Sunday, September 11, 2016

Sermon for 11 September 2016, Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity

The Rev. Paul J Cain
1 Kings 17:17–24
Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity, 11 September 2016
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming
For an Elder to read

In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

This is our second week with Elijah, the widow of [ZARE-uh-fath] Zarephath, and her son. The region is in the midst of a long draught, one brought on by the evils of the reign of King Ahaz. The draught will end spectacularly, with the Lord defeating the false prophets leading His people astray. On the way to meet the widow, the Lord provided for Elijah east of the Jordan. Ravens brought him bread and meat and he drank from a brook. Then, he had another divine appointment.

TLSB: Through Elijah, the Lord miraculously provides food for a widow in Zarephath. This story illustrates God’s never-ending goodness. He daily and richly provides for all our needs, blessing us far beyond what we deserve or what we ask. [1]

All we need to support this body and live is provided by the good Lord. We pray:71 Give us this day our daily bread.

In the Large Catechism, Luther explains all that we pray for: 72 Here, now, we consider the poor breadbasket, the necessities of our body and of the temporal life. It is a brief and simple word, but it has a very wide scope. For when you mention and pray for daily bread, you pray for everything that is necessary in order to have and enjoy daily bread. On the other hand, you also pray against everything that interferes with it. Therefore, you must open wide and extend your thoughts not only to the oven or the flour bin, but also to the distant field and the entire land, which bears and brings to us daily bread and every sort of nourishment. For if God did not cause food to grow and He did not bless and preserve it in the field, we could never take bread from the oven or have any to set upon the table.

73 To sum things up, this petition includes everything that belongs to our entire life in the world, for we need daily bread because of life alone. It is not only necessary for our life that our body have food and clothes and other necessaries. It is also necessary that we spend our days in peace and quiet among the people with whom we live and have dealings in daily business and conversation and all sorts of doings [1 Thessalonians 4:11; 2 Thessalonians 3:12; 1 Timothy 2:2]. In short, this petition applies both to the household and also to the neighborly or civil relationship and government. Where these two things are hindered so that they do not prosper as they should, the necessaries of life also are hindered. Ultimately, life cannot be maintained. 74 There is, indeed, the greatest need to pray for earthly authority and government. By them, most of all, God preserves for us our daily bread and all the comforts of this life. Though we have received from God all good things in abundance, we are not able to keep any of them or use them in security and happiness if He did not give us a permanent and peaceful government. For where there are dissension, strife, and war, there the daily bread is already taken away or is at least hindered.[2]

The widow and her son are rescued from starvation by the Lord through Elijah. And then, there is today’s Old Testament reading: 17 After this the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, became ill. And his illness was so severe that there was no breath left in him.

The son didn’t starve to death. The Lord provided food miraculously, as we learned last week. He died for another reason, to confirm to the woman that Elijah came from God and that Elijah’s word from the Lord was truth.

Understandably, she has a strong reaction to the death of her son:  18 And she said to Elijah, “What have you against me, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my sin to remembrance and to cause the death of my son!”

Did you hear who she blames? She blames Elijah first, Elijah in God’s place. Then, as she comes to her senses, she also blames herself—she blames her own sin, believing that could be the cause of her son’s death.

Elijah responds differently than she likely expects: 19 And he said to her, “Give me your son.” And he took him from her arms and carried him up into the upper chamber where he lodged, and laid him on his own bed. 20 And he cried to the Lord, “O Lord my God, have you brought calamity even upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by killing her son?” 21 Then he stretched himself upon the child three times and cried to the Lord, “O Lord my God, let this child’s life come into him again.” 22 And the Lord listened to the voice of Elijah. And the life of the child came into him again, and he revived. 23 And Elijah took the child and brought him down from the upper chamber into the house and delivered him to his mother. And Elijah said, “See, your son lives.” 24 And the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.”

Death is a result to sin. Jesus is the solution to sin and death.

See, your son lives. Resurrection. Good news. It is news we hear of in the New Testament, notably with the raising of Jairus’ Daughter (Mark 9:18ff; Mark 5:21ff), the raising of the widow’s son (Luke 7:11ff), and the raising of Lazarus (John 11:1ff). Who did the miracle here? Elijah, but not by himself. The Lord God did the work of resurrection. Who does the raising of Jairus’ daughter, the raising of the widow’s son, and the raising of Lazarus from the dead? Jesus. Jesus, the Lord God Himself in the flesh.

The Lutheran Formula of Concord (Solid Declaration) shows the connection between our original sin and our need for the resurrection.

FCSD 2 1. We believe, teach, and confess that there is a distinction between man’s nature and original sin. This applied not only when he was originally created by God pure and holy and without sin [Genesis 1:31], but it also applies to the way we have that nature now after the fall. In other words, we distinguish between the nature itself (which even after the fall is and remains God’s creature) and original sin. This distinction is as great as the distinction between God’s work and the devil’s work.

3 2. We believe, teach, and confess that this distinction should be maintained with the greatest care. For this doctrine (that no distinction is to be made between our corrupt human nature and original sin) conflicts with the chief articles of our Christian faith about creation, redemption, sanctification, and the resurrection of our body. It cannot stand with them.

4 God created the body and soul of Adam and Eve before the fall. But He also created our bodies and souls after the fall. Even though they are corrupt, God still acknowledges them as His work, as it is written in Job 10:8, “Your hands fashioned and made me.” (See also Deuteronomy 32:18; Isaiah 45:9–10; 54:5; 64:8; Acts 17:28; Psalm 100:3; 139:14; Ecclesiastes 12:1.)

5 Furthermore, God’s Son has received this human nature [John 1:14], but without sin. Therefore, He did not receive a foreign nature, but our own flesh in the unity of His person. In this way He has become our true Brother. Hebrews 2:14 says, “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise partook of the same things.” Again, “For surely it is not angels that He helps, but He helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore He had to be made like His brothers in every respect, … yet without sin” [2:16; 4:15]. 6 In the same way, Christ redeemed human nature as His work, sanctifies it, raises it from the dead, and gloriously adorns it as His work. But original sin He has not created, received, redeemed, or sanctified. He will not raise it, adorn it, or save it in the elect. In the ‹blessed› resurrection original sin will be entirely destroyed [1 Corinthians 15:51–57].[3]

The resurrection of the widow’s son in 1 Kings gives us a preview of the resurrections that Jesus performs, which gives us a preview of Jesus’ own resurrection from the dead, which gives us a preview of our own resurrection from the dead on the Last Day.

When the widow’s son dies, Elijah raises him back to life by God’s power. Already in OT stories such as this, we see God’s power over death, the height of which is Christ’s glorious resurrection from the dead. For us and for our salvation, He has conquered sin, Satan, and death, opening the gates to everlasting life in heaven. [4]

Our Good News today is that Jesus gives us our Daily Bread, everything we need to support this body and life, everything we need to remain faithful to Him until our death and resurrection, or His return. Jesus also gives us new life now in Holy Baptism and the forgiveness of sins and will raise us and all the dead and give eternal life to us and all believers in Christ.

This is most certainly true! Amen.

In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

[1] Engelbrecht, E. A. (2009). The Lutheran Study Bible (p. 567). St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House.
[2] McCain, P. T. (Ed.). (2005). Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions (p. 417). St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House.
[3] McCain, P. T. (Ed.). (2005). Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions (pp. 474–475). St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House.
[4] Engelbrecht, E. A. (2009). The Lutheran Study Bible (p. 568). St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House.