Take, for instance, the "People of the Passion" sermon series they published during Lent last year in 2015. It included sermons from Pastor John Larson, Pastor Roger Wohletz, Pastor Chris Matthis, and Pastor Brian Flamme (who some of you might know from Table Talk Radio).
I thought I'd highlight each one of these excellent sermons by featuring them in their very own blog post here. So, today, we'll take a look at the Roman centurion and soldiers and what this Gospel lesson from Mark 15 teaches us.
Christian wisdom isn’t something that can be discerned from nature or reflection on the idea of God. In other words, you can’t think about God in his unmediated glory and infer the preaching of the prophets, apostles, and evangelists. They proclaim an unfathomable God who takes on flesh. He suffers for the sake of sinners. St. Paul calls this the “secret and hidden wisdom of God.” He says, “None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” And yet, of these same rulers St. Paul also writes, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those who have been instituted by God…For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.” What then? Were the rulers of this age acting apart from God’s authority when Pilate tried and sentenced Jesus, or when he ordered his soldiers to carry out the justice of the cross? Far from it. At Jesus’ condemnation and execution, God uses their divinely instituted offices to pour out his wrath against sin, not against you, but against his own Son, the appointed sin bearer, who willingly drinks the cup of wrath to its dregs. Does this mean that Pilate and his soldiers were innocent in their actions? No. They twisted the offices and institutions created for our good and soiled them with depravity. Still, Jesus suffered their evil for good, despite their ignorance, to obtain a justice that extends from the courts of heaven to your conscience. By the blood soaked hands of Pilate’s soldiers, Jesus justified sinners with God. He obtained forgiveness, life, and the faith filled confession of Christians everywhere. From the Gospel lesson, see how…JESUS DIES AND THE CENTURION CONFESSES THE SON OF GOD IN FAITH.
If you continue reading the rest of that sermon, you'll quickly discover so much that's so relevant to a lot of the controversies that erupted in Lutheran social media circles this past week.
In short, the Roman centurion and soldiers "twisted the offices and institutions created for our good and soiled them with depravity."
In a Lutheran layman's terms, even though these sinful man abused and perverted the vocations given to them, even though "the soldiers may have defiled their God-given office of bearing the sword with their wickedness," thank God that we have Jesus Christ who "perfectly honors and keeps his offices as King and Priest" on our behalf and for our benefit for the forgiveness of our sins.
NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just a regular Christian, Executive Recruiter, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm also a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little more than 2 years ago now. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Also, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because they are not blasphemous/heretical, because we now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha). I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a "Christian Dude's Diary" in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!