daily biblical sermons

Why is it that so many are quite astute about earthly things, but totally blind about what really counts?
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, Th.D.
Homily of Friday, 29th Week of the Year, October 23, 2020
Ephesians 4:1-6, Psalm 23, Luke 12:54-59

Biblical quotations are taken from the Revised Standard Version unless otherwise noted




“He [Jesus] also said to the multitudes, ‘When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, “A shower is coming”; and so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, “There will be scorching heat”; and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky; but why do you not know how to interpret the present time? And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? As you go with your accuser before the magistrate, make an effort to settle with him on the way, lest he drag you to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer put you in prison. I tell you, you will never get out till you have paid the very last copper’” (Luke 12:54-59).



The multitudes that Jesus is speaking to are the envy of the world, for they are the ones that were privileged to actually see and hear in the flesh the Son of God himself, Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. Yet most of them did not accept or believe in him.



So, Jesus gives them an example of what they are like. They are quite adept at discerning the signs of the weather, namely that a cloud in the west over the Mediterranean Sea indicates that probably it will rain and that when the wind is blowing from the south coming from the hot desert countries of Arabia, Ethiopia, and Egypt, very hot weather will probably soon be with them. And their predictions are correct.



So why, if they have such good sense and such good observation and can come to such useful and true conclusions by observing the signs in nature around them – why is it that they can’t discover from the signs they see that Jesus is the Son of God and the Savior of the world and that this is a unique time in history, when the kingdom of God is arriving on earth for all who would put their faith in him? So, Jesus says to them, “You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky; but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?” (Luke 12:56).



There were sufficient signs for the people to interpret the weather, and they interpreted it correctly. There were also sufficient signs indicating that Jesus was bringing the kingdom of God and the age of salvation to the earth. Why is it that such intelligent, discerning people are completely blind when it comes to what is really important – namely discerning the salvation of the world and their own salvation in the Son of God? This discernment is more important than anything else in human life. So why is it that they are so good at discerning things of relatively little importance and yet are so blind when it comes to discerning what really counts?



They had Jesus’ teachings and his numerous miracles and exorcisms that they actually saw with their own eyes. They didn’t have to depend on the truthfulness of eyewitnesses who claim that they saw his miracles. They saw them themselves and knew that they were real and that they were beyond the power of any human being to perform and that they clearly indicated that God was with Jesus and approved of him and of his teaching and of the extraordinary claims that he was making about himself to be the Son of God and the Savior of the world.



Why did they not put two and two together and come to the conclusion that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God, and the Savior of the world, and why didn’t they put their faith in him to experience his salvation?



We have the same problem today. Most people in the world do not believe in Jesus, even though most people in the world have surely heard about him, given the modern means of communication (radio, television, printing, and the Internet) now available almost everywhere in the world to most people. We see the same blindness today that Jesus saw in his contemporaries. So, Jesus’ saying about being able to interpret the signs of the earth and the sky, but not being able to interpret the present time applies to us as well, and so he is reprimanding not only his contemporaries, but also the people of our age who have heard and read about him, but do not put their faith in him.



He has given us an opportunity to be saved, and yet so many have turned it down. What will happen on judgment day to those that have turned down this salvation after having heard about him in books or on television or radio, in newspapers, or on the Internet?



Then Jesus seems to go on to talk about something completely unrelated to this, namely that if you are being taken to court by someone because you offended him in some way, you should try to settle with him out-of-court before you get to the judge and are put in jail and have to pay your last penny to get out.



This is good advice to all of us to seek to be reconciled with people we have offended by our words. We should take the opportunities available to us to be reconciled with them before judgment day comes and the judge, who is God, punishes us.



But I think we can expand the meaning of this for ourselves to say that we are all on our way to meet the heavenly judge to be judged for our offenses and we would be wise if we could be reconciled with him and with his law before we actually meet him at our death or at the last judgment. If we have not been reconciled with him by having our sins forgiven through our faith in Christ while we are still alive, we will be put in prison and will never get out until we have paid the last penny. And since the punishment for our serious sins is eternal death in hell, we will never be able to pay the last penny, and so we will be there forever, because we did not settle the matter here on earth while we were on our way to meet the judge of the world at the last judgment.



So what kind of reconciliation should we seek while we are on our way to meet the judge? We should seek peace with God.



Peace with God is by far the first thing in religion. We are born in sin – and are children of wrath. We have no natural love towards God. The carnal mind is enmity against God. It is impossible that God can take pleasure in us … The chief and foremost desire of every one who professes to have any religion – should be to obtain reconciliation with God. Until this is done – nothing is done. We have nothing worth having in Christianity – until we have peace with God … Peace with God is the principal thing which the Gospel of Christ offers to the soul” (JC Ryle, 1858, emphasis in the text).



So, we are on our way to God as one who is on his way to court with his accuser to meet the judge and receive his sentence. Let us be reconciled and at peace with him before we are sitting before him on judgment day.



So, what is it that we are to seek to obtain before we have to sit before the heavenly judge and receive our sentence? We must obtain justification by our faith in Christ, through the merits of his death on the cross that made reparation for our sins and suffered our punishment for them for us, and then live a life of good works, following God’s biblically revealed moral law, by which we grow in holiness (sanctification).



“There is only One who can deliver us from the adversary. Christ is the end of the law for righteousness, to everyone who believes. Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law – by being made a curse for us. Christ has blotted out the handwriting that was against us – and has taken it out of the way, nailing it to His cross. Being justified by faith – we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ. There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. The claims of our adversary, are all satisfied by Christ’s blood. God can now be just – and yet the justifier of every one who believes on Jesus. A full atonement has been made. The debt has been completely paid. The Judge can say, ‘Deliver them – for I have found a ransom!’ (Job 33:24)” (JC Ryle).



This is what Christ does for us, when we put our faith in him. The curse of the law, which lays down the sentence that we must serve in punishment for our sins, has been paid for us by Christ on the cross. In Christ we have been justified by faith and so have peace with God, because he declares us righteous and forgives our sins, whose punishment Christ has suffered for us. So, we are no longer condemned for our sins, for Christ’s blood has paid our ransom price, and so Satan has no further claims on us. God justifies all who believe in Jesus and is just and righteous in doing so, for Christ has paid for our sins. He has atoned for them. We, therefore, no longer have any debt with God.



This is the condition that we want to be in when we meet the judge; but to be in that condition at that time, we have to get into that condition now, while we are still on the way to the judge. Then not only will he judge us favorably, but we will also be at peace with God on our way through life to meet him.

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