Sermon: The Final Word
The following sermon was preached this morning at the International Center Chapel by the Rev. Dr. Edward Grimenstein, Manager of LCMS Disaster Response.
July 20th, 2012
The Final Word
John the Baptist wore sackcloth and ate locusts. John baptized in the Jordan and spoke out against adultery. In the end he was killed and his head ended up on a platter. When we think of John’s life and all he did, it sure does seem that his story ended with his head on a platter. It seems like the final word – but maybe not.
John spoke a faithful message and he paid the price, the ultimate price – his life. The world did not like John’s message, and spoke out against John’s message.
And if you speak faithfully you also will face this yourself. Whether we speak faithfully about health mandates or abortion, gay marriage or polygamy, adultery or idolatry; it doesn’t matter. This world and our own sinful flesh will fight against you and try to silence you. But you are just like John, called to speak and live the truth of Christ’s gospel, and to face the world’s anger against you. This doesn’t necessarily mean your life will end with your head on a platter, although many of our brothers and sisters in Christ are being martyred in the world today. But what you can be sure of is that this world, and our own sinful hearts, will ridicule Christ’s gospel, say that you are out of touch, or try and have you believe that all people should just be left alone to live as they want.
But as hard as it tries, this world did not have the final say about John the Baptist and this world will not have the final say about you. When we think of the story of John the Baptist we usually think it concludes with John’s head on a splatter.
But listen to how the scriptures conclude the story of John the Baptist, “When his disciples heard of [John’s death], they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.”
After John’s death believers in Jesus came, took John’s headless body away from Herod’s palace and buried him. And by lovingly burying John they proclaimed the greatest sermon ever preached, a Word this world could not speak against – they proclaimed hope in Christ’s future resurrection from the dead. This world could cut off John the Baptist’s head a thousand times but it would never succeed in silencing the sermon proclaimed by those believers in Christ. They knew without a shadow of a doubt that Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, would also take away death. This is a Word the world cannot conquer, cannot fight against and, no matter how hard it tries, cannot silence.
Remember that Word, because that promise given to John is also your promise.
No matter what you face, in this world or even within yourself, Christ will have the final Word. No matter if we die in a hospital bed or like John, die at the hands of this unbelieving world – this world will not have the final Word on you. Jesus will have the final Word and that final Word will be, “Welcome my child, welcome into my kingdom prepared for you before the world began.” Amen.