Bible Passage: Luke 11:27-28
Pastor: Pastor Berg
Sermon Date: November 30, 2016
Waiting this time of year is hard, isn’t it? There’s so much anticipation for the parties and the presents and all the things that go with Christmas time, it’s so hard to wait. But you know what’s about the only thing that can make waiting even harder? Sitting still at the same time. Sitting still is not easy to do, right kids. But even if we want to just sit and be still, it’s so hard to do. Especially with all the things going on at this time of year, it seems as if we hardly have a moment to just sit and be still. What a blessing God gives us in this season of Advent. Advent is a time of preparation, a time where we prepare our hearts to welcome Jesus not only as the baby at Christmas, but also as he returns again as King. And these Advent services give us that chance to take a few minutes and just be still, a few moments to sit and ponder on God’s Word. And so today, we wait for Jesus in stillness. As we wait in stillness today, let us wait despite the loud cries all around us and let us wait for one everlasting compliment.
So what prompted this woman to cry out to Jesus? What moved Jesus to reply the way that he did? Just before these verses, Jesus had been dealing with a man who was demon-possessed. This particular possession had made the man unable to speak. However, after Jesus drove out the demon, the man spoke as if he never had any problems before and the crowd who saw this and heard this was amazed! Of course, there were always those who opposed Jesus, even when he was helping people. They started saying that the only reason Jesus was doing these wonderful, miraculous things is because he was using the power of the devil. Jesus goes on to refute those claims by logically stating that a house divided against itself can’t stand. Satan isn’t going to drive out Satan.
This discussion prompted a woman to cry out from the crowd: “Blessed is the womb that carried you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” Seems innocent enough, doesn’t it? Mary was certainly blessed by God and none of us would deny that. The angel Gabriel said that very thing to Mary when he told her that she would be the mother of the Savior. But this cry, at this time, was misguided. Mary was not better than anyone else. There was nothing about Mary that made her more worthy in the eyes of God than any of the other virgin girls who were descendants of David. Mary was a recipient of God’s grace, just as we all are. No, this cry threatened to take the attention of the people away from where it needed it to be.
Doesn’t that happen to us too? The sinful world loves to cry out loudly for our attention, especially during this time of year. There are good cries for our attention as well: family, vocations, friends, the needy. Perhaps there are even dangerous cries that comes loud and long from our sinful pride. Just look at what good Lutheran Christians we are. Look at how close we are to Jesus. Maybe not as close as Mary, but certainly close. And certainly that deserves some merit and credit from God.
Notice, however, that Jesus did not let a misguided cry distract him. “Even more blessed…” Jesus says are those than his mother. None of the things that are clamoring for our attention at this time of year will bring us the peace that our hearts need and desire. Nothing we do earns merit or favor from God. No, this is why we are waiting for Jesus in stillness. He’s the only one who can bring peace by his life and death and resurrection. He’s the one who’s coming again to make all things right. And while we wait, Jesus gives us some instructions.
“Even more blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it.” And therein lies the challenge for all of us. Are we taking the time to hear the Word of God? Is God’s Word truly our priority in this season of Advent? Are we so busy preparing our homes and enjoying the activities of the season that we’ve forgotten to prepare our hearts?
Thankfully, Jesus regularly, gladly heard God’s Word. He regarded it as holy. He kept the third commandment for us, in our place, to make us right with God. He died to pay for our sins against the third commandment and against all of God’s commandments.
Friends, the gospel is like a passing rain shower. There is no guarantee that we will always have it. Yet, God has blessed us with his word of grace when he rightfully could have taken it away. This Advent season, let us thank God for preserving his Word among us. Let us thank God by not only hearing his Word, but keeping it. As we wait for Jesus to come, we wait not only to see him, but to hear him. And who is it that will receive the highest compliment from Jesus on Judgment Day? Isaiah tells us, “This is what the Lord says: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be? Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?” declares the Lord. “This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.” It won’t be those who have accomplished the most in this world, but rather those who are humble, broken in spirit, who tremble in awe at his Word. On Judgment Day, none of our possessions will matter, except his Word in our hearts. What astonishment for us to hear him pronounce us blessed on the last day, through repentant faith in him, for clinging to his Word. Heaven and earth will pass away, but his Word will never pass away.
It’s with that assurance that we can wait for Jesus in stillness. It’s with the calming truths of the gospel that we can tune out the other cries and focus on the word of truth as we patiently wait. Come quickly, Lord Jesus. AMEN