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Sermon Illustrations for Proper 13 | OT 18 (2021)

Illustration
2 Samuel 11:26--12:13a
David was certainly not the last powerful man to take sexual advantage of a woman. We think of Bill Clinton and Matt Lauer (and Donald Trump has indicated he would like to do it). Martin Luther says that such behavior is the essence of sin:

Such is nature that no one wants someone else to have as much as he or she does. Everyone tries to accumulate as much as he or she can, and lets others look out for themselves. Yet we all consider ourselves upright people, and put up a fine front to conceal our villainy. (The Book of Concord [2000 ed.], pp.425-426)

No, we’re as bad as David. We repeat his sin whenever we covet, Luther says.

David was forgiven, and so are we. God’s forgiving love was powerfully proclaimed by Luther from the pulpit: “Our Lord God must be a devout man to be able to love knaves. I can’t do it, although I am myself a knave.” (Luther’s Works, Vol.54, p.32).

Elsewhere he more profoundly sings the praises of divine love:

Our heart is much too limited to be able to grasp the scope of this great blessing. For such is its magnitude that if anyone were able to comprehend it... if we had a full understanding of this love of God for men, a joy so great would come to us from this recognition that we would promptly die because of it. From this we see how great our feebleness is, how great our torpor; since few taste, I do not say, this ocean, but scarcely a few drops of this immense joy.  (What Luther Says, p.821)
Mark E.

* * *

2 Samuel 11:26--12:13a
David was a powerful and wise king, but he was certainly not without sin. His ordering of the murder of Uriah so that he could wed Bathsheba was certainly sin. Nathan was called by God to address David’s sin. David’s immediate response to the hypothetical that Nathan shares, is righteous anger and an order for restitution to be made. Nathan then reveals that it is David himself who has sinned against the Lord. David eventually admits his sin against the Lord. There have been times when it was difficult for me to admit my sin, to reconcile myself with my neighbor and with God. Yet, when once I have admitted my sin, sought reconciliation and forgiveness, my heart has felt an ease and I have felt renewed. How do you feel when you seek forgiveness?
Bonnie B.

* * *

Ephesians 4:1-16
Haddon Robinson, in his book Decision Making by the Book, writes of a concert violinist whose brother was a bricklayer. One day, a woman began gushing to the bricklayer about how wonderful it was to be in the family of that violinist. Not wanting to insult the bricklayer, she added, “Of course, we don’t all have the same talents, and even in a family some just seem to have more talent than others.”

The bricklayer replied, “Boy, you’re telling me! That violinist brother of mine doesn’t know a thing about laying bricks. If he couldn’t make some money playing that fiddle of his, he couldn’t hire a guy with know-how like mine to build a house. If he had to build a house himself, he’d be ruined.”

Robinson observes, “If you want to build a house, you don’t want a violinist. If you’re going to lead an orchestra, you don’t want a bricklayer. No two of us are exactly alike. None of us has every gift and ability. Our responsibility is to exercise the gifts we have—not the ones we wish we had.”

Charles Spurgeon wrote, “The spiritual gifts of the church are for the good of the rebels as well as for the building up of those who are reconciled. Whatever spiritual gifts we have, they are not our own to use as we please; they are only entrusted to us that we may employ them to help our fellow-Christians. There is no person without a talent of some sort or other, no one without some form of power either given by nature or acquired by education. We are all endowed in some degree or other, and we must each one give an account for that talent.”

May we all use the gifts we’ve been given to build up the kingdom of God.
Bill T.

* * *

Ephesians 4:1-6
In Ephesians 4:1 Paul refers to himself as a desmios, a “prisoner” in the Lord. A little further down, in verse 3, Paul makes a reference to what is sometimes translated as “bonds” of peace. The word translated as “bonds” is sundesmios, the sun being the Greek word for “with.” It should be translated “fellow prisoners” in peace. When the Ephesians, with their varied cultural, national, ethnic, and religious backgrounds, make the sacrifices necessary to come together around the fellowship table they are prisoners of Christ, fellow prisoners with Paul. These are chains of love, but unlike Paul’s chains, they are freely chosen.
Frank R.

* * *

John 6:24-35
“Jesus said to them, "I am the Bread of Life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” The crowds had been seeking out Jesus, seeking to know why Jesus withdraws from the crowds. Jesus admonishes them slightly by accusing them of seeking bread to eat as in former miracles. Yet, Jesus also reminds them that their bodies will be hungry and thirsty once again. Their spirits, however, will be completely and eternally nourished by Jesus and Jesus’ connection to and relationship to the God who provides everything we need. Our spirits are nourished as we seek and move into the embrace of God, accepting Jesus as Savior and brother.
Bonnie B.

* * *

John 6:24-35
We all know Jesus is the Bread of Life.  But he offers more than just a meal, for he fulfills the deepest hunger of the human race.  Pope John Paul II profoundly captured that yearning:

Farmers everywhere provide bread for all humanity, but it is Christ alone who is the Bread of Life...Even if all the physical hunger of the world were satisfied, even if everyone who is hungry were fed by his or her own labor or by the generosity of others, the deepest hunger of man would still exist...Therefore, I say, Come, all of you, to Christ. He is the Bread of Life.  Come to Christ and you will never be hungry again.

Pope Francis made a similar point regarding our need for the Bread of Life:    

As well as physical hunger, man also suffers from another form of hunger that cannot be sated with ordinary food. It is a hunger for life, a hunger for love, a hunger for eternity. Manna is the sign … that prefigured the food that satisfies this profound hunger present in man. Jesus gives us this nourishment — or rather, He himself is the living bread that gives life to the world. His body is the true food in the form of bread.

Jesus the Bread of Life meets our deep needs, because like bread becomes part of who we are when we eat it, so in receiving Christ he becomes part of you and me, we carry him along with us like the breakfast we ate this morning is in our guts.  In short, Jesus the Bread of Life, never abandons us now that we have taken him in by faith.  Here is how John Calvin put it:

For faith does look at Christ only as at a distance, but embraces him that he may become ours and dwell in us...  It is therefore true that by faith alone we eat Christ, provided we also understand in what manner faith unites us to Him.  (Calvin’s Commentaries, Vol.XVII/2, p. 250)

We need to feast on Jesus and unite with him if our deepest hungers are ever to be satisfied.
Mark E.
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