Epiphany III – Series C

This week come to the account of Jesus’ first sermon. Do you remember your first sermon? I remember mine. My fieldwork supervisor was taking a break after a busy Holy Week. The preacher for Sunday could not be there for the Saturday evening service. He looked at the field worker and said, “Phil, your preaching that Saturday night.” I had graduated midyear from Concordia Seward, started in the spring term at CSL. It was my first quarter of Seminary and I was enrolled in Homiletics I. I was completely not ready for this, but soldiered on.

The text was the doubting Thomas account in John 20. I worked hard on this. I am glad that the file with that sermon has long been lost. I cannot bear thinking about reading it now. Prof. Paul Schrieber and his very large family attended that service and they were present that Saturday evening. I stood at the door greeting folks on the way out of church. He shook my hand and said, “That was very interesting.” I never was able to screw up enough courage to ask him what he meant by that.

Jesus preaches his first sermon today. It does not go well. After initial amazement, the people in Nazareth realize the implication of what he claims and proclaims. They march him outside the village and would have thrown him off a cliff, but he walks through them and is not harmed. It is not yet time for him to die by lynch mob. That will come later in his ministry.

My father used to have a parishioner who would sometimes greet him after the service with, “Pastor, I sure hope they were listening today.” My Dad used to wonder if this guy had been listening. We proclaim the Lordship of Christ, His resurrection, and the forgiveness of all sins. If people really heard and believed that, would they be ready to throw us off a cliff too? If they blandly say, “Good sermon, Pastor,” have we failed?

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