of the imminent
3:45celebration of the birth of our lord and
3:46savior Jesus Christ
3:49i had to think through these texts a
3:50little bit
3:51work with me here for a second
3:54what am i supposed to do with this
3:55gospel text because i was super tempted
3:58to sit here and go well i could rail
4:00against bureaucracy
4:02and the need to not have to turn in tps
4:05reports because i mean that’s literally
4:06what’s going on here you got the
4:07pharisees going interrogating john the
4:10baptist who are you where’d you come
4:12from why are you doing this if you’re
4:13not this guy then why are you doing that
4:14right that we’ve got to report all of
4:16this information
4:18oh bureaucracy at its best right
4:21and then you have well
4:24this text from our epistle text rejoice
4:27in the lord always again i will say
4:31have you ever just wanted to punch
4:33somebody in the face when they told you
4:34to be happy
4:36okay and you weren’t
4:38i mean it’s just one of these things
4:39where you tell me how i’m supposed to
4:42feel and i’m not feeling it i’m probably
4:45not going to be happy with you you know
4:47i remember as a kid you know being
4:49forced to take family photos or
4:52classroom photos and there you are you
4:55don’t want to be there you didn’t like
4:56the fact that they combed your hair
4:58because you don’t like having people
4:59comb your hair and there you’re sitting
5:01there and you’re supposed to look happy
5:03and so what do they do say cheese jeez
5:07right and no sooner do they click the
5:10shutter you go back to looking mumpy
5:12right that well that was me i hated
5:14having to say cheese
5:16don’t like it to this day because you’re
5:18gonna basically photograph me looking
5:20like i’m happy and in the moment i’m not
5:22okay so rejoice in the lord always okay
5:25so we got a command to be happy not
5:27happy with this what am i supposed to do
5:29with this text and then you got the and
5:31if you i’m gonna send a prophet like
5:33moses and if you don’t listen to him i’m
5:34gonna require it of you
5:42what do we do with this
5:45there was a phrase
5:47that john the baptist
5:49said that kind of struck a note
5:50especially in light of our
5:52need my need to daily repent
5:56and believe in the mercies of Christ
5:58john the baptist Jesus was one of these
6:00fellows who had a high opinion of john
6:02the baptist in fact he said of all men
6:04born of women and by that he means born
6:07the natural way that none was greater
6:09than john the baptist
6:11i mean if you think about it if anybody
6:13had something to brag about and not his
6:15diet we won’t talk about that again okay
6:18if anybody had anything to brag about
6:20it’s john the baptist i mean he got this
6:23the Jesus Christ seal of approval on
6:25being the greatest human being in all of
6:29and what did he say about himself you’ll
6:31note that the most important thing that
6:33john the baptist confessed in our text
6:35was not that he wasn’t the Christ it was
6:38not that he wasn’t elijah it was not
6:40that he wasn’t the prophet you know the
6:41most important thing he confessed
6:45he who comes after me
6:47the strap of whose sandals i am not
6:50worthy to untie
6:53that was the most important confession
6:55in our gospel text
6:56and that one preaches
6:59if the greatest human being
7:02born naturally descended from adam and
7:05is still unworthy
7:08to untie the sandals of Christ
7:11you know what surely i’m not either
7:13and neither are you
7:15and that’s the thing when we think about
7:16this worthiness oftentimes we think
7:18about god he’s in such terms like you
7:21know you know he’s he’s just going to be
7:23so unhappy with us because we’re just
7:24not measuring up and indeed sin
7:28is well you persistent sin and unbelief
7:30there is an eternity of hell awaiting
7:32you but god his default setting if you
7:37is not anger wrath or explosive
7:41wrath or anything like that it’s love
7:43and mercy and grace and kindness
7:45and so when we hear god saying whoever
7:48will not listen to the prophet that i
7:50will send i will require it of him
7:53let’s consider a few things here and so
7:55i’m going to kind of tidy up things a
7:57little bit if you were to look in
7:59scripture i think one could easily see
8:01Christ says john the baptist is the best
8:04but when we look at candidates for
8:06potentially the worst
8:10i think the apostle paul kind of
8:13all right this is a fellow who at the
8:15end of his life still was talking about
8:17how he was the chief of sinners and when
8:20we consider what was going on with the
8:22apostle paul before he became the
8:24apostle paul one that we can all agree
8:26on was definitely not worthy to untie
8:29Christ’s sandals when we see how Christ
8:32dealt with him
8:33i think we can have a little bit of hope
8:36in the book of acts chapter 7
8:39starting at verse 54 we’re at the tail
8:42of well a kangaroo court you know mob
8:46justice is being served against a fellow
8:49by the name of stephen who’s about to
8:50become the very first Christian martyr
8:53and for what
8:55for confessing that Jesus is the Christ
8:58and in him is the forgiveness of sins
9:00and here’s the thing he was able to
9:02prove it from the scriptures and the
9:04jews who refused to believe in Jesus
9:06were annoyed beyond reason that this
9:13is able to outdo them with the
9:15scriptures as it relates to the messiah
9:17and so they put him on kangaroo court
9:20right there and he gives his great
9:22confession and doesn’t even really point
9:24out the fact you guys really don’t have
9:25the authority to do what you’re doing to
9:26me he doesn’t even point out the
9:28injustice of it he just preaches
9:31Christ and he preaches him from the old
9:33testament he preaches them all the way
9:35up to his his death his burial his
9:38resurrection his ascension and when well
9:41the jews heard this thing the text says
9:45were in
9:48have you noticed that your confession
9:51of Christ can get you in a wee bit of
9:55they were enraged and they ground their
9:57teeth at him now this is something weird
9:59i’m not quite sure i’ve ever seen this
10:01happen how does somebody get so mad that
10:04their response and anger is that they
10:07grind their teeth at you do they go
10:11what does this look like right it’s just
10:13weird if you ask me it’s like go see a
10:16dentist you can get that fixed right so
10:19he stephen full of the holy spirit he
10:21gazed into heaven and he saw the glory
10:24of god and Jesus standing at the right
10:26hand of god and here’s an interesting
10:28thing we confess in the creed
10:30that Christ ascended into heaven and he
10:33sits at the right hand of the father a
10:36little bit of a detail here and that is
10:38is that with the very first Christian
10:40martyr the first Christian martyr can
10:42see into heaven
10:44sees Christ and Christ is not sitting
10:46down he’s standing up
10:49it’s an interesting little thing it’s as
10:51if Christ says i can’t sit for this
10:54i’m going to watch this standing
10:56Christ standing
10:58watching as the very first Christian
11:01will lose his life for believing in him
11:04and then stephen says behold i see the
11:06heavens open son of man standing at the
11:08right hand of god but they cried out
11:10with a loud voice and they stopped their
11:12ears and they rushed together at him now
11:14stopping their ears i get this i used to
11:16do this as a kid
11:18can’t hear you right that’s what they’re
11:21doing they don’t want to hear any of
11:22this anymore so they cast them out of
11:24the city
11:25rushed together at him then they cast
11:28him out of the city and stone him and
11:29the witnesses laid down their garments
11:31at the feet of a young man by the name
11:33of shaol
11:34saul of tarsus
11:36and as they were stoning stephen stephen
11:39called out
11:40and notice what he doesn’t say
11:44you get him
11:45you avenge my death no here’s what he
11:47says lord Jesus received my spirit and
11:49falling on his knees he cried out with a
11:51loud voice do not hold this sin against
11:54them and when they had said this he fell
11:59that means he died
12:03rather than crying out for justice
12:06he begs god to have mercy on them and to
12:08not hold the sin murder
12:11against these fellows
12:13it’s interesting
12:16in the case of saul of tarsus Christ
12:18heard that prayer of stephen
12:21he really did now the text goes on to
12:23say that saul approved of stephen’s
12:26execution that would kind of add
12:28legitimacy to us this was a murder this
12:30wasn’t an actual
12:32court case where he committed a capital
12:34crime this was a murder and there arose
12:36on that day a great persecution against
12:38the church in jerusalem and they were
12:39all scattered throughout the regions of
12:41judea and samaria except for the
12:42apostles devout men buried stephen and
12:45made great lamentation over him but saul
12:48was ravaging the church entering house
12:51after house he dragged off men and women
12:54and committed them to prison
13:00what great danger are they posing to
13:06they’re not and you can see it if this
13:08was like in a movie form
13:10this part right here would be like a
13:12movie montage and you would see police
13:15in front of a house with one of those
13:16battering rams bashing down the door
13:19rushing in with guns at the ready and
13:22then them grabbing up men and women
13:24putting on the handcuffs leading them
13:27out and saul sitting there going good
13:29job guys good job
13:31him leading the charge so rather than
13:34loving his neighbor
13:36he’s hating his neighbor
13:39he’s imprisoning his neighbors
13:42he’s taking the life of his neighbors
13:44how many commandments are being broken
13:46here oh and by the way he’s doing this
13:49in the name of yahweh
13:53which tells us he doesn’t know a thing
13:56about yahweh
13:59but remember stephen’s prayer
14:02lord do not hold the sin against them
14:06Christ heard that prayer and in chapter
14:089 of acts
14:09saul still breathing out threats and
14:11murder against the disciples of yahweh
14:14the lord went to the high priest he
14:16asked for him for letters to the
14:18synagogues at damascus so that if he
14:20found any belonging to the way that’s
14:22the first name for Christianity men or
14:24women he might bring them bound
14:27to jerusalem what kind of church is that
14:31a church that has authority to arrest
14:34and drag them from damascus down to
14:37jerusalem i’m sure that trip was fun
14:40what kind of church is this well i think
14:42Jesus describes it best in the book of
14:44revelation this is what we call the
14:46synagogue of satan
14:48so as he went on his way he approached
14:51damascus and suddenly a light from
14:52heaven shone around him falling to the
14:55ground he heard a voice saying to him
14:58saul why are you persecuting me
15:01ah the light of heaven the light shines
15:03in the darkness and the darkness has not
15:06overcome it
15:07who are you lord he said i am Jesus whom
15:09you are persecuting
15:11rise under the city you will be told
15:13what you were to do and the men who were
15:15traveling with them stood speechless
15:16hearing the voice but seeing no one saul
15:18rose from the ground and although his
15:20eyes were open he saw nothing so they
15:22led him by the hand and brought him into
15:24damascus and for three days he was
15:26without sight
15:28neither ate
15:29nor drank
15:32yeah three days he gets to consider his
15:34life choices at this point thinking that
15:37maybe just maybe
15:38he was betting on the wrong horse
15:40rooting for the wrong team
15:42something’s amiss here but the thing is
15:44had he understood the love of god even
15:46in the old testament he could have
15:48easily seen
15:49that he was guilty of breaking
15:52those two commandments idolatry as well
15:54as refusing to love his neighbor as
15:57himself and then shrouding it in
15:59religious activity and a pious veneer
16:03so there was a disciple at damascus
16:05named ananias and the lord said to him
16:07in a vision ananias and he said here i
16:10am lord i will point this out that
16:12you’re going to know ananias did not
16:14graduate from jennifer leclaire’s
16:17prophecy school he never had a prophetic
16:19activation he heard Jesus’s voice say
16:22one word and he knew exactly who it was
16:25just saying
16:26if Jesus is talking to you
16:29you know it
16:31here i am lord
16:33rise and go to the street called
16:34straight at the house of judas look for
16:36a man of tarsus named saul
16:38he’s praying
16:40he has seen in the vision a man named
16:41ananias come in and lay his hands on him
16:44so that he might regain his sight
16:46but ananias answered lord i have heard
16:49from many about this man how much evil
16:51he has done to your saints at jerusalem
16:53and here he has authority from the chief
16:55priests to bind all who call on your
16:59but the lord said to him go he is a
17:01chosen instrument of mine to carry my
17:03name before the gentiles and kings and
17:06the children of israel i will show him
17:09how much he must suffer for the sake of
17:11my name
17:12so ananias departed and entered the
17:14house and laying his hands on him he
17:17said brother saul
17:18the lord Jesus who appeared to you on
17:20the road by which you came and sent me
17:22to you that you may regain your sight
17:24and be filled with the holy spirit
17:27now you got to think about this there
17:29are people
17:30at that moment who are still in prison
17:34because saul put them there
17:37and what is Christ doing
17:39forgiving him
17:41having mercy on him
17:44when you think about outrageous
17:46high-handed sins against god saul of
17:50tarsus is a guy whose sins stack up
17:54all right they stand out i mean even
17:57ananias when the lord is talking to him
17:59says okay i’ve heard about this guy
18:04Jesus says i’ve chosen him how does one
18:07choose sinners like that
18:10that’s the only thing that Jesus has
18:14to choose from
18:16and you’ll note
18:18that many of us
18:21many of us think that we are far outside
18:23the grace of god we struggle we fear
18:25that god is that that god is not going
18:28to forgive us that there is no mercy for
18:31but you’ll note there’s mercy for saul
18:33of tarsus
18:35rank sinner
18:38there’s mercy
18:39for john the baptist the greatest of us
18:43still needs mercy you and i we need
18:46mercy as well
18:47and it’s this type
18:50of story this historical account
18:54that should give us some hope
18:56maybe just maybe Christ truly did die
18:59for you
19:00i mean after all does scripture ever lie
19:03Christ died for the sins of the world i
19:05know the calvinist would tell you that
19:06means the elect it’s not true he died
19:08for the sins of the whole world every
19:10one of us
19:11whoever believes in him will not perish
19:13but have eternal life
19:16including saul of tarsus so brother saul
19:18the lord Jesus who appeared to you on
19:20the road by which you came sent me that
19:21you may regain your sight and be filled
19:23the holy spirit
19:24immediately something like scales fell
19:26from his eyes he regained his sight and
19:27then he rose he was baptized and taking
19:30food he was strengthened and for some
19:33days he was with the disciples at
19:38amazing grace
19:40how sweet the sound save a wretch like
19:43once was lost
19:44now i’m fine found was blind
19:47now i see
19:48isn’t that all of our stories
19:52and if you don’t think this is your
19:53story then we gotta we need to have a
19:56because Christ only died for the ungodly
19:57he did not die for the righteous
20:00in fact the righteous don’t need a
20:01savior you and i do
20:04from john the baptist to saul of tarsus
20:06we all need
20:08to be forgiven none of us are worthy
20:11it’s in this context and we consider
20:13some of the words that paul wrote later
20:15much later
20:17than his conversion
20:19he wrote a letter to the church at
20:20colossae a church that he planted so
20:23from the day we heard we oh sorry he did
20:24not plant he he this is a church that he
20:27had heard about their faith somebody
20:28else had planted so from the day we
20:30heard about your faith we’ve not ceased
20:32to pray for you asking that you may be
20:34filled with the knowledge of his will
20:36and all spiritual wisdom and
20:37understanding so as to walk in a manner
20:40that is worthy of the lord fully
20:41pleasing to him bearing fruit in every
20:43good work and increasing in the
20:45knowledge of god being strengthened with
20:47all power according to his glorious
20:49might for all endurance and patience
20:51with joy and then listen to these words
20:54giving thanks to the father who has
20:56qualified you
20:59to share in the inheritance of the
21:01saints in light
21:04the apostle paul
21:06clearly wasn’t worthy to receive god’s
21:08grace john the baptist did not consider
21:11himself even worthy to untie the sandals
21:14of Christ none of us
21:18are either
21:19but listen to these comforters
21:20comforting words written by that former
21:22persecutor of Christians we give thanks
21:25to the father because he the father he
21:28has qualified you to share in the
21:29inheritance of the saints in light he
21:32the father has delivered us from the
21:34dominion of darkness he has transferred
21:36us to the kingdom of his beloved son in
21:38whom we have
21:41and the forgiveness of our sins
21:47so in hearing john the baptist confess
21:49that he’s not worthy
21:52we recognize that we’re not worthy
21:54but god has qualified us and how has he
21:57done that
21:58through Christ this Jesus Christ the one
22:01that john the baptist bore witness about
22:03this Jesus Christ the one that john the
22:05baptist prepared the way for as a voice
22:08in the wilderness this Jesus Christ has
22:11borne your sin and mine on the cross
22:14so that we can be forgiven pardoned
22:16reconciled adopted into the family of
22:19god taken from under the dominion of
22:21darkness into the freedom
22:23of the kingdom of his beloved son the
22:25glorious kingdom of light all as a gift
22:29you couldn’t earn it if you tried and
22:31this is why it’s so important that we
22:33recognize again and again that it’s only
22:36in Jesus that we have redemption and the
22:38forgiveness of our sins and he is not
22:40cheap or chintzy in doling out that
22:45in that context then consider then what
22:47moses said
22:49god through the prophet moses said that
22:51i will raise up for them a prophet like
22:54you from among their brothers i will put
22:56my words in his mouth and he shall speak
22:59to them all that i command him and
23:01whoever will not listen to my words that
23:03he Jesus will speak in my name i myself
23:07were required of him
23:09and we hear something like that and
23:10we’re thinking uh oh we’re going to have
23:12a pretty serious meeting here
23:14but i would remind you what is it that
23:16Jesus said
23:19listen to Jesus’s words hear these words
23:22take them to heart
23:23Jesus said just as moses lifted up the
23:25serpent in the wilderness
23:27so must the son of man be lifted up so
23:30that whoever believes in him may have
23:32eternal life and that’s you
23:34that’s me listen to these words Jesus
23:37goes on to say god did not send his son
23:39into the world in order to condemn the
23:41world but in order that the world might
23:43be saved through him whoever believes in
23:46him is not condemned but whoever does
23:49not believe is condemned already
23:52because he has not believed in the name
23:53of the only son of god
23:55so god will required of you hear his
23:57words listen to them
23:59take it to heart
24:01Jesus has arrived and he speaks words of
24:05not condemnation he speaks words of
24:08forgiveness mercy and life not death
24:13listen to Jesus as moses has commanded
24:19that same apostle paul
24:22as he was
24:23finishing his course wrote a couple
24:26letters to a young pastor by the name of
24:28timothy who was pastoring a congregation
24:30in the city of ephesus
24:33that apostle paul
24:35just like john the baptist
24:37affirmed that he was unworthy and listen
24:40to what he says in first timothy i thank
24:42him who has given me strength
24:44Christ Jesus our lord because he judged
24:46me faithful all appointing me to his
24:49service though formerly i was a
24:50blasphemer formerly i was a persecutor
24:53an insolent opponent but i received
24:55mercy because i had acted ignorantly in
24:57unbelief and the grace of our lord
25:00overflowed for me with faith and love
25:02that are in Christ Jesus so the saying
25:05is trustworthy and it’s deserving of
25:07full acceptance
25:08that Christ Jesus came into the world to
25:10save sinners of whom i am the chief
25:14sometimes when i look at my own sin
25:17i wonder if this is the only error in
25:22scripture is clear well the scripture is
25:25without error
25:27but when i look at my own sin and all
25:29the ways in which i have woefully fallen
25:33sometimes i feel like saying to the
25:34apostle paul
25:36that was then
25:37but this is now
25:40i think you’re wrong paul
25:43i think i got that title locked up now
25:46chief of sinners
25:49but that’s the work of god’s law
25:53hear it
25:54and that’s the thing
25:58maybe just maybe
26:00we’ve got it wrong if we don’t think
26:02that this is an error
26:05john the baptist recognized his own
26:08unworthiness even paul at the end of his
26:11life recognized his
26:14so it’s a trustworthy saying it’s
26:15deserving of full acceptance in fact
26:18what paul says here shows that he heard
26:21the prophet whom god sent who would be
26:23like moses he heard the words of Christ
26:26so this truck the saying is trustworthy
26:28it’s true Christ Jesus came in the world
26:31to save
26:32sinners of whom i am the chief
26:36but i received mercy for this reason so
26:39that in me
26:40as the chief of sinners Christ Jesus
26:42might display his perfect patience as an
26:45example to those who were to believe in
26:47him for eternal life
26:50Christ has come to us in the loneliness
26:52of our sin and the loneliness of our
26:55and our exile and loneliness we’ve
26:57brought it upon ourselves by our sin
26:59against god
27:01it’s the reason why we don’t get along
27:03with each other and it’s the reason why
27:04we hate god and we disobey his commands
27:06but Christ didn’t come into the world to
27:08condemn us he came to forgive sinners
27:10like you and me
27:11it’s in that context then
27:14that maybe just maybe
27:16when i hear paul’s words here in our
27:18epistle text rejoice
27:21not just to rejoice but rejoice in the
27:23lord always
27:25hearing his voice and knowing that he
27:27didn’t come to condemn me or you
27:29that gives me something to rejoice about
27:32it takes the loneliness
27:35the bitterness of sin
27:39and the bad days that come because of it
27:43and gives me something truly to rejoice
27:45in to be happy for to have joy in so
27:48rejoice in the Lord always
27:51oh come on come Emmanuel
27:54ransom captive Israel
27:56that mourns in lonely exile here until
27:59the Son of God appear
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