A sermon preached at New Hope Lutheran Church, West Melbourne, FL on September 4, 2011 by Pastor Dale Raether The Christian Faith One Word at a Time: Rooted Romans 9:1-5Children, which would you rather do – swim in a swimming pool or walk on top of the water in a swimming pool? If you think that swimming is more than walking on water, raise your hand. If you think walking on water would be more fun that swimming raise your hand. Jesus had told Peter to step out of the boat to walk toward Him on water, and Peter did it. But then doubts he could do that overcame his faith and he began to sink. Jesus has not commanded us to walk on water, but He has given all of us things to do that might seem just as impossible. Here’s an example for you, children. Two commands Jesus has given you to obey your parents and teachers, and love all of your classmates at school. Children, can you do that, or is that as hard as walking on water? And now I have an example of walking on water for you adults. In addition to respecting all who are in authority and loving each person God has brought into our life, your commission is to make disciples of all nations. In this sinful world and with today’s economy, isn’t trying to do all almost like walking on water? We have been following a sermon series called The Christian Faith One Word at a Time. Today’s word is rooted. We can do all that Jesus tells us when our faith is in Him alone. In our text this morning Jesus gives us a way to measure our roots. Our faith is deeply rooted when 1. We realize we have the same blessings as the Jews had. 2. We have the same attitude toward the Jews Jesus had. A question that greatly bothered the first Christians is why did the Jews reject Jesus? In answering that some could have been tempted to wonder if the Jews were right. After all they had all the Old Testament prophecies about the Savior and so maybe they saw something in Jesus others had not, and that’s why they rejected him. Or, maybe the Jews rejected Jesus because they were bad people, and now it was God’s will that they be lost. That wasn’t Paul’s attitude. He prayed for the Jews. He cried for them, because they had gotten forgotten their roots and were heading toward disaster. In our text Paul lists their roots. Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all. We are now going to compare the Jew’s roots with our roots, so that we never forget our roots and this is going to help us with any doubts we might have. The first root is Adopted. Of all the nations in the ancient world, by grace God chose the descendents of Abraham to be his special people, through whom He would send the Savior of all. By grace God has also Chosen us. In eternity He saw all the sins we would ever commit. And yet He planned how He would bring us to faith in His Son. Why, because He foresaw how we would someday earn that? No, He choose us for Jesus’ sake, so that He share Him with others. On the other hand think we’re we would be if we did not yet know Jesus were so waiting for someone to tell us! The next Jewish root is Divine Glory. The Children of Israel got to see the glory of God, which was like a pillar of fire over the Tabernacle. God has shown us an even greater glory On the first Christmas God the Son became our brother and all the angels sang, Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men. You know what, there’s no room for human pride in this picture – it’s all about Jesus. The next Jewish root is the covenants. A covenant is a promise from God made into the form of a contract. In the Old Testament God had covenanted Himself that the Savior would come from Israel. God also gave them signs or reminders of His covenant. One was circumcision. Another was Passover. Today we have two signs that God has kept His covenant – Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Through the water of our Baptism, God washed away our sins and poured His Spirit into our hearts, and these blessings are ours as long as we live. In the Lord’s Supper God reaffirms that these blessings are ours through the Lamb’s body and blood which are in, with, and under the bread and wine. The next root is the Jews had received the Law, which is another name for the Old Testament Bible. In it God revealed His will, the Law, but also how He would rescue all who had broken His Law. We have it better than the Jews. We have the Completed Bible and in every home! Have you ever simply marveled at this? When we open up our Bibles this is God Himself speaking to us, and in the Bible He tells us everything we need for godliness and life. The next Jewish root is the Temple Worship. All those Old Testament ceremonies and sacrifices performed by the priests were pointing ahead to the coming Savior. It was awesome for the people to stand and watch it. Today we have the Gift of the Holy Spirit, and so we ourselves are God’s Temple, and we aren’t to be just watching anymore. But we are called to be living sacrifices and draw others to Him with everything we say and do. The next Jewish root is all the hundreds of Promises about who Jesus is and how exactly He would save sinners. We have seen the fulfillment of every one of those promises. Incidentally this Wednesday we’re starting an Old Testament survey course. This involves some study at home, and then when we get together on Wednesday nights we will answer questions and discuss what you read at home. A value of this course is it deepens our roots in all of the Scriptures, so that our faith can never be uprooted and that it bear many fruits. The next Jewish root is the Patriarchs, such as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as well as many other Old Testament heroes of faith. All these heroes of faith are our Patriarchs too. Faith in Christ makes us true descendents of Abraham. Therefore the Old Testament isn’t just Jewish history. It is our history too. The last Jewish root is they were the Human Ancestors of Christ. We have it better. Christ Is Our Brother and someday we are going to reign with Him in His heavenly Kingdom. I don’t even know what that means, but the glory of our hope is too great to put into words! And now let’s think about this. How can we doubt when we look at our roots? Doubting God’s love for us, doubting that He’s making everything working together for our good is silly, isn’t it. And so, when Jesus gives us command whether it’s to walk on water like Peter, or whether His command has to do with being a husband or wife or single person, as a parent or child, an employer or employee, a teacher or a student, let’s get out of the boat and walk with Him! Only unlike Peter, let’s keep the eyes of our faith on Jesus. However if we start sinking because we let our doubts get the better of us again, let’s remember our roots. Through Word and Sacrament Jesus forgives and lifts us up, so that we can back to being and doing everything God has called us to be and do. For you radio listeners I’m showing a picture of a toddler learning to walk and holding on to his mommy’s hands. Well, Jesus is holding us, so let’s never doubt that we can keep walking His paths. However, this brings us back to the question I had asked earlier. Why did the Jewish people as a nation reject their Savior? How could they fall like that? In a word, pride! Instead of looking at their roots as evidence God’s grace, they saw these blessings as proof they were better than everyone else. Also this attitude change did not happen overnight. Their hardening was gradual. But each time the prophets warned them, they became a little more hardened in their pride, and so they murdered the prophets and finally they murdered Jesus too. There’s one more way the Jews’ pride showed itself among the Jews. They hated mission work. For example when God called Jonah to preach to the Gentile city of Nineveh, rather than go he took his chances his fish food. The Jews thought that it was a waste of time sharing the promised Savior with Gentiles, and besides they figured the Gentiles deserved to go to hell anyway. What is our attitude toward the lost? A waste of time? Let them get what they got coming? Or, there’s nothing I can do about it anyway? With our prayers, with our offerings to synod missions, with our sacrifices of time here at New Hope – that all works together and God uses it that many more many know Him. And so, let’s look at our roots! But rather than take pride in who we are, let’s glory in what Christ has done for us! And now let’s have the mind of Christ in us toward all who are lost, both Jews and Gentiles! And this is the mind of Christ. He sacrificed Himself on the cross and suffered hell for them. We can’t do that! But with Jesus by our side we can keep walking by faith to do all we that we can to save some. And now this is kind of an aside. What is to be our attitude toward the physical nation of Israel today? Loving the Jews and cherishing our roots doesn’t mean rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem or anything like that. God’s concern for the Jews now is spiritual, and He made that clear in 70 AD when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and scattered its people. But what do we do when no matter what we say, the lost refuse to listen, be they Jew or Gentile? Do we assume God’s Word doesn’t work like Elijah did in the Old Testament reading? Do we assume that the Lord’s work is impossible like Peter did in the Gospel reading? No way! Remember your roots! Have the mind of Christ in you for all. And keep walking! Amen.

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