Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The 13th (nothing connected to TDP)

I preached something like this in the Lutheran High School chapel here this morning. The material from John 20 is based on an Easter 2 sermon from Pastor Weedon. (For something about today's TDP readings, check out how he connects the OT text to the Eucharist here.)


Quick Poll – How many wish that today was Friday?

How many are glad that today’s not Friday, because then it would be Friday the 13th?

How many do not care that November will have a Friday the 13th? That day in November happens to be my birthday, so I do care about it – and no I don’t think it will be a day filled with bad luck.

There’s a number of superstitions in our world. If you’ve ever been to Dynasty, or some other Chinese restaurant, you’ve probably seen the Chinese zodiac and figured out what animal you are according to what year you were born. It’s funny to me that it says that my wife and I bring bad luck to my oldest daughter, so she should avoid us because of the animals we are.

Weddings have their own share of superstitions. The Bride is supposed to find something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue to bring good luck. And it is extremely bad luck for the bride and groom to see each other before the wedding. As a pastor, I meet with the couple a few times before the wedding. One of the things I do is encourage them to have as many wedding pictures taken as possible before the service. Which means the bride and groom see each other before the wedding.

It is just a superstition – besides, we are to fear love and trust in God above all things, even superstitious luck, because we are to have no other gods than Him. As we said in Psalm 27 this morning, the Lord is our light and our salvation. Shall we be afraid of bad luck? Shall we be afraid of the number 13? No, the Lord is the stronghold of our life.

Now, we might be afraid of God – or at least a bit uncertain about what He thinks about us. After all, we have not kept that First Commandment. We have acted as if He was not in control of our lives, as if luck had more power than He did, as if we have more power than He does. Our approach to life is pretty offensive to the Lord who can destroy both body and soul in Hell forever.

Yet consider what kind of God this is. Again and again when His people are terrified because either He arrives in His world, or the angels in all God’s holiness arrive, again and again scared sinners here this message from God: “Do not be afraid.” Adam and Eve hiding in the bushes, and God comes not to destroy them, but to invite them out and into His salvation in the Son of Man who will come years later to destroy the devil’s work.

Or in today’s Gospel text, with the Disciples on Easter evening locked away behind the closed doors for fear of the Jews. The Jesus who has defeated death and risen from His grave, appears to them – not to destroy them for abandoning Him and being a bunch of faithless cowards on Good Friday. Jesus does not hold a grudge. But neither does He simply ignore their failure and pretend they never sinned. Rather our Lord and our God arrives to forgive them and release them from the condemnation that is worse than any imagined bad luck. “Peace be with you,” He says.

And then God sends them out as His ambassadors. “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent Me, even so I am sending you… If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven; if you withhold forgiveness from anyone, it is withheld” (20:21, 23). It was not enough that the Father sent the Son to suffer and die for the sins of these disciples. More scared to death sinners must be made alive, until His Kingdom is filled with people from every tribe and people and language. So Jesus sends the Apostles out with the authority to preach, baptize, and feed the Supper to people in His name. He puts forgiveness in their mouths for a world lost in the same sins that had held these men as prisoners. His Word of peace is sent to people locked in the darkness where we hide, not just hide from bad luck, but we hide from each other because we are afraid of them. That is what our sin does – it isolates, divides, and alienates us, it tears apart what God has joined together. We refuse to step out, but Jesus steps in. He comes to us in the Christians He sends to us, with His word of pardon for our false superstitions. The times we have been ungrateful to Him for His goodness because we were too busy trusting good luck – those times are all forgiven by the Lord who says to you, “Peace be with you.”

The Apostles from the Scriptures tell us to look at the wounds of Jesus. Look at the wounds that killed Him when He hung on the tree. These wounds are for you. There is no sin of yours that He did not answer for upon His cross. Not one. And His risen body shows that the sacrifice He once offered was totally pleasing to God the Father, who raised Jesus and “exalted Him at His right hand as Leader and Savior,” to give you repentance and forgiveness of sins (Acts 5:30-31). Look at the wounds of Jesus! They tell you of the eternal love that was in the heart of God for you before time began. The Holy God was willing to embrace your sin and your death in order to swallow them up with His mercy and life.

Whether today is the 13th or not, a Friday or not, as the Scriptures say, “This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24). The Bible does not speak about good luck or bad luck, but it does speak about blessings and curses. And whatever curses do come your way, we will rejoice because God knows about it – and He will work the curse into something that will eventually be good for you. I do not know whether Good Friday was on a 13th or not, but look what God did with the evil murder of Christ on the Cross – the Lord has turned that evil into your eternal blessing, to forgive your sin and bring you to Paradise, the place where no one will even think about bad luck. So we can rejoice and be glad in this day, for your eternal Christ has blessed you with the freedom to step out of locked rooms and fearful lives and the darkness of unbelief. You are blessed to go out into the world rejoicing in the good news of sins forgiven in the name of the crucified and risen Jesus. You have no bad luck. You are blessed.


  1. I will never figure out where screwy formatting comes from when I transfer from Word to Blogger... or to anything else for that matter

  2. It comes from Word. If you paste it into notepad, and then copy it from notepad before pasting it into blogger, it will wipe out all the formatting. Its a pain, but it works.

  3. thanks - I figured that out about a year or two ago and now I sometimes copy and paste it through an email message. However this week I copy and pasted straight from Word and had no problem, so the powers that be must have fixed it.