sermon preached at New Hope Lutheran Church, West Melbourne, FL on July 4, 2010 by Pastor Dale Raether The Cost of FreedomLuke 9:51-62It¬ís July 4th so I have to ask, do you truly love freedom?¬† Do you love it as much as our founding fathers did?¬† At Valley Forge they faced a discouraging, if not impossible situation.¬† They were running out of food and ammunition.¬† As soon as the weather warmed, they would face a much larger, well-equipped British army.¬† Also, the majority of Americans didn¬ít support what they were doing.¬† A third actually sided with the British.¬† Another third didn¬ít care who won the war.¬† Yet these men put everything on the line ¬Ė their honor, their property, certainly their comfort, and their very lives.¬† Why?¬† They wanted freedom not only for themselves, but for future generations and even for those Americans, who didn¬ít care yet.¬† ¬†Are you also willing to put everything on the line for the sake of freedom?¬† In asking this, my goal isn¬ít to shame or frighten anyone, but to encourage as we contemplate an even greater freedom than our forefathers passed on to us.¬† Christ¬ís freedom is freedom from the Law for going to heaven.¬† We HAVE peace with God.¬† Christ¬ís freedom is also freedom from sin.¬† We HAVE the Holy Spirit that we may love one another from the heart, which brings true meaning and purpose to our life.¬† And finally we have freedom from death.¬† God is caring for us each day, and on the last day will raise up our bodies to live in His perfect freedom forever.¬† So, do you love Christ¬ís freedom?¬† On the basis of our text this morning let¬ís look at 1.¬† The sacrifice Christ made for us.¬† 2.¬† The sacrifice He calls us to make for others.¬† ¬†We read, ¬ďAs the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem ¬Ė Luke 9:51.¬Ē¬† As the time approached¬Ö In the original Greek is literally says when the time was filled up.¬† Jesus started toward Jerusalem, because for the past 33 years He had been fulfilling the Law for us, and now that work was almost done.¬† Also, by His preaching He had hardened the hearts of His enemies.¬† You see, that¬ís what happens when a person rejects the Word ¬Ė his heart becomes hard.¬† Anyway at this point Jesus¬í enemies couldn¬ít wait to kill Him, and God had planned how He would use that.¬† Finally the timing was right for His disciples.¬† Jesus had been training them for past three years.¬† But now through the events of Holy Week and Easter, He would complete their training.¬† ¬†So it is for us.¬† God has a timetable for our struggles, our blessings, and our accomplishments.¬† When He calls us to service, whatever that service might be, we don¬ít have to be afraid of the sacrifices.¬† Christ made the sacrifice! ¬†Again we read, He resolutely set out for Jerusalem. ¬†Jesus knew exactly what was going to happen to Him there.¬† Yet He charged into His suffering, because His love for us is rock solid, and there was no other way He could win our freedom.¬† ¬†Reading on in our text, ¬ďAnd he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem ¬Ė Luke 9:52-53.¬Ē¬† There was quite a crowd with Jesus, so He sent messengers into a town to possibly get everyone together for some teaching time.¬† The Samaritans wanted nothing to do with Jesus, because they wanted nothing to do with the Jews or Jerusalem, where He was going.¬† Here¬ís why.¬† In the Old Testament, the Samaritans were not allowed to help in the building the temple, even though they had asked.¬† In this way God was teaching everyone that serving Him is by grace, just like our salvation is by grace.¬† Well, the Samaritans were offended, because they didn¬ít understand grace.¬† And then the Jews made things even worse by treating the Samaritans like dirt.¬† ¬†The disciples did this too.¬† We read, ¬ďWhen the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, "Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them even as Elijah did?¬† But Jesus turned and rebuked them, and He said, "You do not know what kind of spirit you are of, for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. And they went to another village ¬Ė Luke 9:54-55.¬Ē¬† On the screen half the words are in italics, because some Greek manuscripts include the part about Elisha and others do not.¬† Now it¬ís true, In the Old Testament Elisha did call down fire on some Samaritans.¬† But his purpose was protection for himself and to call others to repentance.¬† The disciples¬í purpose was prideful revenge, and that¬ís why Jesus rebuked them.¬† In whatever ways we serve God, let our motivation always be a deep sense of God grace to us, and then wanting others to know His grace too.¬†¬†¬†¬† ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†However, how can we be sure that what we believe is really true?¬† How do we know that the Bible isn¬ít full of copy mistakes like the one here in our text?¬† The God who won our freedom through His Son¬ís suffering and death is also protecting His Word.¬† The copy discrepancy before you is as bad as it gets.¬† And yet even here it doesn¬ít matter if the original reading included the words in italics or not, the meaning ends up the same.¬† So it is with all copy discrepancies in the Bible.¬† In the first place there aren¬ít really that many, plus in many cases we can figure out what the original was.¬† So, read the Word with confidence every day.¬† If you do, Jesus said, ¬ďYou will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.¬Ē ¬†But now Christ¬ís freedom has to be celebrated.¬† Christ¬ís Freedom has to be shared.¬† And so it was for the people in our text.¬† However Jesus tells them up front what sacrifices they would be called on to make.¬† We read, ¬ďAs they were walking along the road, a man said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go."¬† Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head ¬Ė Luke 9:57-58."¬† ¬†Serving Christ isn¬ít about getting rich.¬† That¬ís not to say God doesn¬ít sometimes bless His servants monetarily.¬† Yet don¬ít count on it.¬† More often than not, Christians stay poor.¬† Or, when they do get a little money, they¬íll turn around and use it to somehow advance the Gospel.¬† Nevertheless they are never truly poor.¬† First of all they have the riches of the Holy Spirit.¬† You heard about those gifts earlier in our Epistle Lesson.¬† They include love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.¬† Another way Christians are rich is they have true enjoyment of the blessings God does give them, as Paul writes, ¬ďGodliness with contentment is great gain.¬Ē So, is it a sacrifice to not be scrapping and clawing for the latest toys, like the rest of the world is doing?¬† It¬ís not much of a sacrifice, especially when compared to the joy of angels Jesus says we¬íll have, when we get to see others come to faith or grow in faith.¬† We read on in our text, ¬ďHe said to another man, "Follow me."¬† But the man replied, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father."¬†¬† Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God ¬Ė Luke 9:59-60." Jesus isn¬ít teaching disrespect to parents.¬† He wouldn¬ít do that.¬† Maybe in this situation the father still had years to live, but was guilting his son into taking care of him, when we could be taking care of himself.¬† Or, maybe there was even more to it than that.¬† Jesus¬í comment, let the dead bury their own dead, suggests that this man¬ís relatives were not believers, and would be giving him a hard time for wanting to the serve the Lord.¬† His ¬ďsacrifice¬Ē then would be not letting their nastiness get to him, so that he would keep on sharing the Gospel of freedom.¬† We read, ¬ďStill another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family."¬† Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God ¬Ė Luke 9:61-62."¬† Here again Jesus isn¬ít against family, and in the Old Testament reading Elisha went back to say goodbye to his family.¬† Perhaps this man had too much love for his family, or too much of a desire for being comfortable.¬† Still the sacrifices Jesus was asking him to make would be more than offset by the fact that through Christ families are brought even closer to together, though they may be physically separated for a time.¬† Also, Christ will be with them in their separation, and will reward their hard work behind the plow with the joy of the harvest.¬† So, is serving the Lord a sacrifice?¬† It is, if that¬ís how you choose to look at it.¬† But it isn¬ít on account of Christ¬ís sacrifice and the freedom He won for us.¬† I¬ím personally glad I haven¬ít been asked to sacrifice as our founding fathers did, or as previous generations had to.¬† However, on this Fourth of July may their sacrifice for earthly freedom lead us to think about Christ¬ís freedom!¬† Do we love His freedom enough to endure heat and rain to come and hear God¬ís Word and to worship Him?¬† Do we love it enough to think through how we are using our time, talents, and treasure, so that many more may be eternally free?¬† And finally do we love freedom enough to say ¬ďno¬Ē to ourselves, if need be, for the people and things we love the most?¬† If we just look to ourselves, our answer might be, ¬ďI¬ím not so sure I¬ím strong enough.¬Ē¬† But let¬ís not look to ourselves.¬† Let¬ís look to God¬ís grace for us.¬† Let¬ís look to all of Jesus¬í promises.¬† And finally let¬ís see the misery and then look to the Freedom God wants for all.¬† Serving our Heavenly King isn¬ít a sacrifice.¬† It¬ís grace and by His grace we too can do all things through Him who gives us strength!¬† Amen.¬†¬†¬†¬†

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