He’s getting up to read the Word of the Lord, and some of you are still asleep. He’s getting up to read the Word of the Lord, and some of you hear only the words of men.
He’s getting up to preach about the Good News of God’s salvation which is fulfilled today in your hearing, and some of you are still asleep. He’s getting up to preach about the Good News of God’s salvation which is fulfilled today in your hearing, and some of you are saying to yourself, “Physician heal thyself!” Some of you are saying about the one who has been appointed to teach this morning, “Oh that’s just him. I know him, and he isn’t any more inspired than I am. I don’t have to listen to him.”
The service ends, and you go back home. It’s just another day, and now you can get on with your real life.
No, I’m not talking about what happened in Luke 4 in Nazareth when Jesus Christ opened the scroll of Isaiah and preached the fulfillment of Isaiah in Himself. None of us would dare to reject Jesus Christ the way the Jews in Nazareth did.
And yet I say to you that many of us reject Jesus Christ every Sunday. “How?” you say. Consider this: when the Scriptures are publicly read in your church on the Lord’s Day, do you listen to them with all the intensity and eagerness with which you would listen if Jesus Christ Himself were reading? And yet I tell you that Jesus Christ is the one reading the Word of God to you every Sunday morning.
When your pastor gets up to preach every Sunday, do you listen to Him as if Jesus Christ Himself has ordained this man to preach the Word of God and interpret and apply its meaning to you? And yet I say to you that if your pastor has been duly ordained and is a godly man you are bound to listen to him as if you are listening to Jesus Christ Himself. It is Jesus Christ who has ordained that man, and it is the Holy Spirit of power who has anointed him to be able to preach and proclaim the Good News in your hearing.
Of course I’m not saying that your pastor is infallible! And yet you are required to listen to this man as if He were Jesus Christ Himself. It is Jesus who chose this man and Jesus, the Anointed One, who anointed him to preach. How do you think Jesus Christ comes to you today? Does He come and physically stand next to you with His nail-scarred body? Isn’t it through His Body, the Church, and through His mouth, your pastor, that He comes to you?
Your pastor is a very flawed human being. He is very imperfect, and no one knows this better than he does. And yet if we really believe that Jesus Christ can and does come and minister through sinful human beings, then Jesus Christ is speaking to you through your pastor. Don’t wait for the perfect pastor or preacher before you listen and obey: you’ll die and go to Hell before you find one! The miracle of the Incarnation and Resurrection, the miracle of God made man, is that Jesus Christ has chosen to work through us, who are sinful.
I’m appalled that the people of Nazareth rejected their Messiah and Savior when He came in human flesh to them, and even wanted to take Him out and kill Him. But I’m almost as appalled when I see or hear about people sleeping through the Word of God or rejecting the preaching of the shepherd who the Great Shepherd has assigned to them.
How well do you listen to your pastor? Do you listen intently for 20 minutes per week (or more!) to his anointed preaching out of the 10,000 minutes you’ve been given every week? That’s right: Jesus Christ has told you, “I will come and speak to you for 1/5 of 1% of your week – 1/500th of your time. Will you keep watch with Me for just 20 minutes (or slightly longer in some cases)?”
Next time you marvel at how foolish the Jews are for rejecting Jesus Christ when He so obviously comes to them, ask yourself how well you are listening and obeying when Jesus Christ so obviously comes to you.
Rather than thinking about this as a depressing reminder of how far short we fall of loving our Lord, let’s use this lesson to inspire us. What if each of us came to church next Sunday, expecting to hear the voice of the Lord in the sermon and preacher God had given them that day?
I’d love to hear about your experience of the sermon this week!
Resolution: I resolve to listen to my pastor’s preaching this next Lord’s Day as if he were Jesus Christ Himself speaking to me.
Prayer: May the words of my pastor’s mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.
Point for Meditation:
- How well have you been listening to your pastor’s sermons? Meditate on how you might listen if you really believed Jesus Christ were speaking through Him directly to you.
- What are some things you could do to actually go and apply what your pastor has preached to you each week?
© 2015 Fr. Charles Erlandson