Summary: A sermon for Reformation Sunday
31 ¶ Jesus then said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples,
32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free."
33 They answered him, "We are descendants of Abraham, and have never been in bondage to any one. How is it that you say, ’You will be made free’?"
34 Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, every one who commits sin is a slave to sin.
35 The slave does not continue in the house for ever; the son continues for ever.
36 So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.
37 I know that you are descendants of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me, because my word finds no place in you.
38 ¶ I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father."RSV
Since this is reformation Sunday, the Sunday we celebrate the reforms of the church and honor the life of Martin Luther, I think it is appropriate and right that I begin my sermon this morning with a quote from Luther.
Luther says in his little book, "Christian Liberty" the following: "A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none. A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all."
Luther is saying we are free and at the same time we are slaves. How can that be???
Maybe the following stories might help shed some light on this confusing subject..
" A man who didn’t believe in God was giving a lecture telling of his reasons why he thought Christians were weak people who were dependent on God and used him as a crutch in life. The man went on and on about how he didn’t need anyone but himself and he was making a pretty good living doing just that relying on himself. After his speech, he asked anyone who had questions to come up front to the platform.
After a short while, a man who had been well known as the town drunk came forward. He had just had a conversion experience and had completely changed his life. He came forward, reached into his pocket and pulled out an orange and coolly and slowly began to peel it.
The lecturer became impatient with this man, and asked him to ask the question he came forward to ask. But without saying anything, the former town drunk finished peeling the orange and began to eat it right there in front of everyone. When he had eaten the last of the orange, he turned to the lecturer and asked him, "Was the orange I ate sweet or sour?’’
Angrily, the lecturer shouted, " Idiot, how can I know whether it was sweet or sour when I never tasted it?’’
To this the former drunk replied, "And how can you know anything about Christ if you have not tried Him?"
Or, there was a pastor who was riding with a coachman one day. He turned to the coachman and asked, "Friend, if your team were running away with you, after you had done your best to stop them what would you do if you suddenly learned that a person sitting beside you knew exactly how to control your team and save you from disaster!. "
The coachman reified, "I’d instantly hand over the reins to him!!"
Then replied the pastor’ "Why haven’t you handed over the reins of your life to Christ, since he is the one who can save you’ from eternal disaster."
Do you see what Luther is trying to say. Yes, we are free because of the freedom we have in Christ, but at the same time we are slaves, slaves to Christ and to the people we serve in Christ’s name.
In our gospel lesson this morning Jesus is talking about this same subject. He says we are slaves to sin, but at the same time he is telling us we can he free in and through him.
Luther’s famous saying that we are saint and sinner at the same time comes to mind here. We are saints, believers in Christ because of Christ’s action in our lives through Baptism, but at the same time we are sinners, never having fully arrived at our sainthood until we come into the glorious presence of Christ at the gates of heaven.
Our lives are an ongoing process of becoming what Christ wants us to he. He is constantly molding, shaping, forming, developing, guiding us so that we can be free in Him to serve Him and our neighbor.
So there is a paradox to the Christian life. I am tree in Christ to become what God truly created me for in His image, but at the same time I am a slave to sin, because that nature is always with me until through Christ at the gates of heaven it is finally removed.