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Martyria–Exaudi Sermon 2013

barnesExaudi (Mother’s Day)

St. Peter Lutheran Church

St. John 15:26-16:4

May 12, 2013


Jesu juva!


What is the greatest thing a person can do with their life in this world?

Create a great work of art?  Develop a cure for cancer?  Build a great financial empire?

As great as those things are, there is a greater work.  God gives it to fourteen-year-old girls who live on a dollar a day and cannot read as well as to women who are CEO’s and surgeons.  That is the work of carrying a human being within her body, bearing that human being into the world, nurturing that life.

A human life, no matter how lowly, is greater than any scientific advance, greater than any work of art.

That is an article of faith for Christians.  We witness to the world that the meaning of the world, the truth, is not an idea or a set of facts.  The truth is a person.  The truth is the baby that a young virgin gave birth to in a stable in Roman occupied Judea, the Son of God, the reflection of God the Father’s glory and the reflection of our lowliness.

Jesus is the truth.  He did not appear in human ideas but in human flesh and blood.  He did not come to earth and compose symphonies, craft peace treaties, or develop vaccines.  He came to earth to preach the word of God into human ears and to fulfill the Word by being put to death on the wood of a tree.

We live in a world that believes that human life has conditional value.  If you are beautiful or talented and if you are happy and comfortable your life may be valuable.  If not…it may well be better for you to have not been born.

But the Church of Christ bears witness to the world that every human being is infinitely valuable because of the baby Mary bore.

That is why Christians not only with words but also with actions and attitudes.

And every other calling that Christians have from God, whether father, farmer, banker, businessman, artist, musician—is valued by Christians—not because through those things we make ourselves great in the world.  But because through those things God sends us to help and sustain and heal and comfort human beings.  Even if you have not carried a human being inside of you and given birth to him or her, you still have a call from God to sustain and nurture the human beings whose bodies and souls God considers so valuable as to give up His eternal Son.

God has given a glorious task to all human beings—to bring human life into the world and care for it.  Love your neighbor as yourself is the summary of the second table of the law of God.  That applies to all of us.

Yet as great as this honor is, we know all too well that what we are able to do is not enough to make people truly blessed and happy.  That’s why we honor the seemingly “great” works so much.  We honor people who do great things like cure diseases or set athletic records because they increase people’s happiness or decrease their suffering.

As great as it is to bring life into the world or bring comfort to people in their lives, in the end it is not enough.  Mothers bring children into the world, but they do not live forever.  Those who are not mothers have work that is meant to sustain the lives of other people.  But we are unable to do it forever.

There is a greater work that God does through human beings, but not every human being can do it—only those who have the Helper, the Spirit of Truth, whom Jesus sends from the Father.

To bear witness to Jesus.

            This is to bear witness to eternal life

The Spirit does it.


He does it through the apostles.

He is the Helper, the Advocate

Who proceeds from the Father and the Son

What is the result of the Spirit’s witness?luther confess crop better

Those through whom the Holy Spirit bears witness are cast out as idolaters.


Even more: whoever kills the apostles will think “they are bringing a sacrifice acceptable to God.”

The world does this now.



But above all it will be the ones who are supposed to be holy—Israel.  The Church.

Not primarily worldly people in the church

But those who claim to be holy—those who intend to be holy, who care about the word of God enough to be willing to excommunicate or to do divine service.

So that you will not be scandalized and fall away.

This will be very difficult to accept, but when it happens you will remember I told you.

This is what happened to Jesus.

When we bring our babies to be baptized, this is not what we have in mind.

But it is necessary—so that those who oppose Christ may receive witness of His love—not only in words, but embodied in the love of the church that continues to love when it is cast out and put to death.

The Helper who proceeds from the Father will keep us just as He kept the apostles.

Remember that they suffered for their witness—

As a result we are saved.

When we suffer or are cast out, the Helper will enable us to endure and use our suffering to give us joy that forgets about self and loves.

Mothers forget about themselves for love of their children.

The Triune God has done the same in His love for us;

He will do the same in us as He makes us witnesses to Christ, and the love of the Christ to whom we bear witness will swallow up the hatred and pain that comes for a short time in response to our witness to Him.

The peace of God, which passes understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.


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