• Introduction: In the Gospel reading for today, Jesus was asked which is the first, meaning greatest, commandment (Mark 12:28).  The questioner asked not to learn at the feet of Jesus so much as to trap Him in His answer.
    • Jesus, nonetheless in love, answered the scribe with what Hebrew speakers know to be the Shema, which is Hebrew for “hear”[1].  The Shema appears in Deu 6:4-5 - “Hear, Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength[2].  John Mark, the writer of the Gospel according to Mark, quoted Jesus in Mark 12:29b-30 repeating the Shema as the greatest commandment.
    • That should have been sufficient for the questioner to grow in faith by hearing the Word.  But Jesus must have seen something in the heart of the questioner that compelled Him to add something - 31 The second [great command] is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.[3]”  
    • Simple, right?  The Ten Commandments can be summarized into these two.  And yet, we can spend a lifetime trying to follow Jesus’ words of instruction. The Apostle Peter provided some practical ways of keeping the second great commandment.  He wrote by inspiration -  10 As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the multifaceted grace of God[4].
      • As mentioned a couple weeks now, this Sunday’s theme is a celebration of Lutheran Women’s Missionary League (LWML) and the work they do.  The goal of LWML can be summed up in this way: God’s love for us which we have witnessed firsthand in our own life, should be shown in love toward one another.  God’s love covered the multitude of sins we committed, and so the Apostle Peter gave examples from our text on how we can show love toward one another.  LWML provides some practical ways of doing this with the missionary work they perform.
  • Let Us Pray: Lord God, heavenly Father, we are grateful You sent your Son to redeem us from our sins.  You displayed a sacrificial love for us by sending Jesus to die at the hands of sinners. With this act of love, multitudes of sins we committed were covered.  We are eternally grateful for this!  You sent the Holy Spirit to inspire the Apostle Peter to provide examples on how we can show love toward one another.  Send now the Holy Spirit to work into our heart the desire to do acts of love toward You, and toward one another.  We pray this, Father, through Your Son Christ, and by the aid of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.
  • Background: In general, Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LC-MS) churches celebrate LWML Sunday the 1st Sunday in October.  It is good for a church body of 2,000,000 members to designate a Sunday for a common theme with the message people receive and the prayers they pray.  To this end, the Rev Dr Dale A Meyer provided a base text as a suggestion for all participating churches to use, so that we can all hear a similar theme.  He was a professor and president for 15yrs of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. Before that, he was a speaker on “The Lutheran Hour” radio program.  Our mother congregation, Lutheran Church of the Risen Savior, sponsors that broadcast on local radio station, KGVY[5].  This is so people can hear the Gospel message over the airwaves as part of an outreach of the Gospel to churched and unchurched alike.
    • Two weeks ago, Shirley Holle spoke here about LWML.  She gave a quick overview on the missionary work accomplished with over $200,000,000 raised since 1942.  At the bottom of the back cover of your bulletin is a blurb on what LWML is about.  It says - LWML is an official auxiliary of LC-MS. Since 1942, the LWML has affirmed each woman’s identity as a child of God and her relationship with Jesus Christ. Lutheran Women in Mission are women of faith, empowered for active service in Jesus’ name and bold support of missions through Mite Box offerings. As Christians, we have been given the kingdom of God to bear its fruit.
    • LWML is a Recognized Service Organization (RSO) of the LC-MS. One may wonder why the LWML exists when the missionary work could be done through the Synod directly?
      • LWML, like other RSO’s, provides an organized way for sisters in Christ to love one another through fellowship of periodic gatherings while working toward supporting specific mission projects the Lord has called these women to serve.  As Karla mentioned during Shirley’s presentation, Karla was supported in part when she was a missionary serving the Lord in Japan.  The nickels and dimes placed into a mite box add up to some real money when combined with a few thousand women gathering for the common purpose of serving the Lord and serving others.  We have a second offering plate in the back for any contributions Christus Rex would like to make toward the efforts of the LWML.
  • Condition: What’s the big deal about loving one another?  Is that just some sloganism of the 2020’s or a slick marketing campaign?  After all, who can oppose showing love and concern for fellow humans?  For instance, what politicians would pass a resolution that states they hate everyone?  Their effort (hopefully) would not get far.
    • In our OT reading for today, God used some strong language in pointing out we have profaned His holy Name (Eze 36:22).  The remnant of Israel which still existed in Judah was acting as badly as the people around them (or worse), instead of acting like followers of the one, true God.  In 2021 terms, it was like driving a car with a bumper sticker which reads “God is my pilot”, and then proceeding to be a rude driver, cutting people off and otherwise acting like you own the road.  It profanes God’s holy Name when we as children of God do anything sinful that reflects badly on Him.
      • The problem is, we, along with everyone who as ever lived, profaned God’s holy Name from the time our first parents rebelled. God did not miss this rebellion.  The writer to the Hebrews wrote by inspiration - 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him to whom we must answer[6].  Do not be deceived that God will overlook anything sinful you or I have done or will do.  He covers over a multitude of sins, but does not overlook them.
    • But, getting back to Ezekiel, God redeemed us from the penalty of sin.  He saved us from our own uncleanliness (Eze 36:29), because of His own integrity and love for us.  It was not His will for us to rebel.  We did that all on our own.
      • God brought this redemption through promise of baptism.  Baptism is the washing away of our sins through the water consecrated with the words, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”  This sacrament was instituted by Jesus after He rose from the dead so that all who believe and are baptized are saved.  What is interesting in Ezekiel 36, God promised about 600yrs prior to Jesus’ resurrection that mankind would one day be cleansed.  This conclusion is drawn from Eze 36:25, 27 - 25 Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.  27 And I will put My Spirit within you and bring it about that you walk in My statutes, and are careful and follow My ordinances.
      • With this redemption, He also changed our heart so that we don’t stay in the sinful state into which we were born.  In baptism, God gave us a new heart and put a new spirit in us.  The Holy Spirit replaced our heart of stone with a heart of flesh (Eze 36:26).  A stone-cold heart is not able to love God nor love others.  Only a heart of flesh can do this.  This is why people who say they chose to love the Lord don’t realize it was God who enabled them to love in the first place.  They are deceived into thinking they had a spark of good in a stone-dead heart that they could somehow love God and do His will.
  • Analysis: What should our reaction be to this sweet Gospel message of God’s redemption arranged and accomplished through Jesus?  Love one another! The Apostle Peter wrote - 22 Since you have purified your souls in obedience to the truth for a sincere love of the brothers and sisters, fervently love one another from the heart…[7]
    • We can tell Peter received inspiration from God when he wrote that.  Jesus Himself repeated in our Gospel reading for today His own word first given to Moses as recorded in Lev 19:18.  The full text from Leviticus 19 is - 18 You shall not take vengeance, nor hold any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord[8].  Don’t these passages from 1st Peter and Leviticus sound the same as Jesus’ response to the questioner - ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’?
      • The scriptures are consistent amongst each other from Genesis to Revelation, because the Holy Spirit inspired 40 different writers to write of God’s grace, mercy, and peace.  Additionally, Jesus, who is the Word, gave some examples to the Apostle Peter on how to love one another.  Referencing 1Peter 4:9-11a - Be hospitable to one another without complaint. 10 As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the multifaceted grace of God. 11 Whoever speaks is to do so as one who is speaking actual words of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving[9]  Jesus did not leave us stranded on an island trying to figure out how to love our neighbors as ourselves.  He provided details on how to love one another.
      • He, through the Holy Spirit, inspired writers of the Bible to provide instruction on how to keep all the commandments.  This is not a situation of us sitting and wondering what the Lord will be looking at on Judgement Day to see how we loved one another. Probably the most instructive words from Jesus on how to serve Him by serving others is found in Matthew ch#25. To recall, it is in Mat ch#25 where Jesus spoke about separating the sheep toward His right from the goats toward His left.  He then proceeded to list off only the good things the sheep did throughout their life in this Age.  Jesus then said to the sheep - 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of Mine, you did it for Me.[10]’ The goats didn’t fare so well, because every sin they committed was recalled.  It is in the Matthew 25 text where we have confirmation of what Ezekiel wrote down from the Lord concerning the profaning of God’s holy Name.  The evil acts committed by the remnant of Israel at the time, and even us to this day, have profaned God’s Name.
      • To be clear: what is done for others reflects back upon our love, or lack thereof, toward God.  Baptized children of God are clothed in Christ.  So when we, baptized adopted children of God, for instance curse like a sailor, we profane God’s holy Name.  It reflects on Jesus when we commit evil.
  • Conclusion: The Triune God’s love for us covered a multitude of sins (1Pe 4:8). We don’t have to worry when we stand before Jesus on Judgement Day whether we will be lumped in with the goats and hear about every sin we ever committed. Believers in Christ will be gathered in with His sheep and hear about the things done which were pleasing in His sight.  The multitude of sins of those who believed and trusted in Him were washed away in baptism.
    • Our Lord now wants us to love one another.  He first loved us and demonstrated His love by dying a horrible death on a cross, Roman execution style at the time.  Almighty God allowed profane people to nail Him there.
    • Organizations like LWML provide the opportunity for women to show love toward one another in fellowship with other LC-MS women like those here in church on today. Don’t let this secret out, but I’ve attended a few LWML functions, and the women at every one of the events had lots of fun together, all while sharing in the Gospel of God’s love for us.
      • In gratitude for the love shown to us, let’s see if the LWML pledge can apply to us whether female or male😊. . Let’s read the Pledge together either from the slides David will project for us, or from the back of your bulletin:
      • In fervent gratitude for the Savior's dying love and His blood-bought gift of redemption, we dedicate ourselves to Him with all that we are and have; and in obedience to His call for workers in the harvest fields, we pledge Him our willing service wherever and whenever He has need of us. We consecrate to our Savior our hands to work for Him, our feet to go on His errands, our voice to sing His praises, our lips to proclaim His redeeming love, our silver and our gold to extend His Kingdom, our will to do His will, and every power of our life to the great task of bringing the lost and the erring into eternal fellowship with Him. Amen!


 


[1] https://www.gotquestions.org/what-is-the-Shema.html

[2] Gospel according to Mark 12:29b-30 xref with Deu 6:4-5 from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=deu+6&version=NASB

[3] Mark 12:31 from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=mark+12&version=NASB

[4] 1Pe 4:10 from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1Pe+4&version=NASB

[5] https://risen-savior.com/wor/ 

[6] Heb 4:13 from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=heb+4&version=NASB

[7] 1Pe 1:22 from the NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1pe+1&version=NASB

[8] Lev 19:18 from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=lev+19&version=NASB

[9] 1Pe 4:9-11a from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1pe+4&version=NASB

[10] Mat 25:40 from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=mat+25&version=NASB