The Lutheran Church of the Triune God

19th Sunday after Pentecost                                                                            October 4, 2015

 

Mark 10:2-16                                      Kingdom Crutches 

 

Dear fellow redeemed: 

 

It’s something you were very grateful to have but also very grateful get rid of.

I refer to that pair of crutches.

*          You may have broken your leg or sprained your ankle.

            Or perhaps you had surgery, and could not put any wait on that one foot.

*          But the day finally arrived and you tossed those crutches in the closet.

            What a joy! No longer did you require help getting in and out of the car, or having people

            open the door for you.  You didn’t need three hands as you tried to carry something into

            the house.  “Them days were over!”

 

Well, this morning let’s talk about some different crutches.

*          We need some special support not because we’ve been injured physically, but because

            we’ve been crippled spiritually. To get from point A to point B; from this life to the next,

            we rely on various props.

*          We may call them Kingdom Crutches.  They’re God’s servants who brace us and sustain us

            in our Christian faith and Christian living. 

            They teach what we need to know and they serve as an example to us so that we don’t

            take a wrong turn or wander off in the wrong direction.

*          In any case, we’re unable to stand and walk on our own without these crutches.

            We’re absolutely dependent upon them for learning, for encouragement and support.

*          It has to do with having been born and conceived in sin, which is to say we won’t

            overcome our spiritual need for help no matter how long we live.

*          The difference with our Kingdom Crutches is we never get to bid them farewell. 

            We never set them aside, thinking “I’ve really appreciated your help and all, but I’ll

            manage from here!”

*          At every phase of our life there will be one or more believers upon whom we lean for

            support.

 

And that’s a good thing.

*          Recall what God said when he created us.

            “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

*          It was the Lord’s plan from the very start; even before human beings became crippled

            spiritually. So that husband and wife might truly serve one another he created them in

            such a way that they’d make a perfect fit. The two would not simply love each other but

            also complement each other.

 

It’s how we’re meant to be.  Having that special support in our life is a good thing. 

*          And so is it as children of God’s Kingdom.  The mothers in today’s text understood this

            which is why “they were bringing children to (Jesus) that he might touch them.”

*          The only way these children would receive the same blessing from Christ’s Word as the

            grownups did, is if they the grownups intervened and brought their children to

            the Lord.

*          Apparently these mothers were aware of two things.  One, these children were sinners

            just like their parents; and two, they too could believe in Christ as their Savior.

*          No matter what vocation God places us into, it’s always for the same purpose.

            We rely on one another’s support to obtain God’s blessings.

*          We’re in need of Kingdom Crutches, and the Lord supplies them, making them an

            integral part of our lives: our mom and dad, our husband or wife, our pastor, fellow

            parishioner, friend.

 

Unfortunately, no matter what calling God places people into, people object to being dependent. 

People would rather stand on their own two feet and depend on no one under any circumstances.

*          It’s the reason for the alarming divorce rate in our country today.

            The marriage may start out seemingly well.  “You’ve got your life. 

            I’ve got my life.  Oh, yes.  And then there’s the life we share.” 

*          And because the life they share is not a life where the two depend on each other, they

            grow apart. They come to realize that their marriage is nothing more than spending a

            designated portion of time with each other.

*          That was the problem Jesus was addressing in our reading. 

            Moses wasn’t in favor of divorce. 

            He allowed it because many had lost sight of what marriage really was. 

*          People did not see it as a mutual depending upon one another.  It was a one-sided a

            arrangement where the woman simply fulfilled her obligation to her man.

*          Not unlike marriage in certain Muslim nations today, if in the husband’s opinion the wife

            had become a burden and he’s become bored, he could simply cast her aside like

            an outdated pair of crutches.

*          So, in the end, a divorce certificate was a concession of mercy in order to protect the

            wife.  Without it, a husband might be inclined to dismiss his wife without so much as

            leaving a note that the two were no longer married.

 

Couples today, of course, have attacked the divine institution of marriage, not only by seeking to

get out of marriage, but by redefining marriage.

*          At first it was just a few outspoken homosexuals. But it didn’t take long for them to

            influence not simply popular opinion but the highest court in our country.

*          You know what makes the Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage so disgraceful to

            the church?

            It’s not simply that people have ignored what God’s Word actually says.  It’s not simply that

            America’s been forced to respect the so-called rights of a so-called minority group.

*          This decision is a clear and direct attack on our Lord’s divine plan for men and women. 

            As Jesus says: “But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’”

*          Apparently the thinking is: if we can get rid of the distinctions between husband and

            wife, we can get rid of the two’s dependence upon one another.

*          As a result, marriage is no longer God working through husband and wife so they may

            meet each other’s needs.  It’s all about me enjoying a specific right of mine.

 

Well, should we imagine there’s one calling untouched by today’s thinking, the role of a child,

we’re mistaken.

*          Educational institutions teach children they can be self-sufficient without Mom and Dad.

            It’s as simple as discovering who you are as an individual; what gives you standing in the

            world along with a sense of purpose and self-importance.

*          Let’s be honest.  Secular America teaches the young nothing about vocation; God using

            you to serve your neighbor. It’s about neighbors who use one another in order to be

            noticed and admired.

*          The parent’s motto is no longer to teach a child in the way he should go.” 

It’s “teach him to go as he’s so inclined.”

 

People would rather not be known as requiring someone else’s service; having someone serve as

their crutch.  And the same is true regarding Kingdom Crutches.

*          We pick up on this when people question whether we should baptize children.

            Jesus instructs his church, saying: “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to

            such belongs the kingdom of God.”

            He also indicates that believers enter God’s kingdom through Baptism, saying in John,

             “unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).

*          But some are of the opinion that young children don’t have to worry about forgiveness

            until they’re old enough to understand something about sin and be tempted by it.

            And that’s when parents need to teach them about the faith . . .

*          So, it’s all right to depend on Mom and Dad for a Christian education, but apparently it’s

            not okay to depend up God to wash your sins away in Holy Baptism. Why?

            Because teaching requires understanding for children but baptism does not.

*          Really?  When Jesus took children into his arms and blessed them, they didn’t have to

            understand what Jesus was saying.  Nevertheless they received his blessing.

            Despite their sin, they could believe in Jesus and receive his forgiveness.

*          It’s why the mothers brought them to Jesus. 

            And it’s why we bring them to Jesus today having them baptized.  As they depend on God,

            so do they depend on us, God’s servants, to receive Christ’s blessing.

*          They need Kingdom Crutches and we serve as those crutches.

 

But maybe the word “crutch” as far as you’re concerned has very negative connotation.

You remember the controversy when our former governor referred to religion “as a crutch.”

*          People objected to the comment because it gave religion a “bad wrap.”

            We should infer that the only people who need church are the weak-willed.

*          But maybe a part of us could identify.  “I don’t like feeling needy.

            I’d like to believe I can manage my life without all sorts of help from other people.”

*          Particularly when it comes to our greatest needs, those having to do with faith in Christ,

            we don’t want to acknowledge that God is fulfilling some need of mine through this

            individual who’s got less going for him than I do.

*          “I’m an adult!  I don’t depend on others; not when it comes to my faith! 

            Not when it comes to entering God’s Kingdom!”

 

So why are you here today attending the divine service?  Tell me the main reason.

*          Do you have something to give God; your example; your offering; your remarkably sincere praises?

            Or does God have something to give you, something which you’re absolutely dependent

            on him to give?

*          In one sense perhaps the governor was right; religion is a crutch, not because we don’t

            need religion and can manage fine all on our own. 

            Rather, the right religion is definitely our crutch because it keeps us from falling.  It

            transports us from this life to the next telling us about our Savior who gave his life for us.

*          That’s right.  You’re here today because you’re a sinner. 

            You and I realize, no less than St. Paul did, that:nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my

            flesh. Also, as we read in Genesis, “Every inclination of man’s heart is evil from childhood.”

 

From childhood, from the moment we’re first conceived, our heart has nothing good in it but is

filled with sin.  And therefore from childhood we’re dependent upon help from the outside.

*          But it’s also from childhood that we can believe in Jesus Christ.  “Truly, I say to you”

            Jesus informs us, “Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not

            enter it.”

*          “Like a child!” Not only is this is a clear indication that babies can believe. 

            It’s an indication that the right kind of faith is a child-like faith, a faith that’s extremely

            impressionable, simply taking the Lord at his Word.

*          Think of it this way, if a baby can believe understanding very little about his sin, so can

            you and I believe understanding more than we care to about our sin.

1                  Although you understand that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” you

           can believe that all “are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by

           Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:23).

2                  Although you understand that “There is no one righteous, not even one” you can believe

           that “the righteous live by faith”; faith in Jesus Christ who’s made us righteous by his blood.

 3         Although you understand how you were conceived in sin and there’s nothing good in

            your flesh whatsoever, you may believe that “our citizenship is in heaven and from it we

            await a Savior . . . who will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body” (Phil.

            3:20-21).

 

The world, naturally, will also tell us we can believe.

*          We can believe not in true religion, not in our Savior, not in the callings into which our

            Lord has placed us.  No.  We can believe in ourselves.

            We can believe despite how different or how oppressed we are.

*          And if they’re trying to be fair-minded they may even say you can believe in yourself

            should you choose to be that stay-at-home mom.  

*          But how about when your roles are reversed, and it’s your children caring for you, or the

            staff at that care facility?

*          In the first case, your little ones are enjoying their childhood and it brings a smile to those

            watching.  In the second case, you’ve reverted to your own childhood and it brings tears

            to those watching.

*          We may find it interesting.  Your two lives are so similar. The world sees you as feeble,

            awkward, and naive as you struggle to walk and talk and interact with the people you love.

*          In both cases you virtually have no influence on the world, but are dependent on others.

            And yet in the first case it brings joy to those observing and in the second case it brings sadness.

*          It’s why we’re so thrilled when we see a few extra children in church these days.

            Children have a way helping us forget our age. 

*          They bring us joy both by being who they are, feeble, awkward and naive, and by

            reminding us that we may be just like them, feeble, awkward and naive and relying on

            Kingdom Crutches.

 

That’s right. We don’t need to take any cues from the world on how to believe.

*          We’ll take our cue from God’s children whom we have all around us this day.

            And this is what we learn from them.

*          We can believe despite our sin and our weakness and our need for crutches.

 1         Even if we’re incapable of living what many would consider to be a meaningful life;

 2         Even if we’re talking utter nonsense and cannot be understood by our closest family;

 3         Even if we have to be put into a special pen or ward to keep us from wandering off and

            getting hurt;

 4         Even if we become an involute and are dependent on others on every observable level . . .

            We may believe the Lord will receive us into his arms and bless us.

*          We don’t need to get rid of our crutches, for our Savior has gotten rid of our sin.  

            Therefore we may remain God’s children, “for to such belongs the kingdom of God.”         Amen.

 

May the peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.