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â€œItâ€™s All About God, and Itâ€™s All About Youâ€ -John 3:16
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen. Our text for this morning is the Gospel just read from St. John chapter three.
Itâ€™s not about you. I know youâ€™re wearing white and thereâ€™s a cake, maybe even a couple presents along the way. I know thereâ€™s a hundred-odd people here. I know youâ€™ve been in class for a couple years, memorizing the catechism and doing sermon studies and listening to pastorâ€™s bad jokes. I know it may seem like youâ€™ve done a lot of work, or at least that youâ€™ve been at this a really long time. I know all this, and so do you. But itâ€™s still not about you.
Why isnâ€™t it about you, you may ask? Well, first off, if it was about you and all your great accomplishments, we wouldnâ€™t be here. None of you have learned everything you should. None of you have done everything right. And Iâ€™m only talking about confirmation class! Imagine what it would look like if we examined your life! Or mine. Or theirs. Once we go down the road of weighing our accomplishments spiritually against a standard, well, weâ€™re toast. Itâ€™s just that simple.
Now we arenâ€™t the first to have this problem. Remember Isaiah? â€œWoe is me, for I am undone!â€ Really, he speaks for all of us. We can never know enough, feel enough, do enough, serve enough, confess enough, or really ANYTHING to earn Godâ€™s favor. The more we try, the harder it becomes, and the greater we fail. I think we even learned that didnâ€™t we? â€œI believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ my Lord, or come to Him.â€
This is why it isnâ€™t about you. Itâ€™s about God and what He does, who He is, and how He came into the world to save us from our sins, indeed, He came to save us from ourselves!
Think back for a minute to Nicodemus in our Gospel reading. Here was a man in the know. He was an elder, a teacher of Israel. He was respected by one and all. Yet when JEsus started talking about how God works in the world, and how we must be born from above, He got that blank stare on his face. You know the store. The stare you get when all of this God talk has just confused you and left you lost and vacant.
Iâ€™m going to let you in on a secret that is really going to help you down the road in your walk as a Christian. We all get that vacant stare. We all have those moments when the God talk doesnâ€™t make sense. Your parents do. Your older brothers and sisters do. Even your pastor does! That isnâ€™t a sign that you arenâ€™t a Christian or that you have missed the salvation boat. Thatâ€™s a sign that you are a poor sinner who needs the Good Shepherd to come and save him. Now sometimes we get this. Sometimes God has to set you back on your kiester in order for you to see your great need. This is why God has given us John 3:16 and a host of other passages in Scripture, so that you may know of Godâ€™s great love for you in Jesus Christ, despite your many failings, and mine.
God gave His Son to you. Thatâ€™s pretty amazing, isnâ€™t it? Go gave you His most priceless treasure. He gave Him over to death so that you might live forever. And He gives you this very Son today in what we call the Lordâ€™s Supper. Here, you receive all that you need. Here, God is the one who makes you worthy. Here God makes you a part of His holy family, the church. Remember again the words of the small catechism:
Who receives this sacrament worthily?
Fasting and bodily preparation are certainly fine outward training. But that person is truly worthy and well prepared who has faith in these words: â€œGiven and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.â€
But anyone who does not believe these words or doubts them is unworthy and unprepared, for the words â€œfor youâ€ require all hearts to believe.
So in a strange way, it actually is about you. Or maybe â€œfor youâ€. Itâ€™s not about you because you deserve it. Itâ€™s about you because He loves you, plain and simple.
So come, confess the faith God gave you in your Baptism. Confess the Creed with us, and rejoice that God has brought you to this place. Come and receive His body and blood for the forgiveness of sins.
[ADDRESSING THE CONGREGATION] Oh, youâ€™re here, too? Hm. For most of you, you stood here at one point. Or at an altar much like this. And if you havenâ€™t, you probably will. All of these things I said to them really apply to you, too. We are all in this same boat. But the boat isnâ€™t a bad place. The boat is the Church. And itâ€™s the place where God demonstrates His love to you time and time and time again. So welcome these young ones in Christ. Well, theyâ€™ve really been here for a time, but today we renew our love for them just as Christ Himself loves them and gave His life for them.
So join with us in confessing the faith once delivered to the saints. Itâ€™s all about Godâ€™s love, and that means itâ€™s all about you, for you are all His beloved children.
Believe it for Jesusâ€™ sake. Amen.
And now the peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in true faith to life everlasting. Amen
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