Roger's Postings

Saturday, March 25, 2017

John 9:1-41.                                         “What? Are we blind too?”                                             26/3/17

30 The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will. 32 Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”

34 To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out.

35 Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”

36 “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.”

37 Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.”

38 Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.

39 Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”

40 Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?”

41 Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.

Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” So here Jesus has a very serious word for all of us to ponder over. Through this reading Jesus is challenging us as Christians. Also as a society that thinks it is doing a pretty good job life on their own. We have here God using a blind man whom Jesus heals, to address the whole matter of spiritual blindness.

The danger is that we can so easily become like the Pharisees here in this reading. They think that they can see very clearly what life is all about. Yet they have got it all horribly wrong, with disastrous results. It takes a blind man to challenge their faith. But their arrogance and pride will stop them from seeing the truth.

As we look around us today things are little different. Too often, we think we know it all; and we are not willing to be told the truth. Too often we can twist the truth of God’s Word so that we can ignore and keep Jesus and what he says at ‘arms length’. Too often we also are not willing to accept the clear facts that are before us, because we want to continue to live as we see fit. Too often we can be like the blind man’s parents and not tell the truth because we are afraid of being ridiculed.

Too often we can listen to something like this and think that this does not apply to us personally. ‘I have got my faith so I am okay’: Despite the fact that our faith is ever so shallow. We too, all too readily, look at the ten commandments and think that we are no doing too bad of a job in keeping them. We are basically good people, who are generally trying be good moral people.

So we are looking to ourselves and how we want to see things, even though the truth is something else. We look to what we must be doing in order to be good and acceptable people. And we are quick to judge those who do not measure up to what looks good in our own eyes. Even when it comes to Jesus; if he doesn’t fit what we would like him to be saying and doing, we will reject him also.

We are seeing this kind of thinking all around us, and in our very own lives. Even within the church we have these attitude controlling what we say and do as a church. We are not even prepared to consider that we might be blind to what is right and good. And it is deadly. Jesus said: “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains

These are some of the key issues that are here put in front of us again through this reading, and we cannot and must not go past them in any way, shape or form.

As we look a little more closely at this reading, we find in the very first instance that Jesus comes to the blind man and gives him sight. The blind man was in many ways helpless with regard to his sight: he could do nothing to improve his situation. There was nothing he or any other human being could do that would give him his sight: not even by him or his parents living such a good life. In fact, we are even told that his blindness simply happened so that God could display his work in order that Jesus might be seen to be the One who was sent from God to save the world.

From the human point of view he was blind and doomed: there was no way around it. We try and twist and turn things this, that and any other way in order to keep some semblance of pride in ourselves and our abilities; but that was the reality of his situation. The young man himself, knew that he was in trouble and he knew that it was only God who could help him. So when Jesus heals him, he is quite ready to trust and glorify him as his Lord and Saviour.

The same of course applies to our spiritual blindness: by our own effort and understanding we are in trouble - big trouble – and humanly speaking there is no way out. We are unable to be good enough to be acceptable, or to be able overcome our sin. We are even unable to see, understand and believe in the love, forgiveness and salvation that comes to us through Jesus, without God’s help. From the human perspective we are doomed to an eternity in Hell.

In this event of the blind man, it was Jesus who steps into his life and into humanity and does something about correcting and righting his and our disastrous situation. He alone does what no one else can do; he gives light and life to not only the blind man, but to all who are doomed.

In a very simple and unspectacular manner he changes the future of humanity. Whether it be as here, using a little mud and sending the blind man off to wash in the bath; or more importantly by his very suffering and death on the cross. For it is there that we have the most miraculous change of all take place: ensuring forgiveness of sins, life and salvation for all.

But Jesus doesn't leave it there: he doesn't give sight to the blind man and then forget him. The poor guy faced enormous hassles after that miracle, and has to come to terms with what happened, as well as to deal with the people around him who were seeking to deny the reality of what had happened. Most importantly he has to come to grips with who this Jesus really is.

 It is there that Jesus again seeks him out and helps him in light of the hard time he is having in this regard. Jesus doesn't abandon him in his crisis; but comes to him and points him to the one who is all important. He assures him that now he has that which every person needs. He leads him beyond his immediate hassles and beyond thinking of himself, to Jesus Christ himself.

It is there that we come to the most vital point of all. It is belief - trust in the Lord Jesus Christ that is paramount to everything. In the final analysis it is Jesus Christ that is all that matters. Where I'm at, what I do or don't do has no bearing: even how strong or weak this faith is and how much I know does not matter. It is the Lord Jesus and what he has done that gives us any standing - any new life at all.

It is he who saved us and who has done everything necessary. All we called to do is to believe it – to trust him and what he has done for us – to cling to him as the only real hope that we have: Trusting that he alone has won eternal life for us through his death on the cross and his resurrection.

Then to help us to continue to remain strong in this faith, our Lord gave us baptism where he joins us to himself and his death and resurrection, so that we can be sure that he forgives us and accepts us into his family for all eternity. Sunday after Sunday, day after day as we read God’s Word and listen to what he says to us in the Bible we are pointed to our sinfulness and God’s answer to it through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Also every time we come forward to the communion rail and receive Jesus very body and blood which he shed on the cross for us we are assured again and again that we have forgiveness of sins, life and salvation.

It is there in those issues that we have the dividing line between spiritual blindness and true insight - between life and death – spiritually and eternally: and it those truths that we need to hold near and dear to us and not let go of under any circumstance. Our Lutheran confessions espouse this very thing and that is why we hold so strongly to them.

These truths are that which the true Church throughout the centuries, ever since the time of the writing of this very gospel, has held as of utmost importance. We are to hold to these basics, rather than a lot these other thoughts that are peddled about and which our human self longs for. He and his Word in its entirety is what enables us to see and do what is good.

If we think we can see what is right and good by twisting, changing and ignoring what he tells us in his Word, be very careful. Jesus said; “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.

No matter how well we might know or do anything is not the issue if we are blind to the reality of the Lord Jesus Christ and the importance of who he is and what he tells us in his word. If we think that we can ignore him and cast off the importance of his death on the cross as not being all that relevant, then look out. If we think the Bible is not his Word in its entirety, we are in serious danger of being called blind by God himself.

The Old Testament lesson today makes that quite clear: close our eyes to the reality of God himself and where he fit into our everyday picture, then don't be surprised when the Lord loses patience and brings great trouble and hardship our way. If we think we can see and have it all under control rather than looking to him and what he has done, then look out.

The Lord Jesus Christ alone is where reality is. Let us not be blind this very important matter. Cling to him above all else and trust that he alone has taken care of that which is most important of all. To him be all glory and honour, now and always AMEN.

Pastor Roger Atze

Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish

Friday, March 17, 2017

John 4:5-42.                                        Thirsting for Life???                                        19/3/17

{10} Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water." {11} "Sir," the woman said, "you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? {12} Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?" {13} Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, {14} but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."

Here in this reading we have a very interesting and important point being made, that is particularly relevant for us today as we live in our present society. Here Jesus confronts us, together with the Samaritan women and the disciples, with what it is that we are hungering and thirsting after, and what it is that truly satisfies? Who and what is it that is important in life? Where do we find that which makes for life? What is it that we should be striving after? These and many other questions like this are at the heart of this reading.

Now if we think about this Samaritan woman, she epitomises life for so many people today. Even though we do not know a great deal about her, we know that life has not been easy for her. We know also that her life seemed to be grounded very much in this world and what it had to say life was all about. It would also seem that when she is cornered she would make excuses for he behaviour and situation in life. But she was also thirsting for something better from life; but like so many today she was looking in all the wrong places.

The disciples also a little later in this story could only think about the importance of food for the stomach. They too were so caught up in the temporal world that they struggled to come to grips with the fact that there was something far more important in life for them to consider; and they couldn’t see it. This important aspect was all tied up in this Jesus and our worship and work for him.

As with think about all of this, we see many comparisons with life today. Today’s society is desperately hungering and thirsting for life. We are longing for that security and happiness that we know should be there. We too are caught up in the thinking that is so prevalent around about us.

 Either this husband or wife is not giving us what we want, so it must be another. When we tire of this one, it must be another and another. Never finding that which we believe should be there for us. It must be another better paying job, more control and influence over others; a bigger house, a caravan, more fishing, something more, something different; then we will be happy and content; then everything will be as it should be.

Thirsting after the illusive dream, only to be even more thirsty than previously. More and more hurt as others and life lets us down or take us down. Surely the answer must be in the next thing; the latest invention; the next relationship; greater control. Something must be there that will give us what we want in life.

Even when it comes to the religious side of life: It must be this church, or Jerusalem; or a less liturgical church; or a more experiential and miraculous events; or women pastors; or homosexuality; less doctrine and more feelings; it must be something more, something different. Thirsting for that which we believe will ensure us peace and happiness. Surely it must be found in the next guru and change that comes along.

But it doesn’t and it never will. Have a good read of the book of Ecclesiastes and you will find the same answer. Every searching and striving for life in this world is ‘meaningless.’ Every hungering and thirsting for the ideal world today is futile. You will never find that which you are longing for in an earthly sense.

Every new or old relationship; power over others; thing or pleasure; even religious experience; all are tainted with destruction: all have come under the influence of sin. No matter how ideal a partner, friend, colleague or working relationship; thing or pleasure; even worship service or miraculous event; all will not be lasting or give us continual and ongoing peace and happiness. The more we think it should and the more we try to control it, the more we will be thirsting and parched. Life will always fall far short of what it should be because of the sinfulness of humanity.

We all are deeply sinful and corrupt. Every one of us. God and his word has made this very plain to us. The troubles, heartaches and death that we all experience are clear evidence that this is true. The selfishness and egocentricity that lies at the heart of us all will always ensure that life here on this earth will never deliver what we long for. As long as we look for it to, we will continue on our path of dying of thirst. Even as Christians we are still sinful and we still have to live in a sinful world.

However, here we are reminded that this Jesus Christ comes with living water. In fact, he says: Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life. Jesus Christ alone is the one who can quench the thirst that lies at the heart of our lives. He alone is the one who brings forgiveness of sins, life and salvation. He alone ensures that the consequences of our sinful will, does not bar us from receiving the fullness of life that God has for us in heaven, which will go on for all eternity.

Through his coming into our world and taking on himself our sin and dying on the cross in our place, now we have his promise that this life-giving water is ours. He has done everything in order to ensure that we can have eternal life with God where we will have peace, security, and joy in all its fullness. All we need to do is to trust in all this he has done for us; and then to live in light of this life that he has ensured for us.

 But to help us as we live out our life here in this world that is seriously flawed by sin, he first of allows us to suffer and struggle so that we learn to look away from ourselves to him. But he also gives us baptism so that we personally have God’s assurance that he has forgiven us and joined us to himself and the life that he has for us. Along with that He gives us Holy Communion so that week by week he can remind and reassure us of this same thing. Also through his Word the Bible he is able to continually tell us all that we need to know so that we can have and live in this new life that he has won for us.

It is through those means that we are able to come to worship him. Through those means the Spirit continually points us to the truth of Jesus Christ and what he has won for us through his death on the cross. Jesus is the Messiah  who has come, and there we are reassured that we have life in all of its fullness.

We don’t have to go here or there; have this or that experience; or to do this and that so that we can have this life. No, Jesus Christ alone and our trust in him alone is all that is needed. Through him we can know that we have all that will bring us security, peace, joy and everything else that we need so that we never thirst again. To him be glory and honour, forever and ever. Amen.

However, this not where the story ends. From here he addresses the issue of what now is important for him and his followers as we now live out the rest of our lives here in this sinful world. He does not tell us here to sit in our own little worlds trying to build this new life. Nor does he suggest that we simply ensure that we have enough daily bread to keep us alive and well as long as God allows us to live in this world.

No, our work is to continue the work that Jesus came to do. Yes, we know that he has done everything necessary for our salvation, but now the ongoing work is to tell everyone around us of this good news. To point them to the living water that truly quenches our thirst for life.

He says: Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together.  Thus the saying 'One sows and another reaps' is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labour.

Jesus has done the hard work; we are simply called on to tell others of the new life that ensures that we never need to go thirsty again. Jesus really is the only Saviour of the world. We can proclaim this with certainty, for he has quenched our thirst with his life-giving water. We have the food that endures to eternal life, so we are now able to tell the world this wonderful Good News.

What did the Samaritan woman do on coming to the realisation that this Jesus was the Messiah and life-giving water? She left her water jar there and went back and told everyone in town to come and see this Jesus who is all important. The result was that many people in that town became believers; and they were Samaritans.

Yes, what a wonderful message God has given us through this story of the Samaritan woman at the well. Here we too have our focus shifted from the futility of the attitudes of our world around us, which thirsts after that which only makes us thirstier. Here in Jesus Christ we have that which not only quenches that thirst, but which wells up to eternal life.

So again we are reminded of just how great and important our Lord Jesus Christ and his death on the cross really are for us. Let us thereby give him all glory and honour, now and always. AMEN

Pastor Roger Atze

Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish

Friday, March 10, 2017

Genesis 12:1-4.                                 ‘Trust me,’ says God!!                                                    12/3/17

(1)  The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. {2} "I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. {3} I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." {4} So Abram left, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran.

“Trust me!” is a comment we hear a lot as we go about life. “Trust me!” We’ve just about had enough of ‘trust me Dave’s’ as we go along that we no longer believe the concept. When we go to buy our used car, we are very wary of the salesman, because time after time we have been taken down; told things that were not quite true. Our politicians tell us to trust them; and the they are caught out telling us lies or half-truths. The media is doing the same. Many a young person is wary about going into marriage with the ‘one they love and who loves them’ because experience and society has told them that even their loved one cannot be fully trusted. Our insurance policy all sound so good, until you go to make a claim. And we could go on with many other examples as well.

So, ‘Trust me’ is something that we are not so sure about any more. A person’s word is, in enough cases, not worth the paper it is written on, that we go forward either sceptical or with a great amount of naivety. This surely has placed a great burden on each of us and our relationship with others, and for us as a society. Can there not be something in which we can trust with confidence and certainty? Sadly, we have to say that as long as we live in this sinful world, we will suffer in this area over and over again.

However, does that mean that we have to go forward in life full of negativity and scepticism?  Surely we have to be able to trust in something and be able to be trusting and positive in life or we are doomed. Yes, definitely! Here also we need to say sadly though that the old saying; If you don’t believe in something, you will fall for anything, is so often true. What we trust in; where we look to for hope and security; is important, or else we will fall for anything and everything that goes. That too is disastrous.

That is where our reading today points us to the ‘who’ and what that we can trust, and what the implications are of this for us.

The ‘who’ that we can trust in life is of course none other than the Lord himself. He alone is the one who is truly trustworthy. After all he is the one who always was and always will be God.  He is the God who created all things. He is also the one who sustains and directs it all for his good purpose. And he is the One who has also chosen to be with and guide us human beings through this life and to be in a loving relationship with us.

Here however we are confronted with the question that if he is such a great, loving and trustworthy God, how come all the evil, tragedies, hurts and death. How can we trust this Lord with all of this around us? Surely he too is untrustworthy! His church also, too often, has said and done things that are not in accord with what is good and right. Many have become disillusioned with the church because of its false teaching and practices.

It is here in these few verses we that we catch a glimpse of how and why this Lord can be trusted. We can also begin to see that in this trust, great blessing comes to be known; in the midst of the harshness that sin has wrought on life in this world for us. We see again that the Lord gives his word to humanity when we are most vulnerable; and in that word was life and blessing.

Here we have Abram and Sarai, whom the Lord later changed their names to Abraham and Sarah, already into the later years of their lives. They were childless and beyond the years where this was any longer possible. So they had no means of being cared for as they moved into their twilight years; there was no social security network in those days. Life was beginning to look rather grim for them, when the Lord comes along and tells Abram that he should get up and leave his home, his country, his relatives and head off to an unknown land. Then on top of that the Lord would give him descendants and make him into a great nation. Then to go even further he says all the peoples of the earth will be blessed through him.

Now if ever there was a sales pitch, that one takes the cakes. Dream on! This is pie in the sky stuff. Start a family at 75; In a far away country, where you are fair game for every murderer and rip-off merchant; then to become a great nation. Come on that is just so far-fetched, that it is impossible. Yet Abram left, as the Lord had told him to. Abraham believed God and went forward. Come in spinner! Here’s another sucker we would think.

Yet we know from history that Abraham did go on to have children. His descendants did become a great nation; and from that nation Jesus came, and was shown to become the saviour of all humanity. The Lord and his Word prevailed. He can be trusted, despite the impossibility of it, humanly speaking.

So we find here; but not only here, but also in many other places in Scripture, the Lord and his Word can be trusted. The central message throughout and the focal point of all of these promises is of course Jesus Christ and his death on the cross. There we have the assurance that God loves us so much that he sent his Son to die so that we might be forgiven and assured of salvation and eternal life with God in heaven, despite what we might experience in this life. Then three days later he rose again, just as he said he would, so that we can be absolutely sure that he is true to his word.

Along with that each one of us are connected to this death and resurrection of Jesus at our baptism, and so we are assured that we personally are forgiven and brought into God’s family. Through his Word he continues to remind us of our inability to gain God’s approval by what we do and how good we are; and then of all that he has done for us through Jesus Christ.

Then through Holy Communion he comes to us again and gives us his very body and blood which he shed on the cross, so that we can be absolutely sure that he forgives us and has eternal life for us; and of his presence with us as we go on in this life.

Just as he has been true to his word to Abram and many others throughout history, so also can he be trusted here when it comes to this most essential area in our lives. This promise and assurance overshadows ever other thought, feeling, desire or experience that we might have, no matter how good or bad.

Even though our life might look impossible for us; even though we might be suffering big time, we have that assurance of the Lord’s love and acceptance of us. In fact, now we know that somehow the Lord is using those experiences for good, in order to bring and keep us and others connected to Jesus Christ and his death and resurrection for us.

This brings us to the other great truth that comes to us through this text that we have before us. So Abram left, as the LORD had told him. Abraham, despite what seemed to be an impossibility, believed that the Lord and his word could be trusted. He set off trusting that the Lord would do what he said he would.

 It took another 25 years before Isaac was born; many more before Israel become a great nation; and approximately 2,000 years before the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But it did happen, just as the Lord had said; and Abraham believed that it would be because the Lord had said so.

What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about--but not before God. What does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." (Rom 4:1-3)


So here we find that Abraham is held up as the great example of what God seeks from us as we go forward in life. In light of who he is and what he has said and done through Jesus Christ and his death and resurrection, all we are called on to do is trust.  Trust the he is the Lord, the Almighty God of all history; that he loves, forgives and accepts us as his very own; and that he now has a better way for us to live and act, not only in heaven, but also here and now.

Trust that, Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:14-17) 

Now we have someone and something that we can truly and fully trust in as we go forward in life. It is this Lord and his Word which enables us to have a real sense of hope and trust in a world full of that which is untrustworthy. Now we can be realistic about what we see and experience around us, without being burdened with negativity and hopelessness.

For now, we have one in whom we can fully trust, and in whom we are assured will see to it that life will end up right for us, even though it may look impossible. Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness. We too can trust the Lord and know that because of him we are now in a right relationship with him.

So to him again be all glory and honour now and always. AMEN.

Pastor Roger Atze

Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

 Matthew 27:27-32                                                                                          Lent 2017

Inspired by our Suffering Lord to bear a cross

27 Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. 30 They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. 31 After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

32 As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross.

Here we are once more in the midst of another Lenten Season. This year our focus is on our Lord Jesus as he approaches his death on the cross, and are hopefully inspired and helped in our lives as his people through his example. Today I have the theme: Inspired by our Suffering Lord to bear a cross.

Now this is a challenging thought for us all. Now I am not sure that any one of us wants to be inspired to bear a cross. I know I for one would much prefer to not have to bear any cross at all. I certainly don’t want to go looking for a cross to bear. And I also would prefer not to put too much of a focus on my attempts to bear that cross if I do. I know that my attempts are very poor indeed.

At the same time our Lord tells that we will have crosses to bear in our lives. Throughout my life I have faced many crosses of which I did not choose; or would want to undertake. I think of the excess bullying at school; the hard work, droughts and difficult finances of the farming years; or in ministry, the unjust criticism and condemnation for holding to the truth of God’s Word; or a broken leg that will never mend. None of them I would have chosen; none of them I liked; none of them I was inspired to undergo. I have not liked any one of them. But I am sure that God has used them for good, because he promises such.

But it is here also I am very wary with a theme like this that I do not make me, myself and I the centre of this message. At a time when our society and a growing element within the church also are so heavily focussed on self, that the core of our faith is pushed to the side. It can be so easy for us to get a theme like this all wrong. That I and my cross becomes the focus rather than Lord.

It is not for me to focus on my crosses and how I would like it or not; or how I am coping or doing it or anything. For when I do, as I all too often have done, I get it all wrong. Often it is ‘poor me’ and that kind of thing. Me, myself and I have become the focus. So I have added to the disaster.

Surely when we come to this time of the year and as our focus is drawn to Jesus and what he has gone through, our centre and focus is in one place and one place alone; our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and the importance of the cross. There alone is what is important. There alone is our salvation and hope for the future. There alone do we see what is important with regard to cross-bearing.

As we look to Jesus and his approach to this subject we find some things that are somewhat surprising. As he is about to undertake his most significant cross-bearing we hear his prayer to his Father in the Garden of Gethsemane: “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

Jesus knows full well what lies before him and he would like ‘out’. Even though he knew very well that this is what he came into the world to do, now that it is eminent, he pleads to his Father that this cup might be taken from him; that he might be spared from the cross that is before him. He does not like what he is about to go through. It is going to be extremely rough and tough.

Never the less he says to his Father: Yet not as I will, but as you will. He leaves himself and what is in front of him into the hands of his Father, for him to do as he sees best. The Father knows it is important for us and for our salvations. His love for us, despite our sinfulness and rebellion, is such that he will have his innocent, only begotten Son, undergo all of this and perish, so that we might be forgiven and restored back into a right relationship with himself.

With that Jesus then gets up and allows himself to be arrested, falsely judged and tried, beaten, flogged, humiliated and rejected. His very own people; their leaders, being the main protagonists. They want him killed: removed from their lives, so that they can continue as they please.

Then they led him away to crucify him. Even here they make him carry his own cross out of the city so that they can hang him on it. But along the way, so weakened by the beatings and floggings, he just can’t manage it any more. Anyone who saw the movie; The Passion of the Christ, will have some idea of the brutality that he endured and the experience that he endured.

Absolutely horrible! Yet he continues resolutely on. He does what has to be done, and to receive what comes his way, knowing that it is necessary for our salvation.

Now then, when he can no longer carry his own cross, the soldiers grabbed a man from Cyrene out of the crowd, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. He now has to carry a cross, even though he most likely would not have wanted to.

He could well have been on his way into town for a party; a meeting; or a round of golf, or whatever they played back then. Why should he have to carry some criminals cross for him? Carry that heavy cross all the way out of town, just so the Romans can horribly crucify another person to a slow agonising death. Why should he have to do it? He just has to, whether he likes it or not. Whether there is a purpose in it or not. There is no inspiration here, other than a pointy end of a sword.

Then when they get to Golgotha, they nail this Jesus to this cross and leave him to hang there till he is dead. This is a most horrible way to execute someone; and here Jesus, God’s very own Son has to go through this. Here he continues to focus on what he is there for: Father forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.

Then to make things far worse, he is forsaken by his very own Father. My God, My God, why have you forsaken me? He here endures what no one of us here in this life has to bear. He is abandoned by God and suffers the full punishment and rejection that results from our sin. This is the absolute worst that could ever happen.

But he does what he has to do, no matter what the suffering and pain; no matter the rejection of the religious leaders and the people; and even the wrath of God. He endures to the end: till he can say: It is finished, and give up his spirit. The task he has come to do is done – he dies – taking the punishment that you and I deserve on himself.

He endures it all to death, so that forgiveness of sins, life and salvation can be extended to each and every one of us. He suffers it all and gives his all, for our benefit. He dies so that we might live. Absolutely amazing!

We then read in Philippians 2 :

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

There is nothing more that can be or needs to be done. He bore his cross so that we can live with our Lord for all eternity. Now he and what he says is all important. He is Lord; and that means that our whole focus is on him and what he wants. We will forever look to him and allow him to lead and control our lives. We know that in connections with him there is the certainty of eternal life in heaven. It also means that in everything that happens in our lives, he is there with us, to help us through and to use it all for good.

When he puts or allows a cross to be there in our lives, we therefore will continue to look to him, and continue resolutely on to endure whatever he has ordained. Even though it might be rough and tough; it is nothing compared to what he went through. We also know that he will bring good out of it; even if we lose our life here on earth. So we face and do the best we can in the face of whatever is before us.

Naturally because we are still selfish, sinful people, we will get it wrong; we will bemoan our cross, and we will become disheartened and disillusioned, and more. So the only inspiration we can find and have, is to look to our Lord Jesus and what he has gone through so that we might be forgiven and have the assurance of eternal life in heaven; and there also in him seek the help that we need to do what needs to be done. In him we also have the assurance that he will turn our poor efforts into something that is good and useful.

So this Lenten season may we again be drawn to focus on our Lord Jesus and what he has done for us through his suffering and death. There then be absolutely amazed and thankful to the point that we want to know nothing but him and him crucified. There in him then, to go forward each day facing whatever is before us, with the assurance that he is with us and for us, for good.

To him be all glory and honour, now and always. AMEN

Pastor Roger Atze

Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Romans 5:12-19.                               Death and Life!!!                                                              5/3/17

12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—

13 To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law. 14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come.

15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16 Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!

18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

Today as we begin another Lenten Journey, we are reminded of why death is ever prevalent in our world and how life is possible in the face of it. So again there is a very simple and basic message here that we need to take seriously, or face the eternal consequences. At the same time, it is a message that we all too often want to evade because it ‘nails’ the truth about us, which we don’t want to accept. But that is the issue at stake here.

The reality of the death that we all face goes way back to the Garden of Eden. We human beings have decided for ourselves that we don’t want to be told what to do; or more to the point, what not to do. We want to do our own thing and we want to have control over our own lives. And the consequences are deadly.

The Old Testament Reading this morning from Genesis reminds us again of the origins of the death that we all face. God gave us everything good; the very best of everything, with lack of nothing. There was only one rule that he gave Adam and Eve. You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.  And we all know the results: it didn’t take humanity long, before it was enticed into disregarding what God had said. We listened to the lie, that it will not kill us, and now death is every present for us all. There is no escaping.

Here again we can’t just blame God, or Eve for this sad situation that we now face as a result. Each and every one of are sinful. Each and every one of us has chosen to listen to the lie, and to do what is right in our own eye. Each and every one of has brought this death on ourselves.

The sad question then is: do we want to acknowledge that this is why we are in the predicament that we are? Yes, we want out from the suffering and death, but we want to blame everyone and everything else for the problem. We as a humanity also want to solve the problem ourselves, rather than look to the one who created us, to help us out. Our pride all too often gets in the way.

So we are left in the predicament that we find ourselves. No matter how hard we try, or the promises made by modern science and the philosophies of our present age, the sad fact is that it will continue to be present. God is true to his Word: if you sin, you will die. We all sin and we all fall short of the glory of God, so the condemnation stands.

But thankfully that is not the end of the story. We read: Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. One righteous act has done something absolutely amazing. Justification and life are now there for all people.

Paul here goes into great lengths to spell out the significance and depth of this exchange. Even though the argumentation is somewhat difficult to follow, the clear point is that through the sin of Adam condemnation and death have come on all of us, for all of us have sinned. But the gift of justification and life through Jesus Christ is far greater and more impressive.

Let me read: But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!  One man’s action brings death - how horrible is that; while the other man’s action brings life, out of death. That happens out of pure grace – undeserved love toward the one who faces death. Life instead of death surely is the greatest.

Paul goes on: Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification.  For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!

Now it would be easy for us to get all hung up over the statement that we all are facing condemnation because of Adam’s sin. And even more so today because of our views of equal rights, so the blame should thereby fall on Eve instead of Adam. We could claim that we are all suffering because of their disobedience, and so it should not be passed on to us as well. But of course we need to remember that each one us also have sinned and disobeyed God.

But we do not need to dwell on this point, or use it to satisfy our own pride or whatever. For Paul clear point is that through Jesus Christ justification and life has now been extended to us all. This is absolutely amazing that God through Jesus Christ and his death on the cross should declare us as being justified before God, despite our many sins. This life overrides everything else.

So now even though our earthly bodies will still die, we have the certainty of eternal life with God. Our earthly death will be the fulfilment our final freedom from all sin suffering and death. In its place we will have a full life with the very best of everything. Most importantly we will be with our Lord who has loved us and done so much for us. To him be all praise and glory forever more. Amen

So with this in mind we continue our Lenten journey. Because of this death and life that is before us, we now will surely make this a time when we reflect on and take these things seriously. For our lives are so full of so many other thoughts and actions that we all too often forget about these things and become complacent in our faith and Christian life.

Lent is a time when we are reminded of our sinfulness and the death that results, so that it sharpens our reliance on our Lord and what he has done for us. In life today we are so focused on what we do and what our everyday world puts before us, that we forget about these things. We also don’t want to think about our own death and why, so we then no longer think about Christ and his importance also. The consequences of this are disastrous, as we can see all around us today.

So it is necessary for us to take time to reflect on the seriousness of our situation. To remember that it is the rebellion that lies in each of our sinful human natures that brings this death into our lives. If we wilfully and arrogantly continue in this disobedience to our dying breath the Lord has no choice but to leave us to our own desires and the eternal death that will ensure.

However be sure that The Lord in his love for of us will do all he can to remind us of our dire situation and of the grace that is extended to us through Jesus Christ. But if we sin against the Holy Spirit and reject his guidance and help and wilfully continue in disobedience, we are told that he has no choice but to reject us. So the call throughout Lent, and in fact daily throughout life, is to live a life of repentance. Daily recognizing the death that is ever present because of sin and so turning to our Lord and the help and life that he has freely extended to us.

We will daily look to him to help us to stand firm against the temptations that are ever put before us. We will seek Jesus help, knowing that he faced the devil’s temptations in the wildness, by holding fast to God’s Word. So this Lent we surely will want the Spirits help to keep us focused on and obedient to his Word so that we do not lose out and that death be the final verdict for us.

Along with that may this time be one that heightens our desire to be drawn to and stay close to our Lord and Saviour Jesus and the life that he has extended to us. This is the greatest and most important thing that could happen in life for us. So may we be kept mindful of it and be ever so grateful for what he has done for us. In the face of death, we have been extended true and everlasting life; to him be all glory and honour, now and always. AMEN.

Pastor Roger Atze

Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish

Saturday, February 25, 2017

2 Peter 1:16-21.                We can be sure???                                                          26/2/17

16 For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 He received honour and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” 18 We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.

19 We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Here this morning Peter is addressing an issue that often seems problematic with the Christian faith. As well as for occasions such as today as we remember the Transfiguration of our Lord. There is so much said that seems to be too far-fetched to be believable. It is an often made criticism, that much of what we have in the Bible is merely cleverly devised stories.

So it is easy for us as Christians to downplay these events and focus more on what we would like to hear and what makes us feel good. All too often we want to hear the feel good stuff; health, wealth and happiness; miracles; and the like. Tell us how to do it, is an often made plea. Simply focus on the here and now so that life can be not so complicated.

However, the more that we focus on these areas the more we find life difficult. The more that we try to find meaning and contentment in these other areas the more uncertain that life becomes. The more we look elsewhere than to Jesus Christ and the cross, and these seemingly too good to be true events, the more we are left wandering aimlessly through life, hoping that everything will work out okay.

On the other hand, as we look to God and his Word and take it seriously we find a freedom, hope and joy that is beyond earthly comprehension. As we simply receive what he tells us and gives us, without trying to explain it away, we find an easy, simple approach to life. In Jesus Christ and the cross, and all the other things that he has to say, we have something truly amazing and freeing.

In simply believing and following what we have in the Bible there is so much there that gives life and hope to us. As we live in a world desperately looking for real life and can’t find it, here we have that which gives certainty and a positive future. Here all the things that we need to know are given to us by a very reliable source; God Almighty himself.

Here let us recall what Peter himself says in this reading.  For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. Peter himself has seen all of this and testifies that all that we have is reliable and true. He saw it himself.

In those three years that he, along with the other disciples, physically walked with Jesus, they listened to and saw so much. This Jesus had the power of God working in him as he performed miracle after miracle, so that we could be sure that He was from God and not just some fake charlatan.

Then even more impressively they saw this amazing event up there on the mountain, that we are recalling today. Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.

While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

Peter then says years later again:  but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.  He received honour and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.

So he wants us to know that Jesus’ glory is revealed so that we can be sure. So that we can be very sure that Jesus is who he says he is and that what he has given to us in the Bible is vitally important for us. There is no need for us to have any doubts at all. Here we have that which we can rely on absolutely, without having to change it or water it down. We can take everything that is said as good and important for us, even if it does not fit our current societal views.

Jesus and his death on the cross for the forgiveness of sins is central to the Christian message. God’s Son himself comes into our world to die in our place so that forgiveness of sins, life and salvation can be extended to us all. His love for us is such that he does what is necessary so that we can be restored again into his family.

On top of that, three days after Jesus died on the cross he was raised to life again. All so that we can again know that what Jesus did on the cross and why, was as he said it would be. Also so that we can know for sure, just as he again said would be the case, we who believe and are connected to Jesus, have the assurance of life beyond death.

Again unbelievable, but it was for real; history tells of this. Legal experts today say, that if Jesus’ resurrection was taken to a court of Law today, it would be found to have happened. It was for real and those who take this message seriously, know and have a hope and joy that is there for them as a result. Again it happened just as the Scriptures told us it would.

Here we have then, that which is vital for us all. Here in Jesus we have him whom we can and must look up to now as that which is all important in our lives. He received honour and glory from his Father up there on the mountain. Now we too, surely will give him that same honour and glory. We will look to him, trusting that he has done everything necessary for our salvation. And we will seek to live in obedience to all that he tells us in his word.

This is where Peter continues on. We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.

So we do not only have Jesus that we can look to with certainty, but also God’s Word. The Old Testament is full of prophecy that all point forward to the coming of Jesus and the importance of his death and resurrection. These prophecies were made hundreds and hundreds of years beforehand. This surely indicates very clearly that the Bible is completely reliable and true. It can be trusted in everything.

So we are strongly encouraged to pay attention to it. This is God’s Word to us, so we need to take it seriously. That means we will read it, listen to it, talk about it and heed what it says to us. This needs to be our first source of information in life. Not just something that sits on the shelf gathering dust, and taken down every now and again. Here we have something and someone who really knows what he is talking and who knows what life is about and what is good for us in our relationship with him and with one another.

Peter here reminds that this Word is like a light shining in a dark place. It helps us to see and understand what life is all about. It makes the point very clearly that the troubles, hardships, and death that we face is a consequence of our sin. Because we have not heeded and obeyed what he has told us is good for, we suffer as we do. But it also tells us what he has done to rectify the situation for us, through Jesus Christ, if only we would believe it.

Peter also makes the point that this Word is important for us throughout life; until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. It always has been relevant and important and it will be all the way through to Jesus second Coming and Judgement day. 

Here he also then counters the common argument these days that the Bible is only the writings of men, and so it is subject to errors and paternalistic views and more. Peter however says: Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things.  For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

So the point is clearly made here in this reading, that we can rely on Jesus Christ and his Word. He is powerful and majestic; he is God’s very own, loved Son who came into our world to do what was necessary for our salvation. He dies and rises again so that forgiveness of sins, life and salvation can be extended to each and every one of us.

Also just as reliable and true as Jesus Christ is, so is his Word. We can trust it and live in accord with it. So we have every reason to get on with life with confidence and certainty. So again to our Lord Jesus be all glory and honour, now and always. AMEN.

Pastor Roger Atze

Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish