Our Father's House
4th Sunday After Pentecost
Grace, Mercy and Peace from God our Father, His Son our Lord, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.
We’ve all seen it. Especially if you raised any children. The parent will give the child a task or command like, ‘Clean your room!’ or, ‘Go to bed!’ And if the child does not want to do what their parents ordered, they will become defiant in a number of different ways. The simplest is merely saying, ‘No’. Another way is for the child to not do what they are told.
As they get older, into their teen years, the battle becomes more intense. The parents find themselves having less control as the child becomes more independent. And it seems, that the fighting amongst siblings turns to the children fighting the mother and father. The son or daughter may leave the household on bad terms. Some never return to the relationship, while others learn a little wisdom on their own and begin to understand that the father or mother only wished to keep them safe.
In the Holy Gospel of St. Matthew, Jesus says,
For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. [Matthew 10:35-36]
What did he mean by this? Did he mean he came to sow discord and discontent between fathers and sons? Did he wish to break up families? Is this the act of a loving compassionate Savior?
No my friends, this was not the meaning in his words. Jesus clarifies his statement with the next sentences:
Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. [Matthew 10:37-38]
Jesus does not wish to break up the household nor is he commanding us to stop loving our parents, our children, or our neighbors. He is telling us that we must put Christ first and our loved ones second. We can have no other gods before the one true God.
If we are faithful and true to God, those who wish to follow their own sinful desires will become our enemies, even in our own house. Jesus is telling us that if we wish to live in his household, we must follow his rules.
We call these rules the Law of God, or the Ten Commandments. His Law commands us to be righteous and holy; in other words, do not sin! When we put our own wishes above God’s wishes, we sin. When we lust after money, power or other people, we break His law.
When we murder the unborn infant or those unable to care for themselves, we transgress against God’s house. When we steal, lie and cheat our neighbors, we are begging our Creator for the reward of death. By lusting after another human being, we turn our back on God and begin to walk a path of eternal separation from Him.
You shall not commit murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not covet after anything that is not yours. These are the rules we must follow in order to live in His kingdom. These commands are not negotiable. We cannot follow only part of the rules some of the time. We cannot change them when they get to difficult to obey. When we break these rules, our punishment is not simply, no T.V. for a month, but no life with Him for eternity.
We have all come into confrontation with the law. We have all fallen short of our Father’s will. When we fail to uphold His commandments, we are sentenced under that law to eternal death. St. Paul writes to the church in Rome about his struggle saying,
“I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me.” [Romans 7:9-10]
Or, as the songwriter Sonny Curtis composed, “I fought the law and the law won.”
How do we come to terms with our sin and the Law? One way is to fight against the law. We can reject it outright and refuse to follow. In doing so, we reject God as well. Another path would be to run away from our Father’s house and his condemning rules. When we do this, we create division between mother and daughter, and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies become those of his own household. [Matthew 10:35b-36]
It seems that no matter which way we turn, we are doomed. We sin, we transgress against the Law of our Creator and we receive the sentence of death. Yet there is hope because we have a Father who loves us.
Through our sin, we turn our backs on our heavenly home, but our Father does not want us to leave. He says to us, “Don’t leave! I don’t want you to go.” In His almighty power and wisdom, He knew we cannot be holy and without sin. The only way to bring us back into His kingdom was to pay the price of our sin, and that price is death.
For God so loved the world that He sent His only Son into our flesh. Born of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, Jesus Christ became truly human while remaining truly God. Because he was human, he was put under the Law of our Father. Under the Law, Jesus Christ was under the same judgment of death.
However, Jesus did what we could never do. He did not run away. He obeyed his father’s will. He walked the path of truth and righteousness. By being human, he was subject to all the human frailties of hunger, pain and anger. He was tempted by all sin and the works of our adversary, Satan. He was taken to a hill and crucified on a cross of wood, innocent of all transgressions.
All this he did in perfect conformity to the Law of God almighty. He had no sin in him yet he bore the sin of all humankind. Did he who is good, then, bring death to us? By no means! This is how we were redeemed. Jesus Christ took our sin to the grave. By his death, we became dead to sin, but by his death, alone we cannot be saved. To bring us home, Jesus Christ could not remain dead. He raised himself up from death, paying the wages of sin in full. In his resurrection, we are resurrected from eternal death.
I remember fights with my father. I thought the only reason he wanted me in his house was so that I could mow the lawn, chop the wood and other chores. When there was strife between us, I very much considered leaving my father’s house, yet I remained. Was there peace in that house thereafter? Not all the time, we are human after all. Even though it was hard to live by his rules under his roof, and even though I broke a few of those rules by accident or on purpose, I was given grace to live in my father’s house.
As I now stand before you in our Father’s house here on earth, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, do not leave the most important relationship you have with God. I encourage you not to turn away from the grace and mercy of our Father’s love for His children.
He has given His Son to redeem you from your sin. Through the sacrifice of His only Son on the cross, you now receive the forgiveness of your sin through his body and blood in, with and under the bread and wine at His table.
The Holy Spirit has been given to you through your baptism. He now lives in you. Whoever receives the Holy Spirit receives the one who sent him. Whoever receives forgiveness through the water and the Word receives the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit. As the Spirit dwells in you, you will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Please, don’t leave. God does not want you to go. Our Father in heaven wants you to live with him forever. He has given you His word and He has given you salvation through His Son. Please, do not turn away from eternal life through Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ has prepared a room for you in his father’s house. [John 14:2] He has told us he will come again and receive you to Himself, so that were He is, there you may be also. [John 14:3] You are welcome in our Father’s house.